Archive for the ‘Monsters of the Midway’ Category

NFL Network Analysis: Jay Cutler Trade

April 4, 2009

Further reveiwing what league experts are saying about the Jay Cutler deal we come to coverage from the NFL Network. Total Access kicked off two days of essentially round the clock Cutler trade coverage.
Former NFL GM Charlie Casserly steps up to the plate to diagnose the Cutler trade first and give his take on how it benefits the Chicago Bears.

Casserly is most famous for his years with the Washington Redskins where he uncovered two of the original members of the Redskins’ famed offensive line known as “the Hogs”. From there Casserly took over as a GM and sustained Washington’s excellent up to the mid 90s. From there Casserly took over the Houston Texans were he scouted and drafted five future Pro Bowl players. Among them WR Andre Johnson, DE Mario Williams, LB DeMarco Ryans.

Casserly starts out his analysis with how the Bears offered up the best deal with two number one draft picks and the best QB option for the Broncos. His take is that Kyle Orton was a good QB for the first year and he has had some success in the NFL. Casserly says “If I’m the Chicago Bears I’m ecstatic I made this deal if I was Chicago I would have made the deal because it’s hard to get a quarterback at this level in Jay Cutler. A guy who came into the league that’s proven he can play. He’s young, he’s had success in the league, it’s hard to find this guy.”

Mike Mayock then steps up to give his take of the ramifications and impact that Cutler will have on the Bears’ offense and the strategy that takes shape with a QB like Cutler in the fold.

Mayock states “I feel like Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith were on a short leash, this tells us that the need to win now.” “What I look at is their remaining draft picks and they have 49 and 99th overall selections. The hope is that one of the big time wide receivers slides to them at 49 a Hakeem Nick, Britt or Robiskie. That way they can maybe address the WR position via the draft instead of in free agency. They play some pretty good defense still in Chicago (run defense was one of the best in the league). It’s up to Ron Turner to expand his offense and to take advantage of what this kid does which is get the football down the field vertically.”

Bob Papa interjects with his analysis about the trade saying “When you take a look at this division and you take a look at the problems that Green Bay has from last year, and they’re switching to the 3-4, you still have the quarterback question when it comes the Minnesota Vikings and the Lions they have a lot of work ahead of them. Chicago was right into that playoff race late into the season last year. I think this is something that can put them over the top. The have a good running game they’ve added Orlando Pace they’ve got a talented young tight end that’s gonna help the quarterback pick up the offense, they can do some things with (Greg) Olson. So I think the Chicago Bears if they can tidy up the defense get some help at the safety position can be that gets into the post season by winning their division.”

Mike Mayock states while talking to Deion Sanders (does anyone wants Deion’s take really?) that ” I’m big on franchise quarterbacks and I think Denver was CRAZY to let him go.”

Moving into the second day of the coverage of the biggest trade in the history of the franchise of the Monsters of the Midway.

The NFL Network lines up Bears cam and brings in Jay Cutler for one of his first official interviews after his introduction as the newest member of the Chicago Bears.

Rich Eisen asks for Cutler’s emotions after this big trade:

Cutler says, “It’s been some ups and down for the last three of four weeks. You know (I’m) a little relieved, I’m a little sad to be leaving my teammates in Denver. But it’s a new chapter, I couldn’t be more excited to be in Chicago, and to be a Chicago Bear.”

Eisen adds if you could tell the kid growing up (meaning Cutler) that he was going to be future quarterback of the Chicago Bears.

“I think it would have been a dream come true Cutler adds, I was a little bit shocked that I got the call, because I didn’t really think it was going to be a possibility. You hope it is but you try to be realistic to not put yourself up for that that kind of disappointment (meaning if the trade did not happen) it worked out well for me.”

Cutler goes on to quietly wax poetic about the situation over the last month. He doesn’t really want to go and bad mouth the Broncos by dispelling rumors that surfaced during this whole ordeal. Some people may look at it as dodging a question, but to me if Cutler publicly dispels the rumor he starts a he said they said back and forth which further ignites the controversy. Cutler instead decides to move forward on to his career with the Chicago Bears, rather than explain himself and leave it open to interpretation by the media and fans as to what exactly went down.

