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September 13, 2009

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Bears Offer Blue Print To Attack the 3-4 Defense

September 2, 2009

The current NFL fad that seems to have taken hold around the league is the 3-4 defense. With the recent success that the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots have had with the scheme, in a league of imitators, there is a lot of new teams running the scheme.

It also just so happens, that the Bears start the season against two 3-4 defensive scheme teams in the Packers and the Steelers. Both teams are early pre-season contenders for the playoffs, with the Steelers being defending Super Bowl champions and having one of the most dominant defenses in the league.

With this in mind what is the best way for the Bears to deal with the 3-4 defense? Fortunately the Bears likely have the best way to match up with a 3-4 right away and the versatility this offensive scheme offers is invaluable in attacking the 3-4. The two tight end set is ideal for attacking the 3-4 defense, as was shown in early returns against Broncos.

Yes the Broncos don’t have the ideal personnel to run the 3-4, but it does force the Bears to scheme for it. This is what the Bears were able to do with ease and they were effective in both running and passing against the defensive front. The Broncos tended to attack with a five man front against the Bears on rushing situations. The Bears attacked it well with the two-TE set. Olsen and Clark were able to take on the OLBs who they match up well with, and this allowed the Bears to double team the nose tackle.

As everyone knows the engine that makes a 3-4 successful is the NT. He needs to be able to square up on the center, and he’s responsible for two gaps on the defense. If you get a good double team block on him, usually you can negate his effectiveness. Even if it’s only an initial scrape block so that the center or guard can move on to the second level and attack a linebacker it gives the offense the advantage.

One of the main advantages is the versatility the TEs offer. They can attack the OLBs (which is the second key to the 3-4) in the run game, block them straight up in the pass game, or they can sprint out in passing game off of play-action fakes. Evidence the play-action pass to Desmond Clark that went for 25-yards on a third and one play. During that play the linebacker cheated up to stop the run, lined up head up on Clark. Clark threw a little scrape block and then took off on his route. Jay Cutler rolled out of the pocket away from where the lineman took their play-action run block steps to and negated the pass rush. From here it was a simple pass to a wide open Clark that just broke the back of the Broncos.

Since a two TE set also allows the offense to to dictate the game plan to the defense and make them adjust, it puts the offense at a consistent advantage. By utilizing the versatility of a two TE set the Bears can attack with two double teams on the NT and then one of the DEs or elsewhere.

Also the Bears don’t have to keep the two TEs lined up head up on the LBs, one of them can line up in the FB spot thus still giving them a different formation look. Either way the key here is negating the 3-4s versatility and forcing them to react to your set.

The Bears are able to do this better than any team in the NFL with their high versatile TEs. The question is when Desmond Clark gets long in the tooth do the Bears draft another TE that offers as much versatility? Do they keep the two TE set around with Olsen grooming his eventual replacement? I believe so long as the Bears are able to show consistent success against the 3-4 front with the two TE set they should continue to take advantage of it.

Bears 27 Broncos 17 First Impressions

August 31, 2009

The Bears played well in their third pre-season game of the 2009 season. Getting all facets of their team in working order, including another strong effort by Jay Cutler. Including a big punt return by Devin Hester that put the Bears in position for their first touchdown of the night.

The return looked like classic Hester as he started his forward momentum on the return only to see a crease and sprint to day light down the field. The return was good for 54-yards and easily breathed life into a slow starting Bears offense.

From that point on the Bears were in an offensive rhythm and looked just as unstoppable as last week against the Giants.

Some of the first initial impressions that were positive:

Jay Cutler and his 98-yard touchdown drive was huge as was his near TD to Devin Aromashadu that showed off why his arm strength is possibly the best in the league.

Matt Forte still looked good running the football, blocking and caught a touchdown pass.

Both Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark made big catches which showed that they are both big weapons in this offense. This will allow for the young receivers to develop at a comfortable pace.

Israel Indonijae continues to impress and was highly disruptive from the three-technique DT spot.

Devin Hester’s punt return that set up the touchdown pumped life back into the Chicago fan base and reminds everyone why he is one of the most feared players in the game.

Anthony Adams played well manning the NT spot and looks like he locked up the starting position there.

Some slightly positive things that still need to improve:

While Tommie Harris is not 100-percent he is still effective at being disruptive and commanding a double team which has allowed other players to get pressure.

Still not a lot of big plays by the starting group of wide receivers. Would like to see more of Devin Hester getting the ball thrown deep. Not many players can keep up with him on long throws. I imagine though the Bears will open up the passing game a lot more once the season starts.

Pretty good pass rush today all things considered. While the rush wasn’t as strong as last week, against one of the best pass blocking lines in the league from last year it was good enough. Mark Anderson showed up a bit during the pass rush and shows why he has been one of the players talked about since training camp started.

The back up RB situation isn’t a foregone conclusion as to whether or not they’ll be productive. While Kevin Jones is the clear #2 and is performing better than last year there still isn’t as much consistency here as you’d like to see. I do give props though to Adrian Peterson for his big game coming off the bench. He may have put himself in a better position to stay on the roster with tonight’s performance.

Negative Things that are pretty frustrating to see after today:

Orlando Pace getting turnstiled by one of the premier pass rushers in the league was very disheartening. He was beaten on more than one occasion with more than one variety of pass rush moves. Seeing this has to have Vikings DE Jared Allen licking his chops at the prospect of knocking Jay Cutler around a lot.

The CB position is pretty bad right now without any of the real and future starters in. The quicker Charles Tillman returns to health and game ready status the better for this defense.

Overall the play was at an acceptable level. The defense looks better at this point than it did at any point during the season last season especially including the pre-season play of the starting defense.

Cutler looked sharp again once he got settled in, his mobility is a welcome sight because not only is he fleet afoot he can make just about any throw necessary when he is on the run. Plus if his fundamental footwork breaks down while being pressure he can still get the ball where it needs to be with enough zip just by his pure arm strength.

Next week’s game figures to be fairly boring and uneventful. Lots of bad things could go wrong with all the players in that likely won’t make the team pushing to make the roster. It could be an all-around ugly game against the Bears but won’t nearly be a representation of how good this team will likely be in 2009.

Bears vs. Broncos Live Chat

August 30, 2009

I’ll be running a Live Chat tonight during the Bears Broncos Game.

Click Here

Bears vs. Giants Film Session Part II

August 26, 2009

In part two of the wrap up of the Bears versus Giants pre-season game I’ll be covering from the point on where the back up players started flowing into the game. Caleb Hanie, Kevin Jones, Josh Beekman at center and Kevin Shaffer at left tackle moved into the line up.

First Drive Cale Hanie
Well blocked running play to the right with starters Chris Williams and Roberto Garza sealing down and Jones sprinting outside for a nice run. Second play is a complete opposite of the first run, Williams gets locked out and moved aside by the DE Jones reverses field to try to make something out of it and is thrown for a loss. Third and four Hanie out of the shot gun, no one open well covered well protected incomplete.

Most of the Starters Still in on Defense

Anderson in at DE, Harrison and Idonijae in at DT.

Three step drop by Manning with a good pass rush up the middle and off the edge. The play is out of the shot gun and is a combined three step drop. Manning makes his first read and first throw which is why the pass rush didn’t get there. Good tackle right after the catch.

Run play is a penalty for an illegal formation, but the play ran before the flag was thrown. Good run defense by Alex Brown and Briggs and Urlacher clean it up.

Second down gain of one on the play, Bears blitz Manning with a hot read the reception Bears right on the tackle Kevin Payne.

Bears with another blitz on third down, Corey Graham gets in on Manning incomplete great pressure by the defense again.

