For the first time in decades the Bears have a QB!

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The Bears have been drafting and signing QBs right and left for years without ever finding one that can lead the O to a level of performance that would equal the D. Now they have their man.

The Bears better be right that Jay Cutler is the one because they have cut or traded every other QB on the roster that had any experience. Cutler is in my opinion one of the best young QBs in the league. He reads Ds and processes information quickly, has a strong arm, and the leadership that keeps the team focused. But the problem lies in Cutler’s inability to both throw and catch the ball on the same play. Frankly, the Bears have a 100 point QB and a 25 point set of WRs.

Devin Hester is the Bears #1 WR by default. While he is developing into a fair WR by increasing his catches from 20 as the 3rd WR in 07 to 51 last season. The problem is that he is also the greatest weapon on special teams in the league. While his increased emphasis on the WR part of the job has not hurt his kick return numbers, it has devastated his punt return numbers. He averaged 12.8 yards per return in 06 with 3 TDs and 15.5 yards in 07 with 4 TDs he had only 6.2 yards per attempt in 08 with 0 TDs. For an offense that struggled to get out of its own way, that was a disaster. The news about #2 is worse. The Bears used their first of 2 3rd round picks on Earl Bennett (Vanderbilt) but he was a total bust in year one. That is not too unusual because it takes a WR a couple of years to blossom. But Bennett is expected to instantly become a factor. That is not likely to happen even though Cutler and he spent some time together in college. Rashied Davis and rookie Juaquin Iglesias are the backups. Davis started 12 games in 08 but caught only 35 passes. Iglesias is a project.

Things are better at TE. The Bears go 2 TE often and both Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark can stretch the field and open up running lanes. Olsen is a great Fantasy football option.

In 08 rookie Matt Forte ran for 1,238 yards but averaged a pedestrian 3.9 yards per attempt. He is a good receiver and led the team with 63 catches. Despite the struggles of the O line, 3.9 per attempt is not enough. Should the passing game actually threaten anyone, it could improve the average to 4.2 or more. That is essential. Backup Kevin Jones is two years removed from the knee injury and should be better in 09. Adrian Peterson is the “other” Peterson but has 3rd down ability.

The 09 O line is talented but old and fragile. UFA signing LT Orlando Pace has missed more games in the last 3 years than he has played. FA LG Frank Omiyale is paid like a pro bowler but doesn’t play like it. C Olin Kreutz is in his 12th year and it shows. He has lost the punch and first step that made him a pro bowler so often. RG Roberto Garza works hard and is OK in small spaces but can not pull due to a lack of athleticism. RT Chris Williams the 14th pick in 08 struggled with a back injury and conditioning in his rookie season. He needs to prove he was worth the money. Backup Josh Beekman started for the Bears last year and FA Kevin Shaffer started for the Browns. They are more than adequate.

The D line is full of name brands that just did not play well in 08. LE Adewale Ogunleye, LT Tommie Harris and RE Alex Brown get pro bowl votes but not enough pressure on the QB. In the Bear D, they are the key pass rushers. NT Dusty Dvoracek works hard but is not as consistent in collapsing the pocket as he should. He will be pressed by T Marcus Harrison and T Anthony Adams. E Mark Anderson won the RE job in 06 with 12 sacks but lost his job back to Brown in 07.

WLB Lance Briggs and MLB Brian Urlacher are pro bowl quality. Even at 31 Urlacher still gets it done. SLB Pisa Tinoisamoa was picked up off waivers from the Rams. He is adequate at best. Jamar Williams, Nick Roach and Hunter Hillenmeyer provide the backup strength and all have starting experience. Marcus Freeman is a developmental project but has physical talent.

The D backfield is above average when healthy. CB Nate Vasher has been in and out of the lineup for the last 2 years. CB Charles Tillman is solid as is SS Kevin Payne against the run. Payne struggles in coverage. Corey Graham or Danieal Manning will play FS. Manning is the athlete but Graham has the cover skills that Manning lacks.

OVERALL: The Bears will go as far as their O takes them. If the receivers can develop, the O will be fine and the Bears will challenge the Packers for the Division Title. Cutler is the type of QB that can take the team to a title if he has a decent team around him. The Bears have the D and a reasonable running game. They need the passing game to become a complete team.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Cutler,Bears,Browns,Hester. Clark,Olsen,Forte,Kreutz,Williams,Pace,Ogunleye,Harris,Brown,Briggs,Urlacher,Tillman,Vasher,Manning,Payne

NFC Draft grades

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By Bill Smith

The grades for the NFC seem to be a bit higher than the AFC.

