Bear Essentials

Bear Essentials

Angelo has praise for Brown but no contract

Posted by Bob LeGere on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 12:00
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo has finally addressed the team's curious decision not to offer nine-year veteran safety Mike Brown a contract before he hits the free-agency market on Feb. 27. “It isn’t an easy decision to part ways with a great player like Mike, but we felt the timing is right for both parties,” Angelo said on the Bears' web site. “Mike has given everything he has to the Bears over his nine years in Chicago. He was an outstanding player, a team leader and contributor in our community.

Alabama tackle set to strike it rich

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 22:31
Alabama's junior offensive tackle Andre Smith knew what he wanted way back in sixth grade. “When I really started playing football, I asked my dad what was the highest-paid position,” the 6-foot-4, 332-pounder said. “He told me (left tackle). The ball got to rolling after that.” Starting with his true freshman season, Smith started 38 games at left tackle in his three years at Alabama and some mock drafts have him going as high as second overall this year. But others have downgraded him because of a tendency to gain weight every off-season, although they still have him in the top 15.

Big man at Combine

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 15:54
You don't have to ask LSU guard Herman Johnson why his nickname is “House.” Even among the offensive linemen filtering through the media work room at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for interviews, Johnson stands out at 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds. He weighed 15 pounds, 14 ounces at birth, one of the biggest babies ever born in Louisiana, and he has grown into one of the biggest people on the planet. Johnson has had to follow a strict diet and exercise regimen to get down to 364, since he played at 385 pounds last season and has been as heavy as 411. He also has to convince NFL teams that he has the discipline to keep his weight low enough to maintain decent foot quickness and agility.

Bears plan for life without Tait

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 18:03
Now that the Bears have acknowledged talking to veteran offensive tackle John Tait about his probable retirement, the team can focus on re-signing unrestricted free agent John St. Clair and on drafting at least one more offensive lineman fairly early this year. “John informed us a few weeks ago that he was considering retirement,” Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said on the team's website late Wednesday afternoon. “He has been a great player and representative of our team since joining us in 2004. We would like to have him back for another season, but certainly respect his decision if he chooses to retire.”

What can (Mike) Brown do for the Bears?

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 02/17/2009 - 01:28
Why the rush to cut ties with safety Mike Brown? Sure he's been hurt in each of the past five seasons, but he started 15 games last season, and when Brown was healthy he was still one of the two best all-around safeties on the roster. He was also the smartest player on the defense, a team leader and one of the most respected players in the locker room. But still the Bears have told Brown they have no intention of making him any kind of offer before free agency begins on Feb. 27. But, if they're smart, they'll keep an eye on Brown after he hits the open market and, if no other team shows interest, they'll bring him back at a bargain price.

Bears offense needs a bailout

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sun, 02/15/2009 - 17:37
After the Bears' season-ending and playoff-blowing loss to the Texans general manager Jerry Angelo said: “You're never going to hear me say rebuilding.” Well, at least on the offensive side of the ball, the Bears are starting to look an awful lot like a team that's rebuilding. If John Tait follows through with retirement plans, the offensive line may be a greater need than wide receiver, and we all know how deficient the Bears are in that department. Even with Tait, the Bears' aging offensive line wasn't very good last season, and it looks a lot worse now. Suddenly journeyman John St. Clair has become someone the Bears can't afford to lose in free agency.

Bears have draft options at WR

Posted by Bob LeGere on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 15:49
Even if the Bears sign a veteran wide receiver in free agency, they still need to get another pass catcher as early as possible in the draft – and hopefully a difference-maker. They won't trade up high enough to get Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree or Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, who are both expected to be top-10 picks. So they'll have to decide if they want to gamble on another undersized but talented wideout like Florida's Percy Harvin, who is a project and somewhat fragile; or if bigger targets like North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey or Rutgers' Kenny Britt are worth the 18th overall pick. The Bears could trade down several spots and still have an excellent chance of grabbing one of them.

Favre just didn't know when to leave

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 18:37
So Brett Favre has retired again. So what? Hopefully he means it this time. He and the Jets would have both been better off if Favre stayed retired last year. Favre had one of his worst seasons, throwing a league-high 22 interceptions, 4 more than anyone else, and finished 21st in passer rating at a mediocre 81.0. All for only $12 million. Chad Pennington, whom the Jets dumped to make way for Favre, was better than Favre in every category after signing with the Dolphins. Pennington was No. 2 in the NFL with a 97.4 passer rating and had the second-best interception rate, just 1.5 for every 100 passes. Favre's was almost three times higher, at 4.2 picks per 100 passes.

Draft loaded with top linebackers

Posted by Bob LeGere on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 18:32
The Bears are not expected to have much early interest in any of the many linebackers who will be grabbed off the board in the first round come draft day, but that's where the quality is this year. With Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs each locked up for several years, and with Nick Roach playing well enough to crack the starting lineup last year, and Hunter Hillenmeyer and Jamar Williams adding depth, the Bears seem solid at linebacker. But this year's LB class is tough to ignore. Most mock drafts have at least six or seven linebackers being taken in the first round, but that number could be as high as 10 or 11 if some of the smaller defensive ends are drafted with the intention of playing them as rush linebackers in 3-4 defenses, which is likely.

How about a pass rusher?

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 02/09/2009 - 19:53
Based on the feedback generated by draft postings, there seems to be a wide variety of opinions on what the Bears should do with their first pick (No. 18 overall). But there is almost unanimous agreement that the Bears need to get a player who can come in and contribute right away. I agree that the top two wide receivers, Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin, could be difference-makers, but there have been far too many talented wideouts in the past few years who have struggled as rookies, and the Bears need to get better right now, before the playoff window closes.