Eisen goes on to ask about the “bad publicity” and whether or not Cutler wil have to address it moving forward with the Bears.

“Absolutely I think this city is happy but they’re a little bit wary of what kind of quarterback they got. I’ve gotta earn the respect and trust of my teammates first and foremost and that’s the first thing that’s gotta happen. They have to trust me and what I can do for them as their quarterback they have to believe in me and trust me that I can get the job done as their quarterback.”

Cutler talks about the new teammates that called him, Urlacher called, Earl Bennett called, Greg Olson called and that a lot of his teammates were there at the press conference. They are excited about the possibility of what we can do going forward.”

Brandon Marshall is brought on to talk about Jay Cutler and the trade and one of the key quotes he makes is” Jay Cutler is a great quarterback and a great friend. He was a great locker room guy and I’m sad to see him go.”

The NFL Network then goes to it’s panel that includes Charles Davis, Bob Papa, and Mike Mayock. They always seem to lead off their conversations with Mayock.

“I really believe it’s the perfect storm for both him (Cutler) and the Bears. What they’d like to do in a city where there’s an awful lot of wind and weather is have a big armed quarterback who can get the ball vertically down the field to talented wide receivers like Devin Hester a great tight end like Greg Olson who could emerge as another deep threat.” Then in true Mike Mayock fashion he goes to the coaches tape (the behind the line of scrimmage angle) to show what he liked about Cutler when he was in college and then coaches tape from this season where he’ll compare and contrast the differences in what he like about Cutler.

The play Mayock goes to show is a fourth and 12 play against Arkansas game on the line less than two minutes left, where he stands in the pocket and flat footed (not stepping into the throw) he drives the ball down the field over the head of a linebacker and in between two defenders, while simultaneously getting smacked in the face by an oncoming linebacker. “Fourth and 12 while getting smacked in the face and he knows it, he delivers the football flat footed, I fell in love with that play” Mayock says the octave level in his voice changing with excitement.

“Later on same drive, flat-footed, this guy’s got more hip torque than anybody else since John Elway. They beat a team they should have never beat in Arkansas.”

“This last season on the run look at the accuracy he drops it in over Schefler’s shoulder, big play on the run without a problem. Again he has an awful lot of confidence in his ability, watch him feel pressure up the field eyes down the field, never look down delivers the football touchdown. That’s a huge play very few quarterbacks in the league can make. Again Cutler the vision bracket coverage (four man end-zone defenders) it’s not there right now, eyes down field, feel pressure, step up and again that’s a tight window right there that he threw the football into. This is a third and 12 with two minutes left I don’t think (this route) is open I wouldn’t want him to throw the football there, but somehow he puts it on him (the pass) and the one thing I have to say to be honest in my overview is that he threw the ball up for grabs to often in college and he has a little bit of that gun-slinger attitude in the pros.”

Charles Davis interjects “that that part of holding the ball and not throwing it up for grabs comes with maturity and given that he’s been in the league for only three years, two as a starter he will get better. Weather late in the season with Forte and the running game and this guy with the arm, this is Bears football with the opportunity to make big plays. I think they’ll go out and get another wide receiver somewhere along the lines to take the pressure off of Devin Hester being the number one wide receiver its nothing but an upside for Chicago in the immediate future. I said I don’t think this makes them a Super Bowl team this year, but later on down the line if they keep adding the pieces and with Orlando Pace he doesn’t hurt one bit.”

Bob Papas wraps up the panelist analysis with “Well you know it’s interesting watching Mike’s break down of what he can do physically and you look what the Bears have they don’t have a Brandon Marshall and an Eddie Royal but with what they do have he can make it better get better production out of them. The thing that’s really impressive is that he got all that done all that production last year done with no running game. He’s now going to be with a team that pounds the ball they’re going to be able to control the football. I think the sky is the limit for Jay Cutler.”

