Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Roy Williams
Posted on: November 16, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Chargers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


The Chargers have not won a game since we featured (and lauded) them in a Week 7 Film Room post. The Bears, on the other hand, are white-hot, having won four straight in taking over the NFC wild card lead.

Here’s a five-part breakdown of the two teams in this Sunday’s late afternoon showdown at Soldier Field.


1. Quarterback
It was not long ago that the preeminent strong-armed, interception-prone quarterback in his mid-twenties with an on-field demeanor that rubbed many the wrong way was Jay Cutler. This season, however, it’s Philip Rivers.

His league-leading 15 interceptions have been genuine turnovers – not the kind of cheap tipped picks that plagued Eli Manning last season. Rivers’ downfield accuracy has waffled. He also has been uncomfortable passing from a dirty pocket. That’s alarming given that his best trait in years past has been making strong throws in the face of pressure.

Cutler knows all about operating in the face of pressure. However, lately he’s been throwing from much cleaner platforms. Because he has the strongest raw arm in football, he does not necessarily need to set his feet in order to throw. He’s a solid athlete with underrated mobility that allows him to buy time. But it’s when the time is bestowed upon him and he is able to set his feet that he gets in rhythm.

It’s not quite a Brady/Brees/Rodgers-like rhythm – Cutler has too many fundamental flaws for that – but it’s a potent enough rhythm to carry a team to victory.

2. Offensive line
The reason Cutler has been more comfortable is he trusts his pass protection. Mike Martz knows that his unathletic offensive line cannot hold up long enough to consistently protect seven-step drops, so he’s built more three-and five-step drops into the gameplan (though the Bears did drift away from this just a bit against the Lions last week). As Cutler has said, he’s potent when he has room to throw.

To be fair, the Bears offensive linemen have elevated their play as of late. Guard Lance Louis has been particularly solid since becoming the new right tackle. Losing left guard Chris Williams (on I.R. with a wrist injury) hurts because, until Gabe Carimi returns from his knee problem (he’s missed seven games and underwent arthroscopic surgery last week), Frank Omiyale will likely play. Omiyale was a train wreck at right tackle earlier this season. He played guard earlier in his career, but if he were truly viable there, he never would have moved outside. Edwin Williams replaced Chris Williams last week, but the Bears have not named him the new starter. He could still be in the mix.

Either way, offensive line coach Mike Tice will have his hands full helping this group continue performing at an acceptable level.

Rivers has felt a lot of Cutler’s old pain as of late. Left tackle Marcus McNeill has fought injuries the past few weeks; after he left the Raiders game last Thursday night, backup Brandyn Dombrowski was eaten alive. Inside, backup left guard Cornell Green, filling in for All-Pro Kris Dielman (out since suffering a concussion-related seizure after the loss to the Jets), has struggled to move his feet in pass protection.

Even though Norv Turner’s playbook is heavy on slow-developing downfield passes, the Chargers did not give the left side of their line much help last Thursday. That should change going up against Julius Peppers.

3. Receivers
Once again, these two clubs are going in opposite directions. The Bears have recently gotten healthy outside, with Earl Bennett back and showing newfound quickness. Bennett is no longer just a plodding possession slot receiver – he’s Cutler’s go-to guy. His presence has eased the burdens on the unreliable Roy Williams and permanently raw Devin Hester.

Also, what can’t be understated is the brilliance of Matt Forte. His success on the ground has given the offense balance, which helps the passing attack. Forte is also one of the best receiving backs in the league.

The Chargers, on the other hand, are without Malcom Floyd (hip injury). His absence has been ameliorated by the flashes of athletic explosiveness from rookie Vincent Brown.

However, San Diego’s usual stars have disintegrated in recent weeks. Antonio Gates has looked heavy-footed and Vincent Jackson has consistently failed to separate against man coverage. Jackson had a three-touchdown outburst against Green Bay thanks in part to some coverage busts. But in the three games before that, he caught a total of seven balls for 98 yards. Last week against Oakland, he had just one reception for 22 yards.

4. Cornerbacks
It will be tough for Jackson to reignite at Soldier Field. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is having arguably the best season of his stellar career. Tillman thoroughly won his one-on-one battle against Calvin Johnson last week, using a mixture of aggressive press coverage and well-timed post-reception physicality from off-coverage positions.

Tillman, like all Bears cornerbacks, used to only play one side of the field. It was part of Chicago’s strict Cover 2 scheme. But as this season has progressed, Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli have drifted away from Cover 2 and more towards single-high safety concepts with the corners playing both man and zone principles. This allows the other safety to roam the field as an extra run supporter or, more often, versatile pass defender.

