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 ‘Free Agents’ category
So the first wave of NFL free agency is over. Teams that have immediately made their mark, for better or worse, include Cleveland (re-signing Derek Anderson and Jamal Lewis, the additions of Donte Stallworth and Corey Williams); Philadelphia (signing of Asante Samuel and the acquisition of Chris Clemons); and New Orleans (signing of Randall Gay, re-signing of Devery Henderson and Mark Simeneau, and the trade for Jonathan Vilma). Other big additions included Alan Faneca going to the NY Jets, DeShaun Foster headed to San Francisco, Kawika Mitchell going to Buffalo, and the Jacksonville Jaguars re-igniting their passing attack with Cleo Lemon, Troy Williamson and Jerry Porter!!! *(*–Now Watch Me Jock does not guarantee said re-ignition.)
But what about the Bears?
Honestly, I’m guardedly optimistic about what they have done so far. This isn’t to say that I’m pleased about where they stand at the moment; Mark Bradley does not foster giddyness in a season ticket holder as a team’s number 1 option at receiver. Neither does having 3/5 of an offensive line. But if you take a look at the moves the Bears have made thus far, things could be worse. Seriously.
—Bernard Berrian, WR: Signed with Minnesota for 6 years, $42 million. While the Bears receiving corps is presently in shambles, I wouldn’t have wanted Berrian for this money. He’s a solid receiver, and maybe he will be a number 1 option in the future. And the fact that he’s going to a division rival doesn’t thrill me. But then again, its not like I’ll be worried about Berrian twice a year. There is already another guy on that offense that has my undivided attention, and its not Tarvaris Jackson. But that $7 million a year, including $16 million guaranteed, would be better used to sign a less expensive free agent receiver and/or re-signing guys on the defense like Brian Urlacher later this year or Tommie Harris next year.
—Lance Briggs, LB: Re-signed with Bears, 6 years for $36 million. This is a steal. Briggs was the best player on the defense for some of last year, and while he might not be as great as he thinks he is, when healthy he is the perfect outside linebacker in the Bears’ Cover 2 scheme. And the fact that the Bears got Briggs for only $6 million a year with a relatively paltry $12 million up front shows that the linebacker knows he is best in the scheme, next to #54 and behind a top-five defensive tackle like Harris. With this surprise re-signing, the Bears know that at least its defensive front seven will be decent if healthy.
—Muhsin Muhammed, WR: Signs with Carolina after being released by Bears. I would of driven Moose to the airport and carried his luggage to security. The guy came to Chicago after a ridiculous 2004 in which he accounted for over 1400 yards and 16 TD, signing a lucrative free agent deal to become the playmaker the Bears needed on offense. During training camp that year, he spoke to the local media at length about being the leader and big play maker the offense has needed since……shit, I don’t know……Walter? Neal Anderson? In three seasons, Muhammed accounted for 164 catches and 2183 yards with a grand total of 12 touchdowns. Sure, his quarterbacks weren’t great, but by the middle of his second season in Chicago, it became painfully aware that Moose had shot his wad in 2004 and now was nothing better than a 2 or 3, possession-type wideout. Also, his claim to be a leader was nothing but bullshit, as he consistently threw his quarterback–whether it be Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton or Brian Griese–under the bus during and after games. Good riddance, Moose.
—Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, QB: Re-signed to one year contract extensions. Obviously, the knee-jerk reaction, especially nationwide, was one of surprise that the Bears would re-sign these two, especially Grossman. But if you look at things objectively–instead of taking the easy way out and blaming everything on the quarterback–you’ll notice that both of these quarterbacks are good enough to compete if the team surrounding them is strong. Its true that I am a Rex backer, but to be honest, I would rather see Orton win this job out of training camp this year. I think Orton has showed to be less mistake-prone in his starts, and while Grossman’s ceiling is higher, I think Orton is a better fit for this team. Especially now, with the lack of offensive punch on this roster. Another reason these were good signings is that there were no better options. Unless the Bears were going to make a ridiculous offer to Derek Anderson, what free agent quarterback that is/was available is far and away better than these two? Todd Collins? Cleo Lemon? No. Better to just stick it out with these two, release or trade Griese, and see what happens in 2008.
—Alex Brown, DE: Re-signed to 2-year deal. I love this move, as Brown solidified himself as the better all-around defensive end when compared to Mark Anderson, the second-year man who took his job in 2007. Its obvious that a 3-man rotation at defensive end, with Anderson playing primarily in passing situations, is the way to go.