That last quote would seem to the quote that makes this the deal of a lifetime for Chicago Bears fans. Cutler has all the tools and by all reports from media people talking to Mike Shannahan to talk to Cutler’s teammates, he is a consummate professional who can be a leader and a franchise quarterback. The important aspect being franchise, because it takes more than a strong arm, great vision, physical talents and pocket awareness, it take the ability to be the face of the franchise. The leader of the team and the organization, cementing his legacy as what could be the greatest quarterback in the history of the Chicago Bears franchise.


NFL Total Access: Chicago Bears state of the franchise

March 28, 2009

Just about anytime you have media types talking about the Chicago Bears they’re going to open with questions or comments about the quarterback. This was no different when then NFL Network did it’s team update segment they call the state of the franchise. The focus Friday night was the Chicago Bears and where they are at as a team.

The opening segment was high lights from an interview with Lovie Smith focused on Kyle Orton. Smith went into specificst as to why he has so much current and future confidence in Kyle Orton as the starter for his team, this team, OUR team, the Chicago Bears.

Smith states “Kyle last year of course it was not like there was musical chairs or anything at the quarterback position, he was our guy. Until he had the injury I’d seen a lot of signs from Kyle being able to take that next step. Great leader, great leadership qualities, can throw the football. But I see Kyle leading us to a lot of wins this year.”

Rod Woodson then steps up to give his analysis on Kyle Orton and the Bears franchise stating that while Kyle Orton might be the guy, the Bears should possibly look into bringing in a veteran to push Kyle. Not open up the QB competition to Orton and a veteran, but bring in a player like Byron Leftwhich who has a stronger arm and some big upside. The thought would be to bring in a veteran to put pressure on Kyle Orton with Rex Grossman gone, so that Orton continues to develop.

The next take is on how the wide receivers aren’t really there, how they have a fantastic running back and that the defense is still solid. This from Woodson’s analysis.

My take the defense was solid against the run in 2008, but the lack of a pass rush was evident throughout the year. Apparently this aspect of the Bears’ struggles isn’t as magnified as the QB position’s productivity. It seems the overwhelming theme STILL remains the Bears have one of the best defenses in the league and still struggle mightily to get production from their QB. The fact of the matter is in 2008 it was almost opposite. The production from the QB position was there, but the defense survived purely on reputation alone rather than actual production. Once teams realized the Bears were getting zero pressure in the front four or from a blitz they picked the Bears apart. This happened in four of the first seven games in which the pass defense was deplorable. The Bears were ahead and in a position to beat the Carolina Panthers in the second game of the season, but the pass defense collapsed and Carolina rallied for a win.

Against Tampa Bay in overtime Brian Griese was able to lead the Bucs to a game tying and then comeback victory with zero pressure getting to the QB. Rookie Matt Ryan looked like Dan Marino in the prime of his career, in leading the Falcons to a literal last second victory. The Vikings rang up 41 points and Brad Johnson looked like a savior for them, and the Bears eeked out a win.

Yet somehow on a national media level the defensive reputation seems to remain intact. The fact is before Kyle Orton’s high ankle sprain which is one of the most notoriously non surgical repair related injuries a player can suffer, Orton was on target to be one of the top passers in the league. Without his health Orton’s injury hampered his drive on the ball, hampered his ability to throw the ball and even his accuracy. His mechanics for the rest of the season were completely flawed from an ankle injury.

National media attention though still continues to focus on the lack of Pro Bowl production from the QB position. This will be Orton’s year to get it done, it’s the last year of his contract and even if he doesn’t stay healthy he likely won’t get a break from the front office. One year to be THE GUY and prove that he has what it takes, if not the Bears will likely be in a position to get a Sam Bradford or a Tim Tebow, or Colt McCoy or any one of another top QBs likely to emerge from the draft class of 2010.

The state of the franchise segment then shifted to Devin Hester being the primary big play making option the Bears have had. How his transition from returner to primarily a receiver severely limited his production. They show the stats graphic where Hester went from a punt return average of 14.1 yards per return for two years in the league down to 6.2 yards per return in 2008. From there they focus in on his kick off return average being down from 23.2 yard per return to 21.9 and how he went from 11 punt and kick off returns to ZERO in 2008.

