Chicago Bears: Jeff Dickerson
But given all that has happened, perhaps the end goes on as just the beginning with so many decisions to be made and changes on the horizon.
Let’s take a quick spin around the Bears beat:
-- Here’s Jeff Dickerson’s look at five things we learned from Sunday’s game, and he doesn’t mince words regarding Bears head coach Marc Trestman.
Dickerson writes: Trestman needs to be stripped of his control over the 46-man active game-day roster for the decision to keep Jay Cutler active on Sunday. Under no circumstances can the Bears expose Cutler to unnecessary injury in the final two weeks, even if the eventual offseason plan calls for the organization to keep Cutler in 2015. Cutler’s season is finished. It’s over. He has completely checked out. He’s done with Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Accept it, and move on.
Here’s more: Now, let’s say the Bears plan to shop Cutler around to other teams. The very idea of Cutler serving as the No. 2 in two meaningless games, in that scenario, is pure madness. Let me repeat: pure madness. I understand Trestman wants to win another game. His credibility and reputation are under attack. But the future of the franchise is far more important. Whether Bears fans want to admit it or not, Cutler is an extremely important piece of the puzzle moving forward, trade or no trade. Subjecting him to further risk is foolish. Let Joe DeCamillis coach the season finale in Minnesota. Trestman is worried about his own interests, not the organization's. When that happens, it’s time for change, even if one is already scheduled to occur Dec. 29.
-- Here’s Dickerson’s report card.
-- Jon Greenberg writes the Bears played a solid Lions team close, but they certainly didn’t take solace in that performance, which resulted in their 10th loss.
Greenberg writes: In what could be a franchise-changing season, the Bears have lost 10 games, and only three were by single digits: a 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the season opener, a 31-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers and now, this game.
All three of those games were at home, so don't say the Bears don't appreciate their fans. Chicago went 2-6 at Soldier Field, the same as in 2004, which was Lovie Smith's first season as coach.
They can tie the 2004 team for the worst record in the past decade with a loss at the Minnesota Vikings next week, or they could win for the first time since Nov. 23.
Either way, this one will go down as one of the team's most disappointing seasons in the modern era. It might be No. 1.
-- This link to Todd McShay’s first 2015 mock draft is a few days old but definitely worth revisiting considering Chicago might not win another game, which should improve the team’s draft position. It’s tough to know which direction the Bears should go with their pick because of all the uncertainty. We don’t yet know what the future is for Jay Cutler, Trestman or general manager Phil Emery. With that said, I’m not sure I like McShay’s projection here. The position McShay projects the Bears addressing with their first-round pick might be a little too rich (unless he’s an absolute slam dunk) with the team expected to pick so high.
-- Mike Shanahan believes Cutler is still a franchise quarterback. Emery probably agrees. But the quarterback’s body of work over nine seasons suggests otherwise from this vantage point.
-- Over at the Chicago Tribune, David Haugh says don’t be fooled by Jimmy Clausen’s mediocre performance against the Lions. It proved absolutely nothing and certainly doesn’t help Trestman’s job security. Sadly, he’s correct.
Haugh writes: Overall, Clausen did a nice job representing himself as a bona fide NFL backup, nothing more. Clausen was the smelling salts to a sleepy offense, making quick decisions and smart throws. He prevented bad plays from outnumbering big ones and brought as much enthusiasm as efficiency. He improved his job prospects for 2015 — but not Trestman's. Don't fall for that.
Remember, the career Trestman was hired to save was Cutler's, not Clausen's.
Trestman's potential last game at Soldier Field will go down as one of the most irrelevant of his brief tenure. A win would have changed nothing about the Bears future, which Chairman George McCaskey should begin altering as early as Monday. A six-point loss simply reminded us what everybody already knew about the present; that no matter who plays quarterback, Trestman's game-day coaching cannot compensate for a growing talent deficit management cannot ignore.
-- The Chicago Sun-Times has a nice rundown of the team’s reaction to Dominic Raiola stomping on Ego Ferguson’s ankle. Raiola can say whatever he wants, but the tape doesn’t lie.
In fact, Marshall believes the Bears and Saints don't deserve the national stage of ESPN's "Monday Night Football."
Both teams enter the upcoming clash at Soldier Field with 5-8 records. The only difference is the Saints are still vying for a postseason spot, while the Bears were officially eliminated from contention on Sunday by virtue of Detroit's victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It does shock me, but this story is old," Marshall said. "We've been dealing with this story for weeks now."
Here's today's spin around the Chicago Bears beat:
-- ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson brings us his stock report. In it, he's got the stock of Bears ownership falling.
Dickerson writes: The Bears have now missed the playoffs seven times in the past eight seasons. When a charter franchise of the National Football League reaches the postseason as infrequently as teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars (also one postseason berth in eight years), the problems run deep. Since the Bears fired [Mike] Ditka as coach at the end of the 1992 season, the club that resides in the NFL's second largest media market has qualified for the playoffs a grand total of five times. And people wonder why the 1985 Bears are treated like rock stars to this day. At this rate, Chicago will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Super Bowl XX before the Vince Lombardi Trophy returns to Halas Hall. The Bears are going backward. This is easily the worst season of Bears football since Lovie Smith's first year in 2004 (5-11). The difference is Smith's team 10 years ago had zero expectations. The 2014 Bears were supposed to be contenders. Instead, fans are forced to watch the club simply play out the string. Blame whomever you want, but the real problems originate at the very top. What else needs to be said?
Can't say I disagree one bit with Dickerson's assessment here. Chicago's fans deserve better.
-- Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune writes that Bears coach Marc Trestman remained firm in his support of quarterback Jay Cutler. With three games remaining, it will be difficult for the Bears to maintain a working environment conducive to success given all the criticism and speculation.
-- Shuffling along the offensive line continues. Ryan Groy is expected to start at left guard against the Saints.
-- Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times leads off his notebook with a nice item about recently-signed kicker Jay Feely.
-- Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times wants fans to adopt Cleveland's quarterback Johnny Manziel as an escape from the disappointment of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Morrissey writes: I'm not suggesting that the Bears trade for Manziel. Johnny Football and George "What's a Football?" McCaskey together in marriage? It would never happen. What I am suggesting is that we here in Chicago adopt the Cleveland Browns quarterback, purely for escape purposes.
Thirteen games into a miserable Bears season and six seasons into Cutler's erratic career in Chicago, the mind looks for ways to stop the pain. Mine has landed on Manziel, the athletic, hard-partying, polarizing rookie whose career probably will end in a spectacular ball of flame. That's pain-killing entertainment, folks.
Here’s today’s installment:
-- Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com runs down Chicago’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears are almost back to .500, making Thursday night’s Thanksgiving showdown against the Detroit Lions a compelling matchup.
Greenberg writes: In any event, while the Bears continue to fail the eye test -- as in you go blind if you watch a first half of any game -- they did improve to 5-6 after taking two straight from last-place teams.
A win on Thanksgiving in Detroit, and this team is not only officially mediocre, but also on the outer edge of the playoff hunt.
A blowout loss and it's "Fire Trestman! Fire Emery! Bench Cutler!" all over again. But the Bears bought everyone another few days of peace.
One thing about the Bears: They're good enough to beat the bad teams. The good teams, well, that's the problem.
The Bears had only 204 yards, and they won. That's not going to happen against quality teams, as we saw in brutal losses to the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers.
The next four games, including two against the Lions, are against playoff contenders, with the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints coming to Soldier Field for prime-time games. (The finale will be in late December outdoors in Minneapolis. Consult your doctor before watching that one.)
-- ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson gives you his grades from Sunday’s game.
-- Dickerson explains five things we learned from Sunday’s win. No. 1 is a doozy, and while you may not want to believe it, Dickerson is on the money with this one.
Dickerson writes: Defense is the backbone of the team: Sounds crazy, right? We’re talking about the same defense responsible for surrendering 50-plus points consecutive weeks to New England and Green Bay. Certain people even accused the defense of giving up three weeks ago at Lambeau Field. Guess what? The defense is the team’s strength. Look it up. Week 12’s four-takeaway, five-sack effort versus the Bucs is another example of the defense willing the Bears to a win. With the exception of Green Bay (both games) and New England, the Bears defense has shown up every week. The victory over Minnesota -- that’s on the defense. The road win at New York -- the work of the defense. The Bears haven’t scored more than 28 points in 11 games. Yet, the team still finds itself 5-6. That’s actually a remarkable accomplishment, given the putrid offensive output. Here’s a question you never imagined asking yourself: Where would the Bears be without the defense? Scary stuff.
-- The Bears remain in the playoff hunt, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
-- The Chicago Sun-Times' Rick Telander says it’s difficult to get excited about Sunday’s win over the 2-9 Buccaneers.
He writes: The Bears are 5-6 after beating the 2-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and isn’t that the way it should have been from square one?
