December 5, 2009

Putting the dick in Dickerson

In my latest effort to generate readership, I have been going to chats on and asking questions as Mr. SKIA. Today I went to the Bears chat, and was astounded by how comically uninformed one their alleged Bears experts, Jeff Dickerson, is. What follows is a transcript of the chat, with all typos left in, and my responses to the questions and critiques of Dickerson in red.

Jeff Dickerson (11:31 AM)
What's up everybody! Let's break down Bears vs. Rams....just kidding. Fire away with all your questions (no pun intended). Oh I get it. That's hilarious.

scooter (chicago)
do you believe the bears have contacted Colwer? I would never answer a question from somebody who can't even get a guy's name right. We're not talking Houshmandzadeh here.

Jeff Dickerson (11:34 AM)
No. However, that's not to say that Cowher wouldn't be a great choice to replace Lovie. But at this very moment, the Bears are likely to bring back Smith in 2010. So if Lovie is coming back (barring a total disaster to Rams, Lions, etc), why would the team contact Cowher? John Clayton made that point very clear yesterday on the Afternoon Saloon. Being "likely" to bring back Lovie isn't the same as being certain. So if they're even considering it, wouldn't it behoove them to find out if the better candidates would even be interested in the job? Wouldn't that be the smart thing to do? Not that the Bears always do the smart thing, but to imply that they'd have no reason to contact Cowher is ridiculous.

Kyle McEntire (Springfield,MO)
I saw a rumor on Yahoo sports that the Bears could possibility be looking for a new GM. I know this is just a rumor but can I start to plan a party for the day Jerry Angelo get fired? we need someone that wants to win. Say what you will about Jerry Angelo -- and there are plenty of bad things to say -- but the Cutler trade should have eliminated any doubt about his desire to win. He probably should be fired, but he's also been hogtied by the McCaskeys' nickel-clutching ways.

Jeff Dickerson (11:37 AM)
Jerry Angelo is under contract for four more years. Plus, the NFL is heading towards a lockout in 2011. The Bears probably don't think this is the best time to change general managers, given all those circumstances. However, Angelo's draft record since 2003/04 is very suspect. He deserves all the criticism coming his way. But I do think Jerry does want to win.

scooter (chicago)
i like John Clayton, but trust Hub Arkish a little more. He said the Bears have reached out to Cowler so that's why i asked what you guys thought C'mon man. That's twice. You're making us all look bad. And Dickerson, why the f are you taking two questions from this moron?

Jeff Dickerson (11:39 AM)
I understand. I like Hub as well. Great guy...who used to always bring me free copies of PFW when I produced the Dick Jauron show in 2000. But it really doesn't make sense that the Bears would have already reached out to Cowher. Who reached out? Ted So, what McCaskey has the authority to make such a bold move. I don't question Hub, I just question the chain of command at Halas Hall. That's why I tend to think Cowher hasn't been contacted by anybody who can make that type of decision. Who reached out? Um, how 'bout an underling acting on the orders of any of those above-mentioned individuals?

Tyler (Iowa City)
What Bears coaches do you expect to be fired after this season? Assuming Lovie keeps his job -- no sure thing, despite the pile of money owed to him, especially if they finish with double-digit losses -- I'd hope he'd at least be forced to bring in someone to coordinate the defense. And then there's also the foregone conclusion that Turner and his Randle-P.-McMurphy-at-the-end-of-Cuckoo's-Nest playcalling will be gone. As long as that's the case, offensively all the rest is window dressing.

Jeff Dickerson (11:42 AM)
Lovie already fired some of his defensive staff last year (Lloyd Lee, Brick Haley), so all the changes will likely come on offense. All of the coaches on that side of the ball may be in trouble. We've discussed the names before, but usually when the offensive coordinator (Ron Turner) gets the axe, most of his staff goes with him. Although we should point out that only Harry Hiestand arrived with Turner in 2005. The rest were all Lovie picks in 2004. What does who hired them have to do with anything, other than as a mitigating factor of Turner's seeming incompetence, i.e. the other offensive coaches are not "his guys"?

lawrence (stowe vt)
Why wouldnt the bears bring in someone that Jay cutler knows and trusts like Mike shanahan? Because the Bears are cheaper than a Wal-Mart sweater.

Jeff Dickerson (11:45 AM)
Fair point. My best guess is that Shanahan would cost roughly $10 million per season, and command about a 4-5 year contract. Then you would have to pay Lovie over $10 million sit out the next two years. Also remember that Shanahan would want a lot of control over personnel. How would he work with Jerry and his people? That's why it's not just a simple fix. In a perfect world, yes, the Bears would eat all that money and bring in one of these high profile coaches. But this isn't a perfect world. Alright, this is where I really started getting annoyed. According to, Lovie and Jeff Fisher are the two highest-paid coaches in the league. Both make $5.5 million per season. As stellar as Shanahan's reputation is, there is NO WAY IN FREAKING HELL that he commands a salary that's 82% higher than the most lucrative current deal. Especially not with fellow Super Bowl winners Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden, and Mike Holmgren also available to varying degrees. Shanahan will get in the $7 million range. Which is still way too rich for the Bears' blood.

