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Tag:Chicago Bears
Posted on: September 9, 2011 3:25 pm
 

NFL allows players to wear special 9/11 apparel

Posted by Will Brinson

There's been a lot made about some of the clothes that NFL players received from Reebok to honor the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

That's primarily because guys like Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and Bears linebacker Lance Briggs tweeted out pictures of their gear (Briggs is seen to the right) and essentially said they didn't care if they got fined, they were wearing the gear during Sunday's games.

Very good news comes from the NFL, then, as the league informed the clubs that players could wear the gear honoring the tragic circumstances of September 2011.

"NFL confirmed to clubs this morning that players may wear special shoes/gloves from NFL licensees for Week 1 games," tweeted Michael Signora, the NFL's VP of Football Communications.

Of course, that doesn't mean that anyone can go out and buy red, white and blue shoes and throw them on for Sunday's action. Presumably Reebok will need to ship the gloves and shoves to the players (or the players can request them I would guess) and then and only then may they be worn.

And Hasselbeck's picture of the back of his shoes which are, I think the same as Briggs. But he gets the best shot of "Never Forget" on the cleats.



Per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, Hasselbeck will donate his shoes after the game to Team Red, White and Blue, a charity that assists wounded veterans and their families.

Hopefully, many other players will follow his lead and help to drum up charity work after showing their support for those that were senselessly taken from the world and for those that gave their lives to help others.

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 9:57 am
 

Packers vs. Saints, Week 1 Preview Podcast

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

We're want your questions! Got something you want answered on the podcast or feel like telling us how dumb smart we are? Email us here.

Wow. What a way to kick off the NFL season, huh? The Saints and Packers soaked the house in fire and set it on fire Thursday night and yes indeed football is back.

We break down Sean Payton's late-game and fourth-down playcalling, talk about how to defend Aaron Rodgers, wonder whether or not there should be some concern with the New Orleans and Green Bay defenses and Will admits that he was absolutely dead wrong on not giving the Packers receivers top-five status.

The guys also break down the Steelers-Ravens game, the Bears-Falcons game and the Cowboys-Jets game.

Then Paul Bessire of PredictionMachine.com joins Will to chat about the statistical outlook for the season, what the best over/unders are for the NFL season, who the best survivor picks for Week 1 are, and much much, more.

Hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 4:58 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Falcons preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



On paper, the top two seeds from last season’s NFC playoffs are both improved heading into 2011. Consequently, the Atlanta Falcons have become somewhat of a trendy Super Bowl pick. But the Chicago Bears? They’re the team most are picking to finish right behind Detroit in the NFC North. In analyzing five key threads these teams share, we might understand why.

1. Receiver Infusion
Thomas Dimitroff realized that Atlanta’s offense was a playmaker short of being nearly unstoppable. So, the fourth-year general manager traded five premium draft picks to move up and select Alabama wideout Julio Jones sixth overall.

Jones is a great fit because he’s not only a dynamic downfield threat who also has the thickness to go inside, but thanks to his days in the Crimson Tide’s black-and-blue offense, he’s also a savvy downfield blocker. That’s important, as Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey has always had a predilection for power runs out of two tight-end/two back formations.

In Chicago, with a system built around downfield routes out of three-and four-receiver formations, offensive coordinator Mike Martz needed more firepower outside. Instead of reaching for an unproven wideout late in the first round, overpaying for free agents Santana Moss or Santonio Holmes or taking a risk on Braylon Edwards (attitude) or Plaxico Burress (rustiness), the Bears acquired  Roy Williams after his star fully plummeted in Dallas.

Williams, a straight-line runner with big hands and feet, was never a good fit for the Cowboys’ shifty catch-and-run oriented system. But in the 28 games he played for Martz in Detroit, Williams produced 2,148 yards receiving. However, whatever optimism the Detroit success instilled was likely blown away by Williams’ dropped passes and admission to being out of shape this past August (candor has always been his Achilles heel).

