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Monday, June 29, 2009

How to Rate A Quarterback

The other day an esteemed colleague of mine and I were debating quarterback rating as a viable method for evaluating quarterbacks. This foolish fellow may have been attempting to argue that Win-Loss record was a more valuable tool for measuring a quarterback's worth, and I wholeheartedly disagreed, as I do not believe that 19-12 Rex Grossman (70.2 career QB rating)is a better or more valuable quarterback than 17-20 Jay Cutler (87.1 career QB rating). So,what is the greatest indicator of a great quarterback?

Touchdowns? Brett Favre has more of those than anyone in history, but that's counterbalanced by the fact that he's the all time interceptions leader.

Completion percentage? By that count Jeff Garcia (61.6 career) is better than Troy Aikman (61.5), and I just don't buy that.

Yards per attempt? Well that would make the so-so Jake Delhomme (7.9 ypa last year) one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

So what metric Truly defines great quarterback?

Simply put, there isn't one. Or at least there wasn't one till now. Gentlemen, I introduce to you the Kyle Orton Quarterback Rate-O-Meter, or KOQROM for short. It's based on a highly complicated and secretive formula which takes into account win-loss records, QB rating, yards per attempt, passing yards, touchdowns, interceptions, facial hair, blood alcohol content, the number of comparisons John Madden makes of said quarterback to Brett Favre, and a variety of other factors. Using the KOQROM system, we wind up with the following league leaders at quarterback

(Scale runs from 0-275.6)

1. Kyle Orton, 256.8
2. Ben Roethlisberger, 221.4
3. Brett Favre, 217.3
4. Tony Romo, 206.9
5. Donovan McNabb, 199.6
6. Jay Cutler, 191.8
7. Phillip Rivers, 188.7
8. Matt Schaub, 186.8
9. Gus Frerrote,178.4
10.Trent Edwards, 169.4

Clearly the system works.

Most. Valuable. Quarterback. Evar.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Juice Williams, the Next VY?

The Cubs have once again reverted to suck, and I'm desperate for football season to start, so I'm gonna go ahead and do some bold predicting about this guy:

The man pictured above is Isiah "Juice" Williams, about to enter his fourth year as the starting quarterback for the Illinois Fighting Illini. Now Juice was highly touted as the next Vince Young coming into college (and was heavily recruited by Texas for that fact) and Illinois fans were ecstatic when he arrived on campus. His first three years have seen a 2-10 season, a Rose Bowl trip, and a 5-7 roller coaster of disappointment. Each year Juice has progressed as a passer and next year, in my opinion, will be a huge year for him under new offensive coordinator Mike Schultz. Schultz, formerly the highly successful offensive coordinator for Texas Christian, replaces Mike Locksley, who left to coach New Mexico. I'm sure Schultz will find it hard to replace Locksley's brilliant gameplan of Option Left, Option Right, Deep Ball!, Option Left, Sweep, Offensive Penalty, Sack, Punt. I for one expect Juice to improve under Schultz. But how much improvement? For the basis of my theory I turn to a comparison with the aforemention
Vince Young. Here's how the two stack up after three years as starting quarterbacks in college:


2006- 12 G, 8 GS. 103/261 (39.5%), 1,489 yds, 5.7 ypa, 9 tds/9 ints, 124.1 ypg, 91.9 rating

2007- 13 G, 13 GS, 153/267 (57.3%), 1,743 yds, 6.5 ypa, 13 tds/12 ints, 134.1 ypg, 119.2 rating

2008- 12 G, 12 GS, 219/381 (57.5%), 3,173 yds, 8.3 ypa, , 22 tds, 16 ints, 264.4 ypg, 138.1 rating


2006- 154 rushes for 576 yds, 2 tds, 3.7 ypa, 48 ypg

2007- 165 for 755 yds, 7 tds, 4.6 ypa, 58.1 ypg

2008- 175 for 719 yds, 5 tds, 4.1 ypa, 59.9 ypg.

Vince Young


2003-12 G, 6 GS, 84/143 (58.7%), 1,155 yds, 8.1 ypa, 6 tds, 7 ints, 96.3 ypg, 130.6 rating

2004-12 G, 12 GS, 148/250 (59.2%), 1,849 yds, 7.4 ypa, 12 tds, 11 ints, 128.4 ypg, 128.4 rating

2005-13 G, 13 GS, 212/325 (65.2%), 3,036 yds, 9.3 ypa, 26 td, 10 ints, 233.5 ypg, 163.9 rating.