Consequently, the corners have moved around based on matchups. Tillman defends the opposing team’s biggest (and often most dangerous) receiver, while Tim Jennings (who is having the best season of his career) follows the smaller-but-quicker No. 2 receiver. The commendable performance of these corners is the reason Chicago has been able to spice up its defensive scheme.

In sticking with our theme, San Diego’s secondary has been increasingly disappointing the past month. Left corner Quintin Jammer and slot corner Dante Hughes have been fine, but on the right side, Antoine Cason and rookie Marcus Gilchrest have taken turns replacing one another in the starting lineup. Free safety Eric Weddle moves well and has some interceptions, but he’s not a true stopper.



5. Defensive front
A feeble pass-rush doesn’t help matters for San Diego. The loss of Shaun Phillips (still out with a foot injury) and Larry English (injured reserve) leaves the Chargers with journeymen Antwan Barnes and Travis LaBoy on the edges. Barnes is fast and has actually been as impactful as his team-high six sacks suggest. LaBoy’s run defense compensates for his low sack total (1).

Still, the bottom line is the forces that once buttressed San Diego’s pass-rushing depth are now the forces that comprise San Diego’s pass-rush period.

If the Chargers want to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback, they have to blitz. Inside linebacker Victor Butler and slot corner Dante Hughes are the two best options for this. Blitzing is not preferable for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, though.

It’s never been preferable for the Bears. They almost exclusively use a traditional four-man pass-rush, which works when you have a deep rotation, a highly-skilled No. 2 rusher like Israel Idonije and a monster like Peppers. In an effort to create matchup problems, Peppers has been lining up at both end positions and, lately, inside on certain passing downs.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 11 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 9:32 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:59 pm
 

Report: Johnny Knox replaces Roy Williams

                                                                          (US PRESSWIRE)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

When the Bears signed wide receiver Roy Williams before training camp, the plan was to give Jay Cutler a reliable veteran to line up opposite a group of young, inexperienced wideouts. Instead, the only thing Williams has proven to be is, well, old.

In three weeks, he's played in two games, caught four passes for 55 yards, and has yet to haul in a touchdown pass. Johnny Knox, meanwhile, the third-year burner who battled Williams in training camp for reps, has nine receptions for 189 yards, but he's also looking for his first touchdown.

According to FOXSports.com's John Czarnecki, Knox will start for Williams Sunday when the Bears host the Panthers. The move is confirmation that Cutler still doesn't have a go-to receiver, which is reflected in the Bears' mediocre passing stats and high sack totals.

“It just happens over time,” Cutler said, according to the Daily Herald, when talking about developing a go-to guy, like he had in Denver with Brandon Marshall. “In games, there’s a trust factor there, where you know they’re going to be there when they’re supposed to be there and will make the catches and make the plays. It doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just go, ‘This is our go-to guy,’ because it doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to go out there and rep it and just experience it.”

Predictably, the Bears' sputtering offense has led to questions about offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, specifically one that appears to have little regard for the running game or the quarterback's health.

And if Chicago struggles to score points against Carolina, a defense beset by injuries and coming off a two-win season a year ago, the scrutiny will only intensify.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add 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: August 24, 2011 8:23 pm
 

Bears WR coach puts Roy Williams on notice

Posted by Will Brinson

Ever since the Bears signed Roy Williams, they've made much ado about how swell he'll be in Mike Martz offense. In fact, they went far enough to demote wideout Johnny Knox by putting Williams in his starting spot alongside Devin Hester.

That might not last long, though, because Williams is apparently out of shape and it's not making the guy in charge of his playing time, Bears wide receiver coach Darryl Drake, too happy.

"I understand that Roy’s got some things to do, as far as getting in shape, but that’s not my fault, and that’s not my concern," Drake said, per Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. "My concern is making sure, when we play Atlanta, we got the best guys out there, that is going to give us the best chance to win.

"And if Johnny Knox is that guy, then he needs to be out there."

Drake also said that he and Williams talked and that Williams understands that Knox "is hungry" and just waiting to take the other starting spot from him.

As Jensen points out, Drake was Williams coach at Texas, so it's entirely possible that this is a motivational ploy designed to actually make Williams work hard.

But it's also likely that the Bears will go with the wideout best suited to produce immediately. If I were a betting man and I believed that Mike Martz was a sane and rational person, I'd lay some of my blog-earned money on Knox.

Both of those things aren't necessarily true though, so it's still entirely possible that Williams loafs his way through the preseason and ends up starting anyway.


