Chicago Bears: Desmond Clark
You're bored with the subject, suspicious of the motives for its continued revival and no longer feel illuminated by the discussions. You're not necessarily defending Cutler's virtues, but you believe the point was made long ago and now we're all just piling on.
Via Twitter, @bearsoline wrote: "What cares what happens at insignificant moments?" Noting Cutler's stellar performance in the Bears' 34-18 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, @J3reinhold wants the media to "get over it. He can't win with you guys."
In our Tuesday SportsNation chat, Doc of Chicago wrote: "People are really making too much out of Jay's sideline antics. Jerk? Probably. How many players have gone to the sideline and yell at coaches, players, smash equipment, etc.?"
And Cutler himself, speaking Tuesday afternoon on his ESPN 1000 radio show , said: "If I yell on the sideline, I get killed. If I don't say anything I get killed. If I walk away, I get killed. It's a no-win situation."
I've been wrong before, but my sense on Tuesday is that we've reached a tipping point in how we view the Bears quarterback. Cutler's career of pouty moments, emotional outbursts and questionable decisions has lowered the standard for what is acceptable behavior from him. (As long as he plays as well as he did Monday night, of course.)
Let's be clear. I'm not ready to concede that it's tolerable to be disrespectful of a coach, which is absolutely what Cutler was when he twice ignored Tice's attempt to discuss a failed third-and-1 play. Cutler said Tuesday that "it wasn't anything about Mike" and that the two eventually talked through the play, but to me that doesn't erase his initial reaction.
Several retired players, who presumably know the difference between what is normal and not on an NFL sideline, agreed. Former Bears tight end Desmond Clark tweeted: "Jay has to stop with his antics. Leadership leadership leadership leadership." Former NFL lineman Ross Tucker tweeted: "Must be so hard for Mike Tice to not just choke slam Jay Cutler. I bet 20 years ago he would've smoked him."
Regardless, the bigger picture is that most people are tired of seeing Cutler held to a standard he clearly isn't interested in meeting. You've found other ways to view his leadership abilities, and I'm willing to acknowledge that he did plenty on and off the field over the past few days to make Monday night's victory possible.
In addition to playing one of the most efficient games of his career, as the chart shows, Cutler also has taken on an important role in managing volatile receiver Brandon Marshall. Last week, Cutler apparently talked Marshall out of some frustration that built over the past few weeks as the Bears' offense struggled.
"I just wanted him to play within the system and play a full game," Cutler said. "Not worry about the plays being called, not worry about the balls coming to him or where they're going. Play Bears football. Play like he did in Denver with us and let it come to him.
"I'm probably more level-headed on the field, believe it or not, than Brandon. Lot of highs and lows. But when he's playing well, he's hard to stop. We've just got to keep him [on that] even level and playing within the system and try to get him the ball as much as possible. That's my job."
Marshall caught seven of the eight passes Cutler threw his way for a season-high 138 yards. I'm perfectly willing to connect Marshall's performance with Cutler's leadership over the past week. He helped make a teammate better, and that's absolutely part of leadership.
Cutler isn't a perfect person or player. None of us are. Perhaps more of you would have turned on him had the Bears lost Monday night, but it sure seems like you're willing to acknowledge -- now more than ever -- that he is what he is. And you prefer that over Cutler making some kind of cosmetic personality change that pleases the media police.
"I'm not an actor," Cutler said. "I don't now where the cameras are at all times. I'm playing football."
Monday night, he played it quite well. His greatest achievement, however, might have been rendering moot the ongoing discussion about his personality. It's not that it doesn't matter. It just appears to be old news for everyone. The "Jay Cutler is not nice" news cycle is over. You get it. You've adjusted your sights accordingly and you're ready to move on. Fine with me. I can't say I'll never mention this topic again, but I'm now fully aware that it's going to take quite an incident to move the dial again. Onward and upward. ...
There was once a time when the Bears' tight end position averaged roughly 87 catches and 883 receiving yards over a span of three years.
It was 2007-2009.
Olsen, Chicago's 2007 first-round draft choice, saw his receptions steadily rise under former offensive coordinator Ron Turner, going from 39 as a rookie to 54 in 2008 then a team-high 60 in 2009. Clark, the ninth all-team leading receiver in team history, suffered through an injured-plagued 2009 campaign, but was still considered an effective option for the Bears in the passing game -- the veteran averaged 43 catches and 513 yards the prior three seasons (2006-2008).
So with Olsen and Clark firmly in the mix, the Bears could finally consider tight end a strength of the offense moving forward.
Then Mike Martz was hired as the team's offensive coordinator on Feb. 1, 2010.
It was like the day the music died.
Here is a quick run-down of what happened at tight end the next two years:
Martz pushed for the Bears to sign Brandon Manumaleuna, who caught five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown in 2010. He was cut after failing his physical in July 2011.
