Time for Forte to Accept a Not So Hard Reality

Adam Schefter at ESPN tweets that the Bears plan to use the franchise tag on running back Matt Forte. Certainly no one would be surprised if that were true. As the Chicago Tribune‘s Brad Biggs has pointed out, the Bears are starting to consider extending their many potential free agents in an effort to get them signed before the end of the season. That means they have to start planning how they are going to apportion their remaining cap space.

Forte has claimed for some reason that he doesn’t think the Bears will do this. He apparently thinks that the Bears will want to pay him what he’s worth and has claimed repeatedly that they are simply undervaluing him because they don’t believe in him.

I really doubt that is true. From the first time I saw him and heard him speak I’ve believed that Forte is everything a professional football player should be. What I’ve seen since certainly supports the notion. Forte is always the first one to run over to congratulate a teammate on a good play. In turn they always go to bat for him in the media, are always campaigning for him in his contract run, are always talking about what a great back he is and pointing out what a great person he is.

But Forte is only 25 and he certainly doesn’t yet understand many realities of life. He’s about to come to grips with one that everyone eventually faces: No one – and I mean no one – ever gets paid what they are worth. Certainly no one ever gets paid what they think they are worth. Not me, not you, not Lovie Smith, not Jerry Angelo, not even the Bears ownership. If we are realistic, most of us can accept that we are getting paid what is fair based upon the business situation of everyone involved. But it’s never what we’re worth.

Forte risks injury every game he plays. And the truth is that no one ever feels rich no matter how much they make. Most of us get used to it early on and we become grateful if we are lucky enough to be comfortable. Forte needs to accept a long term deal for what is still a very good salary to play with teammates who love him. No one will ever do better than that.

Release of Chris Harris As a Personal Matter and Other Points of View


“Letting [ChrisHarris go, Lovie Smith and the coaching staff put a lot of faith in a pair of unproven players. [MajorWright, a third-round draft pick in 2010, has started four career games and endured his share of injuries. [ChrisConte, a rookie third-rounder, will make his third start when the Bears return to action at Philadelphia on Nov. 7.”

I don’t think the Bears are taking that big of a risk. The safeties are making too many mistakes. I think Bears head coach Lovie Smith probably concluded that if that was going to be the case, he might as well play the young ones.

“But Detroit (5-2), which has been trampled by running backs in recent weeks, has struggled in the secondary for years and the Lions will take a shot with the 29-year-old. Detroit has a talented free safety in Louis Delmas (CQ) and could view Harris as a solution for some of the team’s struggles in the box. The club currently lists Amari Spievey (CQ) atop the depth chart at strong safety.”

ESPN‘s NFC North blogger, Kevin Seifert,  also makes the good point that Harris probably has valuable information to pass along to the Lions.

My gut feeling in that Biggs is right.  The Lions obviously see Harris as a solution in schemes other than the cover two which requires both the instincts and the athleticism that Harris has not shown this season.  This may, however, lead teams to attack him in the passing game in apparent running situations.

“(Bears S) Brandon Meriweather has played exactly like he did in New England. That’s why Bill Belichick got rid of him. If (Belichick) thought (Meriweather) was going to improve, he would’ve kept him. Just because a player is voted to a Pro Bowl does not mean he played like a Pro Bowler. … We would not touch him for the veteran’s minimum (salary). I was shocked what he got (from the Bears).”

“Strongside:  Motivated by extreme fear of human contact.”
“Weakside: Can do it all but just runs around with a football instead.”

‘‘First off, we start upstairs,’’ he said, referring to the coaches in the press box. ‘‘If we think we have a legitimate gripe, or we think we’re going to win, that’s a part of it. But if it’s close, and it’s a critical situation, I’m going to challenge it.’’

Many will criticize Smith’s use of the challenge but I continue to marvel that football is the only sport where the head men have to not only coach their team but do the officiating, too.

‘‘It’s all about being at the right place at the right time,’’ Clutts said. ‘‘This offense fits my skill set. They don’t ask me to do things I’m not capable of doing. But the things they ask me to do, I feel I do well. I couldn’t ask for a better situation than being here.’’

My own observations confirm that the Bears have been using Clutts effectively. But it also makes me wonder about all of the things that we have read about the demise of the fullback and how Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz prefers to use tight ends. More than ever, I’m wondering if offensive line coach Mike Tice is the one calling and designing the run plays for the Bears.

“Will Mike Martz be back next year? Tom from Twitter

“There is a chance, maybe even a good one, that Martz will not be back with the Bears, no matter what happens the rest of the season. Remember, Martz rejected the Bears’ low-ball extension offer in the offseason (they offered no raise, a $1 million salary for the 2012 season). He will be out of contract. If his offense sputters, the Bears may say sayonara. If the offense thrives, Martz may say sayonara.”

I, personally, will go on record already as saying that I hope Martz and the team can come to an agreement.