Winners:

Bears: Getting QB Jay Cutler alone would make the Bears a winner. Adding Juaquin Iglesias (WR Oklahoma) in the 3rd was outstanding. DJ Moore (CB Vanderbilt) in the 4th, and both Johnny Knox (WR Abilene Christian) and Marcus Freeman (ILB Ohio State) in the 5th made this the top draft in NFC. Grade A++

Falcons: The Falcons got great value with their early picks. Peria Jerry (DT Mississippi ) is outstanding. William Moore (FS Missouri) would have been a first round pick last season had he come out. Lawrence Sidbury Jr. (OLB Richmond ) is the best pure pass rusher in the draft. If he ever learns how to play the run, he could be all pro for years. GRADE A

49ers: Michael Crabtree (WR Texas Tech) was a gift from Oakland at the 10 pick. Glen Coffee (RB Alabama) is solid. The 49ers got 2 of my sleepers in Scott McKillop (ILB Pittsburgh) who is a beast inside in the 5th round and Bear Pascoe (TE Fresno St) in the 6th. GRADE A

Eagles: The birds got value in every pick. Jeremy Maclin (WR Missouri) R1 and LeSean McCoy (RB Pittsburgh) were great values that fit major needs. Cornelius Ingram (TE Florida) would have been a 1st round pick had he not been injured. There are rumors that his knee surgery was not completely successful. But in the 5th round he was a steal. Victor Harris (CB Virginia Tech) has technique issues but is a value in the 5th. GRADE A-

Cardinals: The Cards got lucky when Chris Wells (RB Ohio State) fell to them at 31. He is a big back that fits the team’s offense perfectly. 3rd round pick Rashad Johnson (FS Alabama) is solid and 5th round pick Herman Johnson (OG LSU) blocks out the sun. GRADE B+

Cowboys: Dallas added a lot of depth by trading out of the first 2 rounds. Stephen McGee (QB Texas A&M) was one of my sleepers and a good value in the 4th. DeAngelo Smith (CB Cincinnati) and Michael Hamlin (SS Clemson) in the 5 round were both great values. Their best pick was Mike Mickens (CB Cincinnati) in the 7th. GRADE B+

Packers: The Pack got good value in their first 2 picks BJ Raji (NT Boston College) in the first and Clay Matthews (OLB USC) in the 2nd. The rest was average. GRADE B-

Losers:

Bucs: Josh Freeman (QB Kansas St) was a reach but Tampa collects QBs. The rest of their picks were a round early but can play. GRADE D+

Panthers: To trade a 1st next year to get a risk like Everette Brown (DE/OB Florida State) in the second round was a bad move. Then they reached badly for all the rest of their picks particularly Corvey Irvin (DT Georgia) in the 3rd. GRADE D

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: NFL Draft,NFL,College football,Bears,Falcons,49ers,Eagles,Cardinals,Cowboys,Packers,Buccaneers,Panthers

The analysis of the Cutler trade.

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Fryingpan Sports

The analysis of the Cutler trade.

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By Bill Smith

The Broncos got lucky—real lucky—in the Cutler trade. It is hard to overestimate the NFL owners’ willingness to jump at getting talent. And make no mistake about it, Cutler is talented. But a lot of that talent is not performance, it is potential. And nothing can get a coach fired faster than the P word—potential.

Part of the reason that Cutler went as high as he did was the lack of starting quality QBs available in free agency and the draft. There are a couple of competent veteran FA QBs with starting experience like Byron Leftwitch, J.P Losman, and Joey Harrington among others. So far no one has indicated a great deal of interest in any of the three.

The deal wasn’t all that one sided. The Bears gave the 09 first and third, a first in 2010 and QB Kyle Orton. They got QB Jay Cutler and the Broncos 5th pick in 2010. The first and third picks in 09 was the minimum that you would expect for a young franchise QB. Besides, the Bears received a compensatory pick at the end of the 3rd round for the free agents it lost in 08. Those picks are offset by Cutler. The inclusion of Orton is no big deal for the Bears because with Cutler starting, Orton would have been a backup at best. The only choice in question is the Bears’ 1st in 2010.

If the Bears wanted to trade up from the 18th pick to get high enough to get QB Mark Sanchez (USC), they would at least have to get to 9th pick. That would get them in front of San Francisco who would take Sanchez if he was available.

