In a heartwarming ending, I received my nearly-lost Amazon shipments. Hopefully Marjorie has been reunited with her package as well. For a few minutes, I entertained a “Tom Hanks-in-Castaway” notion of driving to her address myself to deliver the package. I decided against it; it’d have been a little strange, and I kind of think it might be against the law to deliver mail in vigilante fashion. Weighing the potential risks (time in prison) against the potential rewards (a brief and awkward “Thanks?” from a confused Marjorie) I decided to leave it the problem in the hands of the professionals who had messed things up to begin with.
To the bullets:
- I don’t subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket (although now that I have this job I might have enough leverage to convince the fiancée that it’s worth the expense) and I’m heavily invested in every Bears game. So I always enjoy whenever they play in a primetime slot. I sit back on Sunday afternoons and toggle between the early games before settling in for the late afternoon kickoff. You get to see teams you perhaps don’t normally get to watch, and it’s a fun little break before the Bears come on and do their best to ruin everything. (Note: I’m still bitter about last weekend.) If you’re curious as to which game will be coming to your market, the folks over at 506sports.com have you covered with their weekly NFL coverage maps. (Wordplay!) For those in the Chicago market, you’ll get Colts at Bengals and Atlanta at Green Bay in the early window, followed by Seattle at San Francisco as part of Fox’s doubleheader. The Green Bay game means Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick for the second week in a row! Obviously, your games will vary by location, but I always enjoy seeing which TV markets decided to carry certain games. (I lucked out here in the South Bend market: we get the Detroit at Philadelphia game, so I can get unjustifiably mad at the Eagles in real time.)
- Yesterday I sent out a link to Phil Emery’s online chat (which, if you didn’t catch it, can be found here.) I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t also send a link to this August interview Emery did with Grantland’s Bill Barnwell. It is as close-up and fascinating a profile as you’re likely to read on the Bears GM. Barnwell uses the piece to push the idea of Emery being a “GM of the Future” thanks to the integration of various new school analytics along with old-school scouting. (Hmm, sounds a bit like what a certain team from the other side of this website is trying to do.) There are great sections about Emery’s devotion to process, how that effects decision-making, and how that focus on process helps when facing unknown variables. But my favorite section describes how Emery is willing to engage reporters and fans when they ask questions. I’ve appreciated that from Phil since he accepted the job, and it makes for a much more interesting team to follow. This is what Emery has to say on the subject:
“If you ask me a question, I’m going to give you an answer. And I think you deserve the content and the process behind that answer. It’s really not enough for our fans to get a black-and-white answer that’s just a sound bite.”
- CSN Chicago’s John Mullin provides an interesting read on potential Cutler contract talks. (Beware auto-playing video.) He brings up the intriguing possibility of an incentive-laden deal, noting that a deal with incentives based on games played and/or postseason appearances might be a way to bridge the gap between both sides, as many of those incentives wouldn’t be counted against the salary cap. This idea intrigues me quite a bit, because as Emery noted in his chat, he doesn’t view a one-year deal under the franchise tag as smart business. Asking Cutler to, as Mullin terms it, bet on himself is an intriguing way to go, and if Jay really does want to remain a Bear while helping the team preserve cap space to stay competitive, it might be the best of both worlds.
- Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead wrote this piece speculating on potential Cutler destinations. I have no idea where he gets his assertion that Cutler is probably on the outs in Chicago; he certainly doesn’t make anything close to that claim in the column itself. And obviously, as I’ve noted, it feels as though if the Bears have made up their minds on Cutler, it is in favor of keeping him. But McIntyre does draw some interesting parallels to some recent QB mega-deals; Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Eli Manning in particular. McIntyre notes that those deals have appeared to hamstring their organizations in terms of salary-cap flexibility, leaving a roster with plenty of holes elsewhere. A valid point, for sure, although every situation is different. In Chicago’s case, I’d argue that with the current makeup of the offense, they are solidly inside a window to compete. The Bears have rarely (if ever) had as much depth at the skill positions as they currently possess. You have to try to win with this group, and when all your skill is on offense, rolling the dice on a rookie quarterback is too risky. Luck, Wilson, and Foles are all playing great footbal, for sure; but Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden haven’t exactly torn up the league. (2012 sensations Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick have regressed mightily this year as well, for various reasons.) Every situation is different, and for the Bears to max out the talent that they’ve locked up for the next few seasons, it seems as though they’d be best suited to spend the money on a talented quarterback, draft heavily on defense, and hope for good health.
- On Wednesday, a large contingent of Bears visited Washington, Illinois, one of the towns devastated by the deadly November 17th tornado outbreak. The Bears visited Washington High School, held a Q&A session with the football team, and then pitched in to help with the ongoing recovery efforts. Bears Care, the official charity of the team, has donated $200,000+ to the tornado relief efforts, and Robbie Gould is holding his own auction to raise money: if you visit this site you can find information about, and bid on, a package that includes a one-hour private kicking lesson from Robbie. That’s a pretty cool thing to do, and I’m happy to highlight it here.
Coming later this afternoon: a tour of NFC North rivals, featuring a wonderfully silly photo.