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Audibles From the Long Snapper: We Got the Beat Edition

| June 5th, 2017

Lamarr Houston: Forgotten Man?

Many figured Houston would not be part of the Bears plans in 2017. Patrick Finley opines otherwise in the Sun-Times:

The Bears think Houston still can be a pass-rushing threat three seasons after then-general manager Phil Emery signed him to a five-year, $35 million contract. They signaled that by not signing or drafting any significant outside linebackers this offseason.

After rehabbing in New York during the offseason, Houston has participated in OTAs. He said his recovery is on schedule, though he hesitated to predict when he would be at full strength.

‘‘All you can do is work day by day and try to get better,’’ he said. ‘‘I work to be impactful, and I work to be the best at what I do.’’

Outside linebacker Willie Young, for one, can’t imagine how he would have handled tearing both his ACLs in a span of three seasons.

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Around the Beat: Samplings from the Papers

| May 9th, 2016

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BIGGS ON GRASU

If Hroniss Grasu develops into a frontline center, the Bears may have a terrific offensive line in 2016. But Grasu would have to make a significant leap if that’s going to be the case. From Biggs in the Trib:

The statistics in the eight games Grasu started last season and the other eight games that were split between Slauson and Will Montgomery are similar with one glaring difference. I tallied the stats for Jay Cutler’s 15 starts, (excluding the dud of a performance in Seattle in Week 3 when Jimmy Clausen was at quarterback) and what jumps out is the Bears averaged 4.22 yards per carry with Slauson and Montgomery at center. With Grasu, they averaged 3.77, nearly a half-yard less.

If the Bears had a high level of confidence in Grasu, they wouldn’t have made three additions even while removing Slauson from the equation. When the season opens Sept. 11 in Houston, left tackle Charles Leno could be the only starter in a position he played for the team last season.

My favorite line in the piece? “One front-office guy said his team nearly drafted Whitehair about 20 picks before the Bears.” I maintain a firm belief that Whitehair is going to be a ten-year star at guard for the Bears.

JAHNS ON THE UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS

Adam’s piece in the Sun-Times is a solidly comprehensive breakdown of all the UFAs but I’m sampling the one position they may have had been most focused on: tight end.

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Postseason Positional Analysis Part VII: Linebackers

| January 19th, 2016

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We start on the inside.

The Bears had five inside linebackers this season but only three are worthy of discussion. LaRoy Reynolds & Jonathan Anderson are the type of bottom-roster boys an organization needs but there’s also about 125 players like them circulating across the league. Whether they return or not in 2016 won’t make the teapot whistle.

Three questions about the others.

How Much Do the Coaches Really Like Shea McClellin?

Shea is a smart player and the coaches went out of their way throughout 2015 to applaud his impact on the defense. He also, once again, struggled to remain healthy for any substantial period of time and his level of play dropped precipitously once returning to the field.

Here’s how I’d summarize McClellin. He is constantly in position to make plays but rarely makes them. Is that a lack of physical ability? Maybe. Is that a lack of instincts? Definitely. Were his struggles this season more the result of a change to ANOTHER new position? Possibly.

Unlike many who’d like to see the Bears cut the Shea line, I’d like to see him return and continue to develop at middle linebacker. He won’t be expensive or require a lengthy deal so why not? At worst he’s a third linebacker off the bench who can also call signals.

How Much Stake Do the Coaches Put Into John Timu’s Finish?

Adrian Peterson had 18 rushes for 63 yards. Doug Martin had 17 carries for 49 yards. Ameer Abdullah had a more respectable 10 carries for 44 yards. This was a poor rush defense all season long that turned into a solid unit once Timu ascended into the starting lineup. Does this mean the Bears should move forward with Timu cemented in the middle? Of course not. But barring a big splurge in free agency, Timu should come to Bourbonnais with confidence.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears & Bucs Play Out the String (Christmas Edition!)

| December 24th, 2015

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THE GAME POEM

THOUGHTS ON THE TAMPA BAY BUCS

  • Bucs offense is simple. They want to hand the ball off a zillion times to Doug Martin and then make plays down the field to Mike Evans off play-action. If their running game is shut down it greatly limits their effectiveness to move the ball/score points.
  • Earlier in the week I paired the Bucs and Bears as two teams that weren’t ready to put themselves in the thick of a playoff chase. Four weeks ago the Bucs were 5-5 and positioned well to make a run at the 6th seed. Since then they’ve lost to a Luck-less Colts, a Saints team playing out the string and were roughed up last Thursday night by the Rams until mounting a late comeback. This is a team with a lot of weapons and a bright future. But they’re not there yet. The question will be whether Lovie can get them over the top in 2016.
  • Tampa’s rush defense is very good, allowing 30 less yards per game on the ground than Chicago. If the Bears think they’re going to control this game on the ground it’s unlikely. The way to attack Tampa is to isolate a couple familiar fellows at the backend of their secondary (Conte, Wright…etc.) and throw the ball down the field. The question will be whether any of the Bears receivers can get any separation.

NEW CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

Each year, from Thanksgiving until Christmas, I (like many) indulge in the joy that is the Christmas movie. And it surprises me that movies and television shows still find their way into the rotation. This last year produced two new additions.

A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS

It’s television the way television used to be made in the days of soundstages and cigarette holders and Dean Martin. Everything about it is a throwback and it’s still completely original. The highlight? George Clooney popping out repeatedly from behind Christmas trees to deliver the chorus of Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’.

DIFFICULT PEOPLE, “DIFFICULT CHRISTMAS”

The best new comedy on television in 2015 was Julie Klausner’s Difficult People and the final episode of the season, the Christmas episode, might have been the best. The highlight? Klausner getting fired from her job as a gift wrapper for reciting the story of Capturing the Friedmans to a customer.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Welcome to the Brock!

| November 20th, 2015

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The Bears now have a chance to find .500 by beating Brock Osweiler at home. A win would thrust them into playoff consideration and create Must See TV on Thanksgiving night at Lambeau. And so the season continues for one of the most entertaining Chicago Bears teams in recent memory.

THE GAME POEM

In Denver I ate a hot dog once

It was bigger than expected

The stuff they piled on was fine

The dog itself neglected

Don’t sell me on your franks, dear sir

Because they’re wrapped in bacon

The wiener is the thing, kind sir

The other shit is fakin’

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Hoge’s Three Points, Defense Improving & the Favored Raiders?

| September 28th, 2015

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HOGE NAILS THREE POINTS

Sat down to write a column Monday morning and after a Google search realized Adam Hoge (WGN) already wrote it. He makes three suggestions to John Fox and all three are 100% correct.

1. Start David Fales against the Raiders.

2. Stop the nonsense and just have Pat O’Donnell boom kickoffs out of the back of the end zone.

3. Give Jeremy Langford more carries.

Quick thought on each.

  • Wrote the column on why Bears should have started David Fales last week. Jimmy Clausen is horrible and everyone on earth knows that. (Did you see how Pete Carroll approached him Sunday? They were daring him to throw passes!) 2015 is in the books. Every decision should be geared towards 2016 and beyond.
  • Teams are going to move the ball on the Bears all season so they’re not afraid to return kickoffs from inside the end zone. There’s no different to them between starting on the 13 or 20 yard lines. Bears can’t cover kicks currently and they shouldn’t have to. They have a protective measure on the roster. They should use him.
  • Bears need to make a decision immediately whether Matt Forte is part of their future. If he’s not, he shouldn’t be on this team. I’d take Hoge’s point a step further. I think Langford should be receiving a bulk of the carries.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Paea, Prospect of Will Hill & MORE!

| June 4th, 2014

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PAEA IN THE SKY-A

Stephen Paea has been a disappointment for almost the entirety of his Chicago Bears career. In 2014 he is acknowledging that disappointment:

“You see how I played — I let my teammates down,” the defensive tackle said after the fifth of 10 organized team activity sessions at Halas Hall. “The best thing about it is, I have a second chance to do it …

“Just put a chip on my shoulder this year.”

For me Paea is the Bears fifth defensive tackle in 2014 and will see even less field time when the Bears slide some of their versatile ends (Houston, Young) inside on passing downs. You could make an argument that no player on the defensive roster outside of Shea McClellin needs a better summer.

WILL HILL WENT TO MY HIGH SCHOOL…

…but that is not the only reason I believe the Bears should be interested in the talented, pot-smoking knucklehead recently released by the New York Giants.

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Reactions to Day One of Free Agency

| March 12th, 2014

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ON LAMARR HOUSTON…

Of the three high profile defensive ends on the open NFL market, Lamarr Houston was the best fit for the Chicago Bears. Neither he nor the two Michaels (Bennett, Johnson) are elite edge rushers who’ll draw double teams on every down. But Houston is smart, gets off blocks and displays tremendous discipline; he is one of the best run-stopping defensive ends in the game.

The Bears could fix their pass rush all they wanted. It wouldn’t matter if they continued being one of the worst run defenses in the history of recorded time.

From Brad Biggs:

…Houston plays the run very well, he’s durable (hasn’t missed a game in four seasons) and has the flexibility to shift around on the line. There is a good chance the Bears will slide him inside in the nickel package, which is probably what the plan was for Bennett. He’s athletic enough to see time at the three technique tackle position, if needed.

Versatility is great but production is better and that is what Emery is counting on. The reality is Houston, who will turn 27 in June, offers more bang for the buck than a 34-year-old Peppers and probably more than Jared Allen or DeMarcus Ware, both soon to turn 32.

Remember this, desperate Bears fans: it ain’t all getting fixed in twenty-four hours. Houston doesn’t solve their woes along the defensive line. But he solves one of them.

THREE ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

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Free Agency Begins Today!

| March 11th, 2014

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The Bears need help on defense and help is available (Houston, Mitchell, a plethora of safeties). The Bears don’t need much help on offense but dynamic weapons are available (Darren Sproles). Julius Peppers is still on the club. Darrelle Revis may be the most desirable free agent defender in years.

For my moment-to-moment commentary on free agency as the day progresses, check my Twitter feed on the right rail or follow me on Twitter by CLICKING HERE. If the Bears make any significant moves, we’ll address the move here.

One thing to remember: no reporter has been ahead of Phil Emery yet so take everything you’ve read with a massive grain of salt.

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