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Hot Routes 8.11.11: Osi could return Monday



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Looks like Chargers LT Marcus McNeil will miss the first two preseason games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his knee. "It’s one of those things if you were working through May and June," Norv Turner said, "some of that gets out of the way earlier.”
  • Steelers rookie Baron Batch tore his ACL at practice Wednesday, and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wonders if it occurred because the team practiced on artificial turf. Remember, Heinz Field is natural grass, because the Steelers believe it cuts down on injuries.
  • As we’ve all been taught, pimping ain’t easy. Especially if you’re the guy who set up Lawrence Taylor with his prostitute.
  • After being suspended for all of last year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, former Falcons DB Jimmy Williams has been reinstated by the league.
  • The Dolphins would prefer their fans NOT to post videos of practice online, thanks very much. You know, the whole competitive disadvantage thing.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 30, 2011 9:40 pm
 

Bears land Marion Barber, Amobi Okoye

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It took a couple days, but the Bears have finally gotten going in free agency.

Already, they had signed former Cowboys WR Roy Williams and taken a chance on former Jets LB Vernon Gholston, and Saturday night, the team added more pieces, announcing that it’s come to terms with former Cowboys RB Marion Barber and former Texans DT Amobi Okoye.

The team said Okoye’s contract is a one-year deal, while NFL.com’s Jason LaCanfora writes Barber’s contract is for two years and $5 million.

Considering Bears RB Matt Forte isn’t happy right now and has threatened to hold out because he’s slated to make only $550,000 in base salary this year -- he has reported, by the way -- Chicago’s move seems like one that could help change Forte’s attitude. As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune pointed out, you also have to wonder about Chester Taylor's future with the organization. 

Barber had a hard time staying healthy in Dallas, and earlier this week, he was dropped in favor of rookie DeMarco Murray. Meanwhile, Okoye, a former first-round pick, hasn’t been all that productive since he recorded 5 ½ sacks in his 2007 rookie season, recording just 5 ½ sacks since then.

Now, both get a chance to rejuvenate their careers in Chicago.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 8:30 pm
 

Bears sign Roy Williams, Vernon Gholston

Posted by Will Brinson

People have been wondering why the Bears didn't make a splash in free agency this year. Obviously $90 million to Julius Peppers in 2010 just isn't enough commitment.

So here's some, um, news: they've now (officially) signed both Roy Williams and Vernon Gholston.

No it's not the sexiest of offseason maneuvers, but both players do have upside. Particularly Williams -- at least if you're asking Bears' coach Lovie Smith.

"Roy Williams has number one receiver skill. Devin Hester does also," said Smith, per Zach Zaidman of the Bears Radio Network. "At least about five of the guys we have right now that I know of have that type of ability."

Williams does have No. 1 receiver ability. Otherwise he wouldn't have been a No. 1 receiver on several teams and Jerry Jones wouldn't have packaged the farm to Detroit in exchange for him. Of course, if he still was a No. 1 receiver, it's a lot less likely that he would have gotten cut by the Cowboys.

And as for Gholston, well, he's clearly got upside. After all, he was selected No. 6 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. But start to Google his name and see what the second result is (hint: it rhymes with "rust").

But it's going to take a lot for the Bears to justify to fans that his signing was their "big move" this offseason. (Though in fairness they're still working on Olin Kreutz and they did land Nick Roach and Anthony Adams. So there's that.)

The harder sell might be that Williams is the answer to their lengthy issues at wideout, even if he has played in a Mike Martz offense before.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Cowboys to cut Williams, Colombo, Barber, Davis

Posted by Will Brinson

Yesterday, the Baltimore Ravens drew a ton of attention by slashing prices cutting a slew of veterans including Derrick Mason and Todd Heap. Tuesday, it was the Cowboys turn, as reports started flying that Dallas had cut wide receiver Roy Wiliams, offensive linemen Marc Colombo and Leonard Davis, kicker Kris Brown and running back Marion Barber.

None of the cuts were that surprising, particularly Barber and Williams, who seemed like likely targets to be cut when colleague Ryan Wilson wrote about the very subject just a few weeks ago.

Williams (who, by the way, just got some bling back after the most notorious mailed-wedding-ring incident of the entire offseason) makes sense as a roster expense, particularly because now the Cowboys will simply start Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, both of whom are better than Williams anyway.

Cowboys Offseason
And Barber's become the least effective back in Dallas' stable; even though Barber had more carries than Tashard Choice last season (113 to 66), he still on managed a feeble 3.3 yards per carry and an unimpressive 28.8 yards per game. Additionally, he found the end zone just four times.

The combination of just Barber and Williams will save the Cowboys nearly $10 million in terms of salary cap number, and it's become pretty clear -- based on all these cuts -- that they are in fact players in the Nnamdi Asomugha market this offseason.

Whether or not they land the coveted cornerback, though, they've probably made a slew of good roster decisions anyway.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com