- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune and I see things the same on J’Marcus Webb:
“He actually has been OK at times but lapses into poor technique leads supporters to lose their patience. Based on how he played earlier this year, he should give Vikings defensive end Jared Allen a challenge. But in year two at left tackle and year three as a starter, Webb should have advanced beyond the point of semi-regular meltdowns.”
- On a related note, Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune reviews the Bears offseason possibilities at offensive tackle.
- Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times points out something I missed in the Vikings game:
“Gabe Carimi lost his starting job to [Jonathan] Scott this week, but still made an impact as an extra tackle on short-yardage plays. He also played guard for the first time in his life whe he replaced [Lance] Louis in the third quarter.”
Biggs goes on to explain how Carimi handled the switch. Here’s what Carimi himself had to say:
“‘(Center Roberto) Garza helped me out a lot. He looked at me like this (holding his hand up to hide his mouth) while we were walking up to the line to explain the play.’
“Said Garza: ‘Everybody was trying to help everybody. He had never played guard before so I was just trying to help him with little things. We were in a tough situation. No one else could get hurt.’”
Like most Bear fans I sincerely hope Carimi’s future isn’t at guard.
- Biggs asked former NFL lineman Ross Tucker about the Bears offensive line. Here’s what he had to say about the performance against the 49ers:
“But I’ll tell you what, Monday night they were sliding to him so it’s (Roberto) Garza, Chilo (Rachal) and J’Marcus Webb and Justin Smith and Aldon Smith bum-rushed both of them. That should never happen. When you have three for two, that should never, ever happen. To me, part of that is coaching. Part of that is guys aren’t doing the right thing. Because the guard should jam the heck out of the D-tackle knowing that Roberto is coming over and then (Rachal) helps the inside of J’Marcus so he can set real hard on the middle of the defensive end. That was probably the most disturbing thing to me. “
Tucker was also extremely critical of Gabe Carimi but I doubt he was taking his knee unjury into account. Its going to be hard to see what Carimi is going to be until next year when we can be sure its completely rehabilitated. Biggs appeared to agree in the article.
- It’s really unfotunate that Louis’ season is over as Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that he has a torn ACL. With the possible exception of center Roberto Garza, he was the only lineman who was really having a good year.
- Pompei tries to make the point that the Bears offensive line is better for having stepped back and re-evaluated after the 49ers game. Maybe. But that won’t be the last really ugly game and they aren’t going to be good enough until they get more talent. That probably won’t happen during the season.
- Pompei answers your questions:
“Dan, what’s your take on Edwin Williams? I thought he was better than expected when forced into service last season. I’ve been a bit surprised that Chilo Rachal was playing ahead of him. — Mark Early, Arlington, Va.
“I think Bears coaches are anxious to get a good look at Williams. The thing about him is he really hasn’t had a chance to show exactly what he is. My feeling was that he might be best at center, but I’m not so sure anymore. Williams is not as athletic as Chris Spencer, and he’s not as powerful as Chilo Rachal, but he has more power than Spencer and more athleticism than Rachal. So he is a blend, and he has a chance to develop into a decent starting guard as Lance Louis did.”
I have frequently wondered why Williams didn’t get a better chance at guard. He’s always played well in games when called upon. My conclusion has been that Williams may not be much of a practice player but perhaps Pompei has it right. He might not be special in any one athletic characteristic and that might make him blend into the background.
- Biggs sums up the Andre Gurode signing in his lead:
“It has been a long time since Andre Gurode suited up as a reserve for the Ravens in the AFC championship game last season, but the 34-year-old still went to the gym five days every week, hoping for a phone call.”
- Why hasn’t Gurode been signed by someone before now?
- Will he have to knock off a bunch of rust before playing effectively (if he’s capable of it) with this Bears?
We shall see. Unlike most of the Bear fans I have talked to, I have some hope that Gurode will provide an upgrade. He had knee surgery two years ago and, like Carimi this year, I doubt he had fully recovered one year after the procedure. The Bears might be getting him right as he’s getting back to a high lievel of play.
- My impression was that Cutler did a pretty good job of spreading the ball around Sunday against the Vikings. But Biggs points to the statistics which who otherwise. Marshall was targeted 17 times — three times more than the other seven Bears with catches.
- Pompei makes a good point on Marshall:
“Marshall’s physical play is ideal as cold weather sets in. By breaking tackles, he gained 7 yards after contact on one play and 12 on another [against the Vikings].”
- McClure points out that wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher may see some significant playing time tomorrow. Like most Bear fans, I like the undersized Sanzenbacher. But you know they’re in trouble whenever your see him playing.
- John Mullin at csnchicago.com provides some on the money insight into the Bears defense:
“Why the Bears’ defense has worked — mostly
“The Bears have played with a safety up in run support frequently over the past several games, with only limited success. But their base scheme has generally succeeded against the Vikings because it does not over-pursue or leave itself vulnerable to cutbacks, a Peterson strength.
“The concern now, however, is that Foster had 85 yards in the first half of the Houston game with the zone-blocking/cutback scheme, and the San Francisco 49ers obliterated the edges of the defense with jumbo packages and ‘wham’ blocking from fullbacks and tight ends.
“‘Anytime we come off a game and something hurts us, we go in, install it, re-fit it,’ [defensive coordinator Rod] Marinelli said. ‘Because we’ll see it again down the line, somewhere, sometime, this week, next week. We’ll see some of that stuff again.
