Bears Try to Beat History With McCown

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.”


Cautionary Tale?

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.

What Will the Rams Do? Run, Run, Run.

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.

McCown Deals with Weather at Soldier Field -With Difficulty.

Quarterback Josh McCown comments on dealing with the windy conditions at Soldier Field. Via Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune:

“'It messes with your mind,' McCown said. '[head coach] Marc [Trestman] made a comment, ‘When it’s breezy, swing easy,’ before the game. But it was funny because it’s so true. If you just relax, and if you grip the ball harder and grit your teeth, it’s gonna move. If you can just throw spirals and stay relaxed, you should be alright. You should be able to cut the wind, to a degree. That was something that was in my mind.'”

It was pretty evident early in the game that the wind was on McCown's mind and he was having a much tougher time dealing with it than Raven's quarterback Joe Flacco. Those looking for the reason why the Bears are sticking so closely to the injured Jay Cutler as the starter probably need look no farther than his superior arm strength. His ability to deal with the adverse weather conditions at Soldier Field was one of the primary reasons they chose to acquire him in the first place.

Josh McCown Has His Flaws. But These Aren’t Them.

Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times points to what he sees as quarterback Josh McCown's deficiencies:

“But that doesn’t mean McCown is the better fit. It means he hasn’t tried to go beyond the limits of his abilities, which is smart. Someday, an opponent is going to realize he doesn’t have the strongest arm, that he works the middle often and that they might want to get up on Bears receivers a little more. I’m not sure that day is coming in St. Louis on Sunday or in Minneapolis the following week. But it will come, eventually.”

I'm not entirely satisfied with this. The arm strength is a given but McCown doesn't work the middle too often. He spreads the field. Furthermore realizing that a quarterback throws over the middle and stopping it are two different things.

And as for “getting up on the receivers” that's not going to happen. Unlike Injured starter Jay Cutler, McCown hits receivers coming out of their breaks. Furthermore, he has big receivers to throw to who can get off the line and burn a defensive back who covers too closely.

I'm not saying Morrissey's overall point that McCown isn't starter material is necessarily off base. But his reasoning is flawed.


Game Comments: Ravens at Bears 11/17/13


  1. The Bears were really dominated at the line of scrimmage as it looked to me like the Ravens generally played to stop Matt Forte on the run, especially early. Their tight man-to-man coverage in the defensive backfield stifled Bears receivers for good portions of the day.
  2. In fairness, I thought the Bears did run better in the second half as they pounded Baltimore repeatedly with the assistance of tackle Ebon Britton playing tight end and helping out the tackles.
  3. The Bears spent the day shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and drops (see Miscellaneous below). There were periods of time here and there, especially late, when they executed but much of the game was more typified by the events in the first series of the game – two broken plays in a row leading to a punt.
  4. Another typical series – the Bears got six shots at the end zone in the second quarter from the red zone, five from inside the five, and settled for a field goal. The failure in the run game was very evident here as the Bears resorted to going to the air for most of the plays since they couldn’t run.
  5. McCown had a real rough start. My feeling was that his lack of arm strength allowed the wind to affect him a great deal more than it affected the Ravens Joe Flacco.
  6. I was unimpressed with some of the Ravens tackling. They missed quite a few and it hurt them today.
  7. I do love watching Forte run. Just a wonderful run in the fourth quarter for a touchdown. He’s got really nice vision and good lateral movement. He makes a lot of guys miss. He’s got to be one of the most under rated players in the league.
  8. It was nice to see the end arounds with Alshon Jeffery finally work for some yardage.
  9. I was disappointed that the Bears didn’t do a better job of running the clock out in the fourth quarter. Very unfortunate. Nice to see them redeem themselves with the score in over time for the win.µ


  1. The situation for the Bears defense was similar to the offense. Domination at the line of scrimmage as Ray Rice ran over them all game. Even with eight in the box for much of the game, Rice got good yardage.
  2. The Bears did get pressure on Joe Flacco on occasion as the pass rush was very active. Julius Peppers came alive with two sacks. Cheta Ozougwu had a nice play to knock the ball out of Flacco’s hand in the third quarter on a fourth down.
  3. Unfortunately the pass rush was also undisciplined, especially by the defensive tackles, leaving large gaps for Flacco to run through.
  4. Despite the poor performance against the run, the Bears did do a better job in their discipline as the did stay in their gaps. There was one long run by Rice in the first quarter where Bostic over ran the play.
  5. To my eye the Bears are also tackling much better than they were two or three weeks ago.
  6. Chris Conte had another rough day, especially early.
  7. The Bears failure to stop the Ravens on he final drive of the fourth quarter to keep them out of field goal range was disappointing. Nice to see them redeem themselves with the stop in over time.


  1. The Bears drew Phil Simms and Jim Nantz for this game, continuing a long streak of top announcing teams. However, I have to say that Simms wasn’t on top of his game today. Most of his comments were average and there were few if any “Wow, goo point” moments. I didn’t learn too much about the game today.
  2. Bears special teams were unremarkable. Michael Ford had a real nice tackle on a punt in the first quarter.
  3. The Bears had far, far too many penalties this game. Zack Bowman had a pass interference and an illegal block in the back. He also had an extremely damaging horse collar tackle in the fourth quarter with 4:30 left to give the Ravens a first down. Corey Wooton was offsides. The Bears punt team had an Illegal hands to the face charged to it. Peppers had a stupid late hit on Joe Flacco in the second quarter. He also had an offsides in the third quarter. Brandon Marshall had a holding call. Martellus Bennett had two false starts, one of which turned a third and one into a third and six at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Jordan Mills had a holding call late in the first half in the final minute making for a much longer field goal try. Michael Ford was offsides on a kickoff in over time. For Baltimore James Ihedigbo had a horse collar tackle. They had a defensive holding near the end zone to give the Bears a new set of downs at about the 2 (the Bears settled for a field goal).
  4. Talk about letting them play, the referees let the wide receivers and the defensive backs really go at it today. It was very physical.
  5. The Bears also spent the day dropping balls all over the field. Alshon Jeffery had a drop in the first quarter. He also had a big drop in over time. Chris Conte dropped a pick. Tony Fiammetta had a drop near the goal line in the second quarter. Brandon Marshall also dropped a first down in the second quarter. He dropped another (admittedly poor) pass in the fourth quarter. For the Ravens, Ed Dickson had a drop in the first quarter. Tandon Doss dropped a big pass that would have been a first down in the fourth quarter. They had the Bears off the field after stifling them on a third down in the fourth quarter only to be charged with an idiotic roughing the passer penalty with 7:30 left, giving the Bears a fresh set of downs.
  6. David Bass had a nice pick six. Jon Bostic had a nice interception near the end of the half which set up and eventual field goal.
  7. Kudos to all of those people who stuck around through trying circumstances to make a lot of noise in the fourth quarter to urge the Bears on.
  8. I loved watching the field crew out there trying to stomp down all of the divots in the field before the over time period. It was like trying to keep dry by catching individual drops the pouring rain.
  9. Most of the story of this game for me is told in the Miscellaneous section. I was happy with the fundamentals on defense as the Bears were in their gaps and their tackling was reasonably good. I was happy to see them win the turnover battle with some good plays. But they don’t have the talent on either side of the ball to be dropping passes and, especially, committing penalties all game. Offense is about getting all 11 guys to do their jobs and its hard to do that when you are shooting yourself in the foot play after play. They aren’t going to win many games doing this.

Quick Game Comments: Lions at Bears 11/10/13


  1. The Bears came out trying to run Matt Forte. To my eye they had the most success when they attacked the edges of the Lions defense with him. The failure to run on first down today hurt the Bears as they seemed to always be in second and long.
  2. The Lions seemed to be concentrating on stopping Forte and Alshon Jeffery because they left Brandon Marshall in single coverage. This guaranteed that they’d get burned and they did. The Bears scored quickly on the first possession.
  3. The offensive line did a nice job of protecting Jay Cutler. He was getting enough time in the pocket to where the Lions started to do some blitzing in the second quarter. Kyle Long was notably better against Ndamukong Suh compared to the first match up.
  4. Despite getting a lot of time for much of the game, Cutler didn’t have a good day. He looked off on his accuracy and some of his decisions were less than stellar.
  5. It was obvious that Cutler hurt his left hand and the groin was bothering him by the third quarter. The offense stalled in the second half and I spent the whole period saying, “Get him out” as Cutler failed to drive the ball pass after pass.
  6. Martellus Bennett looked more fluid this week than he did last week.
  7. Nick Fairley is a thug.


  1. The Lions came out running and the Bears obviously knew that was gong to be the plan. They concentrated a great deal on stopping Reggie Bush.
  2. One of the things you notice about Corey Wooton is how quick he gets off the ball. It was understated but he had a nice day.
  3. I think Charles Tillman did OK on Calvin Johnson. You aren’t going to stop him. You can only hope to contain him.
  4. Cornelius Washington made an appearance. He was unremarkable. Julius Peppers also had what I would call another unremarkable day for him. Not a great day for the defensive line over all though they did start to get some pressure in the fourth quarter.
  5. The third quarter was a bad one for the defense as they sprung a leak in the running game allowing Reggie Bush to make some long runs.
  6. I would say that the Bears defense made fewer mental mistakes and their tackling was notably better this week. I consider that to be encouraging.


