Bears Draft and Johnny Football

I don’t have much insight on what the Bears will actually do in the draft and I don’t think Yahoo! sports does either but here is a mock draft from the Bleacher Report.  They have the Bears picking up a Defensive Tackle with the first pick to shore up our line.

After last years’ pick of Long in the first round I have a feeling that the Bears will surprise either by picking up someone that they can’t believe is still available when their pick comes up or someone who grades out on their system that isn’t as high on other teams’ radar.  All the recent free agency moves and changes have also radically altered the defenses’ strengths and weaknesses; I’ll bet Emery & Trestman think they know what’s up but for me now it is a 100% new defense on the field as far as I’m concerned.

Quarterbacks

One item that I find kind of crazy is how far down Johnny Football is in most of the drafts.  My gut (which is very often wrong) is that when we look back we will find that the other QB’s in the draft that seemed to be “safe” picks weren’t so safe after all.  It seems to me that the QB position is changing and there are fewer of the “pure” drop back passers and you can see it with Seattle and San Francisco and many others.  I am not talking about an option QB but someone who actually can give you a real scramble when you need it and is an actual threat for those yards.  You had the most “classic” of all QB’s in last years’ Super Bowl and you can’t judge based on one game but we saw how that turned out.  Johnny Football is that kind of passer with the ability to run if he has to and size hasn’t mattered to Russell in Seattle either…

But what Dan would say right away is that who the QB is – is much less important than where they are drafted.  For instance, if you were drafted as an offensive player in the “old” pre-Trestman Bears, your career was pretty much dead.  You weren’t going to develop, every year your scheme would change (or sometimes it would remain in a consistent and failing state), and doom was mostly guaranteed.  Some franchises like Cleveland are just cursed, and getting drafted there is a certain way to get smashed every down and likely start your career on a very low note, one that is difficult to recover from.

I find it amazing sometimes that NFL teams go with conservative picks like the prototype QB from a smaller or non winning school when the NFL is just a ruthless business and management will be jettisoned for failure.  All of the teams except for the Pats take knowing chances on injured guys (Manning), criminals (Marshall), and guys who don’t fit the mold in an attempt to get an edge and find value.  You have to take chances to survive and win.  I’ll just put the Pats in some other category of using these and every other tactic and some I’m sure I don’t even know about to stay ahead.

April Baseball

I was reading a brief Onion snippet (love the Onion) which said something to the effect of “Area Man already bored of baseball and thinking of the NFL draft”.  That’s me.  Baseball is now starting off in a huge funk in Chicago both with bad teams and horrendous weather.  We are just picking up where we left off after an awful 2013.  The Cell was deserted and in Wrigley they come for the beer.  When you look at how exciting and innovative the NFL is and then compare it to the 4 hour long windy rainy likely extra inning debacle that is April MLB it is hard to compete.

Value of Positions

While Dan knows 1 million times more about football than I do, like a broken watch, I am right a few times each millennium.  When the Bears were signing Forte a few years back I said that running backs, even good ones, were mostly valueless and could be replaced by whatever juiced-up lunatic is coming out of the top SEC teams each year.  Dan sent me an email from “Over the Cap” saying that now kickers and running backs had essentially the same forward-looking value for NFL teams.  That is a giant surprise given the history of the NFL but not such a big one when you look at how the game is evolving today.  Running backs have value but are easily replaceable, so they don’t have much individual value, at all.

On the other hand, when I look at tall wide receivers I can’t believe teams even try to go out there with smaller WR’s.  The advantages that they have over smaller secondaries is tremendous.  I don’t think that this is just physical – you need the right (head case, usually) guy but the edge it gives you is visible to the naked eye and even me, the dumb sports fan.

As for the rest of it, the Bears stand as the best example of the importance of an offensive line.  Last years’ Bears offense went from worst to almost first and I would give a huge portion of the credit to actually getting a decent offensive line.  The improvement was just astounding.

The New Bears

Wow Emery and Trestman have been busy this off season.  As you all know, I am full on board with their moves and after seeing that dramatic offensive improvement last year (second best scoring unit in the entire league), am excited to see our defense improve this year and getting back to the playoffs.

