Bears

Who is better? Alviti or Bailey?

783232.png

Who is better? Alviti or Bailey?

As a junior, quarterback Matt Alviti led Maine South to the Class 8A championship.

As a senior, quarterback Aaron Bailey led Bolingbrook to the Class 8A championship.

Alviti is a better passer.

Bailey is a better runner.

Alviti is smarter.

Bailey is bigger, faster and a better all-around athlete.

Alviti is committed to Northwestern.

Bailey is committed to Illinois.

Both run a spread offense.

Who is better? Who will have a better college career?

"It's like comparing apples and oranges," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network. "The one who will excel is the one who gets a chance to play at his own pace, who is able to utilize his talents more."

For example, will Northwestern allow Alviti to be Alviti? Will Illinois allow Bailey to be Bailey.

"Remember Juice Williams at Illinois?" Lemming said. "He had the strongest arm in the country. Williams played right away but he wasn't ready. He had a rocket for an arm but he didn't improve over four years because he was put into the fire too early. There was always pressure to perform. He wasn't fully developed when he was thrown into the fire. He was asked to do to much too early."

Lemming also reminds that Williams came out of Chicago Vocational at the same time that the more highly touted Demetrius Jones came out of Morgan Park. Jones was 6-foot-4 with great potential. He needed time to develop as a passer in a pro-style offense but, like Williams, he had no patience. He committed to Notre Dame but wanted to play right away. He transferred to Cincinnati and was switched to linebacker, then transferred to Division II Central State and became a wide receiver and tight end. He is still hoping to play in the NFL.

"Alviti already is a passer," Lemming said. "But the best thing for any freshman quarterback is to red-shirt and get acclimated to the program and the campus, not thrown into the mix right away.

"But sometimes egos get in the way. Some kids want to start right away. Peyton Manning was ready. But not too many others are. They need a year or two to develop. Terrelle Pryor was thrown into the mix at Ohio State because he insisted on it and he never got better. But Cam Newton was given time to develop."

Maine South offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss said Alviti is the best passer he has produced in nearly 20 years, better than John Schnake, Tony Wnek, Shawn Kain, Sean Price, Tyler Knight, Charlie Goro and Tyler Benz.

Schnake led Maine South to a state championship in 1995. Price set several state passing records. Price and Goro were All-Staters. But none of them stood out at the college level.

Illinois has never been known as a state that produces outstanding high school quarterbacks. In the last 50 years, dating to Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke and Alex Agase and George Connor and Dave Butz and Mike Kenn and Clay Matthews, it has built a reputation for developing offensive linemen and linebackers.

Oh, there have been some gifted running backs along the way...Red Grange, Tony Canadeo, Buddy Young, Johnny Karras, Jim Grabowski, Billy Marek, Mike Alstott and Rashard Mendenhall to name a few. And who can forget Pete Pihos, Fritz Pollard and Kellen Winslow, all NFL Hall of Famers?

But quarterback? Otto Graham was the gold standard, of course, one of the best of all time.

Some of the best were Wheaton North's Chuck Long, a three-time All-Big 10 selection at Iowa who was runnerup to Bo Jackson for the 1985 Heisman Trophy and has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame; Mount Carmel's Donovan McNabb; and Mike Tomczak, who went from Thornton Fractional North to Ohio State to the Chicago Bears. Ironically, Tomczak edged Long for Player of the Year recognition in the Chicago area in 1980.

Some had good college careers...Tim Brasic, Brett Basanez, Kent Graham, Mark Carlson, Rich Weiss. Others disappeared...Ken Ferguson, Jeff Stewart, Jeff Lesniewicz, Tim Lavery, Mark Floersch, Jordan Tassio, Brad Bower, Quincy Woods, Mike Kerrigan, Corey and Casey Paus, Russ Rein, Jim Bennett.

Finally, Sean Payton, who was an All-Chicago Area quarterback at Naperville Central in 1981, might not have gone on to stardom as a college and professional athlete. But he has done very well as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in the NFL.

Takeaways from Bears ‘18 coordinators: Mitch Trubisky affecting more than offense, kudos to hiring process

mitchtrubisky.png
USA TODAY

Takeaways from Bears ‘18 coordinators: Mitch Trubisky affecting more than offense, kudos to hiring process

Head coach Matt Nagy conducted his first press conference on Thursday, introducing the coordinators for his three phases (Mark Helfrich, offense; Vic Fangio, defense; Chris Tabor, special teams). The session was predictably short on hard news, given that the hirings were just completed within the last several days, but some takeaways were there to be had, ranging from impressions to firmer indications of some directions the post-John Fox Bears may be trending:

Mitch Trubisky is going to be one seriously coached young quarterback.