    1. I don’t like the idea of transitioning to yet another system
    2. Smith will be a lame duck and, like the last time they were in that situation, they may not be able to recruit a good offensive coordinator under that circumstance.
    3. They may find, once again, that they can’t find anyone who wants to work with Jay Cutler.
    4. I’m pretty sure that Martz system will work a lot better as the talent gets better (if it gets better).

Bottom line, I think Martz is about as good of an offensive coordinator as they are going to get.

  • Jensen takes a look at the number of snaps Bears players have taken over the course of the season so far.  Many have concluded that Roy Williams has gotten fewer balls because quarterback Jay Cutler doesn’t have confidence in him.  But the truth is that Williams has been in the game for just over half the snaps that Devin Hester has and for almost 100 fewer than Johnny Knox.  Even Dane Sansenbacher has been in the game for almost 25% more snaps.  So I’m wondering how much confidence the coaching staff has in him as well.  Williams habitually drops a lot of balls.

In addition, D.J. Moore has played 25% more snaps than Nick Roach.  As many writers have pointed out, this speaks to the fact that the Bears are probably playing a lot of nickel.  They may be playing it more than any other alignment.


  • For those who thought the Bears should run out and sign Bernard Berrian, we have this from Tom Pelissero at 1500ESPN.com:

“When coach Leslie Frazier met with Berrian on Monday, the 30-year-old receiver said he still wanted to help the Vikings win — and Frazier couldn’t believe him anymore.”

“‘The thing you have to be concerned about is, if he’s a starter, how is he producing? And then, what’s the attitude?’ Frazier said, speaking generally after Thursday’s practice.

“‘If he’s not producing, but he’s practicing hard, playing hard, doing everything you ask — you’ve just got to find ways to try to help that guy be a productive player for you. But if the production isn’t there, the attitude isn’t right, then you’ve got to say, ‘OK, is he giving us anything in the locker room?””

“That was never Berrian’s style either. Aloof and introverted, he had a reputation for caring more about fashion and celebrity status than football. One former teammate said he’d be willing to bet Berrian didn’t even know several other players’ names.”

I’m sure all of the Bear fans who watched Berrian refuse to go over the middle or to block the year he was headed into free agency are shocked.

“Defensive tackle — Ndamukong Suh, Detroit: For a guy who dominated games during his rookie season, Suh hasn’t really delivered the same impact this year. You talk to NFL personnel evaluators and they’ll tell you he’s getting blocked out of plays more effectively this season and disappearing for stretches of games. The numbers bear this out: After his monster 10-sack, 66-tackle season of 2010, with three passes defensed, one interception and one forced fumble, Suh has just three sacks and 23 tackles in seven games, with no takeaways or passes defensed. Suh set the bar very high as a rookie, but he hasn’t matched that production level in year two.”

“One of the main reasons the Texans have been playing better — the offensive line is functional. That is the best thing Gary Kubiak has done since he arrived. He fixed the line.”

One Final Thought

Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune wonders if the release of Harris wasn’t personal:

“Recall that in the middle of his descent from starter to street clothes, Harris tweeted that he was all for accountability as long as accountability went for everybody. Harris didn’t name names. It wasn’t a kill shot on, say, Smith or defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, but it was probably Harris’ best hit of the season.”

I missed this tweet but it would certainly explain a few things.  Certainly Bears defensive back D.J. Moore agrees with Rosenbloom (via Jon Greenberg at ESPNChicago.com):

“”If you look at the tape, [Harris] was doing what’s he supposed to do,’ Bears defensive back D.J. Moore said. ‘Like everybody you make bad plays and whatnot, but like everybody you could probably tell it was bad blood somewhere, I would think. If you go from starting to not starting and then all of a sudden, you’re just gone, there’s got to be ego somewhere.'”

Now I’m wondering when Moore will be cut.

Just kidding.



Game Comments: Bears at Buccaneers


  1. Tampa Bay looked alert for the screen for most of the game. Good scouting there as that seems to be the primary mechanism the Bears use to slow the rush.
  2. Matt Forte looked great.  He ran with patience and vision and made a lot of yards on his own.   As has been the case this game was about the Bear running game.  Once Forte got going it opened up the pass which the Bears had less success with but which they were able to sue to at least keep moving the ball.
  3. Speaking of the run, nice game Marion Barber.
  4. Tampa’s reaction to Forte’s runing was to do what they should have done from the beginning of the game.  They started by trying to play seven in the box but eventually they started stacking and crashing the line of scrimmage to stop the run and pressure Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.  This made the Bears have to beat them with the pass, something they aren’t as good at.
  5. Roy Williams had a bad drop but otherwise I thought he had a reasonable game.  I particularly liked the block he threw on Forte’s touchdown in the first quarter.  Generally speaking I’m not prepared to be too critical of the receivers this game though they continue to be pedestrian.
  6. I’m sick and tired of seeing the Bears pull lineman in short yardage situations.  Its too slow to develop and it doesn’t work.  I’m assuming this is how Roberto Garza ended up getting shoved into Forte in the end zone on the safety.  Really poor. EDIT: I watched the replay Sunday night and Garza did not pull on the play. He just got knocked back from the center position.
  7. Tampa Bay really didn’t play that well defensively.  They made a lot of mistakes.  I’m thinking in particular of the Barber touchdown run where the Tampa Bay safety got caught in the misdirection and failed to fill his gap.  Things like that are a killer.
  8. Generally speaking I once again thought the offensive line did reasonably well today.  They got less help in pass protection and still generally protected Cutler OK though there were plenty of gaffes to clean up still.  The run blocking was pretty good until the fourth quarter.


