Tag:Chicago Bears
Posted on: February 7, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 4:42 pm

Forte OK with franchise tag if it leads somewhere

M. Forte said he'd be OK with a franchise tag if it leads to a long-term deal. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

The Bears, despite their somewhat contentious relationship with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte during the past season, have made clear they don’t plan on letting him test free agency. That’s what team president/CEO Ted Phillips said recently, claiming new general manager Phil Emery would work with Forte on a possible agreement to a long-term deal or would franchise-tag him to keep him in Chicago.

Forte has been on record saying that he didn’t want to be tagged, noting in November that “If they think by just slapping the franchise tag on me that’s going to silence anything, they’re sadly mistaken.”

Forte apparently has changed his mind.

That’s the impression he gave ESPN 1000 in Chicago during a recent interview when he said he’d be fine with a franchise tag if it led him to that elusive long-term deal.

Forte's future
"It depends on the motive of (the franchise tag)," Forte said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show.” "If they are doing the franchise tag just to get more time in order to negotiate a long-term deal, then I would be OK with it. But if it's just to hold me another year and just, 'Let's throw some money at him right now to keep him quiet,' that's not going to solve anything."

OK, so he’s beginning to waver on the tag issue. But Forte -- who sprained his MCL late in the season after complaining earlier in the year that the Bears were grinding him to a pulp without paying him what he’s worth -- isn’t going to forget the idea of signing an extended contract.

"I would expect (a new GM) to affect (the talks) positively," Forte said. "Hopefully, if we don't reach a deal by the time the franchise tag has to be placed, if they do franchise me, it's in order to get a deal done."

And if not, I’m sure we won’t hear the end of Forte’s disillusionment.

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Posted on: February 1, 2012 7:03 pm

Bears don't plan to let Matt Forte get away

ForteBy Josh Katzowitz

The Bears recently hired Phil Emery to take over for former general manager Jerry Angelo, but the decision on whether to bring back running back Matt Forte or to let him walk in free agency apparently has already been made.

That’s because team president/CEO Ted Phillips said Forte isn’t going anywhere.

"We'd like to (work out a long-term deal)," Phillips said on ESPN 1000, via ESPN Chicago. "But as Phil pointed out we obviously will at least consider placing the franchise tag on him. We don't have any intention of letting Matt hit the open market. We'll sit down with him privately, Phil will, and discuss what the plans are prior to the Feb. 20 franchise tag date."

That leaves about three weeks that the Bears can work out a long-term deal with Forte.

Forte, though, has made it quite clear that he believes he deserves an extended contract. The Bears might be hesitant because they have proof of what can happen if a star running back gets those huge contracts (cough, cough, Chris Johnson).

While Forte had a Pro Bowl season, rushing for 997 yards in 12 games, he obviously wasn’t pleased with his situation. Which he made quite clear in November.

"The running back position is the most physically demanding on the field," Forte said. "Everyone acknowledges that. So to continue to give me the touches I’ve had since my rookie year but not award me a long-term contract sends the message that you’re OK grinding me into a pulp."

Making matters worse, Forte sprained his MCL in December and said he wouldn’t return to the team unless he was 100 percent (the team, then, placed him on the IR list). But after he was cleared by team doctors, Forte played in last Sunday’s Pro Bowl, and it seemed as if his decision to do so was a big “Screw you" to the Bears (that’s how I took it, anyway).

And while Forte will make good money for his one year of service if he’s franchise-tagged, he most likely won’t be happy it.

"If they think by just slapping the franchise tag on me that’s going to silence anything, they’re sadly mistaken," he said in November. "That’s not going to cure everything. It’s not a solution, I would say."

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 3:20 pm

McNabb really thought the Bears would sign him

McNabbBy Josh Katzowitz

After the Vikings cut Donovan McNabb on Dec. 1, he appeared on ESPN for an interviewe and seemed confident that, even if nobody claimed him off waivers, he would be signed as a free agent at some point soon.

That obviously never happened, even though apparently McNabb truly believed the Bears would ink him after Jay Cutler went down with his season-ending injury.

