Bears

10 observations from Week 2 in the NFL

1. Mike Martz is Jay Cutler’s savior. Through two weeks he has looked like the best quarterback in the league. If you’re not buying into the hype, consider this stat from ProFootballFocus.com: when Cutler was blitzed on Sunday, he completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 198 yards and three touchdowns. That’s efficiency that you will rarely see against one of the more talented defenses in the league.

2. What’s up with all these quarterbacks being benched? If you’re sitting a guy midway through the second game of the season maybe you shouldn’t have started him in the first place. If your team has already made a quarterback switch before fall is officially here, you have every reason to panic.

3. At this rate, I don’t see how Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will survive the season in Cleveland. In each of their first two games the Browns offense has come out of the gate with reasonable success, only to be completely shut down in the 2nd half. It’s as if the Browns just go to the locker room and hang out at halftime while the other team adjusts.

4. Another issue with the Browns offense… how can you not get the ball in the hands of your playmakers? They had Jerome Harrison, Josh Cribbs and Seneca Wallace on the field at the same time for most of the game, and yet they failed to even fake any trick plays. They could have created some nightmare matches for the Chiefs defense with just a little creativity.

5. Derek Anderson did not look good on Sunday, but his offensive line didn’t do him any favors. The Cardinals offensive line allowed two sacks, six hits and 18 pressures! And they only dropped back to pass 33 times! And please, for the sake of Kurt Warner, don’t think that this offensive line got worse since last year. Warner was simply brilliant at avoiding pressure and getting rid of the football.

6. I’m excited to see Jimmy Clausen’s debut on Sunday, but I’m afraid it won’t be pretty. He faces two tough secondaries in each of his first two games – vs Cincinnati, at New Orleans. The Panthers might as well wave the white flag. They’re locked in a battle with the Browns and Bills for the No. 1 pick.

7. The Vikings have every reason to panic. They should add one in the win column this weekend against the Lions, but after that it’s at the Jets, home against the Cowboys, then at Green Bay and at New England. They could lose all four of those games. And they will if Brett Favre doesn’t stop playing like Sage Rosenfels. The Vikings could have gotten this performance for a lot less money if he had stayed retired.

8. The Steelers may be emerging as a favorite in the AFC. They’re 2-0 (two good wins, mind you) while essentially playing without a quarterback. As soon as Roethlisberger returns, this team will be very, very hard to beat.

9. Green Bay’s defense looked absolutely dominant on Sunday (with plenty of help from Trent Edwards). But here’s a fun stat for you courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com – the Bills didn’t target Charles Woodson once the entire game. Not a single pass thrown his direction. Now that’s respect.

10. And I’ll conclude with this… I hope someone in the NFL public relations department is paying close attention to the amount of media coverage being given today to Braylon Edwards and Kenny McKinley. The fact that most media outlets are spending more time talking about Edwards’ DWI and how the Jets will react, than to McKinley’s death is sad.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Packers, Panthers, Steelers, Vikings Comments Off

NFL players on the trade market: where might they land?

BOURBONNAIS, IL - JULY 30: Greg Olsen  of the Chicago Bears runs past Zack Bowman  after catching a pass during a summer training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 30, 2010 in Bourbonnais, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Olsen may be done in Chicago

Greg Olsen
Mike Martz tried to embrace Olsen, essentially a wide receiver in a tight end’s body, but Martz just doesn’t have use for those guys in his system. As a result, he’s reportedly on the trade market. Here are a few teams that could use his services:
1. Panthers – Jeff King is an adequate starter, but offers very little as a receiver. Matt More would welcome the addition of another weapon in the passing game.
2. Chiefs – Leonard Pope and Tony Moeaki have battled for the starting job. Pope has been a disappointment throughout his career. Moeaki, a rookie, has plenty of upside but also has a long injury history. Olsen would provide some stability at the position.
3. Bills – With Shawn Nelson suspended four games, the Bills don’t really have any options at tight end for a quarter of their season. Olsen would provide some immediate help and potentially push Nelson for the starting job once he returns.

Vincent Jackson
1. Rams – This could be a golden opportunity for the Rams to add a true No. 1 receiver for Sam Bradford to work with. He would immediately improve one of the worst receiving corps in the league.
2. Browns – Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was unable to get his passing game to do much of anything last year – in part due to inept quarerbacks, in part due to inept receivers. Jackson would immediately become the best receiver in the AFC North and upgrade what might be the league’s worst passing offense.
3. Seahawks – Pete Carroll and staff are building the Seahawks in an effort to win immediately and the addition of Jackson would be an obvious step in that direction. However, they already have a decent amount of money wrapped up in the position (Branch, Houshmandzadeh).