Phil (Chicago)
Does Stephen Jackson run wild on the bears defense this week? Yes. Yes he does.

Jeff Dickerson
He better not. Although Jackson is really the only thing working for the Rams. Jackson did not practice on Wednesday because of back spasms, so hopefully that will slow him down this week. The Bears simply cannot afford to lose this game. Might as well cancel the final four games if that happens. And this is where I completely lost my shit. Jackson won't go off because: A. Dickerson thinks that he better not; B. The Bears can't afford to lose the game (unlike any of their previous losses, especially the last few, which were clearly affordable); and C. The season might as well be over if they lose. Well what in God's name do any of those things have to do with the Bears actually being able to stop Jackson? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Basically, Jackson wasn't going to run wild because Dickerson didn't want him to. (Note: While Jackson did go for 112 yards on 28 carries, the Bears did manage to hold him out of the end zone.)

David (Oil city, PA)
What is the most important aspect to improve for the bears to get better on offense? The line. It's been terrible, and this is what happens when you totally ignore the position group in the draft for the better part of a decade. Thankfully, the Bears lack a first-day pick, so they won't have the terrible luxury of being able to inject any immediately-playable talent into the line via the draft.

Jeff Dickerson
Line play. Both the offensive and defensive lines have been below average this year. They have to address the tackle spot (maybe Chris Williams is the ultimate answer at LT, can Omiyale play RT?). Also, has anybody else noticed that Olin Kreutz is having a very disappointing season? Should they look elsewhere at center in 2010. Might not be a bad idea. I think the defensive line problems speak for themselves. Get some people that can pressure the quarterback...please. Getting an impact pass rusher should also be a snap without a selection in the first two rounds.

Peter (New Jersey)
Do you think the following will be with the bears next year?:-Pisa-Pace-Anderson-Oleguye-June-Manning Manning, Anderson, and Tinoisamoa, in that order in terms of likelihood. Ogunleye most likely of the rest to return, but only if he's willing to go short-term for fewer dollars than he currently makes.

Jeff Dickerson
If 2010 is played without a salary cap -- Manning and Anderson will be restricted free agents. My guess is both would be back. Wale probaly leaves via free agency. Pace likely retires. I would bring Pisa back, because he is a very talented guy. And I have no idea about Cato June, I think we need to see him play before making any decision. Not really sure what the no cap reference means. I thought Manning and Anderson were restricted regardless.

Eric (Chicago)
Jeff, who cares how much Shanahan or Cowher or anyone else would cost...if it means a championship, guess what? Pay for the head coach that will WIN the Super Bowl, not get us there then suffer the Super Bowl hangover then be out after 3 years from being there...see the trend? Yes, I see the definitive trend exhibited by your single data point. Excellent work, Pythagoras.

Jeff Dickerson
Eric, you're preaching to the choir. But those financial issues matter to the Bears. They make the final call.

Thomas (Aurora)
Jeff, after your last comment of mainly offensive coaches being removed this year, I have a question. How can that make any sense considering most are hand-picked by Lovie and he is controlling the defense and both sides of the ball are failing miserably. So is this season just considered a wash even with the terrible perfromances game after game? For sure, both sides are in need of a shakeup.

Jeff Dickerson
Lovie has pick all these defensive coaches. When he initially put together his staff in 2004...Drake, Spencer, Boras (not Scott) all came in with the new regime. When Turner took over the next year, he brougt in Harry Hiestand. Pep Hamilton arrived in 2007, but let's not waste our time talking about him. Lovie also runs the defense and the scheme. Bottom isn't fair in the NFL. It doesn't matter who put together the staff; if Lovie wants to put himself on more solid ground -- which I'm sure he does -- changes will be a-comin', on both sides of the ball.

Sean (Erie, PA)
If Turner is fired and the Texans firing Kubiak after the season who would be a better fit in Chicago Kubiak or Wies? As long as neither of them are in the Turner family tree, who cares?

Jeff Dickerson doubt about it. But I wonder if he'll go with Shanahan somewhere to be his coordinator. No doubt about it? Based on what? If it's the style of offense, please elaborate.

Mr. SKIA (
Why wouldn't Jackson run wild on the Bears this weekend? Because the Rams are bad? The Bears defense is far worse than the Rams ground attack, so the idea that they might as well have to cancel the final four games if Jackson goes off has nothing to do with whether or not they'll actually be able to stop him. Yeah, give 'em hell, Mr. SKIA!