The 18th pick is worth 900 points on the NFL Draft choice trade value chart. The 9th pick is worth 1350. The Bears’ third round pick in 09 is worth 180 points. Even including the third pick, trade value to get to the 9th pick from the 18th pick in 09 (900+180) is still 270 points short. The value of the Bears 1 in 2010 is 400 points (equal to the second round in 09).

Given that, the gave a total of 130 extra points (equal to a late 3rd round in 09) to get a proven QB like Cutler rather than a rookie 1 year starter in Sanchez. Sanchez is a total unknown. Those of you that read this column frequently know I have serious doubts about Sanchez. If he is good enough to be a top 15 draft pick, why wasn’t he able to beat out John David Booty (5th round pick 137 by the Vikings) for the 3 years that they were both at USC?

Any GM in the world would trade Sanchez and a third pick for a proven QB like Cutler. Cutler has much more arm strength, makes better reads, and has proven himself against an NFL pass rush. Sanchez works hard throwing the 15 yard out from the opposite hash which is a key measure of arm strength. He also has never faced NFL pass rushers or NFL corners.

And even if Chicago make that trade to get to #9, with the luck of the Bears finding a QB, Seattle would take Sanchez at 4 and the Bears would be out of luck.

What do the Broncos do for a QB? I will have that in a future column.

I believe that new head coach of the Broncos, Josh McDaniel, was the totally wrong pick for Denver. The offense for Denver last year was in the top 10 in the league. It was the 29th ranked defense that killed the Bronco chances for the playoffs. And yet owner Pat Bowlen selected an offensive coach in McDaniel who was the offensive coordinator for New England. In the spitting contest between his HC and franchise QB, Bowlen backed McDaniel.

The Denver media reported that Bowlen said he had not been told that the GM Brian Xanders and HC were trying to deal the starting QB. Don’t believe that for a second. Had McDaniel not told Bowlen he was shopping Cutler, the Coach would be gone (along with the GM) and Cutler would still be a Bronco.

I think McDaniel has set the Broncos back 3 years even with the extra draft choices. I have always liked Orton. But Orton is at best a care-taker QB and not someone that can lead you deep into the AFC playoffs. As a Browns fan, that does not sadden me in the least. We will see which team is helped more by the trade. My bet is that Chicago is now even with the Vikings in talent to win the NFC North.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: Cutler,Bears,Broncos,NFL,Draft,49ers,Seahawks,McDaniel,Bowlen,Xanders,Draft choice value chart,Sanchez,Vikings,Booty,Leftwitch,J.P Losman,Joey Harrington,Orton,Patroits

Niblets from around the net for 4/4/09

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Fryingpan Sports

Niblets from around the net for 4/4/09

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By Bill Smith

Best comment of the last week: from fantasy basketball on Fantasy Baseball Fans—Beware of the WBC players in your drafts.

Great advice, WBC isn’t at ALL on par with MLB. I was actually having this discussion with a friend of mine last night as we were scoping out each others lineups (different leagues of course). He hadn’t even thought of that so I had to fill him in, I think he owes me a beer or two.

As you have seen, I am never shy about sharing my opinion. However, I think the MLB season will prove me right overall. And yes, I think he does owe you a beer or two. By the way, I do have a Pay-pal account if you wish to donate.

Updates on previous columns:

Kentucky is no longer THE basketball power—GET OVER IT!

John Calipari, the former head coach of Memphis, has accepted the Kentucky job and the 31 million dollars they offered. He said “Kentucky in basketball is like Notre Dame in football.”

My analysis: He is EXACTLY right. The fans and supporters of both of those teams live in their teams’ past successes and believe that their history entitles them to championships every year.

Bronco Owner Bowlen shoots his team in the leg

I was wrong about how much Denver would get for Cutler. I over estimated the intelligence of the NFL general managers. I will have more to say about that Monday.

Fresh Niblets:

The Browns are turning a little green around the edges.

New HC Eric Mangini has brought a lot of Jets to Cleveland particularly on D. That wouldn’t be a bad idea had the Jets been better than the Browns. Last year the Jets gave up more points than Cleveland. See my full story of this on the Browns page on NFLDraftDog.com.

Overview of the Offensive 2009 Draft Class

This year’s crop of WR prospects is making the NFL scouts smile. It isn’t all that good but looks great compared to the last couple of classes. The running backs this year are R E A L L Y S L O W. To see my entire article, check out Profootballcentral.com.

Stupid is as stupid does”

The Giants cut Plaxico Burress yesterday. When you shoot your friend in the foot, that is bad. When you shoot yourself in the leg, that is stupid enough to deserve whatever you get.

My analysis: He will get jail time and if he is available at all in 09 or 2010, he will face at least a 4 or 6 game suspension by the league. TO Plax’s agent—Call the Raiders. Your guy will fit right in.

Drugs and college football

Rick Serritella, of NFLDraftBible.com, reports Southern California LBs Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing tested positive for steroids at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to various sources, including one NFL team. In addition, Serritella reported that Florida WR Percy Harvin, Illinois CB Vontae Davis, and Texas-El Paso PK Jose Martinez each failed a drug test for marijuana. Boston College DT B.J. Raji had a positive test for an undisclosed drug.

My analysis: When is the NCAA going to get serious about addressing steroids? Maybe it should be a little more focused on testing for illegal substances and a little less on an extra call to a prospect.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: NFL Football,NFL Draft,Broncos,NFL,Burress,USC,Boston College,Cutler,Browns,Mangini,Illinois,College football,NCAA,Jets,MLB,Fantasy Baseball,Kentucky,College Basketball

Bronco Owner Bowlen shoots his team in the leg.

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Fryingpan Sports

Bronco Owner Bowlen shoots his team in the leg.

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By Bill Smith

Thanks to Plaxico Burress, there is new term around the NFL. “Burress” – A verb describing shooting yourself in the leg. Yesterday, Bronco owner Pat Bowlen Burressed his own team—he announced that his was being forced to trade their starting quarterback because he clearly refuses to play for the Broncos. WHAT?

This is just one more stupid move by the Broncos in a Circus de Stupid off season that makes the Dallas Cowboys look organized.

First, as I said in my column The media has missed the point of the Cutler vs. McDaniels spitting contest Bowlen blew it firing Mike Shanahan and blew it again in hiring the 32 year old Josh McDaniels.

But what was Bowlen thinking when he authorized his newbie coach to dangle a relatively proven Jay Cutler in a deal to get the unproven Matt Cassel? Perhaps the real question is was Bowlen thinking at all? Personally I wouldn’t trade Cutler for Cassel and a first round draft choice.

Cassel has had one good year with one of the best defenses in the league and outstanding receivers like Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Cutler has single ply toilet paper for a defense, a 9th string running back and Brandon Marshall, one decent receiver with a bad case of Ocho Cinco in the head and a case of Braylon Edwards’ style dropsy in his hands.

McDaniels has indicated that he did not think the offer would get out! How stupid is that? The only escape hatch out of Stupidville for Bowlen would be if McDaniels and newbie GM Brian Xanders didn’t tell him before shopping Cutler. If that is the case, Bowlen certainly would have fired both of them. That would have solved the problem and Cutler would have come back and played for the Broncos.

But Bowlen didn’t do that. Instead, he cut Xanders off at the knees by announcing that because of the rift between Cutler and McDaniels, Cutler refuses to play for the Broncos and has forced a trade. That is perhaps the dumbest thing I have heard an owner do in years.

What Bowlen did with his statement was reduce the trade value of Cutler from two 1st round picks to a mid second round pick if he’s lucky. The teams that are interested in Cutler are going to low ball offers because it is clear that the relationship between coach and QB makes the Hundred Years War seem like a stroll through Central Park on a nice day.

Bowlen is destroying the Broncos. He has fired a competent coach in Shanahan and replaced him with a incompetent in McDaniels. He let the spitting contest between his franchise QB and head coach go WAY too long. Then folded up like a balsa wood beach chair when the QB’s agent Bus Cook called and said his client would not play again for the Broncos. Bowlen is letting the one real asset of the team go. Because of his big mouth, the team won’t begin to get a reasonable value for a young franchise QB.

Several teams have expressed public interest in Cutler and he will get traded. But the value of a disgruntled QB that refuses to play is reduced by 50 percent. Somebody better explain the basics of negotiating trades in Big boy football. He clearly doesn’t understand them.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: Bowlen,Burress,Cutler,NFL Football,nfl draft,McDaniels,Xanders,Cook,Cassel,Broncos. NFL,Shanahan,Moss,Welker,trade value

Saturday Niblets from around the net for 03/28/09

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Fryingpan Sports

Saturday Niblets from around the net for 03/28/09

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By Bill Smith

Best comment of the last 2 weeks:

Acai Burn’s comment on Don’t get too excited about a 3 team deal involving Jay Cutler and the Browns.