Bucs coach Lovie Smith now can leave town with his former Bears backup quarterback, and we all can forget about the humiliation that would have resulted from a Bears loss. Had that happened, we would be hollering that the Bears were wrong to fire Smith and replace him with Marc Trestman after the 2012 season, should have paid Josh McCown after last season and should have let Jay Cutler float off to wherever somebody wanted him.
But Trestman and Cutler won, so all that other stuff is nonsense.
Yet, it feels so . . . blah.
-- Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker gets some love for getting his group going against its former coach, writes Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Here’s a quick spin around the Chicago Bears beat:
- Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh says Bears coach Marc Trestman is oblivious to reality, and makes several salient points in this piece. Besides, if you’re a fan of strong writing, Haugh throws some nice zingers in this one. Check it out, it’s a good read.
Haugh writes: A most considerate man, Marc Trestman surely meant no harm when he insulted the intelligence of every Bears fan and observer Monday at Halas Hall.
But come on, Coach, nobody in town is that football stupid.
"I think this team and this locker room is in a good place at this time," Trestman said the day after the most humiliating loss in recent franchise history to the Packers.
In a good place at this time? Just curious, what would constitute a bad place, 0-9? Trestman reads his team worse than Jay Cutler reads defenses.
- ESPNChicago.com colleague Jeff Dickerson drops his stock watch on you. Warning, this isn’t pretty.
- Chris Chase over at USA Today puts some of Chicago’s historically bad defensive numbers into proper perspective here.
- Ben Strauss at the New York Times does a nice job of capturing local reaction to Chicago’s embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers.
- The Chicago Sun-Times has a nice thing going with its weekly exclusive video with Bears kicker Robbie Gould. In the latest installment, Gould simply tells it how it is.
It really shouldn't be that way. It’s OK to appreciate what McCown has done for the Bears without it being a slight in any way to Cutler, who is the unquestioned starting quarterback of this team.
But ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg thinks the Bears should ride the hot hand at quarterback and go with McCown for the rest of the season. Greenberg writes:
The McCown lovefest has been going on since he started, and won, in Green Bay. That's something Cutler hasn't been able to do.
The overall theme of his latest postgame news conference was veering close to: "How can we get you to say you should start over Cutler?"
"I'm the backup, Jay's our starter," McCown said Monday night. "When Jay is healthy, Jay should be the starting quarterback. That's really it. I don't go out here going, 'You know what, if I do this now I'll be the starter.' That's not my mindset. I've told you guys that. My mindset is to serve this team as the backup quarterback as best I can and play efficient football and winning football in this situation to keep us in contention. So, whenever he takes back over, we're in position to make a playoff run."
Trestman hasn't wavered from that message, either, obviously. If he did, we'd have a full-scale public relations disaster.
While Cutler, from this vantage point, is the superior player, I've got a tough time arguing Greenberg’s rationale here. It seems every time this subject becomes a conversation, it’s taken to extremes, to a black-and-white, one-is-better-than-the-other argument of absolutes. But the truth is it’s far from that. Cutler is the best quarterback on the roster of the Chicago Bears. No doubt about that. But I’m not sure he’s the team’s best option at this very moment.
Let’s remember, it’s been a month since Cutler last played in a game. What type of shape will he be in once he returns? How much rust will Cutler have to knock off to get back to playing at peak efficiency? Will knocking the rust off result in mistakes and turnovers the Bears can't rebound from at Cleveland or Philadelphia, or wherever the club decides to start him next?
The team allowed Cutler to return to practice for two days last week. Before that, he had only run on a treadmill two days before the Bears brought him back to the practice field. So even if you count those two days last week of practice, and give Cutler an additional week of work leading into Sunday’s game at Cleveland, I’d still be at least a little apprehensive about how the he would perform given the long layoff.
So take personal feelings and preferences out of the equation when looking at this thing and use common sense. McCown is on a hot streak, coming off three consecutive 300-yard passing games. And don’t give me the argument that McCown has faced a slew of bad defenses. Sure he has. But in five years with the Bears, Cutler faced horrid defenses, too. The fact is nobody in Bears history has accomplished what McCown has done over his last three starts.
Does it make him better than Cutler? No. But it might make McCown the better option right now given the situation. At the very least, he's given this staff something to strongly consider in the coming days.
-- ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson put together his weekly Stock Watch, and surprise, surprise, receiver Alshon Jeffery’s stock continues to rise. Dickerson writes:
"Every week Jeffery seems to make a ridiculous, highlight-reel catch. The second-year wide receiver struck again Monday night when he hauled in a deep McCown pass in the back corner of the south end zone and managed to drag both feet in as he fell out of bounds with two Dallas defenders in the area. Jeffery is on fire. He has a combined 17 catches for 333 yards and three touchdowns in the past two weeks. Already with 75 receptions for 1,193 yards and six touchdowns on the season, Jeffery is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Brandon Marshall is having another incredibly productive season (84-1,090-9), but Jeffery's emergence has been the No. 1 storyline this year in the wide receiver room. The exciting part is the best is yet to come for Jeffery, who doesn't turn 24 until February."
-- ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg delves into Cutler's performance during Sunday's comeback. Coming into the game, the Bears were 1-7 when Cutler committed three or more turnovers, with the lone victory coming against Carolina last season on a late comeback.
Against the Vikings, Cutler shook off two interceptions and a fumble to bring back the Bears in the final 3:13.
Here's what Greenberg wrote:
"Not counting a spike to stop the clock, Mr. Fourth Quarter went 7-for-9 for 76 yards on the Bears' game-winning drive, highlighted by a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett, who made a twisting catch and tucked himself in the pylon for the winning score with 10 seconds left."
-- Fans were pretty angry about some of the technical difficulties during Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s game. Apparently 10 percent of the country was affected.
-- ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson runs down five things we learned from this game.
Rick Morrissey gives his take on Cutler’s growing legend. Brandon Marshall called Cutler “Mr. Fourth Quarter” after Sunday’s game, but the Bears are actually 7-23 with the quarterback when they trail or are tied going into the fourth quarter.
-- Dickerson hands out grades on the team’s performance here.
-- Cutler believes in the coaching staff and the system more now than he did in previous years, writes CSNChicago’s John “Moon” Mullin.
Let’s take a look at five things to keep an eye on in this matchup:
Rookies on right side of OL: The debuts of rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills at right guard and right tackle, respectively, seems to have been one of the most widely debated topics all offseason. Well, now it becomes real.
Long is set to be the first rookie to start at right guard for the Bears in the Super Bowl era. In fact, the Bears haven’t started multiple rookies on opening day since 1998.
“That’s a cool trivia question,” Long joked. “I try not to focus on that type of stuff. It’s a good tidbit to know. But right now, I’m so focused on who to block on inside zone right and that kind of stuff. That stuff is far more important to me at this point.”
“Just having another rookie [in Long] to go through it with you is priceless,” Mills said. “They have a great front seven with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Rey Maualuga and the rest of the guys. But we’re trying to be a great offense. We’re going to come in there with a great game plan and we’re going to be fine.”
The new offense: In terms of diversity with formations and play calling, this will be the most extensive look at the Bears' offense we’ve seen since the Aug. 23 preseason game at Oakland. Look for tons of shifts, formations and plays that get the ball out of Jay Cutler’s hands quickly, not to mention some plays designed to move the pocket.
“The game plan is put together relative to how much we get practiced, how we want to spread the ball around,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “Certainly it all starts with how we want to attack running and throwing the football. It’s just a process you go through every Monday and Tuesday so to speak, during the course of a normal week; who you want to feature, how you want to use personnel groupings, how you want to use formations to be able to create advantages and working toward the strengths and weaknesses of the teams you’ll be playing.”
Trestman sounds as if Chicago’s playbook is much deeper than what the team will select to execute against the Bengals. That’s definitely a positive the Bears haven’t had in the years before Trestman.
D.J. Williams at middle linebacker: Trestman said Williams will play, but wouldn’t give an indication of what degree, whether he’ll be starting or how much he’ll contribute. It’s expected that Williams will start in the middle alongside Lance Briggs and James Anderson. But when you consider how much time Williams missed (virtually the entire training camp and preseason), it’s reasonable to question whether the linebacker’s conditioning level will be up to par to where he can play an entire four quarters.
It’s also worth noting that Williams has missed the preseason the past two years, which means Sunday might not be as difficult for him as we think.
“I don’t what to say I’m used to it, but I’ve been through this before,” Williams said. “Being a veteran guy, you kind of know what you need to do to get yourself prepared for the game. I know coming into the first game there’s going to be a little gas, a little winded. But the first game of the season, everybody is going to be kind of like that.”
If Williams can’t play the entire game, the Bears are confident they can go to Jonathan Bostic, who put together a strong enough preseason to inspire confidence in his ability to be a starter.
“I’m preparing like I’m a starter,” Bostic said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Julius Peppers vs. Anthony Collins: The Bengals might be thinking “uh-oh” when looking at this matchup on paper. Cincinnati Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth is listed as doubtful heading into the game, which means the Bengals will line up Collins at the position, where he’ll take on Peppers.
