The Bears have yet to hire coordinators

Here’s a disturbing nugget of truth for Chicago fans: It’s January 21 and the Bears still don’t have an offensive or defensive coordinator.

On January 5, the Bears fired offensive coordinator Ron Turner and dismissed rumors that assistant Rod Marinelli would be named the new defensive coordinator. But it’s been over two weeks now and the team has yet to find a coordinator for either side of the ball.

It’s not like the Bears haven’t been trying. They offered former Bills’ interim head coach Perry Fewell a contract, but he turned them down and accepted the Giants’ defensive coordinator job. With few reliable candidates left on the market, there’s a good chance that the Bears will re-visit the idea of making Marinelli the D-coordinator.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Chicago Tribune reports that the Bears will interview Chargers’ assistant head coach Rob Chudzinski for their vacant offensive coordinator position. Given his success in Cleveland (albeit, it was only one year), Chudzinski would be a solid choice as the team’s next O-coordinator but the problem is that it seems like the Bears are flailing. Will Chudzinski maximize Jay Cutler’s strengths or is Chicago’s front office just trying to find anyone at this point?

The good news is that the team hired Mike Tice to become their new offensive line coach. While he failed as a head coach in Minnesota, Tice has also had success as an assistant and the Bears need someone with credibility to come in and revamp their underachieving O-line.

It’ll be interesting to see who the Bears wind up with and whether or not their lack of direction so far will come back to haunt them in 2010. Of course, many Chicago fans believe that with Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo running things, the Bears are doomed no matter what decisions they make.

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Your daily Plax fill: Burress interested in Tampa

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Plaxico Burress has expressed interest in joining the Buccaneers in 2009. He has already reached out to former teammate Derrick Ward and has also spoken with Antonio Bryant about possibly joining the Bucs (not that either of those players have any bearing on whether or not the team will sign Burress).

If Tampa wants to take the risk on the leg shooter, then they’d have a decent amount of weapons on offense in Plax, Bryant and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. Of course, the three would also make one hell of a combustible combination and any one of them would be liable to cause a distraction at a moment’s notice.

Some believe that the Bears also remain interested in Burress, but I can’t see GM Jerry Angelo pulling the trigger (pun definitely intended) on a move like that. If Chicago wanted to add a pain in the ass wide receiver to its roster, why not trade for Brandon Marshall (assuming they even have enough trade pieces to make a dal) and pair him with Jay Cutler?

Either way, it’s looking more and more than Burress will play next season. His trial case has been adjourned until September, which means he could still play in 2009, although there’s still a good chance the NFL will suspend him, too.

Matt Jones a Bear? Don’t count on it.

Although rumors persist that the Bears could be interested, Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune writes that the team is unlikely to pursue troubled free agent wideout Matt Jones.

“He was a first-round draft pick and he is a very talented player,” Angelo said, “but it’s case by case. We’re not quick to move on any player.”

No doubt the Bears are concerned about Jones’ checkered past, one that included an arrest for cocaine possession last July. Jones, 26, served a three-game league suspension after losing an appeal. After violating terms of a court-mandated drug program by consuming alcohol, he was arrested again and faced further disciplinary action for the 2009 season. But the league decided not to impose another suspension, although Jones was fined $50,000.

In recent years, the Bears cut ties with two players due to off-the-field concerns: running back Cedric Benson and defensive lineman Tank Johnson.

“Guys make mistakes, move on, and become better people,” Angelo said. “Some guys have patterns of bad behavior and continue to have those patterns. I’m not saying that about Matt Jones. What I’m saying is we have to do our homework. And then you have to look at what value that person brings to your football team irrelevant of his off-the-field issues.”

According to a report by, the NFL has already notified Jones that he will not be suspended for violating a court-mandated drug program in March. At 26 years old, Jones is the best receiver left on the market. But even though he’s coming off a productive season (he caught 65 passes in 12 games last year for the Jags), he missed three games last year due to suspension and his motivation and focus have always been questioned.

