10 Super Bowl observations (think Bears)
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter January 29, 2014 12:10PM
- Bears Beat: Super Bowl hijinx, Urlacher update
- VIDEO: Brian Urlacher on greatest Super Bowl memories with Bears
- VIDEO: Marshawn Lynch NOT talking to Super Bowl media
- VIDEO: Seahawks’ Russell Wilson on Macklemore, Hispanic community
- Urlacher: Bear in his soul
- Bears’ Martellus Bennett hopes brother gets what he deserves
- Peyton Manning has mass appeal, which shows on TV
- Marc Trestman saw talent in Russell Wilson
- Seahawks’ Bevell was in the mix to become Bears head coach
- Ditka urges Bears, Urlacher to ‘let it go’
- Howie Long says what son Kyle did this season ‘was mind-boggling’
Updated: January 30, 2014 9:55AM
Kellen Davis is in the Super Bowl.
Yes, that Kellen Davis. The one who Lovie Smith thought could be a lethal weapon at tight end — except Davis too often couldn’t hold onto the football.
After being cut by the Bears last March and then by the Cleveland Browns in the preseason, the 6-7, 265-pound Davis landed in the right place at the right time when the Seattle Seahawks signed him after Week 1.
Davis is a bit player as a third tight end in the Seahawks’ offense. He played in 15 regular-season games (four starts) and had three receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown. He played in both of the Seahawks’ playoff games, starting the NFC title game against the 49ers.
‘‘It’s all a giant blessing,’’ the soft-spoken Davis said Tuesday at Media Day at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. ‘‘Probably one out of a billion people get to play in the NFL and get to a Super Bowl. I feel truly blessed to be one of those people.’’
Davis, a fifth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2008 out of Michigan State, said he was miffed that the Bears did not sign him after his contract ran out in 2012, but acknowledged that he did not have a very good season — 19 receptions for 229 yards and two touchdowns.
‘‘I had some good years in Chicago, a lot of good friends,’’ he said. ‘‘And we won a lot of games. I don’t have any regrets. The only thing is, I had a rough season last year and really that was my only one. It just turned out bad for everybody.’’
Davis said he was in a physical twilight zone in 2012 — healthy enough to play but unhealthy enough to make an impact.
‘‘My body kind of hit the wall,’’ he said. ‘‘I was dealing with a lot of minor injuries — a knee bruise, my back. My body felt bad and it was not helping my confidence and not helping me play well.
‘‘It was very frustrating. It really sucked. It was not fun, not a fun year at all.’’
Davis was a free agent in the offseason, but the Bears moved on, signing Martellus Bennett instead. In Marc Trestman’s revamped offense, Bennett had more catches (65) and yards (759) in one year than Davis had in five. He also had five touchdowns.
‘‘I feel a little bit slighted by the organization,’’ Davis said. ‘‘I gave them four, almost five good years of my career. And they kind of didn’t really show that in kind when they let me go. It is what it is. But I’ve still got a lot of friends who play there.’’
He said there is no lingering bitterness over his departure from the Bears. ‘‘Not anymore. I’m over it,’’ he said.
He said he still is close to running back Matt Forte among other former teammates and kept tabs on his former team this season, when the Bears’ offense improved from 28th to eighth in the NFL in total yards.
‘‘Yeah, I watched a little bit,’’ he said. ‘‘Josh [McCown] was amazing. Matt had a great year. Alshon [Jeffery] had a great year. It was good to see him get to the Pro Bowl.’’
Any message for his former team?
‘‘I wish them good luck next year,’’ Davis said. ‘‘I’ll text Forte after [the Super Bowl].’’
Davis still has a lot to prove. ‘‘We see the same thing [as the Bears did] — we see the potential,’’ Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ‘‘We see a big human [who] has the physical tools to do all the things we want him to do.’’
But he still has to learn to consistently catch the ball.
