It seems that in recent years there has been more and more focus on players safety and yet it seems to me that we actually see more and more severe injuries. Do you agree on that and if yes why so? – Asked by Lars René Bus
It’s a fair point to make for sure, Lars. There is no getting around it; the NFL is a dangerous game. Thanks to the PBS documentary, League of Denial, the organization has been keeping track of concussions through at least the last two seasons. Last year, in the 2012-2013 season, there were a total of 171 total reported concussions. This year (so far) there has been a reported 150 concussions. Concussion totals seem to have dropped, possibly due to the fact that the league has mandated a neurologist has to be on the sidelines to evaluate players. Mostly, it’s the rules on how defenders can tackle or hit the ball carrier. These rules are causing a new problem with the way that defenders are approaching the game.
The rules are getting better in terms of protecting the players’ heads, however, playing within the confines of these rules is causing an increase in lower body injuries. ESPN reports that during the same time frame last year there were 99 total knee injuries that were reported, this year however we have 110 total (post-season not included). It’s a logical step to think the decrease in head injuries and the increase in season ending lower body injuries are related, and its likely due to the rules. Brandon Meriweather was quoted this year as saying the following “To be honest, you’ve just got to go low now. You gotta end people’s careers. You gotta tear people’s ACLs, mess up people’s knees. You can’t hit them high anymore. You’ve just got to go low.” (According to ESPN 980′s Chris Russell).
Brandon is not taking the right approach to the game, and should not be taken as an example of an NFL defender. However, he has a point that the rules dictate where you can hit the player and that will determine what types of injuries become more prevalent in the NFL. I will leave it at this – I think that we will continue to see season-ending injuries increase; not because of the rules or player mentality (Brandon Meriweather), but rather over the last decade tackling in the NFL has degraded from wrapping a guy up, into launching oneself at other players as a weapon. If more players were to correct their form and tackle properly I feel injuries would decrease overall.
Who and what position can we [Chicago Bears] get in the free agency? – asked by Donald Johnson
The Bears are in need of a massive defensive overhaul. The draft will be key in securing some youth. I think its safe to say that the Bears look at getting defensive line help in free agency and a safety or two. Here are three pass rushers that I think Phil Emery may target – Greg Hardy from the Carolina Panthers, Brian Orakpo from the Washington Redskins, and Michael Bennet from the Seattle Seahawks. I think the most likely candidate will be Bennet, I think Martellus (his brother) may be able to lure him away from Seattle, if were lucky. The other two are likely to be signed or at least tagged.
Lamar Houston could be a fourth option as the Oakland Raiders are known for letting talent slip through their fingers. As for Safeties Jairus Byrd and T.J Ward are the two guys I think would really help the Bears. Both are solid in coverage, but Ward is excellent in run support. A spot that the Bears desperately need help in. I think Conte still can play ball and at least deserves a chance to earn a spot in camp. He has such a small cap hit, and is still under his rookie deal for another season. [Other notable free agents include TE- Brandon Myers and Fred Davis, CB- Aquib Talib, Sam Shields and Vonte Davis]
Who should the Bears draft at #14? – Asked by Mayra Camden
Has to be defense; the Bears offense is not broken so no need to fix it. Outside of another tight end, the Bears offensive needs are minimal. A punter needs to be brought in due to Podleshes inconsistencies, but no need to draft one. So this will surely be a defense heavy draft. Tillman may not be back this year and even if he is, he’s turning 33 years old. I think the Bears need to inject some youth at cornerback. Singing Tim Jennings surely helps that situation, but again is in his 30’s. Darqueze Dennard,Justin Gilbert, and Jason Verrett are the top three cornerback prospects that would fall into the first round talent pool.
With a possible switch to a 3-4 hybrid scheme linebacker seems to be taken care of with former first round pick, Shea McClellin, moving to a pass rushing linebacker similar to the Packers, Clay Matthews. Not to mention the Bears used two picks on linebacker in the 2013 draft. The other position I think the Bears could use on the 14th overall pick is safety. Since Major Wright is a free agent and Conte should be back in camp I think strong safety is what they should go after if they are to look at safeties. There is disagreement as to if either of the following are worth a first round pick as they could slide to the second and the Bears can’t reach when they have so many needs.
Deone Bucannon and Ahmad Dixon are the two the Bears need to keep an eye on. However I think cornerback is the way to go if either Dennard or Gilbert are available. Defensive line is another position the Bears need to focus on, but I think that they will look to the free agent market for an answer at the position. Obviously if Clowny is available you go for him, but he won’t slide out of the top five picks. [Other notable players Bears could go after DE- Kony Ealy and Stephon Tuitt DT- RaShede Hageman and Timmy Jernigan]