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Monday, August 30, 2010

Oh Good God.

All of you, especially Rick Telander (what is it with Ricks?), need to shut the hell up about the preseason. Perhaps last season's 3-1 record preceding a 7-9 shitfest wasn't enough of an indicator to you that the preseason just doesn't matter? What about when they went 1-3 in 2006? Or 0-4 in 1985? No, I'm not saying that their shitty performance this preseason is indicative of future success. That's also retarded. Correlation =/= causation. Howevah, it's time to take a deep breath and wait until they drop a game that matters to the Detroit Lions in week one before popping in some Fiona Apple and sinking into a bathtub full of your own blood. Good lord.

The offensive line looked less than stellar and their performance in both pass and run blocking wasn't inspiring. Jay Cutler just made two bad throws. He also made some good ones. His completion % has been pretty low, but Martz has really only had him attempt long passes, because why wouldn't you just go for broke when you're trying shit out?

The linemen also haven't even attempted any kind of double teams or slide protections or anything of that nature, as they've simply been trying "power" football, something they probably won't utilize as much during the regular season with their zone schemes.

All of the injuries to the linebacking corps are minor and the Briggs-Urlacher-Tinoisamoa triumvirate is supposed to start week one. Major Wright should also be back, which will move Manning to nickel and strengthen the pass defense as a whole.

The defensive line has gotten some consistent pressure, even if the sack totals haven't started climbing. I'm confident that they will, even if it's the only prediction I feel bold enough to make about this team.

I don't know what to make of the 2010 Bears. I really don't. I've seen just as many reasons for optimism as I have for doom and gloom. Johnny Knox is going to break ankles and destroy worlds. The problem is that these games aren't going to give you any indication either.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Nobody Takes the 3rd Preseason Game Like It's Bullshit. Bullshit!

Yes, I'm sure every other blog in America is using that line for this upcoming preseason game, but my team is the one that both inspired the line and is playing a rematch with the team whose former coach uttered those famous words, so I can use it.

Anyway, we all know that people say the third preseason game is the only one that "matters,"but that's bullshit because none of them matter (sorry, Denny). However, this is the first game that they've practiced for like a regular season game and the starters should play into the third quarter. THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

-If you haven't already guessed that "Can the offensive line keep Cutler alive?" is going to be my first bullet, you should probably stop breathing and spare the rest of the human race your continued existence. I'd like to see less than 4 sacks total in this game (I have very, very low standards at this point.)

-Can Greg Olsen not piss me off for one game? C'mon, Greg. Don't drop any easy passes. Spring a block. Perhaps even outmuscle a cornerback. Any one of those and I'll stop sticking pins in my #82 voodoo doll for a week.

-Will Danieal Manning do anything to keep himself from losing the safety job? The most encouraging news I've heard all week is that, barring disaster, Wright will take over at safety and Manning will move to nickel once Wright is healthy. This is good because Wright has looked great and Manning has always performed best at the nickel.

-Can the defensive line get even more pressure against a couple of immobilie quarterbacks? Neither Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson (who's getting the start Saturday night because Ken Whisenhunt would like to see some long incompletions rather than short ones) has the mobility of Jason Campbell, who barely escaped and extended a few drives last week. If the d-line keeps up the same amount of pressure they should get a few sacks of these guys, which would be encouraging to see.

That's really all I'm looking for in this game, although I'd love to see the team humiliate Matt Leinart, because f*&k that guy, that's why.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Todd Collins? Why? Damon Huard Wasn't Available?

The Bears signed former Redskin/Chief/Bills clipboard holder Todd Collins today. The 38 year old Collins went to Michigan, so I hate him, and is now the insurance policy in case Hanie can't return before the season starts and Matt Gutierrez is somehow more awful than Todd Collins and Dan LeFevour. LeFevour, who I had high hopes for, is currently staring at a line of 5/20 (25%), 60 yd, 0 TD, 1 INT, 18.8 rating, and would seem an unlikely candidate of doing anything other than a Henry Burris impersonation if forced into a regular season game, so I suppose someone had to be signed off the street.

But why Todd Collins? I know he's been in the system before but outside of one three game stretch in Washington back in 2007 (and you might remember who he padded his stats against that year), he's been a bland, boring, worthless back up quarterback. After 1997 (his only year as a full-time starter when he was the first schmuck to fail miserably in a Bills uniform while trying to replace Jim Kelly), he threw exactly 27 passes over the next decade. He blows.

My point, however, is not that there are better candidates out there for serving as a back up that knows the Martz offense. No, my point is, as I pointed out with the story about Tom Moore and Jim Sorgi last week, if Cutler goes down this team is royally boned anyway, so the Bears should sign up someone interesting who will make the season worth watching, rather than some boring joe like Todd Collins. Some candidates:

JaMarcus Russell- He can throw the football 80 yards and see if Devin Hester or Johnny Knox can run under it, and he help Chris Williams on the line on running plays.

Jeff George- Why not? They did it once before, and Jeff is Still lobbying for someone to sign him. He's also such a notorious asshole that Rick Morrissey would finally think Jay Cutler was a good teammate by comparison, and he made this sweet workout video:

Jeff George, the Kenny Powers of the NFL.

Tim Couch- because the man's taken HGH just to get back in the game and he deserves a shot for that kind of commitment. Also because it WASN'T HIS FAULT.

Tommy Maddox- Hear me out on this one. First we have to send Tommy Maddox to the upstart UFL so that he can win the UFL championship. Their season ends in November, so the Bears could sign Tommy in time to give him another chance at being a one shot wonder making a comeback in the NFL after a stint with a shitty alternative pro football league.

Jamie Foxx- If he's good enough for the Miami Sharks, he's good enough for me.

Joey Harrington- He's unemployed and I need yet another excuse to sing "Piano Man" without seeming gay.

Brian Griese- Nah, I'm just fucking with you. Todd Collins is a better quarterback than Brian Griese could have been even if he was actually Bob Griese's son and not the child of the Faulknerian idiot manchild who mowed their grass and whom Bob's lonely wife cottoned to.

Matt Grothe- You may not know who Matt Grothe is. That's fine. You just need to know that "G to the R O T H E is a Beast From Da Big East"

So there you have it, just a few suggestions that will keep the Bears hilariously relevant, if not competitive, if Cutler should go down. Because Todd Collins will do neither.

The Parking Lot Attendant at Halas Hall Just Ran Around Chris Williams and Sacked Jay Cutler

Well, there's plenty that you can take away from the first half that the starters played on Saturday night (all of it hasty, reactionary, and based on a ludicrously small sample size as all good opinions are), starting with:

Yeaaah. All the excuses in the world (and I've got some stashed somewhere...did I mention they're trying like, a new zone blocking scheme?) can't hide the fact that Kamerion Wimbley absolutely wrecked Chris Williams' shit. Wimbley went under, around, and straight by Williams while making Cutler's life a living hell. That just can't happen. I'm really shocked at this, as at no point even in his relatively weak showing at right tackle last year, and especially not in his stellar end of season run at left tackle, did Chris ever look this overmatched. I can only hope the SOB was out drinking whiskey out of the navel of a co-ed on Friday night and just had a Rex Grossman on New Year's Eve style nonchalance toward a meaningless exhibition game in August. Otherwise, yikes.

-Urlacher suffered an injury that could simply have been a cramp and probably would have kept playing had said injury occured during the regular season, but hey, that's no reason not to overreact and describe him as fragile and unable to finish a game, right Rick Telander?

- All of those bullshit puff pieces about Matt Forte looking like a new man may not have been bullshit puff pieces.
The 89 yard run was a thing of beauty that combined a perfect play call with perfect blocking and Forte absolutely burned the defense with his speed. However, Forte averaged 5 yards per carry on his other 4 rushes as well and several times used a quick burst to get out of the backfield and turn what would have been a loss last year into a pretty good gain. He's ready to go, and here's hoping he can stay healthy and keep Chester Taylor as a third down specialist.

