Tag:Chicago Bears
Posted on: April 27, 2011 9:11 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:57 am

Ranking the NFL's 32 final draft decision makers

Posted by Andy Benoit

There are many ways a person could rank the top draft decision makers for each NFL team. Among those criteria: team history of success; number of first-rounders who have panned out; the number of late-round gems discovered; consistency of the players developed within the organization.

But without a scientific formula, sometimes the best rankings can derive from a standard eyeball/smell/gut test. Thus, here is a ranking of all 32 “final draft decision makers” in the NFL.

Lists like these tend to attract criticism and rebuttals. Have at it -- this is meant to be a discussion starter.

1. Bill Polian, ColtsB. Polian (US Presswire0
Sticks unwaverlingly to his formula: invest in a small handful of elite skill position players on offense and playmakers on defense, and then surround them with low cost youngsters who fit your scheme. In the 2000s he led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl win and annual division titles. In the '90s he ushered in the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history (Carolina Panthers) and oversaw the four-time AFC Champion Buffalo Bills.

2. Kevin Colbert, Steelers
Doesn't get much attention because A) he rarely does interviews; B) the Steelers are often drafting late in the first round and C) he's almost always looking two or three years ahead when drafting players, which minimizes the hype of Pittsburgh's rookie class. These methods have brought in guys like LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, Lawrence Timmons, Mike Wallace and Maurkice Pouncey to name five.

3. Ted Thompson, Packers
It took major intestinal fortitude to pull the trigger on Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still on the roster and many believed the 2005 Packers were in position to "win now." Virtually the entire Packers Super Bowl roster this past year was comprised of players who were drafted by the organization and in their prime. That's perfect planning paying off.

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4. Bill Belichick, Patriots
The best trader of picks the NFL has seen since Jimmy Johnson. Like an alchemist, he regularly turns one late first-round selection into two or three solid contributors who fit the Patriots' ever-changing system.

5. Mickey Loomis, Saints
Is batting about .750 with his high-round draft picks, and has managed to snag several small-school gems in middle to late rounds (See: Jahri Evans, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, who was primarily a basketball player at Miami).

6. Ozzie Newsome, Ravens
Simply has a knack for connecting on stars. His latest include Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice and (maybe) Michael Oher and Joe Flacco. Because of good mid-round drafting, depth is generally a plus for this club. The only true black eye on Newsome’s resume is the Kyle Boller pick, for which Brian Billick shares equal blame.

7. A.J. Smith, Chargers
Supposedly not the most likeable guy in the room, but that's in part because he has a gift for ruthlessly getting the most out of his resources. Part of that is replacing players a year too soon rather than a year too late.

8. Andy Reid, Eagles
Aside from Green Bay, Philadelphia is the only NFC team that has consistently drafted for the future first and the present second. Because of that, the Eagles are able to stay afloat when they do miss on a high-round pick.

9. Mike Holmgren, Browns
Jury is still out in Cleveland, obviously. But a person's track record has to count for something, right? And Holmgren's is pretty good.

10. Mike Tannenbaum, Jets
Home runs (D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis -- who was a grand slam -- and possibly Mark Sanchez) outnumber strikeouts (Kellen Clemens, Vernon Gholston). Willing to be aggressive and trade up to get his guy. So far, it's worked well.

11. Jerry Reese, Giants
Has done a superb job building off the foundation that Ernie Accorsi put in place.

12. Thomas Dimitroff, FalconsT. Dimitroff (US Presswire)
Ex-New England front office executive instantly turned the rudderless post-Vick Falcons around by nailing the Matt Ryan pick. Has since retooled the offense with solid role players and upgraded the speed on defense.

13. Mark Dominik, Buccaneers
Made the bold commitment for the Bucs to get younger on both sides of the ball. Already, those young players have turned out a 10-6 record, putting the team a year or two ahead of schedule. The decision to draft Josh Freeman one day could lead to a Lombardi Trophy.

14. Marty Hurney, Panthers
For the most part, Panthers have been consistently competitive for 10 years despite the absence of a star quarterback. How? Solid offensive line (Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil were successful high draft picks), good running game (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were two more successful high picks) and a staunch defense (Jon Beason has more than lived up to first-round billing).

15. Scott Pioli, Chiefs
Was an integral part of the Patriots dynasty and is showing a knack for finding players who fit the Chiefs’ scheme.

16. Billy Devaney, Rams
Has not been at the helm long; will soar up this list if his 2011 draft class turns out to be anything like his 2010 class.

17. Mike Shanahan, Redskins
A nod to experience more than anything. Shanahan The GM has never been as good as Shanahan The Coach. But Shanahan The GM has still been around the block a time or two and knows exactly what he wants. Having Bruce Allen handle some of the technical GM duties is helpful.

