Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
By John Mullin
Its official. The Bears confirmed to CSNChicago.com Friday that linebacker Brian Urlacher has passed Mike Singletary as the all-time leader in tackles with his performance in the 16-0 win over the Miami Dolphins. Urlacher needed 4 tackles to pass Samurai and was credited with 5 on the post-game stats sheet, with a few more usually turning up after coaches review of game tape.
Urlachers perspective? It means Lance Briggs is going to pass me in a couple years when I retire and he keeps playing, Urlacher said. Hes going to pass me. Records are meant to be broken. Its cool to have your name in the category; its in now with the guys whove played here and thats cool.
Not that they needed a whole lot of help from the Dolphins, but the Bears got little from some apparently brain-dead thinkers on the side of the Miami offense. Witness:
Miami quarterback Tyler Thigpen on why running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, whove each destroyed the Bears in the teams previous two meetings, carried just a combined six times: We were playing from behind the entire time.
Thigpen came back a little later to recount the Dolphins halftime discussions: We were one score down. When youre down 6-0youve got to be happy. But evidently not happy enough to learn the lesson the Bears have learned since the off week: that running does matter.
Thigpens coach Tony Sparano defended the no-run approach: Listen, I mean, we only ran 48 plays. So it isnt about running the football. OK, Tony, but you note that the Bears converted 10 of 17 third downs, something Mike Martz acknowledges both supports and is supported by running the ball and avoiding third-and-longs. So oh, never mind.
In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Friedell (ESPNChicago.com) and Danny Parkins (670 The Score) join David Kaplan on the panel.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Bears will not use the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery for the second straight year. Is that the right move? And what will Ryan Pace do with all of his team’s cap space?
The Bulls are winning but their new, young point guard doesn’t know his role. Will anything ever change with the Bulls?
That plus Scott Paddock drops by to recapping a thrilling Daytona 500 finish.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:
With the Bears holding the No. 3 pick of the upcoming draft, the obvious and automatic focus settles on Player A, B, D etc. "Best available" is an operating philosophy that routinely rules the moment.
But for the Bears and the 2017 draft, another overarching philosophical principle is in play. Specifically, what is the concept (for want of a better word) guiding what GM Ryan Pace is attempting to do?
Coach John Fox, as well as Pace, want a team founded on defense, running the football and ball security. They know the franchise need for a quarterback, but a team building on defense could reasonably be expected to weight their draft decisions toward that side of the football.
Meaning: A quarterback like Clemson's Deshaun Watson could alter the entire persona of the Bears and the Halas Hall building, but if the far-and-away best option at No. 3 is defense…?
What makes this draft and the Bears' operating concept intriguing is that the chances will be there potentially to build a true elite defense. Beginning at No. 3:
"I think [Alabama defensive lineman] Jonathan Allen is one of the two or three best players in this draft," said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock via conference call on Monday. "What I like about him is he dominates outside…but I think he's going to make his money on an inside pass rusher. Inside or outside, I think he's a special player."
Behind that – and last year's No. 1, Leonard Floyd, addressed the rush-linebacker spot – is the secondary, with both cornerback and safety among the strongest positions in the draft.
"This is a great corner class," Mayock said. "If you don't get one in the first round, you can come back in the second or third rounds and really help yourself."
The safety group is such that Mayock posited the prospect of two going in the Top 10, maybe Top 5.
Deciding on a "concept"
One former NFL personnel executive maintained that the salary cap all but precluded building offense and defense equally, so the need was to define an identity and build to that, within reason. Former Bears GM Jerry Angelo opted a concept that built both offense and defense equally, but with designated positions ticketed for more cap resources: quarterback, running back, one wideout, two O-linemen, one franchise pass rusher, etc. Not all 22 positions are created equal but creating offense and defense simultaneously was doable.
"It's really what a team is looking for," said Mayock, speaking both of player preferences but in a way that extended to picking players for a scheme. Or philosophy.
Different concepts, like diets, work if you execute them well.
The Bears reached Super Bowl XLI with a Top 5 defense and a mid-teen's offense. The Indianapolis Colts prevailed in that game with a No. 3 offense and a defense ranked in the low 20's in both yardage and points allowed.