2003- 135 rushes for 998 yds, 11 tds, 7.4 ypa, 83.1 ypg

2004-167 for 1,079 yds, 14 tds, 6.5 ypa, 89.9 ypg

2005-155 for 1,050 yds, 12 tds, 6.8 ypa, 80.7 ypg

Now, looking at those two lines you can draw a couple conclusions. The most obvious is that Vince Young is clearly better than Juice Williams and you might be quick to jump to the conclusion that I'm a moron. Vince clearly was much more effective when he chose to pull the ball down and run with it, although I can assure you from watching both Texas during Young's career and Illinois for most of my lifetime that Illinois' offensive line has not been anywhere near as effective for Juice as Texas' was for Vince. As for the passing numbers, however, if you throw out their freshmen years, where Vince split playing time with Chance Mock on a 10-3 Texas squad and Juice learned under fire for a 2-10 Illini team, and only look at their sophomore and junior years (Vince left for the NFL before his senior year), it breaks down like this:


372/648 (57.4%),7.6 ypa, 4,916 yds,35 tds/29 ints, 130.0 Rating


360/575 (62.6%),8.4 ypa, 4,885 yds,38 tds/21 ints, 148.5 Rating

Again, Vince's numbers are still better but the two lines are similar in most areas, with Vince's better completion % being the greatest difference.

All of this brings me to my point. While some feel Juice has progressed slowly or has failed to live up to his hype, in many ways his career progression when compared to a quarterback with a similar skill set in Vince Young seems to have set him up for a hell of a senior year, assuming certain things go his way. These things include:

1. The offensive line. Last year Illinois had one of the youngest offensive lines in the conference, and it showed. They failed to open up rushing lanes for Juce and running back Daniel Dufrene, which put more pressure on Juice to win games with his arm. They also allowed Juice to be sacked 25 times and forced him to hurry throws in many other games (not to mention that since college football subtracts yards lost on sacks from rushing totals for some inane reason, they may have cost Juice up to 163 yards rushing). If the Illini get better play from the offensive line this year, an active running game would take the pressure off of Juice, he'd have more time in the pocket to improve his decision making and accuracy, and he'd be able to rack up more of his own rushing yards. It's not impossible that this could allow Juice to become the third college quarterback with a 3,000 yd passing/1,000 yd rushing season (Vince Young in 2005 and Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour in 2007 are the other two).

2. If Danny Dufrene (or the other backs) step up as well. I realize I blamed a lot of the runningbacks' struggles last year on the line, but much of it was their fault as well. Dufrene was inconsistent at best last year and failed to show the burst that he had shown as the change of pace back to Rashard Mendenhall in 2007. Dufrene or one of the other backs must step up and become a consistent threat in order to prevent other teams from gameplanning solely around Juice.

3. Better offensive playcalling. As I sarcastically noted above, even though Illinois ranked 19th in the nation in total offense (but certainly not scoring, as a team like Iowa scored 30.3 ppg to Illinois 28.7, despite the Illini gaining nearly 65 more yards per game), far too often the Locksley/Zook brain trust seemed hellbent on calling the option at all costs, even when team's like Iowa and Wisconsin stuffed the ever-loving shit out of it, and their passing acumen seemed limited to chucking it up for grabs somewhere near Arrelious Benn or swinging it out to Dufrene. Hopefully Schultz can call a much more effective game.

4. An improved defense. The Illini struggled mightily on defense last season. They allowed 26.6 ppg, good for 9th out of the 11 Big Ten teams. They were a mediocre 6th in total yards allowed per game with 350.3, they were also 6th against the pass, 7th in sacks, and tied for dead last in interceptions, with 6. There is room for hope though, as the team was among the youngest in the conference on that side of the ball, and they return most of their starters on defense. If the defense can actually hold teams in place next year and take the pressure off of both Juice and the coaching staff, that will go a long way in determining the season Juice and the team will have.

Obviously those are four huge "ifs," but all four are attainable and have significant potential to improve this year. With those improvements in place and Juice stepping up in his senior year, he could generate a great deal of buzz and finally play up to his enormous potential.

