Chicago Bears: New York Jets
A pending free agent and 10-year veteran, Moore has started 142 of 144 games for the Jets, and has logged 137 consecutive starts for the team. While age (32), could be seen as a negative, Moore is considered one of the NFL’s top free agents at his position.
Teams can begin negotiating with agents for pending free agents on Friday at 11 p.m. CST, but can’t make any official moves until the start of the new league year, which is Tuesday at 3 p.m., CST.
The name to watch is former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, who is high on the Jets' radar. Angelo had an impressive interview, sources said.
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After interviewing four candidates, the Jets have decided to expand their search for a new general manager. New York will interview three new candidates Thursday, including former Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo, according to league sources.
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In acquiring former sixth overall pick Vernon Gholston, the Bears looked beyond the bust label commonly associated with him.
Gholston’s five starts in three seasons, with no sacks, and a trio of healthy scratches over his career likely scared teams away once the NFL returned to the business of consummating transactions.
But not the Bears, who think there’s still a chance for Gholston to finally blossom.
“For us, we looked and we saw a talented player,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “A player that… there was a reason he was drafted high as he was by the Jets. Hey, divorce is a part of our lives. It happens sometimes for whatever reason. You just kind of move on. For us, he’s a talented athlete. We’re going to put him in a position where we think he’s going to have a little more success.”
It’s believed that Gholston’s disappointing career has been partly a result of coaching and position changes. Gholston played defensive end in a 4-3 scheme at Ohio State, and then moved to 3-4 outside linebacker with the New York Jets playing for Eric Mangini.
Gholston played linebacker in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 system when the coach took over the Jets in 2009, before moving back to defensive end in 2010, a position -- because of the scheme -- still a world apart from what he’d been used to in the Buckeyes’ 4-3 defense.
“He’ll have his hand down instead of [playing] a stand up end position [like in a 3-4],” Smith said. He’ll be in a three-point stance rushing the passer most of the time. We’re going to give him a shot. Everything has added up for us to give him that shot.”
Should Gholston succeed in revitalizing his career with the Bears, it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to the Jets, who released him in March, but insisted he was making strides. Ryan felt that Gholston’s circumstances stunted his growth somewhat.
But in Chicago, Gholston will work with Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, whom defensive tackles Anthony Adams and Marcus Harrison refer to as “a guru.” Physically, Gholston (6-3, 260 pounds) possesses the attributes to develop into a dangerous complement to Julius Peppers.
That’s what the Bears saw in looking to acquire him. But will Gholston ever live up to his high billing?
“I think Vernon still has the chance to have a productive NFL career,” Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum told ESPN.com at the NFL owners meetings back in March. “Obviously, he didn’t play to the level of the sixth pick in the draft, but he’s a great kid. His career is far from over.”
It’s now up to the Bears to jumpstart it.
Here are five things we learned following NFL Wild Card weekend.
1. Good fortune keeps smiling on Bears: Seattle is the ideal matchup for the Bears in the divisional playoffs. First of all, the Bears played a horrible game against the Seahawks back in Week 6, and should be eager to prove that regular season meeting was a fluke. How bad was that game for the Bears? The offense accounted for only one touchdown, Jay Cutler was sacked six times and fumbled once for a safety, Mike Martz called 12 runs -- three coming on the game's opening drive -- against 41 passes, the Bears defense didn't register a single sack or takeaway and they surrendered two long Seattle touchdown drives. Not to diminish the Seahawks' accomplishments -- they played an excellent and exciting game against New Orleans Saints on Saturday -- but they were 7-9 in the regular season and only made the playoffs because they reside in the awful NFC West. This year has shown us that anything and everything is possible in the NFL, so there's absolutely no guarantee the Bears are going to win. But if Martz calls a balanced and smart game, and the defense plays up to its usual standards, the Bears should advance to the NFC Championship game.
2. Bears vs. Packers is still alive: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 19-2 lifetime in the Georgia Dome, so it'll take another spectacular effort by Green Bay to knock off the Falcons next weekend. But can you imagine the excitement if both the Bears and Packers win in the divisional round, which would set up a Chicago (No. 2 seed) vs. Green Bay (No. 6 seed) NFC Championship game at Soldier Field? I'm not trying to jinx either team, but it would be the first playoff game between the two since Dec. 14, 1941, when the Bears won 33-14. The buildup for that game would rival that of a Super Bowl. First things first, the Bears still need to defeat the Seahawks and the Packers must eliminate the top-seeded Falcons. But a guy can dream, can't he?