Caleb Hanie second drive

Kevin Jones running hard behind a pulling Garza, lowers his pads and just bowls forward good gain by Jones here. Kevin Jones fumbles on the next play in a pile.

David Carr’s first drive

Bears cover well, Carr rolls out and is pushed out of bounds by Alex Brown. Israel Idonijae good pressure up the middle Carr throws deep incomplete. Another Bears blitz, picked up for the most part, pass incomplete. Giants kick a field goal the scoring in the game ends here.

Caleb Hanie drive

Hanie out of the shot gun…big up the middle blitz and Hanie is buried, he had no chance. Well disguised blitz by the Giants, Hanie didn’t have a clue it was coming and was buried. Second and 21 Hanie rifles a ball to Kellen Davis the TE down the middle and picks up a first down. What a throw by Hanie these types of throws make it easy to know why the Bears like him as their back up. Good catch by Davis too, who had a good camp last year and a good pre-season but never made a catch in the regular season.

Hanie just over throws Johnny Knox on the next play, good arm strength. Draw play to Garrett Wolfe doesn’t really go anywhere, but it’s a nice effort. Empty backfield Hanie out of the shot gun, pocket breaks down holding by Ballogh on the play. Third and 17 a slant to Rideau gets a gain of 21…what a great confident throw by Caleb Hanie. Rideau gets a nice run after the catch to get the first down. Next throw is a good placed throw just slightly overthrown good try here good protection. A good run by Garrett Wolfe gets a first down good block by Dan Buenning in at right guard now. Good pull and trap block by Lance Louis from the left guard spot, well executed run play here.

Hanie takes off into the end zone on a broken pass play. It comes back on a holding by Shaffer on the play, it’s a bad call by the officials it was very ticky tack to call this holding penalty. There is no clear indication of a hold by Shaffer, just a good fundamental block to the inside. Not sure what the ref saw here and the replay in close shows as much.

A nice screen play to Garrett Wolfe who gets good blocking and uses the blocks well to get down inside the five. Wolfe appears to fumble but it’s a very close call that should have been reviewed. The Bears could have come away with a touchdown or at a minimum a field goal here. It looks more like bad officiating than bad execution on the part of the Bears. Should be more points on the board after this superb drive led by Caleb Hanie.
End of the first half

First half stats Giants held to 99 total yards and five first downs. 48 yards rushing 51 yards passing, great defensive stats for the first half in which most of the starters played for both teams save for one drive by David Carr. Bears 282 yards of total offense 15 first downs 109 yards rushing and 173 yards passing. Two fumbles one by Kevin Jones and a questionable fumble by Garrett Wolfe to close out the half.

Of note the Giants’ average start of drive was their own 35 where as the Bears started at their own 24 so the Bears started out with a worse average field position and still played good defense and drove the field on offense.

Start of the second half Giants’ ball

Dusty Dvoracek, Jarron Gilbert, Mark Anderson, Idonijae in. Gilbert at the DE spot instead of the three technique. LBs are Jamar Williams, Marcus Freeman and Hunter Hillenmeyer. Craig Steltz in at safety. The first play is a run that gets strung out wide by the defensive lineman. Good job of stringing this play out and Steltz stepping up into the box to take on a FB block. The linebackers step up and make a decent tackle.

Mark Anderson on the very next play great pressure, just misses a sack for himself but forces Carr into a sack. Josh Bullocks sacks him but the play was made possible purely by Anderson who used a great speed rush to get the pressure. Idonijae as well with good pressure up the middle on this play. It was a four man rush, and Bullocks was able to step up and make the play. Dvoracek double teamed on the play which freed up the rest of the rushers to get to Carr. Great play by the defense here.

I have to emphasize on this play just how great of a rush Mark Anderson put in on this play. He showed a great burst off the line of scrimmage, great speed off the edge, everything you look for in a great speed rush was here on this play. Well done by Anderson to make this play, Indonijae as well getting pressure up front. You want to see this from players who could potentially be starters but are back ups dominating the back ups in front of them. Anderson catches a lot of heat, but this was a great rush by him.