Rod Woodson jumps straight into the topic of Devin Hester’s ability being hurt by saying “Mushing Muhammad said Chicago is a place where receivers go to die.” He then goes on to wax poetic about Hester’s demise in the return and how it’s a direct parallel to him playing WR on offense. Woodson feels as though Hester should not be as much of the focus on offense if it’s going to severely limit his productivity as a return. He does play devils advocate on himself a bit by stating he understands get Hester more touches and making him a bigger threat on offense, but not at the expense of his return abilities.

Diving into the defensive discussion Woodson is questioned about the defense and how far it fell off in 2007 and how it improved somewhat in 2008. Woodson chooses to focus on the CB play and their lack of man to man coverage capabilities. He thinks the defense’s struggles came more from the lack of talent or ability from the CBs. It’s the fault of the secondary more than the lack of a pass rush.

Which goes against what most die-hard Bears fans are aware of. The pass rush was anemic, one of the worst in the league last year and the lack of pressure led directly to losses the kept the Bears from the playoffs. My take likely to stir some debate if the Bears have even a marginal to above average pass rush they likely win the Carolina game, the Tampa Bay game and the Atlanta game. A three game difference in wins and losses which puts the Bears at 12-4, division champs a first round bye and a playoff game at Soldier Field where ANYTHING could have happened. It is hard for most Bears fans to comprehend being THAT close to such a lofty playoff seeding and possible return to the NFC title game scenario.

Where coaches are supposed to put forth a non stop positive face on the franchise and given Lovie Smith’s habit of undying positive outlook this is the thought process Smith undoubtedly uses when he made the statement that stirred up a hornet’s nest of media and fan criticism. Lovie Smith’s famous “we’re close” comment.

Given that football is such a game of inches it is undeniable of just how close the Chicago Bears were to returning to the playoffs, and being in a position to make a serious playoff run. But in the same formula of inches the Bears were equally close in not being a factor at all. Six victories the Bears had in 2008 that were decided by seven points or less. Take away those six victories and the Bears are staring at 3-13 just as easily as they are staring at a deep playoff run.

The 2009 Chicago Bears as they currently are situated with the idea of the season starting tomorrow would be close to disaster just as easily as they are close to that near identical 2006 playoff scenario. The ultimate question is, what is going to happen between now and the start of the season that puts the team in a position where they are closer to success, than they are to near ultimate failure.

What is there more to talk about at MMI?

February 28, 2009

Thanks for a great first week, things have steadily been picking up as the week wore on. I’m getting a good steady stream of people here to check out my blog and it’s so greatly appreciated. I’d also like to say some people may call this hard work, but I can’t, it’s what I love to do and I often times can’t do it enough.

As you can tell we’re just getting started here at MMI. It helps that the NFL scouting combine was here to help us kick things off, but we’re just warming up the blog roll here trying to get an idea of what works well.

Well I can tell you what I have planned all the way up until draft day. Complete wall to wall coverage of free agency over the next two weeks even if the Bears don’t make a signing we’ll likely cover some of the signings our NFC north rivals are making.

What that’s just easy stuff and filler you say?

Okay how about extended in-depth reporting on Pro Days of prospects that at positions of need the Bears need. We’ll give you a complete blow by blow run down how Michael Oher performed at his pro-day, how did Phil Loadholdt look in Norman has he lost some more of his weight?

What about Means at Indiana Heyward-Bay in Maryland, Robiskie at Ohio State. William Moore at Missouri, Malcom Jenkins and will improve his 40-yard dash time enough to be considered a top CB prospect or can he possibly fall to the Bears at 18 as a free-safety?

There will be plenty of in depth coverage leading up to the draft.

Plus there will be updates from one of the earliest mandatory veteran mini-camps to take place in NFL history on March 17-19. That’s right as things move along the new coaches will get a first hand look at our Chicago Bears prior to the draft. The new staff will be able to better gauge where the veterans are at and better form a plan prior to the draft taking place. We’ll have complete insider coverage of that as well.