18. Ken Whisenhunt/Rod Graves, Cardinals
Only one player they've taken in the first three rounds has not contributed (Cody Brown). The rest all have been part of a club that has won postseason games two of the past three seasons.

19. Jerry Angelo, Bears
Seems to have a slightly better feel for the veteran market than the rookie market, but we're nitpicking. Has done a fine job finding players who fit Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 defense. Offensively, he’s building around Jay Cutler (for whom he traded significant picks to get).

20. Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
The assumption is he occasionally has to cater to the demands of Bud Adams, which could be a challenging wrinkle to his job. Overall, has constructed a deep roster and seen a few gambles pay off (notably Chris Johnson in 2007).M. Reinfeldt (US Presswire)

21. Rick Spielman, Vikings
Too many busts early in his tenure, though some of that was beyond Minnesota's control (Kenechi Udeze's health issues, Erasmus James' injuries). While forcing a few picks into the lineup, the Vikings also have gotten their money's worth from top picks Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson (considered a risk because of injury problems at Oklahoma).

22. Jerry Jones, Cowboys
Yes, the Cowboys have a talented group. But a bulk of that talent was acquired when Bill Parcells was around.

23. Martin Mayhew, Lions
Still waiting to see what becomes of the major investments on offense (outlook appears good but still not certain).

24. Jeff Ireland, Dolphins
Brand new in his role as top decision maker. It wouldn't be fair to judge him based on what his former boss (Parcells) did.

25. Gene Smith, Jaguars
In two years has shown willingness to rebuild in bunches by using back-to-back draft picks on the same position. In that time, not a lot has changed in Jacksonville's bottom line, though there is legitimate optimism about this franchise's direction.

26. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
It's way too early to judge. His first draft class looks like it could turn out to be spectacular at the top (Russell Okung has star traits, Earl Thomas has shown flashes and many like Walter Thurmond) but very few men have successfully worn the GM hat while coaching.

27. Trent Baalke, 49ers
The Niners' draft record during his two years as VP of Player Personnel was iffy, but he wasn't the final decision-maker then. His first draft class will likely prove to have produced long-term starters with the first four picks (Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis, Taylor Mays and NaVorro Bowman). Iupati, in fact, seems destined to be a perennial Pro Bowler.T. Baalke (US Presswire)

28. Buddy Nix, Bills
Bills are full of overachievers, but part of overachieving is not being very talented. The Aaron Maybin air ball in 2009 puts a damper on what was otherwise a solid draft class. But Nix, a national scout at the time, wasn't fully responsible for that draft class. His 2010 draft class is off to a slow start but its still in the judgment phase.

29. Rick Smith, Texans
Houston is overhauling its defensive scheme after spending five years investing first-round picks on players who were supposed to fit that scheme.

30. Mike Brown, Bengals
He would be a great fantasy drafter because he always takes the best player. Problem is, in the real draft, team chemistry needs to factor into your decisions. Those "best players" Brown takes are often available because of character red flags.

31. John Elway, Broncos
No track record to evaluate.

32. Al Davis, Raiders
One apparently solid draft (2010) does not erase years of atrocious ones.

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Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 3:18 pm

Jay Cutler engaged to Kristin Cavallari

J. Cutler got engaged to Kristin Cavallari (Getty). Posted by Will Brinson

Just how crazy a day is it in the NFL? Well, Jay Cutler got engaged to girlfriend Kristin Cavallari according to a report. That's how crazy.

PEOPLE magazine reports the news amidst one of the more insane 24-hour periods in NFL history, and it's kind of a light and enjoyable note to process in the middle of such a nightmarish situation like the labor scenario that's unfolding.

Cavallari is known for her reality television work on The Hills and Laguna Beach . And, apparently, Cutler proposed while the couple were away on a weekend getaway to Cabo San Lucas.

"He surprised her with a quick trip to Cabo to ask her to marry him," PEOPLE's source says.

Ah yes. That's my old standby too -- the quick jaunt to a tropical resort in Mexico, followed by bombshelling a lucky lady with gigantic diamond. Every guy should have that in their repertoire, really.

Anyway, congrats to Cutler and Cavallari on their big news and I think I speak for the NFL-following world when I say "thank you for averting our attention away from labor negotiations."

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Posted on: April 25, 2011 11:46 pm

DeAngelo Hall calls Jay Cutler 'a clown'

Posted by Andy Benoit

Thank you, DeAngelo Hall, for telling a story (and, through the magic of copy and paste) writing a story for me. The main character in Hall’s story is Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, whom Hall picked off four times in a game last year.

