Bear Essentials

Bear Essentials

Forte looks better than ever

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 07/26/2012 - 20:51
Matt Forte looks and sounds a lot better when he’s bursting through the secondary instead of whining about money and respect. Not saying he didn’t deserve the $32 million over four year the Bears finally shelled out shortly before the start of camp, because I think he did. Even watching him in a camp-opening practice that didn’t include shoulder pads or contact was impressive. Somehow, Forte seems to get faster and quicker every season and, if he stays healthy, he’ll be worth every penny he squeezed out of the Bears. Because of the contract squabble, Forte didn’t participate in any of the Bears’ off-season activities, but he’s clearly in elite shape.

Urlacher says this year could be big

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 07/25/2012 - 18:20
You wouldn’t expect a 34-year-old, 13-year veteran like Brian Urlacher to buy into a trite concept like “sense of urgency,” as in the annually asked: “Is there a greater sense of urgency this year than ever before?” “There's a sense of urgency every year,” Urlacher said. “It's a new team every single year. There are guys gone, guys get cut that you don't expect to get cut or traded, anything like that. So every year is a sense of urgency. It's no different than any other year.” However, even a grizzled veteran like Urlacher believe that this year could be special. “I think we have the talent now to reach our expectations,” he said. “We always say that because it's the right thing to say. But I really think we can do it this year.

Developing rookie WR Jeffery

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 07/24/2012 - 19:45
Quarterback Jay Cutler has an interesting take on the potential development of rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, the Bears’ second-round draft choice. The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder from South Carolina caught a modest 49 passes for 762 yards last season for the Gamecocks, but he had a monster sophomore season in 2010, catching 88 passes for 1,517 yards. Cutler believes the les the Bears ask of the 22-year-old jumping jack the better chance he has to contribute right away.

OLT help arrives in this mock

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 04/23/2012 - 21:50
In Pro Football Weekly’s latest mock draft, they enlisted the “expertise” of their correspondents around the league, including yours truly, and had them make the selection for the team they cover. I don’t necessarily believe the draft will fall this way, but at No. 19, I had my choice of Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus and Iowa OLT Riley Reiff, and I took blind-side pass protection for Jay Cutler. There is some concern that Reiff doesn’t have outstanding OLT characteristics. He lacks great movement skills, and his arms aren’t the ideal length to keep pass rushers at bay, but he started all 26 games the past two seasons at OLT and was a first-team all-Big Ten pick.

Soft early schedule should aid playoff run

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 04/17/2012 - 20:54
At first glance, it appears the Bears’ 2012 schedule is conducive to a playoff season. Not that you can ever tell in April how well teams will do based on their previous year’s records, but three of the Bears’ first five opponents had double-digit losses last season. The Colts (Week 1) and the Rams (Week 3) were both 2-14 last season, and both those games are at Soldier Field. In Week 5, the Bears get the 5-11 Jaguars in Jacksonville. So, even if they lose on the road in Green Bay in Week 2 and in Dallas in Week 4, the Bears should go into their off week with a 3-2 record, but a victory over the Cowboys and a 4-1 record at the break is do-able.

No lenience for Saints, Payton

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 04/09/2012 - 13:43
To no one’s surprise, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell declined to reduce the penalties of Saints head coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for their role in the team’s three-year bounty program. The league announced Monday that Payton’s one-year ban will remain intact, as will Loomis’ half-season penalty and Vitt’s six-game suspension. It didn’t help their cause that their appeal, heard last Thursday, came on the same day that an audio clip surfaced of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the bounty ringleader, exhorting his players to injure their 49ers opponents in a 2009 playoff game.

Mock draft 1.0

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 04/03/2012 - 15:33
With the draft a little more than three weeks away, it’s time to start mocking my draft projections, so here’s my first shot at predicting this year’s Selection Meeting. 1. Colts QB Andrew Luck, Stanford 2. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor 3. Vikings OT Matt Kalil, USC 4. Browns RB Trent Richardson, Alabama 5. Buccaneers CB Morris Claiborne, LSU 6. Rams WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State 7. Jaguars DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State 8. Dolphins DT Dontari Poe, Memphis 9. Panthers DL Melvin Ingram, South Carolina 10. Bills OT Riley Rieff, Iowa 11. Chiefs OG David DeCastro, Stanford 12. Seahawks LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College 13. Cardinals LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama 14. Cowboys OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia 15. Eagles LB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama

A vote for O-lineman over pass rusher

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 00:17
The Bears are still looking for another pass-rush threat to complement Julius Peppers, and there’s a good chance that Illinois junior Whitney Mercilus will be available when they pick 19th in the first round. The 6-foot-3 ½-inch, 254-pound Mercilus led the nation with 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles last season, and he had a Big Ten-best 22 ½ tackles for loss. But, according to Pro Football Weekly’s draft expert Nolan Nawrocki, the Bears shouldn’t draft the one-year wonder, who had a total of 2 sacks in his first two seasons with the Illini. “Personally, I think it’s too much of a reach just based on the tape,”

Payton punishment too severe

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 03/22/2012 - 18:09
Judging by the amount of negative e-mail I’ve received regarding my column criticizing the severity of Sean Payton’s punishment for his role in the Saints “bounty” program, I’m obviously in the minority on this one. Point taken. But I still don’t believe that the Saints’ defensive players behaved any differently than defensive players on other teams. It’s a physical game, and the object of playing defense is to hit the player across from you as hard as possible – within the rules.

No. 1 pick should be obvious

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 10:57
The Bears finally have the big, game-changing wide receiver they’ve needed in Brandon Marshall. They have a backup quarterback in Jason Campbell who is good enough to start for a lot of NFL teams. By re-signing Israel Idonije, Kellen Davis, Tim Jennings and Craig Steltz they have solidified themselves at defensive end, tight end, cornerback and safety, respectively. They really haven’t upgraded those spots, but they’ve done enough to keep them from being weaknesses next season.