  1. The Bears started in the cover two on first down but they started gradually blitzing more often until the fourth quarter. This actually had an effect on Tamp quarterback Josh Freeman who appeared to me to be looking for it even when it wasn’t there.  About midway through the third quarter the Bears stopped blitzing all together and went into the cover two shell almost entirely.  This made the fact that the Bucs were allowed to come back and make this into a game at the end particularly inexcusable.
  2. There was some poor tackling initially but other than that I didn’t think the Bears looked sluggish or jet lagged.
  3. Freeman really had a bad, bad day. It wasn’t just the interceptions.  His accuracy was awful.  Much of this probably can be chalked up to the pressure the Bears got on him.
  4. Speaking of the pressure, it was pretty good until the fourth quarter.  That’s when the Bears went into their cover two shell and the Tampa offensive line got comfortable.
  5. Chris Harris showed his deficiencies once again but I thought the coverage by the defensive backs was generally good otherwise.Charles Tillman stood out.
  6. Tampa Bay converted too many third downs today.


  1. I watched this game at a bar so admittedly it was a little tough to hear them but it seemed like Daryl Johnston, Kenny Albert and Tony Siracusa did a good job. In particular it sounded like Johnston’s thoughts were paralleling my own.
  2. I know you don’t want to kick to Devin Hester but I thought conceding the opening kick off to the forty was taking it too far.
  3. Tampa Bay punter Michael Koenen was great today. He kept pinning Hester up agains the sidelines and limiting his returns and he hit some booming punts.  He and Ronde Barber were maybe Tampa Bay’s best players today.
  4. I was amazed at the number of Tampa Bay injuries today.  I’m tempted to say it had something to do with the way they prepared for the game by staying with free run of a resort but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.  It might have just been bad luck.
  5. I won’t say there were too many drops but the ones the Bears had certainly seemed to hurt.  The drop by Roy Williams leading to another by Barber for a pick six was a particularly damaging sequence.  Again, the Bears have to clean this up.  they can’t have plays like that.
  6. I won’t say that there were too many penalties, either, but they were really damaging to both teams.  There isn’t a worse time to commit a senseless block in the back than on a pick that was taken down to the one yard line.
  7. There were too many turnovers on both sides.  Tampa Bay practically gave the game away with them but the two the Bears had were damaging, too.  Again, one of these days someone is going to kill Cutler on those dangerous throws.  He’s living on the edge.  Nice job by the Bear defense here.
  8. There are a lot of things I could emphasize in this final point.  The running game continuing to carry the Bears offense.  The turnovers the Bears finally seemed to start getting.  The poor cover two defense that led to the Tampa Bay comeback.  But I’m going to choose to focus on something else.  The Bears badly need safety help but when Brandon Merriweather started displaying poor discipline, they benched him.  Aquib Talib is a very talented defensive back for the Bucs who has displayed a lack of discipline on and off the field but the Buccaneers have chosen to continue to play him despite that.  I’d say that it came back to hurt them today as Talib committed a damaging personal foul with 3 and a half minutes to play.  Though Johnston chose to frame it as the Buccaneer defense “bailing Talib out” by holding the Bears to a final field goal, that penalty cost the Buccaneers a minute and a half of valuable time at the end of the game.  The difference between what you can do with 3:30 left and 2:00 left offensively is huge.  Bottom line I’m glad the Bears have taken the stand on Merriweather that they have.  Sometimes the game really does come down to what’s right and what isn’t.

The Bears Are Going to Have Some Trouble Adjusting to London

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune writes about the jet lag that comes with traveling overseas:

“If the Bears feel anything on Friday afternoon like a group of sportswriters did Thursday afternoon, it could make for a rough practice in final preparation for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium.”

“It’s a primary reason why the Bucs departed Monday morning for London.”

I was sitting at lunch in Chicago with two friends yesterday, one from Autralia and the other from Wales.  Both are obviously very experienced world travelers and I’ve made such trips a couple times myself.  So I asked the question, “The Bears play Sunday.  They’re leaving today.  Will they be ready to…”  Before I even finished I was cut off.  My Welsh friend said, “No way,” with the Australian nodding.

