Bears

Protecting your QB vs. getting to opponent's QB

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Protecting your QB vs. getting to opponent's QB

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 10:29 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A couple of Bears draft folk will have some things to say later this week but there is still no shortage of information flowing with the draft barely a week away.

Peter King at Sports Illustrated is among the growing chorus of voices that say Cam Newton will go No. 1 overall to Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers. After a bit of a run on offensive linemen, and with defensive tackles like Marvin Austin out of North Carolina off the board by No. 29, Peter runs a little against the grain with a return to the offensive line in the form of Mississippi States Derek Sherrod.

Makes sense, from the standpoint of protecting Jay Cutler, and the underlying question through all of this, for the Bears, is whether its more important to protect your quarterback or to get to the other guys. Both matter, obviously, but look at it this way:

On a mythical scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the Steel Curtain for a defensive line and maybe the Super Bowl XX Bears O-line, is the Bears 2011 offensive or defensive line closer to the elite level youd ideally want?

Reaching out

ESPNs Mel Kiper voiced a sentiment that GM Jerry Angelo has expressed, that you have to draft offensive linemen sometimes higher perhaps than their pure grade on your draft board.

Theres a reason to move guys up because you have to, Mel said, with an expectation that all of the commonly acknowledged top talents will be gone in the 20s, which isnt promising for the Bears sitting at No. 29.

I think youre going to get offensive linemen drafted higher because of the position.

Finding tackles is usually the assumed goal when the draft subject is offensive line but it could well be argued that the Bears have more needs inside than outside on the line. With JMarcus Webb and (the Bears hope) Chris Williams, the Bears may have enough at tackle.

But the years on right guard Roberto Garza and center Olin Kreutz (assuming he re-signs as a free agent) and the clear void at left guard make the interior a bigger need area, at least in the opinion of View from the Moon. And guards aren't as pricey (6-7 million a year) as tackles anymore.

Mels take on the 2011 class, which has seen far more attention played to tackle, is that there are 10 potential centers for the NFL in this draft, he said, and not all of them are centers now. Given the age of Kreutz (34) the Bears need to find one of them sooner rather than later.

Cutting corners

CBSSportsline.coms Clark Judge has the Bears skipping either line and going with Aaron Williams, a 6-foot cornerback out of Texas and a clear fit for the Bears. Mel in fact cited the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 23), the Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 31) as three teams with DB needs that would be well served by grabbing Williams, who also has the potential to be a safety.

I think initially hell be a corner and hell be drafted as a corner, Mel said. If you can get him at No. 29... that would be a good spot for an Aaron Williams."

Catching on

The Bears had intended to add to their receiver group this offseason before the labor impasse shut off free agency. But the draft will have talent below the first round, which is off-limits for taking a wideout anyway for Jerry Angelo.

Mel likes Kentuckys Randall Cobb as a wild-card, and Cobb was IDd by Wes Bunting of National Football Post as a potentially very good pick with little downside. The other notables will be Miamis Leonard Hankerson, a favorite of Matt Bowen over at National Football Post as well, and Titus Young out of Boise State. Both Hankerson run sub 4.5 in the 40, although Young is a bit undersized at 174 pounds.

A few heads might shake on draft day but a late-round nugget may be Edmund Gates, another speed guy who is 25 but someone on Kiper radar. The chuckle here is that Gates is from Abilene Christian, which sent the Bears Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning.

Heres where the switch from Greg Gabriel as college scouting director to Tim Ruskell as director of all player personnel. Gabriel clearly liked the small-college Texas kids (more than just Texas ones, actually) and it remains to be seen how Ruskell leans on the projects from smaller programs.

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.

Bears' wild-card chances eroding after Week 14's results

Bears' wild-card chances eroding after Week 14's results

The Bears did their part to keep hope alive for a playoff berth in Week 14, defeating the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night and moving to 7-6 on the season. Unfortunately, they didn't get the help they needed around the league to enter Week 15's game against the Green Bay Packers with legitimate post-season juice.

The Minnesota Vikings, who currently hold the final NFC wild card that the Bears are chasing, handled their business against the Detroit Lions with their 20-7 victory in a game that was never close. Now 9-4, the Vikings' have a two-game lead over the Bears with one head-to-head matchup remaining in Week 17. Chicago needs to defeat Minnesota in the season finale and hope the Vikings lose one of their other two remaining games against the Chargers and Packers. Otherwise, it's on to 2020.

