Bears Quick Shots from Matt Trowbridge.
Bears GM Jerry Angelo said a player’s character and work ethic are the keys to handing out contract extensions. "But you don’t know for sure," he said. "It’s like the guy who won the lottery; he’s not going to be the same guy the next day."
Tommie Harris and Brian Urlacher didn’t look like the same players after getting extensions in the offseason. Angelo blamed part of Harris’ drop-off on off-the-field issues, but not Urlacher.
"I will never question his commitment, his passion, his love for football," Angelo said. "He has too much character, too much pride to ever not be the best he can be."
Thinking Urlacher was already giving his best might be why Angelo "strongly" believes Harris will return to his old form but was less assertive about Urlacher.
"Is he the Brian Urlacher of old? I can’t say that," Angelo said. "Can he still make a Pro Bowl? He still has enough to make a Pro Bowl. He’s still a very good football player, but I have to go with what I see on tape. That’s in black-and-white."
Olsen fills unusual Bears’ role
Greg Olsen (54 catches for 574 yards) is the rare Bears tight end who is more of a receiver than a blocker.
"We didn’t bring Greg here to be an in-line tight end in a power-blocking role," Smith said. "But in his role, he did it well. He’ll only get better. His future looks bright, wherever we choose to put him."
Angelo not afraid of mistakes
Bears whose play didn’t match their pay, such as injured cornerback Nathan Vasher or even defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, could get cut this winter.
"You’ve seen my track record," Angelo said. "I am not hesitant to cut anybody. I don’t let money get in the way of doing what’s right for this football team. Egg on my face doesn’t bother me; pain in the locker room, meaning guys who aren’t producing and aren’t good karma for this football team, does."
Angelo’s past cuts include former first-round picks Cade McNown and Cedric Benson.
Rookies had no chance to flop
Second-round pick Matt Forte became the fifth Bear to run for 1,200 yards, and he led Chicago with 63 pass receptions, but the Bears’ other 11 draft picks made almost no impact. Third-round receiver Earl Bennett didn’t catch a single pass. "The way I look at it, they haven’t played yet," Angelo said. "Until they play, we can’t sit here and say for sure what they are and what they aren’t."
More experience necessary?
Chicago assistant coaches have been portrayed as callow since the Bears let defensive coordinator Ron Rivera go two years ago. Angelo says that’s not true anymore. "We have a lot of NFL experience when you bring in the continuity with this staff working together," Angelo said. "But when things aren’t going right, it’s a legitimate question. If we need to look into that more, we will."
Cassel too big of a risk
Angelo promises to be aggressive, but not perfect. "Not every decision we make, as much as we believe in it, will work out. That’s just part of the business. But, hopefully, you don’t miss big."
That’s why the Bears should stay out of the Matt Cassel sweepstakes. He’ll be way too expensive, in both salary and draft picks, for a quarterback with one year as a starter since high school. Cassel passed for 3,693 yards on an 11-win team. But that was five fewer wins than the year before and he had a passer rating (89.4) almost 30 points below Tom Brady’s 2007 rating for the Patriots.
Rockford Register Star assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or email@example.com.