My own more limited experience jibes with theirs.  Some players are going to handle this really well.  But some aren’t and it only takes a few to make for some really bad football.

Jay Cutler Must Grow, Get on the Same Page with Mike Martz

Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune describes an incident which has been building locally into a real story over the course of the week:

Jay Cutler acknowledged Wednesday that he shouted an obscenity that was directed toward Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz during last Sunday night’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

“The NBC field microphone and camera picked up the voice of Cutler telling quarterbacks coach Shane Day to relay a message to Martz in a Soldier Field booth: ‘Tell him I said (blank) him.'”

Two different columns were written today which gave different perspectives on the episode, one by the Chicago Sun-Times Mark Potash, the other by Dan Pompei at the Tribune.

Let’s start with Potash:

“Jay Cutler usually can’t hide his disdain for uncomfortable or annoying subjects during his weekly news conferences. With a dismissive attitude, curt responses and body language that says he rather would be anywhere but in the media room at Halas Hall, he has a habit of making things worse than when he started.”

“But Cutler at least made a plausible case that it’s much ado about nothing. And that, in itself, is significant progress for Cutler, who is on a roll with back-to-back games of 99.6 and 115.9 passer ratings.”

“‘I’m not going to make a big deal of this; it’s not a big deal. We’re all on the same team in this building. We’re [trying] to win football games.'”

“‘I’m a competitor,’ Cutler said. ‘So is he. So is everyone on this offense. Whether we’re up three touchdowns or three points, a second- and third-down call is as important as any one in the game.

‘So … it is what it is. We’re good. We’re moving on. Excited about his week’s game plan and excited to go play in London.'”

Potash went on to say that the incident was a symptom of the greater problems surrounding the Bears offense.

Pompei, on the other hand, saw this as a personal failing on the part of Cutler.

“The Bears quarterback claims the media is making something out of nothing. Not sure what planet he comes from, but in my world I don’t often hear a subordinate talk to his superior that way.

“How long would you be in your starting lineup if you gave your boss that message?”

“The message Cutler really sends — to his coaches, his teammates, his opponent and the public — is that he lacks respect and self control. Cutler doesn’t have to agree with the call, or how it was made, but he does have to show courtesy to the people and the process.

That’s not football, that’s life.”

“For him to be an effective leader, he will need to mature more. Or, if you prefer to attribute his behavior to his ‘fiery’ nature, he will need an occasional bucket of water thrown over him.”

Whatever you say about Cutler he evokes strong reactions. Even in people not named “Kristin”.

At least both of these columnists agree on one thing – Cutler deserves credit for addressing the issue and telling the truth. We constantly say we want honesty in our athletes. Then we bang them as hard as we can as soon as they do it.

You can argue that, nevertheless, Pompei’s column has some of that in it. The answer to Pompei’s question is that if I ever did what Cutler did with my boss, I might as well start packing up my desk in preparation for a new career in waste management. Having played competitive sports, part of me wants to say that Cutler’s situation is different. The other part of me wonders if he would ever verbally sodomize head coach Lovie Smith in the same situation.  It seems to me that Cutler does have a specific problem with Martz.

At least as important in the big picture is the issue of Cutlers growth.  I’ve never bought into Cutler as a good leader and I usually lean in Pompei’s direction when the subject comes up. But to my eye Cutler is doing better this year in an effort to fill the void left by the departure of former center Olin Kreutz. He is certainly at least trying with some success (via Potash):

“‘We are a team, and whenever [Cutler] gets fired up, we get fired up,’ center Roberto Garza said. ‘We started playing well, and all that excitement comes from our quarterback. He leads our team. Whatever he does, we do.’”

Cutler’s case that this incident and the events surrounding it this week are a non-issue may have been “plausible” but it doesn’t fly.  Good or bad, it would seem that he is a leader for this team now.  And that means he has to think carefully where he leads them to.  There are clearly some things here that need to be dealt with.

Game Comments: Vikings at Bears


  1. The Bears played 8 in the box (at least) on first down.  It looked like a good move.  Stop Adrian Peterson and make the rest of the team beat you.
  2. Nice job Stephen Paea on the McNabb safety.  He was helped by a neat little stunt that fooled the Viking offensive line.
  3. The Bears tackling was good tonight.  It needed to be with Peterson running the ball.
  4. The Bears got a fair bit of pressure when they blitzed.  The pressure was more sporatic when it was the four man rush but it was there.  Some of the Bears pressure came on some clever stunts.  For instance, it seemed that Julius Peppers had good success stunting up the middle.
  5. Speaking of Peppers, considering the fact that he was playing on a bad knee, I thought he had a good game.  He seemed to get fair pressure on McNabb and, of course, sacked him.
  6. I see that Donovan McNabb is still throwing bounce passes to his receivers.  He looked better in the second half but it was too little too late.  By the time they got to midway through the third quarter, the Vikings had to throw and the Bears defensive linemen were laying back their ears and strictly rushing the passer.
  7. I thought the Vikings started to get their feet underneath them at the end of the first half.  The Bears were so committed to Peterson that the Vikings had an easy time of it passing against them.
  8. Hard to say much about Chirstian Ponder.  I’d say he was up and down.  He was certainly more mobile than I thought he’d be.  He’s got a real quick release.  But I don’t think you start him unless you’ve really officially given up on the season (i.e. nine losses).