Matt Leinart
We devoted a full post to Leinart’s possible destinations. Check it out here.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Panthers, Rams, Seahawks Comments Off

Potential landing spots for Matt Leinart

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart stretches during warmups before a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on August 28, 2010.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

It sounds like Leinart may be done in Arizona

Alright, maybe this is a little premature. The Cardinals haven’t cut Matt Leinart yet. Heck, they haven’t even announced who their starting quarterback will be. But its fun to look ahead and wonder where the former top-10 pick may end up. Here are the five most likely destinations:

5. Bills – They already have four incredibly mediocre quarterbacks on the roster, so why take on another? Well they’ve already seen Fitzpatrick, Brohm and Edwards in action and none of them have shown much upside. Perhaps bringing Leinart to Buffalo – the NFL’s Siberia – would get him out of the hot tub and into the film room.

4. Jaguars – Jack Del Rio isn’t particularly fond of David Garrard. Luke McCown is the current backup and appears to have played well enough this summer to make the Jaguars comfortable with him as an option if Garrard went down. But that doesn’t mean Del Rio wouldn’t make a push for the team to sign Leinart, a fellow USC alum, to add another body to the mix fighting Garrard for a starting spot.

3. Texans – Matt Schaub is on the verge of stardom, so Leinart wouldn’t be competing for playing time in Houston. However, Dan Orlovsky is the current backup and Schaub has a fairly extensive injury history. At worst Leinart would be a slight upgrade.

2. Giants – With Jim Sorgi headed to the IR, the Giants are left with Rhett Bomar as their backup. Bomar is a developmental prospect who likely isn’t ready to see an NFL field. Leinart would be a significant upgrade and give them adequate insurance behind Manning.

1. Bears – The Bears have asked (and begged) every available veteran quarterback to come replace Caleb Hanie as Jay Cutler’s backup. Perhaps Leinart will finally be the man for the job.

What? No Seahawks? Here’s my reasoning: who knows Leinart better than any coach other than Ken Whisenhunt? Pete Carroll. He is all too well aware of the lifestyle that Leinart leads and knows that that isn’t what it takes to win the NFL. He’s content with his combo of Hasselbeck and Whitehurst. It’s unlikely that they would bring Leinart aboard just to compete for a backup job which wouldn’t even be guaranteed.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Bills, Cardinals, Giants, Jaguars, Seahawks, Texans Comments Off

Ten guys who should be looking over their shoulder

10. Greg Olsen
Mike Martz says he’s committed to Olsen, but he shouldn’t get too comfortable. Martz traditionally doesn’t utilize the tight end and prefers to rely on them as blockers. Olsen is an adequate blocker but he’s no Brandon Manumaleuna, who’s waiting in the wings to take snaps away.

9. Matt Leinart
The Cardinals will be patient with Leinart, but if they’re in contention and he’s not getting the job done, Derek Anderson will be called upon. Leinart has all the skills necessary to be an elite quarterback, but the work ethic just hasn’t been there. Maybe this is the year it all clicks.

8. Nate Clements
Clements was benched briefly last season, less than three years into his monster contract in San Francisco. He’s firmly on the hot seat once again, but luckily for him the 49ers secondary is extremely thin. Given the size of his contract though, the 49ers may be quick to cut ties with him if he fails to perform up to expectations.

7. James Harrison
Two years removed from Defensive Player of the Year honors, the clock is ticking loudly for the 32 year old Harrison. His starting position may not be in jeopardy yet but he’ll likely start to lose snaps to rookie Jason Worilds, who is being groomed as his replacement.

6. Chad Clifton
The 34-year-old Clifton returns for another season in Green Bay, but 1st-round pick Byran Bulaga is breathing down his neck. The starting job belongs to Clifton for now, but at the first sign of struggles Bulaga could get the call.

5. Albert Haynesworth
Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan haven’t exactly gotten off on the right foot, making him an obvious addition to the list. The only reason he isn’t higher is the fact that an adequate replacement isn’t readily available. The decline in talent from Haynesworth to Jeremy Jarmon, Ma’ake Kemoeatu or Darrion Scott is significant.

4. Jake Delhomme
Since returning to the NFL in 1999, only one Browns quarterback has started 16 games (Tim Couch, 2001) and Delhomme isn’t likely to join the list. Browns fans will be calling for Seneca Wallace (or even Colt McCoy) after every interception.

3. Darren Sharper
For much of the offseason it looked as though the Saints weren’t even interested in bringing Sharper back for another season. It now looks as though he’ll be playing in New Orleans, but his job may not be safe. 2009 1st-round pick Malcolm Jenkins has switched over to free safety and should see significant playing time, even if it is in a reserve role.

Nov 1, 2009; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman (56) celebrates after a tackle in the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Raiders 24-16. Photo via Newscom

If he doesn't return to form, it could be "lights out" for Merriman in San Diego

2. Brandon Jacobs
The Giants have become frustrated with Jacobs, who seems to have worn down faster than the average running back. He’s 28 years old and is coming off a disappointing season in which he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Ahmad Bradshaw, who has averaged 5.2 yards per carry for his career, could steal away a significant chuck of his carries this season.

1. Shawne Merriman
Health issues and a steroid suspension have derailed Merriman’s once promising career. After missing nearly the entire 2008 season, Merriman totaled just four sacks in 14 games in 2009. The Chargers expect to compete for a Super Bowl title this season, so they’ll waste no time turning over Merriman’s duties to 2009 1st-round pick Larry English if necessary.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Giants, Packers, Redskins, Saints, Steelers Comments Off

Training Camp Preview: Bears

Biggest Question Mark: Jay Cutler
Can Mike Martz turn things around for Cutler? After putting up big numbers in Denver he took a significant step backwards in 2009. Perhaps it was nothing more than struggling to adjust to a new offense with a poor group of receivers. Whatever the reason, he needs to step up his game in order for the Bears to compete.

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 13: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on December 13, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 21-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Can Forte rebound from the sophomore slump?

Position Battle to Watch: Running Back
Third-year running back Matt Forte shouldn’t have anything to worry about, but considering how he played in 2009, Chester Taylor may be able to steal the starting job. It’s certainly Forte’s job to lose, but he was ineffective for most of 2009, while Taylor had an impressive year as Adrian Peterson’s backup in Minnesota.

Impact Rookie: Major Wright
The Bears didn’t draft until the 3rd round, meaning they may not have a true impact rookie this season. However, Wright should be given the opportunity to compete for the starting job at free safety. Danieal Manning has struggled at free safety and it looks like the Bears are giving Al Afalava the opportunity to win the starting job this season. Wright is a long shot to start, but he’ll have an opportunity to earn some playing time.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears Comments Off

10 Underachievers that must step up in 2010

10. Aaron Curry – LB – Seahawks
It’s tough to  say a rookie underachieved, but Curry entered the league as a can’t-miss prospect. His 2009 season was a disappointment from day one. He started 12 games for the Seahawks and played nearly every snap when he was healthy, but just never produced. Making the transition from the ACC to the NFL certainly wasn’t aided by the sinking ship that was the Seattle Seahawks in 2009. The new regime has no allegiances to him, meaning he’ll have to earn his job in 2010 and the expectations will be very high.

9. Charlie Johnson – OT – Colts
Maybe this isn’t the right list for Johnson, because no one has really ever expected much from him. But he remains the starting left tackle for one of the league’s best quarterbacks, and with that comes the expectation of success. Johnson was a liability last season, especially in the Super Bowl when he allowed one hit and three pressures. As Manning gets older, protecting him becomes more important and Johnson needs to prove he can step up the challenge.

8. Jonathan Vilma – LB – Saints
Vilma was the Saints best linebacker in 2009, but that’s not saying much. They’ve since parted ways with Scott Fujita and failed to find an adequate replacement. Vilma will need to continue to improve in order to make up for the deficiencies at outside linebacker in New Orleans.

7. Levi Brown – OT – Cardinals
Brown’s poor play was masked by Kurt Warner’s pocket presence the past few seasons, but his sloppy play must stop now that Matt Leinart is under center. He’ll be asked to anchor the Cardinals patchwork offensive line and finally live up to expectations.

6. Amobi Okoye – DT – Texans
Drafted as a 19-year-old in 2007, Okoye was supposed to be an instant terror on the Texans’ interior defensive line. Instead, Okoye has been a liability against the run and  rarely made an impact as a pass rusher. He registered just two sacks and five hits in 2009, numbers that much improve if he’s to avoid a bust label in his 4th season in the league.

