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Does Preseason Even Matter, Bro?

Jay-Cutler-BearsDoes preseason even matter? Of course it does. It has to matter. We have all been following the Bears, or our favorite team that isn’t the Bears for some reason, through training camp. We have been hearing about Jay Cutler’s improvements on the field, Lance Briggs is getting his head in the game and picking up for the now absent Brian Urlacher, and reports of Kyle Long’s rising star has become more than a murmur in sports news. The first preseason game against the Panthers is tomorrow, and we know the starts will remain on the bench for the most part. So, why do we care about preseason football? The games don’t count toward the season’s standings, we generally don’t see the stars play until perhaps the fourth game, and the games really don’t tell much about the season that’s waiting in the wings for the most part.

Everyday I'm Shufflin

Everyday I’m Shufflin

For example, the 1985 Chicago Bears lost all but one of their preseason games. Their regular season was a steam train of wins with the exception of their one loss to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. They then went on to win Super Bowl XX, the only Super Bowl that has ever mattered in the history of Super Bowls. The 2012 Chicago Bears won all but one of their preseason games and finished third in their division behind the Vikings and the Packers, leaving the Detroit Lions in fourth place. Speaking of the Detroit Lions, in 2008 the Lions had a flawless preseason record and went on to be the only team in NFL history to lose every single regular season game.

Smells Like Team Spirit

Smells Like Team Spirit

The NFL itself has hinted at changing the preseason format for years. The 2013 preseason may cause them to reconstruct the preseason and regular season games. Turning two preseason games into two regular season games will draw more fans, get more television coverage, create a longer season, and ultimately draw more revenue from two regular season game ticket sales (as opposed to cheaper preseason games) and from advertisements during nationally televised games. Whereas increasing the number of regular season games, even by two, would create a much more interesting season of football (because who doesn’t want more regular season football?), it is going to take the support of the players and the players’ union to make it happen, so for now it is still a mere rumor.

Bear Down!

Bear Down!

For now, however, preseason is on and it’s on tomorrow! The Bears face the Panthers at seven o’clock, and we want to make sure you are doing your fan duties and getting your Bears swag ready for regular season. We want to help you with that duty. On our Facebook, we are having a Bears Tailgate Giveaway and want to give a lucky Bears fan a new Bears shirt, Bears knit cap, Bears coozy, and Bears shot glass. Head over to our Facebook page, like our page, and answer today’s trivia question to have your name put in the hat for our drawing. Contest ends August 23rd and there will be plenty of opportunities between now and then to enter our contest. Bear down, Bears fans, and GET READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!

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NFL Draft: Picks 21-32

Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick: If this was what the draft board looked like this, then I feel the Bengals would have one of two players to choose from and both were teammates at Alabama last season in Dre Kirkpatrick and Courtney Upshaw. As much of an upgrade as Upshaw would be to their roster, I feel Kirkpatrick would give the Bengals a badly needed improvment at the second cornerback slot (with Leon Hall) and could someday create one of the best cornerback combinations in the NFL. Kirkpatrick is a taller cornerback (6’1″) has good speed from the cornerback position, and with his athletic ability should succeed in the Bengals defense.

Cleveland Browns: Kendall Wright: The Browns had one of the worst offense’s last year (finishing 29th in the NFL) and with their first draft choice, they drafted running back Trent Richardson. As for their second first round choice, I feel the Browns will continue to upgrade their offense by drafting wide receiver Kendall Wright out of Baylor with the 22 pick. In 2011, the Browns had a ton of problems at wide receiver position as they featured a lot of young wide receivers (Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Joshua Cribbs) but still need another solid young wide receiver to upgrade their core even more in the future. Wright (5’10” and 196 lbs.) is a smaller wide receiver but is great at finding a way to get open, getting up-field, and making defenders miss. The only other player I feel the Browns could look to draft with this choice is wide receiver Stephen Hill (6’4″, 196 lbs.) but I feel Wright is a better fit for the Browns at this time.

Detroit Lions: Courtney Upshaw: The Lions first choice is to draft a cornerback at this spot (but with the top 2 corner backs already off the board), I feel the Lions will have to go in another direction. With that said, I feel they will address another weak point on their roster and upgrade their linebacker core by drafting Courtney Upshaw. In Upshaw, Detroit would  upgrade their outside linebacker core and while already featuring the deepest defensive line depth in the NFL. Courtney Upshaw wouldn’t have to be a blitzing linebacker in Detroit and would become a side-to-side with their linebackers.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn: Throughout the past few seasons, the Steelers have had a significant amount of injuries to their offensive line and because of this I feel they need to add another offensive tackle to their roster. With his size (6’5″ and 345 lbs.) the Steelers would have the option of moving Glenn inside and making him a guard, or keep him outside and making him the teams right tackle. With Glenn on their roster, the Steelers would have a fairly young offense that should be able to stay together for a few years.

Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers: What a crazy 2012 season for the Denver Broncos: first they won a playoff game in overtime, then they signed Peyton Manning, and finally they traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets. As for the 2012 draft, the Broncos are still missing a good defensive tackle upfront and Michael Brockers would certainly fit that need as at (6’5″ and 322 lbs.) Brockers has shown that he’s potential of become a solid defensive tackle in the NFL. With the addition of Michael Brockers to their defense, they would feature a solid defensive line with Brockers playing alongside Robert Ayers, Ty Warren, and Elvis Dumervil.

Houston Texans: Jonathan Martin: In 2011,  the Houston Texans made the playoffs for the first time in the history of their franchise. However, as good as last year was for the Texans, they realized that they would have a lot of holes to fill with the losses of Eric Winston, Mario Williams, and Demeco Ryans this offseason. The Texans know that if they want to return to the playoffs next year, there going to have to fill these holes on their roster. Offensive Tackle Jonathan Martin would provide the Texans with a replacement for the loss of Eric Winston and would fit in nicely  on the right side of the Texans offense. At 6’5″ and 312 lbs., Martin has ideal size for an offensive lineman played in a pro style offense the past few years at Stanford.

New England Patriots: Andre Branch: The Patriots did a great job upgrading their roster during the offseason by signing Brandon Lloyd, Robert Gallery, and others. However, the Patriots still have two key holes  they have to address before the end of the draft: secondary and their defensive line. With the first of their two first round draft picks, I feel the Patriots will draft Andre Branch out of Clemson to add to their pass rush. Branch (6’4″ and 259 lbs.) should make a smooth transition into Bill Belichick’s 3-4 defense, and will give the Patriots a few options of where to have Branch line-up; at linebacker or defensive end.

Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin: In 2011, the Packers pass rush struggled and led to a lot of problems on their defense. During the 2010 offseason, the Packers lost one of the teams best pass rusher’s (Cullen Jenkins) to free agency, and the loss of Jenkins showed up throughout the 2011 season. Throughout this draft, the Packers need to address a few positions which include defensive end, linebacker, and (with the loss of Nick Collins) safety. To help get more pass rush in their 3-4 defense, I feel the Packers will draft Shea McClellin, a defensive end out of Boise State. McClellin (6’3″ and 260 lbs.) ran good 40 time (4.63) at the combine, and has ideal size to become a productive outside linebacker in Dom Capers 3-4 defense.

Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz: During the offseason, the Ravens lost one of their best offensive lineman (Ben Grubbs) to free agency, and the teams current center, Matt Birk, is 35 years old and towards the end of his career. With this pick, I feel the Ravens could address a number of their offensive line problems, so I feel they will draft the highest ranked offensive lineman left on the board. Konz, (6’5″ and 314 lbs.) is the highest ranked center in the draft and could become a solid replacement for the Ravens when Matt Birk decides to retire. Learning under a good offensive lineman will only make Konz a better pro and in the future will allow him to eventually become one of the top centers in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Zeitler: What a tremendous breakout year for the San Francisco 49ers as they went from a 6-10 team in 2010, to a 13-3 team that took the eventual Super Bowl Champions to overtime of the NFL Championship in 2011. Zeitler (a 6’5″ and 314 lbs. guard out of Wisconsin) will only improve a young, quality offensive line which will make the 49ers offense that much better next year. The Niners are built on running the ball first and with the addition of Zeitler to their roster, the 49ers will be able to commit to the Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, and Kendall Hunter even more so next year.

New England Patriots: Harrison Smith: With the Patriots having 2 first round picks, 2 second round picks, and no picks between rounds 4-7 round, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Patriots trade out of this slot and acquire more picks in this draft. However, if the Patriots decide to draft someone at this spot, I feel they will address their safety situation with this selection. Unfortunately for New England, this isn’t a great draft for Safeties with only one elite safety (Mark Barron) and another good safety prospect (Harrison Smith) available. Ever since Rodney Harrison retired from the Patriots following the 2008 season, New England’s has struggled to find his replacement and still hasn’t been able to find it. The Patriots tried to address this problem in the draft, via free agency, and through trades and still haven’t been able to find the correct replacement. I feel Harrison Smith would finally be the replacement that the Patriots have been looking for all these years. Smith (6’2″ and 213 lbs. from Notre Dame), has excellent size and is said to be a very smart player. If Smith was to become a solid safety and solidify this position then I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Patriots back in the Super Bowl this season.

New York Giants: Coby Fleener: Last season, the Giants featured a great front four, good secondary, and a much improved passing game thanks to Eli Manning, Victor Curz, and Hakeem Nicks. As much as the Giants could use an upgrade on their offensive line, I feel they should look to draft a tight end to add another dimension to their offense. In 2011, the Giants received great blocking from the tight end position but could never truly depend on one of these players catching a ball from this position. Coby Fleener (who would be the 4th Stanford player taken in the 1st round of the draft), would address this problem and give Eli Manning another play maker to throw to. Fleener is the only elite tight end prospect in this draft and at 6’6″ and 247 pounds would give the Giants the red zone threat that they’ve been missing for the past few seasons. With Fleener, Nicks, and Cruz on there offense, the Giants would feature one of the best passing games in the NFL.

 
 

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