Then what would happen next? Well with his rocket arm and outstanding mobility surely a great senior year would at least place him in the conversation about the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. Some team will most likely pick him, tantalized by his talent, and here he will truly live up to the Vince Young comparisons by showing off his horrible mechanics and decision making, forcing throws, and eventually being benched for a racist journeyman.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The UFL?

I realize this is now two posts about non-NFL or college football in two days, but the workday is light and quite frankly I'm stubbornly refusing to write about the Cubs until they give me something Worth writing about. So today I'm going to talk about a novel new concept, the United Football League. The UFL is set to kick off with four teams (Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, and San Fransisco) who will also play additional games in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and....Hartford, Connecticut. Because That's an unexploited football mecca. The league will play on Thursdays and Fridays from October to Thanksgiving. Their motto is "Where the Future Stars Come to Play!" which makes many believe that their ultimate goal is to serve as a developmental/minor league for the NFL from which teams can pull midseason replacements or future prospects.

In case you're wondering whether this league will be devoid of talent, I can assure you its every bit as loaded as the star studded rosters of the highly successful XFL! Why begin with the coaching staffs, where successful NFL coaches Dennis Green (113-94), Jim Haslett (47-61), Jim Fassel (58-53), and Ted Cottrell (defensive coordinator for the Bills, Jets, Vikings and Chargers, he was fired from 3 of the 4) all get a crack at the head jobs!

But what about the players on the field? Well besides the HUGE acquisitions of JP Losman and Tim Rattay, and the rumored acquistion of Ken Dorsey and maybe even Michael Vick*, its clear the team will have proven NFL field generals to light up the scoreboard! Curious about even more illustrious NFL and College vets that are going to take these first steps into a bold new football future? Here's the list of talent accumulated in yesterday's UFL draft!

So I know by now you're asking yourself, "Code Red, where the hell can I get in on some UFL action?" Well, by Golly, if you have the Versus Network, tune in this fall! If you don't, ASK YOUR PROVIDER NOW!!! Whats that, you actually want to be a PART of this fantastic experience? Well here's a place to sign up for tryouts! (honest to God loyal SKO readers, please sign up every single fictional football player you can think of. I've already registered Boobie Miles and Chris Rix (okay, not a fictional quarterback, just a really fake one). Get to it, people.

The UFL! Where the Future Stars Come to Play!**

*All kidding aside, how awesome would it be to see Vick exiled to a league of undrafted free agents and has beens. He might actually complete 60% of his passes! But probably not.

** Disclaimer: Probability of witnessing anything resembling past, present or future stars at a UFL game is extremely low.

The Reports of His Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

This guy, with two home runs today and a healthy .285/10/33/.361/.490/.851 line, would like to extend a hearty "fuck you" to any jackass that advocated starting Micah Hoffpauir back in April.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Canadian Refugee League

Why are there so many men on the field? What the hell is an Aloutte? If ham is Canadian Bacon, what do they call bacon??

A little confession that I've hinted at before on this site. I f*&king love Canadian Football. Granted it ranks below the NFL, NCAA Football, Arena Football, and Arena Football 2 on my ranks of football leagues, but its football nonetheless, and I enjoy watching it late during summer nights on CSN or wherever the hell its on. I love the 120 yard field. I love the 12 man teams. I love the fact that a punt that lands in the end zone is worth one point. I love that Henry Burris is the world's greatest dual threat quarterback when he's north of the border. But what I love most is seeing which former NFL and college players have taken refuge there. Every summer around the time of the Canadian preseason I check to see what notable names are there, and here are a few that I've seen this year:

On the British Columbia Lions-

Jarious Jackson, Quarterback.
Why you should know him: Jackson was a fairly competent starter in college and once held the Notre Dame record for yards, completions, and attempts during the 1999 season (Brady Quinn would later torch them all). He had a 14-10 record during his junior and senior years, the last two of the Bob Davie era in South Bend. After failing as a quarterback and safety in the NFL with the Broncos, Jackson wound up in BC, where he's been the starter the last two years.

Damian Sims, Runningback.
Why you should know him: He was a fairly decent backup for Albert Young at Iowa during the Drew Tate Era.

