I’m not so sure about that, Mr. Haugh.
On Saturday, Bernard Berrian left the Bears (as expected) and went to our division rival, the Minnesota Vikings. He signed a 6 year contract worth $42 million dollar with $16 million in guaranteed money. The Vikings seem to feel that Bernard will round out their offense nicely by complementing the monstrous running game of Adrian Peterson. Its also amusing to me that Berrian will be playing with Bobby Wade, another ex-Bears wide receiver who had a somewhat decent season with the Vikings last year. I think Brad Childress may get off on plucking players away from his NFC Central rivals. And I think David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune might want to rethink his article on Mr. Berrian and Lance Briggs and the resulting effect it will have on the Chicago Bears in 2008.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a little bit worried about both Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian not being in Bears uniforms next year. I like both of them, both on and off the field, but we need to examine the Lance Brigg’s deal before we make anymore judgments. Lance Briggs signed a 6-year deal worth $36 million with $12 million in guaranteed money. And if you would have asked me before this weekend who would have gotten more money by splashing around in the free agency pool, I don’t think I would have ever said Berrian. Its interesting that both Berrian and Briggs are represented by agent Drew Rosenhaus. After Brigg’s comments about the Bears placing the franchise tag on him last year and not signing a similar deal then, it makes me think that A.) teams didn’t feel that Briggs was worth it, or the more likely B.) his outbursts and the Lamborghini incident may have cost him some potential suitors.
I am definitely happy that Briggs is a Chicago Bear and can settle back into concentrating about next season and upping his play. With Urlacher’s back and neck issues, Brigg’s is a very, very good safety net for the defense. And Urlacher, Briggs, and Hillenmeyer is one of the best LB corps in the league as far as I’m concerned. Who cares if Brigg’s didn’t get out of Urlacher’s shadow. He played lot better than Brian last year and I know he will produce in 2008. But to say that losing Berrian “hurts more” than keeping Briggs is just not true. Neither Muhammad or Berrian are going to be superstar wide receivers in the league. Muhammad is too old and Berrian, while very good, hasn’t shown me that he should be paid what the Vikings gave him on Saturday. Now of course everyone will start throwing around “but Rex and Orton were throwing to him, thats why” and “he was the best option the Bears had and they blew it.” Let’s talk about superstar wide receivers for a second. Did Steve Smith play well last year with the Panthers? He had 87 catches for over 1,000 yards with 7 TD’s. And this was with David Carr, Matt Moore, and god knows who else throwing to him because of Jake Delhomme’s injury. Look at what he’s done with Delhomme on the field in previous seasons.
As for Berrian, look at his 2006 stats. Grossman had a monster first half of the season. We were passing and running the ball very effectively and Berrian managed 51 receptions for 775 yards and 6 TD’s. Granted he was out for one game and didn’t start another, but I don’t think Bernard will be better than a #2 receiver on a team, even though he was #1 here. Herein lies the problem. Like I said before, I’m concerned with who the Rex or Kyle will be throwing to come training camp and preseason. Mark Bradley will be expected to take on a much larger role and will most likely be in the #1 spot. It’ll be interesting to see what Mike Hass and Brendon Rideau can do with more playing time. Hass impressed me with his play last year in the preseason. And if all three of them are on the field, we’ll have a wide receiving corps that are all over 6′ tall and 200+lbs. We also have Rashied Davis who needs to step up big time. I’d like to see him fill in as a slot receiver and catch the balls that Muhammad was dropping over the past two seasons. And Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark is a TE tandem worth talking about in 2008. I’m going to predict that Olson will have a monster year.
And I’m leaving out one very important aspect of the Bears offense for next year: Devin Hester. I’m sure that the organization is getting him more acquainted with the playbook and with running his routes. Just based on the several spectacular catches he has made at crucial times in the game, I hope he can develop into our long range threat and start at WR. I honestly would have loved to see him and Berrian, running routes on opposite sides of the field. Both have great speed and can take opponents down field with them, but I’m more interested in seeing Hester develop as a receiver. That being said, there are bigger problems with the offense even with Berrian and Muhammad leaving.