5. LaRon Landry – S – Redskins
Landry was supposed to be the leader of the Redskins’ secondary in the post-Sean Taylor era. He’s made his presence felt in run support, but he’s struggled to adjust to the speed of the NFL passing game. He is stiff in coverage and is often caught out of position. The Redskins have remained committed to him, but his days could be numbered if he doesn’t impress the new regime early on.

4. Derrick Johnson – LB – Chiefs
Johnson was a college legend at Texas, but his transition to the NFL has been a tough one. He’s never lived up to expectations in Kansas City and he could be getting his last chance in 2010. Romeo Crennel will look to him to step up as a starter at inside linebacker and he’ll need to perform if the Chiefs have a chance to rebound from a miserable defensive performance in 2009.

3. Darren McFadden – RB – Raiders
McFadden was supposed to have an Adrian Peterson-like impact and help turn around the Raiders fortunes. Instead, he’s struggled to hold off Michael Bush and Justin Fargas for the starting job in Oakland. McFadden needs to finally live up expectations before the Raiders send him packing along with JaMarcus Russell.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Matt Leinart #7 of the  Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at  the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Glendale,  Arizona. The Packers defeated the Cardinals 33-7. (Photo by Christian  Petersen/Getty Images)
The bust label is ready to be slapped on Leinart if he doesn’t step up in 2010

2. Matt Forte – RB – Bears
After a memorable rookie season Forte suffered a brutal sophomore slump. Mike Martz likes to incorporate his running back into the passing game as much as any offensive coordinator, which could mean Forte is due for a breakout season. We should get a good idea for how much Martz trusts Forte based on how they use him in training camp and in preseason games.

1.Matt Leinart  – QB – Cardinals
All eyes will be on Leinart early this season. He has the physical tools to be an elite quarterback, but he just hasn’t put in the effort to live up to expectations. Perhaps the light bulb has finally gone off now that Warner is gone and he’s been given his last chance to succeed in Arizona. Derek Anderson will be breathing down his neck, pushing Leinart every step of the way.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colts, Raiders, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Texans 1 Comment

2010 Draft Grades: Bears

Considering what they had to work with, the Bears did just fine for themselves on draft day.

I like the selection of Major Wright. I had Reshad Jones and Chad Jones as the highest rated available safeties, but Wright was just behind and he’s still a great fit. He has an excellent chance to win the starting free safety job over Al Afalava.

Corey Wootton is an absolute steal in the 4th round. I thought he was a better fit for a 3-4 team, but he should still be a great addition to the Bears defense. Don’t expect a lot of sacks from him, but he can be a valuable asset in run defense. I’m not sure that he’ll develop into a starter, but he’s a great guy to have in the rotation.

Joshua Moore has limited upside, but he’s a decent 5th-round pick. The Bears really needed to add depth in their secondary and Moore can get the job done as a third or fourth option at cornerback.

Dan LeFevour fell further than expected on draft day. While his fall wasn’t nearly as publicized as Jimmy Clausen’s, I think it was for the same reasons. There are concerns about his attitude and work ethic. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way by declining to throw at the combine, despite being in perfect health. There were a lot of whispers about him not being the best team leader at Central Michigan, and those concerns certainly could have contributed to his fall. That said, he’s certainly worth a 6th-round pick. He comes to Chicago with zero expectations and can learn behind Jay Cutler.

I really like J’Marcus Webb in the 7th round. He’s extremely raw, but he has elite size and strength (6’8′, 328 lbs). He reminds me of a taller version former Bear Qasim Mitchell. In team, he could develop into a steal.

When you consider that the Bears didn’t pick until the 3rd round, this was a very impressive draft. But there was one glaring omission: wide receiver. Mike Martz has taken every opportunity to talk up their current group, but I’m not buying it. Damian Williams, Brandon LaFell, Jordan Shipley and Eric Decker were all on the board when the Bears were finally on the clock at No. 75. Any of those four would have been a great pick. Even in the later rounds, a guy like Carlton Mitchell would have been a nice addition. It was still a very solid draft, but failing to add a receiver was definitely an oversight.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Draft Grades - 2010 Comments Off

Top 10 most likely players to be traded on draft day

10. Michael Vick, Eagles
With McNabb out of the picture the Eagles aren’t shopping Vick around, but that doesn’t mean they won’t trade him. His value to the Eagles is minimal, since it appears that Kevin Kolb is being handed the starting job. If another team (Bills? Rams? Raiders?) comes along and offers up a trade the Eagles can’t refuse, they’ll pull the trigger.

9. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
The Dolphins seem to have soured on Ronnie Brown. They only placed a 1st-round tender on him (rather than a 1st and 3rd) making it possible for someone to fairly easily sign him if they wished to do so. By no means are they pushing him out the door, but they’re definitely willing to part with the injury-prone 28-year-old before he loses his value altogether.

8. David Garrard, Jaguars
The Jaguars seem to be moving forward with Garrard as their starting quarterback, but that could change on draft day. Jack Del Rio has publicly criticized Garrard this offseason, stating that he doesn’t view him as a quarterback that can lead a team to the Super Bowl. That certainly doesn’t sound promising for Garrard’s future. If the Jaguars land a quarterback early in the draft (Tebow?) then Garrard could be sent packing.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys

Has Roy Williams played his last game in Dallas?

7. Roy Williams, Cowboys
The Cowboys have given mixed signals about their commitment to Williams. They haven’t tried to trade him yet, to our knowledge, but they haven’t exactly given him a vote of confidence either. They may not be shopping him around, but Jerry Jones isn’t shy about making moves. If the right offer comes along on draft day, he’ll certainly listen.

6. Bryant McKinnie, Vikings
McKinnie is just 30 years old and has plenty of good football left, but the Vikings have reportedly grown tired of some of McKinnie’s off-field actions. He’s another veteran that isn’t being pushed out the door, but could be dealt if the right deal comes along. More and more we’re seeing teams try to move players while they still have value to other clubs in an effort to get something in return. McKinnie could fall into that category.

5. Marshawn Lynch, Bills
Lynch, who turns 24 on draft day, may be the most intriguing player on the trade block right now. With the emergence of Fred Jackson, its possible that the Bills will be willing to move Lynch, who has been nothing but a headache for the organization since they drafted him in 2007. He’s among the most talented running backs in the game, but he’s a handful to control off the field. Despite some character concerns, there will be more than a few teams willing to take Lynch off the Bills hands if they’re interested in moving him. He could be a key piece to the puzzle if they wish to trade into the late 1st round for a shot at Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy.

4. Shaun Rogers, Browns
Mike Holmgren has already overhauled the roster, but he isn’t done yet. Rogers is a difficult player to figure out. When he wants to be, he’s arguably the game’s most dominant nose tackle. But the problem is, no one can seem to figure out how to motivate him. He enjoyed playing for Romeo Crennel in 2008, so a reunion in Kansas City is certainly a possibility of the Chiefs are willing to part with a 2nd or 3rd-round pick.

3. Greg Olsen, Bears
I’m actually shocked that Olsen hasn’t been traded yet. He’s strictly a pass-catching tight end and new Bears offensive coordinator simply doesn’t have room for those players in his offense. Its possible he’ll change things up to accommodate Olsen, but don’t count on it. It seems unlikely that he’ll be wearing a Bears uniform by the end of April.

2. Jared Gaither, Ravens

The Ravens are practically begging someone to take Gaither off their hands and eventually someone will oblige. The Ravens are reportedly not interested in putting up with his lack of effort and poor work ethic, but if he suffers from those issues you’d never know it by his play on the field. He is on the cusp of becoming an elite left tackle and someone could get an absolute steal on draft day.

1. Jason Campbell, Redskins
Shortly after the Redskins traded for McNabb, Jason Campbell stated that he would sign his tender. Not because he’s excited to back up McNabb, but because he needed to sign in order to allow the Redskins to trade him. He won’t be in Washington next season, and its very likely he’ll be gone before the draft is over.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Bills, Browns, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Jaguars, Ravens, Redskins, Vikings 3 Comments

10 Best Offseason Moves (So Far)

10. Giants sign Antrel Rolle
Yes, the Giants overpaid for Rolle. The thought of him being the highest-paid safety in the league is comical. But the fact remains that he’s a significant upgrade over Michael Johnson and will give the Giants a very solid duo at safety between him and fellow Hurricane Kenny Phillips. The Giants are taking a “win now” approach and you have to give them credit for addressing a need with the best player on the market.

9. Falcons sign Dunta Robinson
The Falcons may have overpaid for a player who’s effort comes as goes throughout the season, but there’s no denying that Robinson has the talent to be an elite cornerback. Robinson will give you headaches, but ultimately when it matters most he’ll step up his game. He was playing at an elite level down the stretch this past season as Houston climbed back into the wild card race and he’ll do the same in Atlanta as they figure to be in the playoff hunt once again.