All sorts of exciting things will be happening with the Chicago Bears this spring. Why miss a moment of it? While the Cubs and the Sox are trudging through the equivalent of 1/4 of a season in spring training games trying to iron out the obvious you can be here keeping up on the most important aspects of the Chicago Bears.

All the in-depth coverage you would expect on other websites but don’t get unless the little guy like me comes and pokes them in the eye you’ll find right here. While the giant newspapers are worried about whether or not they should start charging YOU for their online coverage, you’ll find it all here for free at MMI. You’ get the guaranteed best and most in-depth coverage you can find here on the web because that’s what I strive to do.

Things happen on a near daily basis in the NFL, one way or another and I know if you’re here you want more than just a once a week blog update that says “Kyle Orton is still the starting QB and the Bears are hoping for veteran help” or “Can the Bears replace Mike Brown?” or my all time favorite “What do you think about Rex Grossman?”

I promise to provide the most comprehensive analysis and coverage you can’t find anywhere else on the web and you watch….other web sites will copy my lead.

But as always this blog is about you the readers so if you have any ideas or any questions I ask you to please hit me with your comments and or suggestions. I can’t have all the good ideas so I’ll need your help, please feel free to e-mail me at


and I’ll work to put your content idea to good use.

But really I appreciate all the people who have stopped by and I look forward to making this the best blog on the web.

NFL Combine Updates O-Lineman Part II

February 22, 2009

As we move forward we move into the O-Lineman drills portion. I focused way to much time on the 40-yard dash aspect of things. But hey I’m new and eager to be doing this so I just got warmed up and kept right on going. I’m running a little bit behind, but I’ll do my best to make up for it. No excuses, just life gets in the way.

The first person to make you go oooo during the O-Lineman drills Jamon Meredith an OT from South Carolina who sinks his hips well, get his hands into the bag and shows a good drive. He keeps his hips underneath getting good leverage in his drive. Meredith is rated in the top-10 overall of OT prospects. Making himself a viable first day option for the Bears. At 6-5 301-pounds he is well buit height and weight ratio wise.

Once you get into the drills and skills portions things begin to even out from the workout warriors. Murtha already shows why he is further down the list draft wise than a Jason Smith. Smith shows a tight wrap around the OTs butt and fires up into the second level. From there they transition into coaches video of Jason Smith showing his great pass blocking ability but how he struggles a bit in the run blocking. It’s pretty easy to see why he struggles as a run blocker because he’s in a two-point stance. Hands on his hips rather than one hand in the dirt it’s easier for him to get his head out in front of his body and he’s an easy push to the ground. Playing to head heavy in run blocking. This is however easily correctable and given Smith’s nasty streak and finishing ability he can be developed into a good run blocker.

Next they transition into the kick slide drill where they kick out and get locked onto a wide moving rusher. This is to show footwork and balance going to your outside shoulder, and showing how well you keep up with speed rushers.

Jason Smith in the kick slide drill gets beat coming out of a three point stance into pass protection. His first couple steps are choppy and then all of a sudden he panics and crosses his feet over in attempt to catch up to the rusher. Crossing his feet leaves him vulnerable to a club move back to the inside and a free path to the QB. So far Smith has struggled getting out of a three point stance. At Baylor they ran a spread offense so most of the time he was in a two point stance. The advantage is always to the O-Lineman when in a two point stance. Being in a three-point stance to help sell play-action pass will be important.

Another OT who could possibly targeted in the third to fourth round range is Fenuki Tupou. The 6-6 330-pounder just made a quick impression on me in the drills. His kick slide was solid, his balance was good moving to the outside, and then when he got in range, his punch was superb. He kept his arms up and in tight and the first chance he got in range of the rusher, he punched him and locked out. Another kid to keep an eye on as a possible RT.

A late rounder in guard prospect category, Maurice Miller looked serviceable in his technique. He kept his hands high instead of dangling them down by his waist and thighs and kept his feet together and balanced.

