Based on what I can tell, it seems like Joe is much more of an athlete than a football player. He has been a demon on special teams in the past, but he's never really done much at linebacker with the few opportunities he's been given. Remember it was he who opened training camp as the starter on the weak side, but Briggs replaced him after just two days.
I know the Lance Briggs stuff has been beaten to death, but has there been any trade talks after the Washington deal fell through? There's got to be another team that wants him, right?
– Michael (Portage, IN)
The Giants have apparently offered their pick at No. 20 overall, but the Bears are asking for a little more. It's also been rumored that the Bills might be willing to swap the No. 12 selection for Briggs, but the Bears would then have to include another draft choice in return. Personally, I think the Jaguars are a perfect trade partner at No. 17 because not only do they need a linebacker, but they need star power badly in such a small market.
And don't forget that the Redskins deal could be revisited the closer we get to April 28 because owner Daniel Snyder is notorious for having itchy trigger fingers.
What do you think of the 2007 schedle that was released the other day? Is it really as easy as some people are saying? – Daniel (Algonquin, IL)
While the schedule is not one of the hardest in the league since the Bears still reside in the NFC North, I think it's much more difficult than it was a year ago. From Week 4 through Week 11, there are only two home games as opposed to five road games and the bye week thrown in there. Opening at San Diego could very easily put them in an 0-1 hole, and then the next two home games are against playoff teams from a year ago – Kansas City and Dallas.
Not to mention the fact that the margin between good teams and bad teams is minimal in this league, so I believe most of the schedules are a little more even than some would have you believe.
Now that we know Cedric Benson is going to be the No. 1 running back, what kind of numbers are you expecting to see from him in 2007? – Oliver (Jacksonville Beach, FL)
As you probably know, I believed for most of last season that Benson was a better tailback than Thomas Jones and probably should have been given even more carries. That's not to say that Jones wasn't a good player, and he was by far the best weapon they had throughout the postseason. But Benson simply has more talent at this point in their careers, plus his straight-ahead running style is a much better fit for the Bears' largely man-on-man blocking system.
I'm looking for the former Longhorn to run for 1,300-1,400 yards, score 10-12 touchdowns, and make Bears fans forget about Jones very quickly.
Why were the Bears so stuck on having Rashied Davis as the third wideout instead of Mark Bradley? He was awesome when Bernard Berrian was hurt but almost never played again after he came back. – Dexter (Berwyn, IL)
I'm of the opinion that Bradley is the single most talented receiver on the roster, but don't forget that last season he was just a year removed for a serious knee injury. He did play very well against the Giants and Jets when Berrian was dealing with his rib injury, but then Bradley had trouble with an ankle and didn't contribute much after that. The slot position is much more conducive to a smaller wideout like Davis, so putting Bradley there just for the sake of getting him on the field would have been a bad idea.
It looks like the Bears are set again with Muhsin Muhammad and Berrian starting and Davis a part of the three-wide package, but expect Bradley to get plenty of opportunities to succeed in 2007 because he's so physically gifted.
Why did the Bears have so many coaching changes in the offseason? Isn't that strange for a Super Bowl team? – Frankie (Chicago, IL)
It's not too strange for a Super Bowl team to lose a coordinator since they are usually hot prospects for head-coaching jobs around the league, but the Bears did endure more staff changes than one might have expected. We all know the Ron Rivera saga, although I think Bob Babich will do just fine as defensive coordinator. There will also be five new assistant coaches in 2007 – Pep Hamilton (quarterbacks), Brick Haley (defensive line), Hardy Nickerson (linebackers), Luke Butkus (offensive line assistant), and Charles London (offensive quality control).
Hamilton in particular will be watched closely because it didn't look like Wade Wilson did much for Rex Grossman's footwork.
All of the Chicago Tribune writers predicted what the Bears record will be next season after the new schedule came out. What are you predicting? – Charles (Palm Springs, CA)
The Trib writers are predicting anything from 12-4 to 9-7. I don't think they'll be as good as 12-4, but I do think they'll be better than 9-7. The best thing they have going for themselves is the fact that no one in the NFC North looks to be much better than last season, although Green Bay appears to be on the rise again. Detroit had all kinds of problems on defense even before they traded away their best defensive back, Dre' Bly, and Minnesota has a huge question mark at quarterback.
The Bears should win the division and be a playoff team once again, but the harder schedule probably makes them a 10-6 team right now.
I see that the Lions are considering Calvin Johnson in the draft if he's available. How can Matt Millen possibly do that with all the receivers he's taken lately? – Allen (Schaumburg, IL)
If you eliminate all the other factors like team needs and recent draft history, Johnson is head-and-shoulders the top prospect available and possibly the best receiver to come into the league in a decade. Millen took an awful lot of flak for selecting Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, and Mike Williams with top-10 picks in three consecutive drafts, especially since Rogers was cut prior to last season and Mike Williams has adopted Aaron Gibson's eating habits. Roy Williams turned into a Pro-Bowler and Mike Furrey came out of nowhere to catch 98 balls in Mike Martz's offense last season, so on the surface, receiver isn't their biggest need.
Millen is totally screwed regarding Johnson because he'll get killed if he takes him and equally killed if he passes on him.
Since Roger Goodell was so harsh with Pacman Jones and Chris Henry, does this mean that the Bears should plan to be without Tank Johnson next season? – Lenny (Stillwater, OK)
Before The Commish laid the hammer down on Jones and Henry the other day, I was expecting Johnson to get a routine four-game suspension. If I had to guess now, I'd say Johnson is looking at eight games and might even be deep-sixed for the entire season because he too has a track record when it comes to getting into trouble. If he has one thing going for him, it's that his organization has supported him 100% and he's made a genuine effort to turn himself around – something Goodell apparently did not see in Jones or Henry.
Any interesting news to report from the offseason program that started in Lake Forest this week? – Barry (Zion, IL)
Unfortunately, the media does not have access at Halas Hall right now, but I can tell you with certainty that Briggs is nowhere to be found. Lovie Smith usually has very high participation in his offseason program, so I would be very surprised if there were any no-shows. I'll be up there for the NFL Draft and then rookie mini camp and veteran mini camp, but it's hard to get a handle on what the 2007 roster will look like before we get back to Bourbonnais.
Since I've been doing most of my work in my underwear lately, I also need to step up my offseason conditioning program.
|John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.|