  1. The Bears continue to get the best announcing teams out there for their games. I’m having a hard time remembering the last time they had anything other than the #1 or #2 announcing team. Today, I thought Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa did a reasonable job. I thought Johnston made a particularly good point that the key to attacking the edges on the Lions was to do the difficult job of getting outside of the wide nine ends. There weren’t a lot of “Wow, great point!” moments and they weren’t at their best but that’s still pretty good.
  2. Special teams were unremarkable. Jeremy Cain did a nice job filling in at center for Patrick Mannelly. The Bears had a big return in the first quarter. The Lions had a big one in the third. David Akers missed a critical field goal in the fourth quarter. The Bears needed an onside kick at the end of the game and didn’t get it.
  3. The game was relatively clean in terms of turnovers. The Bears got an interception from Chris Conte to set up a field goal. The Lions got an interception at the end of the first half on a tipped pass that was a tough break. The Bears had sustained along drive to come away with nothing. It was that kind of day.
  4. Each team had their fair share of penalties. Tillman and Suh each had a face mask. The Bears had an illegal motion on the punt team. Corey Wooton jumped offsides in the third quarter. The Bears had yet another killer holding penalty, this time on Matt Slauson, in the red zone in the fourth quarter to take away a touchdown. The Lions stupidly committed personal foul after personal foul to try to hand the Bears the game.
  5. Both sides had some drops. Jeffery dropped a touchdown. The Lions had their share. Too many on each side and it was pretty much a wash.
  6. This wasn’t a particularly well-played game on either side. If you’re the Lions, you can’t draft in the top fifteen year after year without acquiring a lot of talent. They’ve had more than anyone in the division for several years but continually beat themselves game after game. They’ve generally stopped doing it and what we’ve seen this year is the result. But today they gave the Bears more than their fair share of opportunities. Unfortunately the Bears rarely took advantage as they made too many mistakes. It hard to win when you’re quarterback isn’t on top of his game.

Yet Another “Trestman Went for It on Fourth and One” Article

Almost a week after the incident and Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune is still writing about how Bear head coach Marc Trestman went for it on fourth and inches inside the Bears 35 yard line last week.

I don’t care if it worked. Believe me, no one would be lauding the decision if running back Forte had gotten tackled in the backfield for a loss – which he nearly was. I didn’t like the call then and I still don’t like it. I’m certainly tired of hearing about it. The fact that former Bears head coach Mike Ditka thought it was the right decision only supports my feeling.

Having said that, I did think this quote was interesting:

“Eight games into his tenure, Trestman’s acumen, his boldness, his proclivity for taking calculated risks have given the Bears a three-way share of first place in the NFC North.

“Said Bears general manager Phil Emery: ‘The older I get, the more I’ve realized it’s the people who are the perceived brainiacs who use that (strength), and it’s exactly how they’ll kick your butt.

“’That’s their edge. That’s Marc’s edge.'”

It’s not surprising to anyone that athletes have to have a competitive nature to win. But the more I watch football – college and professional – the more I realize how huge the degree of it actually is. The fact that good coaches have to combine high intelligence with that almost all-consuming desire to win makes for some unique personalities. Its one of the things that makes the game more interesting.

A Look Inside the Mind of David Bass

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune on the Bears situation at defensive end now that Shea McClellin has injured his hamstring:

“With converted three-technique Corey Wootton likely to remain at tackle, rookie David Bass is a leading candidate to start at left defensive end. Cheta Ozougwu could figure into the rotation if the Bears promote him from the practice squad for the game.

“Bass, a seventh-round pick of the Raiders this year who was waived at final cuts, credited defensive line coach Mike Phair and assistant Michael Sinclair for his evolution through four games with the Bears.

“‘You always can improve on your fundamentals, your technique — so my first step, my first two steps, staying low, pad level,’ Bass said. ‘Using my hands — that’s huge in this league. As a defensive lineman, you get locked up with the big offensive linemen, and it becomes a big hugging match. You can’t get rid of them.’”

Campbell has been doing a good job recently of throwing in these little comments that help fans like me learn a little more about football. In this case, you know what Bass is concentrating on in order to improve his game. Let’s see how he does Sunday.