Nagy is a former quarterback. Helfrich is a former quarterback. And the Bears are expected to bring back quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, per Brad Biggs over at the Tribune; “Rags,” as his charges have dubbed him, is a former quarterback.

Forgive Trubisky is he develops neck problems nodding at all the advice he might be getting from three guys who by their quarterback training pretty much have had to know everything about their offenses. But it is a whole lotta QB mindset swirling around the young man.

The coaching corps is still sorting out exactly who does what, which will involve the hands-on coaching of Trubisky. “We’re finishing out the staff,” Helfrich said, “and once we have that, then we’ll start to kind of slot in those responsibilities.”

This kind of concentration of coaches from a similar background is actually a little unusual, the current vogue notwithstanding. Carson Wentz did bloom in his year two under a Philadelphia Eagles staff topped by former quarterbacks Doug Pederson, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo. And the Los Angeles Rams loosed Jared Goff’s talents with an all-former-quarterback triumvirate in Sean McVay, OC Matt LaFleur and QB coach Greg Olson.

But just for comparison’s sake, back in Kansas City, Nagy mentor Andy Reid was an offensive lineman at BYU. Down in New Orleans, Sean Payton is a former quarterback, but OC Pete Carmichael went through college on a baseball scholarship and QB coach Joe Lombardi was a college tight end, so Drew Brees hasn’t been info-swamped. Bill Belichick was a center and tight end, Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy was a college tight end and Case Keenum has flourished under former offensive lineman Pat Shurmur.

Helfrich has been on the job exactly one week and already has done some advanced evaluation of Trubisky, with an eye toward inevitable comparisons with Marcus Mariota, who starred at Oregon while Helfrich was a member of that staff.

“I see a lot [of similarities],” Helfrich said. “Mitchell has a tight release. He’s an accurate passer. They also have a couple things similar that makes them inaccurate. Their feet take them out of position. I sense from talking to a couple of offensive linemen, and this was unsolicited, when your offensive linemen are talking about how hard your quarterback works, that’s a great sign. So he needs to do that and continue to challenge himself and improve."

Football involves ego but not always to a fault

Keeping Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator may not rank yet with the organization retaining Buddy Ryan in that job when Mike Ditka was hired, but some intangibles make this a very big deal and reflect well on a spectrum of individuals.

GM Ryan Pace interviewed but didn’t elevate Fangio to the head-coaching slot. Yet whatever was said during the interview process didn’t alienate or create awkwardness for Fangio or whomever was hired ultimately. Point for Pace. Players made their feelings abundantly clear that they wanted Fangio back, and Fangio did not let a 20-year age difference between Nagy and himself ruin a good thing. Points to a lot of folks.

“I like our [players],” Fangio said. “I think I said it here during the season at a point that I really like coaching the group that we have. My favorite time during the week was being in front of them like I’m in front of you and going over practice watching the opponents’ tape, installing the plan for the week. I really liked being in front of our guys. They’re a good group collectively and as individuals and that part was appealing to me.”

And while Ditka and Ryan barely spoke, relationships in this administration have a different air.

“I am going to be in Vic’s office a lot,” Helfrich said. “He’s going to be annoyed by me trying to get in his head and know what might help me transition from college to the NFL. I would be an idiot if I didn’t walk 24 feet down and ask a guy like that.”

A “Trubisky factor” may be in the offing

Free agents have taken less money to sign elsewhere, as recently as last season. Alshon Jeffery wanted out of Chicago, not so much for the weather (Philadelphia is less than 2 degrees lower latitude than Chicago and not many degrees warmer on average) as for the Bears never getting quarterback and offensive consistency that could max out his talents.

Trubisky already has started to have a positive impact. “Mitchell is a part of the equation,” Fangio said of his own decision to return as coordinator. “Because I think he has a chance to be a really good player, regardless of who is coaching him. So that part was positive.”

And that’s from a defensive guy.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is Fred Hoiberg the coach of the future?

hoiberg-portis.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is Fred Hoiberg the coach of the future?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly) and Nick Friedell (ESPN.com) join Kap on the panel.  The Bears coordinators meet the media.  So how much will a new coaching staff improve the team?

Fred Hoiberg has the young Bulls playing hard.  So is he the coach of the future?

The Blackhawks are struggling to get their messaging right regarding Corey Crawford’s injury, John McDonough stands by Coach Q and Stan Bowman and Nick gives an impassioned defense of Sammy Sosa after Tom Ricketts says he needs to put everything on the table to be welcomed back to the Cubs.