Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Signing and Sighing

The Tommie Harris extension was a no-brainer. When he is on the field and healthy, there is no better defensive tackle in the league. He is a dominant, young, game-changing player. As pleased as I am about his new deal, let's not forget that despite 3 straight Pro Bowls, Harris has not been consistently healthy. The fact that he admitted to playing hurt all of last year in order to earn the big cash is commendable, but his injury history should scare the Bear fan. Last year, Harris was not the player for whom offensive coordinators game plan. I remember a young Adrian Peterson and the Viking offensive line kicking the shit out of Bears on the ground. I remember a lot of rushing yards yielded last season. Make no mistake, getting this deal done was crucial to our future, but I am cautious in my optimism.

Don't give the Bears front office too much credit for the Harris signing. This kind of deal, the team locking up a young star and avoiding a franchise tag or free agency, is standard operating procedure in this NFL era. The alternative is disaster, losing a stud in his prime. It just doesn't happen. If it does, GM's lose jobs. Thanks for not fucking this up. That's all the Bears suits get. If you want some real ass-kissing, let's see how y'all do with Devin. Get 'er done, boys.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Reverse Psycho

Dave Haugh, the Tribune's Bears beat writer, nails the sad history of Cedric Benson in this article. Enough said.

Now for something completely different. Urlacher pissed off BearLand, bitched about his contract in the press and purposely blew off Organized Team Activities. Bad move. However, he appeared for mandatory mini-camp and then told the GM that he wants to retire a "Bear." It appears that this renegotiation will get done. Moments later, Benson goes off the reservation and gets himself cut. Yesterday, Urlacher shows up for OTAs. To a man, every teammate says what a great feeling it is to have their leader and best player back on the field and in the locker room.

Did he plan this? I don't give him credit for being that smart, but I admit, when I read about his appearance at Halas Hall, I felt all warm and gooey for old #54. What a turnaround. Add Benson's boner, it gives the fans a good perspective on the difference between an All-Pro professional and a first-round bust. Got to have Brian Urlacher on the squad. If I had the purse strings, I would be loosening them for Urlacher. He could thank Cedric for the raise.

As the dog days of summer approach, the thoughts of this middle-aged man turn to...bratwurst. The quest for the best brat has concluded. Of course, the Johnsonville will always be a quality choice. You can't go wrong there. Plus, accessibility is key. When you can go to Jewel and cover your sausage run, it saves time. If you got the time, I got the new King. Just drive to Elburn, Illinois and buy the fresh brats at the Elburn meat market. Or get off at the last and furthest stop on a Chicago commuter train. It is near Sugar Grove. In other words, it's far. But so worth it. It is a true German brat. It has a great casing for grilling and is full of flavor with no obvious fat. I know that it has fat, but it doesn't explode from the run off of fat. I can't explain it; just come to the tailgates next season. They are very good.

Illinois High School football schedules are out today. That is always a landmark date for me. There will be some football watching this season. And it ain't gonna be on many Sundays. Friday nights and Saturdays, preferably. NFL tickets available.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Calling All Sober Running Backs

Cedric Benson was arrested for DWI last night in Austin, Tx. He was pulled over after 3:00 a.m. by police. This is bad news for the Bears. He has to go, this Benson. I may have given him the benefit of the doubt on the Boating WI that he received several weeks ago. Now, I know that Benson does not care about winning, his teammates or the fans who support his team. Why can't he stay in or go home early or hire a driver or designate a driver? I could go on and on. These were the same questions we were asking about Tank Johnson a year ago. The Bears cut him despite the fact that his DWI was ultimately dropped. It doesn't matter if Benson is innocent. It's clear that his priority is not football. It's Cedric Benson.

This current disaster happened after I just watched the replay of Benson's best start as a Bear. Bears v. Broncos 2007, the evening Devin Hester tore up the Broncos. Well, early on, Hester muffed a punt which led to a Denver touchdown. It was Benson who kept the Bears in the game. Benson was coming off his 11 carry for 89yard performance against the Seahawks. He had a 43 yard run in that game which the Bears lost. I recall the coaches were criticized for not running the ball more during that game.

Well, they came out running versus Denver. Benson looked great. He ran hard, found daylight and powered downhill. He finished his runs with his pads down. He ran with abandon. He was consistent and looked like a real NFL running back. At least until his last carry, his eighth. It was a good long run, over 10 yards. As he was tackled, he twisted his ankle. Season over. That is the other way we will remember Benson. Arrested or Injured. The only time this moron gets a designated driver is when he is carted off the gridiron. Or being driven from a crime scene in bracelets. I feel woozy.

What's next? We have to find some running backs to plug the hole. It can be done. You just have to be creative. Maybe rookie Matt Forte can cover us until 2009, but I would scour every roster and search for that hidden gem. The Packers got huge dividends for the minor expense it took to snag Ryan Harris from the Giants. Just be active and open-minded, and I guarantee we will come out of this OK. I am talking myself into this. Benson, the bad decisions on and off the field aside, still cannot stay healthy. Hasn't and never will. So, let's say goodbye and move on. I think I'm O.K. now.

On the contract topic, this Devin Hester thing is a real dilemma. He wants out of his rookie deal. I agree. However, he wants #1 receiver money. I cannot agree. As awesome as he is, Hester is not even a solid #2 receiver in the league. He is the greatest returner in league history. There is no set pay level for someone like Hester. He should be the highest paid return guy ever, but I that cannot be enough money. He may never be a good receiver. I suspect that he will, but you can't pay on spec. (See Cedric Benson or any first round bust) Based on past performance, the Bears should front load a 3 year deal with millions in bonus money and heavy incentives on receiving performance. Pay him now for lighting up the NFL for two straight years, but performance base the rest of the dough. After a few years, if Hester becomes an every down stud, he can back up the Brinks truck. Make no mistake, the league will stop kicking to this guy this year. Then, the Bears will have to find new ways to get him the ball. I look forward to that.