  1. The Vikings are also stacking the box but thats with the Bears having running personnel and lots of guys in to protect Jay Cutler.
  2. I’m really surprised that Cutler found Devin Hester open on the first touchdown.  There should have been plenty of guys there to cover and, indeed, he looked like he was double covered.  I can only conclude that there was some really poor coverage on that play.
  3. Cutler was hanging better in the pocket this week.  Probably all of the extra protection gave him more confidence.
  4. You might qualify the pass protection because the offensive line got lots of help tonight but I think everyone would say that they did a good job of run blocking, as well.  Here’s hoping they can start doing that on the road.
  5. I thought offensive coordinator Mike Martz took better advantage of the running game this week by calling more play action.
  6. No complaints about the wide receivers tonight (though see the dropped passes comment below).  For the most part I thought they really went out and fought for the ball tonight.
  7. I would agree with color man Cris Collinsworth that Lance Louis did a fine job stablizing the right tackle position tonight.  I can see why offensive line coach Mike Tice likes him.  I also liked that they highlighted the play of Chris Williams who has quietly done a decent job for most of the season.  Really as good or better than anyone other than Roberto Garza.


  1. Al Michaels, Michele Tafoya and Collinsworth were professional.  I hate night games as a rule but at least having the best quality announcers helps.
  2. There were plenty of dropped passes tonight.  There were two dropped passes for the Vikings on the first two third downs.  That’s brutal.  There was a bad drop by Hester at the end of the first half.  There was another one by Dane Sanzenbacker near the goal line in the third quarter.  Matt Spaeth dropped a touchdown.  Those have to be cleaned up.
  3. There were still too many penalties tonight.  There was an illegal formation call in the first half.  There were more false starts.  It’s really hard to move the ball running it when you are starting first and 15.
  4. I wouldn’t say that turnovers were a problem but there was the bad Cutler fumble at the beginning of the first half that led to a Viking touchdown. There were a few near interceptions and that fumble by Tyler Clutz Clutts in the first quarter looked like it should have been Viking ball to me.
  5. Good special teams play tonight by the Bears.  The Hester touchdown was particularly good because it came after the Vikings cut through the Bears defense like a hot knife through butter for a touchdown.
  6. I love to watch Sam Hurd play ball.  The guy gives it everything he’s got and he just seems to genuinely enjoy every minute.
  7. Nice work by the offensive line tonight and it made all the difference.  But the real test is on the road and that’s where they need to perform if they want to impress me.  You could say the same thing about the whole team.  There were a lot of mistakes that didn’t didn’t burn the Bears because they were playing a Vikings team that had a bad night.  But there were plenty of dropped passes and penalties.  Make those near interceptions into real ones and you’ve got a problem when you’re playing good teams.  I can’t complain on a night when they win convincingly like this but the Bears better keep working to clean this stuff up.


Planning for the Slow Deterioration of the Chicago Bears

Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times does a really nice job of summing up the predicament the Beas are in:

“General manager Jerry Angelo has always believed that teams should be built from the inside out. It has long been his opinion that offensive and defensive lines create an identity and standard of play. Never have truer words been spoken, by the way. Monday night’s game was proof positive. For the moment, forget about the lack of receiving talent and the inability to acquire adequate safeties. That Angelo has always believed in an inside-out philosophy only makes his team being destroyed on both fronts the latest indictment of his stewardship.”

This paragraph summarizes Angelo beautifully.  He talks knowledgeably about building a team in the same way an average fan might talk about playing guard.  You can teach that fan all about how to play the position and he or she can spout back what needs to be done in every situation.  But in the end that fan will be destroyed without the physical talent to actually execute against a 300 lb. defensive lineman.

Angelo is out of his depth and looking back he has been since the day he became general manager.  Its not because he doesn’t know where the gaps are and how to fill them but because he simply can’t evaluate talent.  Add that to the numerous administrative gaffs and his weak leadership in which he seeks compromise on every decision and you’ve got a serious void at the top of the front office at Halas Hall.

Its a shame but Bear fans are destined to watch this team deteriorate before our eyes until the team’s elite talent ages to the point where it finally hits rock bottom with no younger talent to replace it and Angelo is let go.  Unfortunately this process happens only very slowly.  The schedule is about to get easier and Lovie Smith and the coaching staff are still strong in some important areas.