On the Edmonton Eskimos-

Jared Zabransky, Quarterback.
Why you should know him: He's the redbearded badass that took Boise State to a victory in the Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma by executing the worlds most beautiful Statue of Liberty Play in 2007. He was also on the cover of NCAA Football 2009.

Ciatrick Fason, Runningback.
Why you should know him: I don't really know, but I remember he played for the Vikings for a few years under Mike Tice when they had nothing resembling a running game.

On the Calgary Stampeders-

HENRY BURRIS, Quarterback.
Why you should know him: Because he's Crazy Legs Mother F*&kin' Burris, That's why. Somewhat of a cult hero at this website, Crazy Legs left a promising career* with the Bears for CFL glory and finally captured his first Grey Cup last year after throwing for 5,094 yards with 39 tds, and running for 595 yards and 5 tds. Here's a video of him OWNING Montreal's Shit-

Drew Tate, Quarterback.
Why you should know him: Because he was a three year starter at Iowa, one of Iggins! most beloved heroes (until Tate's senior year, when a slump led Iggins! to curse his very name),and he is living up to the many Doug Flutie comparisons he earned in college by playing in the CFL.

Matt D'Orazio, Quarterback.
Why you should know him: D'Orazio was a long time quarterback for the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League and led them to their first Arena Bowl Championship.

On the Hamilton Tiger Cats

David Ball, Wide Receiver
Why you should know him: Broke Jerry Rice's record for most NCAA Division 1AA touchdown catches.

Airese Currie, Wide Receiver
Why you should know him: A fifth round pick of the Bears in 2005, Currie was supposed to be a burner to pair with Mark Bradley and Bernard Berrian, but was injured his entire time with the team.

On the Toronto Argonauts

Cody Pickett, Quarterback
Why you should know him: The all time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, attempts, and completions for the University of Washington, played for the 49ers from 2004-2006and was so desperate to get on the field that he often played special teams and practiced as a wideout and safety.

Zeke Moreno, Linebacker
Why you should know him: A former USC standout who actually started for the Chargers in parts of the 2001-2003 seasons.

Jarrett Payton, Runningback
Why you should know him: The son of the greatest football player in the history of the sport, Jarrett has played for the University of Miami and the Tennessee Titans.

Reggie McNeal, Quarterback
Why you should know him: A four year starter at Texas A&M despite the fact that he sucked eggs, Reggie got the moron that is Dennis Franchione fired, and for that all football fans should be grateful.

For the Montreal Alouettes

Chris Leak, Quarterback
Why you should know him: A four year starter at the University of Florida who won the game MVP when Florida whalloped Ohio State for the national title in January of 2007. Leak then signed with the Bears and actually led some people to root for him to be the third stringer over Kyle Orton. Naturally those people were f*&king wrong.

Adrian McPherson, Quarterback
Why you should know him: A highly touted high school player who was destined for great things at Florida State, got in trouble with the law over a gambling scandal, was banned from playing college football, spent a few years in the Arena Football League and somehow got drafted by the Saints in the fifth round in 2005. Is suing the Tennessee Titans for 20 million dollars because their mascot hit him with a golf cart during a preseason game in 2006.

*Seriously though, he was awful. But I love him nonetheless

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Brandon Marshall, Plaxico Burress, and What They Mean to You.

Will Brandon Bring This Awesome Kid With Him? There's a man who looks like a winner!

Most of the recent news surrounding Plaxico Burress seems to have the Bears as one of the four teams that have expressed interest in him. Brandon Marshall loves his former quarterback Jay Cutler and recently has become the second Denver Bronco to storm out and demand a trade. The Bears have a glaring hole at wide receiver that Earl Bennett and Devin Hester's Potential™ probably won't fill all that adequately. So what would be the potential pros and cons of adding either Plaxico or Marshall?

Plaxico's story is pretty long and complicated. Plax was drafted 8th overall by the Steelers in 2000, struggled his rookie year, had some pretty decent years in '02 and '03 and bitched his way out of town by constantly complaining about Bill Cowher's conservative offensive style. He signed with the Giants where between constantly feuding with Tom Coughlin and being the one reliable target for the erratic early years of Eli Manning he managed to catch a touchdown in the Superbowl (one of only two catches he made, but still). This year he started off poorly with a contract hold out, was suspended and fined 45,000 dollars by the team for breaking team rules and then ended his season after shooting himself in the leg when he confused sweat pants for a holster. He sounds perfect, I know.