One of the worst players I saw in this drill to this point was Herman Johnson from LSU. Johnson was way off balance from the start and it flowed through all the way to the end where almost fell flat on his face. Johnson is MASSIVE near elephant sized measuring 6-7 383. A highly rated guard prospect there would be no versatility from Johnson, he would stay inside on the interior and never be asked to move in space.

As expected with Phil Loadholdt who even lines up in a two points stance in pass protection, he easily shows he can’t move his feet. Scouts have said on numerous sites around the web that he can’t move his feet and even from a two-point stance he proves as he gets beaten off the edge pretty easily. Loadholdt is a good RT prospect possibly, but his inability to move his feet well worries me.

Meredith again impressive the second time in this blog I have mentioned him in a positive light. He gets out there and gets his feet working well and keeps himself square on the rusher. He never loses balance and never has to cross his feet over into a sprint. He looks in control the entire time he’s moving in this drill.

Yup perhaps the most impressive of all is Eugen Monroe from Virginia. When he does his kick slide drill he is completely in control the entire time. It’s hard to argue with him as being projected at the top overall OT. I can load up on the cliches right here right now, Monroe looked like poetry in motion in pass protection there. He stays square balanced in control, head up, hands in high and tight. He does everything you look for technique wise and his balance and feet never falter. He is never in danger of getting beat on this rush to the outside, he simply stays square and finishes easily. Mirrored that rusher effortlessly. In all fairness though he is coming out of a two point stance rather than a three point like the drill calls for.

Michael Oher is up next amongst the top prospects. Oher too is coming out of a two-point stance in this drill. He too stays where he needs to be keeping his feet moving and under him, keeps his body square and is never in danger of losing his balance. Oher is who I hope most likely slides to the Bears at 18. He is talked about as the fourth best OT in this draft although with Andre Smith’s problems and continued issues someone might take Oher off the board ahead of Smith whereas they may have gone Smith.

Jason Smith redeems himself the second time around better keeping his feet balanced and his body in control. He does however keep his hands a bit to low for my liking. He needs to improve his technique. He may be Mike Mayock’s number one overall OT in the draft, but to me he has to work on his technique some. He needs some refinement.

That’s the end of the kick slide drill coverage and now we move into the hip flip and twist drill. The lineman start in a back pedal have to flip open their hips in the direction the coach wants them to.

Phil Loadholdt is starting to drop down my draft board a bit. I know he’s a popular big kid form Oklahoma and he may simply be riding the fact that he is an Oklahoma player. He is stiff and not very athletic. I give him major props for better working on his fitness and dropping weight. However you can’t change slow feet and no hip movement.

Based on combine workouts I might be tempted to move Meredith ahead of Loadholdt. I’d like to study Meredith further as he has shown some definite talent and ability in the drills today.

Updated: Offensive Line a Definite Need

February 20, 2009

Had 10-year veteran John Tait chosen not to hang up the pads the Bears were going to definitely be in need of O-Lineman on the first day of the draft anyway.  Now with Tait’s retirement and John St. Claire’s impending free agency the Bears could be down to Chris Williams as the only true OT on the roster.  Scarier still Williams has ZERO NFL  starts in his career.

So what does this mean?   It means that of the five O-Lineman rated as potential first round level picks the Bears would  be wise to grab one of them at 18 if he is available.

The next question is who are the five lineman that grade out as potential first round selections?  MMI has the answer with some help from a lot of the draft sites around the web.

Starting with who apparently  grades out as the highest offensive lineman prior to  the start of the NFL  scouting combine:

Eugene Monroe 6-5 310-pound OT from Virginia:

Monroe is described as being a perfect fit for the OT position at the next level.  Big, strong athletic with excellent feet.  Scouts have raved about every cliche you can dish out about an offensive tackle.

However the most entertaining one I heard was when he was referred to as a “dancing bear”.  I have yet to figure out if that was being complimentary or not given that dancing bears are typically goofy circus acts that are often the objects of ridicule and  comedy.  They are not exactly graceful, coordinated, or future anchors at the LT position.

My own comedy aside the combine can be a pretty solid way to judge an O-Lineman’s measurables and athletic cliches.  Jake Long as an example shined in his workout at the combine last year and we all know his draft result and season success.  MMI will definitely be keeping an eye on this kid for the doubtful trade up possibility.