Clark had his role reduced to the point that he dressed for a mere five regular-season games in 2010. He was brought back as a free agent the following year then suffered a minor injury and was released prior to the beginning of the regular season. The team instead opted to keep undrafted rookie free agent Kyle Adams, who eventually landed on injured reserve.
Olsen's production declined dramatically in 2010 – his receptions dipped from 60 the year prior to Martz's arrival to 41 in the new offense. Olsen was then traded to Carolina for a third-round pick prior to the 2011 season.
The Bears signed another blocking tight end in Matt Spaeth to replace Manumaleuna. Spaeth had seven catches in 2011.
The end result of Martz's vision: a combined 25 catches for 256 yards from Kellen Davis and Spaeth in 2011.
While Martz and the Bears succeeded in turning the tight end spot into a complete nonfactor on offense, others around the NFL took a much different approach to the position. Coincidently, or maybe not, several of those teams qualified for the divisional round of the postseason, where they continued to feature their tight ends and use them as vertical threats down the field.
It should be noted Martz, oddly enough a former tight end himself at Fresno State, worked with Davis in 2008 while offensive coordinator of the 49ers. Predictably, Davis languished in Martz’s system, catching a mere 31 balls for 358 yards a pair of touchdowns.
However, once San Francisco fired Martz, Davis exploded the following year and posted a career-best 78 receptions for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Coincidence? Hardly. Just another example of how Martz selfishly and stubbornly chooses his "system" instead of properly evaluating the talent on his roster and coaching to their strengths, not his own.
Now comes the question of how the Bears are going to salvage the neglected tight end position. Obviously, getting rid of Martz and elevating Mike Tice was the first step, but are the Bears in need of a serious personnel upgrade?
Maybe not, according to Bears head coach Lovie Smith.
"We have an excellent tight end," Smith said at his end of the year press conference. "We brought Matt Spaeth here to primarily be a blocker for us and he filled that role well. Kellen Davis can do anything the good tight ends in this league can do. As a catcher if we focus in on him, we can make him more of a guy that people are talking about just based on throwing him the ball more. So I think we have an excellent tight end with good speed, size. I think we had a combination of as good a tight end, the makings of, as anyone around in Kellen."
Sounds as if Smith expects a Vernon Davis-type leap from Kellen Davis, an unrestricted free agent, in 2012.
While it's an interesting premise laid out by Smith, just remember, Vernon Davis is a former first-round pick (No. 6 overall in 2006) with first-round talent.
Kellen Davis went in the fifth round. Some would argue for good reason.
As is typically the case in the fourth and final exhibition contest, Bears coach Lovie Smith is taking a cautious approach with players dealing with minor injuries.
Linebacker Lance Briggs (knee), defensive tackle Anthony Adams (calf), running back Marion Barber (calf), receiver Sam Hurd (ankle), tight end Kellen Davis (back), tight end Desmond Clark (knee), long snapper Patrick Mannelly and defensive end Corey Wootton (knee) are among those sidelined Thursday night.
Brian Iwuh will start in place of Briggs at weak-side linebacker, Matt Spaeth fills in for Davis at tight end, and rookie Jake Laptad will do the long snapping.
Veteran Chester Taylor is suited up and expected to see action, according to Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Martz. However, Taylor's days with the Bears appear to be numbered after the running back left the facility Monday following a private meeting with Smith.
Final cuts are due by Saturday at 5 p.m. CT.
Read the entire story.
Somewhere in there he’s put together enough context clues from the team’s brass to string together the words: We want you back.
Perhaps he’ll finally hear that from the club in the coming days, with teams likely getting back to the business of free agency now that the lockout is close to coming to a conclusion.
“At both of the award ceremonies, they spoke very highly of me, and I kind of got a sense that they do want me back from the Ed Block courage award banquet and the Brian Piccolo award ceremony,” Adams said. “From both coach [Lovie] Smith and [defensive line] coach [Rod] Marinelli’s speeches, they want to have me back. I’ve just got to hurry up and wait.”
With new rules soon to be in place, it shouldn’t take long. The league is expected to assign a designated period of three days to sign undrafted rookies and their own free agents before full-blown free agency kicks off around the NFL.
An eight-year veteran, Adams falls into a vital group of Bears free agents -- which includes center Olin Kreutz -- the team will try to re-sign for the upcoming season during what’s sure to be a chaotic time for general manager Jerry Angelo, director of player personnel Tim Ruskell, and contract negotiator Cliff Stein.
Adams hopes (and likely will be) one of the top priorities among that group.
“I love it here, man. I love the crowd, the team, the coaches,” Adams said. “There are really no big egos on this team. We’ve got some pretty heavy hitters on this team, who believe in that team-first concept. That’s really great for someone like me.”