So the Bears will be mediocre again this year and Angelo will hang on for a while as long as he talks a good game and “has a plan”.  That is despite the fact that he’ll never be able to execute it.

Game Comments: Bears at Lions


  1. The Bears played a lot of straight seven in the box with nickel personnel.
  2. The poor tackling continues. Very disappointing.  Again, in past year they would have cleaned that up by now.
  3. The pass rush was really poor, especially when compared to the Lion pass rush.
  4. Brandon Meriweather is a thug.  Honestly, he might be the dirtiest player I’ve ever seen.
  5. This wasn’t one of Stafford’s better games accuracy-wise.  He missed a lot of open receivers.
  6. Matthew Stafford had all day to throw the ball on the first touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson.  Johnson got a free release.  Terrible tackling by Brandon Meriweather.  It was just the beginning of a horrid day for Chris Harris.  Awful play.
  7. I can’t even tell what went wrong on the Jahvid Best touchdown in the third quarter.  But I know bad defensive play when I see it.  To state the obvious, someone wasn’t in their gap.  No safety help.  You have to start to wonder if this is just who these guys are.


  1. The Bears come out running against the Lions who pretty much stick with seven in the box.  You can’t succeed doing that if you’re constantly pushing yourself back with penalties.
  2. With the Lions defensive center being as strong as they are, the Bears were attacking the edges and off tackle with limited success.
  3. With Forte running well, the Bears didn’t seem to use play action like I thought they should have.
  4. Jay Cutler didn’t seem to be panicking unnecessarily in the pocket as he has been doing.  That was largely because he never had a clean pocket to panic unnecessarily in.  He was fine this week.
  5. Cutler did a nice job on the move.  He used his mobility to avoid the rush and burn the Lions on the blitz on occasion.  I’d have to say I’ve never seen anyone do a better job with basically no offensive blocking in front of him.  In its own way it was heroic.
  6. The receivers seemed to be better this week in that they were fighting for the ball and making some tough catches with close coverage.  Good game for Devin Hester.
  7. The Bears basically worked their way down the field on Lions penalties in the first quarter and Lovie Smith goes for it on fourth down.  I hated that call and not just because it didn’t work out.  You take the points there in a defensive game.
  8. The Lions were getting an extraordinary jump on the Bear snap count.  There must have been a tell somewhere.
  9. As Jon Gruden pointed out very well, you need to give those putrid offensive linemen for the Bears some help if you have to pass.  I know the Bears are in a bind in that situation but you can’t let them tee off like that on the worst offensive line in the league.


  1. Mike Tirico, Gruden, Ron Jaworski did a nice job.  I thought Jon Gruden’s attempts to dissect every play were particularly laudable.  I enjoyed the call.
  2. Penalties all over the place on both sides.  Kellen Davis false started at least three times.  The Bears claim they practice all week with piped in noise.  They better turn the volume up.
  3. Someone is going to have to explain to me why Lovie Smith challenged the spot on the fourth down at the end of the first quarter.  It was clear that the ball came down on top of the 25 yard line and the marker was well beyond that.  That was the last time out they had in the first half.  Poor decision.
  4. The Lions didn’t drop many passes.  The Bears weren’t bad but Devin Hester dropped a touchdown in the first quarter.  Forte had a bad drop.
  5. Special teams weren’t bad but they never really had much of a chance.  It seemed like they were pinned back against the goal line the whole game.
  6. The Bears didn’t turn it over themselves and they got one interception.  But if they keep playing like this they are going to need more than that.
  7. Frank Omiyale just cannot block.  J’Marcus Webb couldn’t come close to keeping up with Kyle Vanden Bosch.  Lance Louis struggled.  Meanwhile Jerry Angelo says nobody did more to address the offensive line than the Chicago  Bears.  He should be totally ashamed.

Game Comments: Panthers @Bears 10/2/11


  1. For some reason I don’t understand the Bears were giving Steve Smith no apparent extra attention.  Its fairly obvious that Cam Newton depends heavily on him.  I had flash backs to Wes Welker last year.
  2. The Bears were playing a lot of straight up zone.  The times they blitzed they frequently got burned by a screen play.  They did blitz much more often and more effectively in the second half.
  3. The Panthers called plenty of misdirection and cutbacks against the aggressive Bears defense.  The Bears weren’t in their gaps, especially in the first half.
  4. Bears really tackled poorly.  I got very tired of watching DeAngelo Williams run though them.
  5. Cam Newton looks a whole lot more accurate than we were led to believe he was coming out of college.  He’s going to be a good one.
  6. Its near the end of the first quarter and Brandon Meriweather gets caught out of position covering over the top and allows Smith a completion on the 1 yard line setting up a touchdown.  This is why the Patriots didn’t want him.  Inexcusable.
  7. Not a lot of pressure on Newton from the defensive line.  The Bears were really trying to rush with discipline and keep Newton in the pocket.  As a result Newton frequently had a long time to throw the ball.  What was tough was that the Bears just couldn’t get him down.  He’d just step through the tackle and get out of the pocket anyway.  He’s like Dante Culpepper was only better at it.
  8. Poor clock management at the end of the half by the Panthers.  You don’t want to leave that last time out in your pocket.
  9. Jeremy Shockey has got to shut up and play.