Jeff Dickerson
If the Bears were smart (debatable), they'd put nine in the box. If Kyle Boller and Donnie Avery beat them through the air, then run for cover. Gee, stacking the box against the Rams? I'm sure no one had tried that yet. Or maybe, just maybe, that's exactly the kind of front Jackson had been facing all year, and he still entered the game as the NFL's No. 2 rusher.

nathan (arlington heights)
would it be a good combo to hire cowher and weis as offensive coordinators.. then fire babich and replace him with lovie? If you are a retarded baboon, then yes, that's a good idea. While bringing in Cowher and Weis would be positive, it'd be unprecedented for a highly-paid head coach to accept a demotion to coordinator.

Jeff Dickerson
I think Smith and Babich are a package deal. No way Lovie takes that type of demotion. Sorry, but I think Smith cans Babich's ass if it means saving his own.

Matt Williamson
Hey everyone. Matt Williamson from Scouts Inc. filling in for a half hour to talk Bears...let's keep this rolling. Thank God.

December 1, 2009

Seven Days of Hell

There was a week-long period last month that put me in a sporting-related funk from which I am just now beginning to emerge.
November 6: Tyrus Thomas -- my favorite Bulls player, along with Joakim Noah -- breaks his arm while doing pullups. Wait... What?

November 7: Cal's dim Rose Bowl hopes are fully extinguished in a crushing 31-14 loss at home to Oregon State. Worse yet, star tailback Jahvid Best -- a really nice kid who I covered when he was in high school and I was at The Oakland Tribune -- suffered one of the scariest injuries I've ever seen on a football field. He has not played since, and as a junior and likely first-round pick, he may have played his last game for the Golden Bears.

November 8: The Bears mail another one in at home against the Cardinals, allowing touchdowns on Arizona's first four possessions (and a field goal on the fifth, a 22-second drive that ended the first half) in a 41-21 loss.

November 12: Coming off the short week, the Bears -- well, mostly Jay Cutler -- completely soil themselves in a disheartening 10-6 loss to a 49ers team exceptional only in its mediocrity. Cutler throws five picks, including one in the end zone to snuff out the Bears potential game-winning drive, leading to the profanity-laced tirade in the entry below.
But none of the above suffering compared to the pain I felt as I read this piece on alleged Cubs super-prospect Josh Vitters, which contained this little nugget:
Vitters averages a base on balls every 30 minor league plate appearances, which is offset by his contact rate because he strikes out only once every 6 1/2 at-bats.

"I'm not going up there looking for a walk," he said. "If I see a good pitch and I can drive it, I'm going to swing. It's not a problem at all because I don't strike out a lot."

Vitters' Arizona numbers bear that out. He has struck out just seven times in 50 at-bats.
First off, that the Tribune could run a story by a writer (Tom Carkeek) that believes the inability to take a walk somehow becomes irrelevant if the player strikes out infrequently is infuriating. Not only does it piss me off because they should be paying me to write stories that contain actual insight, but it also lends legitimacy to this ridiculous line of thinking, and leads to casual fans (and the children!) believing such tripe to be true.

But leaving all that aside, what bothers me most is that Vitters thinks this obvious flaw in his game -- one that has had me concerned from the get-go -- isn't a problem.

Now I can see him thinking that, because he is a kid who has always hit the everliving shit out of the ball. But the fact that no one in the organization, not a single coach or player development staffer, has let Vitters know that walking 12 times in 484 plate appearances last season is, in fact, a problem, speaks volumes about the lack of even semi-sophisticated thinking within the Cubs front office.

There is no way that Vitters develops into a successful major-leaguer without at least a little more plate discipline. Sure he might enjoy some early success (like, say, Jeff Francoeur) but eventually all that out-making will turn him into a millstone (like, say, Jeff Francoeur).

But apparently, no one in the Cubs organization realizes this. How is that possible? Could it be that the laughable clogging-up-the-bases mentality about walks was not unique to Dusty Baker? Plate discipline, working the count, and attempting to drawing of walks should be at the forefront of instruction for hitters in any minor-league system. Instead, the Cubs have players openly deriding the taking of a walk. You know, because they don't strike out.

If the Cubs aren't going to give Vitters even the most basic instruction, they should unload him while he still has value. Because as Vitters moves up, his free-swinging approach ensures his value will go down. And until the Cubs get their player-development issues squared away, it won't matter that the talent level in their system is increasing, which it definitely is. They'll continue to allow highly-touted guys to flame out in the minors, because they are incapable of maximizing the ability those players have.

When Vitters goes the way of Ryan Harvey, perhaps then he will realize the folly of thinking not taking a walk is not a problem at all.