Here’s a look at the players from the 2010 roster that the Bears will be considering during the exclusive three-day window to bring back their own free agents:
DT Anthony AdamsPriority level: High
Unheralded because he doesn’t post gaudy numbers (36 tackles, two sacks) from his nose tackle spot, Adams is one of the key elements to the team’s stingy run defense. His preference is to remain a Bear, but the club won’t be able to bring him back if it extends the run-of-the-mill three-year, $6 million deal it offered several players before the end of last season.
Aromashodu flashed early last season, but quickly fell out of favor with offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Aromashodu doesn’t want to return to Chicago. The team likely feels the same.
Bullocks was solid on special teams last season, but needs to make a more meaningful contribution on defense to stick. If he re-signs, Bullocks will have a tough time making the team.
Clark shined at training camp last year, and is arguably the club’s most athletic player at tight end. But for some reason Clark never received a legitimate shot to contribute on offense. With time dwindling on his 12-year career, Clark will explore opportunities elsewhere.
QB Todd CollinsPriority level: Low
His struggles when called upon, Caleb Hanie’s emergence in the NFC Championship game and the team’s decision to draft Nathan Enderle likely have signaled Collins’ exit from Chicago. There’s still a slight chance for a return, however.
Davis continues to be a standout performer on special teams, but might warrant a more extensive look at receiver after a strong outing in the regular-season finale. Davis likely won’t be highly coveted in free agency, thus increasing the prospects for a return to the Bears.
CB Corey GrahamPriority level: High
Graham cranked out what probably should have been a Pro Bowl season on special teams (he led the league in special-teams stops) in 2010. The team’s problem, however, is Graham probably feels typecast as a special teams only player with no shot at receiving a real opportunity to contribute on defense. That might lead to Graham looking elsewhere.
LB Brian IwuhPriority level: High
Iwuh tied for second on the team in special-teams tackles (18) last season, and showed in his only start (team-high 12 tackles with 10 solo against the Seahawks on Oct. 17) that he’s capable of potentially cracking the starting lineup full time. The team offered a multi-year extension at the end of last season, and if the deal is still on the table during the three-day negotiating period, he’ll sign it.
C Olin KreutzPriority level: High
Not as dominant a player as he used to be, Kreutz still ranks favorably among other players around the league at his position. Fortunately for the team, the NFL instituted the three-day negotiating window. Otherwise, there’s a good chance the Bears would have competition for his services.
The priority level should be high here, but team sources indicate the club has no plan to offer more than the three-year, $6 million deal it extended prior to the end of last season. Manning missed just three tackles all last year, finally coming into his own at the safety position. If the Bears won’t budge on the financial package, he’ll go elsewhere. Several teams are interested.
Maynard seems to have fallen out of favor with some in the organization after producing somewhat of a down year in 2010. Kicker Robbie Gould has shown strong support for the punter, but it might not be enough.
LB Nick RoachPriority level: High
Injuries slowed Roach last season, but he should be in contention for the starting strong-side linebacker position in 2011. Roach wants to re-sign with the Bears, but the club could lose him if it can’t offer a strong deal during the exclusive period. Multiple teams are interested.
Because of his injury history, Tinoisamoa said the Bears will “try to find a way to devalue” him. When healthy, Tinoisamoa is a strong contributor. But the Bears probably won’t offer much more than a veteran minimum contract.
LB Rod WilsonPriority level: Low
Considered more of a special-teams player and reserve linebacker, Wilson could be brought back for depth reasons. But at this point, a return to Chicago seems unlikely.
Wolfe will only fall further down the depth chart with Harvey Unga returning from spending last season on the injured reserve. With the team already stacked at running back, Wolfe’s special-teams prowess still might not be enough to warrant a roster spot.
Note: QB Caleb Hanie is a restricted free agent, and in March received a low tender from the Bears. Running back Kahlil Bell is an exclusive-rights free agent.
CHICAGO -- Sunday could mark the end of Desmond Clark's tenure with the Bears.
A free agent at the conclusion of the teams' playoff run, the veteran tight end is looking forward to a possible second Super Bowl appearance, even though 2010 will go down as the most frustrating season of his 12-year NFL career.Read the full story.
But unlike Bryant, Rodgers' gesture had nothing to do with failing to carry pads during training camp.
One day before Bryant picked up a tab for his teammates in excess of $54,000 according to ESPNDallas.com, Rodgers ran into Chicago Bears players Pisa Tinoisamoa, Nick Roach and Desmond Clark at a restaurant on the eve of their Monday night matchup.
"First of all, Dez Clark invites us all to dinner, and he didn't call in a reservation, so we're sitting down in front waiting for a table and in walks Aaron Rodgers and his family," Tinoisamoa said Tuesday on ESPN 1000's "Football Night in Chicago." "So I see the [restaurant] guy helping out Aaron Rodgers [to get a table], and I'm like 'This can't be happening.'
"So I walk over, interrupt, and say 'You're not going to sit a Packer down before you sit a Bear down, are you?' The guy was like, of course not, what do you mean...oh, you're Bears player, OK."
Tinoisamoa, Clark and Roach proceeded to exchange pleasantries with Rodgers, before the two parties went their separate ways. The encounter with the rival quarterback faded into the backdrop, until it came time to settle up the tab.
"Dez actually had two other buddies with him and Nick had his girlfriend meet us up, so we're eating good and not thinking about it," Tinoisamoa said. "It was a cool little experience. We met Aaron Rodgers, OK. But then we go to pay for the bill and they said the Packers [Rodgers] picked it up, so there you go."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Bears linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) and fullback Desmond Clark (ankle) are listed as probable heading into Sunday's matchup against Detroit, according to Bears head coach Lovie Smith.
Briggs missed over a week after injuring his ankle in the third preseason game versus Arizona, but the five-time Pro Bowler returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday.
Safety Craig Steltz (ankle) is listed as questionable to face the Lions. Steltz has been out of action since the first preseason game in San Diego.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Physical mistakes on the football field are unavoidable.
It's the mental mistakes that tend to get players cut and coaches fired.
Busted plays, blown assignments, bad reads, poor communication; the Bears experienced every sort of mental breakdown possible against Arizona. Luckily, it's still the preseason, but time is of the essence.
"I had a bunch of them, so let's start with me," Bears veteran Desmond Clark said Monday. "I made some easy, simple mistakes, stuff that we can't tolerate or accept if we want to be a good team. But we'll be able to focus in and gets things right when it's time for [Cleveland] this week and going into Detroit [week]."
The easy explanation -- at least on offense -- is that players are still trying to grasp the new Mike Martz offense. Not true according to Clark, who is in the process of learning a new position, in addition to the new scheme.
"No, that's not the reason at all," Clark said. "We were messing up on simple things. You know, a play was going left, and you got me going right. Just simple things [caused] by a lack of focus, lack of concentration, whatever it is. But we'll be able to correct those things."
Bears wide receiver Devin Aromashodu had a slightly different take on the subject.
"We'll always have mental mistakes," Aromashodu said. "They'll be a mental mistake every single game we play in. [But] we really don't have that many, it's just that being a new offense, everyone is learning it, so it might be two people making a mistake on one play instead of it being one person. We'll always have mental mistakes whether it's our first year or tenth year in the offense."
Davis saw extensive playing time in the first half against Oakland, playing the second tight end spot in blocking situations. That spot is usually reserved for veteran Desmond Clark, but it appears the Bears are using Clark in more of a traditional fullback role these days.
“The tight ends probably had the best camp of all the guys on offense, they really did," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. "We’re very pleased with that group. We’re a little bit careful with Brandon [Manumaleuna] because the knee’s still a little bit sore. But that gives us an opportunity to isolate Kellen and get him some throws. He stepped forward."
Along with Olin Kreutz, Davis helped throw a key block to spring Matt Forte's 89-yard touchdown run. He also caught one pass for 23 yards, showing the ability to stretch the field.
"With guys pushing you it makes you work harder and do better," Davis said. "We're all stepping our game up."
CHICAGO -- Apparently, it wasn't just the majority of those watching the Bears on Saturday night -- for remuneration or otherwise -- who tuned out before the game was over.
Lance Briggs was in the middle of making the argument that even in the preseason, there's professional pride at stake, when he blanked out on one detail.
"You want to look good your first game at home, preseason or regular season," he said, "and you get beat by 27 or whatever it was ... it was 27, right?"
Trouble was, no one in Monday's media huddle could come up with the correct answer right away, either.
Upon further examination, the Bears lost 32-17 to the Raiders on Saturday and have been outscored 57-27 in two preseason games. But they are not panicking. And frankly, some of them are befuddled over why anyone would be.
Read the entire column.
With Mannelly held out Saturday due to a neck stinger, tight end Desmond Clark assumed snapping duties, and struggled to find his rhythm in the early going. Clark was unable to connect with holder Brad Maynard on two separate occasions in the first half -- once on a field goal, and once on a point-after-touchdown attempt.
"It's the first time I had to do it for the entire game, so it's one to grow on," Clark said. "I think if I had to go back there and do it again, I'd put money on myself that I would make those plays."
After a few botched attempts in the first half, Clark settled down in the final 30 minutes, converting his final snap to holder Brad Maynard on a 25-yard Robbie Gould fourth-quarter field goal.
What changed for Clark in the second half?
"Just the mindset," Clark said. "The mindset that I didn't have to be perfect. That I just had to rely on my technique and the stuff I do in practice every day. Once I got that mindset, and quit worrying about trying to snap it right at the spot and snap it just perfect, like on the punts, I hit the spot almost every time when I wasn't trying to be perfect."