Bears

Theisman: Roy Williams will never be a quality WR

537134.jpg

Theisman: Roy Williams will never be a quality WR

Friday, Sept. 30, 2011
Posted: 12:06 p.m. Updated: 12:54 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Williams-bashing

NFL Network analysts Joe Theisman, Willie McGinnest, Jim Mora Jr., and Marcellus Wiley broke down the Bears and Atlanta Falcons playoff situations and their analyses are worth checking out. If they are right about the Bears, this will not be a pleasant next three months.

Theisman challenges what the Bears did to upgrade their wide-receiver group. He isnt buying Roy Williams. Neither is McGinest. Not at all. Not even a little bit.

McGinest, rolling his eyes at the mention of Williams, rips the veteran wideout for showing up to training camp not in NFL shape and notes that Williams has had just one quality year in the NFL.

Those are some of the nicer of the things said about Williams.

Roy Williams will never be a quality receiver in the National Football League, Theisman declared. Because he doesnt have what it takes. Roy, if youre listening, Im saying it right to you. You have to make a decision that you want to play football as a professional, not someone whos entitled because someone was not thinking when they gave away two No. 1s for you... The wide-receiving corps is non-existent.

We dont even know that Jay Cutler is getting better because hes spending a lot of time doing everything going backwards.

Wiley is blunt about the mesh of protection and the Mike Martz scheme: If you dont protect on the offensive line, this offense does not go.

NFL protecting Cutler better than Vick?

Former NFL official Mike Pereira is mad as hell and hes not going to take it anymore. If defensive linemen got after Michael Vick as hard as Mike P, Mike V would be in a body cast, or at least more than the one he claims the NFL is setting him up for.

Pereira,the NFLs vice president of officiating from 2004-2009, takes on Vicksrecent charges that he (Vick) isnt being protected as well as otherquarterbacks. In his column at FOXSports.com, Pereira tells Vick to go check the facts.

Turns out that officials arguably are protecting Jay Cutler perhaps better than his offensive line has at times. Cutler is second only to Oaklands Jason Campbellin drawing roughing-the-passer penalties per 100 pass attempts.Campbell is getting 1.48 calls per 100 throws and Cutler 1.28. Vick isNo. 9 on the list with 0.88 flags per toss.

By comparison, Aaron Rodgers only draws 0.52, slightly more frequently than Drew Brees (0.51) and less than Philip Rivers (0.60) and Matt Ryan (0.58).

Theproblem with the analysis is that quarterbacks who are getting hit themost obviously will get the highest numbers of roughing calls. SoCutler (or Vick) will be getting hit more often as theyre releasingtheir 100 passes than Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, who also get rid of balls faster.

Picking on the Bears

Ive had reasons for picking the Bears to win each week so far which means Im wrong two-thirds of the time. Small consolation here, but Im not alone.

Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com has gone exactly the same route, for pretty much the same reasons. Hes gone Bears again vs. Carolina and I will too (officially on Sunday); the Bears simply can not lay a third straight coaching and performance egg, and I saw the Bears as 10-6 or better this season. That call still stands, but it was based on certain assumptions about Mike Martz and hes fooled me. Unfortunately for his team, not the Saints or Packers.

But Mikes PFT colleague Gregg Rosenthal has a different take on Sunday, and its a dark one, because the Bears are at Detroit the following weekend. It just feels like bad times are brewing in Chicago, Gregg surmises, and if his call on Sunday is right, there likely will be...

Peter King at Sports Illustrated has the Bears but by just a 20-17 score. His comment about using Matt Forte says where his reservations lie. Peter also has the other three members of the NFC North winning as well.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Unfinished Bears job a 'bitter pill' for John Fox, but the legacy lies beyond just the W-L record

john_fox_mullin_story.jpg
USA TODAY

Unfinished Bears job a 'bitter pill' for John Fox, but the legacy lies beyond just the W-L record

When John Fox succeeded Marc Trestman in 2015, neither he nor the Bears were looking at the situation and Fox as any sort of “bridge” hire – a de facto interim coach tasked with winning, but just as importantly, developing and getting a team turned around and headed in a right direction.

The heart of the matter is always winning, but in the overall, the mission statement also includes leaving the place better than you found it. Fox did that, which is very clearly the sentiment upstairs at Halas Hall as the Bears move on from Fox to Matt Nagy.

“It would’ve been nice to see it through,” Fox said to NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s kind of a bitter pill but you sort things out and move forward.

“I do think it’s closer than people think. We inherited a mess... but I felt we were on the brink at the end. I think that [Halas Hall] building is definitely different; they feel it. I do think that it was a positive.”

(Fox is probably not done coaching at some point, but that’s for another time, another story, and anyway, it’s his tale to tell when he feels like it. Or doesn’t.)

One measure of the Bears change effected: Virtually the entire Trestman staff, with the exceptions of receivers coach Mike Groh and linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, was jettisoned along with Trestman. By contrast, Nagy has retained not only virtually the entire Fox defensive staff under coordinator Vic Fangio, but also arguably the single most important non-coordinator offensive coach by virtue of position responsibility – Dave Ragone, the hands-on mentor of quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Obvious but extremely difficult decisions are coming, as to shedding personnel and contracts – Josh Sitton, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young being among the most difficult because of tangible intangibles that no organization wants to lose.

“Bridge” results

Fox was never intended as a bridge coach but the results point to that function having been served. To exactly what end remains to play out under Nagy and the quarterback whom Ragone and Fox’s handling began developing.

Rick Renteria was one of those “bridge” guys for the Cubs, intended to be part of pulling out of or at least arresting the slide into the Mike Quade-Dale Sveum abyss, and leaving something for Joe Maddon. The late Vince Lombardi effectively served as that, at age 56 and for an unforeseen one-year for a Washington Redskins organization that’d gone 13 years without a winning season before Lombardi’s 1969 and needed a radical reversal. The culture change was realized over the next decade under George Allen and Jack Pardee, much of the success coming with the same players with whom Washington had languished before the culture change.

The Bears were in that state after the two years of Trestman and the three years of GM Phil Emery, certain of whose character-lite veteran player acquisitions (Martellus Bennett, Brandon Marshall) and high-character launchings (Brian Urlacher) had left a palpable pall over Halas Hall. A Fox goal was to eradicate that, which insiders in Lake Forest say privately was accomplished even amid the catastrophic crush of three straight seasons of 10 or more losses, and with injuries at historic levels.

What happens next is in the hands of Nagy and GM Ryan Pace, after a third John Fox franchise turnaround failed to materialize. Or did it? Because much of the core, from Trubisky through the defensive makeover, came on Fox’s watch, like him or not.

“You wish some things would’ve happened differently obviously,” Fox said, “but there was a lot positive that happened.”

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Medium

Decisions to be made on: Mitch Unrein (free agent), John Jenkins (free agent)

Possible free agent targets: Jared Crick, Frostee Rucker, Dominique Easley

This unit was consistently the Bears’ best in 2017, with Akiem Hicks playing at a Pro Bowl level (don’t let his exclusion from the game fool you on that) and Eddie Goldman putting together a rock-solid, healthy year. 

Hicks signed a four-year contract extension just before the season began and rewarded the Bears with a dominant year, racking up 8 ½ sacks and 15 tackles for a loss. Goldman played in and started 15 games and was a key reason why the Bears limited opposing rushers to four yards per carry, tied for the 10th-best average in the league. 

But while the Bears’ defensive line was certainly good, it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. These words from Vic Fangio ring true for Hicks and Goldman:

“I think they all have a lot more to give to us than we’ve seen,” Fangio said. “And it’s our job to get them to improve and become even better players. That will be more important to us than anybody we can acquire between now and whenever our first game is. So, and I know it’s always sexy to talk between now and the first game, you know, who are you going to draft, who’s in free agency, etc., but we’ve got to get our so-called good players playing even better. And that will be critical.”

Hicks will enter Year 3 in Fangio’s scheme, while 2018 will be Goldman’s fourth. It’ll also be a critical year for Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris, who’ve flashed potential at times but haven’t been able to turn that into consistent success on the field. 

And that’s where we begin to look ahead to free agency and the draft. Is the Bears’ evaluation of Bullard -- their 2016 third-round pick -- positive enough to hand him a bigger role in 2018? That’s question No. 1 to answer, with No. 2 then being if the team should try to re-sign Mitch Unrein. 

It may be a bit risky to move forward with Bullard, given how popular Unrein was among the Bears’ defensive coaching staff. 

“He’s one of the glue guys on the defense and the team,” Fangio said last November. “Every team needs a few of those guys who are going to do everything right, full speed, hard and tough all the time, and that’s Mitch.”

Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers offered this up about Unrein back in October: “He allows those guys to play fast,” with “those guys” being Hicks and Goldman. 

Statistically, the 30-year-old Unrein doesn’t  jump off the page, but he did record a career high 2 ½ sacks in 2017. Perhaps there would be some benefits to continuity in the Bears’ base 3-4 defensive line.

Worth noting too is this position isn’t a huge need, given Unrein usually played between 40 and 55 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps on a per-game basis last year. Keeping Unrein for a relatively low cap hit would make some sense, as opposed to testing free agency to replace him.

Jared Crick is coming off back surgery and an ineffective 2016; Dominique Easley is coming off his third torn ACL this decade; Frostee Rucker is in his mid-30’s. The Bears could look to pick a 3-4 defensive end in April, but that would be a pretty quick re-draft of the position and would be an indication they don’t think much of Bullard. This seems like a position where keeping the status quo is likely, save maybe for replacing John Jenkins with a different backup behind Goldman.