Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jermon Bushrod Will Be a Colossal Bust for the Bears (And Other Free Agency Thoughts)

Here's the first thing to get out of the way: Let's vanquish the idea that Jermon Bushrod is a two-time Pro Bowler, as most of the NFC North media is currently saying. He's not. He legitimately made the Pro Bowl once, in 2011, as the No. 3 tackle. In 2012, he was a first alternate replacement for Super Bowl-bound Joe Staley. Although the Pro Bowl is far from a perfect selection process, that is not nearly as encouraging as the ambiguous "two-time Pro Bowler".

Second thing: Bushrod played for the Saints in a system that is designed to hide their lack of talent at tackle. The Saints boast two of the top five or so guards in the NFL, those being Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs (and until recently, Carl Nicks), ensuring that Drew Brees will always have room to step up in the pocket when his tackles get beaten around the edge. Chicago will not have any such luxury with their marginal interior linemen.

Third thing: Drew Brees is Drew Brees because, in part, he has a phenomenal quick-release and great pocket presence. Brees has never, in 11 years as a starter, been sacked more than 27 times in a season. In Jay Cutler's three full seasons with Chicago, he has been sacked 38, 52 and 35 times, plus a 27-sack season with Denver. He had 11 sacks in sixteen games with Denver in '08, a phenomenal accomplishment, but that was with Ryan Clady protecting his blindside. Bushrod is no Clady. And Cutler is no Brees; he's skittish and shuffles his feet under pressure, and likes to wait for ages and then throw deep down the field. These are not attributes with which Bushrod is likely to mesh! While he's certainly better than the likes of J'Marcus Webb or Chris Williams or a washed-up Orlando Pace, Bushrod will be no better than an adequate LT for the Bears--as he was for the Saints--and will likely be much worse. (It doesn't help that Bushrod will be facing Jared Allen and Clay Matthews twice a season, either.)

Other notes: Erik Walden is a valuable player as part of a rotation, but a four-year, $16m contract is far too much for a guy who consistently wears down over the course of any season as a full-time starter... Who's running the Baltimore Ravens? I still can't believe they let Anquan Boldin go for peanuts, and now they've lost Paul Kruger and Daniel Ellerbe too... The Oakland Raiders suck at drafting, according to ESPN's Bill Williamson. Darren McFadden is the only first-round pick from the last decade remaining on their team, if Rolando McClain is released as expected... 2013 Chiefs Dream Team > 2011 Eagles Dream Team... Reggie Bush should only thrive with the Lions; their running backs caught 96 passes last year, averaging better than 10 yards per catch... Hey, Bernard "The Intimidator" Pollard is available. Could he be a poor man's Dashon Goldson?

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