-Johnny Knox is still really freaking good.
That's really all there is to it.

-Martz knows how to use Devin Hester
Hester had a nice 29 yard reception (although he dropped another ball that hit him in the hands) and had two solid runs on end-arounds. Martz seems to have a much better grasp on when to run those things than Ron Turner did.

-Jay Cutler will be really good if he can stay alive
Jay is clearly pretty comfortable in this offense. He moved the ball well despite being brutalized. Although he was only 7/15 (46.7%), Hester and Olsen dropped easy passes that would have put him at 9/15 (60%). As it was, he finished with a 90.7 rating and his touchdown toss to Knox (after extending the play) was a thing of beauty. He also had a nice 11 yard scramble.

-The defensive line looked good
Yes, the Raiders have a notoriously horse shit offensive line. However, after that first drive Campbell was harassed mercilessly like he should be behind that line and was just 5/15 with an interception and a sack/fumble after starting 5/5. Less mobile quarterbacks would probably have been sacked...well, about as often as Cutler was.

-Greg Olsen will still cause my blood to boil with regularity.
Did you enjoy the juxtaposition of Greg Olsen failing to plow through a smaller defender for a first down followed shortly thereafter by a Raiders drive being extended when tight end Zack Miller (listed as the exact same size (6'5'', 255) as Greg) plowed through a bunch of smaller defenders? Yeah, me neither. Olsen also ended a drive by dropping a pass that hit him right in the middle of his hands, because G-Reg don't like 'em easy, baby. He's soft and I hate him. I'll also bitch incessantly if Martz doesn't throw to him, because I like Having and Eating when it comes to my cake.

-I'm not going to lie, I was drunk the entire second half.
And Dan LeFevour looked like total garbage.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Preview: Raiders at Bears

Tomorrow night is the second playoff game. The starters (including Cutler) should play anywhere from the entire first quarter to the entire first half. Hopefully this'll give us a chance to see if Cutler's 2-2, 47 yard performance to start last week's game is going to be an aberration or possibly a regular occurence this year. A few other things to watch:

The offensive line: Of course. The pass blocking was Okay when the first team offensive line was in the game, but shitty when the back-ups came in. The run blocking was shitty no matter who was out there. I'd expect them to try to establish the run a little bit to see if they can average more than 2.6 yards per carry and calm people down a bit.

The Safeties: Major Wright's performance last week should have been another step on the way to earning the starting job, but the injury to his finger will probably keep him out until the season opener and will cost him the starting job to begin with, most likely. This sucks, as it means yet another healthy dose of Danieal Manning. Now, it's not that I dislike Danieal. He seems like a nice guy, always does what he's asked, and he's a hell of a kick returner. But he sucks ass as a safety. Hairy guy ass. He can't tackle to save his life and his instincts are absolutely terrible. He's going to lose his job to Major Wright eventually, it's just a shame that probably won't be until week two of the regular season at the earliest. Oh, and Craig Steltz got hurt, so at least we don't have to worry about him lining up with the starters, which would be the only scenario worse than handing the job back to Manning. I'm not sure why I said you should watch the safeties. I mean, it's not like one preseason game is going to change how much they all suck (outside of Chris Harris). We've been seeing that for years. I guess maybe you should look away, lest you suffer some kind of horrible disappointment.

Pisa and Roach: I have a feeling the team really wants Pisa to win the SAM linebacker spot, but to their credit, and according to all observers, the reps have been split equally between the two. Whichever one of these two guys plays better this week and next week will walk away as the starter.

Dan LeFevour: Unless Matt Gutierrez is some kind of wizard who can pick up the Martz offfense in three days, LeFevour will be the back up quarterback until Hanie returns. We should hope that he plays a bit better than he did last week, although the possibility of LeFevour playing an actual regular season game if Cutler goes down reminds me of this conversation about Jim Sorgi and the Colts reported on Kissing Suzy Kolber earlier this week:

"One of my friends used to work/intern for a sports show. One day, he was helping a reporter interview Colts OC Tom Moore. The Colts, of course, were set at QB with LaserRocketArm, so the reporter decided to question Moore about the backup, Jim Sorgi. One part of the interview went a little something like this.