So what do the Bears still need to do? Its obvious they need a free-agent wide receiver. Bradley and Devin Hester are third and fourth options, at best, on a decent offense. Javon Walker is looking for a new home and should be affordable considering he is coming off two injury-plagued, subpar seasons. Bryant Johnson has spent his first three seasons as the third receiver in Arizona, working the slot behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Is he ready to be a primary target? Probably not, but he’s a sight better than Bradley. Other free agent options include DJ Hackett, Marty Booker, Brandon Lloyd, Justin McCareins, and Nate Washington (forget about Randy Moss, people). At least one, if not two or three, of the guys mentioned in this section better have a Bears jersey on in 2008, or its going to be an ugly season.
The two areas I expect to be addressed in the draft are offensive line and running back. Unless one of the big three running backs (Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Stewart) fall to the Bears at #14, expect the team to go with an offensive tackle. As long as the Bears go with an offensive lineman or two (or three) in the draft, along with a running back somewhere and perhaps a signal caller on the second day, the team is in about as good of a position as it can be.
Its probably going to be an ugly season, but try to seperate the dispair you feel when looking at the team as currently constructed and the feeling when looking at the moves the team has made thus far. Like I said, so far so good.
Well, we’re getting closer to the time of year when sports fans come out of their hibernation and realize that the NBA is heating up, college hoops is in full swing, NFL free agency is at its peak, and baseball is starting. Here are the things I’m going to be watching this weekend:
College Basketball: All in all, a pretty shitty weekend for college hoops. On Saturday, there are two games which jump out–Washington State at Stanford and Georgetown at Marquette. Out of those four teams, I could see Georgetown doing something in March. Although Stanford is 8th in the country and playing in a competitive Pac-10, I don’t see the Cardinal making a run deep into the tourney. On Sunday, the Pac-10 is again highlighted as number 4 UCLA travels to Arizona to play the Wildcats. Arizona is a team on the bubble who just got spanked by USC and is dangerously close to falling out of tournament consideration. A win against the Bruins would put them right back in the race for a spot. And, if like me you are constantly subjected to Big Ten basketball, Indiana travels to Michigan State. If either team breaks 60, expect confetti to fall from the rafters and Spartan cheerleaders to service the student section in excitement.
NBA: My hard-on for the Western Conference continues tonight as Utah goes to New Orleans to play the Hornets. Deron Williams looks to beat Chris Paul in a battle of the two best point guards in the league (yeah, that includes you, Nash). Also, the Lakers play Portland and the
hard-charging shitty Bulls host Washington. And while Saturday’s schedule is pretty barren, Sunday is chock full of excitement. The previously mentioned Bulls go to Cleveland and I get to watch LeBron, as well as fuckface Ben Wallace and one of the top teams in the East. The second game of the doubleheader is my highlight of the weekend, unless the Bears sign someone of significance (which is highly fucking unlikely): Dallas at LA Lakers. Watching the Lakers right now is really, really fun. The addition of Pau Gasol has taken the team from a 4-6 seed to the team to beat, and the team’s offense is really, really pretty to watch. When Andrew Bynum comes back, the Lakers could run right through the toughest West in history. And if that wasn’t enough, Denver goes to Houston at night as the Rockets look to become the 28th straight team to make Denver’s ‘defense’ look shitty.
NFL free agency: Nothing really to report here. Its always fun to see where the true impact players wind up, and this year’s crop in that category include some players that I would love for the Bears to get, like Michael Turner, Marion Barber, Randy Moss, Dante Stallworth, and Alan Faneca . Unfortunately, none of that is realistic. I don’t even know if I would want Moss; I don’t think he’d be particularly happy here and we’d just end up with the Oakland version of Moss, not the version which showed up for most of 2007. Outside of my hatred for where my hometown Bears seem to be headed, it looks like Dallas is the most interesting team of the off-season. From rumors that they will look to deal Barber and draft Darren McFadden to recent rumblings that they are going to target Moss, the Cowboys will be fun to watch. Other very recent moves include Jonathan Vilma being traded to the Saints, Kris Jenkins going to the Jets, and Corey Williams headed to Cleveland.
Outside of sports, it seems that ‘Semi-Pro’ is opening this week. I’ll end up seeing it because ‘Anchorman’ is the funniest movie of all time, and now I am relegated to see every piece of shit Will Ferrell does because of the off-chance that it will measure up. But I won’t see it on opening weekend with all the retards and children, and I’ll go to a matinee instead of a prime-time show. Yeah, I saved 3 dollars…..suck on that, Ferrell!!!
PS–The picture is only up there because ScarJo has a movie coming out today too. I won’t see it in a million years, but I will support her by posting a pic of her on my blog.
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.