On the field Plaxico is one hell of a deep threat, however. Throughout his career he's averaged 15.5 yards per catch and is 10th among all active players with 55 touchdown receptions. He's had four seasons of 1,000 yards receiving despite never having more than 78 catches in a single season. With Jay Cutler heaving him the ball, it could be a beautiful thing.

Brandon Marshall's connection with Jay Cutler is already well established. For the last two years, both Cutler and Marshall's first two seasons as full time starters, they've combined for 206 receptions, 2,590 yards and 13 touchdowns. Marshall averages a pretty healthy 12.8 yards per catch in his career. He has struggled mightily with dropped passes, especially last year, in which he dropped 18, something he blamed on nerve damage in his arm resulting from smashing it into a tv during a wrestling match with his brother. So that's something.

Marshall's off the field rapsheet is just plain awful, and I'm not gonna detailing all of it but the guy's been arrested or questioned by the cops at least eight times in the last two years, was suspended three games last year (he got it reduced to one by promising good behavior. Then he got arrested in March), and nearly all of the incidents are related to domestic violence against his girlfriend. So we're picking between the guy that shot himself or the guy that frequently abuses his girlfriend (though Burress has also been questioned for domestic violence in the past).

All things considered, the best bet for the Bears would be Plaxico. Marshall's already facing a probable suspension this upcoming season (Roger Goodell does not like to be lied to, see Johnson, Tank or Jones, Adam for details), and would require a raise and a much longer deal from any team that trades for him. With his frequent troubles one can expect that Marshall would become a problem if he stays around too long. Plaxico, however, seems to have gotten his trial put off until 2010 and would probably be willing to sign a one year deal or perhaps a one year + option deal and may represent the much smaller risk. With the Bears in what should be a "win now" mode, I would go for Plaxico, though, really, chances are they wont pick up either receiver. How about that Earl Bennett?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Good News: Kyle Orton Named Starter in Denver, Bad News: Where the F*&k is the Neckbeard?

The good, if unsurprising news, comes from Yahoo! Sports. Some good quotes from the article:

From his coach:

“There’s a lot of difficult aspects about what we ask our quarterback to do in our offense and Kyle has really grasped some of them more quickly than Chris did,” McDaniels said in explaining the move after the second day of a three-day minicamp at the team’s Dove Valley headquarters.

From Kyle:

“I’m obviously really excited,” said Orton, who was a key piece to the Cutler deal that also included four high draft picks. “It’s really just the beginning for me in this offense and hopefully I’ll continue to improve every day and get the offense where we need to be come the season.”

From Kyle's beaten rival, Chris Simms:

"“Kyle’s extremely underrated,” Simms said. “I’ve always felt that way. He was underrated in college and with the Bears. He throws the ball very well. He’s a smart guy. He’s a big guy. There’s a lot of plusses with Kyle.”

Chris also added "I should know, I beat out Major Applewhite!" (this has nothing to add to the story, I just like to work in references to Major Applewhite whenever I can.)

In all honesty it shouldn't be that surprising to anyone that the guy that clearly swayed McDaniels to choose the Bears offer over anyone else's for Cutler was able to beat the free agent pick up who has thrown two passes in the NFL since his spleen exploded three seasons ago. I'd be a little bit embarassed and would probably drink heavily if our Hero failed to accomplish that. The question now is what Kyle will be able to accomplish in Denver since the fans are merciless when it comes to quarterbacks, the coach has shown enough of a steady hand since taking over that he's only driven his franchise quarterback away and seen his top wide receiver skip offseason workouts and threaten a holdout. What the hell, Kyle'll throw for 4,000 yards and activate the clause in his contract that'll require the Broncos to fill a swimming pool full of Jack Daniels and older women for him.

But that's what I think. Let me know what you think! Over on the right side of the page take the poll and tell me how many yards KO will rape the skies over the Mile High City for.