Because the Bears refuse to admit that Devin Hester is merely a return specialist with modest slot receiving ability (i.e. NOT a starter), it was rising third-year pro Johnny Knox whom Williams supplanted in the lineup. Knox, who has superb speed and quickness and excellent chemistry with Jay Cutler, particularly in deciphering zone coverages, is eager to recapture his starting job (and thus, his leverage for a new contract in the near future). He will, if Williams continues to struggle. And the Bears’ passing game will essentially be right back in the same place it was a year ago.

The Falcons figure to clearly have an improved pass attack. The Bears are TBD.

2. Big meaty offensive lines
To put it politely, Atlanta’s and Chicago’s offensive lines both feature more size than athleticism. The lunch pail approach has worked great for the Falcons. They have a straightforward power-run offense that’s conducive to forming good chemistry up front. In the passing game (where a line’s athletic limitations get exposed), the Falcons rarely use more than three wide receivers, which makes an extra tight end or running back available to stay in and block. In short, the Falcons can bend their system for their offensive line.
 
The Bears, on the other hand, are more inclined to bend (or break) their offensive line for their system. Martz frequently has Cutler take seven-step drops, which only gives heavy-footed offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb, laterally stiff guard Chris Williams and the rest of the front more time to get beat in pass protection. Also, with the running back often being an important receiving option in Martz’s system, Bears linemen must shoulder more responsibility in blitz identification and pickup – an area in which they’ve struggled.

Hence, the 52 times Cutler was sacked last season.

3. The traditional  4-3 defense: evolve vs. resolve
Mike Smith was a classic zone-based 4-3 defensive coordinator in Jacksonville. But over his three seasons in Atlanta, he’s drifted away from vanilla Cover 2 tactics and towards more diverse blitzes and zone exchanges. Impressive considering he employs these tactics out of traditional base and nickel sets.
 
Lovie Smith was a classic zone-based 4-3 defensive coordinator in St. Louis. Over his seven years in Chicago, he’s ... remained a proponent of classic 4-3 zone-based defense.

The Bears are the only team that virtually still runs a fulltime strict Cover 2. They’ve made it work largely because they have two perfect linebackers for this scheme in Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. But as we’ll explore more in-depth another week, there are significant vulnerabilities to a Cover 2. Those vulnerabilities are why Smith and the Falcons have chosen to evolve.

4. The No. 2 defensive end
Arguably the best two defensive ends in the NFC are Julius Peppers and John Abraham. Both have devastating explosiveness off the edge and both can play the run (Peppers is by far the NFL’s best all-around run-stopping 4-3 end; Abraham is more finesse-oriented but is still underrated as a backside chaser).

What the Falcons learned last season is a pass-rush is incomplete without a second outside presence. Kroy Biermann is a very active run-defender, but he registered just three sacks in his debut season as a starter. So, Thomas Dimitroff spent $11 million (guaranteed) on free agent Ray Edwards, who each of the past two years in Minnesota posted at least eight sacks against frequent one-on-one blocking opposite Jared Allen. Edwards is also an adept all-around run-defender.

The Bears have a stalwart No. 2 pass-rusher of their own in Israel Idonije. Versatile enough to line up inside or outside, the ninth-year veteran tied Peppers for the team lead in sacks last season (eight). Idonije does not quite have Edwards’ quickness around the corner, but he’s one of the best in the league at executing stunts.

5. Safeties
Over the years, watching the Bears try out different young safeties in the starting lineup has been like watching Gilbert Brown try on outfits that don’t make him look fat. The Bears drafted Danieal Manning in ’06; Kevin Payne in ’07; Craig Steltz in ’08; Al Afalava in ’09; Major Wright in ’10 and Chris Conte in ’11.

All, with the exception of Conte, were given a shot at starting. And, assuming that newly signed Brandon Meriweather soon supplants Wright as the current first-string free safety, all were ultimately deemed unqualified.

