Considering the Move of Kyle Long to Tackle in Retrospect

Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune asks an interesting question as the Bears enter the bye week:

“Coming out of the open date, will left tackle Jermon Bushrod reclaim his starting role or will the Bears prioritize the continued development of Charles Leno?”

Kyle Long (Wikipedia)

Kyle Long (Wikipedia)

That’s a tough question. Bushrod is probably the better player at this point and my gut tells me he reclaims his starting job. But you would, indeed, like to continue to develop Leno.

Hindsight is 20-20 but this situation demonstrates why it may have been a mistake to move Kyle Long to right tackle. Long continues to struggle in the transition – which in a rebuilding year is OK. You could argue that moving Long seemed to help the Bears before the break when Bushrod went down and Leno was free to step in and develop on the left. But even then I’m not sure the Bears wouldn’t be better long-term developing Tayo Fabuluje in Leno’s place on the right. The man’s got good feet and he moves well for a big man. There isn’t much doubt he’s got the athletic ability. It’s just a matter of finding out what’s above his neck.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 6.22.47 AMIn any case you’d like to have your five best players on the line right now and mediocre right guard Vladamir Ducasse, a veteran who has a team-high seven penalties, is not one of them. With Long at guard, the Bears could have developed Leno and play Bushrod at the same time. That’s not an option now.

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Could the Bears Trade Alshon Jeffery?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune evaluates the film from Sunday’s loss to the Lions:

“[Alshon] Jeffery was dynamic after missing four games with a hamstring injury, showing his ability to dominate cornerbacks on back-shoulder throws on the final drive of regulation and how his 6-foot-3 frame makes him a mismatch on high throws in the end zone on his touchdown. The return of Eddie Royal also opened creative screens.”


Alshon Jeffery (Wikipedia)

Eddie Royal has come alive because the Bears finally put him back in the slot where he belongs. But that’s not what stuck out to me in Biggs’s comment.

Just a week ago I was asked by a Jets fan if I thought the Bears would take a second round pick for Jeffery. The question was not unreasonable given that his contract is up after this year and he hadn’t been able to get on the field. I told the fan that I thought the Bears wouldn’t trade Jeffery until they got a good look at him on the field. This game demonstrated why.

There were (ands still are) questions about whether Jeffery can be a real number one wide receiver who can perform despite the absence of Brandon Marshall, who was traded in the offseason. In his first game back last Sunday, Jeffery made all the difference, providing a deep threat that the Bears simply don’t otherwise have.

That doesn’t mean the Bears might not trade Jeffery eventually. There are still a lot of games to play and Jeffery likely hasn’t seen anyone’s best shot yet. And the Bears do still have Keven White, who they surely drafted in the first round with the expectation that he would eventually be a number one receiver.

It says here that the Bears probably franchise Jeffery. They’ve got cap room and don’t have anyone else to tag.  It will keep the price reasonable  down while they negotiate a long-term extension.  Jeffery would skip offseason workouts but he’d probably rather train with Marshall anyway.

Still, you never know.

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Kyle Long Is Still Adjusting to Right Tackle

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune quotes right tackle Kyle Long on Twiter after the game Sunday:

“I played like dog (excrement) today Missed blocks, holding penalties. You should never hear my name. Sorry Chicago. You deserve great”

He did, indeed. I was tempted to mention Long’s play as a problem in my game comments. I didn’t in the end.

Long was put in a tough spot, switched to a new position on the line literally on the eve of the season. He’s still learning the position and I’m not inclined to be too critical. Yet.

The good news is that, to my eye, Long isn’t getting beat physically and, though the holding penalties aren’t good, I don’t see them as an indication that he can’t do that job once he becomes acclimated and is assignment sound. If Long is still performing like this in week eight, I may have more to say about him.

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Cutler More than Just Right Against the Lions

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune evaluates three Bears including quarterback Jay Cutler:

“Cutler’s final numbers look OK. He was 26 of 41 passing for 353 yards, a touchdown, an interception and an 88.8 passer rating. But the Bears scored only three touchdowns on eight trips inside the red zone, and he acknowledged those failures start with him. Cornerback Rashean Mathis intercepted Cutler’s poorly thrown fade in the end zone on the opening possession of the second half. On the up side, Cutler delayed the Bears’ demise by moving them 69 yards in 17 seconds just before the fourth quarter expired.”

Its worth noting that, at least to my eye, Cutler had his best game of the year Sunday. He still missed some throws, his ball placement isn’t always great and he still threw his weekly interception.  But generally speaking I thought he was more consistent than he has been and I think that passer rating of almost 90 reflects that.

Not much is really going wrong for Cutler and, as far as I’m concerned, he is still on perhaps the best roll of his career in Chicago. Here’s hoping that continues after the bye.