The real question in all of this, though, is where the hell did the neckbeard go? Has the stifling oppression of the Rocky Mountain mentality forced Kyle to fall in line? Shall we stand this injustice! Mais non! Don't let them change who you are Kyle! The neckbeard is you, and you are the neckbeard!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rex the Texan

Rex Grossman has signed with the Texans, where, in the indignity of indignities, he's expected to compete for the third spot on the depth chart behind Matt Schaub and Dan Orlovsky. Schaub has missed 10 games over the last two years and has never started a full 16 game slate, so it seems likely that at some point during the season Rex will at least be the back up. Orlovsky has never really impressed anyone and showed off his stellar pocket presence last year by running out of the end zone and remaining blissfully ignorant of that fact. He was also the primary starter for the 0-16 train wreck last year. For Rex's sake I can hope that with a depth chart like that he'll find himself back on the field, in which case his arm paired with Andre Johnson might lead to some big games. I bear none of the rage toward Rex that certain Bears fans do and I'd certainly like to see him succeed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lets Toss Cookies at Jerry Angelo!

You really have to love the compliant attitudes of team beat writers, be it Carrie Muskat of the Cubs or Larry Mayer of the Bears. In a segment on in which Mayer gets to ask several questions of Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, Mayer pretty much sets up Angelo for a few meat pitches to hit out of the park, which is a bit frustrating coming from one person with unfettered access to the organization. Mayer's questions in bold, Angelo's answers in italics, my brilliance in neither.

LM: Jay Cutler hasn’t missed a single day of the offseason program since he was acquired by the Bears on April 2. How pleased are you with the attitude and leadership skills he has displayed?

This is a wonderful cookie of a question. Let me translate "Just so we can spare you having to bear any uncomfortable questions about anything else you could have done this offseason, lets start off with a reminder that you've acquired Jay Cutler and just ask, hey man, how awesome is Jay Cutler?"

JA: I’ve been very pleased with his day-to-day attitude, and obviously it’s reflected with his work ethic and how he’s approached things. He’s rolled up his sleeves and he’s gone to work. He’s certainly not resting on any laurels. He’s come in here to prove himself and establish himself. I think we’re all impressed with that—I’m talking about coaches and players—because that’s the right way to do it. He’s got to earn his stripes here, and by showing up and doing the things that he’s doing every day, he’s doing it the right way.

Translation: He is SOOO Awesome.

LM: In a leadership position like quarterback, what kind of message does that send to the rest of the team?

Translation: OMG, like, Seriously, does everyone ELSE on the team totally think Jay Cutler is Awesome??

JA: To me, leadership is based on actions. When you come in, it’s your actions that lead because that’s how you gain people’s respect. It’s what you do every day and obviously it starts with your work ethic. I’ve never seen a leader without a great work ethic. Every leader I’ve ever been around has spoke volumes with his actions. It’s not just words, it’s not hype and it’s not some rah-rah thing that we sometimes equate leadership to. The guy doesn’t say much, and he doesn’t need to say a lot because his actions do his speaking.

Translation: Nobody really likes to talk to the kid because they're not sure how to react to a neckbeard-less quarterback.

LM: Which players have impressed you most in the first four OTA practices?

Translation: Jerry, which one of your unimpressive mid level draft picks expected to fill one of the glaring holes in the secondary or receiver corps would you like to blow smoke about so we forget that Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh, and Torry Holt were all available this offseason and none of them are playing catch with Cutler?

JA: There have been a handful of guys. Jamar Williams has done a nice job. You can see the athlete that he is. It’s his awareness and confidence levels that stand out. Craig Steltz looks like he’s taking a step. I really like the way Earl Bennett is attacking his role as one of the lead receivers. I feel he’s really showing the things that we all saw back in college. Devin Hester looks like he’s learning the little nuances. I’m watching Devin and he’s just not all speed at receiver. He’s doing things like setting up DBs; he’s getting a feel for that. He’s looking more natural as a receiver. Those are just a few guys. I know I’m missing other guys. I’ve seen Zac Bowman do things out there, looking like we saw him in the short time that we had him last year as well. For the most part, we’re seeing a lot of good things. You can throw Kellen Davis in there too. I’m real happy about the guys who are graduating into their second year in particular in what we’ve seen so far.

Jamar Williams? That guy we heard about for a few years as a surefire replacement for Lance Briggs should he depart? The one who showed us his potential by losing a job to Nick Roach? Where is Craig Steltz stepping? Is he backpedalling until he might finally be able to avoid getting beat on a deep post? Thank God Hester's learning the nuances, though I could swear I heard the same line before last season about how "polished" he was becoming.

