Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribunewrites about Bears safety Chris Harris. Harris sustained a hip injury and is questionable for Sunday’s game. Questionable in that he has a decision to make:
“‘I have to be smart about it,’ Harris said Friday. ‘If gutting it out means I can’t get over the top of Donald Driver on a deep route, then no.
“‘I’m going to go out there and go. If it happens to bother me to a significant extent, then absolutely, I definitely would come out the game. I wouldn’t try to play tough guy for my on gratification to say I played in the NFC championship game.”’
Most fans understand that safety is probably the toughest position to play in the cover two defense. Most teams attack the position by giving the safety a choice of two receivers to cover. Its critical that the right decisions be quickly made by the man during any given play. You could argue that Harris’ veteran presence will be more important than athletic ability. However, as Harris points out, that needs to be balanced with the speed needed to get over the top to help out the corner on the outside.
Its not an easy balance to strike. What Harris decides to do will be crucial to the Bears success. Here’s hoping he makes all the right moves.
“With O-Line and D-Line being the Bears’ biggest areas of need this offseason, what are the chances, CBA issues aside, they try to acquire Albert Haynesworth?… What are your thoughts on him Rick, Springfield, Mo.
“I don’t think that’s a bad idea. But in order for it to work, the trade compensation for Haynesworth would have to be reasonable. You wouldn’t want to pay a premium for a player with a history like Haynesworth’s. And the Bears need their draft picks. So far, the Redskins have wanted too much for Haynesworth. There wasn’t a team in the entire league willing to meet their asking price, which was rumored to be a second-round pick. But I could see a scenario in which Rod Marinelli revives Haynesworth’s career and makes him a great player again. If Haynesworth plays like he is capable, and [Julius] Peppers plays like he did this year, they could form a lethal combination.”
My first reaction when I read this question was “absolutely not”. But as I thought about it more I have to admit that the idea is intriguing.
Haynesworth got along OK in Tennessee before signing with Washington. The Bears are a high character team and it is possible that they could lift him up rather than have him drag them down. Factor in the idea that this is exactly the kind of defense that Haynesworth wants to play in – one where he can rush the passer and accumulate statistics – and he would certainly be motivated. He would make an excellent three technique tackle.
It really all depends upon the gut feeling that coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo have about how Haynesworth would affect the locker room. And the other way around.
“What are the Bears going to do to slow down Greg Jennings? R.A. Pickett, Houston
“Jennings is a difficult player to slow down. That’s why he made the Pro Bowl and had a 1,200 yard season. The Bears could devote more defensive attention to Jennings, but the problem is if you do that, the Packers have many other weapons to hurt them with. The best way to play Jennings is probably with a healthy dose of zone coverage with a safety over the top. That’s what I would expect Sunday, but Ron Jaworski of ESPN tells me that in the last game between these teams, the Bears played with one safety high 60 percent of the time. I’m not so sure they can get by living so dangerously Sunday.”
I’m not surprised. The Bears have played much more aggressive defense over the last month.
There’s little doubt that the Bears need to play a healthy dose of cover two on Sunday. But, as they’ve learned the last couple years, they can’t just sit back in it all game. Pressure or not it’s simply too easy to pick it apart if you know its coming every time.
The Bears can and probably play zone most of the game. But they need to continue to disguise their coverages and in order to do that, they need to play at least some man-to-man. Its been hard for me to tell for sure but to my eye they’ve played at least a little quarters coverage as well and continuing to throw that in a minority of the time isn’t a bad idea.
“Now, Bennett is healthy from a sprained ankle suffered in the Dec. 20 game in Minnesota when linebacker Chad Greenway tackled him on a play over the middle. If he’s lined up in the slot, he could be a primary target for quarterback Jay Cutler when the Packers bring pressure. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is expected to blitz early and often.”
“The Bears face a considerable challenge going against the Packers. With cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, the Packers play press man coverage better than any secondary in the league. Woodson is the reigning NFL defensive player of the year and Williams has three interceptions in Green Bay’s first two playoff games. The Packers have given the Bears trouble in the past.”
The Bears definitely missed Bennett January 2. He is a sizable receiver and that will help him, in particular, get off the line of scrimmage. But they’re going to need more than just him to beat the Packers. Green Bay did an excellent job of scouting the Bears. They anticipated and took away their hot routes on the blitz. Now they will need to adjust.
From my favorite feature, Pro Football Weekly‘s Audibles containing quotes from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“I’ve given this a lot of thought. One of the key ingredients to a head coach — you have to have that swagger or confidence and be able to instill it in your players. It could come in a lot of forms. Rex Ryan does it his way with bravado. (Bill)Belichick uses intelligence. Whoever the head coach is, he has to convince his team (that) they are going to win. You could go team-by-team and give the test. The one that I would worry about is Jim Caldwell — does he really get up and induce confidence? He always looks scared. There was no one worse than (Dave) Wannstedt looking worried on the sideline. Having been around Pat Shurmur, I don’t think he has the swagger. (Brad) Childress did not have it at all — players did not trust him. With (Steve Spagnuolo), there is something in his personality that gets people excited. Leslie Frazier will have it as a trust factor like (Tony) Dungy. They will trust him.Ron Rivera will have some intensity to him, and the fact that he played helps. The most confident guy I’ve ever been around is Jim Harbaugh. If there were ever a coach with swagger — it is Jimmy. And he’s always been that way. This is a guy that would kick his feet up on Bo Schembechler‘s desk to get a rise out of him. He could lose a game and it will not faze him. He’ll stand in front of his football team and convince them they will win.”
I don’t have a single doubt this person is right. It isn’t just swagger or confidence. Those are just characteristics. You want the coach to have a personality that can be mimicked with success on the football field. Its why Wade Phillips didn’t succeed in Dallas. Its why Norv Turner‘s teams likely will never live up to expectations.
“Of course Dom does a great job. It’s the final four. There are a lot of great coaches coaching this week, but in the end, what it will come down to is it’s a players game. I think it will be something as simple as blocking and tackling. Some of those basic fundamentals will win this football game.”
Give the Bears credit. No matter what happens tomorrow it has to be admitted that they are generally a well-coached team with good fundamentals. Smith has a point.
“Would the Bears be playing in the NFC Championship had they lost as many starters for the season as Green Bay has? Tom Zanette, West Chester, Pa.
“I doubt it. I doubt any other team would have made it this far with as many injuries as the Packers had. And I’m surprised the Packers made it this far. I don’t think the Bears have the same depth. Look at what happened to them last year when they lost Brian Urlacher. It’s a real testament to the entire Packers organization that they made it this far. General manager Ted Thompson and his staff built up the team’s depth with draft choices, and then they found replacement parts on the street. Coach Mike McCarthy and his staff found ways to minimize the impact of player losses. And substitute players stepped up big time.”
Hard for even a jealous Bear fan to argue though I might point out that the Bears have a pretty good coaching staff as well.
“How come Jay Cutler never pump fakes before throwing a pass? I think there are a few times a game where he could get a D-back or D-lineman to bite. Jim from Los Angeles
“He pump fakes a little, but certainly he could use the pump fake more frequently and effectively. Some players are just more comfortable doing it than others. What’s more important is that he’s not locking onto receivers and telegraphing his passes. And for the most part, he’s not doing that.”
“(Bears WLB Lance) Briggs plays with great base. He is great taking on blocks. He is always around the ball. He is very underrated. … (On the other hand, Bears RB) Chester Taylor is 31 and can’t avoid anymore. He’s done.”