"I thought the Bears would call," McNabb said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 (via ESPN Chicago). "So many people continuously talked about the Mike Martz offense and things of that nature. I personally didn't care about that. If you want to win and win now, you go out and get a better quarterback and you cater your offense to his strengths, and obviously the strengths of your team.

"Obviously it didn't work out well for them. It's unfortunate. I wish things would have worked out, but it didn't. We will see what happens from now on."

Instead of signing McNabb (or Brett Favre for that matter), the Bears -- who did put a waiver claim on Kyle Orton before losing five of their final six games of the season -- went with the disastrous Caleb Hanie before finding some offensive stability with Josh McCown.

Even so, Bears receiver Devin Hester didn’t relish the thought of bringing in McNabb, saying it would be a “waste of time” because McNabb hadn’t played in former offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s offense.

Still, McNabb would have liked the chance, particularly since Chicago is his hometown.

"I definitely thought about it," he said. "Growing up a Bears fan, I kind of saw myself playing back home and hopefully winning the Super Bowl ... I think when the situation was there, everyone, friends and family, thought it would happen. It didn't, things didn't work out well for them.

"I got a chance to relax and rest my body, so I don't mind at this particular time what happened, but things could have been different."

For McNabb, and certainly, for the Bears.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 4:29 pm

Bears say Forte can play in Pro Bowl; should he?

ForteBy Josh Katzowitz

OK, see if this makes sense.

Bears running back Matt Forte was placed on injured reserve this season after injuring his knee on Dec. 3, and already obviously displeased with the way Chicago hadn’t given him the contract extension he so dearly wanted, he said he wouldn’t return to play unless he was 100 percent.

“I'm not going to rush to get back on the field and play while I'm hurt, because (if) you're not at 100 percent you may injure it even more if you do that,” Forte said then.

Right, that’s fine. Smart even. If the Bears won’t pay him what he feels he deserves, there’s no sense in Forte possibly hurting himself again if he’s not completely healthy.

But Thursday the Bears announced Forte had passed his physical and had cleared him to play in the Pro Bowl. It sounds like that’s exactly what Forte will do.

And all I can think is: why? Why would he risk getting injured again as he moves into free agency?  Yeah, the Bears very well could place the franchise tag on him, but I’m betting they won’t if he tears his ACL during the game (hey, Robert Edwards effectively ended his career during that week of celebration).

Is he, as one Twitter follower suggested, simply flipping the bird to the Bears? If that’s the case, it seems like an awfully big risk for a few minutes of pleasure. Not sure I understand.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 5:25 pm

Report: Mike Martz retires from coaching

Cutler reportedly didn't want Martz back in Chicago. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Mike Martz, the architect of the Greatest Show on Turf with the Rams in the early 2000s, has retired, NFL Network Jason La Canfora reported Monday. Martz served as Dick Vermeil's offensive coordinator when St. Louis won the Super Bowl in 2000, was elevated to head coach from 2000-2005, and spent five of the next six seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Lions (2006-07), 49ers (2008) and Bears (2010-11).

Martz's two-year stint in Chicago was a bumpy one; his offensive philosophy wasn't always shared by franchise quarterback Jay Cutler. And head coach Lovie Smith, who Martz had hired as the Rams defensive coordinator in 2001, was often viewed as Martz's enabler. Smith regularly rebuffed questions about Martz's future.

In late December, with the Bears' playoffs hopes dashed, Smith was asked if Martz, whose contract expires at the end of the 2011 season, would be back in 2012.

“What kind of question is that anyway, at this time?" Smith demanded at the time. "What kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

Six days later -- and a day after Smith was noncommittal on Martz's future -- Martz resigned for "philosophical differences." And today he retired from coaching.

