Moon: A new idea to end the CBA stalemate

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Moon: A new idea to end the CBA stalemate

Thursday, Feb. 17, 20111:45 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Untying the Gordian knot of the NFLs collective bargaining agreement has been and will continue to be difficult. A proposed solution from Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com might offer at least a new tack to take in the direction that the NFL players want to go but without sacrificing core confidentiality that owners require.

Mikes idea on the disclosure of financial information, using an independent accounting firm acting in strict confidence, is along a line that should work for the owners, if they indeed want to reach an agreement with a group comprised of their de facto business partners.

The league in the past has used what was called an independent verifier for contract proposals. Team negotiators and agents could verify the accuracy of claims that a particular contract proposal had been put forward. Players are saying that they will work with the numbers proposed by ownership but would like books opened as a way of verifying the level of need the owners are claiming.

Applying that sort of mechanism here might clear one big hurdle in a mess that seems to have shrinking chances of clearing up as time goes along.

NFL Networks Rich Eisen visited with Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show and tossed around with Dan an overhaul that would expand the number of regular-season games as well as playoff teams. The net would be an increase of meaningful (i.e. not preseason) television weeks from 21 now (17 regular season, three conference playoffs, Super Bowl) to 23.

Sold, Rich said. Good thought.
Market-setting

The Green Bay Packers are finishing up the details of a three-year contract extension for coach Mike McCarthy, a deal that expected to pay McCarthy 5 million per season and likely to cap the pay grade for Lovie Smith.

Bob McGinn reports in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal that McCarthys current contract runs through 2012 and the new deal signs him through 2015.

There are coaches with bigger paychecks but not many, and as we have been noting for some time, the market is dipping for head-coach salaries as teams follow the course the Pittsburgh Steelers did with Mike Tomlin with great success. First-time coaches at more modest prices have been as or more successful than bigger-ticket field bosses like Mike Shanahan.

The Washington Redskins needed to wave 7 million in front of Shanahan but he listed two Super Bowl wins on his resume. The San Francisco 49ers did give first-timer Jim Harbaugh 5 million per season but insiders said ownership effectively told the front office that Harbaugh was the pick, leaving little room for negotiation.

The expectation remains that the Bears will at least offer Smith an extension at his current rate of about 5 million. Two additional years in this market should be good enough for Smith, who did not win his Super Bowl, whereas McCarthy did.

McCarthys new contract will place him in the top 10 of NFL coach salaries. Smith already is there.
Duly noted

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is of the mind that the successes of mobile quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, on top of a solid, sustained career run by Donovan McNabb (add 2010s Jay Cutler to that discussion), will weigh heavily in favor of Auburns Cam Newton. The more of these mobile quarterbacks that succeed in the NFL, McShay said Wednesday, the more teams will be willing to look outside the usual parameters."

Bears tight end Brandon Manumaleuna will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee this offseason, the Chicago Tribune reports. Manumaleuna had a similar procedure last offseason and missed considerable training camp time. Sources told CSNChicago.com that Manumaleuna was regularly fined for being overweight during last season and it may be interesting to see if he downsizes to add quickness as well as take stress off his knees.

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.

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

From the high ground of hindsight, what unfolded in the Metrodome that day in 1995 was actually quite a big deal. But not for reasons that you could have really understood at the time watching the Bears stun the Minnesota Vikings 35-18 in the wild card round of the 1994 playoffs.

It was not so much the game alone. It was the overall context of the time for the Bears, before and after.

Though the 1995 season would get off to a 6-2 start for the Bears before their near-historic collapse, the Minnesota game would prove to be the high-water mark for the coaching tenure of Dave Wannstedt. This was the postseason, and the Bears looked to be going where then-president Mike McCaskey envisioned when he made the play to beat the New York Giants in securing Wannstedt, who was unquestionably the hot coaching prospect coming out of the Dallas Super Bowl pantheon after the 1992 season.

To fully grasp the situation, you need to understand the undercurrent of venom that had developed between the Bears and Vikings. Bears-Packers might have been the glitzy rivalry, but what had grown between the Bears and Vikings was true hostility, with little of the respect that the Bears and Packers had managed. The Vikings carried grudges for Pro Bowl slights going back almost to the Bears' Super Bowl win. One Bears defensive lineman remarked that his most hated opponent was Minnesota right tackle Tim Irwin, adding, "He's a guy that, if I ran over him with a car, I'd back up over him to make sure I got him." Dwayne Rudd's backpedaling taunt after an interception came a couple years later, but you get the idea.

What's easily forgotten looking back through the mists of time was the epic decision made by Wannstedt to make a quarterback change, from a quarterback he wanted in free agency to one he knew well from their time together at the University of Miami. That was every bit the turning point of the season and the real reason the playoff trip and win ever happened.

The Bears had been annihilated in their first game against the Vikings in the 1994 season — 42-14 — and something was really, really wrong, which become glaringly more evident just a few weeks later, even though the Bears were reaching a 4-2 mark under quarterback Erik Kramer, the centerpiece of an aggressive offseason foray into free agency. But the Bears then lost — badly — to the Lions and Packers, with Kramer throwing three interceptions against Detroit and two against Green Bay, the latter in only 10 pass attempts.

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I talked privately to Kramer after the Green Bay game, specifically about why it was that he was playing his absolute worst against Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota, all teams with which he was intimately familiar. My thought: You know those defenses and where their people are going to be.

Kramer shook his head: "The 'other guys' I know. It's my own guys. I don't know where they're supposed to be."

It wasn't a comment on his receivers whatsoever. It was Kramer admitting bluntly that he was not getting the West Coast scheme of coordinator Ron Turner and its timing element.

Wannstedt knew it wasn't working and made the change to Steve Walsh, who'd been the Hurricanes' quarterback under Jimmy Johnson when Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator.

That was the tipping point, and Walsh and Wannstedt are among the principals of "Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon," airing on Monday at 8 p.m. on CSN.

Anyone with any time spent in or around the NFL knows that beating a team three times in a season is incredibly difficult. The Bears had been blown out in the first Minnesota game but had pushed the Vikings to overtime in the second and would have won had Kevin Butler not missed a 40-yard field goal try.

The playoff meeting was No. 3, and after the Vikings put up a field goal in the first quarter, the Bears scored with a Lewis Tillman touchdown in the second and just pulled steadily away from the winner of the only NFL division that produced four teams with winning records.

From there it would be another decade-plus — 2006 season — before the Bears would win a playoff game.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

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What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.