Hall begins the story – which he told to 106.7 The Fan – with little inhibition. Here it is:

“Jay is definitely a clown. I played against the kid one other time, and it was when I first went to Oakland, first game of the season we played on a Monday night. And Shanahan was actually coaching. He’s played against Al Davis so long, he knows what we’re going to be in — man under, it ain’t no help, just go out and play football no matter what they come out in. You can tell Shanahan was scheming us up — max protection, double/triple move. And Eddie Royal had caught a couple balls against me that game.

And I tell you what, I don’t know if Jay (in last season’s Bears-Redskins game) was like ‘I’m going to keep going at him, I don’t care what’s going on.’ And the first half, I didn’t have an interception, a pass breakup or nothing, and then to come out in the second half against those guys and get four interceptions. Man, I’ve never had more than two in a game, so to go out and get four in a half, I was like ‘man, this is unreal! I’m on the sideline like ‘wow, this is pretty amazing!’”

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Posted on: April 23, 2011 7:30 pm

A few more things about the schedule...

Posted by Andy Benoit

This is what happens when there’s a lockout: schedules provide the only solid NFL news and thus, they get over-covered. But this year’s schedules seem to have a few more interesting notes than usual. Here are some:

(Disclaimer: any criticisms here come with the caveat that I fully understand the NFL has a gargantuan task when it comes to scheduling 256 games, and that year in and year out, they do an A+ job of giving fans quality matchups at convenient times. Many unknown factors impact scheduling, making an outsider’s idea of perfection impossible.)
Week 1 burnt games
Baltimore (US Presswire)
In Week 1 we have a Sunday night opener Cowboys @ Jets. This game features perhaps the two biggest draws in the NFL and the Ryan Brothers storyline.

The question is, why burn this television gem in Week 1? It’s the first full Sunday of the season – fans are excited enough for football at that point that they’ll watch just about any game. So go with a solid divisional matchup (like Cowboys-Redskins last year) and save the unique TV gem for later.

But don’t make it too solid of a divisional matchup. After all, you’d hate to see one of the greatest rivalries in sports be played in the season opener. Unfortunately, that’s what the league chose by putting one of the two Ravens-Steelers matchups in Week 1. And in the unglamorous 1:00 window, no less.

What’s more, Ravens-Steelers will coincide with Bears-Falcons, a showdown between the NFC’s top two playoff seeds from a year ago.
Packers will feel like your family

No holidays in Green Bay this year. The Packers will be the first team in league history to have games on Thanksgiving, Christmas day and New Year’s Day. The Packers also host the Thursday night season opener which, anymore, feels like a national holiday.
Eagles more at home than ever

Have you seen Philly’s mid-season schedule? They have a Week 7 bye and then four of their next five games at home. What’s more, the lone road game is at the Giants in primetime. New York (or Rutherford, NJ) is a 2-3 hour drive from Philadelphia, depending on traffic. If they so desire, the Eagles can stay at home the night before the game and drive to the Meadowlands in the early afternoon the next day. That would give the team an unheard of six straight weeks of sleeping in their own beds.
Primetime for most, but not all

Only five teams are devoid of any primetime games in 2011: the Panthers, Bills, Cardinals, Bengals and, for the first time in five years, the Titans.

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Posted on: April 18, 2011 5:47 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 6:17 pm

Bears, Bucs in London, sked coming Tuesday at 7

Posted by Will Brinson

Less than a week ago, a report surfaced that the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would play in London during 2011.

That information was verified by the NFL on Monday afternoon, when the game was announced as the first part of the 2011 schedule. The rest of the schedule will be released on Tuesday, April 19 at 7:00 PM EST, live on NFL Network.

The game will take place on Sunday, October 23 and will be played at Wembley Stadium at 6:00 PM UK time, which means Chicagoans will get to watch their Bears play at the normal noon central time they're accustomed to.

"Our past four games in London have demonstrated the tremendous passion for NFL football that exists in the UK," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a press release. "We hope by staging another extraordinary game at Wembley that we can continue to grow our existing fan base and attract even more new fans."

Oh, but there is one catch to that timing which was kind of buried in the press release -- if the labor situation isn't cleared up by August 1, the game will not be played in England. This, I presume, is to make sure that the NFL doesn't manage to make another country angry by making forcing worthless ticket sales down the throats of the citizens there.

Back to football, though: The Buccaneers sound excited, and not just because it means they can avoid at least one blackout in 2011 (hey-o!).

"We are honored to be selected to participate in the NFL International Series for a second time,” said Buccaneers co-chairman Bryan Glazer. "We are looking forward to promoting Tampa Bay's emerging young team on the world stage. We have the longest running fan club of any NFL team in the UK and look forward to seeing so many familiar faces from the Bucs UK fan club at the game."