This team is supposed to start running off the bus. To do that, we need to fix the O Line. I’ve eluded to this three of four times over the past couple weeks, but there’s no way that our offense will be better than they were last year if we don’t fix major problems in that area. And we need to establish a running game. I was hoping we would grab Michael Turner and bring him back to his hometown, but the Falcons just signed him to a 6 year contract worth $34.5 million. I’m definitely not looking forward to competition between Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson. I like Adrian and think he’s a great fill-in back and receiving downs back. But he’s not a full-time RB. Cedric hasn’t proved anything besides that this organization keeps throwing money at talented college RB’s and can’t catch a break (Rashaan Salaam, anyone?). However, I know that Benson’s running game will have to improve with a more well-rounded O Line that actually gets some push, some blocking upfront. They need to create holes to give him his confidence back. When Benson’s broken away, he’s showed that he can move well down field and gave yardage, but the problem is he never moves very far past the line.
Fixing the O Line and establishing a solid running game will let our offense get back to where it was in 2006. Grossman and Orton can find receivers, but they need time and protection. If the running game is making teams respect them, then any of the wide receivers we have now should be able to get open downfield. Olsen should be open for our little 5-10 yard pass over the middle just about every down. Use him like the Falcons used Alge Crumpler for so many years. He has the talent to become a great TE in this league. And a respect for the running game and passing game will mean that Hester and the other inexperienced WR’s will start getting open downfield. Even if Hester is used as a decoy, Bradly and Co. should be able to step up and make some plays when needed.
So Mr. Haugh, I think keeping Briggs for less money than it would have taken to re-sign Bernard was a very smart move in solidifying our defensive unit. We need him to blitz and shut the opponents running game down and with Urlacher slowing up a little bit, this was a great move in my opinion. Shit we didn’t really offer him much more than what we wanted him to sign for last year before slapping the franchise tag on him. I don’t think Berrian is worth $42 million, but I’m glad he got his pay day. Let’s see what Hester, Bradley, and Olsen can do in starting roles on the offense. It starts with fixing that O Line and establishing the run. Thats what this team has always been about anyways.
UPDATE: To check out up-to-the-minute free agency moves, go to NFL.com’s Free Agency Tracker.
Archive for the ‘Alan Faneca’ category
In no particular order:
– Randy Moss, Unrestricted Free Agent, WR, Patriots
– Asante Samuel, Unrestricted Free Agent, CB, Patriots
– Marion Barber, Restricted Free Agent, RB, Cowboys
– Julius Jones, Unrestricted Free Agent, RB, Cowboys
– Derek Anderson, Restricted Free Agent, QB, Browns
– Daunte Culpepper, Unrestricted Free Agent, QB, Raiders
– Michael Turner, Unrestricted Free Agent, RB, Chargers
– Jerry Porter, Unrestricted Free Agent, WR, Raiders
– Alan Faneca, Unrestricted Free Agent, T, Steelers
– Bernard Berrian, Unrestricted Free Agent, WR, Bears
– Alge Crumpler, Unrestricted Free Agent, CB, Falcons
– Donte Stallworth, Unrestricted Free Agent, WR, Patriots
– Bryant Johnson, Unrestricted Free Agent, WR, Cardinals
– Todd Collins, Unrestricted Free Agent, QB, Redskins
– Junior Seau, Unrestricted Free Agent, LB, Patriots
– D.J. Hackett, Unrestricted Free Agent, WR, Seahawks
– Marty Booker, Unrestricted Free Agent, WR, Dolphins
– Lance Briggs, Unrestricted Free Agent, LB, Bears
– Trent Green, Restricted Free Agent, QB, Dolphins
– Byron Leftwich, Unrestricted Free Agent, QB, Falcons
– Derrick Ward, Unrestricted Free Agent, RB, Giants
– Jesse Chatman, Unrestricted Free Agent, RB, Dolphins
My thoughts: Lots of old QB’s. Who’s Dallas going to sign at RB (should be Barber)? I like Derrick Ward and Michael Turner. Lots of RB’s who filled in for injured stars very nicely. The Patriots have alot of signing to do. Lots of old WR’s. Who wants to play for the Raiders or Dolphins anyways? Briggs and others will get their paydays.