The Falcons have taken a flier with young safeties, as well. The difference is theirs have succeeded. Thomas DeCoud, a third-round pick in ’08, started all 16 games each of the past two seasons. His instincts in coverage have improved and he’s a fast, firm open-field tackler.

His running mate, William Moore, a second-round pick in ’09, stayed healthy for the first time last season and showed genuine game-changing potential over 15 starts. Moore’s a fierce hitter who is developing in pass defense quicker than expected.

So who will win? Check out the video below. And see who our experts pick for all the Week 1 games


Read Andy's Film Room breakdown of Jets-Cowboys.

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter and contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Bears put Briggs, Forte contract talks on hold

Lance Briggs and Matt Forte may have to wait until after the season to talk about new contracts. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson


On Friday, Bears linebacker Lance Briggs announced (by way of his agent Drew Rosenhaus) that he wants to be traded. He's currently in Year 4 of a six-year, $36 million deal he signed in 2008. "The Bears made their decision, now I have to make mine," Briggs recently told the Chicago-Tribune after the team rebuffed his request for a raise.

Briggs later took his case to Twitter, explaining the nuances of NFL contracts (sic'd): 

“Most have no idea what's goin on. Owners can cut any player they want at any time and answer to know one. Players fight for themselves … And get ridiculed. You know as well as I do there are things that happen behind doors that all the fans/critics dnt know about … I keep reading that players (I) should honor our contracts...when have owners honored contracts...they dnt. Chris Johnson should never have … Had to hold out to get a new deal. His play spoke for himself. Yet team wouldnt just pay the man. Tommie Harris was honoring his contract … When the bears cut him right before his bonus. Cut Brandon Manumaleuna when he was just honoring his contract. … Players do what you must. People get hurt and emotional. I understand...bottom line were all still bears and were trying to bring home a championship.”

We understand Briggs' concerns but most fans do understand that NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. And, in general, we have absolutely no issue with players gettin' while the gettin' is good. But we hesitate to immediately take up Briggs' cause because he's now on his second contract, generally the one that pays big-name players handsomely after making relatively little on their rookie deals.

So now, three years into a contract he was happy to sign, Briggs, a nine-year veteran, wants more money. That's a little different than Chris Johnson, one of the two best backs in the league, holding out for something more than the $800,000 or so he was set to make in 2011.

Whatever Briggs wants will now have to wait until after the season.

"What he's doing is not something that hasn't been done here in Chicago and around the league," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said Monday, according to ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert. "We feel very, very confident that Lance's focus is going to be on the season and having a great year, and we'll just take care of our business when that time comes. And that'll be at the end of the year."

Briggs admits that he's open to the idea of talking after the season, and all he wants to do is switch the $6.25 million he's set to make in the final year of his deal with the $3.65 million he'll make in 2011. Which is nice, but that's something he should take up with his agent, who structured the deal, instead of his bosses.

Either way, that appears to be a conversation for another day.

In other Bears-related contract news, the team has cut off negotiations with running back Matt Forte. According to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain, the two sides are no longer talking contract extension. "Right now our focus is going to be on the season," said Angelo on WBBM-AM 780's Bears Insider Show. Angelo called it a "mutual understanding" that there would be no more talks for now.

Last week, the Bears reportedly offered Forte $15 million guaranteed, although the details of the proposal weren't made public.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 12:11 pm
 

Bears sign Brandon Meriweather to 1-year deal

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Safety Brandon Meriweather may have made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons, but it wasn't enough to keep the Patriots from cutting him Saturday. He wasn't out of work long, however. New England's 2007 first-round pick signed with the Bears Sunday, the team announced.

It's a one-year contract, which suggests that the Bears aren't completely convinced Meriweather is a long-term answer in the secondary. If anything, he adds depth and experience, something Chicago lost in Thursday night's preseason finale when backups Craig Steltz and Chris Conte suffered a hip injury and a concussion, respectively.