LM: From what I’ve seen, no one has made more plays on defense in the OTA practices than Jamar Williams. It seemed like everyone was mentioning him as a possible heir apparent to Lance Briggs (before Briggs signed a long-term extension), but then Nick Roach passed Williams on the depth chart last season. Is it just a matter of the light finally going on for Williams?

Or its the fact that Roach made a pedestrian 38 tackles last year without a single sack, tackle for loss, forced fumble, or interception and they realize fans might actually start to want Hunter Hillenmeyer back in that spot, even though we derided him for four and a half seasons as the weakest link on the defense, so its time to make Jamar Williams sound good again.

JA: It’s not so much that the light has gone on. I feel like it’s more about the opportunity. The coaches made a decision between Jamar and Nick and they obviously opted to go with Nick, but to me it was a photo finish. We’ve always liked Jamar. I think he’s a three-down player. He’s bright, he’s athletic, he’s fast and he’s tough. There’s nothing not to like about him. What we’re seeing now is what we saw when he was in college and what we drafted.

Its good that going into his fourth year in the league we're seeing what he showed in college.

LM: Aside from the players you already mentioned, who are you most interested in watching over the final 10 OTA practices?

Seriously? He named like half the team earlier, who else's name are you seeking? This is a really, really weak question.

JA: I’m not necessarily looking at an individual as I am looking at positions. I want to watch the secondary. We have some veterans there as well as some young guys, and I want to see how that’s meshing together. I’ll also watch the receiver position. Much has been said about it, and I’m understanding of that.

Well thank God our GM understands we're a bit concerned about a receiver corps that ranked near dead last in just about every category and a secondary that ranked 30th against the pass. He doesn't seem to get why our fears aren't alleviated by Juaquin Iglesias and Josh Bullocks, however.

LM: There’s been a lot of speculation about the Bears possibly adding a veteran wide receiver before training camp. What is the likelihood of that happening?

Ah yes, an important question! Although I would have phrased it more like "Jerry, our receiving corps is such a joke that the Onion has mocked it, and several talented veterans have been available this offseason, could you please just add one of them?"

JA: I can’t say that it’s 50/50 or anything like that. We plan on going into training camp with what we have right now. I don’t have any visions of grandeur that a No.1 receiver is going to fall out of the sky and onto our doorstep. There aren’t many No. 1 receivers in the NFL. There are probably as few of them as there are special quarterbacks, so it’s a little bit of a misnomer to think that that player is out there and he’s available. We’ll always look at any player that we feel can help our football team, but we do feel good about the cast of players that we have at that position.

Well, that's a lot of words to say "it's not gonna happen."

LM: Tommie Harris has missed the first few OTAs while resting his knee. How concerned are you that his knee will be a long-term issue that affects his play this season and for the rest of his career?

It is a bit terrifying when the 26 year old keystone of your defensive scheme can't seem to stay healthy, so I'm glad this question was asked.

JA: There’s no major concern with him. He’s going to be up and going at some point here in the OTAs. We feel good about where he’s at medically. There’s nothing to be alarmed about. This is the offseason. We want to make sure that we take care of our players to the best of our ability and we’re always going to err on the side of caution in the offseason. He’s got an issue with his knee; we know that. He has to be smart about it, which he is. We’ve got to be smart about it, which we are. Is his knee pristine? No. it’s not. But it’s not something that he can’t perform well with. We’ve been real smart about how to bring Tommie along in terms of his training program. He’s not the only player. There are customized programs for most of our players because we don’t want the wear and tear to happen during the offseason. We just want to be smart about how we bring our players along. We don’t want to waste any mileage that players have in the offseason. The wear and tear comes during the season, not the offseason. The offseason is dedicated to conditioning, strengthening and training our players within our offensive and defensive schemes.

...Nothing about that made me feel better.

I realize this article was particularly bile fueled for someone who is actually optimistic about this season, but its undeniably frustrating to think that Angelo and the organization might just rest on the Jay Cutler acquisition while ignoring the holes that could be easily tweaked in order to vault this team easily to the top of their division. I'd just like to ask Jerry a few questions myself.