Second we come to a Baylor Bear named Jason  Smith, ah Mike Singletary’s alma mater and he’s a Texas native.  It’s pretty simple really, this kid was born in football hotbed and was bred to play football his whole life.  Almost by default you have to like him as a prospect because of his Texas background.

As we wander into NFL scout and draft expert cornucopia we find various scouting reports on Smith.  The first cliche I find that best descsribes why Smith will be an instant impact in the NFL is he’s athletic for an OT.  Why is he athletic for an OT?  Simply because he used to be a tight end and in true fashion of the land of scouting report abundance that means you’re athletic.  Apparently unathletic stiffs don’t typically play TE, Robert Gallery aside.

So the question is then will he be a dominant OT in the NFL?  I can’t honestly answer that question but what I plan to find out is how does he look in the scouting combine.  Why am I so hyped on the scouting combine for O-Lineman?  Easy there are no pads or jerseys to grab onto and no pads to weigh a prospect down so you can get a clear view of his footwork and balance.  The key to any good OT prospect is his technique and footwork.  Any kid in college that is in the 6-5 300-pound plus range can bulldoze your typical 240-pound college DE.  At least he should be able to.  The question will be how he stacks up against the 260 to 290-plus pound behmoths he’ll find on Sund

But on a more positive feel usually OT is one of the easier positions to evaluate prior to the NFL draft.  If the scouts love this guy as a first rounderand with last years run on OTs it would be nice to see Smith last until 18.

If Smith doesn’t last until 18 the suddenly drifting and falling Andre Smith may fall to the Bears.   Not even two months ago Smith was THE offensive tackle Mel Kiper Jr. was raving about.  Not to be outdone Todd McShay was all over his jock too.  Then something happened, was it his suspension for the Sugar Bowl?   Better evaluation of his film?  We may never know, but the annointed one is suddenly the third or fourth best tackle in the draft.

He has all the positive sueprlatives going for him, but his one negative worries me.  He has problems with speed rushers.  Last I checked this is what Jared Allen excels at among other things.  If you struggle against speed, I automatically want to pencil you in at RT where the strong-side DEs don’t tend to be a defense’s best pass rusher.   Well lookie here John Tait retired as a RT so the Bears happen to need a solid RT prospect.  Smith if he falls to 18 and with his combination of issues from now perceived laziness to a slight character flaw might so happen to fall into the Bears’ lap.  Massive 6-4 330-pound RTs make me drool.  They’re just the type of players that scouts crow about playing the left side, but you can pencil in on the right and be happy for the next 12 years.

Rounding out the list of available OTs is Michael Oher of Miss.   One of the more intriguing prospects on the list because he’s a stronger run blocker than a pass blocker.  Mean and nasty is his game which is precisely what the Bears need.  Someone to come in and flash that nastiness and let it spread across the line.  Olin Kreutz won’t be around forever so having a thug on the line will be a good thing.  Plus having someone there to run block and open holes for the franchise RB Matt Forte is a must.

Coincidentally ESPN’s Scout’s Inc. has Oher rated as the 18th best player overall in the draft.  He has also has a bit of versatility in that he could play guard.  Again right where the Bears may need him to line up if Beekman is the heir apparent to Kreutz at center.

Multiple reports coming from the combine yesterday have the Bears talking to Oher for quite a while during the Q&A session yesterday.  Word is that the Bears focused a lot of their interest on Oher and that Oher had good things to say about what the Bears asked.  Oher said they specifically talked about the way they run their offense, how they practice and more in-depth details about being a Chicago Bear.  Given that the Bears like to “get off the bus running the football” and Oher’s strength in the run game this is a development to keep an eye on.

Sticking with the versatility line of thought we come to Alex Mack from Cal.  The only interior lineman on the list of first round worthy O-Lineman.  Mack is a beast and when it comes to mean and nasty adjectives just about everyone of them has been spit out in regards to this center prospect.  He’s a big boy at 6-4 312-pounds and has played against some solid competition in the Pac-10.   The scouts drool at his as a center prospect and it’s not all that often that  a center is rated as first round worthy.  That speaks to Mack’s tremendous ability and potential.