All jokes aside, I had no clue that the Bucs were so popular in Europe. Perhaps it has something to do with the close proximity of Florida to England? Or perhaps the pirate-theme? Or maybe just because the Glazers own Manchester United as well. Probably the last part.

Of course, the Bears have been in this position before -- having played in Wembley way back in 1986 during a preseason exhibition overseas.

"To return to London to play an NFL game – this is going to be fun," said Chicago Bears Chairman Michael McCaskey. "I remember how enthusiastic the fans were in 1986 when we played in Wembley Stadium and defeated the Dallas Cowboys. London fans were so welcoming and blended their traditions of singing soccer songs with the NFL-style of presenting games. Of course the Chicago Bears are very pleased to have been named the 'Team of the Year’ by UK fans following the 2010 season. So we are looking forward to facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in October and playing in person before our terrific fans in the UK and Europe."

Anyone else seeing some sort of bizarro world rivalry building up here, where the Bucs and Bears fight for the right to own England's heart? Maybe it's just me.

Whatever, this is a matchup that'll be derided by many people as the typical "junk-o-la game shipped to England."

But the truth is the Bears were in the NFC Championship Game last year and they've got plenty of flashy stars, and the Bucs have one of the game's biggest risers in Josh Freeman in addition to a bunch of young talent.
Posted on: April 18, 2011 4:55 pm

Hot Routes 4.18.11: Suggs, um, like Celine Dion?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz
  • Good lord, could Michael Strahan really have a good chance of replacing Regis Philbin on the Regis and Kelly Ripa show?
  • The Cowboys players and coaches hung out together Sunday night, but don’t worry. Nobody was breaking any lockout rules. Instead, they were attending a long-standing charity event – which is A-OK by the NFL. “We’ll talk about the bread and water,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
  • A Twitter war broke out between NFL spokesman Greg Aiello and a Texans blogger/fan. Spoiler: Aiello doesn’t come off looking so good here.
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Posted on: April 16, 2011 8:51 pm

Greg Olsen feels need to set the record straight

Posted by Andy Benoit

On Friday, we posted a piece on how Greg Olsen was booted from a high school field down the street from his home. Olsen said he’s been working out there regularly during the lockout but was recently told he had to leave.

If not for the lockout, this would never be a story. (If no lockout, Olsen wouldn’t be working out at a high school, for one, and for two, there would be copious other happenings that are ten times more interesting/newsworthy than this.)

But, alas, there is a lockout. So not only does Olsen and the high school field become a story, but it also warrants a follow-up story. The follow-up here is courtesy of Olsen himself, who wrote the story for us (and everyone else) on his Twitter account. Olsen’s aim seems to be towards killing any rumors about him having been uncooperative with the high school.

Here’s what he had to say:

“This HS field thing has gotten outa control. Just to get story str8. No class was on field. Met no teachers. Left when asked and called school. Asked If I could sign paperwork or use at another time in message which wasn’t returned. Also have been to the school to speak to various classes and groups with no issue since moved in district. Blown way out proportion.”
Thanks Greg. Hope you can work out at Halas Hall soon. (That would be a real story.)

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Category: NFL
Posted on: April 15, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: April 15, 2011 9:07 am

Greg Olsen can't catch a break

G. Olsen was denied the use of a local high school field to work out (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Like all NFLers, Bears TE Greg Olsen is locked out from his team’s training facilities, meaning he can’t work out in the weight room or run routes and work on his pass-catching on the field.

But here’s how bad things have gotten for Olsen: he can’t even practice on the local high school field.

"The other day I got kicked off a high school field trying to go out and do some field work, so it's not easy," Olsen said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000, via ESPN Chicago. "You have to find your spots and find someone that will let you use their field.

"[Players] already have done some research on some different places, and maybe as it gets a little closer [to training camp] if it looks like that's what we're going to have to do not being able to go over to Halas, then we'll have to continue to look at different opportunities."

Olsen said he lives down the street from Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill., and he’s used the school’s facility multiple times. Recently, though, Olsen tried to work out but was kicked off the field. He tried calling school officials, but he never received a phone call back from anybody.

More from the story:

Stevenson public information coordinator Jim Conrey said it's school policy not to allow the general public on the facilities during school hours.

"Here's my understanding – I believe he showed up unannounced during the school day and tried to go out on the field while we were trying to have phys ed classes," Conrey said. "One of the phys ed teachers asked him not to go out on the field."

Conrey said Olsen "challenged" the decision.

"If he wants to give us a call and work something out, we'll see if we can accommodate him," Conrey said. "We understand he's in a tough situation with the lockout. We can't have the general public showing up and disrupting classes. Mr. Olsen said he was a resident of our district, and I'll have him on his word."

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Category: NFL
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