Packers left guard Josh Sitton tells WSSP radio in Milwaukee exactly what he thinks of the Lions. Via Rob Demovsky at ESPN:
“Sitton was asked whether the Lions might try to knock out Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers with a hit if Rodgers were to play on Thursday. Rodgers is not expected to return this week from his broken collarbone.”
“'Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question about that,' Sitton said. 'They go after quarterbacks. Their entire defense takes cheap shots all the time. That’s what they do. That’s who they are. They’re a bunch of a dirtbags or scumbags. That’s how they play, and that’s how they’re coached. It starts with their frickin’ coach. It starts with the head coach, [Jim] Schwartz. He’s a d—, too. I wouldn’t want to play for him. It starts with him, and their D-coordinator and their D-line coach. They’re all just scumbags and so are the D-line.”
Couldn't have said it better myself. As an opponent, I wouldn't have said it. But as a fan who likes to see the game played reasonably cleanly, I couldn't agree more. They're a blight on the league.
Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune runs through the subtleties of holding the ball for a kicker with punter Adam Podlesh:
“In perfect conditions, like the Bears had Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome, Podlesh tilts the ball slightly toward himself and a little toward the goalpost. With the wind blowing hard last week, he tilted the ball more toward himself. In a situation where the wind would have been blowing the opposite direction, Podlesh would have held the ball straight up. He never tilts the ball away from himself because a soccer-stryle kicker like [Robbie] Gould could strike the top of the ball with his ankle if he did that.
“'You never want to tilt the ball that way with a right-footed soccer-style kicker,” Podlesh said. “But what we’ll do is I’ll put it just straight up and that will help hold it up the opposite way. When you do this (tilting it toward himself or leaving it straight up), it will usually give you about 10 to 15 more yards without the ball breaking. So, it will stay on line 10 to 15 more yards depending on how hard the wind is until it breaks and starts moving.'”
Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times on the state of the Bears:
“The 6-5 Bears are still tied for first place in the NFC North, thanks to Detroit’s loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday. It doesn’t mean they’re playing well. When you’re down 14-0 less than three minutes into the game and then throw in 10 penalties, you’re not playing well, no matter how Trestman tries to spin it.
“The mellow coach doesn’t do tough love. Fine. How about some semi-tough love?”
I've spend a number of years bashing Lions head coach Jim Schwartz by saying that he is directly responsible for wasting the talent in Detroit both indirectly through his own lack of control and directly through the type of play that he encourages. Every team's personality is a reflection of that of the head coach.
The same goes for Marc Trestman and the Bears. I happen to like Trestman and a lot of what he stands for. But, like Schwartz but (I'm guessing) in a much different way, he is responsible for the lack of discipline the Bears have been displaying on the field.
I honestly don't know what he needs to do. Maybe Morrissey is right and some tough love is in order. A lot depends upon what he is doing wrong and whether he recognizes what that is. Trestman is a smart man who seems to be one for self-evaluation and reflection. Perhaps he, more than most, is equiped to figure it out.
In any case, fans need look no farther than Trestman to see who is going to have to take action.
I thought Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune made an interesting point at the end of his answer to this question:
“What do you think about Marc Trestman’s recent goalline play selection?” – @KtrainExpress from Twitter
“The Bears failed with two tries at a two-point conversion against the Lions and then failed to put the ball in the end zone after reaching the 6-yard line against the Ravens. They even got extra cracks at it following a holding penalty against Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith in the end zone. One thing is clear: Against those defenses the Bears didn’t feel like they were in a position to line up and power the ball between the tackles for a touchdown. This could be an area the team missed quarterback Jay Cutler too.”
Did the Bears miss Cutler here? I'm going to say, “Yes.” The windows through which a pass must fit in a throw into the end zone from a short field are necessarily tighter. Cutler frequently uses his arm strength to force the ball through such windows even when the Bears aren't in the red zone. Current starter Josh McCown has nowhere near that kind of arm talent.
Though its easy to blame lack of power on the offensive line (and not without reason), I'm wondering if it's McCown's deficiencies that are keeping the Bears out of the end zone inside the 10 yard line recently. It's going to be interesting to see what plan the Bears come up with to deal with this issue as McCown continues to start.
I loved this non-answer from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:
“Can't people aim higher when thinking Josh McCown is better or as good as Jay Cutler? Cutler at top of his game is by far better option, right? –@RexyFan8 from Twitter
“Quarterback play, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”
Adam Rams coach Jeff Fisher comments upon the Bears pass rush. Via Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times:
“Rams coach Jeff Fisher said it was difficult to judge the Bears’ pass rush against the Ravens because of the field conditions.
“But '[the Bears are] well-coached, they use real good rush integrity, [are] rarely out of their lanes [and] collapse the pocket very, very quick,' he said.”
Fisher's comment surprises me becasue what I saw against the Ravens was exactly the opposite. The defensive line, desparate to get pressure on Joe Flacco (and rightfully so) got a little undisiplined in their efforts. It looked to me like they frequently left gaps for Flacco to escape through to run for yardage.
Admittedly Flacco isn't the most mobile of quarterbacks and perhaps they thought they could get away with leaving him room to manuever if it meant they could be more active in the pass rush. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if anything changes this Sunday.
Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times suggests that past history may reflect future earnings:
“The biggest test remaining for [quarterback Josh] McCown is staying power. Even in [Marc] Trestman’s offense, the line between success and failure is as fine as ever in the NFL. With the Oakland Raiders in 2003, injuries to Rich Gannon and Marques Tuiasosopo forced Trestman to turn to retread veteran Rick Mirer in Week 9. Through three starts, Mirer was rejuvenated — passer ratings of 106.4, 111.9 and 93.3 with no interceptions in 69 pass attempts. He even had to remind everyone that Gannon still was the starter.
“And then he hit the wall. After completing 67 percent of his passes in his first three starts, Mirer completed 44 percent over his next five starts and lost four of them. Three days after the season, Trestman was looking for work again.
“It remains to be seen if McCown is riding a wave or has reached a new plateau in his career. But make no mistake about it, he’s in the right place, with the right coach, at the right time.”
It's not hard to figure out what Brad Bigg at the Chicago Tribune is getting at here:
“Is Joe Flacco’s performance this season a cautionary tale about signing quarterbacks to mega contracts or is he just going through a difficult year without a secondary wide receiver as Anquan Boldin was traded and tight end Dennis Pitta suffered a broken hip?”
The Ravens cause a lot of trouble in the league as they overpay players like Flacco, Ray Lewis and Ray Rice while everyone else tries to hold the line on salaries. They raise the expectations of players like Brian Urlacher and Matt Forte who are bitter when they find out that most everyone else isn't willing to shell out the same kind of money. Now the Ravens will affect the negotiations for Jay Cutler, who will undoubtedly be looking at the Flacco contract if and when he begins negotiations with the Bears in the offseason. Unfortunately for Cutler, the Bears will be looking closely at that contract as well.
Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune accurately makes this prediction:
“The Bears cannot stop the run effectively in their base Cover-2 defense. With seven defenders in the box, they are getting overpowered. Injuries certainly play a big part in it and you have to imagine the St. Louis Rams are fixing to get rookie Zac Stacy going this Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. [Baltimore running back Ray] Rice was the fourth back in the last five games to top 100 yards vs. the Bears and in the other game Alfred Morris had 95 yards on 19 carries in a game in which the Redskins amassed 209 yards rushing.”
What's worrisome is that the Bears have largely cleaned up their fundamentals. They're tackling better and as far as I can tell their run fits are reasonably good most of the time. I don't think there's a lot more they can do about this other than live with it and try to work around it. Not good.