“We’d like to [work out a long-term deal with Forte]," Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But as Phil pointed out we obviously will at least consider placing the franchise tag on him. We don’t have any intention of letting Matt hit the open market. We’ll sit down with him privately, Phil will, and discuss what the plans are prior to the Feb. 20 franchise tag date.”—Bears CEO Ted Philips regarding bringing back RB Matt Forte
Boers & Bernstein interview with #Bears' GM Phil Emery
WSCR 670 The Score’s Boers & Bernstein just talked to new Bears GM Phil Emery. Here’s a synopsis of their session:
Can you fire Lovie? Yes
Can you fire Lovie tomorrow? Non-answer, but basically not going to happen even if he wanted to.
Are you in charge 100% or are you basically the face of a committee? Vague-ish answer, the plan is to work together, it’s not about one person.
Where do you need to add w/ personnel? It’s going to be a slow process, free agency is first priority and then they’ll get deep into the draft assessment. Basically everything is going to be internal, and the Bears aren’t going to elaborate as an organization as to what their plans are. Don’t expect a lot of spur of the moment hirings regarding scouting primarily. Post-draft is going to be when to expect the most turnover.
Are you above Cliff Stein & Scott Hagel? Non-answer. Refused outright to answer, but basically said yes without saying yes. Again emphasis on teamwork and internal community. Contractually he does have the ability to make moves, but that’s not at all what he wants to do. He wants the onus on (you guessed it) teamwork and working together as an organization.
How do you address the Bears defense getting older? Everything on this roster from top to bottom is going to be constantly evaluated, it’s about the process (he says ‘process’ a lot. A LOT.)
Will you spend more time on the road doing things as a scout or staying with the bears as they travel? He plans on getting as close to the game as possible, he wants to be in close proximity with the franchise. Emery will still be putting in his due diligence in collegiate scouting, just not as intensive as he’s done in the past. Personnel will recoup those opportunities.
Are you high risk/high reward or safe way out? Emery would say he’s more ‘calculated,’ and it’s all situational to the draft.
First order of business for Emery? Define his role
George McCaskey, a stickler for hierarchy, defined the Bears as follows: “Under our organizational structure, ownership selects the president and CEO, the president in consultation with ownership selects the general manager, the general manager in consultation with the president and ownership selects the head coach.”
If that is the flow chart, Emery should have all the power he needs to get the Bears up and running in a hurry. But you have to wonder about that one. What resources will he have come free agency? Are the Bears going to go on a spending spree as Angelo hinted before being fired?
McCaskey said the free-agent issue is “not for me to decide That’s a decision for the general manager to make in conjunction with the head coach.”
General managers don’t buy players. Owners do. GMs need the funds to get that done. The Bears need improvements at virtually all the big-money positions, including pass rusher, left tackle, wide receiver and cornerback.
"It’d be impossible to quantify Phil’s impact on the (United States’) war on terror because I know so many guys who feel the same way about him based on what he helped make out of us," Bruce said. "He took that unique athlete at Navy that had the will but not always the frame and created a team out of those different athletes. He trained us mentally, physically, athletically to be consistent."
Nobody can predict yet whether Emery’s sterling character credentials will make him a good general manager — or a bad one. Tepid early reactions have more to do with the Bears’ track record than Emery’s.
Hiring a man similar in background and age to Jerry Angelo feels like change for the sake of change, an organization meeting the low expectations a skeptical football city has come to expect from Halas Hall.
Phil Emery didn’t ride the fast track to become an NFL general manager. His journey took him through non-traditional outposts such as Mt. Pleasant, Mich., Georgetown, Ky., and Silver City, N.M.
“I’ve joked with [the Emerys], ‘I’m not sure there’s not a state they’ve been in, and a school,’ ” Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay said Sunday. “That’s Phil’s commitment. He just keeps working. And he’s reached this level because of this work ethic.
“He earned it. And he’s very, very good at what he does.”
McKay knows all about Emery, who will be introduced as the Bears’ general manager Monday. Emery was with the Falcons from 2004 to ’09, and McKay said the only thing he hasn’t done is campaign.
“We have people who are self-promoters, who deal through the media or others. They like to get things out there about themselves,” McKay said of some NFL scouts and executives. “But he’s not in that club, and he has no desire to be a member. He’s all about the work, not the publicity that comes with it.”
Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said that Emery ran his team’s draft meetings and that he had a key role during the draft. With the Falcons, McKay said Emery tirelessly developed the team’s college scouting program.
“His body of work should be well respected,” McKay said. “He’s sitting in that seat, running that room. That’s a big job.”
McKay marveled at the number of hours Emery worked.
“That’s kind of how he’s wired,” McKay said. “But beyond that, he’s a really good football evaluator. In the basics, he’s as good as it gets. Very organized, very hard-working, very diligent guy.”
One of his strengths, McKay said, is Emery’s refusal to pre-judge a player. Instead, he’ll research a player, then make an educated assessment. In 2005, Emery insisted the Falcons take Roddy White with the 27th pick, although the receiver played at Alabama-Birmingham.