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Lack of Pass Rush a Huge Factor in Loss to the Lions

With the Bears on a mini-winning streak before Sunday, I think Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune has been saving up his angst. He let loose on Monday. I’ll just highlight one comment:

“Who’s the genius who let Harold Jones-Quartey take Calvin Johnson deep in overtime?

“The one real threat the Lions have, and the Bears let him make the biggest play of the game.”

It’s always dicey guessing what’s going on in the defensive backfield while watching on television. Having said that, the Bears used some zone but for the most part it looked to me like they were using bracket coverage on Johnson with safety Jones-Quartey over the top and cornerback Terry Porter underneath for a good part of the game. As a defensive coach, that’s pretty much the most you can do with Johnson (or anyone).

Sure, Jones-Quartey was a problem. Though it hadn’t emerged a a serious weakness with Adrian Amos on the other side, the safety position hasn’t been a strength for the Bears and I think everyone knew there was the potential for one or both of them to be exposed, especially with Antrel Rolle on the list of walking wounded.

The reason the safety position hadn’t been exposed previously is in part because the Bears were generating a decent pass rush. That disappeared on Sunday against a Lions offensive line that has been putrid all year. That, more than any other factor, is the reason Johnson, fellow wide receiver Lance Moore and the much maligned Matthew Stafford busted out against the Bears. I won’t degrade Pernell McPhee too much because he was around Stafford for most of the game. But Jarvis Jenkins, Sam Acho, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and especially Jeremiah Ratliff were invisible.

I find it hard to get too upset over this loss. I thought the team played hard and we knew it was a developmental year. But there’s little doubt that the Bears pass rush took a step back on Sunday. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the Bears do about it after the break this week.

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Quick Game Comments: Bears at Lions 10/18/15


  1. The Lions come out mixing it up and playing well. They sustained a good, long drive starting at their own 20 yard line and ending with a touchdown. In contrast to recent weeks, they looked ready to play and take care of business. The Bears didn’t do anything fancy in defense, playing both their standard 3-4 and their nickel defense when expected. The Lions simply executed.
  2. Tracy Porter came out on Calvin Johnson as expected. If he was getting any special safety help, it wasn’t evident at first. Later after Porter had some help with Harold Jones-Quartey was bracketing Johnson deep. Kyle Fuller also had a very tough time with Lance Moore. The lack of pressure on Stafford didn’t help (see below). All in all it was a tough game for the defensive backs.
  3. In fairness to Fuller, he did come up aggressively on some quick throws to the outside to make a few good tackles.
  4. Having said that, Harold Jones-Quartey missed a tackle to allow Calvin Johnson to go 43 yards on a drive in the second quarter. Johnson hasn’t looked good this year but he somehow managed to take advantage of the Bears defense, which was playing zone on the play.
  5. Jones-Quartey wasn’t the only one who wasn’t tackling well. For the first time all season I can say that there was some bad tackling out there pretty much all over on occasion.
  6. The Bears had trouble getting pressure on Stafford over a much maligned offensive line. They were running stunts but the Lions were blocking it well.
  7. As with the pass protection, I thought the Lions offensive line did a good job blocking the run. All in all the Bears were getting blown back off the line and were having a tough time getting off of blocks. Aggressive play behind them helped limit the damage.
  8. I love Ameer Abdulla but was disappointed to once again see him put the ball on the ground again. The Lions got it back but it’s still a problem.
  9. Jeremiah Ratliff was out there but it sure didn’t show.


  1. The Lions came out playing eight in the box on first down. The Bears were glad to take advantage by attacking the edges with a lot of quick screens to the outside. The Bears didn’t abandon the run but the Lions defense was definitely stopping it. The Bears success with the pass eventually loosened them up and Forte saw more room later in the half .
  2. It was funny to watch the Lions come out for the second half because it was like a replay of the first half. They went back to what they started with, putting eight in the box and stopping the run. The Bears eventually went to the pass to beat it. I’d say that the Bears were reasonably successful taking what the Lions gave them, today.
  3. Again, its worth noting that the Lions looked aggressive and ready to play. They weren’t world beaters but to my eye they was still plenty of effort.
  4. Eddie Royal was back in the slot, this time helped out by having Alshon Jeffery back out wide. Royal came to the Bears hoping he could prove that he could play on the outside. But its obvious that the slot is where he belongs and he looks good there.
  5. Jay Cutler was far from perfect with his ball placement again, occasionally making it a lot tougher on his receivers than it should have been. He threw behind his receiver twice near the goal line late in the second quarter – once on a simple wide receiver screen – and the Bears settled for a field goal. Once again I was shaking my head over some throws.
  6. Cutler didn’t see a whole lot of pressure from the Lions front four against a patch work Bears offensive line. Once again, Cutler was very effective moving around the pocket when he did see pressure . On one pass late in the second quarter, he pulled off a near miracle to get away from pressure and throw up a 45 yard jump ball for Alshon Jeffery. Cutler threw some good clutch passes on the Bears last possession in regulation.
  7. The Bears struggled in the red zone today, settling for field goals more often than I’d like. They did score a critical touchdown midway through the fourth quarter but they needed an extra set of downs on what I thought was a questionable defensive holding call to do it.


