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Roster Questions/Evaluation

In my head this post orginally was titled The Curious Case of Caleb Hanie.  The intention was to look at how keeping Hanie on the roster instead of the practice squad may have been at the expense of positions that needed the spot more. Did the Bears really think so much of him and that he was a potential starter that they were willing to sacrifice a roster spot to hold on to him when that spot could have gone to another offensive linemen or wide receiver?

From there ChiFan and I branched this off and brought up some more questions about the current state of the roster and to some extent management.  What follows is a discussion/dialouge/questions and answers session about a number of topics from Jerry Angelo's fault in this situation and his status moving forward with the team to what identity should the Bears be tring to fit.

Hope you enjoy it and would love to hear from you in the comment section.

Caleb Hanie stayed on the Bears’ 53-man roster: Good or bad?

ChiFan13: I think it was a smart move. Hanie showed enough promise that teams with a lesser-caliber QB would pick him up in a heartbeat. I would not have been happy if he would’ve slipped away, especially with our amazing depth and quality at QB.

WCG: Depends who you are?  I think the Bears are obligated to stick with Kyle Orton for the full season, assuming he doesn’t completely collapse.  If the Bears miss the playoffs and Orton wasn’t all that impressive will Angelo and Smith be back?  There are positions where we need more help both in the starter role and for depth.  I just know that having another offensive linemen or secondary player might serve us better this year.

From a fan perspective, you never want to let go of a potential franchise QB, especially if you are the Bears.  Is Hanie a franchise QB?  I don’t know, but at this point we need to keep him.

Caleb Hanie - Preseason Numbers
9/16 101 1 0
5/9 46 1 1
3/7 59 1 0
12/17 155 0 1
29/49 361 3 2

Now that we kept Hanie, what do we do about Grossman and Simms?

WCG: Chicago fans have created an interesting situation for themselves.  There is no better place than Chicago to prove the theory that “the backup QB is the most popular player”.  In Chicago we are always looking at the next option.  What happens if, as a fan, you have already written off your backup?  If Orton goes down or is ineffective Grossman is the next option and at this point probably still a better option than Hanie, but the fans have already expressed their dislike.  Of course, fans are fickle.  If he plays well we’d be back on the bandwagon.  

I still cannot get out of my head the beginning he had to his 2006 season.  We know he can play.  I’d hate to part with him, but it might be the best for both.  Simms will need some games to be ready, but he will be ready before Hanie.  Assuming the worst and Orton and Grossman are no good are we ready to put the team in the hands of an undrafted QB?  Simms might not be an upgrade over Grossman, but he does have experience and he might be able to hold us over until we find the next guy be it Hanie or somebody else.

ChiFan13: We agree on this, WCG. Before Orton was named the starter, I could have cared less if the fans booed Rex. But, once Orton was “the guy,” people kept booing Rex. At this point, booing our backup QB is not only wrong, but it’s borderline stupid. What if Orton goes down? Strictly from an emotional approach, Rex deserves a chance somewhere else. I know, I know, I was the most anti-Rex person on this board (side note to #23 and rahulsriram: you were right about the booing thing). 

Anyways, I say that we keep Grossman. He knows the system, and while he is mistake-prone in our offense, Simms would have to come in and learn the system. And, I’m not a big fan of having another huge-ego attitude within the organization. I do not want him.

Grossman vs. Simms - Career Numbers
Rex Grossman 489/900 5907 31 33
Chris Simms 291/492 3087 12 17

We have two practice squad spots left. Who should we try to grab?

WCG: Can’t say. I don’t think picking up an offensive linemen who no other team wants is going to benefit us.  If there is a guy on any team’s practice squad and he can be a quality contributor either a team is loaded at that position or they have done a bad job of evaluating players.  So I’d say the Bears comb the cast offs and pick up the best players they can.  

ChiFan13: First off WCG, the last thing we should’ve done is sign another WR to the practice squad. Brandon Rideau is a player that has potential, for sure. But, we already have a roster full of six mediocre WR’s. And yes, I said mediocre. If any of them gets over 800 yards this season, I’ll admit that I was wrong. I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

I honestly don’t know what to do about our other two spots. We kept Joey LaRocque, yet got rid of Michael Okwo. I thought that was somewhat strange. And speaking of this, I wanna bring up a question, WCG.

WCG: All yours…

This is a two part question: 1) Let’s consider this season goes 6-10. Should Jerry go? And 2) What is our identity in terms of players?


1) In this case Angelo must absolutely go and the reason is simple.  He has failed to find a player at the most important spot on the field, QB. This is Chicago! We live on defense and the run game, and all he had to do is find a solid, borderline Pro Bowler and that would have been all we need.  This franchise forgets most of us grew up with Mike Ditka and that is the most consistently good we have been in some time.  We are not used to sugar coating and Lovie Speak.  If you line sucks, say they suck.  It shouldn’t be up to the players to do that, the coach should.  I have no ill will toward either Angelo or Lovie, I mean they took us to the Super Bowl and they have brought in some great, great players, but it might be time to hand it off to somebody who knows how to finish the job.

2) I don’t care where we are as a team, this team’s identity is always great defensive play and an above average/great run game.   Weather and stadium to some extent dictate that, but a team should embody their city.  Chicago is not a high flying town.  Keep it on the ground and pound it.

ChiFan13: 1) Yes. I think there were two nails in his coffin this offseason: He did nothing to shore up the OL and then he lied about Chris Williams’ back. Terrence Metcalf was a starter on our offensive line. Angelo really truly thought that our OL was solid? The fact that they’re looking at Willie Anderson and picked up Buenning is damning enough evidence of that. Second, he lied about Chris Williams’ medical status. Now that I’ve calmed down a little bit about it, I’m not mad that he drafted him knowing his pre-existing condition. But why lie to us about it? If he was upfront with us and Williams didn’t get hurt, his reputation is no worse for wear. Now, he’s lost the trust of a lot of fans, myself included.

2) Honestly, who knows anymore. We used to be a “build around the draft” and “keep your own” type of team. We still keep (read: overpay) our own players who have succeeded. Yet, we have missed horrendously during the draft more than we have gained solid players. Thus, I think we’re going to see a progression of the Bears reaching out and gaining talent from the outside of the team more than we’re used to.

Here is a good one:  Right now I don’t really know what we have in the secondary.  Are we or aren’t we solid back there?

WCG:  Management believes and I tend to agree that we have all the pieces we just need to figure out where they go.  We have a solid top-3 cornerbacks.  We all agree that so long as Mike Brown is healthy, he needs to be on the field.  After that things get a little hazy.  Danieal Manning has been slotted as the primary nickel corner, free safety and strong safety.  Now, he might even be the 4th corner and a big contributor to the return game.  I have no idea what Manning is, but they need to pick one and let him work on it.  Kevin Payne and Brendan McGowan are battling it out for the last safety spot.  Early word is Payne has the job.  Both are big hitters, so I am ok with anyone of these here.  Our secondary is fine, so long as our front line does their job.  If they stop the run and get pressure, our secondary doesn’t have to do anything except protect their own.

ChiFan13: Our secondary? Our secondary is an absolute joke right now. Again, this problem stems to overpaying our defense all at roughly the same time (2006 offseason to end of 2007 offseason). There was some accountability in 2007; these players were playing their asses off so they could hit the payday. Not a fan of Angelo and his “management style.”

I think that we have the players back there to be successful, but Jerry and Lovie need to stop deciding where Manning should go. If he turns out to be a “bust,” Jerry and Lovie are to blame. He’s an athlete, but playing him all over has turned him into a jack of all trades and a master at none.

The rest of the secondary isn’t that great, either. We looked like hell in the preseason. I know you can’t look into the play of our units during preseason, but there are things we can extract. For example, our defense can’t tackle. Another issue is that we’ve been struggling in coverage. I don’t think the secondary is as strong as we think.

The only receiver that Kyle Orton has shown any connection with is Rashied Davis, but the Bears still seem to have no idea what they are doing with that position.  What do you think of the receivers and who do you back as the two starters?

WCG: The Bears seem content to start Brandon Lloyd and Devin Hester and are just looking for the reason.  Both Davis and Hester are ideal for the slot, but I think Hester will do the most with moving around and having the open field.  Orton likes Davis, until he develops chemistry with the other receivers or some other receivers steps up, I say put Davis in the starting line up.

ChiFan13: God save me, I still don’t have an answer for this. Brandon Lloyd, like Rex, has been known to be the world’s best practice player. Do we know that Lloyd isn’t going to suffer from the same ailment again this year? I think Lloyd should start out the season, but yank him from the #2 starting role if he doesn’t pan out. To replace him, I’d either go with Bennett or Bradley, whoever Orton is most comfortable with. I’m a fan of putting Davis in the slot and having Hester take the #1.

Bottom line: We have 6 players who, right now, are mediocre at best. My “plan” would be what I said earlier, but who knows. It could go so many different directions.

Wide Receivers - Preseason Numbers
Rashied Davis 5 69 2
Brandon Lloyd 7 69 0
Marty Booker 2 26 0
Devin Hester 4 36 0
Mark Bradley 8 106 0
Earl Bennett 2 21 0

Bears management seems content to approach any issues with band aids.   The trading for Dan Buenning was nice and might work out, but doesn’t impact us immediately.  If we were to pick up Chris Simms, he likely isn’t the future of the franchise.  Earlier in the year they declined to even look at free agents like Alan Faneca or Michael Turner because of their price tag.  Is Bears management’s refusal to go after the big established names going to be their downfall?

WCG: I don’t know if it going to be the biggest reason if the team collapses, but it has be brought up in the conversation.  I know there were just as many people who were against the Bears signing those two players, but wouldn’t we all feel a bit better now if Faneca was in the mix?  If the Bears had taken a shot at a receiver like Anquan Boldin we would be looking much better at that position and wouldn’t have had to wait until days before our first regular season game to find out who our starters are.

It is not a money issue as the Bears have spent a significant amount of money this year, but they don’t seem to want to spend it on any new players, only existing ones.  I don’t have a problem with the theory of rewarding your own, but if it hampers your team from upgrading much more pressing needs that is a problem.

ChiFan13: Bears management’s downfall is due to so many issues that we don’t have enough room to name them, but yes. Their self-fulfilling prophecy is that they draft players, develop them, and lock them up to a long-term deal. This is why we don’t have the money to go out and pick up big-name players.

Their downfall has been a long time coming. In 2006, I know I overlooked the warning signs because we were winning. The offseasons that have come afterwards have shown the ineptitude of their grand scheme. If we have a losing season, I believe that Jerry should be fired and Lovie should be placed on warning. We need a GM who is going to make this team better. Our current GM did nothing about our OL. How can a person be so delusional that they overlook the fact that Terrence Metcalf was a starter? Did Jerry and Lovie truly think that our OL was going to be good?

They are now scrambling to find help. In doing so, they are accomplishing one thing: It is a nonverbal cue that their strategy isn’t the correct one.