  1. The Bears came out running and the Panthers insisted on meeting it with seven in the box.  Its was a contest of wills until just before the end of the half when the Panthers wisely finally started sneaking a guy up.  They wanted Jay Cutler to have to throw – as well they should.  One big mistake they made is that they didn’t do more.  There’s no reason whatsoever to respect the Bears passing game at all.
  2. They didn’t throw much in the first half but I don’t have words to express the utter disgust I feel for the pass protection by the offensive line.  There’s no excuse for the poor protection against a four man rush.  Pulling Frank Omiyale from right tackle and replacing him with Lance Lewis helped.  Martz quickly started leaving more people in to block as he did against the Packers.
  3. The run blocking was pretty good but a lot of the offense was Matt Forte making yards on his own.  He continues to look extremely good.
  4. Like Cutler, I’m a little tired of seeing this team have to call time out because the plays aren’t getting in fast enough.


  1. Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick did a reasonably good job.  Billick pointed out a few things I missed.
  2. Give credit to FOX for being sure to catch Jay Cutler congratulating D.J. Moore after his touchdown.
  3. Outstanding special teams play by the Bears.  In contrast the Panther’s special teams are pretty awful.  The Devin Hester touchdown was on a line drive punt.  The blocked field goal by the Bears was well done but as Billick pointed out, it was a poor kick.  I’m not sure what that last kickoff by the Panthers was supposed to be.  If it was supposed to fool me because most sane people expected an an onside kick, it did.
  4. The Bears got a key turnover and left at least one or two on the field.  Cutler threw a bad interception (see below).
  5. There were plenty of disturbingly open Panthers receivers who didn’t make catches.  That won’t happen every week.  The Bears continue to fail to fight for balls and allow opposing defenses to knock balls away and/or drop passes when they’re hit.  You aren’t going to be wide open all the time.  The drop by Dane Sanzenbacher on a key third down took place at a poor time.
  6. Greg Olsen obviously needed to settle down.  Two penalties on opening drive.  The Panthers constantly shot themselves in the foot with lots and lots of penalties beside that.  The Bears weren’t clean but they weren’t hurt as bad as the Panthers who had play after play eliminated by it.  I’d like to point out that Brandon Meriweather was dancing on the edge of the rules for a lot of this game.  He had at least one helmet to helmet hit on Steve Smith that really needs to be called.
  7. Lots of pink out there for breast cancer awareness.
  8. Certainly the story of this game was the Bears commitment to the run.  But I’m concerned.  Its obvious now that the book on Jay Cutler is to hit him and he folds.  I understand that the protection isn’t good but he’s has got to stand in against the rush.  He sees blitz and no matter how much protection he’s got, he panics.  He’s constantly throwing off of his back foot.  He short armed the interception and it flew high.  Someone has to do something about this or its gong to be a miserable year passing no matter what the line does.  They aren’t going to win many games like this.

Settle Down, Bear Fans. And Other Points of View


  • Not much interesting in the Sun-Times today.  Or so I thought.  Walter Payton?  Ancient history.  Cam Newton?  Enough already.  Hellooooo strippers.
  • Glad to see that Marion Barber will be back tomorrow.  He should look like a freight train to the Carolina defense after Matt Forte floats around in front of them for awhile.
  • Perhaps someone could explain to me why this nugget was relevant to Sean Jensen’s report in the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi went to a 10 a.m. service Thursday for Rosh Hashanah.”

A lot was made about the fact that Carimi was jewish when he was drafted and fair enough.  But now that the season has started I think such things should fall by the wayside unless he misses practice.  I’m sure many players will go to mass on Sunday and hold days of obligation.  No one reports on it nor should they.

“Second-round pick Stephen Paea has yet to be in uniform for a game, and the team made the curious decision to dress third quarterback Nathan Enderle last week over the defensive tackle from Oregon State.”

“’He’s right in there,’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. ‘I think he is really gonna be a heck of a player. He’s got all the stuff we want. We’re just a little deep at that tackle position. To me it’s a great to bring him in the right way, earn your stripes, come in and work your way up. I feel really good.’”

Marinelli’s comment aside, Paea was getting well handled by third string offensive linemen in the preseason.  He looks like he’s got a long way to go before he’s going to be of any help.