8. Patriots re-sign Vince Wilfork
Its not a sexy pick to have a player re-signing on this list, I know, but this is one of the most important moves nonetheless. Wilfork is the anchor of the Patriots defense. They’re in a mini rebuilding mode on that side of the ball this offseason and losing Wilfork would have set them back even further.

7. Chiefs sign Thomas Jones
If the Chiefs were expected to be a contender in 2010 this move would have ranked even higher. Jones isn’t capable of carrying the load throughout the season, but he can still be effective in spurts. Jones and Jamaal Charles give the Chiefs an impressive duo at running back which should allow them to control the ball and help open things up in the passing game for Matt Cassel.

6. Broncos sign Jamal Williams, Justin Bannan, Jarvis Green
None of these three players alone would have made the list, but collectively they’ve reshaped the Broncos defense. Williams will likely start at nose tackle with Green starting at one of the defensive end spots. Bannan can play nose tackle or end and may rotate between the two.

5. Cardinals trade for Kerry Rhodes
Rhodes fell out of favor with Rex Ryan in New York, but he is still a top-flight safety in this league. He’s just 27 and has plenty of good years ahead of him. Antrel Rolle was a fine starting free safety, but Rhodes is an upgrade and he comes at a cheaper price tag. It was a great trade any way you look at it from the Cardinals point of view.

4. Lions sign Kyle Vanden Bosch; trade for Corey Williams
Last offseason Jim Schwartz pledged to make the Lions bigger and stronger on defense. That’s proven to be easier said than done as the previous regime believed “smaller and faster” was the way to go. They struggled through the 2009 season, but Vanden Bosch and Williams gives their line two proven defenders who will likely team up with Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy.

3. Bears sign Julius Peppers
Peppers was the biggest name to change teams but I can’t put him at number one because I don’t know that he’s a significant upgrade in Chicago. The Bears had other needs (mainly receiver) which they could have spent the money on, but they do deserve credit for landing the biggest name on the market.

2. Dolphins sign Karlos Dansby
Dansby has quietly been one of the most productive linebackers in the league during his time in Arizona, despite not being surrounded by much talent. In Miami he could develop into a star. He’s an ideal fit for their defensive scheme which is similar to Arizona’s. He’ll be a difference maker from day one for the Dolphins.

1. Ravens trade for Anquan Boldin
The Ravens have needed to make a move like this for years. Boldin is an elite possession receiver and will instantly become Joe Flacco’s favorite weapon. If he can stay healthy, a 100-catch season isn’t an unreachable goal for 2010. The acquisition of Boldin makes the Ravens the team to beat in the AFC North for 2010.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Broncos, Cardinals, Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins, Falcons, Free Agency, Giants, Lions, Patriots 16 Comments

Analyzing the Bears free agency moves

No matter what happens this season, you have to give the Bears credit for trying. Last season they went out and acquired what they believed to be a franchise quarterback. This season they grabbed the biggest name on the free agent market.

Carolina Panthers v San Diego ChargersThe Julius Peppers signing came as no surprise, and is clearly a smart move. The Bears pass rush has been good but not great in recent seasons and Peppers should put their defensive line over the top and make them one of the better units in the league.

With Peppers and Alex Brown teaming up the Bears now have an impressive combination at defensive end. Peppers excels as a pass rusher, while Brown rates as one of the games best run stoppers. Its a nice combination in a division that will require a balanced defense to compete with the Packers and Vikings.

I actually really like the signings of Brandon Manumaleuna and Chester Taylor. Neither one figures to make a significant impact, but they each fill specific needs which the Bears may not have been able to fill in the draft since they don’t own a draft pick until 3rd round.

The signing of Manumaleuna may spell the end of the road for Greg Olsen. Mike Martz refuses to use tight ends in the passing game, which essentially renders Olsen useless. He’ll more than likely be traded, which hopefully lands the Bears a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

Chester Taylor will backup Matt Forte, who struggled to carry the load in 2009. The only questionable part of the signing is that Taylor is most effective as a receiver, which also is a strong-suit of Forte’s game. Taylor’s impact figures to be less than it was in Minnesota, but nonetheless he’s a significant upgrade over Kevin Jones as Forte’s backup.

As far as the draft is concerned, these moves can allow the Bears to relax on draft day. Aside from receiver, they really don’t have a glaring need that needs to be addressed. They won’t be on the clock until the 75th pick, so Bears fans shouldn’t expect much, but they can now select the best available player without feeling the pressure to find an impact player at a spot where it can be difficult to find one.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bears, Free Agency Comments Off