“Phil worked every possible angle on that player, and he got it right,” McKay said.
White is a four-time Pro Bowl selection who has topped 1,000 receiving yards in five consecutive seasons and has 45 touchdown catches.
McKay said the Bears’ organizational structure puts Emery in a position to succeed.
“In Chicago, you have a really good salary-cap manager,” McKay said, referring to Cliff Stein. “[President] Ted Phillips understands our system as well as anyone. Then you’ve got a coach [Lovie Smith] who has been really successful.
“I think it’s a really good situation for him. And the most important thing is, he’s really comfortable with all those people.”
But McKay quickly offered a warning.
“That doesn’t mean he’ll just agree,” McKay said. “He will not be a man who just says yes. He’ll be one to challenge people to make the right decisions
Former Bear Hillenmyer battles team and NFL over lost benefits, salary
"…The question was one Hunter Hillenmeyer didn’t want to answer.
It was 2010, and the Bears had just placed him on injured reserve after the third publicly documented concussion of his eight-year career. After meeting with reporters at Halas Hall, he was asked how many concussions he had actually suffered.
"Now isn’t the time to discuss that," Hillenmeyer said.
Sixteen months later, the time has come as he wages a fight to receive what the NFL Players Association says is $900,000 due him according to the collective bargaining agreement after two doctors, one the independent neurological consultant for the Bears, recommended he no longer play football.
"It makes me sick to see (the league) claim it is driving concussion research and putting player safety first," he said…"
"The whole system is designed to do one thing: make owners money. …
Read the rest of the article at the Tribune’s website by clicking here.
Hi gang. Just checking in. I have a few thoughts on the final throes of this GM search. I see there is some concern about Phil Emery being too easy of a choice, because he was here before, and that perhaps it implies there won’t be much change. The other area of concern is with Lovie Smith being involved in the GM search.
I am holding out hope for something good in this hire. What if Emery, through his experience in Atlanta and KC’s organizations has seen enough of how “modern” clubs are run, and now, with the power to bring his own visions to reality can truly bring the best talent and structure to the Bears? He would have the ability to make things right, and know enough about what works and doesn’t work to bring that vision back to the Bears and correct the flaws he had seen when he was actually down in their own trenches. Who better to empower to do such a thing? He would be a man who could see the big picture yet already knows what is happening at the front line.
Regarding the retention of Lovie Smith, I think you really had to keep him. You look at his overall coaching record, and then keep in mind how poorly the previous GM had helped him talent-wise. Lovie did more with less. I can think of quite a few times where the Bears pleasantly surprised me and beat some pretty good teams that I thought had more talent than they had.
The other notion to keep in mind is ownership. Pro Football Weekly’s Hub Arkush was on local radio saying that it was clear that Ted Phillips, Jerry Angelo, and Lovie Smith are no longer tied together. This firing of Angelo was handed down by George McCaskey. Make no mistake; Lovie and Ted are on the hot seat if they continue to falter. It also explains why even with Angelo whacked, they needed to keep Ruskell around at least another year. They needed to prepare for this draft, and the entire organization that scouts talent needed to still be doing their jobs, to see it through free agency and the draft. The ripples are starting now, but keep in mind they couldn’t yank the entire carpet out and be completely pantsed…as much as most of us kinda had hoped for that, it’s a bit of a myopic view.
So, Lovie got to interview the GM candidates. I agree there is a bit of a fox-henhouse thing with that. But remember, Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith had to be on the same page to get the right personnel for the scheme, the present roster, and the future. This is natural. Further, when you think of the guys who ran the interview process and realize they’re more businessmen than football people, I think you NEEDED Lovie to be involved to ensure someone can cover a lot of that material. If anyone should feel uncomfortable in this scenario, it should be Lovie Smith. So, how would you like to interview the guy that will be able to fire you, albeit a year from now?
So Phil Emery cannot fire Lovie for a year. So what? Lovie deserves/has earned another year. I’m saying this and will admit I’m clearly not his biggest fan. His in game management has often been a problem. But as I mentioned before, he’s prepared the team extremely well and often has surprised me when I thought the Bears were going to get beat. You have to think about how they managed to get to a Super Bowl with Kyle Orton as the QB most of the year. So much could have gone wrong but didn’t. They went to the NFC Championship last year, and eventually lost to one of the hottest teams we’ve seen in ages. This year they came right back and went 7-3 outta the gates, but the season goes in the toilet with Cutler and Forte out. It’s not Lovie’s fault that Caleb stunk. It is plenty Mike Martz’s and it sure was Jerry Angelo’s. So they need to be ushered out, and they are. Yeah, he gets another year. And anyone with eyes could see that the offensive line was not all that good, but did enough things to make you see that Mike Tice belongs as an integral part of the coaching mix. They elevated him as well they should have. These were the right decisions to make.
Back to Emery for a moment. Phil Emery has a background that includes a stint at the Naval Academy where he was such a taskmaster as their director of strength and conditioning that he was nicknamed “Satan.” He has taken that work ethic with him to scouting, where his reputation for being thorough and tireless was unquestioned. Emery ultimately won out over Marc Ross, Jason Licht (also a finalist), Jimmy Raye and Tim Ruskell.
I have no predisposition for this guy, but have indeed liked everything I’ve read and heard about him. I plan to scrutinize his every move just as much as the previous GM. All of that said, let’s give him a chance. We can be fair as Bear fans. That’s not asking a lot. Just don’t ask us to be too patient.
Bears GM interviews complete, decision likely next week
The Bears concluded their general manager interviews Friday, and a new GM is expected to be in place in a matter of days.
Chiefs director of college scouting Phil Emery visited Halas Hall for his second go-round with upper management, and then was scheduled to leave town.
Emery and Patriots director of pro personnel Jason Licht are the two finalists for the job. Licht interviewed Thursday.
Outsiders have portrayed Emery as the favorite. It may or may not be significant that he was the final candidate to visit this week, and the final candidate to visit last week in the first wave of interviews.
The next step for the Bears is for team president Ted Phillips and chairman of the board George McCaskey to make a choice. Then they need to get ownership to rubber stamp the selection.
After that, they will offer the job to the man they chose and commence negotiations.
It would be surprising if the team does not have a new general manager by early next week.
CHICAGO — Jason Licht was in The Room on Thursday — the Chicago Bears’ interview room in Lake Forest, that is.
Of course, he’s also been in the Patriots’ draft room too, despite what you’ve heard. Sources hint he was allowed to put his drink on the Draft Table without a coaster.
That’s some serious swag. (Also, a joke.)
As most football fans know by now, New England does things the Bill Belichick Way, which has resulted in five Super Bowl appearances, one “Spygate,” a handful of books, and a two-part NFL Network documentary.
(You know: For a coach who is supposedly so secretive, Belichick is one US Weekly cover away from being an unofficial Kardashian. When’s the last time Lovie Smith has let a reporter into his inner sanctum?)
Part of Belichick’s well-known way is a minimalist room on draft day, which is how the whole “Licht isn’t in the room” talking point got around. It’s a silly point, considering Licht got a second interview with the Bears, but it’s one that has become a consistent talking point in Chicago. I know they’re laughing about it in Foxboro.
Phil Emery, Licht’s competition for the job, who is scheduled to interview again Friday, has worked for two Belichick guys in Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli. So he knows the drill. To some, he’s the favorite right now.
If the Bears hire Licht, you know the McCaskeys, and president and CEO Ted Phillips, are serious about change. If they hire Emery, you know they want as little change as possible in a transition.
My biggest questions are: Do the Bears want someone with a new vision on how to change the organization, while reveling in its history? Or do they want someone who will slide in, tidy up a few loose ends and keep the organization on track?
I hope it’s the former.
Licht, who will be 41 next month, has been striving to be a general manager since he got into the league as a scout, after graduating from Nebraska Wesleyan. I’ve heard that his aggressive attitude has rubbed some co-workers and league peers the wrong way. That’s not uncommon from Belichick guys.
But whatever his faults, Licht is, from everything that I’ve read and heard, the perfect choice to shake things up at Halas Hall and lead the proud Bears organization into the future. He wants the job quite badly, and forward-thinking fans should want him too.
Which is, of course, why he probably won’t get the job. Yes, I’m a Bears pessimist, which I guess makes me a real Chicagoan. (Full disclosure: I grew up a Steelers fans, so I’m used to trusting a family-owned football team.)
Emery, a 53-year-old former Bears scout and by all regards, a well-respected football man, represents the continuation of the status quo at Halas Hall. And while there’s something to be said for what Jerry Angelo built, he was fired for a reason.
This is a historic moment for the flagship franchise, and I hope, for the sake of the organization, the Bears take the plunge and hire Licht, who will bring fresh eyes and lessons learned the years he spent with the most successful football franchise of the past decade.
He will probably also fire a lot of people, which is an unfriendly part of regime change. But why not start the transition now? Take the draft, for example, since it’s such a hot topic.
It’s understood there was some confusion in the Bears’ draft room last year, resulting in an ugly war of words with the Baltimore Ravens over an agreement about trading draft picks.
It’s different in New England. Under Belichick, and well, most teams, the scouts and football executives prepare the room together in the months leading up to the draft, using a streamlined evaluation process that has landed the team its share of draft gems. When the day comes, there are only a handful of people in the room because there isn’t a need for so many voices anymore.
Hard work and good scouting aren’t trademarked by the Patriots, but as an organization, they certainly deserve emulating.
Michael Holley, the one-time Chicago Tribune columnist, has written two books on Belichick’s football philosophies. The first, “Patriot Reign,” was a year-long fly-on-the-wall study of Belichick’s team and included this throwaway line from observing the team’s draft room, on page 169, that worried Bears fans might find interesting:
"Jason Licht was nearby, prepared to answer any questions about players or draft trends."
So I guess he was in The Room. Crisis of faith averted. Not that it means anything, but I fully understand the Bears’ fan’s tender psyche. This isn’t the Patriots.
That aforementioned snippet was from Licht’s first tour of duty with the Patriots, when he rose to the title of assistant director of player personnel. Since returning to the Patriots in 2009, after holding jobs in Philadelphia and Arizona, he’s held the title of director of pro personnel, and if he’s not in The Room on draft day now, he’s a big factor in setting it up.
There is relevance to dissecting Licht’s familiarity with the draft because as we all know, the Bears need to improve their kill ratio in the annual meat market. Chicago can’t hire someone who is worse at the draft than the erstwhile general manager.
But from what I’ve heard, Licht not only knows how to scout college talent — they have a distinct system in New England that seems to work — but he’s also adept at the complicated world of managing the Collective Bargaining Agreement and all the other minutiae that goes into this job. He also has scouts and young executives ready to follow him to Chicago, which is looked at as a sleeping giant to implement fresh ideas.
Sound like any other team in Chicago you know?
Now, some might point to all the high-strung coaching failures that have come from the Belichick tree, but I’ve been told that’s not the case with Licht. I’m more interested in the rock-ribbed organizational tactics that have built multiple Super Bowl contenders in New England.
You can’t say Angelo and his scouts didn’t have their share of success in the draft and on the open market, but, again, he was fired for a reason. The McCaskeys and their appointed organizational boss Phillips, want more consistency. I’m sure Lovie does too.
This is nothing against Emery’s candidacy. He was an area scout for the team from 1998-2004 — the team went a solid 44-68 during those calendar years — and while he’s not beholden to Smith (who was hired in 2004), he did work under Tim Ruskell in Atlanta. Ruskell is the Bears’ personnel director, a leftover from the Angelo regime. He’s well-liked and regarded as an uncommonly hard worker. I hear him described as a grinder so much, I assume he’s either a 5-foot-8 second baseman or a sandwich.
The Bears couldn’t hire Ruskell to replace the man who brought him to Halas, though they gave him a courtesy interview. It would be like the Cubs hiring Dave Littlefield to take over for Jim Hendry. But if Emery is hired, conspiracy theorists might assume Ruskell would have major sway.
Is that change? Then again, we’re dealing with the Bears here.
Like the rest of the five initial candidates for the job, Licht’s first interview with the pigskin gurus of Halas Hall: Phillips, salary cap specialist Cliff Stein and PR wiz Scott Hagel. Supposedly the interview included a mock introductory press conference. I wonder if anyone told a fictional reporter to “whistle dixie?”
After that meeting, Licht talked with Smith. That’s nice since Smith is someone who is actually involved in the scouting and coaching aspect of the game.
Of course, a general manager getting interviewed by a coach with two years left on his contract seems backward to outsiders. Sometimes I think you need a magic wardrobe to get to Halas Hall.
George McCaskey, the head McCaskey in Charge, met with candidates, too. He’s not Robert Kraft, of course, but at least he’s trying.
There is a very good chance the Bears already know who the next general manager is going to be, and it’s Emery, and I might just be whistling dixie.
All I know is I’d like to see change come to Halas Hall. I’m just not sure how much change the current residents can handle.
Will there be a Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall reunion in Chicago? As the Miami Dolphins receiver said, “you can never say never in this business.”
Marshall, who had his two best seasons with Cutler in Denver, joined “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000 and was asked if his recent Twitter exchange with his former quarterback could lead to a reunion in Chicago with the Bears.
"Right now I’ve got a Dolphins jersey on and am pretty much locked up," Marshall said Wednesday. "But this is a crazy business and you never know what can happen. I’ve seen guys come in and talk about how they just bought a house and look forward to putting their kids in a school around the corner and the next day they’re traded somewhere so you can never say never in this business."
During the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saintswildcard playoff game on Jan. 7, Cutler and Marshall joked on Twitter about playing together again. When a Cutler follower tweeted that it was time for a Cutler-Marshall reunion in Chicago, Cutler tweeted “Let’s do it.”
Drafted by the Broncos in 2006, the duo developed immediate chemistry in their second NFL seasons — Cutler’s first full year as a starter — in 2007. Marshall caught 102 passes for 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns that season and followed it up with 104 catches for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns in 2008.
Cutler was traded to the Bears after that season when new coach Josh McDaniels took over. Marshall followed Cutler out the door a year later, traded to the Dolphins, who gave him a four-year, $47.5 million contract extension.
Marshall said it’s “painful” thinking about what might have been if he and Cutler had stayed together.
"I’m sitting next to [Cincinnati Bengals quarterback] Andy Dalton yesterday [at a Pro Bowl practice] and I was telling him, him and A.J. [Green] remind me of the young B-Marsh and Cutler," Marshall said. "It’s hard to find that and sometimes it’s once in a lifetime, not finding athletes like us but …. when you take two guys and put them on the field together and they have that chemistry, that’s what’s almost impossible to find. I can’t explain it. That’s why I said it’s almost painful to think about.
"We’ll line up there and we’ll get a coverage and he will just look at me and I’ll know exactly where he wants to adjust my route. You don’t find that. It got to a point where coaches, they didn’t know what we were doing so we’ll install a whole play and they’ll give us a play on the front side and put me on the back side and they’ll tell us just do what you all do and just make it work. We had a lot of freedom in our offense, and we made it work and chemistry was great. It was something special."
The Bears don’t have a GM yet and their offensive coordinator is a day removed from looking at the head coaching job in Oakland. But that hasn’t prevented the offseason from taking some directions that could be of interest to the Bears.
Josh McCown’s creditable performance notwithstanding, the next GM and Mike Tice are not likely to be standing pat at too many positions (with the obvious exceptions of quarterback and center). That’s part of where the 2011 season went off the rails, because Mike Martz was comfortable with Caleb Hanie and Nathan Enderle (a Martz favorite) as his backup quarterbacks.
But one NFL source told CSNChicago.com that the option of Jason Campbell as a backup to Jay Cutler will interest the Bears and others. Campbell is coming off a broken collarbone that moved the Oakland Raiders to mortgage their draft future on Carson Palmer, and Campbell at age 30 and having had two major injuries (torn knee ligament in 2007) does not have a job waiting for him anywhere.
Same with David Garrard, formerly of Jacksonville, very formerly. Michael Wright over at ESPNChicago.com, who covered Garrard in Jacksonville, reported that Garrard should be healthy enough after off-season back surgery to be considered for a job this offseason.
What the Bears will be looking for are quarterbacks looking for a legitimate chance to win a roster spot, not a starting job. The latter is not an option in Chicago.
But Tice was Jacksonville’s offensive-line coach when Garrard was with the Jaguars and Garrard will not be demanding starter money.
And here’s the punchline: With either Campbell or Garrard (or McCown able to play sooner), the Bears most assuredly play more than 16 games in the 2011 season.
The Bears have whittled their initial list of five candidates to two, and they’ll conduct a second round of interviews with Phil Emery of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jason Licht of the New England Patriots, according to three league sources.
Eliminated from the process were Marc Ross of the New York Giants, Jimmy Raye of the San Diego Chargers and Tim Ruskell of the Bears.
Emery and Licht will interview at Halas Hall later this week. Emery is already in Mobile, and Licht is expected to arrive, at some point.
The Bears were free to interview Emery at any time. But, they needed written permission from the Patriots to interview Licht again, since his club’s season isn’t over. The Patriots will play the Giants Feb. 5 in the Super Bowl, in Indianapolis.
That Ruskell has eliminated puts him in a compromising position. It’s believed he still has at least another year on his contract, but he’s now at the mercy of either Licht or Emery.
And those two may elect to go with a more traditional route, hiring a college and pro director, instead of one to oversee both. Ruskell was hired by former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo as the director of player personnel in April 2010.
Ultimately, in the second round of interviews, the Bears will have to flesh out the plans of each man. For instance, given his familiarity with the Bears and some of the scouts on staff, Emery may not be as inclined to make massive changes to a scouting department that is fairly well-respected. Licht, meanwhile, could insist on an overhaul, implementing new scouts and systems he picked up while in Philadelphia, New England and Arizona.
Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher acknowledges in the latest edition of Real Sports on HBO that he uses the painkiller Toradol.
“You drop your pants, you get the alcohol, they give you a shot, put the band-aid on, you go out and play,” Urlacher told interviewer Andrea Kremer. “Not that big of a deal.”
Urlacher compared it to getting a flu shot, but Kremer’s report pointed out there can be serious consequences from taking the drug, including kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding. Urlacher said he had been unaware of the consequences, but once he was told about them he said he would still take the drug, which masks pain from head to toe.
“First of all, we love football,” Urlacher said. “We want to be on the field as much as we can be. If we can be out there, it may be stupid, it may be dumb, call me dumb and stupid then because I want to be on the football field.”
Urlacher also said he would not admit to team medical personnel if he thought he suffered a concussion.
“If I have a concussion these days, I’m going to say, something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays,” he said. “I’m not going to sit in there and say I got a concussion, I can’t go in there the rest of the game.”
Toradol is legal and non-addictive and administered by team doctors in the NFL. Former NFL center Jeremy Newberry said he would sometimes see 20 or 30 players lined up before a game to get a shot of the drug.
Newberry said Toradol “makes you feel like Superman for three hours,” but the 35-year-old now is suffering from stage three kidney failure that doctors attribute to Toradol.
The first play date for the show will be Tuesday at 9 p.m.
The New York Giants’ gain turns out to be Julius Peppers’ gain.
The Chicago Bears defensive end was added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster Monday as a replacement for Jason Pierre-Paul, who cannot participate in Sunday’s all-star game as he and his Giants teammates wil be preparing for Super Bowl XLVI.
Peppers, who led the Bears with 11 sacks in his second season with the club, was a Pro Bowl alternate. Now, he is a Pro Bowler for the seventh time in his 10-year NFL career.
Peppers becomes the first Bears defensive end to be selected to the Pro Bowl in consecutive seasons since Hall of Famer Richard Dent in 1985-86. Peppers will join cornerback Charles Tillman, special teamer Corey Graham and running back Matt Forte. Linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs backed out of the game because of injuries.
Last year provided some ups and downs for Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler, who broke off their engagement in July. But after reconciling in November, they’re starting off 2012 with big news.
"We are thrilled to announce we are expeLast year provided some ups and downs for Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler, who broke off their engagement in July. But after reconciling in November, they’re starting off 2012 with big news.
"We are thrilled to announce we are expecting our first child together," they tell PEOPLE exclusively. "It’s an amazing time in our life and we can’t wait to meet the new addition to our growing family."
Shortly after Cavallari, 25, and her Chicago Bears quarterback beau, 28, renewed their engagement, the formerHills star and Dancing with the Stars contestant said, “Sometimes, in order for things to get better, they have to end – even if it’s momentarily.”
Cavallari’s rep from EMC-BOWERY also confirms the pregnancy.
Peanut Tillman finalist for Payton Man of the Year award
Bears defensive back Charles Tillman is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award the NFL announced on Sunday.
The other finalists are Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk and San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. The winner will be announced before Super Bowl XLVI live on NBC on Feb. 5.
In 2005, the longtime Bear created the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation which has impacted over one million Chicago-area children and raised over $1.2 million, according to Chicagobears.com.
“It’s an extreme honor to be a finalist,” Tillman told Chicagobears.com via telephone from Hawaii. “In my eyes, all the guys who are nominated should get an award.”
The foundation began by providing children with educational opportunities and resources to excel in the classroom. However, in 2008, when Tillman’s three-month-old daughter, Tiana, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and received a heart transplant, the foundation changed it’s mission and now works to improve the lives of critically and chronically ill children throughout the Chicago area by providing support and life-changing experiences.
One of Tillman’s most successful programs is “Charles’ Lockers,” which provides children and families with notebook computers, DVD players, digital cameras and MP3 players while they undergo treatment.
Bob Bostad (pronounced BO-stad) was in his sixth season as an assistant coach at Wisconsin. He was named run game coordinator in February of 2007 and became the Badgers’ offensive line coach in January of 2008 after coaching tight ends his first two seasons.
EDIT: Looks like they blocked the move. Bostad will not be joining the Bears this season.
Y! Sports: Chicago Bears Coaching Positions Are Anything but Decided
The Chicago Bears started their off-season by announcing the departures of Jerry Angelo and Mike Martz. The news left many fans saying “about time” and looking hopefully to the future. A life without these two might be the start of a beautiful 2012. Now, just two short weeks later, things don’t seem quite so solid.
Mike Martz was replaced with Mike Tice, which seemed like a logical move, and one that prevented Lovie Smith from choosing an offensive coordinator on his own. Bears fans may still agree with Lovie on some things, but his ability to hire for this position is not one of them. Now, however, Mike Tice has permission to interview with the Oakland Raiders for their head coaching position . If Tice gets the job, the entire Bears offense could be in some serious trouble.
Then of course, there is Jerry Angelo’s replacement, or lack thereof. There are plenty of candidates, everyone from Jason Licht of the New England Patriots to Marc Ross of the New York Giants are being considered. The fact remains, until this position is filled, there is bound to be plenty of uncertainty about the state of the rest of the team.
One of the only good things to come out of the coaching debacle that is the Chicago Bears so far this year, is that Dave Taub will be with us for the next two years. The team was close to losing their special teams coordinator to the Miami Dolphins. Despite all of their problems, the Bears are one of the best in the league when it comes to special teams , so at least we are still doing one thing right.
So what are we going to see in our offensive line in the fall? Will we be in the market for a new quarterback? It all seems pretty up in the air right now. The Bears need to get their leadership in order so we can finally begin building the team that we should have had the last few seasons.
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte said Wednesday that he may be hard to find if the franchise tag is put on him before training camp next season, although he wouldn’t call it an official holdout.
Forte has been seeking an extension since the preseason, and he said the two sides were far apart. ”A lot of teams franchise guys so that they can get a deal done or negotiate a deal,” Forte said on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000. “It just depends on what the motive of that is.” And if Forte perceives the Bears’ motive to be less than committed to an extension?
"I wouldn’t say holdout, but people probably wouldn’t know where I was," said Forte, who admitted there’s a "pretty good chance" he’ll be franchised. Forte was easy to spot this season, leading the offense with over 1,400 yards from scrimmage through the first 12 games before a knee injury ended his season and led to the Bears losing three of their last four and missing the playoffs. ESPNChicago.com reported the Bears’ final offer to Forte contained between $13-$14 million in guarantees.
"A lot of people said do I regret turning down the money and then playing and getting injured, I would say no, because I’m not going to let anyone undervalue me as a player," Forte said. "I know what type of value I have to the team and the offense. And I’m not going to just accept a deal because that’s what their offer was and they’re not going to budge. I’m not going to accept that.
"We were I would say a good ways apart. If you compared stats with other guys and salaries what other running backs make, and then what they offered me, it was like two different sides of the world." Forte said he’ll be taking a physical soon on his left knee and plans to play in the Jan. 29 Pro Bowl, which will be his first. As far as being a Bear next season, he said he senses he’ll remain in Chicago.
"My gut tells me so right now," he said. "This is where I was drafted and I’d love to stay here. I love the team and the coaches and everybody." And the fact Jerry Angelo was fired after the season made him a little more optimistic that a deal can get done with a new general manager.
It’s hard to ignore Bill Belichick’s credentials when it comes to putting together an NFL offense. For a guy who made his bones in the NFL as a defensive genius with the New York Giants under Bill Parcells, he has a command of modern offense that is second to none.
Of the four teams playing Sunday, the Patriots have the most explosive offensive team. Having Tom Brady calling signals for you is a big advantage, but what makes the team so difficult to defend is the presence of not one, but two game-breaking tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Gronkowski has dominated from start to finish this season, putting statistics on the board by a tight end that were not even considered possible five years ago. Gronkowski caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns during the regular season and added another three touchdown catches in the divisional playoff domination of the Broncos. Hernandez, who may be a tad quicker than Gronkowski, caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Belichick also decided to let Hernandez line up in the backfield against the Broncos and he ran for a team-high 61 yards against Denver, a strategy that flummoxed Denver head coach John Fox and further ensured the Broncos’ demise.
Belichick knows that tight end is an important position. So does Jim Harbaugh, who saw his tight end, Vernon Davis, catch the game-winning touchdown pass against the Saints in what may have been the best postseason game since the Steelers beat the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. Harbaugh’s brother John has also gotten message in Baltimore. He has two tight ends in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta who combined for 94 catches for 933 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Someone needs to get the news of the importance of the tight end to the Bears. As they watched their season slip-slide away after Jay Cutler injured his thumb, there was no legitimate tight end option for backup quarterback Caleb Hanie. Throwing to a wide open huge target like Gronkowski or Davis would have made life much easier for a quarterback who demonstrated that he did not understand the concept of accuracy. With a big tight end who can catch anything in the same area code, accuracy is not as big an issue.
Interestingly, the two men most responsible for the Bears void at this position have vanished. General manager Jerry Angelo was fired two weeks ago and offensive coordinator Mike Martz was given his walking papers before he ”retired” Monday. He called it a career because nobody else in the NFL is foolish enough to bring him on board. Martz wanted his tight end to be a blocker and a blocker only and he basically ran Greg Olsen off the team with his philosophy.
Martz’s dismissal may be the best thing that has happened to the Bears. He’s been labeled a genius for more than a decade, but that title was never deserved. He was fairly creative as Dick Vermeil’s offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams when they won Super Bowl XXXIV over the Titans following the 1999 season, but he also stole credit from other coaches on the staff who may have been at least as deserving.
You may remember that the Rams had an explosive offense with Kurt Warner behind center and a crew of outstanding receivers that included Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Az-Zahir Hakim. As the Rams reeled off win after win, you couldn’t read a story about the team that didn’t include a description of Martz as a genius. It was easy for him to promote himself in that manner.
It wasn’t Martz alone who built the offense. Wide receiver coach Al Saunders honed the route-running skills of Holt and Hakim and worked with Bruce on his ability to make big plays after the catch. Saunders was far too modest to claim responsibility for the development of the Rams offense, but Bruce, Holt and Hakim stuck up for their receivers coach and so did Warner.
The Bears have to fill Angelo’s spot and have promoted Mike Tice to fill the offensive coordinator position. Tice is an old-school, ground-and-pound offensive grunt, but he has eyes and sees the importance of tight end around the league. If the new general manager has been watching what’s been going on around the rest of the league, the Bears will make the tight end position a huge priority.
If not, another playoff-free season may be at hand in 2012.
Bears OC Mike Tice to interview with Oakland Raiders
It’s now possible recently promoted offensive coordinator Mike Tice could be headed elsewhere.
According to a club and NFL sources, the Raiders have requested permission to interview Tice for their head coaching position. In accordance with NFL rules, the Bears must grant permission, unlike the move they made Monday when they blocked secondary coach Jon Hoke from interviewing with the Vikings for their defensive coordinator position. Tice did not reply to messages from the Tribune.
Tice served as the head coach of the Vikings from the end of the 2001 season to 2005, compiling a 33-34 record including the postseason. He’s worked his way back up the ranks since and now is proving to be a hot commodity. The Titans wanted to interview Tice to be their offensive coordinator last year, a move the Bears blocked. Now, the 52-year-old has his first crack at a head job since his Vikings experience.
“Why would I want to go someplace and try to establish something that’s already established, and working for a guy like Lovie, and a first-class organization like the Bears and the McCaskey family?” Toub said. “They’ve treated me great. To be at one place 10 years is rare in the NFL.
“How could I ask for anything better?”
Bears ST coach Dave Toub on re-upping with the Chicago Bears, despite interviewing for Miami’s head coaching job.
Charles Tillman could not say his ninth NFL season was his best and it very well might not be. After a while, they’re hard to sort through when you’ve been a consistent performer.
But the veteran cornerback was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time following a year in which he was steady throughout and did a solid job vs. Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson in the second meeting of the season at Soldier Field.
Tillman isn’t the best man cover cornerback in the NFL. But he’s a physical performer who has been an ideal fit for the Cover-2 scheme ever since Lovie Smith arrived. Tillman finished third on the team in tackles with a career-high 113, and was second in solo tackles with 83, trailing leader Lance Briggs by only three. It was only the third time Tillman has topped 100 tackles.
Across from Tillman, Tim Jennings put together a solid first half of the season and then his play slipped in the final month-plus, leading to a benching in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers when veteran Zack Bowman — and the scheme of playing outside leverage — was exposed badly. Jennings got his job back the following week and the starter opposite Tillman is a key decision for this offseason.
D.J. Moore, who stepped nicely into the nickel role in 2010, didn’t build off of his first year of success. Moore was hampered by a sprained ankle that forced him to miss three games. Moore led the defense with four interceptions and tied for second with eight pass breakups but the team rotated him a little bit with Corey Graham down the stretch after Graham was successful replacing Moore while he was injured.
Roll call: Charles Tillman (signed through 2013), Tim Jennings (unrestricted free agent), Zack Bowman (unrestricted free agent), Corey Graham (unrestricted free agent), D.J. Moore (signed through 2012),
2011 review: The Bears finished 28th in the NFL in passing yards allowed at 254.1 yards per game but that is not indicative of how the team played. Could the pass defense improve? Sure. But consider the defense ranked 8th in the NFL in opponent’s passer rating at 79.3. That shows that opponents didn’t remain committed to the run and chose to throw the ball.
The Bears tied for sixth in the NFL with 20 interceptions, probably not the number Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli are happy with, but a solid showing. Certainly there were more plays to make and that was one of the knocks on Jennings, who dropped numerous interception opportunities.
It wasn’t a perfect season for Tillman, though. Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson gave him problems during a Nov. 20 meeting at Soldier Field, putting up 165 yards and one touchdown on seven receptions. The cornerbacks also struggled against Carolina’s Steve Smith – you’ve seen this happen previously — as he had 181 yards on eight catches in an Oct. 2 game at Soldier Field.
There wasn’t much change. Tillman started 16 games for the second straight season – the only two times it has happened in his career. Jennings has started 28 of the last 32 games.
Free agency/draft priority: Teams that use the Cover-2 as their base defense typically don’t allocate a lot of their resources to the position. They look for physical players who are good tacklers. The Bears gave Tillman a nice contract in 2007 and paid former Pro Bowl performer Nathan Vasher. While the franchise has used eight draft picks on cornerbacks since Lovie Smith arrived in 2004, the highest was Devin Hester in 2006 and he remained at the position for a matter of months. Otherwise, there have been two fourth-rounders, three fifth-rounders and two seventh-rounders. Part of that is because Tillman has been a consistent performer and the team has used free agency to bolster the position with additions like Jennings and former nickel back Ricky Manning Jr. At this point, the position becomes a higher priority than usual. Jennings, Bowman and Graham are all entering free agency and Moore is headed into the final year of his contract. If Graham comes back, it will probably be as primarily a special teams performer because he seems to have been somewhat pigeonholed. In an ideal world, the Bears would add a young player who is ready to challenge for playing time and a veteran and create some depth. It looked like cornerback would be a need last season and it was passed over in the draft. The tough thing is, if you don’t select one by the end of the second round, it becomes harder to get someone who can help.
Looking ahead: Tillman turns 31 next month and he’s got a lot of football behind him with 130 regular-season games. He’ll be in the mix in 2012 but the rest of the position is up for grabs. Moore lacks the speed to turn-and-run needed to play on the outside. There would also be concerns about him holding up in the running game out there, although he does a nice job for a nickel back. So, the team needs to add at least two cornerbacks to the mix and probably three. If they can upgrade over what Jennings has given them the last two seasons, that would be a plus, especially when they run into the Green Bay Packers twice next season.
Bottom line: The Bears will be in the market for cornerbacks in free agency and then the draft. Keep an eye on some bigger prospects that tackle well when it comes to the draft. It might be a good idea to take one in the first three rounds — and the team has an extra third-round selection from the Greg Olsen trade.