“Even when [offensive coordinator Mike] Martz looks like he is going to start off the game with some running plays, he uses a delayed handoff, I’m assuming so that he could try and fool the defense. Why doesn’t he just call normal running plays? Sounds like a simple enough question, but apparently it isn’t. — Pete Hasa, Monterey, Calif.”

“I agree the Bears should call for more downhill running plays. The slow developing plays that have been called have a greater chance of turning into losses of yards.”

The delayed handoff is designed to cause linebackers to hesitate and allow pulling linemen to get across to where they are supposed to be to block them.  The problem with the Packers game was that the linebackers didn’t hesitate.  They crashed the line and got into the backfield too early.  I’m pretty sure that one of the reasons Martz stopped calling runs was because these delayed runs were a major part of the game plan and they had no hope of working.  I agree with both the emailer and Pompei that this has to be fixed.

  • A little advice for those of you headed out to the Bear game:


Be sure to adjust so that everything goes with the color of the uniform they’re wearing that day. Wow, what nonsense!

  • Steve Dahl argues that he’s not a jinx in this episode of “Angelo’s Ashes”:

  • Jimmy Plocharczyk thinks he’s Walter Payton in this cute little video:

You forgot the Vicodin and Tylenol at the end, Jimmy.


“‘He was asking a lot of questions about what we did defensively,’ said Belichick, who then was the Jets’ defensive coordinator.

“‘You kind of don’t want to give too much information because, you know, he’s running the defense. He wasn’t really too interested in talking about offensive football.’”

“‘It really seemed like a waste of time, because I felt pretty certain that he wouldn’t hire a defensive coach, because he hasn’t since Eddie Erdelatz in [1960],’ Belichick pointed out. ‘It’s a parade of offensive coaches out there. He’s really a defensive coordinator and has been. You know.’”

 “Let’s see. If Berrian has been doing all the same things as usual, and he’s getting open, what could the problem be? Could it be new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave or new quarterback Donovan McNabb? Berrian didn’t mention their names, but if Berrian is getting open and still isn’t getting the ball, it would seem to be an issue with the play calling or the quarterback.

Berrian has been on the field for 132 snaps, or 74.2 percent of the Vikings’ offensive plays. A receiver who’s on the field that much and has just one catch is basically a waste of space on offense, but he says he’s not stressing about everyone pointing out that he’s not much of a contributor.”

“The fans are revolting in Kansas City. They don’t have a head coach or a quarterback that can take them anywhere. I’m sure (GM) Scott Pioli had a plan, but what you find out once you start wearing the big-boy pants, sometimes you don’t get the time you need to carry it through. This is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. They gave Matt Cassel a big contract. The one thing he needed was talent around him. (Tony) Moeaki and (Jamaal) Charles went out with ACLs. They have caught some bad breaks, no doubt, but look at how many injuries the Packers had last year. The Patriots got hammered by injuries when they were going to those Super Bowls. How many guys did the Saints have on I.R. when they won it? The good ones adapt. You look for excuses in this league, and you’re done.”

In fairness, all of those teams had years to build their roster.  A good part of Kansas City’s problems are probably associated with head coach Todd Haley.  Haley is extremely tough and there’s only so much of that you can take before it beats you down.  There’s a good chance he’s already lost the team.

One Final Thought

Pompei answers another question:

“Recently, Jerry Angelo blamed the Bear’s losses to poor execution and inconsistency on the part of the players. That may be partially true, however, perhaps a greater portion of the blame may revert to draft day and not drafting a player who could develop into a speedy go to receiver for Cutler and not drafting a bevy of potentially talented, offensive linemen with the rest of the picks. In addition, I sincerely feel the Bears played two of the top four teams in the NFL and they had a lot to do with the Bears’ losses. What do you think? — Gerald Healy, Rugby, N.D.”

“The Bears have been underdogs in all three of their games this year, so actually, they have done better than they were supposed to do. Their two losses may have come to the two best teams in the NFL. That being said, the nature of the losses has been disturbing. It’s safe to say we still don’t know who this team is. I’m not ready to write off the receivers or offensive line yet, either. Remember, Earl Bennett and Roy Williams have missed time at receiver, and Gabe Carimi and Lance Louis have missed time on the line. The offense needs some time to come together.”

I spent most of my week trying to talk Bear fans off the ledge and convince them that it would be OK.    A big part of the Bears offensive problems in the Packer game were drops and penalties.  Judging from what we’ve seen from this team in recent years, these mistakes are not typical.  The Bears don’t usually beat themselves with these kinds of mistakes, at least not to that extent.

For the record, I had the Bears going 11-5 this season and that was accounting for losses to both the Saints and Packers and the upcoming Lions game in week 5.  People who read this blog or know me personally know that I’m not the wildly optimistic type.  I stand by that prediction.

I’m not saying there isn’t cause for concern but as Pompei says in answer to another question later in the article, “Deep breath, everybody.”