Third and 11 Carr out of the shot gun they try to slip a screen out by not blocking Anderson. But Anderson is just so fast when he is blocked and when he’s not blocked he throws off the timing of the screen. The Bears smother the screen play, great defense and even more speed shown by Anderson. Anderson gets his arms up and into the throwing lane, just great things all the way around here. Nothing but compliments for Anderson and the defense here. Also a good hustle by Dusty Dvoracek to go after the screen and get in on the tackle. Good awareness and motor by the big man.

Hanie Drive

Hanie play action pass swing to the full back dropped for a loss. Bad play call here on first down not sure what the call was here. Next play is a running play and it’s a well blocked play for Garrett Wolfe. Dan Buenning gets a good initial block and then gets up to the second level very quickly which gets Wolfe just short of a first down on the play. Superb blocking here by Buenning not only at the initial point of attack, but also in getting up the field to the second level after his scrape. Good execution and blocking by the whole offensive line, as a whole. You really like to see this level of execution by the offense on plays like this. It makes the Bears look like a well disciplined and a well coached team. Can’t ask for much more.

Bad call here on the QB sneak. Hanie is not the strong type to be able to drive his legs or use his height to get a first down. Should have been a give to the RB on this play. But Ron Turner makes up for it on fourth down and one with a power running call it gives his lineman a better chance to get up and into the defenders and actually have success at the point of attack. Good blocking by Kellen Davis who is looking to keep a spot on the roster and will make it hard on the coaches to cut him. Kevin Jones picks up the first down on fourth and one here.

Caleb Hanie with a play-action pass, pump fakes pulls it down, rolls out and makes a good read by keeping his eyes down the field and completes a small pass to Rashied Davis. Beekman and Hanie with a communication problem on the snap count here, he snapped before Hanie was ready and Hanie never got the play rolling dropped for a loss. Hanie drops back to pass, find Rideau on a crossing route that’s complete but not enough for the first down. The Bears stop themselves on another drive. They likely should have scored again, but shot themselves in the foot. It’s pre-season these are kinks that can get ironed out.

David Carr, Bears on defense

Mark Anderson jumps off sides here free play pass complete and a good tackle right on top of the catch. Good defense here. Bears take away the dink and dunk crap that killed them the previous week in Buffalo. On the next play with Ahamad Bradshaw getting the carry the Giants get a pretty good run blocked play here. Dvoracek etc were walled off pretty handily and the run went for a few yards here. This is one of the first real running plays that the Bears get beat at the point of attack, for the most part the Bears spent the game dominating in the trenches and dictating the pace of the game to the Giants. The play did only go for a gain of five yards and a first down however before Bradshaw is tackled.

Israel Idonijae again gets great pressure up the middle here after the Giants elect to double team Mark Anderson. The pressure leads to a fumble (Giants recover) but it’s great to see pressure coming from every where. Whether it’s Anderson, or Idonijae the Bears are getting the pressure from their front four. If someone gets double teamed another guy steps up and creates pressure on the Giants’ QB. What a night and day difference from last year, pencil in Rod Marinelli love here.

The very next play is very poor run defense. The whole front seven gets knocked off the ball here. No penetration in any gaps, no push at the point of attack and Bradshaw gets some big yards here. Two plays in a row that really make the run defense look bad. Bradshaw on the other hand could start so he is at a bit of an advantage here. At the end of the day you’d like to see better run defense and on this play you clearly don’t see that. Major disappointment that there wasn’t more of a push here.

Another big hole on the next play here. Dusty Dvoracek gets double teamed, Mark Anderson with a piss poor move inside which guarantees he takes himself out of the play and is sealed off inside. This opens up another big hole, Steltz comes up and makes a good tackle, but poor run defense again by the front seven on this play. But on the flip side Hunter Hillenmeyer was held on the play by the fullback. He could have made an earlier tackle were it not for the holding. Still Mark Anderson’s move is inexcusable on this play. Especially on first down his move was more of a pass rush move rather than a hold your ground at the POA run defense move.

