Slight work interruption for me, due to other work/technical difficulties; I flipped the Hester post to this morning to compensate, but I couldn’t actually get to the bullets until now. So here are a few quick notes, and things should be more back to “normal” tomorrow.
- Alshon Jeffery is officially a Pro Bowl wide receiver. He was named to the roster today after Calvin Johnson was forced to withdraw. Jeffery had a wonderful sophomore season, tallying 89 catches for 1,421 yards and 7 touchdowns. (Including quite a few highlight reel plays.) Along with Russell Wilson he looks like the steal of the 2012 draft, and this honor is well-deserved.
- Regarding his selection, ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright also says Jeffery deserves to be there, and notes that this is the first time the Bears have ever had two receivers make the Pro Bowl in the same season.
- Kevin Fishbain of HubArkush.com writes up the list of possible free agent safety targets, and he has Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward on the top of the list. (HubArkush.com has some nice insights, but if you’re not a subscriber you normally have to answer one survey-type question in order to read full pieces. Not personal info or anything (when I clicked through to this one, it asked if I was male or female, I clicked male, and that was all) but if that’s a turnoff for you I’d understand, and I wanted to give a heads up.) Fishbain notes that according to Pro Football Focus, Byrd was the top coverage safety last season, while Ward was the top safety against the run. He also notes that Chris Conte and Major Wright received PFF’s lowest run-defense grades among all safeties. Kevin brings up a few other interesting names as well, and it will be interesting to see which avenue the Bears take to upgrade the position.
- The Falcons hired former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice as their new offensive line coach. He’d served in that role for the Bears prior to being named the OC, and I based on the line’s performance while he was in Chicago, I can’t say I’d be too excited if I was a Falcons fan. But the Bears had no real talent across the line, and Mike Martz did the line no favors with his scheme and playcalling. I think it’s possible Tice is a good line coach, and the fact that he’s back in the league so quickly probably speaks to his reputation. But I’d be stunned if another team ever hires him as an offensive coordinator.
- Washington hired Jay Gruden as their head coach, leaving Detroit, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Tennessee as the remaining vacancies. Gruden (brother of former NFL coach/current Monday Night Football color analyst Jon Gruden) was previously the offensive coordinator for the Bengals, and he immediately announced that Robert Griffin would be the starter. Considering much of the friction between former coach Mike Shanahan and the Washington ownership/front office surrounded the handling of Griffin (with ownership and RG3 seemingly aligned) it’s no surprise to me that they hired a pro-Griffin coach. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision; Griffin should be the starter. It’s just an interesting dynamic.