Bear Essentials

Bear Essentials

Bears free-agent wish list

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sat, 02/07/2009 - 01:00
Keeping in mind that many of the top unrestricted agents (Albert Haynesworth, Kurt Warner, etc.) will never get to the open market because they'll be franchised for the 2009 season or signed by their present clubs to long-term deals, here's my (somewhat) realistic wish list for the Bears: 1. DE Julius Peppers, Panthers: This is probably asking for way too much, but how much better would this premier pass rusher make Tommie Harris and the Bears' other d-linemen? 2. RB Darren Sproles, Chargers: An exciting, big-play threat who would be the ideal complement to Matt Forte. 3. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals: Not a field-stretching, big-time No. 1 receiver, but he's much more accomplished than anyone the Bears have now.

Tillman to safety?

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 02/04/2009 - 15:56
The possibility of Charles Tillman moving from cornerback to safety has been discussed since the day the Bears drafted him in the second round out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2003. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Tillman has more than enough size and toughness to handle a move to free safety, and his willingness to help out in run support has often been more impressive than his ability to shadow elite wide receivers one on one. But, until the Bears acquire a better cornerback than Tillman, they will resist moving him, even though free agent Mike Brown's days in Chicago might be numbered.

Let the mocking begin

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 02/02/2009 - 22:05
Since the off-season is officially here, what better time to start with the first attempt at a mock draft. I'm not sure Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey is worthy of the No. 18 pick, but the Bears really need a pass catcher, and the top two wide receivers, Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin, will be long gone. A safer pick, and one that would probably provide more immediate results, is offensive tackle, but the top three might already be off the board. The Bears also need an immediate impact pass rushers, and they're likely to go that route if one of the top sackers falls to 18. Since some of the undersized defensive ends project as linebackers in the NFL, there could be at least 10 of them taken in the first round. 1. Lions QB Matt Stafford*, Georgia

Dent kept out of Hall again

Posted by Bob LeGere on Sat, 01/31/2009 - 15:34
Richard Dent's fifth time as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame was no different than the previous four. Dent was again denied admission. From the original 15 modern-day finalists, Dent made the cut to 10 during Saturday morning's board of selectors meeting in Tampa. But when the field was trimmed to five, Dent was eliminated. The final five – Vikings guard Randall McDaniel, Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, Bills founder and owner Ralph Wilson Jr. and Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson – all received the required 80 percent of the vote and will be inducted in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 8. Cowboys wide receiver Bob Hayes was also voted into the Hall on the recommendation of the Seniors Committee.

Dent deserves Hall of Fame

Posted by Bob LeGere on Fri, 01/30/2009 - 19:04
After mulling it over for the past couple weeks, I think Richard Dent deserves to be voted into the Hall of Fame Saturday morning when the board of selectors convenes in Tampa. In the 27 years that sacks have been recognized by the NFL as an official statistic, only five players have more than Dent's 137 1/2. NFL All-Time Sack Leaders Bruce Smith 200 Reggie White 198 Keven Greene 160 Chris Doleman 150 Michael Strahan 141 Richard Dent 137 ½ John Randle 137 ½ Lawrence Taylor 132 ½ Leslie O'Neal 132 ½ Rickey Jackson 128 Derrick Thomas 126

Steelers' hit man tells it like it is

Posted by Bob LeGere on Thu, 01/29/2009 - 21:41
In my humble opinion, the best quote that has come out of Super Bowl week came from Steelers safety Ryan Clark. Clark, if you recall, is the heat-seeking missile who knocked Ravens RB Willis McGahee unconscious in the AFC title game. He was neither penalized nor fined for the hit. But seven weeks earlier he laid the wood to Patriots WR Wes Welker. Welker wasn't shaken up as badly as McGahee and walked off the field – gingerly. But Clark was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness because Welker was essentially defenseless, looking back toward the quarterback while crossing over the middle.

Bears coaches evaluating their own

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 01/28/2009 - 20:23
Lovie Smith and his staff have begun the phase of what they call their “self-evaluation,” dissecting their own players' performance from the 2008 season. Although Smith has already said he believes his 9-7 team is “close,” here's hoping he and his assistants come to a few of the same conclusions that most of the rest of us already have. First, the Bears need a big, physical wide receiver. Think Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson or Brandon Marshall, all of whom are at least 6-foot-3 and more than 220 pounds. Missouri's 6-foot-1, 200-pound Jeremy Maclin and Texas Tech's 6-foot-3, 214-pound Michael Crabtree are close enough, but they'll both be gone by the time the Bears pick at No. 18.

Minicamp moved up

Posted by Bob LeGere on Wed, 01/28/2009 - 19:31
The Bears have decided to move their full-squad minicamp up two months this year from mid-May to March 17-19. That will give coaches, especially new staff members Rod Marinelli and Jon Hoke, scouts and other personnel evaluators a last look at the current talent in advance of the April 25-26 draft. The rookie minicamp will still be one week after the draft, the 10-week off-season program will again begin in April, and most OTA practices will be in June.

NFL coaching ranks flooded by ex-Bears

Posted by Bob LeGere on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 19:01
It's impossible not to notice the swelling numbers of NFL coaches who played for the Bears, especially in the 1980s. The irony is that none of them coach for the Bears. I wonder why? Titans head coach Jeff Fisher was a Bears cornerback and punt returner from 1981-84. He spent the '85 season on injured reserve and served as an unofficial Bears assistant coach. Mike Singletary, the 49er's head coach, a Hall of Fame middle linebacker, was with the Bears from 1981-92. Saints head coach Sean Payton was a quarterback on the “Spare Bears” team that played three games when the NFL Players Association went on strike in 1987.

Mock draft season begins

Posted by Bob LeGere on Fri, 01/23/2009 - 15:55
Tis the season to mock, and every year it seems mock drafts start appearing earlier, so let the debating begin. I'm already on record as saying the Bears should tab one of the top five offensive tackles if one is available, but, so far, no one else seems to share my vision. Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki has the Bears taking Penn State's junior defensive end-outside linebacker Aaron Maybin, who may not have the bulk yet to be more than a situation player as a lineman. But, according to Nawrocki, “Maybin has elite first-step quickness and could bring the edge burst, that the Bears' defense sorely lacked last season.”