‘‘I think he’s still working on that,’’ Bevell said. ‘‘That’s definitely a part of his game that he needs to improve on. When he gets the opportunities, you’ve got to make the most of them.’’
And now, 10 observations from Super Bowl XLVIII’s Media Day:
1. It did not go unnoticed that Kellen Davis mentioned Josh McCown and not Jay Cutler when talking about the 2013 Bears. But Fox analyst Howie Long, the father of Bears guard Kyle Long, said he has a ‘‘new-found respect’’ for Cutler based on Kyle’s experience last season.
Howie Long said Kyle’s rookie season, in which he made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, was ‘‘mind-boggling,’’ considering he was playing a new position and was unable to participate in OTAs because of Pac-12 rules that forbids players from participating in practices before graduation.
But he also had ‘‘great support from his center, who I think is kind of an untold story,’’ Long said, referring to veteran Roberto Garza. ‘‘Garza is not only a guy that’s smart and has played a long time and I have a great deal of respect for, but I have a new-found respect for guys like him, [Jermon Bushrod] — and Jay Cutler.
‘‘Jay is probably one of those guys who a lot of people don’t get or don’t understand. But all I can base my opinion on is Kyle’s perception of him as a teammate, and Kyle raves about him. And Brandon Marshall — guys that maybe you have a preconceived notion about and they’ve been very supportive.
2. Howie Long was spot-on in highlighting one of the biggest factors in the game that — believe it or not — has not been talked about much this week: the impact of the officials on the Seahawks’ aggressive defense.
‘‘It’s going to be really interesting how they call the game,’’ Long said. ‘‘From what I’ve heard from the league, they’ve told the officials, ‘If it’s pass interference, if it’s holding, you call it. I don’t care if it’s called six times in a row.’
‘‘That puts a lot of pressure on the officials to maybe change the complexion of the game. And Seattle is banking on the fact that you’re not going to make that call five plays in a row. They play right to the line and a little bit beyond. That’s who they are.’’
3. There is a dearth of Bears connections at this Super Bowl. Davis is the only player on either team who actually played for the Bears. Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette was on the Bears’ practice squad for the first seven weeks of the season. The Seahawks signed him after the Bears released him in October.
Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville was the Bears’ offensive quality control coach from 1997-2000 under Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron. He was the Broncos interim coach for four games (1-3) in 2010 after Josh McDaniels was fired.
4. All other connections are paper thin. Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers was drafted with a pick acquired in the Jay Cutler trade. Seahawks center Max Unger was drafted 49th overall with a pick acquired from the Bears in exchange for a third-round pick (defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert) and fifth-round pick (defensive tackle Henry Melton).
For what it’s worth, there are only five Broncos remaining (four active) who played with Jay Cutler.
5. My search for any connection to the Bears
at this year’s Super Bowl took me to Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who when he was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, had Mel Tucker as his defensive coordinator from 2009-11.
Del Rio was fired 11 games into the 2011 season and Tucker took over on an interim basis. Perhaps that’s one reason why Del Rio was fairly cool on the subject of Tucker on Tuesday.
Did he feel for Tucker, who suffered through a difficult first season as the Bears’ defensive coordinator? It seemed like a softball.
‘‘Ahh ... I didn’t really spend a lot of time ... we didn’t play Chicago or anybody they played, so I didn’t see any of the tape,’’ Del Rio said. ‘‘Don’t really have a reference point on that.’’
Maybe he misunderstood the question. So what can you tell us about Mel as a coach?
‘‘I worked with Mel in Jacksonville,’’ Del Rio said. ‘‘Bright guy. Communicates well with the players. That’s really it.’’
6. Tucker received a little better support from Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who played for him in Jacksonville for four seasons. Knighton said even his mother still keeps in touch with the Bears’ defensive coordinator.
‘‘He finds the right balance between coach and leader,’’ Knighton said. ‘‘He’ll talk to you about real-life problems and he’ll talk to you about football. He’s the same guy every day and players respect that.’’