I am impressed with the patience and smarts Emery has shown in unwinding the Angelo era of awfully structured contracts.  The biggest and easiest example to show is the “trade” of Peppers for Allen.  Pep’s contract was a disaster to the cap for the Bears, and as I mentioned in a previous comment, it is likely that ANY TEAM would have had to cut him after this year – even if he had 25 sacks.  Which he didn’t.  Allen’s contract is for 4 years on its face, but the dead money and cap hit go away after 2 – so essentially Allen finishes his career as a Bear after 2015.  Unwinding Angelo’s nightmare takes time, and I think Emery knows and understands how current moves affect the future of the team.

With that, a quick summary of what has happened in the last month or so:

Gone:  Pepp, Hester, Major Wright, Corey Wootton, Michael Bush, Earl Bennett, and TQWSNBN.  Of course Lovie, in his inherent wisdom, gave TQWSNBN $5 million a year and instantly names him the starter.  I simply cannot wait to watch that qb put up a total shitshow in Tampa, proving that Trestman and Kromer are the real reason he was successful, not some random fantastic year an old qb had (of course Lovie believes the latter).

Who’s on the roster:  We re-signed Tillman, a good move I think.  He has a solid year or two left in him and is one of our keys in the secondary.  We also picked up Lamarr Houston, a solid D lineman from the Raiders.  We desperately need depth at this position and I wouldn’t be surprised to see us draft one or two SEC maniacs to fill up these spots.  Tim Jennings got a new deal.  Jared Allen is here, of course as mentioned above.  We also have Willie Young, re-signed Izzy Idonije for a year and still have Shea in there for situational downs.  I am no fan of Shea, but he will always have a roster spot for me for injuring Rodgers.  We also brought in a slew of veteran corners and safeties to address our shortcomings there, and also signed Hixon to replace Hester for runbacks.

We re-upped Cutler, and I am happy with it.  There will be arguments all over the place on this one, but not one person has yet to show me what “plan b” was that made any sort of sense at all.  Until that happens, I am happy.  We have a good quarterback – we just need to keep him upright.

I am excited to see what is up the front office’s sleeve for the draft.  We don’t have a backup qb yet so I imagine we may draft one there and certainly we should see a d lineman or two.  If it is even half as good as last year’s draft, we will be in excellent shape for 2014.

All in all, Trestman is very happy with Emery for sticking to the script and it appears that everyone is working together and making good moves for the betterment of the team, and doing the moves in a prudent manner as regards the cap so we can remain competitive, instead of having one year of greatness and then hitting the skids (many NFL teams have to “give up” some years due to past years cap mismanagement).

Alright, esteemed commenters, lets hear it.

Jared Allen

I’ll leave figuring out whether we overpaid for Jared Allen up to Dan but I am pretty damn excited to see him coming over to the Bears.  Our defense sucked last year and I’m OK with getting rid of just about everyone and starting over.

This is a big move by Emery and Trestman and their recent moves have mostly turned out well.  I am very hopeful that they know what they are doing although a 4 year deal with a guy who recently discussed retiring is kind of interesting.  Like Dan would say a 4 year deal doesn’t mean 4 years in the NFL if we get 2 to 2 1/2 good years out of him it will be a hell of a bargain.

Also smart for him personally to come to Chicago it is a big media market and he will be a hit here since Urlacher left and Cutty isn’t exactly the most charming guy around.

Bears Plan to Rebuild Defense Through the Draft

They had an interview with Briggs recently and he was doing a bit of moaning about all the Bears’ players unlikely to return due to cap concerns.

How would the Pro Bowl linebacker fix a defense that ranked among the NFL’s worst last season?  “Trade all the draft picks and bring my brothers back,” Briggs deadpanned on the Kap and Haugh show Friday.  Briggs, of course, is referencing Charles Tillman, Devin Hester, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher when he mentions his “brothers.”

But the Bears are likely to go another route, about to rebuild the team through the draft.

CSNChicago’s John “Moon” Mullin has said the Bears are going to spend “eight” of their seven draft picks on defensive players, which is just hyperbole, obviously, indicating that the Bears rank defensive help as the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 priorities in the draft.  Tillman and the Bears don’t have a deal in place, but there is still hope before NFL free agency begins in earnest next week. If Tillman and Peppers leave, Briggs and cornerback Tim Jennings will be the only veteran stars on a formerly star-studded defense.

Dan is definitely our expert here on the salary cap but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that under the new collective bargaining agreement the way to go is to build through the draft and hold onto guys for the first few years and then dump them when they earn a big payday, unless it is someone you want to build a franchise around (gulp, wait for it, Cutler).