  1. Chris Myers and Ronde Barber were OK. Again, I didn’t feel like I learned much and Barber gave me the distinct impression that he had some sympathy for the Lions but not enough to really be bothersome. Looking at Jen Hale makes me happy.
  2. I’m getting a little tired of watching other kickers put the ball out of the end zone while Robbie Gould kicks it short. Marc Mariani had a nice return in the second quarter but it was the usual story as it was brought back by a holding penalty. On the good side, the Bears recovered two muffed punts, one in the third quarter and one in the fourth in what was some poor special teams play by the Lions. The Lions pulled out a nicely timed fake punt in the fourth quarter to help make up for some of it.
  3. Walt Coleman’s crew had the fewest called penalties in the league going in to this game but apparently the Bears were out to ruin their record. Will Sutton was offsides, eliminating a sack from Jonathan Anderson. Sam Acho had a damaging face mask penalty on a Lions touchdown drive in the second quarter. Kyle Long had two holding penalties which put the Bears offense in a hole, one in the second quarter and one in the third. The Bears lost a first down in the third quarter on an Alshon Jeffery hold. Jeffery also had a pass interference in the red zone in the fourth quarter. He made up for it with a nice touchdown catch a play later. Fuller had a bad pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter to put the Lions into the red zone. For the Lions, Glover Quin had an unnecessary roughness call in the second quarter. They lost a touchdown on and offensive pass interference call on Calvin Johnson. It looked like a bad call to me, though. Josh Bynes had a bad holding call on Alshon Jeffery in the end zone to give the Bears four new downs in the red zone. Forte put the ball into the end zone.
  4. It felt like there were so many penalties in over time I stopped counting.  Suffice it to say I thought it was sloppy.
  5. There weren’t that many drops but Tim Wright had a bad one midway through the fourth quarter with the Lions down 31-24. Golden Tate also had a drop in the red zone on a ball thrown behind him in the red zone in the fourth quarter. Eddie Royal had a bad drop in over time.
  6. Jonathan Anderson almost came up with a huge interception late in the second quarter in the end zone. Great play by Kyle Fuller stripping the ball on that play. Unfortunately the call on the field was reversed and the referees awarded the Lions a touchdown on the field. That non-turnover meant as much to this game as any real turnover did. Good for Anderson for getting another one in the fourth quarter as Matthew Stafford pulled a Cutler on a badly thrown, soul-crushing interception deep in Detroit territory. Cutler had a third quarter interception in the end zone on a bad throw which cost the Bears at least three points.
  7. With the score at 24-22 early in the fourth quarter, I was pretty surprised to see the Bears kick the extra point rather than go for two. I con’t see the downside to going for it. It will be interesting to hear John Fox’s explanation after the game. They successfully went for two after scoring a touchdown later in the quarter.
  8. On the Lion’s side, kicking the field goal with less than three minutes to play on 4th and four in the red zone was a head scratcher. They did have three time outs and the Bears did have to run the ball to try to run the clock out. Nevertheless, it wasn’t the decision that I would have made. But I guess it worked out.
  9. The last Lions possession in regulation was a circus. There was a devastating intentional grounding call with 45 second left in the game on what I thought was a simple cross up between Stafford and Golden Tate. That was followed by a tough roughing the passer call against Pernell McPhee. Calvin Johnson finally put an end to it with a good six yard touchdown catch from Stafford.
  10. Though it was far from perfect, this was a pretty good football game to watch. These were reasonably well-matched, competitive teams, one that has a bad habit of turning the ball over and the other that has a bad habit of shooting itself in the foot with penalties. I thought both teams played hard, though. That was especially notable from the Lions, who some speculated might simply throw in the towel on a disappointing season after starting 0-5. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than watching these two teams play ball.
Posted in Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Game Comments | 1 Comment

Marquess Wilson Come Out

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the emergence of wide receiver Marquess Wilson:

“In the last two games, Wilson has been targeted 17 times and has 12 catches for 165 yards and one touchdown. That’s after he had nine targets and just three catches while playing 158 snaps in the first three games.

