Mullin: A change in draft philosophy?


Mullin: A change in draft philosophy?

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Posted: 10:01 p.m.
By John Mullin

Offensive line is one of the four positions being targeted by the Bears in the 2011 draft, and their current offensive line is anything but settled.

But a clear sense of direction is apparent. It has been taking shape over the past couple of seasons. And it will be the driving factor behind the name the Bears choose, presumably in the first or second round, next weekend.

We want to go bigger for that because weve got bigger people in our division that were playing against, Pro Bowl type players, said general manager Jerry Angelo. In fact theres three, referring without naming them to defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh in Detroit, Kevin Williams in Minnesota and B.J. Raji, a Pro Bowl alternate for Green Bay.

So that is something were mindful of. So were not really looking at that guardcenter type of player. Its not that we would pass up a player that we felt was a really good player. Were not going to miss the forest for the trees. Were still going to evaluate the quality of the player. But if everything is even, bigger is the way we would go.

What that means is that there will be no Josh Beekman drafted this years by the Bears. Nor an Olin Kreutz for that matter, were he in the draft pool.

Angelo said as many as seven tackles could come off the board in the first round. But if one comes to Chicago, it may not necessarily be a tackle.

The last couple of years with, obviously a lot of talking with our coaches, weve kind of shifted in that we want bigger people, Angelo said. So were looking for tackles that can play guards rather than guards who can play center.

So theres a little bit of a shift in our thinking that way philosophically. I know coach Mike Tice, coach Mike Martz want bigger people. Staffs weve had before, they werent as committed to that thinking. But theres a little bit more of a shift. So when we look at offensive linemen, wed like to think that the tackleguards can be interchangeable.

That has implications for a number of draft possibles.

Consensus opinions have Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo and Gabe Carimi gone before the Bears pick at No. 29. Mike Pouncey was that centerguard player at Florida, is listed in the 305-310-pound range and is not considered a tackle in most evaluations.

Angelo was complimentary of Mississippi States Derek Sherrod, a character player at 6-5, 321, and who has played guard and tackle. Colorado tackle Nate Solder is not expected to be available at No. 29 but is rated a tackle talent who projects as a starter for the Bears and would send Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale inside competing for a guard job.
Thinking wide

One offseason objective for the Bears was to add to a receiver corps that the organization considers solid and has proved to be such but could use someone taller than 6 feet now that Devin Aromashodu is out. That addition could still be made in the form of Braylon Edwards or Roy Williams once a free-agency signing period arrives but it is not a priority in the draft.

Yeah, were looking at the position. Wed like to get the big receiver like everybody, Angelo said. So much has been made about the No. 1 receiver. But its hard to find a No. 1 receiver.

Weve looked at the position hard this year. I dont anticipate that we, collectively as a group, see anybody thats going to fit that definition. But we do like the drafts receiver group given how they complement what we have. We looked at it in depth. Its not a great group, but there are some players there that we like that we feel can come in and help us...

I just dont want to overrate the position. We certainly like our receiver corps. We certainly want to build on it. But thats not the end-all.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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.

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

Some decisions have ways of simply making themselves. Decisions like, say, who will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Regrettably, one aspect of that decision was made for the Bears when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken left arm in the second quarter of Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. At that moment the Hoyer-or-Cutler question was rendered moot. As FOX’s Jay Glazer had reported, the No. 1 job was Hoyer’s to lose, and the injury unfortunately took care of that. Coaches never had to make that decision.

This is clearly not the way Cutler would like to have been returned to his job. No player is pleased to have an opportunity made possible by a catastrophic injury to a teammate.

Bigger picture: The 2016 season was always a prove-it year for Jay Cutler, more so than even last year because of guaranteed money, which is now gone. The rest of the 2016 now becomes a condensed prove-it crucible, where Cutler is playing for his job in Chicago or his next team. His price for 2017 ($15 million) is modest by starter standards, but so is his resume.

Without a strong final nine games, assuming his injured thumb is sufficiently recovered after nearly six weeks off, Cutler may find himself as next offseason’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, sort-of wanted by a team but for money nowhere close to the value he and his agent had in mind.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The play of rookies Dak Presott in Dallas and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia will reinforce the message that you can start and win with a rookie right away, which projects to depress any Cutler market. Why pay a marginal veteran, which Cutler has been and certainly is at this point and age (34 next April), when a rookie can be had at a fraction of the cost?

Without a massive contract renegotiation, a scenario of Cutler staying on as a bridge to a young successor is beyond a longshot. Hoyer, far more likely to fit that role, and his price will not approach Cutler’s.

