Bears

Angelo: Bears unlikely to land big fish

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Angelo: Bears unlikely to land big fish

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011
Posted 5:15 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS The Bears spent much of last year working through a fire drill on the offensive line, between injuries, necessary changes and whatever else was dealt to coach Mike Tice. Finally things settled with Frank Omiyale at left tackle, JMarcus Webb at right, Chris Williams at left guard, Roberto Garza at right and Olin Kreutz at center.

NEWS ALERT: Bears extend Lovie Smith's contract

That group settled in place after the off week and there followed a turnaround of eight wins in 10 games prior to the NFC Championship game. All was then peaceful in the Kingdom of Bear O-Line.

Now the prospect is growing that none of the five positions that took so long to settle will have the same starter in 11 that finished 10.

Kreutz is an unrestricted free agent and can be re-signed at some time barring a lockout. But the Bears are high on the potential of Edwin Williams at center and no other position up front is by any means set.

READ: Lovie believes core is in place

What the goal is is get your five talented players playing at the same time, general manager Jerry Angelo said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. Thats what we want to do. Does that mean Chris Williams is a tackle or a guard? We cant determine that yet. Do I have a preference? Not really, only because hes been exposed to the guard position so weve seen some things, just like Frank Omiyale. Weve created some versatility on the offensive line.

Coach Lovie Smith, he of the new two-year contract extension and the ultimate decision-maker on position assignments, concurred. Williams may be a right tackle. Or a right guard. Webb will get a long look at left tackle. And the Bears have offensive line as a high priority in a draft that has some quality and depth in that area.

There are very few positions that I would say that were set, Smith said. I dont think you make those types of statements at this time. I think what you do in all seasons, you look at all the different options. You look at the best combination at a lot of different positions.

Moneyball

The Bears have been one of the NFLs major players in big-ticket free agents for many years, contrary to the mistaken notion that they will not spend money on talent.

Muhsin Muhammed (30 million). Julius Peppers (91 million). Bryan Cox from another era. Trading draft choices for and then extending Jay Cutler.

But with the salary cap expected to decline slightly and a major investment having been made last year in Peppers, Brandon Manumaleuna and Chester Taylor, the Bears are not expected to be making a huge deal in the market, whenever NFLNFLPA negotiations establish that there is one.

Can we get the big fish? Angelo mused. I dont know. I havent seen the bait yet, and until I know how much bait we can put on the hook, I dont know that we can get the big fish. Thats going to be determined once we have a clear understanding of where the cap is.

"The reality is that it is difficult to land the guy in free agency two years in a row. Nearly 500 players are potentially going to be some form of free agents this offseason but again signing a franchise-level player is a difficult thing to do, Angelo said. You dont want to come out every year having to spend big chunks of money on one player. Thats not the goal. But if its a unique situation and we determined that signing Julius Peppers last year was a unique situation.

I think that was really an aberration of free agency. We thought he was a special player. Obviously, he was a fit. He was a need. And we felt like that was the right thing. So were not going to get stuck in a philosophy where we miss the big picture. Thats not really something we set out to do each and every year.

In some situations it will make sense to pursue one player at all costs as the one that will put a franchise over the top. The Dallas Cowboys did that with defensive end Charles Haley, whom Jimmy Johnson called the final piece that propelled the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s.

The Bears were within seven points of reaching the Super Bowl. A conclusion might be that they are one player away but that is not the thinking upstairs at Halas Hall.

I dont really want to do that, Angelo said. I think when you start doing that you mis-calculate, you mis-evaluate your football team. Ive seen teams do that. Ive been part of teams that have done that. That hit or miss rarely hits. So we dont want to get into that mindset. Theres got to be a plan in place.

We dont want to go into it where, Hey, its that one guy. Thats desperate. The quarterback position, thats different. Thats totally different. The value of that position speaks for itself. We did a lot. We were very aggressive because of that position. We all understand the value of that position. Take that position out of it, its not something where I feel like were one player away. Were not one player away. We need to get better at positions. We need to upgrade, create more competition, and then weve got to come together as a team.

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.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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USA TODAY

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

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Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

On Thursday, Brian Baldinger released another video clip on Twitter for his #BaldysBreakdowns series, this one praising the recent play from Bears QB Mitch Trubisky.

Baldinger states that Trubisky is "making some kind of jump", referring to how impressed he was with Trubisky's play when compared to his rookie season. 

In the video Baldinger explains in the video how you expect franchise QBs to make a big leap from year one to year two, and a big part of that leap for Trubisky is being unafraid to make aggressive throws downfield.

Baldinger highlighted a play where Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel 47-yards down the field, choosing to trust his wideout after he hit him with perfect ball placement despite tight coverage. He continued this theme later on in the video, showing Trubisky's TD strike to Allen Robinson, which was whipped right past a Dolphins defender. 

But Baldinger's video wasn't exclusively compliments for Trubisky. He discussed Tarik Cohen's effectiveness as a pass-catcher, saying that you "can't cover him" and comparing him to a Ferrari with his ability to go from first to fifth gear "about as fast as anybody."

He ended his video by showing Trubisky punishing the Dolphins for a blown coverage, hitting rookie Anthony Miller in stride for a 29-yard TD. Baldinger's point in including this clip was to show Trubisky's improved recognition, as he may not have spotted the blown coverage last year. Noticing when and how to take advantage of defensive sloppiness is one of the many things that seperate a "franchise QB" from a stopgap, and Trubisky is trending in the right direction. 

If Baldinger's breakdown is any indication, we should expect Trubisky to keep his incredible momentum rolling when the Bears take on the New England Patriots on Sunday. New England is 3rd worst in the league in passing TDs allowed, giving up 15 scores through the air in six games.