ChicagoBears.com adds that "Meriweather becomes the sixth player on the Bears roster who was drafted in the first round by another NFL team, joining Jay Cutler (Broncos), Julius Peppers (Panthers), Roy Williams (Lions), Chris Spencer (Seahawks) and Amobi Okoye (Texans).

"The Bears do not have to make a corresponding roster move to make room for Meriweather until he officially signs his contract."

Meriweather, 27, started 40 games during his four-year stint in New England, recorded 261 tackles and 12 picks. However, his Patriots career might best be remembered for the vicious hit on Todd Heap during the 2010 season that led to a $50,000 fine and a vow to remain aggressive, "point blank."

As for what the Bears are getting, CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco wrote Saturday that "If you can't cover these days, you aren't worth having on the field." Colleague Clark Judge added, "New England isn't afraid to make the difficult decision, and it just proved it. Again. … Bottom line: Change is good."

We'll have to wait and see if that tenet holds for the Bears, too.

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Posted on: September 3, 2011 8:54 pm
 

Lance Briggs makes his case on Twitter

BriggsPosted by Josh Katzowitz

You already know that Bears linebacker Lance Briggs wants to be traded after he asked for a raise and the club refused to do so. This isn’t the first time Briggs has shown unhappiness with his financial rewards from Chicago, and though the Bears gave him a six-year, $36 million deal in 2008, he still thinks he’s in an unfair situation.

Perhaps that’s why Briggs has taken to his Twitter account on a rant that began Friday and impressively extended into Saturday.

Writes Briggs (over many tweets): “Most have no idea what's goin on. Owners can cut any player they want at any time and answer to know one. Players fight for themselves … And get ridiculed. You know as well as I do there are things that happen behind doors that all the fans/critics dnt know about@mrileynupe … I keep reading that players (I) should honor our contracts...when have owners honored contracts...they dnt. Chris Johnson should never have … Had to hold out to get a new deal. His play spoke for himself. Yet team wouldnt just pay the man. Tommie Harris was honoring his contract … When the bears cut him right before his bonus. Cut Brandon Manumaleuna when he was just honoring his contract. … Players do what you must. People get hurt and emotional. I understand...bottom line were all still bears and were trying to bring home a championship.”

And more today: “You must also remember we are just players that help a fans favorite team win a championship. Once were not a part of that"@ChrisHarrisNFL … Any more, we become a thing if the past for many fans. who really gives a crap about players if they aren't helping the team win "@ChrisHarr.”

Though I can sympathize with Briggs, I also agree with what CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson wrote: “In general, we support a player's right to ask for a raise because NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. But Briggs had no issue with the deal when he signed it three years ago. Just because other teams might overpay for their linebackers isn't reason enough for the Bears to do the same. Maybe that changes after the season, or perhaps Briggs will get his wish and be traded.”

Briggs has said he’ll continue to give 100 percent even if he’s not traded from Chicago. But he clearly is unhappy right now, and that probably won’t change unless he’s given more money or traded to another team which would.

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Posted on: September 2, 2011 10:51 am
 

Bears LB Lance Briggs wants to be traded

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Agent Drew Rosenhaus has filed a formal trade request on behalf of his client, Bears linebacker Lance Briggs. This comes after the six-time Pro Bowler and nine-year veteran asked the team for a raise and was kindly rebuffed. The Chicago Tribune reports that Rosenhaus made the trade request via email. (Presumably he won't be sending out a "never mind, ignore that" follow-up.)

"The Bears made their decision, now I have to make mine," Briggs told the Tribune. "It's just how the business works. It's not going to take away from what I do on the field. I'm 100 percent a Bear, until I'm not a Bear anymore."

If this sounds familiar, well, it should. In 2007, Briggs announced that he would never play for the Bears again before he signed his one-year, $7.2 million franchise tender. A year later, the team inked him to a six-year contract. Doing the math, that means that he still has three years left on the deal he asked for three years ago.

