Thoughts on Dennison, Trestman and why no Lovie?

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Thoughts on Dennison, Trestman and why no Lovie?

Keyshawn Johnson nailed a big spike squarely on the head during ESPNs Sunday NFL Countdown when he voiced some exasperation at the seeming lack of play Lovie Smith is getting for head-coaching jobs.

Johnson was a little more understanding of the firing than Mike Ditka was but he scoffed at the NFLs lemming tendencies are head-shaking when you see the rush toward virtually any coach who has ever used the word offense in a complete sentence.

The Bears have IDd nine candidates, of which seven are offensive coaches and the other two from special teams. There has been some NFL fascination with Chip Kelly because of the Oregon coachs offensive pyrotechnics.

The most balanced Bears candidate at this point is Rick Dennison. As first reported by ESPN, the Bears asked for and received permission to interview the Houston Texans offensive coordinator, who also happens to have coached special teams and played linebacker for nine seasons with the Denver Broncos.

Smith interviewed for the Buffalo job but the Bills instead scrambled to hire Syracuses Doug Marrone, 48, whod won a bowl game this season and gotten the Orangemens program turned around in four years. He also has been an offensive coordinator with New Orleans and O-line coach with the Jets.

Scrambled is the apt term, because the Bills jumped to Marrone after Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was on hold while he interviewed elsewhere, including Chicago.

Bruce Arians

You wonder if Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians being hospitalized with flu and being unable to coach in the Colts playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens will hurt his stock. It shouldnt, but anyone whos ever applied for a job knows that you dont want to call in sick for the interview, and the Colts game with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck against Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata is resume moment for Arians.

Marc Trestman

If the name of candidate Marc Trestman sounds familiar, its because Trestman was on a short list of candidates for Bears offensive coordinator in 2001 when the Bears needed a replacement for Gary Crowton. The problem, for Trestman and Chris Palmer, another leading option, was that Dick Jauron was viewed as on a one-year leash after two losing seasons and prospects wanted a multi-year contract for security in case Jauron was fired.

The Bears werent willing to go three years and instead went with promoting John Shoop. Trestman went on to Oakland and eventually to the Montreal Alouettes but Phil Emery was a Bears scout at the time that Trestman was under consideration.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.