First and 20 on this play Carr from the shot gun, zone-blitz with Mark Anderson dropped back into coverage the pressure gets to Carr who has to get rid of it in a hurry. Jamar Williams with a great blitz to get a hit on Carr, the pressure from Williams makes this play. Anderson was a bit behind on the zone coverage on the TE so if the pass had been complete there could have been some damage here. Nice to see some creativity here with the zone-blitz call.

The next play is a pass play Giants sell out in a max protect mode here. Dvoracek double teamed, Anderson gets a good rush but gets chipped by the RB and into a double team block. The TE makes a good chip on Jarron Gilbert before catching a pass out in the flat, the pursuit is pretty good but the TE gets some decent yards. Good execution by the Giants here, but the Bears still kept the ball in front of them and the pass went for minimal gain for the most part. Hard to get a good pass rush when you have the backs and a TE in to block.

Next play is a pitch to the RB out of the shot gun, illegal shift on the offense, but since a play happened here it’s of note that Jamar Williams got good pursuit to make the tackle on a unique call on third down. Williams showed a lot of speed here to make this play, but it’s for not for the Giants due to the penalty. Good defense and tackling here by the Bears. This showed how deep and fast the Bears are on defense.

Bears on offense with Hanie

Good run defense here by the Giants, not bad run blocking by the Bears but the Giants stepped up at the POA and made the play in this case. Donovan Raiola in a center, Beekman to left guard, Lance Louis to left tackle Shaffer to RT.

On third down the Bears call a little bubble screen for Juaqin Iglesias who breaks into the clear on a very well executed screen play, (GREAT CALL BY RON TURNER HERE) gets a nice first down for the Bears. Play-action pass by Hanie just slightly underthrows Kellen Davis here. I don’t know if he got a full follow through because the pressure got there late. Kevin Jones with a good run here, good run blocking here Buenning, Shaffer get good blocks on this well executed play.

Andre Woodson at QB Bears on defense

Great run defense here by the Bears on the next play play really stepping up and winning the battle at the POA. Good tackle by Jamar Williams here and then again on the second play good defense here by the Bears. Good run defense, Bears swarming to the football. Making up for the last drive where they struggled a bit to control the LOS.

Great stunt up front by the Dusty Dvoracek, he gets good pressure and flushes Woodson and then hustles down the field to make the tackle. He gets a cheap shot block on him and falls on his leg awkwardly.

Bears back on offense
Bears great run blocking a nice eight yard gain on the run by Adrian Peterson, just an awesome run blocking play the Bears really dominating this game. Next play the Bears don’t run block so well so it’s stuffed up. False start on the offense, two false starts in a row. Third down, and 11 Hanie tries to hit Juaqin Iglesias, good defense not a bad throw just slightly tipped away. Good defense.

Bears on defense

Good run defense followed by bad run defense, Melton in Rivera in the bottom of the roster here. Rudy Burgess on the coverage on the slant. Burgess is a former WR in college should have played CB is now and is behind the learning curve on defense. Flushed from the pocket is Woodson off-sides. Good run defense, the line strings it out and the linebackers clean it up. They set the edge will and pursuit comes from the inside. Bad run defense on the next play the Bears get blown by for 15 yards. Illegal contact on Craig Steltz on the next play. Dvoracek back into the game, gets good pressure on Woodson who throws to high. Rivera also good pressure with a blitz up the middle and gets the hit on Woodson, good execution good defense here.

Good defense by Melton gets double teamed sees the back slip out and pursues down the line of scrimmage to make the tackle. Good hustle here good awareness by Melton to make the play. Not a lot of pressure but good coverage pass is complete but the Bears stop him short of the first down. Giants on third down, a run good play call a counter move on third and two. Pick up the first down. Bears with a good blitz, Freeman with good pressure, pass incomplete. Good defense getting down the line of scrimmage on this toss play. The scrub defensive line makes a good play here. Bears good coverage again without much of a pass rush but overall good coverage.