“‘Part of it is consistency, but part of it is this is a guy who even though he has been here three years hasn’t really played much,’ wide receivers coach Mike Groh said. “

And part of it is that the Bears have finally faced two mediocre secondaries. And quarterback Jay Cutler has done a wonderful job of avoiding the rush and that’s allowed Wilson and his mates to get open. Even then, the Bears aren’t getting a lot out of the offense.

It looks a lot like the Bears will be facing another struggling secondary this Sunday and a defensive front that isn’t getting to the quarterback like they did last year. I’d look for Wilson to once again be a minor force in an offense that needs everthing it can get.

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What Is the Future of David Fales?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“With Jimmy Clausen‘s performance vs. Seattle, is the release of David Fales more of a reflection of Fales being worse than him or is it salary/cap related? — @brentodento

“Well, they have a depth chart for a reason. Clausen opened the offseason ahead of Fales and remained there the entire time. That’s for one simple reason — the team believes he’s a better option and provides the team with a better chance to win than Fales, who has been placed on waivers twice now in five weeks. Fales was let go this week to make room for linebacker Jonathan Anderson, who was promoted from the practice squad because of an injury to Shea McClellin.”

Fales has been put back onto the practice squad so the Bears haven’t given up on him.

Having said that, what reflects badly on Fales isn’t the fact that he was released to make room for another player. It’s that he’s passed through waivers (twice) and remained on the practice squad without a peep of interest from other teams. I’d say that, more than anything else, is an indication that Fales, in his second year, is not considered to be a developmental prospect. At least not one with any potential to start.

Former Bears GM Phil Emery said when Fales was drafted that he was picked as a player with the “potential to be a backup”. That never made any sense to me. It seems to me like you pick players who have the potential to start and then let them fall to backup if that’s their lot in life. You never say never because the light may come on at any time. But it looks to me like the Fales pick is unlikely to pay dividends.

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How Well is Adrian Amos Really Playing?

Adrian Amos

Adrian Amos

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions. Here he addresses the strengths and weakness in the play of rookie safety Adrian Amos:

“The next progression in his game will be to begin making impact plays and get his hands on balls and show the range in the middle of the field, the trait you are really looking for from a free safety against the passing offenses in the NFL right now. But as I see it, Amos is doing everything they are asking him to.

“As far as the grades he receives from PFF, those are evaluations done watching television copies of the game. You can watch 10 plays without seeing Amos really be around any play because of the tight camera angles to the ball, especially in a game like the Bears had against the Chiefs, who had a lateral passing game or one that is short to very intermediate.”

This is essentially my complaint about PFF. They do their best but there are limitations and I wouldn’t take these grades too seriously.

One thing I’ll emphasize that is related to Biggs’ comment. Though the camera often won’t show where a free safety goes over the course of an entire play, you should be seeing him under some circumstances. This is particularly true of passes along the side line where safeties with good range come in near the end of the play over the top to assist a cornerback in breaking up the connection. I never see Amos doing this and I consider it to be a bad sign. In fairness, as Biggs implies, it’s possible that they aren’t asking him to help out under these circumstances – I won’t claim to know his assignments. But I am worried that he may lack the range to make plays on the ball.

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Lovie Smith: Not in Trouble in Tampa Bay. But He Should Be.

Rick Stroud at the Tampa Bay Times writes about whether former Bears head coach Lovie Smith is on the hot seat there:

“Contrary to what a few fans may believe, Smith’s coaching seat isn’t getting warm. Not even tepid.

“Why? When you take a quarterback No. 1 overall in the draft and plan to play him right away, you commit to the process as an organization, which is what the Bucs have done.”

“Smith is not blameless. He and general manager Jason Licht have made their share of mistakes in free agency. Some positions in the secondary and on the defensive line still are a revolving door. Any time Smith says the Bucs are 1-3, fans counter that they are 3-17 under Smith.”

Smith is entirely to blame. He’s has been put in charge and is ultimately responsible for all of the personnel decisions that are made in Tampa Bay, something that I pointed out was a grave error when they hired him. Smith is a pretty good head coach. But it’s not a co-incidence that the Bears drafts began to go more and more downhill as he gained more and more influence in the organization.

Despite winning his first ever home game in Tampa Bay on Sunday, Stroud says that Smith isn’t in trouble with ownership because they’re playing with a rookie quarterback and that’s fair enough. But the Tampa Bay problems are also on defense where they are last in the league with 148 points allowed over 5 games. That’s supposed to be Smith’s specialty and most Bears fans know he’s pretty good at it. But his insistence in meddling with player personnel is keeping that side of the ball unsettled. And it may not get better.

In many ways Smith is lucky. Having Jameis Winston is a built in excuse that will buy him time despite poor performance in other areas of his job. But he’s in over his head in Tampa Bay and unless they hire a real general manager with real power over personnel, its likely to stay that way.

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