The problem is that last year we paid our defense AS IF it was an elite defense, when it reality it was one of the worst in the NFL (and among the worst in Bears’ history).  I know that a lot of it was bad luck (Melton) but then again all the older guys got hurt and it likely contributed to many of our losses down the stretch, since the offense was in high gear.

There is no place anywhere less sentimental than the modern NFL.  It doesn’t matter how good you were to the franchise; as soon as you are expensive and have lost a step, you are (probably) gone.  Unless you play for a poorly run franchise in which case you’ll probably just hog cap space that could have gone to some up-and-coming lunatic.

The difference has to be good coaching.  You need great players, but you also need great coaches and a great system to get the most out of whatever talent that you are able to put on the field.  While we have to give some props to the elite era Bears defense and special teams, as Seinfeld would say

The new Bears era starts now and we have to be as unsentimental as Belichick.  Other than Brady no one is untouchable in his system in order to maximize available football value to the dollars available.  That’s what a winner looks like.  Loyalty is for suckers and fans who revere a team that last won ALMOST THIRTY YEARS AGO!

Bye Bye Hester

Dan and I used to say that he

Hester’ed Himself

When he would take the ball on a kickoff and run backwards, sideways, and generally get nowhere.

He can thank the idiotic former Bears coaches for trying to make him a wide receiver.

I will remember him for the good times and he did go out saying good things about Chicago.

Quote of the Day and So Long Julius

It is a virtual lock that Pep gets cut soon for cap reasons.  I am pretty agnostic about Pep – he did great last year, but seemed to me to be mailing it in at times this year.  Any way you slice it, he is a major drag on our cap and needs to go.

Along these lines, I asked Jason at Over the Cap what he thought about the way Emery is running the team, as far as managing the cap was concerned.  He talked about it on their last podcast for a bit.  Jason seemed a bit concerned about the Cutler and Gould deals, but gave Emery an “incomplete” at this stage.  I plan on following up with a question this week on how long should a new GM have to unwind the deals of the past.  I expect the answer to be 2-3 years but will let you know if Jason talks about it.  You should take an hour every week and listen to the podcast and you will learn a lot.

The quote of the day comes from the same website, from a recent post about the Panthers restructuring a couple of contracts:

…making it more difficult to consider eating a year for cap purposes in 2014.

The NFL, sometimes, isn’t what you may want to think.  It is routine for teams to “eat” a year of losses to get themselves back into good cap shape.  And that is what makes it a great and entertaining league.

Another Almost NFC North Connection

Recently we posted on how the Vikings and Pack picked up connections with the Bears and Illini (no matter how tenuous like a family name) and here at Fire Everybody we hoped for continuous failure to harm those rivals’ chances.

I had to look it up but the Bucs were in the same division as the Bears from 1977 to 2001 so hell they are close enough for this site.  Of course the Bucs picked up some of our major nemeses (I looked it up it is plural) when Lovie parked his no-enthusiasm and no-expectation rear end in Tampa Bay and brought along Mike Tice.  Then this was a bit surprising -

Lovie Smith was the head coach of the Chicago Bears when they selected Gabe Carimi with their first round pick in 2011. While Carimi struggled during his first two seasons with the Bears, the connection seemed like it could work in Carimi’s favor when Smith was named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach in January.

Instead, Carimi was released by the Buccaneers last week. He didn’t remain on the street long as he quickly signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday.

Ha ha what is a “Bears connection” worth, anyways?  Likely zero, especially with anything related to offense and / or coaching (on the defensive side you have a legitimate heritage).  With Trestman and Emery in charge I can see the opportunity to build a real tradition of offense that can spawn a legitimate web of interconnected successes downstream.  But past coaching and offensive connections to the Bears ought to be viewed as a cause for alarm.  At least until you are released…

I think that could spawn a great post here though… the “Imaginary Reunion of Terrible Bears Coaches and Offensive Busts”.  You could have Lovie, Martz, Shoop, Turner (hell, bring his brother too), Gabe, all the broke down and hellish running backs and offensive linemen we’ve picked up over the years with high draft picks, David Terrell (damn he is in his early 30′s and has been out of football like 8 years).  Now this is a post that I will goad Dan to do because he would do it much, much better than I ever could.