The Browns have two serviceable quarterbacks on the team at this time and to make a move at the qb position when they have other needs is a waste.

The problem is that in a three way deal, there is no way to compensate the Browns for the loss of Quinn. The Broncos will demand more than Quinn in return for Cutler. The question I posed boils down to where will the draft choice(s) for the Browns come from to compensate them for giving up Quinn?

Updates on previous columns:

Thoughts about the first 2 rounds of the NCAA Tournament. – CBS has done a little better job limiting the switches in games. The officials must be reading my site. There have been very few visits to the scoring table replay TV since I commented on the issue. The top seeded teams are still in control of the bracket although Xavier gave Pittsburgh a tough game on Thursday night. In my opinion a 3 winning over a 2 is not an upset. The quality of play was still way below average even in the games between 2nd and 3rd seeds. The experience of Missouri was too much for 2nd seed Memphis. The Missouri pressure cause both forced and unforced turnovers by the younger Memphis players. Shot selection is a totally unknown concept in college basketball today.

Owens going to Buffalo says most about the BillsOur favorite drama queen Terrell Owens did not report to the voluntary workouts in Buffalo. That is an indication that he is not overjoyed at being forced to sign with the NFL equivalent of Siberia. Supposedly, Coach Dick Jauron told TO it was alright to miss the workouts. However, TO has to earn the support of the Bills’ locker room. Avoiding workouts with the team is not the way to do that. The Bills’ organization is going to have to put TO on a VERY short leash.

Fresh Niblets:

The NFL is considering a developmental league. Given the current economic downturn, that would not be on the radar without the United Football League starting play in 09. Keep checking this site for updates on the UFL.

Curt Schilling retires. Schilling is a shoe and a bloody sock in for the Hall of Fame. While his regular season numbers are good, his performances in the playoffs and the World Series puts him in. The very best players want the ball when the season is on the line. He wanted it and was at his best in the biggest games.

Patrick White West Virginia QB refused to do WR drills at his pro day. The NFL scouts wanted to see White catch the ball and demonstrate his abilities at WR. White wants to play QB and given the number of teams in desperate need of a QB, I think he has a chance. He will probably be as good a wildcat formation QB as any in the league. But he has the chance to develop into a Mike Vick type QB without the dog fighting baggage.

The NCAA is investigating possible recruiting violations at Univ. of Connecticut. Coach Jim Calhoun was under fire for his reaction to questions by a reporter about his salary. This should add to the heat considerably. Although the player in question never played for UConn, the best way to defuse the issue is to win the championship.

Miguel Tejada sentenced for lying to Congress about steroids – Since it can’t seem to convict the users, the US Congress is going after those that refused to name names. Now, if we could just get those in Congress to admit their guilt for the housing and economic crisis, …

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones lifted the gag order on HC Wade Phillips for the owners meetings—Opps! – Phillips said it takes 4 years to tell if a HC can do the job. No Wade, we knew you were a dolt by the third game in your first HC job. You have been fired twice since then and should have been let go after last years disaster.

People wonder why Jones keeps Phillips as HC. Admittedly, trying to coach the Cowboys is like trying to herd cats—it just is not possible. It is not that Jones can’t see Phillips’ short comings. Phillips keeps his job by letting Jones call all the shots. The reason that Jimmy Jones and Bill Parcells are no longer in Dallas is they would not put up with Jones’ constant interference.

The Blue Jackets look like they are going to make the playoffs for the first time. It seems silly to play 82 game to find out which half of the league is not going to the playoffs. Even so, the CBJ have never made the post season. For fans of Columbus, all I can say is IT’S ABOUT TIME!

The Browns signed UFA alleged OT John St. Clair to a 3 year 9 mill contract. YUCK! St. Clair is a turnstile at tackle. If they play him at guard, he might be an adequate reserve. But at tackle, St. Clair has left more broken QB’s on the ground behind him than Mean Joe Greene.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: Browns,Quinn,Cutler,Broncos. NFL,Draft,NFL Draft,UFL,United Football League,White,West Virginia,College football,QB,WR,Connecticut,Tejada,Steroids,Congress,Economic crisis,CBS,Officials,Phillips,Jones,Parcells,Blue Jackets,NHL,PLAYOFFS,St. Clair,Bills,Owens,TO,NCAA Tournament,College Basketball

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