View from the Moon: Colonel of truth

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View from the Moon: Colonel of truth

Friday, Feb. 4, 2011Posted: 10:00 PM
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The selections for this years Hall of Fame class will be made and announced Saturday and an unofficial prediction is that Richard Dent will finally get some very overdue recognition from the Hall electors and officially join the games elites.

The Colonel doesnt need anyone to plead a case that he made more than eloquently in his career.

An amusing part of the 2010 Bears season was the observation that Julius Peppers sometimes was mistakenly perceived as going less than full-out because he made it look so easy. That was Dent, a so-called bad body who Walter Payton once said would take the wallet out of his back pocket by reaching over his left shoulder, but someone whose grace and fluidity masked excellence at the craft of pass rushing that few in his era and others grasped so completely.

Dent told me once that, yes, of course he had plays with less that max intensity; so did everyone who had half an NFL brain. The point was to know which ones were the ones on which to do that, and at the same time to use those as part of setting up an offensive lineman for future downs.

Dent has 137.5 career sacks and has been eligible for nine years, which means a bunch of disappointments. For one of the dominant players of his era, this Saturday should put an end to that.

As for the others who would comprise my Class of 2011 (and their principle team):

Willie Roaf, tackle, New Orleans Saints
The Bears opted for wideout Curtis Conway in 1993s first round instead. When the Saints scrimmaged in training camps against the Bears, pass rushers against Roaf bordered on the comical.

Dermontti Dawson, center, Pittsburgh Steelers
Olin Kreutz considers him the standard of the era. The best in a tradition of great Pittsburgh middlemen.
Deion Sanders, cornerback, Dallas Cowboys
The ultimate shutdown corner who coordinators and quarterbacks admitted made at least one-quarter of the field off-limits. Nine-time first-team All-Pro.

Charles Haley, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys
Five-time Super Bowl winner with San Francisco and Dallas, two-time NFC defensive player of the year. Overshadowed by an offense built around Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, Haley was the player Jimmy Johnson went after to put his Cowboys team over the hump, which Haley did.

The toughest calls are Cris Carter and Marshall Faulk. Carters 1,101 receptions are absolutely Hall-worthy, as are Faulks 19,154 career rushing yards. Both belong in the Hall of Fame, the only question being now or next year.

If Dent does not make the cut this time, it will be for one or both of these last two.

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.

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.