The Chicago Bears have not been subtle in their attempt to move starting defensive end Alex Brown.
It was rumored early on that he was being shopped around.
Then Lovie Smith confirmed it at the NFL Owners meetings last Wednesday that Brown was available if the price was right.
Since then, it seems that the Bears threw logic to the wind.
They let on that if they could not find a suitable deal, they will probably just release him outright.
The Bears have even gone as far as telling Brown to not come to voluntary workouts, which started yesterday.
But why some ask?
Once Brown leaves, the Bears remaining options at DE are the following:
- Julius Peppers: A free agent pick up that has excited the city of Chicago. He should be a beast and constantly command double teams.
- Mark Anderson: A fifth year player who has contributed 21.5 sacks over his career... 12 of which came in his rookie campaign. So then, he has sacked the QB 9.5 times over the past three seasons.
- Israel Idonije: A high energy player who has been in the defensive tackle rotation for a couple years. Izzy is a personal favorite of mine and is an athletic freak, but has had limited experience at the defensive end position and only eight sacks in six seasons with the Bears.
- Jarron Gilbert/Henry Melton: Both were drafted last season by the Bears. Gilbert is another incredible athlete but saw limited action on the field last season. Although that was better than Melton, who was stuck on the IR for the season so he could learn the system AND the position since he played part of his college career at running back.
-And then whoever the Bears decide to draft in the third or fourth round this year: A decent player no doubt who will see some, but limited action for most of the season and will more than likely be ineffective.
... Wait, why are are the Bears ditching Alex Brown?
The move seems to be based on management not wanting to shell out five million dollars to him for this next season.
So, all the sudden they are getting thrifty?
I mean they only payed $12.5 million for a back-up running back and $15 million for a blocking tight end. Did I miss the part where those two positions were an area of major need?
Sure, while Matt Forte did have a poor second year, it isn't like the panic button needs to be hit just yet. Forte still has skills and behind him is Kahill Bell who showed some flashes late last season. Not to mention that they could have gone a cheaper route for a backup in free agency rather than signing Chester Taylor.
And I know that Brandon Manumaleuma fits very well in the Mike Martz style of offense but seriously, Greg Olsen, Dez Clark, and Kellen Davis have been a pretty good trio for the Bears the past season or two. Clark can block pretty well but now that Manumaleuma is here, it probably means bye bye to one of the three, with the current speculation being Olsen.
Also take into account that the NFL is going into an uncapped year, so you will not be penalized for being over the money marker. And in the end, is $5 million really going to make the difference between signing free safety O.J. Atogwe or not?
So you know why the Bears are really pushing Brown out?
The answer is very simple: Lovie Smith.
Alex Brown is being let go because he isn't a "Lovie guy"
First off, Brown was not drafted by Lovie Smith. Strike one. Lovie holds a special place in his heart for his own guys. (For a perfect example, see Danieal Manning)
Then, you look at their history together.
After Mark Anderson's incredible rookie year in 2005, Lovie moved him into the starting line up over Brown without an open competition in the following training camp. Anderson struggled in that role for most of the season until eventually, Brown won back his rightful starting position.
So the coach doesn't have enough respect for his player to give him a chance to prove he should be a starter? Bang, strike two.
And then finally, is the difference in philosophies.
Brown will stand up in front of the media after a pitiful performance and tell them that they played bad as a unit, as a defense, and as a team and take responsibility. He gets fired up. He is one of the few players that when he stood on the field, you could tell that he CARED.
And that is just about as polar opposite as one can get from the unflappable Lovie Smith.
Lovie Smith will just stand there after a beat down and talk about how they wished they could have done some things better and they will review some tape and come out better prepared the next week... Loss after loss.
For example, after the Cincinnati Bengals stomped the Bears 45-10 this past season, Brown had this to say, "We didn't look like we were ready... We didn't play like we were ready. I didn't play like I was ready. I have to do my job better.... It's embarrassing to come out and play like that."
In an article written by Vaughn McClure, Lovie Smith made the following comments in regards to the Bengals game,
"We were beaten by a good football team yesterday. You have to give the Cincinnati Bengals a lot of the credit. They played well in all three phases. We didn't. We're a better football team than we displayed yesterday on the football field. This week, we should be a little closer to getting Adrian Peterson back. Tommie Harris should be good to go this week. So we'll have our full group back and ready to go."
See the difference. Lovie tiptoed around the issue. He made some minor excuses and then moved on to the next topic and the next game. Alex Brown came right out and said they played bad. I understand the need for a coach to try and look ahead, but occasionally someone needs to get called out and Brown was that man on the Bears.
But that isn't how Lovie does things so there is your strike three.
Now the Bears will be stuck with the combination of Anderson/Idonije/Gilbert at the left defensive end playing opposite Peppers.
In other words, expect the Bears to generate little to no pass rush again this season as Julius Peppers will be facing never ending double teams and Mark Anderson will continue to NOT pressure the quarterback... Awesome.
Way to go Bears "Braintrust". If Angelo and Smith are going down with their ship, at least they are doing so in their true fashion: Ignorance.