Look for the Bears to try to exploit the loss of Whitworth with Peppers, who is coming off a 2012 campaign in which he posted 11.5 sacks.
Former Bengals offensive lineman Dave Lapham, who is not a radio analyst told ESPN 1000’s “Chicago Gamenight” on Thursday how he expected Cincinnati to handle Peppers without Whitworth in the fold.
ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson takes you deeper.
“I don’t think he’ll have movement issues with respect to Julius Peppers, but Peppers can bull rush you now, too,” Lapham said. “He’s a strong dude. So I’ll be interested to see if Collins can hang in there against that bull rush that Peppers can employ to complement that quickness that he’s got.”
Devin Hester exclusively as a return man: Hester worked all offseason exclusively as a return man, with the team stripping away his duties as a receiver. Now it’s time to see if the extra focus on returns will pay off for Hester, who didn’t receive much action in the preseason. Hester took part in just five returns (three kickoffs and two punts) and gained a combined 94 yards, with his longest runback being a 45-yard kickoff return.
Given that Hester is in a contract year, expect him to put together one of the best return seasons of his career. Hester needs only one more return touchdown to tie Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for the most career return touchdowns. My guess is Hester winds up breaking the record by Week 9.
Apparently the Bears don’t plan to waste time in cutting the 22 players needed to get down to the mandatory 53-man roster limit before Saturday’s 3 p.m. CST deadline.
“We’ll be at it bright and early tomorrow,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “(General manager) Phil (Emery) and I will sit down early in the morning, (and make decisions) based on the information we gathered from the tape and from the other coaches. It will be a collective process to make those decisions that work out to be the final 53.”
Several players made strong cases during Thursday night’s 18-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Others only reinforced decisions the club had already planned on making. Trestman mentioned that he didn’t think “anyone played themselves out of the roster tonight,” but the truth is quite a few didn’t exactly play themselves onto it, either. Over the next several hours, there’s a good chance the team will start bringing players into Halas Hall to begin cuts.
Here’s a sampling of what some of the on-the-bubble players had to say in pleading their respective cases.
RB Armando Allen: “To me, the reality is you don’t have control over the decision being made. So for me, it’s just I’ve just got to stay positive and keep my mind focused and in the right mindset for whatever comes next. Did I feel like I did enough? I’m probably one of my biggest critics. I feel like there’s a lot of things that I could have done better. If I was pitching myself, for me, it’s just simple. I come to work hard every day; great individual. I know the plays, (and) I’m a great special teams player. So, that’s about all I can say. My work speaks for itself.”
RB Michael Ford: “You can’t get into the coaches' head. You’ve got to let the coaches coach and do what they do. The only thing we can go out there and do is play and play hard. I gave it my all. I went into practice and gave it my all, and went into the games and gave it my all. I really can’t worry about it. When you give it your all and did everything you could, you can’t worry about it, because you know you gave 100 percent at what you did.”
WR Joe Anderson: “I’ve always felt confident. I believe in myself regardless of who else does. When you believe in yourself, you win. I believe in me. If you ask me, I believe I made this team. But you never know what someone else is thinking. So I just come to work every day and do my job. I control what I can control, (and) that’s what I do on the field. So upstairs, that’s their job. I’m gonna let them do their job, and I’ll do my job.”
OL Eben Britton: “I feel good about it. I feel really good about it. Yeah, I feel like (I made this team). I’m not the type of guy to beat my chest too much, but I was really proud of myself just about how I approached the whole camp, and what I got out of it. I feel the best I’ve felt in years. It was a great training camp for me, and I feel really good about the future. Now, I feel like I do things without even thinking about it anymore. It’s just starting to become natural because that’s what (offensive coordinator Aaron) Kromer has taught us every day. Even since back in April, I just kept working on the techniques we were taught in the run game and the pass game, stayed focused, and I just feel really good about how far I’ve come since getting here.”
- Considering the limited prep time given recently signed quarterbacks Jordan Palmer and Trent Edwards, the duo performed fairly well against Cleveland, especially Palmer. He completed 11 of 17 for 11 yards and a touchdown to finish with a passer rating of 102.8.“I’ve prepared for this game as much as I’ve ever prepared for a game,” Palmer said. “It was a lot of fun to go out there, and I feel like we moved the ball and did some good things.”Trestman has said his preference is to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. So if that holds true over the next two days, ESPNChicago.com colleague Jeff Dickerson says it would be hard to imagine the Bears cutting ties with Palmer.
- Rookie cornerback Demontre Hurst didn’t hurt his cause, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Hurst probably didn’t help it much, either. Last year, former seventh-round pick Greg McCoy ran back an interception for a touchdown in the preseason finale at Cleveland, but still wound up among the final cuts. But to Hurst’s credit, his preseason was better than McCoy’s in 2012. In addition to the interception, Hurst posted five tackles in addition to forcing Brian Hoyer into an intentional grounding penalty.
- Brad Biggs says the Bears are interested in quarterbacks who have practice squad eligibility remaining, and one of them is former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay signal caller Aaron Rodgers.
- Inconsistency has been the story of training camp for tight end Fendi Onobun. The Bears have a difficult decision to make here, and it will likely take place Friday.Trestman explained that “when the light switch goes on” for Onobun, “he’s got a chance to be a very good player. We have some tough decisions to make, and certainly Fendi is going to be in the mix when we make these decisions because of what he showed tonight again, and what he’s shown in practice.”What I saw was merely another up-and-down performance.
- Here's my take on J'Marcus Webb from Thursday night's game. Not good, not bad, just mediocre, which likely won't be good enough for him to make this team. Obviously, everyone wanted to speak with Webb after the game. But once officials opened the locker room, Webb was already gone, his locker cleaned out.
Bostic drew positive reviews for his first day making the calls.
"He did very very well," defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We're going to need him. We hope Lance doesn't go down, but he could. All of us could go down. So whenever somebody goes down, the next player has to be up. So we've got to get him ready because we might need him one of those games."
The Bears could wind up needing Bostic sooner than originally anticipated. The club drafted Bostic with the expectation he would spend 2013 learning behind Williams, a 10-year veteran, who at one time was considered one of the NFL's most talented middle linebackers. Williams suffered a strained right calf on Wednesday, and the prognosis given by the team has been "week to week," which means the injury could linger.
"I really don't look at it as getting thrown in the fire," Bostic said. "I'm out there with a lot of guys I've pretty much watched on TV the last 10 or 12 years, however long I’ve been watching football. To be in there with them, I’ve got to pick it up. I've got to go out there and make sure I'm in my playbook off the field so I'm not making any mistakes when I'm out there."
In a letter sent via e-mail from Bears team president and CEO Ted Phillips, season ticket holders were told, "in the event games are cancelled, you will be given the option between a refund or credit to future games. Refunds will be paid no later than 30 days after the final determination of how many games will be played during the 2011 NFL season."
The Bears won't be refunding interest, which would be a small sum. Season ticket holders would only start to accrue interest once a game is officially cancelled, and would then only earn interest for up to 30 days, since refunds are due to be received by ticket holders no later than 30 days following a final determination of the 2011 schedule.
NFC North rival Detroit took a slightly different approach on the matter. Lions team president Tom Lewand told Detroit season ticket holders in a similar letter, "we will provide you with a full refund, with simple interest, for any cancelled preseason or regular-season home games."
"We all want football without interruption while ensuring the game is sound and strong well into the future," Phillips wrote. "We have no doubt an agreement will be reached with the union. As Commissioner Roger Goodell recently stated, "These are not easy negotiations, but the outcome can be positive. If both sides give a little, everyone, including fans, will get a lot and the game will improve through innovation."
The due date for Bears fans to renew their season tickets is April 7, 2011.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Welcome to Day 3 of the NFL Combine here at Lucas Oil Stadium.
With the Lovie Smith extension out of the way, our focus can shift back to projecting which players might interest the Bears in the upcoming draft.
The player groups scheduled to meet with the media Saturday are defensive linemen and linebackers.
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo always puts a premium on defensive linemen, and with the uncertain future of defensive tackle Tommie Harris -- not to mention the Bears' need for another rush end -- it stands to reason the Bears will take at least one defensive linemen for the ninth time in 10 years under Angelo. (The Bears didn't take a DL in 2005.) Angelo called this group "very good" -- due in large part to all the underclassman that declared for the draft -- when he met with the local media on Friday.
The Bears also figure to check out the class of linebacker, since both Pisa Tinoisamoa and Nick Roach are free agents and veteran Hunter Hillenmeyer missed all of last year due to a concussion issue. Factor in Brian Urlacher's age and the expected loss of several key core special teams contributors and you could make the argument the Bears could use a few young linebackers who can run. Angelo, however, called the linebackers "not so good" when evaluating the draft earlier in the week.