The Bears promoted Mike Tice into Martz's old job. Tice had previously served as Chicago's offensive line coach and was the Vikings head coach from 2001-2005. Tice isn't considered the offensive mastermind that Martz was but might be by design. His biggest task should be to a) keep Cutler from taking hits and b) get Matt Forte the ball. You don't have to be a genius to know that. In fact, it probably helps if you aren't.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:13 pm

Bears promote Mike Tice to offensive coordinator

By Will Brinson

The Bears recently decided to not invite offensive Mike Martz back for another season as offensive coordinator and announced on Friday the promotion offensive line coach (and former Vikings head coach) Mike Tice to the position.

Tice, entering his 16th season as an NFL coach, was hired as the offensive line coach before the 2010 season in Chicago. The Bears offensive line isn't exactly renown for their high-level of talent and for the early part of both 2010 and 2011, Jay Cutler spent the better part of the season on his back, ducking defenders who waltzed through the protection schemes in Chicago.

But Tice deserves credit for his adjustments, as the offensive line dramatically improved over the course of the season.

In telling news, the Bears pointed out in their press release that Tice "interviewed for the position with coach Lovie Smith on Thursday," indicating that Lovie's gig for the upcoming season is, in fact, safe.

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Tice's five years as Minnesota's coach indicate precisely what kind of difference we should expect to see from the Bears offense going forward: only once did the Vikings, even with Daunte Culpepper under center, rank in the top-10 in passing attempts. Twice they ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing attempts, and in all but one of those years, the Bears ranked in the top 10 in yards per rushing attempt. (Certainly worth noting: Daunte Culppeper piled up some rushing yards as well.)

In other words, while Martz was pass-pass-pass and then pass again, Tice is likely to be run-run-run and run again. It should be a stark contrast, and if the Bears can improve the offensive line and keep Matt Forte in town, it could be a more productive offense as well, even as the NFL shifts to more pass-happy offenses.

Certainly Cutler, who reportedly didn't want Martz back in the first place, should be happier. Or at least healthier.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:41 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 3:49 pm

Report: Cutler didn't want Martz back in Chicago

Martz, Cutler

By Josh Katzowitz

This might not surprise you, especially considering Jay Cutler dropped an F-bomb on former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, but, according to the Chicago Tribune, Cutler met with coach Lovie Smith and said he was in favor of moving on without Martz.

Cutler apparently met with Smith to give his opinion before Smith and Martz met to officially part ways. Martz’s contract was up anyway, but considering Cutler (among others in the organization) didn’t want Martz around, it seemed unlikely Martz would return for another season.

"Obviously I would sure like to be back,” Martz said last month. “I think all of that stuff works out. This is going to be a great football team and I would like to be a part of it. We’ll just see how it works out."

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Though Cutler had a standout season in Martz’s system, Martz, earlier in the year, didn’t seem all that concerned about keeping Cutler protected by the offensive line. In fact, Cutler was asked in September if he could survive the year, and he hoarsely said, “I don’t know. I don’t know."

Martz also didn’t make friends with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte by using him in such an inconsistent matter that it led Forte to say he thought the Bears didn’t believe he's an elite player. And Martz didn’t come off great when he blamed backup Caleb Hanie for an interception on a play that probably shouldn’t have been called for such an inexperienced player in the first place.

Now, Smith will have to hire his third offensive coordinator in four years, and hopefully, Cutler will give his seal of approval.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 7:07 pm

Sam Hurd indicted on two drug charges


By Josh Katzowitz

Former Bears receiver Sam Hurd has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, according to ESPN Chicago.

If he’s convicted on the conspiracy charge, Hurd would face a sentence of 10 years to life and a $10 million fine, and if he’s convicted of the possession with intent to distribute charge, he’d face a sentence of 5-40 years and a $5 million fine.

Hurd was arrested last month after allegedly trying to buy drugs from an undercover officer in Rosemont, Ill. According to police, Hurd explained to the officer that he wanted to buy a half-ton of marijuana and 10 kilograms of cocaine per week to distribute in the Chicago area. After his arrest, he was released by the Bears. He had to post a $100,000 bond to get out of jail.

"Sam intends to fight these charges, and we intend to defend him fully," his attorney David Kenner said a day after Hurd’s arrest. "We have complete confidence in him."

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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