Lovie: Business as usual for veteran Bears

Lovie: Business as usual for veteran Bears

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted: 3:45 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Right now the NFL players are locked out of their football homes. For the Bears, nothing is really all that different.

And yet everything feels different. The NFL may ultimately be a business but on another level its very, very personal, including relationships with coaches.

Theyre like family, said defensive tackle Anthony Adams. Its separating your family... Its a shame that we have to go through something like this, something that couldve been resolved two, two-and-a-half years ago.

Offseason workouts would only have begun last week, and one player told CSNChicago.com that one start date for the offseason program actually was to have been April 11. Regardless, the first two weeks are devoted to lifting weights and running, which is what players are doing anyway at myriad facilities around Chicago and elsewhere on the States.

READ: Re-signing Adams a high priority for Bears

But while its fun, Adams said Tuesday before receiving the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, its just not the same.

Professional athletes are creatures of routine and its awkward for us because were used to being on a set structure, Adams said. Its different but were all professionals and have to handle ourselves as such.

Unlike a number of teams, the Bears have a coaching staff virtually intact and players vested in its systems, for the most part. The Bears do not have the difficulties that will beset Carolina, Denver, San Francisco and other teams with new head coaches waiting to install new systems with a roster that is in a molten state because of a vast group of free agents and a prohibition against signing and bringing in draft choices and other rookies.

The lockout is hurting some of the teams that are just getting started but we have a veteran staff, a veteran team, and its not like we have to be out telling the guys what they need to be doing, said coach Lovie Smith. They know that we eventually have a season and you have to be ready to go once were told to go back to work.

The lawsuit to end the lockout and its expected appeal by the losing side is expected to take weeks to play out. Veteran players who have put in the work to stay in the NFL to this point arent waiting for any court decisions.

Ive been in the league for a while and I understand how hard I have to work, what I need to do, what works for me and what doesnt, Adams said. By me being a veteran, being 30 years young, I understand the rigorous amount of work youve got to do.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.