Feeling a bit under the weather, so I apologize in advance for the abbreviated content today.
- As relayed by many (including Mark Potash of the Sun-Times) Lance Briggs said on his radio show that he thinks he’ll be cleared to return this weekend. Obviously a player saying that about himself is a lot different than an actual medical clearance, but it’s certainly a lot better than if that player said he didn’t think he’d be returning. If Briggs is cleared, I think that’s an instant upgrade; I think an 80% Lance Briggs might still be the best linebacker on the roster.
- ESPN’s Eagles beat writer Phil Sheridan writes that Philadelphia defensive coordinator Bill Davis thinks that facing the Chicago offense will be their “biggest challenge of the season.” I’m not sure that too many opposing defensive coordinators have said that before. As I noted on Twitter, going purely off of yards gained/allowed, the Bears are the 7th-ranked offense and 27th-ranked defense, while the Eagles are 2nd in offense and 30th in defense. Both offenses can score. I think this game will be similar to the Dallas game; if the Chicago defense can force even one or two extra stops it might be all the offense needs. (Having written all of this, it will probably finish 6-3.)
- As ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright reports, the Bears waived safety Sean Cattouse. He was brought up from the practice squad and active against Minnesota a few weeks ago, but hadn’t appeared since then. Wright also notes that the Bears had former Panthers safety Sherrod Martin and former Packers safety Jerron McMillan in for a workout; I’d think it’s a safe bet that they sign someone to fill the roster spot. Wright also mentioned that the Bears worked out offensive tackle Michael Ola, who spent the previous two seasons playing for the Montreal Allouettes of the CFL, so Marc Trestman is obviously familiar with him.
- I missed this when CSN Chicago’s Evan Moore first brought it up last week, but back in 2009 Chris Low of ESPN’s SEC Blog profiled Alshon Jeffery and his recruitment. In the piece (fascinating as a whole, as well) there’s an anecdote about Lane Kiffin, then the Tennessee head football coach, who apparently told Alshon that if he went to South Carolina, “he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life.” First of all, whenever I read recruiting stories, I want to take a shower. (Pete Carroll’s tactics also play a role in this story.) Second, hard to be more wrong. I hadn’t heard this story until I saw this clip from yesterday’s Dan Patrick Show, in which Alshon didn’t seem to appreciate the question about the story. Hard to blame him.
- Pro Football Focus has this look at the Bears game from Sunday. They note that Shea McClellin has performed very poorly this year, against both the run and the pass. (As best exemplified by this play, in which he completely lost his containment. There’s a reason the Browns ran their two wildcat plays right at him.) He just doesn’t seem to know what’s going on out there, which is dangerous as the Bears attempt a run at the postseason. With Shea’s physical gifts, pursuing the run and holding backside containment assignments should be a strength; he’s fast enough to prevent opposing running backs from getting to the edge. But not if he has zero awareness.
- Bill Barnwell’s Thank You for Not Coaching column is up on Grantland; no praise or criticism for Marc Trestman this week, although he does make mention of an aggressive Chip Kelly call. Considering the strengths and weaknesses of the Bears and the Eagles, I think we might see quite a few aggressive fourth down calls from Chip on Sunday.
Super Bowl Ex-Factor, Addressing Needs in the Trenches, ’85 “D” Still the Best, and Other Bears Bullets
Road to the Super Bowl, NFL Draft Options, Collegiate Bowl Prospects, Who Wants to Coach Chicago DBs? and Other Bears Bullets