Mullin: NFL's 'hidden season' in full swing

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Mullin: NFL's 'hidden season' in full swing

Thursday, March 31, 2011Posted: 12:30 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The NFL offseason may be in turmoil and the pre- and regular seasons may still be in for some heavy weather, but the NFLs hidden season is in full cycle as it always is this time of year.

Call it the hidden season because its the part of the NFL year that few normally see and even fewer really appreciate. Its sometimes convenient to dismiss players as only working 16 Sundays (plus the odd Monday or Thursday) a year but this is the time of year when players sometimes determine whether theyll actually have jobs on those 16 game days.

Gregg Rosenthal at ProFootballTalk.com mentions Matt Forte and Greg Olsen getting their work in at Bommarito Performance Systems in Miami along with a number of other NFLers. Olsen checks in with Twitter reports as well (@gregolsen82).

The lockout is contributing to a long-standing offseason tradition among NFL players, and not just Bears players. And it wasnt always just offseason.

The current strength and conditioning staff and facilities are substantially improved at the Halas Hall that Michael McCaskey and the organization designed and opened in 1997. But a number of players, more now with Halas closed to them pending the April 6 hearing on an injunction to end the lockout, are doing their work at a number of facilities around the area and around the country.

Friends working out at Poliquin Performance Center in Northfield share machines with Robbie Gould (Man, Robbie Gould is strong! was one observation this morning), Roberto Garza (People have no idea how huge and strong these guys really are was another report) and others are spending workout time at EFT Sports Performance and TCBOOST in Northbrook and other facilities specializing in high-intensity trainings.

Theres a funny historical aside to all this, however.

Players have always used these facilities for offseason and sometimes in-season extra work. Its less the case now but players at one time were so unhappy with some of the strength and fitness directives coming from a (now-gone) strength coach that they covertly went to private trainers and facilities while at the same time complying with what the team was requiring. And they were adamant: Keep it a secret.

Thats changed in recent years with Rusty Jones, the director of physical development, athletic trainer Tim Bream and some very sophisticated technologies for rehab as well as basic programs.

And now they at least dont have to keep it a secret.

BASEBALL ALERT!

Michael Jordan once briefly left a promising basketball career for a fling at baseball. Now Matt Forte?

Forte tweeted this morning (@MattForte22), think Im gonna play pro baseball. Come to the Sox game on April 9 to catch my debut.

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.

Want to be in on Bears QB deliberations? 'Look at the film'

Want to be in on Bears QB deliberations? 'Look at the film'

Back in 1992 the Dallas Cowboys were in draft deliberations around the No. 17 spot of the first round, looking for upgrades on defense. A scout made a suggestion that they target Ohio State defensive end Alonzo Spellman, one of the most physically imposing (6-4, 280 pounds) players and best athletes in that draft.
 
Coach Jimmy Johnson responded, "Tell me about the production."
 
Came back the answer: Three years at OSU, nine total sacks.
 
"Oh, please!" Johnson scoffed, calling in cornerback Kevin Smith and leaving Spellman to the Bears at No. 22. Spellman had several respectable seasons but never more than 8.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons.
 
As investment advisers counsel, past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future results. But past performance can be, and an axiom in NFL personnel rooms is, look at the film.
 
CSNChicago.com is doing that as the NFL Scouting Combine approaches (Feb. 29) along with free agency and the start of the league year and its trading window. It becomes an increasingly relevant exercise to look at the intricacies behind some of the key players and positions the Bears will be addressing through the upcoming weeks. CSNChicago.com previously looked at the need to evaluate quarterbacks from the intangible standpoints first, then the measurables.
 
Using Jay Cutler as an object lesson for how immense physical skills have questionable correlations to immense NFL performance, a look at one aspect of quarterback "film" warrants more attention than the measurables that command a disproportionate share of attention and scrutiny.
 
Ball security.
 
It has been Cutler's single biggest issue through his eight Bears seasons, was a reason why coaches once wanted to stay with Josh McCown instead of returning to Cutler following a Cutler injury absence, and why Brian Hoyer played his way into prominence in the discussion of 2017 Bears plans. Adam Gase went from offensive coordinator to hottest head-coach prospect in no small measure because he managed Cutler into better ball security.

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But the point here is less Cutler – expected to be traded or released within the near future – than the level of ball security in the available options beyond Hoyer.
 
So, look at the film:
 
The widespread drooling over a possible trade with New England for Jimmy Garoppolo. The best thing in Garoppolo's favor is that he has been a Patriots backup to Tom Brady. Garoppolo, drawing distant comparisons to a Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and other past experience-lite quarterback options, has thrown 94 NFL passes without an interception, which is impressive until matched against Hoyer's 200 last season without an interception, for comparison purposes.
 
But evaluating Garoppolo against the coming chief draft competition – DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson – suggests comparing apples to apples, meaning college ball security, since that's all the kids have to this point.
 
Garoppolo vaulted up draft boards (to New England's second round) on the strength of an Eastern Illinois senior season with 53 touchdown passes vs. nine interceptions, against chiefly FCS opposition. But in his first three seasons Garoppolo threw for 65 touchdowns and was intercepted 42 times.
 
Kizer? In his two Notre Dame seasons, 47 touchdowns, 19 interceptions.
 
Trubisky? 30 touchdowns last season, six interceptions. Including his two years as a North Carolina backup, 41 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
 
Watson? 90 touchdowns, 32 interceptions in three Clemson seasons, the last two as Tigers starter.
 
Observations:
 
Garoppolo put in four college seasons, but has a little of the Trubisky/Flynn/Cassel, one-year-wonder feel. 
 
Kizer and Watson have more starting seasons, but the Watson intangible of getting his team to two national-championship games speaks to another level of "intangible."
 
GM Ryan Pace will incorporate heavy input from coach John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. Coaches love ball security. Garoppolo? Watson? Trubisky? Kizer?
 
Look at the film.

BearsTalk Podcast: The risk and reward for Bears in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo

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USA TODAY

BearsTalk Podcast: The risk and reward for Bears in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo

In this edition of the BearsTalk podcast, CSN's Chris Boden, Sun-Times Bears beat writer Patrick Finley, and CSNChicago.com's Scott Krinch discuss the Bears' approach to the two-week window opening to franchise-tag Alshon Jeffery again, the risk/reward in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or drafting a QB (and how high to draft one), Scott's 2.0 mock draft, plus the workers' compensation controversy the team found itself in last week and the club's decision to raise ticket prices.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: