Maziel Readying, Favre Returning, Peyton fading

  • What a weekend it was in the NFL. Plenty of playoff implications twisted and story-lines created after several top teams left the field Sunday in utter disappointment. None more so than the Cleveland Browns, who, in spite Brian Hoyer’s best efforts, were actually beating the league’s top scoring team in Indianapolis for the first 59 minutes. This on the heels of a Johnny Manziel siting a week earlier and reports throughout the week that Hoyer’s job was his to lose… for the time being. Except Andrew Luck did his Andrew Luck things by conducting a masterful drive to take the lead with less than a minute left… And, of course, Manziel had to do his Manziel things…. and now we have a great win by the Colts and a tough loss by the Browns overshadowed by Johnny “I would’ve f***ing hit him” Football. Now I’m not an NFL scout, I don’t pretend to know what’s best for each team but what I can tell you is this: with a 7-6 record, the Browns hold the short end of the stick in the surprisingly strong AFC North. Currently sitting in the cellar with slim to none playoff chances, Cleveland has a ticket to attention in Manziel. With LeBron in town with the Cavs, the Browns need to retain as much of the spotlight into December as they can and the only way to do that is to insert Mr. Football. As for the experts, even legendary NFL scout Gil Brandt believe Manziel should start this week.

  • The gunslinger of all gunslingers touched down in Green Bay today and it wasn’t Aaron Rodgers. Brett Favre return to the land of cheese this afternoon with Bart Starr and there are several reports that he will NOT make an appearance at the Packers game tonight:

Not sure exactly Favre plans on doing but it would seem awfully strange to be in Green Bay on the night of a big Monday Night game and not be looking on from a suite inside Lambeau. Then again, this is Brett Favre we’re talking about… (insert retirement/racy pic/jean commercial joke here).

  • Peyton Manning threw not one, not two, not three touchdown passes yesterday… he threw… none. First time in 51 games he came up with a goose egg in that department and it makes me wonder if the recent string of lackluster performances is either a sign of wear on his arm or a shift in offense philosophy to prevent what happened a season ago in the Super Bowl. The Broncos backfield continues to thrive when anyone but Montee Ball has the ball and it’s working. In three of his last four games Manning has essentially turned himself into Kyle Orton and aside from a vintage-Peyton performance again Miami, he has been a game manager, leaning on the rush and a very stingy defense. However, in all honesty, I have no doubt in my mind this is simply a measure being taken by John Fox and Peyton to give opposing teams more tape to look at and more facets to prepare for. If and when the Broncos need Manning to go bonkers, he’ll certainly be ready to step it up.
  • Quick three and out:
  1. Jeff Fisher is the man, trolling the crap out of Washington and RGIII.
  2. Speaking of Washington, the hits keep on coming, this time from the retired and immeasurably respected linebacker London Fletcher on the subject of Jim Haslett’s inferiority. Wowwaweewa… gotta love the candid remarks.
  3. Refs fist bumping, Bills head shake.

Saying Goodbye to the Pre-Season


Just like that, Fendi Onobun went from bad to worse in the pass catching department right when everyone thought he was gaining momentum. In addition to Kyle Adams not playing much, an indication that he may have already made the team, Onobun crashed and burned with two holding calls and a deflections leading to a touchdown. It’s too bad, his physical tools say superstar, his production says otherwise.

Steve Maneri has played a large portion of the game despite my previous belief that he was on solid ground to make the squad.

Marquess Wilson, Eben Britton and James Brown, on the other hand, were given the night off. Wilson is a big surprise, though maybe it shouldn’t be since GM Phil Emery drafted him just months ago in the sixth round.

Brandin Hardin, like Onobun, failed to capitalize on his extended playing time tonight, looking more like a player who was afraid to fail, than the free flying, hard hitting safety the Bears thought they drafted a year ago. Maybe that’s just what happens after a season-ending neck injury.

Jordan Palmer looked crisp, even when taking into consideration the defense he was tangoing with. Trent Edwards looked hesitant, failing to make an impact in the passing game. Then again, his running back was Harvey Unga…

Gould continues his perfect pre-season, booting a 52 and 45 yard field goals.

Demontre Hurst had a very impress performance, but was it a little to late to break the bubble?

Cuts come before Sunday, quite possibly tomorrow, and I’m extremely intrigued in who stays and who goes. Check back this weekend for final roster evaluations.

Thoughts throughout the battle

  • Brandon Hardin got beat BAD on the first play, was extremely late on a 9-route down the sideline. He then slipped on a route stemmed directly at him on the Browns’ second drive.
  • J’Marcus Webb had his third pre-snap penalty of the pre-season, a false start on the opening drive.
  • Palmer converted a handful of third downs from varying distances, impressive accuracy and poise. That includes the back shoulder touchdown throw to Joe Anderson on third and five.
  • Fendi Onobun has been praised for his blocking but gets a holding call prior to the conclusion of the first quarter. However, he did make two grabs!
  • Joe Anderson looked like a man on a mission with the third unit. He’s already a lock for the roster and is trying to prove he is a legitimate option behind Earl Bennett.
  • Demontre Hurst had a few good, hard wrap ups in addition to his forced intentional grounding on Hoyer.

Bears Pre-Season: Final Audition


Between now and Sunday, 22 players will no longer be on the active roster for the Chicago Bears. While a large majority of those already have their fates decided, a number of players go into tonight’s showdown with real NFL aspirations. Here are the 22 players, broken down by chances and circumstances, who will more than likely by cut:

Foregone conclusion:

  • #11 Josh Lenz- never really had a shot at catching on, unless he became the next Wes Welker, which clearly didn’t happen.
  • #18 Trent Edwards- He was brought in a day after Jordan Palmer, who had previously worked out with the team. Unless Palmer implodes, Edwards is expected to be back on the couch next week.
  • #45 Harvey Unga- The Bears ay not carry any fullbacks, but if they do, it most certainly won’t be Unga, it’ll be Tony Fiammetta.
  • #46 Tom Nelson- With Anthony Walters and Brandon Hardin battling it out, Nelson is simply a body to spare in the pre-season.
  • #64o Derek Dennis- Honestly, have you heard his name once, even with the injuries and inconsistencies up front?
  • #72 Josh Williams- After being brought in after the rash of injuries along the defensive line, it was a mild surprise he lasted longer than Kyle Moore.
  • #82 Brittan Golden- With battles ahead of him between Marquess Wilson, Eric Weems and Terrence Toliver, the odds of him earning a spot are nil.

Close, but no cigar

  • #25 Armando Allen- Michael Ford is forcing the Bears to make a tough decision picking between the two backs, but at this point, my gut tells me Ford is their man.
  • #30 Demontre Hurst- He had a chance if Isaiah Frey had slipped up, but Frey has impressed being expectations. The undrafted rookie has shown flashes of potential.
  • #39 CJ Wilson- Coaches wanted to see him be more physical and he answered the call with a mega hit in the Oakland game. Unfortunately, consistency is key in the NFL.
  • #53 Jerry Franklin- He practiced well, he played well, but his natural talents do not exceed the rookie Khaseem Greene or Jonathan Bostic, and he surely isn’t as keen on teams as Blake Costanzo.
  • #64 Christian Tupou- Big body, bigger hair, but not enough big plays. Could be brought back if Henry Melton relapses plus another injury upfront.
  • #71 Aston Whiteside- Physical, fast, agile, but he’s playing at a position of strength for the Bears.
  • #76o Cory Brandon- His versatility has kept him around, but ultimately it’s either him or J’Marcus Webb, and Webb has more “potential”.

Could, maybe, possibly, but probably not

  • Brandon Hardin
  • Brandon Hartson
  • Taylor Boggs
  • Corey Irvin
  • Terrence Toliver
  • Kyle Adams
  • Cheta Ozougwu
  • JT Thomas

Bears Post Game: Quick Hits


Winner winner, but let’s hold off on the chicken dinner. Yes, the offense put up points, but all five of Jay Cutler’s throws went to Brandon Marshall, and he had two turnovers. Matt Forte ran the ball well and the offensive line held it’s own, but the Chargers’ defense hardly looks like the one it once was when Shawn Merriman was roaming on the outside.

The defense was once again a major bright spot, at least the first unit. In all, three sacks, a forced fumble and an interception for the first unit. It was Phillip Rivers however.

Incredibly, the guys I wanted to watch made minimal, if any, impact in the game. Marquess Wilson and Fendi Onobun were not targeted with a single pass (only 12 were actually thrown) and Zack Minter didn’t show up in the box sheet either. It doesn’t mean they won’t grade out well, but to the stat box observer, they were no shows.

Michael Bush had an electrifying kick return but ran out of gas about six yards short. It’s good to see that from Ford, who could end up making the squad on the back of Armando Allen’s injury and a strong pre-season performance.

Jonathan Bostic had a mega hit on WR Mike Willie that got the fans on their feet. Completely legal hit and a great instinctual play.

That’s about it. I’ll write more tomorrow.


Bears-Chargers: Halftime Report


The right side of the line passed the eye test, as did Brandon Marshall’s hip and the Bears put up 14 points with their first unit despite two turnovers by Jay Cutler. On the flip side, all five of Cutler’s attempts were directed at Marshall, including an interception on a forced ball on a post route in front of the end zone. With weapons Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett, the thought was that Cutler would have possibilities to choose from. It was nice to see the explosiveness of Matt Forte on his 58- yard scamper.

Luckily for the Bears, Phillip Rivers was his usual generous self against the NFL’s best takeaway defense and they were able to capitalize on the opportunities. The defense was fantastic with contributions on the D line with Corey Wootton and Nate Collins coming up with sacks, Shea McClellin forcing a Rivers fumble, and Chris Conte scooping an interception from touching the turf.

Now with the second and third stringers heading in, we’ll be able to monitor the previously mentioned battles, providing some sort of excitement in the second half.

Bears Pre-Season (Take 2)

us flag at soldier field

After leading three unsuccessful offensive series, Jay Cutler and the Bears are back in action tonight in Chicago against the San Diego Chargers. In just a week the Bears have seen the right side of the line virtually become a tutorial for rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills after a solid but unimpressive game from James Brown, and an abysmal game from THE J’marcus Webb. In addition to starting two rookies, the three weeks of practice against the Bears base 4-3 cover 2 defense won’t adequately prepare the line for the 3-4 based Chargers’ attack. For this reason, I wouldn’t read too much into the overall performance by Long and Mills, but rather watch for the nuances of their job: passing off defenders, communicating on stunts and avoiding pre-snap penalties. There is no doubt they will get beat by newly acquired OLB Dwight Freeney and Co., but do they learn from it and prevent it from happening a second time? That’s the important aspect to watch.

Another rookie headlines the other side of the ball as well. With D.J. Williams’ calf out of a boot and no word on a timetable for return, Florida product Jonathan Bostic gets a second opportunity to display his speed, instincts and maturity in the cover 2 scheme. Transitioning from a collegiate defense based on hunting the ball carrier, Bostic’s responsibilities are now predicated on coverage and gap filling, two things he admitted were unnatural to him. He was successful last week against Cam Newton, taking a 51- yard interception return to the house, but can he do it against an established pocket passer in Phillip Rivers?

With the starters expected to play roughly the first quarter, the real players to watch will be the second string guys still battling it out for roster spots.

Rookie Marquess Wilson has been a hot topic in camp and is duking it out with veteran Devin Aromashodu for the final receiver spot and a role on special teams. It is imperative that he shows the coaches he can be a physical player if he hopes to be one of the 53 on Sept. 9th.

Fendi Onobun arguably had a worse first game than J’Marcus Webb, which is really saying something. He must prove he can catch the ball and utilize his freakishly athletic gifts if he hopes to beat out Steve Maneri and Leonard Pope for the right to play opposite Marty Bennett.

An impressive performance a week ago put Zack Minter in the mix for some looks at defensive tackle and could wind up winning a job with Nate Collins backing up Henry Melton, still concussed, and Stephen Paea.

Matt Blanchard had a turnover last week, but shaped up and played well for the remainder of the game. Unfortunately he won’t be afforded the same amount of reps tonight as he was last week. Trestman has repeatedly said: the way Matt makes the team is by taking care of the ball and showing an understanding for the offense. Deep down I’m rooting for Matt to make the team, but he didn’t last year and there is a chance he gets left off the roster come the regular season.

Overall, this is just another tune-up, but results must be achieved to keep the skeptics of Trestman an Cutler at bay for another week.