The bigger blow to the Bears' playoff hopes came in Los Angeles, where the Rams moved to 8-5 with their 28-12 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. This was a game Chicago needed the Rams to lose, considering they hold the head-to-head tie-breaker and play only one more game on their schedule that seems like a likely loss (49ers in Week 16). Los Angeles' other two games are against the struggling Cowboys and lowly Cardinals, and if they win both and end the year with the same record as the Bears, they'll have the advantage because of Chicago's loss in Week 11.

So what does all this mean? Week 14's results have the Bears' chances to make the playoffs at just 2%, according to FiveThirtyEight.  Essentially, nothing's changed, even after a win. Football Insiders is a little more optimistic; they have Chicago's chances at 4.4%.

Sunday's game against the Packers has meaning. The Bears are still alive, and a victory in Green Bay coupled with some upset losses by the Vikings and Rams could change the playoff picture quite a bit. If both Minnesota and Los Angeles lose, Chicago's playoff chances jump to 14%, per the New York Times' playoff predictor.

One game at a time. It's a mantra that's worked for the Bears over the last month of the season, and one they'll continue to preach until there's nothing left to play for.

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Devin Hester is on NFL 100 All-Time Team, now only the Hall of Fame awaits

Devin Hester is on NFL 100 All-Time Team, now only the Hall of Fame awaits

Football lists usually leave me feeling a bit cringey.

I don’t like being asked to rank players of different eras because of our collective historical ignorance and quite frankly my own. Even if we take a look at statistics or happen upon film of the player, it’s hard to compare.

I don’t like being asked my opinion on these matters because slighting someone who deserves praise is inevitable. The Bears 100 list was an excruciating exercise for all involved. Watching the reveal of the list was difficult. As hard as Don Pierson and Dan Pompei tried to be measured and fair in their assessments, worthy players were left out.

Our own Alex Brown felt obliged to defend his life’s work. Watching him go through that, quite honestly felt icky. For the record, A.B. ranks in the top 5 all-time in Bears history in sacks. The fact that he isn’t on the list is a shame, but I digress.

As football continues to celebrate its 100-year anniversary, I’ve been intrigued at the way the NFL Network has devised their ranking system and put together their “All-Time Team” of 100.

Now comes the part in the column where you can ignore almost every bit that comes before this sentence: I’m really happy that Devin Hester is on this list. It literally made me smile that his inclusion on the team was without any real debate.

Hester came along in my third full year covering the Bears beat. He was this quiet, shy kid who let his play do the talking. Watching him that first year was mesmerizing. In the ‘06 season he had five return touchdowns (three punts, two on kickoffs).

The most famous, until the Super Bowl, was his role in the Monday Night comeback against Arizona. What we were all watching was impossible. It’s a game that will live on in not just Bears history, but NFL history because the team somehow overcame Rex Grossman’s six, yes SIX, turnovers to win a game.

It was a win that prompted one of the most famous post-game rants in 100 years of the NFL.

Hester’s return in the Arizona game and his return to kick off Super Bowl 41 are both iconic moments. What I remember most about Hester is a bit more abstract.

I imagine that any Bears fan of a certain age can relate, but when the steel drums of Soulja Boy’s: “Crank That” start, it was an event. Hester adopted that song as his kickoff theme and the energy that would overtake Soldier Field before each kickoff was intoxicating. It was a call to arms for the 61,500 fans packed into the stadium.

There was Hester in the end zone-unaffected, dancing, waiting for a chance to make a play. You had to take notice because there was the opportunity to see something special, something you’d never seen before.

On top of hating lists, I hate Hall of Fame debates, but allow me to contradict myself once more. Hester’s inclusion on the All-Time Team list will go a long way towards his induction into Canton.

He shouldn’t have to beg or wait for his gold jacket. Everyone knows what they saw and what they saw was the greatest returner in the history of this league. This list affirms that.

The Hall of Fame is a museum, right? Well, how can a football museum keep out the Basquiat of returns?

Oh and A.B. should be on that Bears top 100 list. If we’re keepin’ it 100.

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