New Coaching Options for 2010 Bears

New Coaching Options for 2010 Bears

Sunday, November 29th

I am trying folks! Like I stated in an earlier Blog "I'm a glass is half full kind a guy", but it is becoming more and moredifficult drawing positives during a Bears season spiraling out of control. Here's one, "There's always next year"! But I've got one better, there are a lot of good Offensive Coordinators, QB coaches, and even some 'A' lister head coachesavailable this off season if the Bears decide to make some changes.Clearly, the dollars investedin Jay Cutler dictatethat he is the QB of the future. The front office of the Bears now has to build around him and it may start with a new play caller. Here are some early thoughts on who may be available:The 'A' listers we know about. Mike Shannahan, Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden to name a few. They are only coming if they get full power and the Bears organization decides to make a change at the Head Coaching position. Otherwise, forget it.

Offensive CoordinatorsCharlie Weis - Maybe this hits too close to home because of hisfailures at Notre Dame as the head man, but Charlie was one of the better play callers I have ever been around. He is very demanding, detailed, and expects perfection from all offensive personnel. He can be tough to handle as a QB, thus, the Bears would need to hire an excellent QB coach to be a buffer betweenCharlie and Jay. Super Bowl victories are under his belt.Chan Gailey - Former Chiefs OC, Head Coach at Georgia Tech, Head Coach of Dallas Cowboys, Steelers and Denver OC. Chan is an excellent teacher and can bring along young QB's. He coached me in Pittsburgh and I thought he made the game easy how he broke it down. Chan stresses situational play from the QB spot.He worked miracles in Kansas City last year whenhe switched to a "Pistol" offense midseason whenTyler Thigpen became their starting QB. Tyler had never started an NFL game. Look up Tyler's numbers, and how KC performed offensively when he started to play, they are impressive. Super Bowl appearances and victories are under his belt as well.Mike Martz - I thought the Bears want to get off the bus running! I do like Martz'sfast break style and his offense has won Super Bowls as well. The Bears will need to run the football just due to weather concerns late in the year and it is not a priority for Martz. He is another demanding offensive coach, but his stops other places suggest Mike does not work well with others. He's clashed with front office personnel along with his fellow coaches on all his stops.Up andComersDarrel Bevel (Minnesota OC) - That's right! Steal from your enemy the Minnesota Vikings. Darrel has done a nice job with Farve and Tavarus Jackson incorporating what they do well and what to avoid. Also, think of the impact their rookies have made up in Minnesota and how other playmakers have emerged. PercyHarvin and Sydney Rice may both make thePro Bowl. Bevel is aMidwest guy as heplayed QB at Wisconsin and hascoached for Green Bay (QB coach), and now OC Minnesota the last two years. Kyle Shannahan (Houston OC) - This guy is awesome! They have no running game to speak of down in Houston, but Matt Shaub is lighting it up. He has brought the young Shaub along intoa top 10 NFL QB (numbers are sick!)and obviously his ties to Mike Shannahan would go over "Big Time" with Jay. It would be the same offense Jay ran in Denver. Jeremy Bates (OC USC) - This dudes a grinder! He learned underJon Gruden. Jeremy was Jay's OC last year out in Denver. They have a great relationship and Jeremy also brings the offense Jay knows best. Kyle and Darrel would require a new title other than just OC because the NFL does not allow lateral moves.Most teams get around this loophole withtagging a new coach as"Consultant" or "Assistant Head Coach".Is your glass half full yet or did you just slam itto drown your 2009 sorrows?

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.

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

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The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."