Fourth and 10 Bears blitz and Josh Bullocks just misses an INT. Should have caught that one Bullocks.

Well after over 3,000 words I think it’s time to wrap this one up. The Bears for the most part dominated the entire game on offense, defense whether it was starters in or back ups. The D-Line got pressure or they played good defense. The coverage was good and the Bears limited YAC very well. On offense the Bears ran the ball well, Caleb Hanie did a good job at QB and the only way the Bears were stopped is when they had silly penalties or turnovers. If they play like this the entire season in all three phases they’ll win a lot of football games.

Bears Versus Bills Live Game Blog

August 15, 2009

Click Here

Breaking News Tommie Harris Admits to Knee Surgery in March

August 10, 2009

Finally Chicago Bears defensive tackle admitted to why he hasn’t been practicing much at practice during OTAs and during pre-season training camp.

Harris stated to the media today that he had exploratory surgery on his knee in March. The surgery was to go in and explore what is causing him the constant pain in his knee.

The surgery by all accounts went well, but it was there to clean up some scar tissue from a previous surgery he had.

We finally find out now that Tommie Harris is no where near 100-percent and he let it slip about his knee surgery.

The question now is will Harris be ready to go for the season opener against the Green Bay Packers? Will his knee be ready, will this be a lingering concern and precisely how much playing time will Harris see this year.

This is bombshell news that completely shows the lack of credibility the Bears’ organization has. The fact that no one disclosed Tommie Harris’ knee surgery until now and the Bears stated he was 100-percent was a bald faced lie.

Completely disheartening news to hear that Harris likely is not, and will not be one hundred percent this season and that his knee continues to be a major problem for the Bears.

Will the Light Bulb Come Back On For Mark Anderson?

August 9, 2009

Mark Anderson had 12 sacks as a rookie during the Super Bowl run of 2006. Since then he has had two sacks over a total of two seasons. He’s been one of the greatest disappointments on the team with his hustle and pass rushing ability and his seemingly one dimensional attack at rushing the passer. Anderson has two moves, speed to the outside and a spin move he incorporates into his repertoire that really hasn’t had much success. He’s essentially been a one trick pony that was figured out after his rookie year and it’s effected his confidence level.

Enter Rod Marinelli one of the best if not the best defensive line coach in the NFL. Marinelli has lit a fire under Anderson’s butt if for no other reason than Anderson realizes his career may not be safe. Anderson has responded to Marinelli’s fire and passion and looks like he might be heading towards a solid season.

The Bears would need precisely this from Anderson as the Bears held the lead in the fourth quarter in 11 of their games in 2008. Had the defense held onto that lead in the fourth quarter it would have been 11 wins for the Bears a division crown and a home game in the playoffs in January.

This is yet another sign to exactly how close the Bears were to being dominant in 2008. The defense stuffed the run and performed well enough to put the Bears in position to win in the fourth quarter. So with Anderson pretty much being a situational rusher who comes in to bring speed off the edge on passing downs a return to form would truly benefit the win column.

Anderson has the tools and the talent he just needs the right motivation and right leadership from the right coach. Marinelli appears to be just the coach that Anderson ordered. Anderson has good size, very good if not great speed off the edge and a good motor that keeps running.

So far in camp he has shown some flashes of returning to form. Little plays here and there that say he may be able to be counted on once again. The nice thing however is that he may not have to be the only one counted on, with the help the Bears brought in via the draft. Jarron Gilbert figures to be a force in the pass rush with his burst up field that has caused problems for the offense at times in camp.

A slimmed down and more speedy Israel Idonije is another stout player who could benefit the pass rush as well. All in all the defensive line is deeper.

Greg Olsen Set For Pro Bowl Season

August 4, 2009

The Bears drafted Greg Olsen with the 31st pick in the NFL draft in 2007, they did so because he fell to them. He was a talent that should have gone earlier but he fell all the way to the Bears. It was a no brainer to snatch up this 6-foot-5 260-pound 4.5 40-yard dash athlete. Olsen was the highest rated TE in the draft and his ceiling unlimited.

While Olsen hasn’t become the instant star in his first two years in the league it is safe to say that he will be in 2009. Olsen’s camp to this point has been phenomenal. He was named the “starter” early in camp and deservedly so. Although the term starter doesn’t really mean much because it only means the “starter” plays the first snap of the game, Olsen is clearly the best TE on the team.

He is a special talent on a level that few TEs in the league achieve. He makes all sorts of catches and is a nightmare of a match up for both LBs and safeties. His size is the major match up problem for for safeties and his speed and athleticism is a match up nightmare for the linebackers in the league.

Now in his third year it’s apparent that Olsen is extremely comfortable in his element. Plus with the addition of some guy by the name of Jay Cutler in a trade that received some attention during the off-season he has a QB that can I think get him the ball. Olsen can make any catch out there and he seems to make those catches with ease. He can make the leaping grab over the defender as he has during camp, he can lay out make a grab, he can go up between defenders in double coverage and win that battle as well.

To say that the expectations are high for Olsen may be an understatement. He will likely be Cutler’s number one target and could easily lead the team in receptions. He can be the number one receiver that helps the Bears win a lot of games and he takes the pressure off of the younger players. With Devin Hester’s speed on the outside it opens up things in the middle of the defense for Olsen to work. The Bears’ offense will take huge advantage of Olsen as a weapon and rightfully so.

Olsen is an absolute beast with the only knock on his game being his blocking. But there are not a lot of TEs that offer both superb blocking ability and catching ability. That combination is rare and in Olsen’s case may come with more time. Even if it doesn’t his value in the passing game is immeasurable.

Olsen was a solid performer last year with 54 receptions for 574 yards. Solid numbers for a TE, but you can count on Olsen’s numbers to go up this year. Exactly how much I can’t predict but it will be enough to land him among the most productive TEs in the league.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated

Should Josh Beekman Remain the Starter?

August 3, 2009

Josh Beekman by most accounts did nothing to lose his starting job last year. He was one of the top performers in the league at run blocking especially at the point of attack according to one source. He performed way better than expectations for a second year player. A lot of fans were ready to write him off after his rookie, year (sound familiar Chris Williams?) but he bounced back and was a very good guard. He anchored in and started all 16 games and helped Matt Forte to over 1,200 yards rushing in his rookie season, good for seventh best in the league.

Yet Beekman is saddled with the assumption that his time as a starter on the Chicago Bears’ offensive line is over. The 6-million-dollar man Frank Omiyale showed up and with his price tag in the first year of the contract being that figure, it’s likely Beekman will be riding the bench this year. Yet there is no logical reason why other than Omiyale’s contract number.

Beekman to this point has been solid in camp. He’s still running with the first team next to Kreutz and not showing why the Bears seemed to have so little faith in him in the first place. However there is this fact that may be overlooked by some in the media. Omiyale was signed to come in and play guard, and to replace Beekman. What’s been lost in all of that is Beekman is likely to take over for Olin Kreutz. Beekman running with the first team gives him the most chance to develop next to Kreutz. Learn from Kreutz develop his game to take over at the center position.

Beekman played center in college and easily could slide into that postion in the NFL. Often times potential centers start out as a guard, and then shift inside to be the chief engineer of the line. Beekman learning from a Pro-Bowl center in Kreutz is just as beneficiary as Chris Williams learning from Orlando Pace.

So while Beekman may eventually seem to be unfairly displaced from his starting guard spot. It’s important to remember that his experience as a guard will benefit him later when he lines up as Olin Kreutz’s likely replacement.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated