BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Fans aren't the only ones perplexed by the lack of production for Chicago Bears defensive end Mark Anderson, who posted 12 sacks as a rookie, and just nine in three seasons since.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo can't figure it out, either.
"I can't say specifically why [he hasn't been more productive since rookie season], because the guy works his tail off; great effort on game day," Angelo said Tuesday on "The Afternoon Saloon" on ESPN 1000. "He did do it his rookie year. He has great athleticism. The only thing I can say, and it's an opinion, I can't substantiate it, he presses. Maybe it's feel. Maybe the opponents saw something and figured something out. I can't really put a handle on it because it really is surprising to me, because he had that success.
"With the way he worked and that athleticism, usually you would say he would come close to that rookie year. But we're expecting and hoping to see a great year from him. It's more being able to finish a blocker when he gets up field. You have to have that little something, that little feel to make that little counter move, know when to pull the trigger. That's probably something he hasn't been consistent with or doing well enough."
In addition to speaking extensively about the fifth-year defensive end, Angelo delved into Brett Favre's retirement plans, Julius Peppers, and the pressure the organization faces in 2010 to produce a winner.
Angelo said, "I want to see it to believe it," when asked his thoughts on Favre. "It's still a long time before the season."
Regarding Peppers, Angelo said he doesn't "see any reason why he can't be the most dominant defensive lineman in the game this year. The expectations for him are very, very high. I'm looking for an MVP year out of Julius, and I would say if he were sitting here, he would say the same thing. The one thing that really impressed me about him personally is the way he worked in the offseason. He made every practice, the weight room, OTAs, whatever."
The organization enters a 2010 season in which it's believed that Angelo and Lovie Smith could be out of jobs if the club doesn't display marked improvement from last year's 7-9 finish. Angelo said the added pressure to produce a winner isn't keeping "anybody up later at night."
In fact, Angelo called it "great."
"Anybody can be average," Angelo said. "One thing I want to make sure to you and our fans , [is] you create the fear. Our focus is on the things we can control, the task at hand. The task at hand is winning the championship. We're not working any harder because of whatever the perception is of what we have to do. We know what we have to do. We're working hard at doing it, and we feel very good going into the season."
Angelo called quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz a pair that is "on a mission," adding that the marriage between the two has been close to ideal, in addition to touching on issues in the Bears' secondary.
Angelo said the club decided to switch cornerback Zack Bowman from the right side to the left side because Bowman "at this point is our most athletic corner." Bowman's move forced eight-year veteran Charles Tillman, who has started 94 of his 98 career at left cornerback, to the right side.
"Peanut's still a very good corner, and we have a lot of confidence in him. But Zack's done some very good things. We've all seen him do some things last year with interceptions. [The left side is] the cover position. That's the position where offenses go down field with the ball. We feel [Bowman] puts us in the best position to get those takeaways."