If there's one thing I have noticed about Williams, it's that he's becoming much more comfortable in terms of his pre-snap assignments. Both he and Hunter Hillenmeyer have to flip-flop across the formation an awful lot based on how the offense is aligning, and he appears to be getting it on his own much more so than he was before. I've said all along that I believe Williams is going to be a pretty good player, especially since plays tend to flow to the weakside linebacker position in Lovie Smith's version of the Cover 2 defense.
However, Williams still tends to be a step slow in coverage from time to time because Desmond Clark is catching a lot of balls on him both in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.
What's up with Tommy Polley? He played outside linebacker for the Rams when Lovie was there, and I see him on the free agent list every year. He seems to be one of the last to get picked up every year, yet he eventually starts for whatever team he plays for. Do you think he could be a good fit for the Bears, either as a starter or at least a quality backup should someone go down? – Cole (Lisle, IL)
There are two ways to guarantee that I will answer your question on Fridays: become a subscriber or ask me something about a Florida State guy. Polley was one of my favorite players back in his Seminole days, and you're right, he always seems to put together a good season no matter who's got him on the payroll. He averages 5.3 tackles per game for his career and can play each of the three linebacker positions, but he missed all of last season as a member of the Saints and is currently unemployed.
Polley is now 29 years old and certainly not as fast as he was once upon a time, and although he probably wouldn't cost the Bears very much, I believe they're satisifed with the likes of Michael Okwo and Darrell McClover backing up Williams right now.
A lot has been made in the past about the team not exactly warming up to Cedric Benson. Do you think that attitude has changed now that Thomas Jones is gone? – NHBearsFan
It's funny you chose this week to ask that question because that's exactly what I was thinking at OTAs on Monday in Lake Forest. Benson was a little bit of a loner the last two seasons because he just doesn't think or talk like your typical football player, but he started to become more a member of the team as 2006 progressed and now I think he's just another one of the guys. Since Jones is finally gone, the veterans in the locker room won't feel the need to defend Jones as the starter and Benson won't have the pressure of having to outperform an incumbent.
I firmly believe that the Bears running game will not miss Jones one bit and should be even more effective with Benson getting 20-25 carries per game.
I know OTAs stands for Organized Team Activities, but what exactly do these practices look like compared to what the Bears do during the season? – Huffy (Decatur, GA)
To the casual observer, you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between OTAs and training camp. There is stretching to start everything off, then positional drills take over, and after that, the offense and defense go against each other in 7-on-7 and then 11-on-11. Special teams also gets a lot of consideration, but I guess it depends on the day as to exactly how much.
However, if you're expecting the OTAs to focus more on conditioning work while in-season practices are more technique and gameplan, that's not necessarily the case.
I know its early to start thinking about this, but what happens if Rex Grossman's contract is not renewed at the end of the season? Do you think the Bears would get a veteran via free agency, trade, or draft a QB next year and stick with Brian Griese for a while? Are any of our current QBs a long-term answer? - CTomas1941 (El Salvador)
My guess is that if Grossman gets off to a hot start next season, Jerry Angelo will step in and sign him to a contract extension immediately and won't give him the opportunity to market himself as a free agent next March. However, if he does not play well in the early going, I believe the team will more open to the idea of making the change to Griese for the rest of the year because they will have no further financial commitment to Grossman after 2007. While I certainly don't believe Griese is the answer long-term here in Chicago, he could conceivably get the job done another year or two if he is indeed the best option on the roster.
And if Grossman does play his way out of Chicago at some point, I'd expect to see the Bears go the free agency route because first-round quarterbacks are expensive and have a high rate of failure.
What do you know about this Timon Marshall kid who the Bears signed as a free agent this week? – Parker (Valparaiso, IN)
Marshall has a few years of experience in various arena leagues, and needless to say, the Bears were successful transforming Rashied Davis into an NFL player. In addition to being a pretty productive receiver, Marshall excelled on special teams as a return man. Although the Monsters of the Midway appear to be set with Devin Hester returing punts and kickoffs for the foreseeable future, perhaps the organization is just looking for another option should Hester take more of a role on offense this season.
Marshall is now the 10th receiver on the roster, and while I certainly don't expect him to make the team ahead of the likes of Mark Bradley or Brandon Rideau, he could be a solid candidate for the practice squad.
With all the RB talk this offseason centering on Garrett Wolfe, where is the love for Adrian Peterson? AP is expected to get a lot of carries this year. He has quietly performed very well every chance he has gotten in the past. Can't wait to see what he does with the ball in his hands more often. – ChicagoHoosier
I agree that Peterson has been overlooked for the majority of his career as a running back, mostly because he's been so good on special teams. He does average 4.7 yards per carry for his career in limited opportunities, and he's currently second on the depth chart behind Benson. But honestly, I'm predicting Wolfe will eventually unseat Peterson as the No. 2 back at some point in 2007 because he brings something that this offense has lacked for quite some time: the ability to score every single time he gets his hands on the ball.
Fans root for good soldiers like Peterson because he contributes any way he can and doesn't make waves in the papers, but he's much more valuable on the coverage units than he'll ever be in the backfield.
What's the more likely scenario? Lance Briggs plays for the Bears this season, the Bears release the franchise tag and make him a free agent, or the Bears trade him? – Simon (Batavia, IL)
I see Briggs playing for the Bears at some point this season simply because he would be leaving too much money on the table. The main reason he's been so steadfast with his threat to hold out is because he hasn't been forced to miss a $450,000 game check yet. The organization is not going to remove the franchise tag just to appease him because he would then be able to walk away for nothing, and trading him before the season is just as unlikely because his value is a lot less right now than it was leading up to the draft.
It's not like Briggs has millions of dollars saved up and can afford to take the year off to play Xbox, so expect him to cave and come crawling back to Halas Hall some time after the final preseason game.
Your buddy Larry Mayer said on ChicagoBears.com this week that J.T. O'Sullivan might not even get invited to training camp despite playing well in NFL Europa. Is that possible? – Simon (Dubuque, IA)
It makes absolutely no sense for the team to bring five quarterbacks to Bourbonnais because there simply aren't enough reps to go around, so I suppose it's possible that O'Sullivan will be the odd man out if the organization likes what they see in Chris Leak. Personally, I don't think Leak has looked very good based on what I've witnessed up close, although I do have to wonder if that's the Florida State alumnus in me just seeing what I want to see. O'Sullivan has been perhaps the best QB in NFL Europa this season, yet the competition over there really isn't very good and shouldn't sway people's opinions on certain players too much.
If Leak has one thing in his favor, it's that he hasn't bounced around a few NFL teams already and made next to no impact – O'Sullivan has.
Why was Tank Johnson given the chance to reduce his suspension with good behavior when Adam Jones and Chris Henry weren't? – Victor (Roselle, IL)
I simply believe that Johnson made a better impression on Commissioner Roger Goodell than Jones or Henry did. Johnson has really impressed me with the way he has handled himself the last few months, although it obviously took a serious wake-up call before he finally decided to get his house in order. It will be interesting to see if he actually makes an effort to become the NFL Man of the Year one day, which he now says is his goal.
Maybe Johnson has pulled the wool over my eyes, but I'm expecting him to be a model citizen the rest of his Bears career.
|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.|