For Spencer, game vs. Seahawks is personal

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For Spencer, game vs. Seahawks is personal

Chris Spencer was the No. 1 draft choice of the Seattle Seahawks in 2005, coming in during the reign of Mike Holmgren. He became a starter the following year and the Seahawks won four NFC West division championships in his six years there, including 2010 under coach Pete Carroll.

The Seahawks thought enough of him to re-sign him in 2010. Then he abruptly found himself on the street at the end of this years lockout without what he considered as an explanation.

And it stung. Not even the two-year contract he signed with the Bears, worth potentially 6 million, makes that go away completely. So facing the Seahawks now has a little added to it.

I look at it as another game and obviously Im excited to play them because I was there for six years, Spencer said. The city of Seattle was good to me and the fans were good to me, so I have no ill will toward Seattle.

He cant say the same about Carroll and the organization.

Its unfortunate that I didnt get any explanation and you feel like you werent wanted because I didnt even get an offer, Spencer said Wednesday.

I knew I could play football. My thing is, if youre going one way, Im cool with that, but let me know which way youre going. Thats all I ask. If youre going this way, different direction, thats fine with me because I know this business and know how it is when new coaches come in.

If I dont fit with what youre looking for, just let me know what that is.

Carroll said Wednesday that the decision was to go young, and Spencer at age 29 apparently didnt fit as young.??

We knew we were going to make a commitment to go young up front, as we exemplified in the draft, Carroll said, alluding to Seattle investing its past two No. 1s in tackles Russell Okung and James Carpenter, now both on IR. So we just had to make those choices.

Big decision to be made as you transition into a new club. Chris is a great guy. We liked him and he played well for us and all that but we felt like we needed to move on and go younger and go with new guys, which weve shown you that weve done.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.