I would be surprised if the Bears go after Jones given that they made little to no effort to try and sign Torry Holt this offseason before he agreed to terms with the Jaguars. I realize Holt is six years older than Jones is, but he’s obviously less of a risk and he still has a productive season or two left in him.

So maybe Angelo already feels that his wide receiver corps is set with Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Rashied Davis, Brandon Lloyd and rookies Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox. Granted, none of those players will strike fear into an opposing defense outside of Hester’s deep threat ability, but there still is some potential among the group and don’t forget that Greg Olsen is the best receiver on this team. (He just happens to play tight end.)

Cutler reaches out to Plaxico Burress

According to a story by the Chicago Tribune, new Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler has reached out to free agent Plaxico Burress.

Cutler has reached out to Burress, and agent Drew Rosenhaus recently said at least two teams are seriously interested in signing the former New York Giant. The Jets are likely one of them.

“Are we one of those two teams? No,” Angelo said.

Burress, released by the Giants on April 3, has a June 15 hearing stemming from felony gun charges. He accidentally shot himself in the thigh in November at a Manhattan nightclub. He could face jail time and if not, at least a league suspension.

“He could help any team,” Angelo said. “His play, his production speaks for itself. Everybody would love to have him on their team, including the New York Giants.

“But obviously, they are things that have to happen now for him to play in the league, get on with his life. There are a lot of hurdles to cross before you can really seriously sit here and use that as a viable option.”

Cutler should back off and let Angelo do his job. He’s the quarterback – not the GM.

The Bears’ wideout situation looks bleak on paper, but it might not be as hopeless as some make it out to be. Devin Hester isn’t a No. 1 receiver, but he’s a legit deep threat and his speed will always create opportunities in the passing game. Angelo also drafted Juaquin Iglesias and Johnny Knox and don’t forget that Greg Olsen is essentially another receiver at the tight end position. (He’s arguably the Bears’ best receiver.)

The wild card is 2008 third round pick Earl Bennett, whom Cutler had a great on-field relationship with at Vanderbilt. Bennett didn’t catch a pass last year, but is expected to start over incumbent Rashied Davis and could blossom if he ever learns the playbook.

The bottom line is that the Bears have options and therefore signing Plax shouldn’t be a priority. Plus, nobody knows how his legal situation will play out and he could still face a suspension even if he is allowed to play next season. A team would have to be awfully desperate to sign Plax and despite popular belief, I don’t think the Bears fit that category.

Cardinals drop asking price for Boldin – what about Bears?

The Cardinals have apparently lowered their asking price for wide receiver Anquan Boldin according to’s Sal Paolantonio.

Anquan BoldinThe Arizona Cardinals have reduced their trade demands for disgruntled receiver Anquan Boldin to a second-round pick in Saturday’s draft and other considerations and are talking to at least three teams who seem to be newly interested, two sources told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio on Friday.
The New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles have expressed interest given the downgraded demands from a first- and third-round pick, the sources said.

Cardinals general manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt had repeatedly emphasized at the team’s pre-draft news conference Tuesday that they would be happy to keep Boldin and eventually try to sign him to a new contract.

If I were GM Jerry Angelo of the Bears, I’d be all over this like stink on horse crap. Chicago doesn’t have a ton of holes to address after landing quarterback Jay Cutler in a trade and signing free agent offensive linemen Orlando Pace, Frank Omiyale and Kevin Shaffer. So why not give Cutler a dynamic weapon like Boldin in the passing game?

That said, the Bears did give up their first round pick and one of their thirds (they still have one compensatory selection left from losing receiver Bernard Berrian via free agency last year), so losing their second (plus whatever else the Cardinals wanted) would sink their entire draft.

Trading away two picks for Cutler was already out of character for Angelo. If he traded any more picks, the Bears would be wise to put out a search party to see where the real Jerry Angelo was being kept.

Update: Cardinals’ GM Rod Graves denies that the Cardinals have dropped their asking price on Boldin. Looks like just another internet rumor on NFL draft eve…

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