“‘We see the corrections we can make. We go through it, re-teach it, fit it up and then we’ve got to go play fast with it. Beat blocks, get off blocks, all those basic things.’”
The Bears have, in fact, been sneaking that safety up at the last minute all season and doing it with amazing accuracy in terms of predicting when the opponenent will actually run. Up until the Texans game, that is, where both they and the 49ers used that aggressive play calling to draw that safety up, then try to beat the coverage in the passing game.
- Biggs quotes safety Major Wright on breaking up a potential touchdown pass to Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph:
“‘We were in man coverage and the tight end, he’s pretty good,’ Wright said. ‘In the red zone, they definitely like to use their tight end. The quarterback didn’t look off and Chris made a great break on him. I had him off the line and Chris had him over the top. The formation was triples and they always run their tight end on a seven route on the backside of triples so we kind of knew and had a bead on that.’”
- Punter Adam Podlesh on his improved punting after working with special teams assistant Kevin O’Day via Biggs:
“I’m not going to go into the extent of them but a lot have to do with focusing on certain spots of the ball. It’s almost like you have certain drills you do as a golfer that you work on something but it happens to improve something else because of the focus you are putting into it. Getting down to the nuts and bolts of it, coming up through the ball is something that we have been working on. Something as simple as just keeping your head down past the time the ball has been punted. Not crossing over. Having good drops. Getting down to the basics of it.”
- I’m not sure I’m entirely satisfied with the way Rosenbloom ended his column Monday:
“Let’s be clear: The Vikings are a bad team. Tough, but not a contender. That made them a good opponent for the Bears. That’s the kind of team the Bears are beating this season. The Bears will face good teams eventually. Good thing it wasn’t Sunday.”
I’ve been as vocal as anyone about the Bears taking advantage of a soft schedule early in the year. But the Vikings aren’t a bad team. They’re an average team and the Bears are an above average team. So the Bears did beat a team at home that they should have beaten. But let’s not degrade the accomplishment. They’re not elite but they’ve shown repeatedly that they’re pretty good.
- Per Pompei Seattle cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have been suspended for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. They’re appealing and both have come up with bad excuses according to this article at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It wouldbe very helpful for the Bears is they missed the next game but they are expected to play.
- From Lovie Smith’s description, I’d say that, like Chrisitan Ponder, Seattle’s’ Russell Wilson sounds like the kind of quarterback who won’t lose you a game. Via Biggs:
“He’s been steady, he’s done what they asked him to do and he’s mobile in the pocket, makes great decisions and has just been productive for them.’”
- Nick Eaton at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reviews what went wrong in Miami last week. It appears that the Seahawks took an extra week off after getting one with their bye. The good news for the Bears is that it continued a series of bad road performances for the young Seahawks team. Tim Booth at the Associated Press reviews the team’s road struggles and points out that they didn’t just start this year. The bad news? They may be showing signs of breaking out of it is this statistic is any indication:
“In Seattle’s previous five road games, Wilson performed markedly worse than he had at home. All eight of his interceptions this season he threw on the road. Before Sunday’s game, he had a passer rating of 65.8 on the road compared to 122.0 at the CLink.
“But on Sunday, he went 21-of-27 — including 16-consecutive completed passes — for 224 passing yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a stellar passer rating of 125.9.”
- Potash on how Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder takes advantage of the presence of Adrian Peterson in the Vikings backfield:
“According to Pro Football Focus, Ponder has completed 63 of 93 play-action passes for 623 yards, four touchdowns and one interception this season. His quarterback rating on play-action is 96.3, much better than his 80.6 mark when it isn’t used. Play-action passes also make up 29.5 percent of his throws, the third-most among quarterbacks.”
- Whatever else you might say about the Vikings, if you have a left tackle, you are well on your way to stability. From Pompei.
- Here’s an interesting point made by Judy Battista at The New York Times that has also been noted by several of my friends:
“Q. Why do the Giants seem so inconsistent? – Crabsail, Locust, N.J.
Let me answer that with another question: Have you seen many teams you’d call consistent this season? Even the ones with the best records have seemed unstoppable some weeks and barely able to hold it together on others. That’s the nature of parity.”
- The NFC North plays a prominent role as the quarterbacks are back on Facebook. Via profootballmaock.com.
- profootballmock.com also has the real reason for the sprinkler “failure” in Miami:
One Final Thought
Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times inteviews an anonymous scout on the state of the offensive line:
“How can an offensive line bullied by the 49ers dominate an above-average Vikings front seven six days later?
“‘It happens all the time,’ said a veteran NFL scout who specializes in offensive line play. ‘Green Bay got shattered by New York [on Monday night]. They weren’t close to what they were capable of doing. Watch them this week.
“‘It’s human nature. I can’t explain it. Nobody can. If you could you would be a billionaire. If you could define human emotion when it comes to a football team or human performance we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. It happens. It just does.
“‘You wonder sometimes. You want to count on this and you want to count on that but you can’t count on anything. There’s an emotional factor and sometimes it rules the game.’”
“‘Sometimes there’s an urgency on a football team that’s difficult to define,’ the scout said. ‘The 49ers had it against the Bears. The Bears had it against the Vikings. When the Vikings beat the 49ers, it was the other way around. Explain that one to me. Why that happens I can’t tell you.”