Reporter – How many reps does Sorgi get with the first team offense during the week?
Moore – None.
Reporter – Why is that?
Moore – Because he doesn’t play with the first team during games.
Reporter – So you don’t want him to get any practice with the first team, in case Peyton goes down?
Moore – Well, if Peyton goes down, we are fucked.
Reporter – So why not give Sorgi some first team reps just in case he does?
Moore – Why would we practice being fucked?"

Found here. And that's pretty much exactly how you should feel if #15 (how did they not retire Jim Miller's number?) takes the field in any meaningful game this year.

The runningbacks: Despite all the good we've heard about them this offseason, they collectively dropped a load in the first preseason game. They all missed blocks (very, very crucial for backs to block in this offense) and they averaged little-to-nothing on their carries. It'd be nice to see those things improve.

More pressure from the defensive line, please: The Chargers were pretty good at going with short passes to keep the defensive line from being much of a factor. The Raiders don't tend to work that way, so there should be opportunities to get at Jason Campbell, Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller, or Colt Brennan (Wow. That's some depth chart). Hopefully they take advantage.

That's about all I'll be looking for, especially since it's still the preseason and 99% of the conclusions I draw will be wrong (whereas in the regular season I'd like to believe that number hovers around 85%). Enjoy the game, I'll be back with reactions either Sunday or Monday.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bears-Chargers Notes

I'm not going to lie, I barely watched this game, and stopped watching long before Dan LeFevour ever came into the game so that I could watch Tim Tebow revert to his loopy delivery while racking up yards against the Bengals' practice squad. But anywho, just a few things:

-Jay Cutler threw his two passes really well. The deep ball to Knox was a text book Martz route, with Knox reading the coverage on an option route and putting on the brakes to make a nice catch.

-As I just said, Knox did a great job of running routes during his time on the field. I'm growing more and more adamant that Knox will be the #1 receiver on this team.

-I'm less down on the first team o-line's performance than most, as I think they did an OK job with pass blocking, but the run blocking was indeed awful. We'll have to see more next week.

-Major Wright is a bad ass. Hopefully he's healthy.

-That's about it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bears @ Chargers, First Preseason Game

The Bears take on the Chargers in Glorified Scrimmage #1 this weekend, and while Lovie typically only plays the starters for a few drives in the first quarter during this game, there are a few things worth looking for:

1. Does Lance Louis look totally overmatched?
It sounds like Garza is moving permanently to left guard and Louis is the guy who has emerged as the probably starter at right guard despite the early buzz over Johan Asiata. While I like the willingness to commit assault in my offensive linemen, it remains to be seen whether Louis can actually maul guys on the field. Just watch closely to see if he's getting pantsed.

2. Do Urlacher/Tommie Harris/Pisa Tinoisamoa/Matt Forte appear to be back up to full speed?

That one's kind of self-explanatory.

3. If Jay Cutler and Devin Hester have a communication issue resulting in a bad throw, how soon will Rick Morrissey write an editorial deriding Cutler as a bad teammate?

As is this one.

That's about it. Enjoy the game, football is back, even if no conclusions can even remotely be drawn until the 2nd preseason game. Oh, and don't overreact this year.

Unless they win.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Your SKO Training Camp Preview: The Defense

Yes, I know that in order to be a preview it has come Before training camp starts, but sometimes people have to actually Do work at work. Anywho, the first indications out of camp are that Lovie is trying to regain the love of Ditkas and Buffones everywhere by running a harder camp than he ever has before. Marcus Harrison has responded by again joining the injury list. Because he's fat.

