Bears

The 'sitzkrieg' of the NFL non-offseason; Now what?

410973.jpg

The 'sitzkrieg' of the NFL non-offseason; Now what?

Monday, March 14, 2011
Posted: 11:00 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
The NFL non-offseason enters the now what? phase.

I strongly dislike using war in any descriptions of sports situations; nobody ever said to a buddy in a combat foxhole, Man, this is just like football! But the best analogy this history major can come up with is sitzkrieg, the lull in the early months of WWII between the German blitz of Poland and the roll through France:

There was fighting; there will be more fighting. Right now, the whole thing is slouching toward the courts, although more than one source has suggested that the league wants to keep talking, you know the players do as well, and this may not wind up being decided by a judge. Well see.

The NFL and the-union-formerly-known-as-NFLPA did a lot of heavy lifting over the past month. They and mediator George Cohen werent able to close the deal. But it was very clear, if you could read through the sudden unseemly surge of Twitter spitting and claimscounterclaims as the two sides separated, that very real progress had been achieved in a lot of areas, other than that one big bag of cash that is still to be divvied up.

Check out Andrew Brandts excellent Q&A on Courtroom football on the National Football Post. Andrew was in management with the Green Bay Packers and runs through a lot of the questions swirling around all this.

And Sports Illustrateds Peter King goes into great depth with his latest Monday Morning Quarterback, with an overall note of optimism which is worth noting, coming from one of the most insightful pro football observers.

Not taking sides

The obvious question I get is: What do you think? Whos the problem?

Some are going to blast the greedy owners and others are going to trash the players and DeMaurice Smith. Im going to do neither, partly because I dont have a bias for against either side; because as a beat writer, I dont want to take sides and readers should believe that youre at least trying always to provide un-angled reporting; and because it doesnt matter.

But Ill offer two perspectives. One is that pointing fingers at the players and noting that they would have a hard time making comparable money on the outside were it not for football and the owners borders on insulting. Too many players dont walk away from the game; they limp away and on a first-name basis with their orthopedic surgeon.

The other is that for a lot longer than most of us can remember, the league has had the dominant financial high ground. As recently as the 1987 strike, the league was pretty much acknowledged as winning in their taffy pulls with the players. The owners may not have truly loved the 2006 deal that they opted out of but its difficult to see that as a bad deal; it just wasnt as good as they wouldve liked.

George Halas and that first group sitting around a Canton Hupmobile dealership, that was risk. If an owner doesnt make it with the business structure in place now, with virtually fixed guaranteed profit margin based on revenue stream and labor costs, they shouldn't be in the business anyway (see: Modell, Art).

Locally, in a good place

As far as the immediate impact on the Bears from the weekends goings on: not much. Offseason strength and conditioning programs for most teams dont usually start until about this time of March anyway, and the Bears give their players a longer time off than most; they would be starting toward the end of March.

I liked what I heard from Ted Phillips late last week. The Bears president, who has an elite-level sense of finance, sees a deal getting done. He wasnt tossing a cup of gasoline on the fire; he understands financial issues; and he runs one of those NFL franchises that may not have the small-market challenges but is one whose primary and only business is football. And Phillips and the Bears are not trimming staff or salaries. And theyll give refunds for tickets to any canceled games.

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

tb-bro.jpg
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'

truuub.jpg
USA TODAY

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.