Details on Briggs' current contract situation, via the Tribune: "He is scheduled to make $3.9 million this season (including bonuses), $4 million in 2012 and $6.5 million in 2013. He signed a six-year, $36 million deal in 2008 after first testing the free-agent market, and the maximum value of the first three years was $21.6 million."

The Tribune adds that Briggs wants to restructure his contract so that he makes more money this season, possibly by flip-flopping the $6.5 million he's set to make in '13 with the $3.9 million he'll pull down this season. Apparently, he decided to ask for more money after seeing younger linebackers like the Broncos' DJ Williams and the Jaguars' Daryl Smith cash in with new deals.

For now, head coach Lovie Smith isn't worried about Briggs or his contract.

"If a guy has something that he needs to do, then he can deal with it off the field," he said, via the Tribune. "As far as how I see him, I just see him coming to work every day, like he has done. Lance Briggs has to get ready for the football season, which he has done. "Who doesn't want a new contract?" Smith added rhetorically. "All of us would want a new contract. But still, you go to work every day and do your job, and that's what he's doing. I have no complaints about him."

In general, we support a player's right to ask for a raise because NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. But Briggs had no issue with the deal when he signed it three years ago. Just because other teams might overpay for their linebackers isn't reason enough for the Bears to do the same. Maybe that changes after the season, or perhaps Briggs will get his wish and be traded.

For now, he's 100 percent a Bear until he's not a Bear anymore. Which, given the immutable laws of physics, is typically how these things work.

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:06 am
 

Report: Bears offer Forte $15 million guaranteed

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Bears running back Matt Forte made it clear even before the lockout ended that he wanted a new contract, one that paid him in line with the other top backs in the league. ESPNChicago.com is reporting that the Bears have made Forte an offer that includes $15 million in guarantees.

The length or total dollar amount of the deal wasn't mentioned but either way, team general manager Jerry Angelo doesn't plan to let negotiations drag on into the regular season.

Appearing on the "The Waddle and Silvy Show" in Chicago, he said "It's got to happen sooner (rather than later). I don't like to necessarily go into training camp and negotiate with players. We like to do that in the offseason. Unfortunately we didn't have the ability to do that, but again we want to do the right thing by Matt so we are talking. We're hopeful, but at some point we have to draw a line in the sand and just now focus on the season."

A former second-round pick, Forte enters his fourth year in the NFL. He rushed for 1,238 yards (3.9 YPC, 8 TDs) as a rookie, saw his production fall in 2009 to 929 yards (3.6 YPC, 4 TDs), before returning to form last season with 1,069 yards (4.5 YPC, 6 TDs). He's also averaged close to 500 yards receiving each season.

Despite the offer, there's no guarantee a deal will get done before the regular-season opener on September 11. The negotiations have been ongoing since late July, and the two sides weren't close as recently as three weeks ago.

NFL sources told ESPNChicago.com's Michael Wright that the Bears initially used the six-year contract worth $32 million ($10 million guaranteed) signed by Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles as the base line for a potential Forte deal. Wright adds: "Considering Forte has rushed for more yards and scored more touchdowns than Charles, it makes sense the Bears would extend a more lucrative offer than the one signed by the Chiefs running back."

Not necessarily. The fine folks at FootballOutsiders.com, who break down every play of the NFL season to create their total value and value-per-play metrics, ranked Charles as the best back in the NFL last season. Forte was 20th in both measures. As a pass-catcher, Charles was seventh in total value and eighth in value per play; Forte was 12th and 22nd.

This isn't to say that Forte isn't a good NFL back, or that he doesn't fit what Mike Martz wants to do in Chicago. And if the organization wants to use Charles' contract as a starting point, more power to them. It's just that, based on recent productivity, they might be overpaying him.

Then again, it's all relative. It's not like Forte is asking to be the highest-paid player in the league. He just wants a contract that compensates him somewhere in the neighborhood of what he's worth. It's hard to fault him for that.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com