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Article about Da Bear ( very long post )

Discussion in 'All Other Team Discussions' started by Hammer, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. Hammer
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    Hammer Cheesehead

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    Angelo: Bears building, not dismantling
    Chicago GM notes changes are being made -- to make the NFC champs better
    CHICAGO - Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo understands the perception. Leading rusher Thomas Jones is gone, Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs made it clear he wants out and the coaching staff has been made over.
    "I know on the outside it looks like we want to dismantle the team," Angelo said this week. "It has nothing to do with that. We want to keep this the best possible football team that we can. And that's what we're trying to do."
    A month removed from the Super Bowl, a soap opera seems to be playing out at Halas Hall.
    Assistant coaches are shuffling in and out, like stage hands. Coach Lovie Smith got a contract extension after his agent said negotiations stalled. Angelo got one, too -- minus the public drama.
    The plot took two more twists this week, when Briggs lashed out and Jones got traded to the New York Jets for a second-round draft pick. It may seem like little compensation for a back who ran for more than 1,200 yards each of the past two seasons, but it was a big statement on how the Bears feel about Cedric Benson. The message: He's ready. The fourth overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, Benson showed glimpses of his potential when he ran for 647 yards last season, although his tenure with the Bears has been shaky. A lengthy contract holdout wiped out his first preseason, and there are questions about his durability.
    Benson missed six games with a knee injury as a rookie, and a shoulder injury in training camp knocked him out of a competition with Jones for the No. 1 spot last season. Benson was productive in the latter stages, after being stuck on the sideline, but he left with a knee injury after two carries in the Super Bowl. Although having a one-two combination worked well for the Bears last season, the relationship between Jones and Benson was icy. Jones had asked for a trade a year ago and got his wish this week, but his departure leaves Chicago without a finesse running back to go along with bruisers Benson and Adrian Peterson. "I didn't see our future in terms of what we did last year worked very well," Angelo said. "I didn't foresee that being inevitable again this year. We like Cedric Benson, and we felt it's his turn now, understanding what Thomas felt too." Now, it's Briggs who is unhappy. And the Bears' response could be summed up like this: too bad.
    Briggs unloaded on management for slapping the franchise label on him. First, he told ESPN.com the Bears should either trade him or remove the tag so he could sign elsewhere. Then, he told a Chicago radio station, "I'll do everything that's within my power to not be with this organization." Briggs, who turned down a six-year, $33 million deal last spring, said the Bears have no intention now of signing him to a long-term deal. It's unlikely that they would let a player who led the team with 117 solo tackles leave for nothing in return, and holding out would be an expensive proposition for Briggs. He would be owed the franchise salary of $7.206 million -- about 10 times what earned last season -- if he doesn't sign a multiyear deal by July 16.
    Angelo made it clear he has no plans to trade the two-time Pro Bowl pick and added he had no calls from other teams. He also pointed out that the Bears were able to "move on" after Briggs turned down their offer last year and lock in cornerback Ricky Manning Jr., center Olin Kreutz, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and Peterson. It was a dramatic counter during an already dramatic offseason.
    The contract of defensive coordinator Ron Rivera wasn't renewed even though Rivera was a candidate for several head coaching jobs after the Bears' defense ranked among the best the past two seasons. He is now coaching the San Diego Chargers' linebackers, and Bob Babich got promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson took a job with the Dallas Cowboys, and defensive line coach Don Johnson and assistant offensive line coach Harold Goodwin are gone. Chicago hired Hardy Nickerson as linebackers coach and Brick Haley as defensive line coach. Smith found himself at center stage as his contract saga played out -- until Briggs and Jones stepped into the spotlight. Now, Briggs wants to move on, just like Jones, and the Bears hope Benson is ready to move up.
    "It's his time," Angelo said. "It's that simple. It's his time. We feel strongly that he is ready."

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