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Five Things I Wish the 2016 Bears Had (#2)

| September 1st, 2016

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#2 – Matt Slauson

Don’t care how Bears evaluated Slauson last year. If he were on the roster today he’d be the following:

  • Starting center
  • Backup left guard
  • Backup right guard

Slauson was affordable, versatile depth for a team that is sorely lacking such on the offensive line.

If you believe Bears are better without him, you’re wrong.

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Three Thoughts To Get the Ball Rolling

| August 8th, 2016

Today, unofficially, begins the 2016 season. There is a “game” this week. Big injuries have already altered the game plan. August feels like it just got started and will end any day now.

Three thoughts to start things…

SLAUSON SHOULD BE HERE

I tweeted about it this weekend while on mini-vacation and incessantly when the move initially happened. Matt Slauson being let out the door was one of the most foolish moves of the Ryan Pace/John Fox era. Why?

  • Slauson was cheap.
  • Slauson covered three positions.
  • Slauson was a leader and great locker room guy.
  • Injuries are too commonplace, especially along the offensive line. In a league of teams STARVING for quality depth, the Bears essentially passed on having a tremendous depth on one of their most problematic units.

Now that Grasu is done, the Bears have a question mark at center. And I keep arguing, for years at this point, center is the most underrated position on the entire roster.

I LIKE THE FIGHTING

If you think teams fighting in training camp is an issue, I get it. But since the Bears are only a season removed from the 2014’s heartless, soulless, gutless, passionless, lifeless performance…I’m willing to say punch away.

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409 Comments

Releasing Matt Slauson Makes No Sense

| May 2nd, 2016

I have heard the rationale. Matt Slauson is not an athletic fit for what the Bears want on their offensive line. Fine. But let’s try a quick experiment.

Rank the Bears offensive linemen in terms of quality, including Slauson.

  1. Kyle Long at guard
  2. Matt Slauson
  3. Bobby Massie

Yesterday the Bears released their second best offensive lineman and, in my mind, their second best offensive player in 2015. They released a player who seamlessly slid over to center a season ago and put a patchy offensive line on his back.

Even more importantly they released a leader on the field and in the locker room. They released a player who after suffering through the indignity of 2014 and transition of 2015, his held proudly high, deserved to taste the candy apple at the end of the boardwalk.

Is Cody Whitehair going to be great player? I certainly believe so. But he’s yet to play a down in the NFL and until he or any other draft pick does the question mark remains at the end of the sentence.

The Bears released a good player. A valuable player. And a not particularly expensive player. How does this make the 2016 a better team? It doesn’t.

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Postseason Positional Analysis Part V: Offensive Line

| January 14th, 2016

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This is, by far, the hardest position group to evaluate within an organization because it is not only an evaluation of individual performance but also of the collective whole.

THE GUARANTEES

  • Kyle Long is playing somewhere along the offensive line in 2016, most likely where he played the 2015 season. While the world has panicked at Long’s struggles at times this season, the organization – and more importantly the player – have not. Long will be on the Bears for the foreseeable future.
  • Matt Slauson would rank just behind Jay Cutler as my Bears MVP for 2015. Slauson excelled at two positions, rescuing the Bears from multiple moments of desperation at center. His versatility is developing into his finest asset as the former Jet can now line up at three positions along the line.

COMING BACK

  • Hroniss Grasu will most likely be the starting center in 2016 after the Bears put him through an extensive offseason of work. He needs to get bigger. He needs to get stronger. And it will be one of the major priorities for the offensive coaching staff this spring and summer.

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Law Firm of Cutler, Porter & Gould: Rapid Fire Reaction to the Bears Finally Getting on the Board

| October 5th, 2015

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It was only one win but it felt like six. Thoughts:

  • This was the classic Jay Cutler performance, even without proper usage of his legs. He moved the team up and down the field, behind a makeshift offensive line and without his top wide receiver. He threw one stupid pass. But with the game on the line and the ball in his hands he drove the Bears to their first victory of the season.
  • Cutler continues to be a winning quarterback when the Bears play defense. The model isn’t brain surgery, folks. Cutler is not a shootout-type quarterback. There are only about five of those in the league and he isn’t one of them.
  • Losing Will Montgomery can’t be overstated. NFL teams have collapsed under the weight of losing their starting center. But the Bears used their third round pick on center Hroniss Grasu this year. If he’s not moved into the starting lineup this week, one wonders how far off the kid is from playing?
  • Still not sure I understand Matt Forte picking up 25 carries while Rodgers and Langford total 3.
  • Hated how John Fox handled the ends of both halves. In the first half, once the Bears sack Carr on first down, Fox has to use the first timeout. He gave away a clear scoring chance. At the end of the game, who plays for a 49-yard field goal? I don’t care how good Robbie Gould is kicking right now – and he might be at his career best – there was far too much time to get ultra-conservative with the game on the line.

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Position-By-Position at the Bye: Offensive Line

| October 29th, 2014

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The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Here is what we expected from the offensive line coming into the 2014 season: Bushrod, Slauson, Garza, Long, Mills. The sturdiness and dependability of these five men in 2013 was a key to the club’s offensive resurgence. Yes, Mills was a weaker link but Trestman and Kromer protected him brilliantly with a combination of actual tight ends and Even Britton lined up as a de facto tight end.

It is hard to judge this group on eight games of odd configurations. Bushrod missed time and was replaced by a player (Ola) with no business playing left tackle in the NFL. Slauson will have a lost season and is, in my opinion, the Bears best offensive lineman. Garza missed a ton and while the transition to de la Puente felt seamless, the Bears certainly missed his comfort and leadership along the line. Mills has continued to struggle but injury has not allowed the Bears to provide the protection of a year ago.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Play Calling Nonsense, Injuries on the O-Line & More!

| September 9th, 2014

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Enough with the Play Calling

From Mark Potash’s column in the Sun-Times:

The other issue on Cutler’s second interception was Trestman’s play-call itself. Why not run on third-and-one? Matt Forte had gained 62 yards on 14 carries to that point, though he had been stopped for no gain on the previous play.

“Most of the time we do, but we have to have some balance to what we’re doing,” Trestman said. “And the fact that it was a two-down situation gave us an opportunity to get a big play, and we’re going to take an aggressive approach at times.”

Nothing is more tiring in the NFL than fans and media criticizing play calling after the fact. If Cutler throws the football away, nobody complains. If he gets the yard with his legs, the play is an absolute afterthought. If he completes the pass, HEAVEN PRAISED TRESTMAN IS  GENIUS!

Play calling is the single most overrated element of football games. When runs don’t work, people want passes. When passes don’t work, people want runs. Now all of a sudden the Bears should run on short-yardage when the number one criticism of Matt Forte’s career has been his inability to get first downs in short yardage AND the Bears are without their starting center and left guard?

You know why offensive – and never defensive – play calling are often the most criticized elements of football games? Because it is the element of the game the casual fan and media member believe they can do. Spoiler alert: they can’t.

I prefer to exit the realm of the hypothetical and put the blame where it belongs: on the guy who threw the ball to a defensive lineman.

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Contract Details For Cutler, Jennings, Slauson

| January 6th, 2014

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JAY CUTLER

Here are the details for the Bears quarterback, via Aaron Wilson at National Football Post:

In 2014, Cutler has a $22.5 million base salary and salary-cap figure with $2.5 million of his base salary deferred until March 30, 2014 in addition to another $2.5 million paid out over the 2015 regular season.

In 2015, Cutler has a $15.5 million base salary guaranteed and salary-cap figure.

In 2016, Cutler has a $16 million base salary and salary-cap figure.

In 2017, Cutler is due a $12.5 million nonguaranteed base salary and a $15 million salary-cap figure.

He has $2.5 million in per-game roster bonus paid out for $156,250 for every game he’s active.

In 2018, he has a $13.5 million nonguaranteed base salary with a $16 million salary-cap figure.

That includes the same $2.5 million per-game roster bonus.

In 2019, he has a $17.5 million nonguaranteed base salary with a $20 million salary-cap figure. It has the same $2.5 million per-game roster bonus.

In 2020, Cutler has a $19.2 million base salary plus $2.5 million per-game roster bonus.

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