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Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and beyond

The NFL Combine is over, free agency starts on March 10th and the NFL Draft kicks off on April 30th. The NFL sure knows how to keep our interest all off season don't they? Here are a few of my thoughts on the NFL, be sure to leave a few of your own in the comment section.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1) Does anyone think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will pass on Jameis Winston with the 1st pick in the NFL Draft?

His entire combine performance, from the interviews to his press conference, to his on field drill work and his on field demeanor, wowed scouts. His football IQ has trumped his off field character issues and scouts feel he will mature quicker than last year's Heisman Trophy winning 1st round draft pick Johnny Manziel.

2) Then again, I think the safest pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be defensive lineman Leonard Williams of USC. Williams could play any position on the defensive line in any scheme and with Lovie Smith in charge of the Bucs, maybe they throw a curve ball at the top of the draft.

3) Byron Jones, a corner out of UConn, had one of the greatest combines in the history of the event, even setting a World Record in the broad jump along the way.

Check out this spider graph from Mock Draftable to understand just how ridiculous it was.

His athletic feats no doubt sent scouts scrambling back to the tapes to find out what they may have missed in giving him a low draft grade. Before playing corner, he played free safety at UConn, so scouts may want to reevaluate where he can potentially fit in their secondary.

4) The NFL is thinking about making pass interference a 15 yard penalty instead of a spot foul. I see both side of the argument, but I think changing it to a 15 yarder would be the best option.

5) Two members of congress want the NFL to take away draft picks for "teams that do not appropriately address domestic violence and sexual assault."

While I agree that there should be a punishment for this type of behavior, punishing the employer seems ludicrous unless the team is caught trying to cover something up.

6) This was kind of neat.

ESPN ranked all the teams in the 4 major sports in their use of analytics. Baseball fans may be familiar to the terms sabermetrics or Moneyball when discussing the new data-based, computerized, biometric scouting style, but whatever you call it, it's prevelant in every sport these days.

The Chicago Bears were big believers under GM Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman, but new GM Ryan Pace and old school head coach John Fox are more used to traditional methods of scouting.

Pace told reporters in January: "I look at analytics as a tool in our toolbox to better evaluate players. I don't want you guys thinking that I'm some 'Moneyball' GM, that's not me. But analytics is important."

Speaking of the toolbox, Pace did keep Emery's analytics guy on staff, so maybe the Bears will have the best of both worlds.

6a) This one isn't a football thought, but in sticking with the ESPN analytics article, I noticed that the Chicago Blackhawks were the only NHL team that made their "All-In" analytics category.

In 2009, shortly after Stan Bowman was promoted to general manager of the Blackhawks, he was approached by an analytics company that presented a compelling case as to why he should place value in what they were saying. He bought in.

"We've sort of enhanced it and honed it," Bowman said. "We're much better at coming up with conclusions."

One of those conclusions has made the Blackhawks a leading puck-possession team. While Joel Quenneville is an old-school coach, the Blackhawks use analytics to find players who might be undervalued elsewhere but fit exactly what Quenneville and the Blackhawks try to do on the ice systematically. It's been a great combination, with Bowman and Quenneville teaming up to win two Stanley Cups.

"I don't claim to have the answers -- we have a formula that works for us," Bowman said. "We're always trying to expand and add a new component each year that we do a little more with."

Given their recent success I'm surprised more teams don't try and duplicate what the Blackhawks have done.

6b) Chicago Cubs' fans shouldn't be surprised that under Theo Epstein, the Cubs are ranked #2 on ESPN's MLB analytics list.

7) The Cleveland Browns are allowing Nike to give their uniform a redesign, with the one caveat being the classic, clean look of their logoless helmet is to remain. Their new unis won't be revealed until April 14th, but earlier today the Browns announced they were changing the shade of orange they've used.

The change isn't much, but I wonder how Browns' fans feel about a brighter orange replacing the color they grew up with?

How would you feel if your favorite team changed their primary colors?

8) Ranking head coaches is an arbitrary deal, so there's not really a point in getting rankled over someone's list. But, I felt the need to pass this one along to you guys anyway. Rotoworld's Patrick Daughtery listed his top returning coaches 1-25, then the seven new coaches on a separate list.

He had Chicago Bears' John Fox 5th among the new hires.

John Fox chews gum like no other coach. He also claps quite well. When it comes to everything else, he's indistinguishable from "Create A Coach 1." Fox is extremely conservative, but that hardly makes him unique amongst NFL head men. He's also extremely cagey with the media, but again, that is not a differentiating factor. Fox is just there, overseeing, clapping and chewing gum. His Plain Jane skill-set isn't necessarily a liability. His copy-and-paste coaching comes with a floor of 6-8 wins. It's just that his ceiling is not that of a champion, even if he came within three points of a Super Bowl title in 2004. Broncos GM John Elway admitted as much when he fired Fox in January. Elway didn't think Fox could get the Broncos to the next level. It was a conclusion he drew after four years of watching Fox prove it on the field.

Year 1: Fox treats Tim Tebow as alien being. Year 2: Despite having one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Fox kneels out the final 0:31 of regulation in the AFC Divisional Round. The Broncos lose in double overtime. Year 3: The Broncos are dismantled in the Super Bowl. Year 4: The Broncos are dismantled in the Divisional Round. In Chicago, Fox will be on time. He will be on task. He will not be an above-average NFL coach.

Like I said, totally arbitrary. I just find it odd that the Fox hire was so well thought of around NFL circles, but some members of the media are taking shots at his hiring.

And about him not being an above average head coach, his overall won loss record is over .500 with both teams he coached and he took each of his teams to a Super Bowl.

What a loser.

9) Last week one of the Vegas odds makers revealed their win total over/under for the 32 NFL teams. The New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks lead the way at 11 with the Oakland Raiders at the bottom with 4.5 wins.

The Chicago Bears opened up at 7, so if you were making a wager, would you go over or under 7 wins for the 2015 Bears' season?

10) Dan Kadar of SB Nation still has Alvin "Bud" Dupree of Kentucky mocked to the Bears at 7.

While there is some projection to moving Dupree to full time rush linebacker, he did it enough at Kentucky that it should be a smooth transition. In the Combine drills he did, Dupree was able to quantify his athleticism, so the fear about him moving positions should lessen slightly.

Did the combine change who you want the Bears to draft in the first round?

What other NFL news items got you thinking in the last few days?