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The 670 The Score / Chicago Tribune Bears Training Camp Roundtable

Holding is more effective at protecting your QB than bad poetry.
Holding is more effective at protecting your QB than bad poetry.

670 The Score’s Mike Mulligan, Brian Hanley, Laurence Holmes and Zach Zaidman and the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, Matt Bowen and Fred Mitchell teamed up for the Mully & Hanley Bears Training Camp Roundtable a couple of days ago, and discussed several topics of major interest to Bears fans. The podcast is available here but for those of you who don't want to sit through 43 minutes of audio, hit the jump for their thoughts on the main talking points.

Some of the discussion was written up in articles that were in the August 13 Den, but there was plenty that hadn't been included and was interesting to hear. Apologies in advance, I could only tell a few of them apart by voice.

LT battle

- Brad Biggs: Thinks Bears have reached last resort, there's no one else on the roster apart from Webb / Chris Williams. This is the final button they can push.

On preseason Broncos game

- Matt Bowen: Jason Campbell needs to play better, but preseason football is kept simple. Entire team needs to play better. Watching that film was rough for a lot of guys.

- Zach Zaidman: Bears preseason opener is glorified scrimmage, 2nd one a little bit better, only take 3rd one seriously.

Can team win without Urlacher?

- He may have lost a step, but the D is designed for him and if he's not there, it diminishes what they can do. Smart enough to get to where he needs to be. No replacement for him; if goal is to win championship and he's not there, you're in trouble.

- Bowen: Would Nick Roach be able to run with Greg Jennings on inside scheme? Urlacher can.

- Function of defense goes through Urlacher, becomes a big deal if he's not there.

Roster depth

- Fred Mitchell: This Training Camp should be about improving quality of depth on roster. Precipitous dropoff when they lost Cutler, Forte last year. Injuries are inevitable.

- This may be the best collection of talent on the Bears in years, but it's all relative: are the team good enough to beat Green Bay and Detroit?

- Brad Biggs: You've added one starter, Marshall. Is their top level talent enough to go head to head with Green Bay / Detroit? Front-line talent was absolutely the issue, "Angelo was fired because they could not successfully draft and build the roster in the 1st and 2nd rounds. He wasn't fired because of Caleb Hanie, he was fired because of miserable draft after miserable draft after miserable draft." (This is the first time I've heard Brad Biggs voice an opinion; when he reports, he keeps it very matter-of-fact.)

- Killed depth on team - any time anyone of significance gets hurt, they can't overcome it.

- Biggs: 1st-2nd round picks aren't for depth, they're for playmakers.

- FA/trades stockpile talent on both sides of the ball, but you need depth. E.g. Giants rotate linemen, no one gets tired. Lots of WRs.

- Emery comes in, gets 2 WRs

- Q. So if Giants DEs is their signature, what is the Bears' signature?
- A. Playmakers: Giants 27th in yds allowed but won with offense, and playmakers on defense.

- If you go out and sign starters, you're making the team better; if you sign a bunch of overpaid backups, which is what you get in FA, you end up as a team of overpaid backups.


- Panel worried about Bears players talking Super Bowl as if one move (Marshall) solved all problems. Green Bay expect to get there, but Packers are quiet because they know how good they are.

- Biggs: Former Bears coach said players kept telling him how good they were going to be. Taken aback because he'd not seem them like that before; if he'd still been around as a coach, he would rather have them be quieter about it. Reminded someone on panel of 2007 - a lot of puffy-chestedness then.

Thoughts on offense; How will Tice incorporate Bates/Cutler/Marshall dynamic into playcalling?

- Were #6 offense in NFL over first 10 games last season, scoring over 27 points/game (32/game in 5-game winning streak) and they didn't have as much talent as this year.

- Over last 3 years, Bears have only had lead after the first quarter 16 times in 48 games.

- Bowen: They'll run the ball like crazy, set up deep shots. That's Tice's influence.

- Biggs: They have to. Important to protect defense, run the ball, eat up the clock, keep older defensive players off the field. Denver dynamic might not want to do that. Transition from defensive to offensive team. Days of scoring & winning on defense are behind them (couldn't do it when Cutler went down). Throw to score, run to win.

- Bears' vaunted defense let opposing offenses march downfield and score straight away too often.

- Denver Dynamic have to be on board with run. Tice wants explosiveness, can do that with fewer throws if more effective when doing it.

Defensive line

- Paea looked really good, completely different player since knee scope.

- Bears high on Melton but can he be like Tommie Harris?

- Panelist notes Tommie Harris always played DT, unlike Melton. Melton doesn't yet have the instincts.

- Anecdote from one panelist about walking past "Rush Men" room at Halas Hall one night, TV audio loud, Tommie Harris quieting the others not to listen to play announcing, but rather the QB cadence and snap count. Studied and had athletic ability to match.

- Melton has a lot to learn as DT, in infancy of career. Can't throw out that he's a Warren Sapp or Tommie Harris. Needs to be more consistent, can't be a 3T and only flash.

- Biggs: Mark Anderson had that huge rookie season, and then the coaching staff found a way to break that (cue laughter from panel). McClellin has to produce; can't be merely ok, has to be good in role as situation pass rusher

- Emery compared McClellin to a good doubles tennis player, not necessarily great singles player. I.e. a good complimentary player.

- But is that what you want from your 1st rounder, rather than someone who doesn't need help to get to the QB? Is team in a position to carry that luxury?

Final thoughts

- Biggs: 3-4 teams considered him as an OLB, but nobody looked at McClellin as a MLB in a 4-3 scheme.
- Bowen: Don't have the corners to match up to GB, expect to see a lot of cover-2 this season.
- Mulligan: LT is a problem. How much more tape do they need on Webb? Shouldn't lower expectations... yet.
- Unknown: Don't have health at most important defensive position other than 3T. That's a great deal.
- Unknown: Season will be about playmakers. The big plays... those guys have to come through.
- Biggs: The offense is different, but how will the defense hold up? Have been moments when WRs have gone right by Charles Tillman.

So, a lengthy and somewhat thought-provoking discussion of all things Bears as we approach the end of training camp 2012. What stood out to you?