Anywho, onto the defense:

DEFENSIVE ENDS: #90 Julius Peppers, #97 Mark Anderson, #69 Henry Melton, #71 Israel Idonijie, #96 Barry Turner, #98 Corey Wooten

Pepper is obviously the big man here. I don't really think his reputation for taking plays off is deserved. He was a guy that had to be accounted for every single time you played Carolina. He should have a few years left in the tank. He's the biggest key to the defensive turnaround that this team needs to compete.

Anderson gets one last chance to start, with Izzy Idonijie biting hard at his heels. My guess is Anderson will remain a 3rd down pass rushing specialist, with Izzie doing the grunt work. Wooten was a nice pick. He and Melton will provide the depth. Who is Barry Turner?

DEFENSIVE TACKLES: #91 Tommie Harris, #95 Anthony Adams, #93 Jarron Gilbert, #99 Marcus Harrison, #70 Averell Spicer, #75 Matt Toeaina

The yearly "Tommie is Healthy!" stories are out in full force. With Tommie I'll just wait until prime time to decide what he's going to do this year. He plays when he wants to play. He'd better want to this year or he'll be out of a job. Anthony Adams is a perpetual overacheiver, but they could stand an upgrade. Gilbert may be a bust. Harrison should have locked down a starting job a long time ago but continues to suffer from debilitating obesity. Fatass. Spicer and Toeaina will find their way to the practice squad or stashed on the IR. Idonijie will move inside a lot on passing downs.

LINEBACKERS: #54 Brian Urlacher, #55 Lance Briggs, #59 Pisa Tinoisamoa, #92 Hunter Hillenmeyer, #62 Brian Iwuh, #52 Kevin Malast, #94 Matt Mayberry, #53 Nick Roach, #58 Tim Shaw

Urlacher and Briggs are locked in, obviously. Briggs is still in his prime and is the leader of the defense, no matter what Urlacher thinks. Urlacher will not be "back in form." He'll be a competent tackler and he'll do a fine job of getting everyone else into position to make plays. That's all he needs to do at this point. Pisa and Roach will battle, and I'd like to see what Pisa can do if he stays healthy. Roach is no slouch, though. Iwuh, Malast, and Mayberry are all probably goners. Hillenmeyer is good depth at both SAM and Mike. Tim Shaw is the guy who'll get the roster spot reserved solely for a special teams player, me thinks.

SAFETIES: #46 Chris Harris, #27 Major Wright, #38 Danieal Manning, #20 Craig Steltz, #36 Josh Bullocks, #24 Al Afalava, #37 Quentin Scott

Harris is locked in as a starter. He was a good player when he was here the first time and he never should have been sent away. He got better while he was gone. He's a huge upgrade. Danieal Manning is still lining up with the first team, but I don't expect that to last (and neither should you). Wright is going to be the guy, and I'm excited about that. Manning, for all his talent, has never been able to anticipate where the ball is going. Wright is very, very good at that. Steltz may see more playing time on defense this year, and that's not a good thing. He's solid on special teams, though. Afalava fell hard and fast after starting last year strong. He may very well be on the bubble, battling Bullocks for a spot. Quentin Scott won't make it through the preseason.

CORNERBACKS: #33 Charles Tillman, #35 Zac Bowman, #26 Tim Jennings, #30 DJ Moore, #31 Josh Moore, #47 Woodny Turenne, #39 Cornelius Brown

They've decided to flip Tillman and Bowman, which is interesting, but just crazy enough that it might work. Tillman always worked best as the #2 corner, as he lacks top-flight speed and struggles against elite receivers, but typically manhandles the rest. Bowman has better speed and improved a lot as last year went on, but I'm not sure he's ready for this yet. I'd expect him to struggle early. Jennings struggled with the Colts, but has a lot of talent. Josh Moore should make the team since he was a high pick this year. I would also expect DJ Moore to make the roster as well. Turenne and Brown are likely goners.

Special Teams: Kicker #9 Robbie Gould, Punter #4 Brad Maynard, Long snapper #65 Patrick Mannelly

These guys are all good. Although I'm still pissed at Patrick for that idiotic snap to Garrett Wolfe against Green Bay.