Cutler now has his second chance. Whether he likes it or not, it’s an audition.

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — It was a bright spot, a small one on an otherwise dismal night of losing to the Green Bay Packers. But it was at least something.

After struggling for months to stay healthy and gain NFL weight, Leonard Floyd finally played like the ninth-overall pick of an NFL draft.

The rookie outside linebacker collected a sack in the first half, then exploded past Green Bay right tackle Brian Bulaga as part of stunt with fellow linebacker Willie Young on the third play of the second quarter for a second sack of Aaron Rodgers, one that came with a strip of the football and recovery in the end zone.

"We had a great play called,” Floyd said. “Willie came down and picked the guard for me and I looped around and the play was done and I made it. It felt great [to get a touchdown], but at the end of the day I wanted a win."

That was one of the very few bright spots as the Packers piled up 311 yards through three quarters, at times using wide receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery as running backs because of injuries. The drumbeat continued with touchdowns on three straight Green Bay possessions in the late third and early fourth quarters.

The defense has allowed 23 or more points in five of seven games this season, with the Packers rolling off consecutive touchdown drives of 85, 84 and 57 in the second half as the Bears were limited to 2:49 time of possession in the fourth quarter.

“It helps when you’re playing [defense], to actually have a little bit of a break,” head coach John Fox said. “Unfortunately in the second half, I think that probably caught up with us a little bit.”

The defense had its fullest complement of personnel yet this season, with outside linebackers Floyd and Pernell McPhee both active (McPhee for the first time this year following offseason knee surgery), in addition to starting cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Tracy Porter, both of whom were injured during the Jacksonville game. It was not enough.

[BEARS GRADES: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers]

Defensive line: F

The interior of the line was quiet for most of the game, with wide receivers lining up as running backs averaged more than five yards per carry. Cornelius Washington had the only hit by a defensive lineman on Rodgers as the line rarely collapsed the pocket with center-push or even kept him in the pocket.

Linebacker: B-

Floyd started after two games inactive and a zero stat sheet vs. Detroit. He struggled too often getting disengaged from Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari at the outset before breaking through with second effort for his first career solo sack. That was topped by the strip-sack and recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter. Floyd had a third hit on Rodgers and a tackle for loss.

"It is very tough,” Floyd said. “He gets the ball out pretty quickly. You just have to keep rushing every snap. He is at his best when he is scrambling around playing backyard football."

McPhee was a welcome addition to a slumping defense, even in his limited capacity (19 snaps). McPhee was not credited with any tackles but was surprisingly fast off the ball initially, and got penetration to alter running lanes and some pressure on Rodgers, although he appeared to slow somewhat, not unexpected considering how limited he has been throughout the year because of the surgery.

Sam Acho provided some edge pressure with two hits on Rodgers and a pass deflected. Jerrell Freeman had a quarterback hit and delivered a game-high 13 tackles.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Secondary: D

The secondary was forced to cover long into plays because of absent pressure on Rodgers but the coverage had its own problems with an offense that threw 56 times but was never intercepted. Three Green Bay receivers totaled double-digit receptions: Davante Adams (13), Cobb (11) and Montgomery (10).

Cre’Von LeBlanc started at corner as the Bears opened with six defensive backs, and delivered a goal-line stop in the first quarter, stuffing Montgomery, who was used as a running back because of injuries to the Green Bay backfield. LeBlanc finished with seven tackles and a hit blitzing Rodgers.

Porter matched up with Jordy Nelson and allowed the Green Bay wideout just one catch on four targets through three quarters. But breakdowns were deadly, allowing the Packers to stage their two longest scoring drives of the season in the second half. The second came when Porter and safety Harold Jones-Quartey both covered the same man in the end zone early in the fourth quarter, leaving Adams alone for his second TD catch of the game.

Adrian Amos interfered with Nelson to give the Packers a 44-yard penalty pickup in the first quarter. De’Vante Bausby had a number of solid plays despite a lack of meaningful pressure from the front. But Bausby had two holding penalties on the Packers’ second fourth-quarter scoring drive.

"There were a lot of penalties out there.,” Bausby said. “We had a good scheme and plan, but we just didn't finish in the second half as a group. Facing Rodgers is a challenge, but I felt like our play calling was excellent. We just didn't finish."

Special teams: B

Connor Barth converted from 39 yards to tie the game in the second quarter. It was Barth’s seventh in his last eight attempts. Pat O’Donnell turned in another strong night punting, averaging 43.8 net on five punts. Coverage helped keep three of those inside the 20.