7. Knighton has been a breakout star in the postseason, with two big games in the playoffs and a nickname, ‘‘Pot Roast’’ that is tailor-made for Super Bowl week. The 6-3, 335-pound Knighton has embraced Super Bowl Week and all that comes with it as much as any player — he retold the story of how he got the nickname — from ordering pot roast on a flight home from Seattle as a rookie with the Jaguars — three times on Tuesday. He said he has a pot-roast themed sack dance planned for the Super Bowl if the situation presents itself.
‘‘Hopefully if we win the Super Bowl, maybe I can get a Chunky Soup commercial,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s a lot you can do with pot roast. Whatever it is I’ll enjoy it.’’
Truth be told, he said, he’s only had pot roast twice in his life — the flight home from Seattle in 2009 and last week in Denver, when he took the Broncos’ defensive line to a local restaurant for a pot roast dinner.
8. Shame on the NFL for its lame handling of the Marshawn Lynch situation at Media Day on Tuesday. While most key players have a podium to themselves, the reluctant Lynch, who has refused to fulfill his media obligations most of the season, was allowed to hide with the supporting players in an egregiously poor set-up for the biggest yearly sporting event in the world.
Fans rarely, if ever, care about players refusing to speak to the media — though many of those fans read or view everything they can get their hands on — but it can’t be ignored how poorly the NFL handled the situation. With only a few reporters close enough to hear what he was saying, Lynch spoke for six minutes then backed off and wasted a lot of people’s time — an inexcusable situation for an event of this magnitude.
The NFL’s response was a joke. ‘‘Players are required to participate and he participated,’’ NFL senior vice-president of communications Greg Aiello told ESPN.com, which made Lynch’s reticence the lead story on its web site Tuesday and Wednesday.
Lynch’s attitude is disappointing considering the importance the NFL places on media cooperation — the media is getting police escorts to and from the media hotel and the interview sites this week. But its handling of the Lynch situation was worse. It’s not like the Seahawks or the league didn’t know this situation was going to crop up. The NFL tacitly promotes the circus of Media Day. But the Marshawn Lynch saga was far more offensive than all the ridiculous questions and goofball characters put together.
9. Howie Long on Russell Wilson: ‘‘I’ve known Russell since he was 13. I coached against him in high school. My boys played against him in high school. I’m not surprised [by his success]. He’s a guy who plays like he’s 30 years old — he was like that when he was 13.
‘‘He just had a maturity you didn’t see in a kid that age. If Russell weren’t a football player, Russell could be a CEO of a company down the road. Or if Russell wanted to go into politics, he could be someone you could see as the President of the United States. He’s that kind of guy.’’
10. Brian Urlacher looked in good enough shape to lead the Bears in tackles this season when he met reporters as part of an interview session for Fox Sports on Tuesday. Urlacher said he’s enjoying his new role, which keeps him involved in the game on a daily basis.
‘‘I love three things — I love my kids, fishing and golf. Right now my time is occupied by mostly doing that stuf. A little bit of working out so I don’t get too big. And I’m enjoying my time. I like doing this. the show is great We’re on an hour a day so it’s not very taxing. I get up and play golf in the morning and do the show. It gave me something to do and still be relevent in football a little bit.’’
His disdain for Bears management, which unceremoniously cast him off with a low-ball contract offer last offseason, was still evident — though he didn’t make a big deal of it.
‘‘I haven’t talked to anyone in the management for the Bears. I’ve talked to my [former] teammates, that’s about it. The trainers, I still talk to the trainers.’’
Urlacher said he still is a Chicagoan. ‘‘I still have my house there. I’m not there right now in the winter, but I still have my house there. I haven’t been there all season. It was hard to watch [Bears games] when I was out west in Arizona. But my kids love it there. We go there for Christmas every year — I have a choice, Thanksgiving or Christmas we’re going to be there and the summertime we’re going to be there.’’