4. Maybe Rex Ryan isn't so bad: Staying on the topic of coaching; one of the stranger themes to emerge in the wake of the Bears’ 38-34 win over the Jets on Dec. 26 was the notion Rex Ryan wasn't a good head coach. Really? I realize Ryan made a few questionable decisions that day at Soldier Field. He rolled the dice that Cutler would turn the ball over in the fourth quarter and ultimately give the game to the Jets. Cutler did not and the Bears squeezed out the victory. Plus, Ryan's penchant for creating off-the-field controversy also gets old, and with the exception of the Minnesota Vikings, no NFL team dealt with more drama in 2010 than the Jets. But who are we kidding; NFL coaches are ultimately judged on their win-loss records, especially in the postseason. Since Ryan arrived in New York, the Jets are 23-13 overall and 3-1 in the playoffs. All of those postseason victories, by the way, were on the road. In just two years at the helm, Ryan already has won more playoff games than Smith (2-2), who’s in his seventh season coaching the Bears. The Jets may not make the Super Bowl -- and probably will lose in New England next weekend -- but Ryan deserves credit for making the Jets a consistent winner and one of the tougher teams in the AFC.
5. Baltimore could challenge Pats: Bears fans know all about the talent level on the Ravens. In perhaps the lowest point of the Smith era, the Bears were slaughtered 31-7 by the Ravens last season, a game that featured Joe Flacco throwing four touchdowns and Cutler tossing three interceptions. Fast forward a little more than a year, and the Ravens look even tougher following their road win vs. Kansas City. Not only does Baltimore still boast veteran talent on defense -- Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs -- Flacco has plenty of weapons to chose from on offense. The regular-season numbers paint the Ravens offense as an average unit, but there is nothing average about Flacco, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin and Todd Heap. Throw in established veterans like Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Willis McGahee, and Baltimore has the potential to hang with anyone in the NFL. If Baltimore keeps playing at this level, they have a great shot to beat Pittsburgh next week, and perhaps challenge New England for the AFC Super Bowl berth.
Using the diagram above, let's take a closer look at the play and see how it defied the statistical analysis to this point in the season.
A) Cutler, under center, takes a straight dropback
Twenty-one quarterbacks entered Week 16 with at least 300 pass attempts on a straight dropback (snap taken under center without the use of play-action, rollout, bootleg, etc), and only the San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers averaged more yards per attempt than Jay Cutler's 7.7.
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears safety Chris Harris calls himself “Hit Man,” but perhaps he needs to find a way to jam in “takeaway” somewhere.
Harris’ recovery of a Holmes fumble in the first quarter led to the Bears’ first touchdown of the afternoon.
“[On] the first one (a fumble recovery), they ran a reverse, and we got it out. I was just running to the ball and Peanut [Charles Tillman] didn’t quite get it,” Harris said. “So I just wanted to make sure it didn’t go out of bounds.”
“It was one of those [games] where you don’t care how you get it done; you just have to get it done.”
Harris’ seven takeaways on the season rank as a career high. Harris has scored six takeaways in his last eight outings.
Mike Ditka can see the Chicago Bears' confidence growing and believes his former team will be tough to beat in the playoffs if they can secure home-field advantage.
The Bears' offense had no trouble against the Jets, NFL's fifth-ranked defense, in a 38-34 victory on Sunday at Soldier Field. With a victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the Bears can wrap up the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs which would mean a first-round bye followed by a home playoff game.
"You know what that old coach said: When you win you get confident, and right now I think they are getting confident," Ditka said Monday on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio. "They're winging it pretty good. [Jay] Cutler is not turning it over as much. I think people are finding out they are a little bit better at the receiver position than they thought they were. I think everybody thought they were kind of pedestrian guys, but they've got great speed, and they can find the holes pretty well.
"The team is a good football team. How good? I don't know how far they can go. They are going to be pretty formidable with home-field advantage."
The key, according to Ditka, is Cutler's ability to avoid mistakes.
"The kid's got a rifle, whether you like him or not," Ditka said of Cutler. "The only question I've ever had about Jay Cutler honestly is sometimes his body language. You're the leader of the football team at that position. You have to assume that leadership role in good days and bad times. ... But this guy has all the talent in the world, and I think everybody knew that. It's a matter of just containing yourself. Don't turn the football over, and if they don't do this it's going to be a hard football team to beat."
Listen to Mike Ditka on "Mike & Mike"
CHICAGO -- While pleased with the final results, Bears coach Lovie Smith expressed surprise about the teams combining for 72 points.
“Going into the game, I don’t think anyone would have predicted a game like that with two outstanding defenses,” Smith said. “You never know. Each game takes on its own personality. You just have to be ready to go. It’s what we’ve talked about. We talk about our offense coring more points than their offense of course, [and] our defense doing more than their defense. We just want to have one more point than them at the end.”
In addition to the 72 combined points, the teams posted 715 yards with the Bears averaging 6 yards per play on offense, and the Jets averaging 5.8.
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs pointed to a defensive stand in the fourth quarter that ended at the Chicago 16 as the difference maker. The Jets were forced to settle for a Nick Folk 34-yard field goal with 14:57 left in the game instead of a touchdown at the end of a 12-play drive spanning 51 yards.
“I think there were a lot of turning points in this game,” Briggs said. “One turning point was when we forced them to kick that field goal. When you think of a game like this between the Jets and the Bears, and then you look up and it’s 31-31… [It’s like], ‘Goodness.’”
What? You were surprised?
"I would have laughed if you'd have told me that beforehand," said the aforementioned defensive hero, Bears' safety Chris Harris.
Laughter sure beats the boos that fluttered down like the intermittent snow flurries over Soldier Field in Sunday's second quarter as the Jets pounded out 24 points to the Bears' 7 to erase a 10-0 deficit and take a 24-17 lead into halftime.
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"We couldn't stop a nosebleed then," Ryan said. "It would have been easy if it was just one guy's mistakes or whatever, but you have to give them credit. [Cutler] made some big plays against us. When Cutler is hot, he's as good as there is."
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CHICAGO -- Here are Five Things We Learned following the Bears' exciting 38-34 win over the New York Jets.
1. Bears always have the edge on special teams: The Bears knew the Jets would try something sneaky on special teams, so Dave Toub prepared his unit all week for a fake. When it happened, the Bears were ready, and Rashied Davis' play in the third quarter swung the momentum back in the Bears' favor. Toub also jacked up the pressure on New York by using Johnny Knox, Davis and Danieal Manning as up men on kickoff return with Devin Hester back deep. That formation left the Jets with few choices, so somebody dangerous usually ended up with the ball in his hands, and the Bears tended to benefit from good field position. Throw in a big Brad Maynard punt (49 yards) when the Bears really needed it, a Hester 38-yard punt return, a huge hit by Davis and Brian Iwuh, and it was another clutch day for special teams -- despite a rare miss by Robbie Gould on a field goal.
3. The Chris Harris trade was a wise one: I was worried about Harris after watching the veteran endure a shaky preseason, but 15 games into the regular season, my doubts are long gone. Harris is clutch, and now has three game-ending interceptions -- five total -- on the season, and continues to be a force supporting the run in the box. The safety led the Bears in tackles against the Jets -- 11, according to the official NFL stats distributed in the press box -- and also recovered a key fumble. It goes without saying Harris needs to stay on the field for every snap, but would it be smart to tack a few more years on his contract? Harris is only signed through 2011, and if Lovie Smith remains in Chicago, who would run this defense better than the "Hitman" from the safety position?
4. Matt Forte is getting stronger: That's now four times in the past six games Forte has eclipsed 90 yards rushing, and his 113-yard effort versus the Jets may go down as his finest performance of the season. New York, like the Bears, is known for its defense, but Forte muscled his way out of tackles almost the entire game. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield -- why was Jason Taylor covering Forte on that wheel route that almost resulted in a touchdown? -- adds an extra threat the Bears' offense. This has been a rough year for Chester Taylor, but I continue to maintain his mere presence alone has helped preserve Forte for much of 2010. You cannot overstate how important it will be for the Bears to run the ball effectively in the postseason. With Forte playing at this level, Bears fans probably feel pretty good about their chances.
5. Mark Sanchez is more than a game manager: The Bears probably didn't give Sanchez enough respect heading into the game. All week, the defense downplayed Sanchez's importance to the Jets' offense, but the Jets quarterback proved he was up to the task by throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown. Plus, Sanchez was extremely mobile and difficult to bring down -- the Bears had no sacks -- and also made relatively sound decisions with the football. Not bad for guy with a bad shoulder who was somewhat questionable to play earlier in the week.
Rashied Davis, the Bears' special teamer who broke the play up, wasn't impressed with the call by Jets coach Rex Ryan.Read the full story.
CHICAGO -- Lance Briggs isn't paid to coach, but perhaps the Chicago Bears should listen to their perennial Pro Bowl weak-side linebacker.
"Chris Harris, there's a reason why we brought him back. All he does is make plays. Really, he needs to be on the field full-time, all the time," Briggs said.
In a season full of good decisions, the Bears' instance to continue rotating safeties this late in the season is somewhat baffling. There is no doubt Major Wright -- if he stays healthy -- will one day be a very good NFL player. But with the playoffs approaching, the Bears would be better off keeping their two veterans -- Harris and Danieal Manning -- on the field for every snap.
It seems a little odd that Wright -- a rookie -- is able to avoid punishment despite making a slew of glaring mistakes the past few weeks, while other members of the Bears were sent to the bench by Lovie Smith for committing far less costly acts.
Besides, it's tough to argue Harris should ever be taken out of the game, especially since the safety recorded his team leading fifth interception of the year versus the Jets. Not only that, three of those picks have come at the end of games to seal important victories for the Bears (11-4).
"That goes up in my top plays as a Chicago Bear," Harris said of the game-clinching interception. "[Defensive coordinator] Rod Marinelli said he wanted everybody to have a career year this year, and this is definitely a career year for me. The most interceptions I've had in a career is three, so with five, I feel pretty good."