Chicago Bears

Lions likely to address 'D'


Lions likely to address 'D'

The Detroit Lions finally achieved some of the success seemingly predicted annually for them over the past couple of years. But the NFC North isnt standing still and the Lions wont stand still addressing needs.

Detroit should look at middle linebacker, cornerback and wide receiver, in that order, according to a breakdown by Not sure wideout would be at in the top three of most lists, given Nate Burleson and Titus Young supporting Calvin Johnson, but the number of drops by Burleson and Young were part of the thinking.

Teams dont typically go hard after middle linebackers in either the draft or free agency. The reason MLB is on the list is the uncertainty over Stephen Tulloch, a highly rated every down linebacker who is a free agent. But the Lions dont sound like they intend to let Tulloch walk without a contest.

Stephens a guy that fit our system very well, said defense-based Detroit coach Jim Schwartz. Hes young, hes tremendously durable, hes tremendously productive and I think he can be a big part of what were doing in Detroit. I think that our linebackers were much improved last year. We still have a lot of work to do on defense but guys like Justin Durant and Stephen Tulloch made a big difference on our defense.

Cornerback is always a concern in a division that has Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers and his corps. Chris Houston and Eric Wright didnt hurt the Lions terribly but neither is rated a top corner and PFF mentions Tim Jennings as a reasonably priced option, although that assumes the Bears wouldnt have him back at the right price, and theyve got more money to spend than do the Lions.

Unstated were any concerns over the age of left tackle Jeff Backus, turning 35, a fixture since he arrived in 2001, or center Dominic Raiola, who was selected a round after Backus. Offensive lineman can play well into their 30s but protecting Matthew Stafford is a franchise priority.

Why Ben Roethlisberger's perspective on young QBs (like Mitchell Trubisky) is worth keeping in mind

Why Ben Roethlisberger's perspective on young QBs (like Mitchell Trubisky) is worth keeping in mind

If Mitchell Trubisky takes over as the Bears’ starting quarterback this year and has some success, keep Ben Roethlisberger’s perspective in mind: It’ll take a couple of years before he’s solidly established in the NFL. 

Roethlisberger said even after his rookie year — in which he won all 13 regular season games he started — he still was facing defensive looks he hadn’t seen before in Year 2 and 3 as a pro. So saying someone is and will be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL after a productive first season is, for Roethlisberger, too early. 

“I think it takes a couple years,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s why I’m always slow to send too much praise or anoint the next great quarterback after Year 1. I think people in the media and the 'professionals' in some of these big sports networks are so quick to anoint the next great one or say that they’re going to be great; this, that and the other. Let’s wait and see what happens after two to three years; after defenses understand what you’re bringing; you’re not a surprise anymore. 

“I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks. In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

The flip side to this would be not panicking if Trubisky struggles when he eventually becomes the Bears’ starting quarterback. For all the success he had during preseason play, most of it came against backup and third string defenses that hadn’t done much gameplanning for him. Defensive coordinators inevitably will scheme to make things more difficult for a rookie quarterback with normal week of planning, and it may take Trubisky a little while to adjust to seeing things he hasn't before. 

“They’re not going to line up in a 4-3 or a 3-4 base defense, they’re going to throw different looks at you, different blitzes to try and confuse you,” Roethlisberger said. “The confusion between the ears part is really one of the biggest keys to it.”

The “it” Roethlisberger referred to there is success as a rookie. The former 11th overall pick was lucky enough to begin his NFL career with a strong ground game headlined by Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, a balanced receiving corps featuring Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randel El and a defense that led the NFL in points allowed (15.7/game). Trubisky, as the Bears’ roster currently stands, won’t be afforded that same level of support. 

Roethlisberger, though, had a chance to meet and work out with Trubisky before the draft (the two quarterbacks share the same agent) and, for what it's worth, came away impressed with 

“I thought he was a tremendous athlete,” Roethlisberger said. “I thought he could throw the ball. I thought when he got out of the pocket and made throws on the run, his improvising. I got to watch some of his college tape. Just really impressed with the athleticism. The ease of throwing the ball; it just looked easy to him when he was on the run, when it wasn’t supposed to be super easy. So I thought that those were the most impressive things that I got to see; obviously not sitting in a meeting room and knowing his smarts or things like that, but just the athleticism.”