My line of thought is that Mack and Beekman together are both young one of them is going to beat out the other to replace Kreutz.  The other moves over to left guard and the entire left side of the line is solidified for the next 12 years.  This in turn gives Forte more room to run and it also gives you two QBs on the O-Line.  Two players capable of proper line checks and possessing the awareness and intelligence that the job of center requires makes the whole line better.  All the more important when Kreutz is nearing the twilight of his career.

One thing is for sure if the Bears front office is smart and drafts an offensive lineman in the first round again building for the future it will help the overall health of this offense for years to come.  Yes the Bears need a play maker at WR, yes they need a safety, and you can never have enough QBs on the roster.  At the end of the fourth quarter however what is going to put the Bears over the top is a great offensive line.   The men in the trenches are what gets the job done.  It makes the play of your team better overall.

Another offensive tackle the Bears interviewed was Oklahoma’s behemoth Phil Loadholdt.  Yes that is his name and the kid is a load at 6-8 348-pounds.  Sticking with the theme of offensive tackles who are good run blockers first and foremost Loadholdt spent time talking with offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.

Given Loadholdt’s ability as a run blocker and his need to develop as a pass blocker you could easily see him lining up at RT at the next level.  Coaches are known to like big massive RTs because it gives offense’s an advantage in the run game and it also allows them to take on the bigger stronger strong-side DEs that are often used to stop the run before primarily protecting the passer.

OT John Tait Set to Retire

February 19, 2009

Perhaps one of the best free agency aquistions of general manager Jerry Angelo’s tenure is that of offesnive tackle John  Tait.  Tait joined the Bears from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004 via free agency and has been a stalwort on the Bears’ offensive line since then.

However that tenure appears at an end as the 10-year veteran seems to be on the verge of calling it a career.  In 2008 he moved from the left side to the right side and seemed to struggle at times in pass protection.  That struggling one could easily surmise is a result of being a bit long in the tooth by NFL standards.

While Tait is only a 10-year veteran he is a bit older than the average NFL player because of the fact he took two years off in college to complete a mission.  34-year-old offensive tackles with nagging injuries of the ankle don’t typically continue to dominate long the closer they get to 40.

So now the question is will the Bears draft an offensive tackle in the first round for the second year  in a row?

Preview of upcoming blogs

February 18, 2009

Ironically it’s only by coincidence that I decided to do this the weekend of the 2009  NFL Scouting Combine.  With that in mind over the next few days I’m going to cover as much information I can from the combine.

Before I do that I am going to attempt to put together some posts regarding the needs of the Chicago Bears, what they need to look at as far as prospects during the scouting combine weekend.

I will also attempt to provide frequent combine updates throughout the day as they happen.  Following who I feel are important prospects the Bears may target in the upcoming draft based on their team needs.

The blog will be an eb and flow type of things as I get my feet under me and as the important aspects of the NFL off-season/regular season develop.  The first few days may be pretty busy content wise and then will likely slow down a bit with the off-season.  I will do my best to provide the most up to date and breaking Chicago Bears information that I can find.

User comments and participation is completely encouraged and I hope to make this the most Bears and fan friendly site on the web.

Thank you for your patience as we move forward with MMI.

Welcome to Monsters of the Midway Illustrated

February 18, 2009

Well here we go kicking it off and finding out what I can put together in the way of an unofficial Chicago Bears fan blog.

Now that I live in the Chicagoland area and can get all current news and information possible for my favorite team well I’m going to attempt to give my humble little perspective on it.

I am however aware that there is no way this little blog gets off the ground unless I have some readers.  Whether I achieve the goal of readers is all up to the quality of content I provide to anyone who stops by and browses through what I have to write.

I guess what I am saying is if you like what I write and (whether you disagree with my opinion or not) please help me spread the word.  I want to see how far I can take this thing and hopefully together we can make this the Bears blog on the internet.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to e-mail me with any questions: