Quick Game Comments: Bears at Lions


  1. The Bears were playing a lot of two deep coverage – probably because of Calvin Johnson. Nevertheless, as they have been doing all season, they didn’t hesitate to sneak an eighth guy up into the box whenever they suspected a run. As has been the case for much of the season, they have been frequently right.
  2. The stats will have to be checked but the Lions play calling appeared to be very balanced.
  3. There was some disturbingly bad tackling out there on the Bears part today. In particular Mikel Leshoure got a lot of yards after first contact.
  4. Henry Melton appeared to come out with some fire. He was getting good penetration. Julius Peppers deserves special mention as well.
  5. On a related note, the Bears got nice pressure on Stafford.
  6. Also related, the Lions started with some crisp passing to Tony Scheffler and Johnson. And I started to wonder if it was going to be a good day for Stafford. But things fell apart for this team quickly as they repeatedly put themselves in a hole (see turnovers, penalties and drops below). The pressure on Stafford had a big effect here. Stafford was a lot more accurate when he had time and wasn’t on the run (for example on the touchdown throw at the end of the first half).
  7. Once again, Charles Tillman did about as good of a job covering Calvin Johnson as you can do.
  8. I thought the Lions did a particularly good job of using their tight ends over the middle today.


  1. Jay Cutler really didn’t see a lot of pressure from the Detroit defensive line. There were some plays where he seemingly had forever to throw. He made a lot of time with his mobility as well.
  2. On a related note, one of those plays Cutler got off a great pass to Alshon Jeffery down the side line in the first quarter. Jeffery had a good game as he, for example, fought and extended to get a first down in the second quarter.
  3. Mike Tice pulled some different things out of the playbook for this game. There was a nice little misdirection play to Even Rodriguez in the first quarter. Although it didn’t get much yardage, the end around to Devin Hester in the second quarter was an interesting call.
  4. On a related note, it looked to me like Tice and Cutler made a concerted effort to spread the ball around. Brandon Marshall got his first catch midway through the second quarter.
  5. Also on a related note, the Bears ran a nice couple plays in the first quarter as the they got Matt Forte into space for a nice gain with a little screen pass. That was followed by Earl Bennett getting a little wide receiver screen while being covered by a linebacker. Six points. Bennett had a real nice game as Bears receivers go.
  6. I thought the Bears had only inconsistent success on the ground. Forte occasionally got good yardage but he was also hit an awful lot in the backfield. When they did have success, it was often stretch runs to the outside.
  7. On a related note, the Bears seemed to think they could attack the edges on the Lions. They did so with some success in part because of poor tackling in the open field. They also looked like they had more speed but that may have been because the Lions took such poor angles on the runner.
  8. I thought Kahlil Bell showed up and took advantage of his opportunities. He converted on a third and one in the second quarter. Contrast with a huge third and one in the third quarter where Forte failed to get the first down.
  9. The Bears didn’t do a very good job of taking advantage of all of the turnovers they got. As they blew opportunity after opportunity, settling for field goals, you had to wonder if it wasn’t going to bite them in the second half. It did as the Lions came out playing well.
  10. I was surprised at the number of times the Bears tried to go deep with the ball. Time after time Cutler targeted Marshall and Jeffery deep with limited success.


  1. This game was full of drops on both sides but they were particularly damaging for the Bears. While both Johnson and Leshoure had drops for the Lions, Marshall dropped two touchdowns and another at the goal line where he was interfered with. Jeffery also dropped a touchdown and so did Kellen Davis.
  2. The Bears were relatively clean with penalties but, as usual, the Lions had some damaging ones. Of particular note was a fifteen yard penalty for not getting back in bounds in a timely manner as a gunner on a punt by Kaseem Osgood and a pass interference on the Lions at the goal line. Lance Briggs drew a bad (and stupid) unnecessary roughness penalty in the fourth quarter which kept a critical drive alive.
  3. Not a good game on special teams for the Bears. They did force a fumble but Olindo Mare missed a field goal and Devin Hester stupidly took out a kick off from the end zone in the third quarter only to be tackled at the five. The return teams struggled.
  4. Cutler had a damaging fumble that the Bears eventually recovered again but that took them out of field goal range in the first half. But the really bad turnovers were left for the Lions as they did everything they could to throw this game away. There was a huge fumble by Joique Bell which was forced by Joe Anderson on a kickoff return. A Stafford fumble was forced by Israel Idonije. Stafford also threw an awful interception which gave the Bears the ball at Lions 22. The fumble by Leshoure which was recovered by Major Wright stopped some Lions momentum in the third quarter.
  5. Mid way through the second quarter and, as has been the case all year, cheers of “Let’s go Bears” could be heard from the stands on the road. You suck, Urlacher.
  6. This was a fascinating game.

    First, it didn’t go as I had thought it would. I was sure we’d see the Bears offensive line completely break down with multiple penalties due to crowd noise in the dome at Ford Field and that would be their down fall. To their credit, they didn’t and, for the most part, the damaging mistakes were left for the Lions.

    I never saw a team try so hard to throw a game away. And yet the Bears simply couldn’t generate the offense in the red zone to take advantage and they let the Lions hang around despite some awful, terrible, undisciplined play. You really wonder what kind of damage the Lions would have done during the season if they had just played with even decent control. When they played mistake free football they practically did what they wanted.

    In the end, the Bears sat back and waited for the Lions to make enough mistakes to lose. I suppose that’s a complement…

What the Pro Bowl Roster Tells Us and Other Points of View


  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune stresses that the reception gap between Brandon Marshall and the rest of the receivers isn’t good for the team. This passage might be a telling one:

“The Bears sorely miss a presence in the middle of the field as tight end Kellen Davis has not met expectations. Asked why the Bears can’t get other wide receivers more involved, [quarterback Jay] Cutler quietly said, ‘Don’t know,’ perhaps a reflection he’s not happy in the system.”

  • Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times suggests that the return of Johnny Knox next year might be the solution to the Bears problems finding a second wide receiver opposite Brandon Marshall (he’s not).

“Is there a big difference in what side a lineman plays besides stance? Obviously, left tackle is the all-important blind-side protector but what about left vs. right guard? Chris Spencer seems to play better the last two years at right vs. left. Joe B., Oxford, Conn.

“There are some differences, depending on the system and the specific game plans. Some teams like to put their most physical guard on the right side, and their most athletic on the left. Some players are more comfortable in a particular stance. But generally speaking, if a guard’s play drops off considerably on one side, he’s probably not a very good guard. There isn’t that much of a difference between left guard and right guard.”

I’ve listened to host Ross Tucker on ESPN‘s Football Today podcast repeatedly say that he thinks right guard is the tougher position to play. Teams are typically “left handed” meaning they slant their blocking schemes to the left. The right guard takes the left defensive end leaving the right guard on an island with no help more often than the left guard.

“How do you see Bears addressing o-line? Draft first two rounds, free agency or both? @jimsammons, from Twitter

“It’s early to say, but my hunch is they will sign a mid-level free-agent offensive lineman, probably a guard, and then go for an offensive tackle in the first two rounds of the draft. At this point, I don’t think they could afford to use their first two picks on offensive linemen, given the needs they have on defense and at other positions. That would mean they would come out of the top three rounds with no defensive help.”

  • I love Brandon Marshall but I think his tendency to shoot his mouth off, natural in a good wide receiver, is rubbing off on his teammates as he takes more and more of a leadership role. This time its Henry Melton. Via Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times. Lions center Dominic Raiola‘s response was predictable.
  • And then there’s this comment from Major Wright via Dave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press:

“‘You’ve got Matthew Stafford; he’s definitely having an OK season,’ Wright said. ‘He can make any throw on that field, so you have to be aware of putting pressure on him because you put a little pressure on him, he kind of folds.'”

I cannot express how much I dislike this kind of thing. According to Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune, some of Melton’s teammates agree with me privately criticizing him for his comments. Its totally unnecessary and, given the way its being reported in Detroit, there’s every reason to believe its going to provide extra motivation for a talented team that has little to play for otherwise.

“‘More than just [head coach] Lovie [Smith]’ Briggs said. ‘You want to win it for us. If you’ve enjoyed your time here in Chicago and the way Lovie has treated you and us together and this camaraderie that we have, then win it for that. If Lovie is not here, that goes with him.

“‘I’ve enjoyed every moment of being here in Chicago and I don’t intend on that changing. So, it’s time to go out and beat Detroit.'”

If those sentiments help the Bears perform well on Sunday, that’s great. But if the Bears lose there will be a lot of us reading those comments and others like them who will be left wondering if the players aren’t just a tad too comfortable under Smith…


  • A comment from this article on potential forthcoming Black Monday changes by Don Banks at Sports Illustrated struck me as odd:

Frankly, Banks couldn’t be more off base. The Bears are amazingly consistent. They’re probably the only team in the league that actually beat all of the teams they should beat. If they don’t win them all its simply because they aren’t good enough to win them all not because they aren’t consistent.

and on [quarterback Jay] Cutler‘s failure to show up in big games:

Smith and Cutler have a prime opportunity to prove both Rosenbloom and me wrong in the next one or more games. Now, with the pressure on and the odds stacked against them, is the time to show up and prove they can compete, some day, for a Super Bowl. Perhaps more than any other time as a Bears fan, I would love to see this team come alive offensively. It’s probably because more than any time in many years, I’m convinced they can’t.

  • Smith might be wearing a new piece of head gear if the Bears manage to beat the Lions Sunday. From the Chicago Sun-Times



Schwartz denies the report.

“‘Shoot, they were able to high/low on the outside of the field,’ he said of the zone coverage. ‘So, we can’t just stay on the outside. We have to move around a little bit more and use all parts of the field.'”

  • Former Lions tackle Lomas Brown says he purposely missed a block to get quarterback Scott Mitchell knocked out of a game. Via the Chicago Tribune:

“Brown, now an NFL analyst, told ESPN: ‘We were playing Green Bay in Milwaukee. We were getting beat (24-0) at that time and (Mitchell) just stunk up the place. He’s throwing interceptions, just everything. So I looked at Kevin Glover, our All-Pro center, and I said, ‘Glove, that is it.’ I said, ‘I’m getting him out the game.’ … So I got the gator arms on the guy at the last minute, he got around me, he hit Scott Mitchell, he did something to his finger … and he came out the game. Dave Krieg came in the game.'”

I can only agree with Mitchell’s comment that this was reprehensible. I’ll be interested to hear what Glover has to say. Mitchell obviously doesn’t think he was involved. This time via James Jahnke at the Detroit Free Press:

“‘I hope Kevin Glover wasn’t involved in this, because he’s one of my favorite teammates of all time. I remember when (Lions linebacker) Reggie Brown was seriously injured on the field (spinal cord contusion), and Kevin Glover ran the length of the field and through the tunnel to get the ambulance. I don’t even want to think that he was involved in any way.'”

Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com chimes in with the disturbing thought on many minds:

“…it’s hard not to wonder whether other offensive players have done similar things over the years, either because the quarterback was struggling or because they simply didn’t like him. Still, it’s something that should never happen.

“‘It’s like a fire department going on a call and the captain saying, ‘Hey, let that guy go in the building and burn because we really don’t like him. He’s not holding the hose enough,’’ Mitchell said Wednesday. ‘People get seriously hurt in this game, and it’s hard enough to play and to stay healthy when all things are equal, but for someone to just lay down like that, it’s just unacceptable.'”

One more interesting note: Andy Barall at The New York Times went back and looked at the tape. What it shows conflicts with Brown’s version of events.



  • Although his absence from the list of candidates is an egregious error, this excerpt from Banks’ column is good news for Bears special teams coach Dave Toub:

“‘When you’ve got some guys who are in different places mentally and athletically, you try to play to their strength,’ Rodgers said.

“For instance, he doesn’t want to call on the back to pick up a blitzing linebacker if the 5-foot-7, 203-pound [DuJuan] Harris is in the game, just as he wouldn’t want to check to an outside zone play better-suited for [Alex] Green than for Grant. He may be comfortable having Grant chip on a defensive end, but if he knows he’s going to have to dump the ball over the middle, [John] Kuhn would be a better choice.

“If he switches to a play where he’s going to swing the ball out to his back, it’s better to have the speedy Green or Harris carry it out than Kuhn or [Ryan] Grant.”


One Final Thought

It seems odd to me that the Bears have five Pro Bowlers and Green Bay has only three. In fact, Kevin Seifert at ESPN doesn’t even think Packers center Jeff Saturday should be on the list.

Perhaps this fact more than any other points to the realization that its Green Bay’s depth that sets them apart from the rest of the division. Either that or its coaching…

There’s Something to Be Said for Consistency And Other Points of View


“‘We go back and forth. If we’re moving along, he gives me some ideas,’ [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler said. ‘If I like it, I like it, and if I don’t, I change it a little bit before the (play) clock stops. It’s a back-and-forth type of thing.'”

I’m sure I won’t be the first one to suggest that the Bears run the two minute drill more. It might be tough to do it in the noisy environment of Ford Field in Detroit, however.

  • Long time NFL analyst Brian Baldinger on Cutler via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:

“The fact is whether J’Marcus [Webb] plays well or (Gabe) Carimi plays well or (Roberto) Garza is good, whatever it is, (Jay) Cutler doesn’t trust the line. That’s the worst part.

“‘Jay’s mechanics are horrible because he doesn’t trust they are going to hold up. So, he is already scrambling and running and the ball is all over the place and his mechanics just go to hell.'”

“Jay Cutler went deep (20+ in the air) nine times in the game, four to the right, five to the left. He was 0-for-5 to his left and 3-for-4 to his right.”

“‘(General manager Phil Emery) has got his work cut out for him. There was a guy in Philly, (former Eagles offensive line coach Juan Castillo). Juan always had a free-agent center. For 12 years, he never had a drafted center. He just developed them and they were all good players. You gotta work them. I mean work them like dogs. I just don’t think you have to go spend a bunch of first-round draft picks to fix it. But I do think you gotta have a work ethic. They have to be the hardest-working guys on the team. They can never have a free second during practice, every day. You’ve just got to drill them all day long. That’s what offensive linemen need.'”

  • Biggs alertly gives [runningback Matt] Forte credit not just for running well on Sunday but for blocking well, too.

“Forte’s latest injury adds to the pressure on quarterback Jay Cutler, who had another rocky game but did protect the ball. Cutler completed only one of his first 11 passes and was locked on to Brandon Marshall too often. He threw high and wide and took a sack from Calais Campbell when there was ample time to get rid of the ball. Quarterbacks lead the way in the postseason, and Cutler will have to be on the mark next week against the Lions, who can put points on the board.”

“Yeah, before today. I was feeling really good before the game today. We were running the ball well. You can’t really try to expect injuries or avoid them when you’re out there playing. You never know where everybody is coming from. Sometimes when you’re in a pile, people fall down, land on you, and stuff like that.”

Forte hasn’t looked the same. He’s been good this year because he’s still generally got good vision but he does lack burst.

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times reports that wide receiver Dan Sanzenbacher has been cut. The midget receiver had a chance to play in former offensive coordinator Mike Martz‘s offense but there’s no room for him in the current offense which requires less timing and relies more wide receivers getting open and making a play on their own.

“The Bears’ 7-1 start was fueled by big defensive plays; they had seven return touchdowns in the first eight games, a wild pace no one believed they could maintain. When the takeaways dried up, the losses piled up. Zack Bowman recovered a fumble for a touchdown Sunday and Charles Tillman returned an interception for a score to give the Bears an edge when the offense was stumbling. That’s a difficult way to maintain sustained success, especially against top offenses.”

  • Biggs indicates that the blocked field goal in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals might have been the fault of Kellen Davis. If [head coach Lovie] Smith gets fired, its the evaluation of talent typified by Davis’ contract extension and the idea that the Bears offensive line was going to be good enough as it is that will be a major part of what did him in.
  • On a related note, Mike Mulligan, also at the Chicago Tribune, reviews some of the more puzzling roster moves the Bears have made. A lot of this I blame on player evaluation by the coaching staff. Not all of these can be solved by this suggestion but one thing for certain: Emery is going to realize that player evaluations have to be made based upon what he sees on film and not by the coaches or the coaches are going to have to go. There’s no way guys like Davis get signed to big deals if that’s the case.
  • A lot more went on during that idiotic Cardinals fake field goal attempt than I thought. From Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune:

“The Bears read the Cardinals’ fake field goal attempt well. [Charles] Tillman slowed down Jay Feely and Amobi Okoye chased him down, while J.T. Thomas dropped into coverage to take away intended receiver Jim Dray.”


  • It would seem that Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice isn’t the only one who is under fire during this Christmas season. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is under Anthony Kuehn‘s microscope at the Detroit Free Press, perhaps with even more justification.
  • How bad are the Lions problems in the red zone? Detroit Free Press columnist Dave Birkett explains:

“When Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice‘s single-season receiving record Saturday, he just missed out on another somewhat dubious mark.

“Johnson’s 225 yards tied Bernie Casey for the second most in NFL history without a touchdown, according to ESPN. Former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Keenan McCardell set the record of 232 yards receiving without a score in 1996.”


Tiger Woods has never won a major from behind. He is a great closer when he has the lead going into the fourth day. There are four rounds in golf. There are four quarters in football. When (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers goes into the fourth quarter with a lead, there is a high percentage he is going to win. The odds go down a lot when he is behind. When you compare him to other great QBs, that inability stands out to me. I don’t know the specific stats — it’s just from watching him through the years. He’s just not a great fourth-quarter, come-from-behind quarterback. I don’t think he has figured out how to close out a game.”

“Take a look at some of the quarterbacks in this league who cannot bring the team together — that’s always been Joe Flacco’s problem. He’s incapable. That was his problem in college, too — it’s part of the reason he transferred. He couldn’t win the respect of the team. Flacco can’t do it, so the Ravens have to rely on Ed Reed and Ray Lewis to lead it. That’s not to say he cannot win, but when you’re talking about him as your franchise, that is a big discussion point to me.”

  • And here’s another Audible that should have the ring of truth with Bears fans:

“I don’t think (Texans QB) Matt Schaub is good enough of a leader to win a Super Bowl. It’s just one of those traits that you need to have — it’s missing. When the chips are down and you need to rally the team, is he the guy you want in the saddle?”

Bill Belichick had Peyton Manning mixed up for a few years when (Manning) was in Indianapolis. Once Peyton figured out how they were attacking him, he took control of that series. … (The Broncos) are a dangerous team right now.”

  • Jonathan Bales at The New York Times explains one of the keys to the success of the Raven’s offense:

“On Sunday, the Giants were defeated by a Ravens team that simply seemed more prepared. As they’ve done all year, the Ravens capitalized on the similarity between their running game and play-action passing attack; Baltimore does an outstanding job of making the bulk of their plays resemble one another. Whereas many teams seem to have a distinct run-pass dichotomy that’s relatively easy for defenses to decipher, the Ravens’ playbook is littered with runs that look like passes, and vice versa.”


One Final Thought

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune gives a bit of a scathing evaluation of the Bears in their victory over the Cardinals. I’ve been as tough as anyone on the Bears, as exemplified by my post earlier this morning, and I won’t say that Haugh is entirely wrong. But in thinking about this game as well as the other wins that the Bears have accumulated, I think its both fair and important to make sure to give credit where credit is due. Yes, the Bears are only winning the games you are supposed to win. But very few of even the best teams in the NFL have done that this year. They’ve been amazingly consistent and that’s to their credit.


The Tale of the Tape

It was in 1928 when Notre Dame head coach Knute Rockne, his team down to undefeated Army, delivered the death bed quotation of runningback George Gipp to his team in what eventually became a legendary half time speech:

“I’ve got to go, Rock. It’s all right. I’m not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.”

Notre Dame rallied to win 12-6 with Jack Chevigny making the famous, “that’s one for the Gipper” tying touchdown.

Most football fans are very familiar with that story. It was made famous in a film starring Ronald Regan called Knute Rockne: All American. Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times relays what should be another familiar set of tales to Bears fans as he puts his finger on perhaps their biggest problem in this column from the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Coach Lovie Smith’s teams haven’t been up to [the] task when it ultimately has come down to it. That’s why the Bears have been a No. 1 seed (2006) or No. 2 seed (2005, 2010) or not made the playoffs at all in Smith’s first eight seasons.

“In 2008 — the last time the Bears were in a win-or-go-home situation in Week 17 — the 9-6 Bears needed to beat the 7-8 Texans in Houston to keep their hopes alive. They led 10-0 in the first quarter but lost 31-24 to miss out on a wild-card berth.”

“Later that night in San Diego, [current Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler and the Denver Broncos needed only a victory over the Chargers to win the AFC West. The Broncos lost 52-21, with Cutler lamenting his inability to keep up with Philip Rivers. ‘They punted once, I think,’ he said afterwards. ‘It puts a lot of pressure on us.'”

“Responding to real pressure has challenged Cutler and the Bears in recent years. When Cutler was a rookie in 2006, the 9-6 Broncos needed only to beat the 6-9 49ers at home in Week 17 to make the playoffs but lost 26-23 in overtime.

“The Bears’ most meaningful Week 17 game with Cutler was in 2010, when they had a chance to knock the Packers out of the playoffs but were overwhelmed offensively in a 10-3 loss that came back to haunt them.”

There isn’t a lot to add to this as the facts speak for themselves. In truth it was the 2008 loss to the Texans that told me all I needed to know about the Bears under head coach Lovie Smith. Cutler’s problems aren’t surprising given his performances in games against the better teams in the league just while a Bear.

I would love to be surprised by the Bears this week. I would love to see them go into that dome in Detroit with a bad offensive line, the injuries, the noise, the atmosphere and a team with nothing to lose all stacked against them and see them overcome adversity to pull out a meaningful victory. I’d be proud to see them pull a playoff berth out of the fire that was thier late season collapse. The problem is that their late season collapse is partly a result of the lack of resolve and mental toughness needed to win games exactly like this one.

The Bears don’t have what it takes. They’ve never had what it takes under Smith. Sure they can win against bad teams that will throw them the ball for interceptions and when the fumbles are bouncing up to them. When they’re rolling and things are falling their way, they’re the best there is at making the plays. But Rockne coached the Fighting Irish and not the Bears and “when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys”, I’m sorry to say that this isn’t the team you want on the field to win one for the Gipper.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Cardinals


  1. The Bears were once again showing cover two but sneaking that eighth guy up into the box and transitionsing to cover one.
  2. They stacked the line and playing the run and challenging rookie Ryan Lindley to beat them.
  3. The Bears Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings had a heck of a time covering covering Larry Fitzgerald.
  4. Lindley seems to lean on Fitzgerald almost as much as Cutler leans on Marshall. But it seems like a lot of short passes.
  5. It was a tough game for rookie right tackle Nate Potter. He drew Julius Peppers on a lot of rushes. He ended up getting a lot of help.
  6. The Bears may have been looking to tip balls against Lindley. Their hands were up a lot and it looked like it might have been a point of emphasis during the week.
  7. There wasn’t much blitzing but the Bears ran a lot of stunts to take advantage of the Cardinals offensive line. It seemed to work. They got a lot of pressure on Arizona quarterbacks.


  1. It looked to me like the Bears plan was to force the Cardinals to play the run, then use that to effectvely pass the ball.
  2. They certainly di drun the ball well. Forte broke some fairly damaging runs against a defense that plays it poorly.
  3. Forte had a good day. I’m starting to think he may have lost just a little explsiveness but his vision was pretty good.
  4. Armando Allen looked good in relief of the injured Forte. He’s more of a quick, cut back runner that provided a nice change of pace.
  5. Brandon Marshall does out interfere with these defensive backs. He was driving Peterson insane with it. He’s extremely good at hiding it.
  6. This was definitely not one of Cutler’s better games. He really wasn’t accurate today. The Bears are going to need better next week with the season on the line.
  7. It was nice to see Cutler involving Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery so nicely in the two minute drill at the end of the first half. Of course the touchdown pass went to Marshall but still, it was nice to see them spread it around. He also started the second half with a pass to Kellen Davis.
  8. I heard a lot of calls during the week from people like Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune for the Bears to work the middle of the field more. The Bears did more of it this game with guys like Davis and Bennett and it and was effective.
  9. Solid effort by the Bears offensive line this game.



There weren’t an inordinate number of drops on either side but they’re all irritating. Evan Rodriguez dropped a ball deep in Bear territory that left them in third and long. Marshall dropped the next pass and it almost led to an interception.

  • The NFL assigned Terry McAulay and his crew to the game. I thought both teams did a good job of limiting them but it was evident that the Cardinals offensive line wa having trouble. They were responsible for most of the ones there was. Generally speaking there was a lot more begging for calls than actual calls.
  • The Bears made punt returns a circus as they muffed one punt and nearly muffed a second. Hester did have a nice kickoff return to start the second half. and Eric Weems made a nice play early, pushin Greg Toler into PAtrick Peterson on a punt. The fake field goal by the Cardinals in the first half was pure stupid.
  • The Beanie Wells fumble wchi was recovered by Zack Bowman for a touchdown was obviously huge, as was the Charles Tillman interception on a terrible pass by Lindley. DJ Moore muffed the punt referenced above for a turnover as part of the juggling act on punt returns.
  • It looks to me like Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt has had enough. He pulled Beanie Wells from this game after that early fumble and Lindley got pulled after an awful pick six. He’s starting to send a message to that team.
  • The Bears deserve plenty of credit for taking care of business and winning this game. But I’ve got to say that the story of the game was how awful Arizona is. They’re quarterback is terrible, their offense other than Larry Fitzgerald inept. The Bears were able to use Forte and Allen to run the ball forcing the Cardinals to adjust and commit to stopping it. That left a good pass defense exposed as Patrick Peterson was left on an island with Brandon Marshall.These are the games the Bears have been winning all year. The real test comes next week in that dome in Detroit. It’s going to take a lot of mental toughness and intestinal fortitude to win in that environment, possibly with the playoffs on the line. I’ll be impressed if they do. I won’t be surprised in the least if they don’t.


Fumbling the Snap And Other Points of View


  • From Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune, Devin Hester did his best not to point the finger after the game Sunday when it came to who was to blame for the interception to him from quarterback Jay Cutler. Wide receivers coach Darryl Drake has no such scupples:

“‘If Devin was wrong, Jay would have said it, or Devin would have said it,’ Drake said. ‘He wouldn’t have hid it.'”

Time for head coach Lovie Smith to pulls Drake aside and tell him to keep it all in the locker room. Heaven forbid someone should give the fans any information, especially when its something critical of Cutler.

“Does Jay Cutler make most of his passes off of his back foot? And if so, is it due mainly to pressure from the defense, or is it his throwing mechanics? Rex Grossman took a lot of grief as a Bear for passing off the back foot. Looks like Cutler also passes off the back foot, but he can still throw hard and get the ball where he wants it to be. Would Cutler’s passing improve if he threw more off the front foot? — Robert, Homewood

“A lot of times Cutler throws off his back foot because of pressure. Sometimes he does it because of poor form. I have talked with Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates about this, and he does not think it’s a problem. In fact, he thinks Cutler’s ability to throw from different angles and body positions is one of his strengths. Certainly, Cutler gets amazing velocity on passes sometimes when he is throwing with nothing but arm. So while this is a plus for Cutler, I also think he could be more accurate if he threw with more consistent technique.”

I would, of course, agree with this. But like a lot of things with Cutler, you take what you get and yo live with it. Its evident that he’s never going to have great mechanics in the same way its evident that he’ll ever be able to throw with anticipation. He’s not the most coachable quarterback. I’m sure that mentally he learns fast and well. But its now evident that physically you live with what you’ve got.


“With Chris Conte and Major Wright showing improvement this season, what are the chances of Brandon Hardin being moved back to his natural CB position? With Charles Tillman aging and Tim Jennings being undersized and fragile, the Bears could use a big corner. Or is he too slow to play CB at this level? — George Mckeown, Phoenix

“Speed is not the issue. If Hardin lined up at cornerback for the Bears, he might be the fastest player at the position. He ran a 4.43 40-yard-dash pre-draft. I think the issue would be whether or not he is athletic enough to play cornerback. Hardin might be too stiff to be able to flip his hips, run and change directions with quicker wide receivers. Some even wonder if he might be too stiff to excel at the safety position. But just because the Bears have two promising safeties does not mean they could not use another. You know how this team goes through safeties historically. If Hardin can play, he’ll get his chances at the safety position.”


  • Potash makes the unique argument that Lovie Smith needs to get fired for his own good. Somehow I doubt Smith would see it that way.

“I think teams make a mistake when they lock into hiring one specific kind of coach. You have to be open-minded when you enter a hiring process. The objective is to find the best man who can lead an entire organization, not the best offensive mind. The NFL has seen a lot of offensive wizards come down the pike who have made terrible head coaches. Just being able to run an offense well does not quality a coach to run a whole team. That being said, I think it’s always preferable to hire a head coach with an offensive background, if all things are equal. The reason is it’s difficult to find good offensive coordinators, and if you can find one and he does a good job, he’ll probably leave to be a head coach before long.”

Point well taken. But if you are going to hire a defensive head coach you’d better be absolutely sure he can consistently attract and hire good offensive coordinators who can coach quarterbacks. Because you’ll get nowhere without them.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Packers Tom Clements may be the man for the job. I like the idea of hiring Bruce Arians, who was Peyton Manning‘s first quarterback coach, from Indianapolis as well. Both men would fit the bill.



“With a skilled quarterback, the Cardinals could be a legitimate team in an improving NFC West. They’re sunk until they get that guy, and rookie sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley really doesn’t give them a chance. Lindley is completing only 51.1 percent of his passes. With a mixed look of zone coverages, the Bears should be able to come away with multiple takeaways. Unfortunately for the Cardinals and the other quarterback-poor franchises, this draft doesn’t offer much in the way of hope.”

  • I understand that Lindley hasn’t earned much respect. But I’d just as soon the Bears were a little more circumspect in their comments about him. The last time they got caught trash talking the Packers made them eat the ball.

“Winners of their first four games, the Cardinals dropped nine in a row before awakening from their slumber Sunday with a 38-10 thumping of the wildly underachieving Lions.

“But one positive for the Cardinals has been their secondary, particularly cornerback Patrick Peterson.

“The Cardinals’ pass defense has limited opposing quarterbacks to a combined passer rating of 68.0 this season, the lowest in the NFL.”

  • Biggs points to a couple match ups to keep an eye on in the Cardinals matchup. One is rookie Patrick Peterson against the Bears special teams. He’s an outstanding punt returner. In addition, defensive end Julius Peppers is up against a rookie left tackle, Nate Potter.
  • Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune bemoans the loss of the Bears-Cardinals rivalry dating back to when both teams were in Chicago. It means nothing to Chicago now but as someone who is spending Christmas with relatives in St. Louis I’m thanking the gods that the Beas are playing them this week. Because the Cardinals were in St. Louis for many years and because many local fans picked up the Bears when they left for Arizona, the game is being televised as the most interesting match up in the St. Louis area. Hopefully the Rams’ noon game doesn’t go into overtime and I see the whole thing.



“Q. You interviewed about 20 coaches, many of whom have won the Super Bowl. What is a common trait?

“A. They are all extremely competitive and some of them are ultra-paranoid about being outworked by the coach they are facing on Sunday. Andy Reid sleeps in his office most nights during the season. He goes to bed at 1 a.m. and starts his day at 4:30 a.m. Even with all the money the coaches make and the fame that comes with holding one of these 32 prestigious positions, they make this job much harder than it needs to be.”

“Browns: whatever is left in the fridge in Mike Holmgren‘s old office”

  • Also from The Spots Pickle, I wonder what took commissioner Roger Goodell so long to suggest this?


  • I understand that everyone, including Carson Palmer, has to make a living but I just don’t think you could pay me enough money to do this one. Via The Sports Pickle:

One Final Thought

This video is from 2009 but the Bengals still aren’t getting the snap count right. I blame Mike Tice. Happy holidays, everyone:


The Price of Success

Former defensive tackle Trevor Price, who played four seasons under Jets head coach Rex Ryan evaluates Ryan as a head coach for The New York Times. This is a wonderful column that spends about 3/4 of the space talking about what a nice guy Ryan is and how its hurting him as a head coach. I expected it to end with something common like, “It’s a shame but he’s a born coordinator and not a good head coach like former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips and many others.” Instead, to my surprise and delight, I got this:

“However, the debacle that was Monday’s loss at Tennessee was probably the day of change. Because when Ryan looks back on this season, it is going to harden him and change him.

“The day is going to come when his player and coaching decisions will be made with the same cutthroat efficiency that you find in places like New England, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Ryan will realize he has no choice but to develop that same poisonous ‘him or me’ attitude that permeates almost every other head coach in the N.F.L. And on that day the Jets will gain one of the better head coaches in the league. At the same time they will lose one of its better human beings.”

On one level, like most fans, I want to see great football and I’d love to see Ryan overcome adversity to find a level of success. But most of the time, you assume guys like Ryan are what they are. In truth, this is my experience in all walks of life. Most nice people would rather continue to be nice – usually thinking that this is, in actuality, the best way to be successful or, perhaps, figuring its better to sacrifice some success for the preservation of their own conscience.

I consider myself to be in the second category. From my childhood I’ve been raised to believe that “treating people right” comes before success and money. That these things are what’s really important in a person. Those beliefs have been repeatedly tested and, in fact, have been tested epecially hard lately as government funding levels for medical research from the National Institutes of Health plumet and tough decisions need to be made every day by scientists who lack funding. But in the end, I couldn’t do what New England coach Bill Belichick does. Perhaps this means I’m not tough enough but the preservation of my soul is just too important.

This was a great column not because it provided great insight (it did) but because as the reader and a non-Jets fan, I now find myself invested in Ryan’s future. I really hope Ryan keeps his job if for no other reason than so I can see what happens. The problem is that I don’t know whether to hope that he becomes successful or whether to hope he doesn’t.

Not the Most Likable Bunch and Other Points of View


“‘Uh, the route I ran was the route I was supposed to run. It was just …’ Hester said, pausing. ‘We just weren’t on the same page.'”

I’m not to thrilled with that statement. Cutler’s been covering for Hester all year. I think he could have handled that answer better.

“‘You know, I keep getting something in my neck. I just told Jason Campbell to be ready, because I don’t know what’s going to happen.'”

“On getting the team back on track:

“‘Basically, (we need to) stop making mistakes we’ve been making the past five/six weeks. When we have a chance to get a first down and its third and medium – third and short – don’t get penalties. Backing us up makes it harder to get a first down. When we’re on the goal line, (we need to score) seven points, instead of three. (We need to) stop doing turnovers. Basically, we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot every time we move the ball the last six/seven weeks.'”



“On his third offensive coordinator in four seasons and fourth overall, it’s fair to wonder if the team will ever get that side of the ball right under [head coach Lovie] Smith. It’s also worth wondering if chairman of the board George McCaskey will play a central role in end-of-season decisions. It may come down to candid discussions about whether Smith and his staff or a flawed roster are more to blame for a painful free fall.”

Hopefully, they’ll correctly conclude that its both. I’m still waiting to see if Smith can motivate this team and if they’re still listening to him. They lost to a definitively better team Sunday. They should beat the Cardinals. For me, a lot will come down to the Lions game. To be honest, I don’t have much hope that Smith will rally this team to a decent performance. As Bob LeGere at the Daily Herald put it:

“Dead men walking.

“That’s what the Bears looked like as they left the field Sunday following their fifth loss in six games overall and their sixth straight loss to the Packers, who clinched the NFC North title with a 21-13 victory at Soldier Field.”

  • There’s a lot of truth in this Audible from Pro Football Weekly:

“The Bears went from 7-1 to out of the playoffs and there is plenty of blame for everybody. They need a total housecleaning, including (team president) Ted Phillips. It’s two years in a row it fell apart like this. It runs a lot deeper than just the head coach.”

“Maybe Emery’s greatest mistake thus far is a common one in the NFL. He tried to add to the Bears depth by signing backup players. Despite some big money going to Campbell and Michael Bush, the only real starter brought in was Brandon Marshall via trade.

“The way to do it is to sign starters, improve the roster from the top down and wind up with former starters as backups. That’s what real depth is in the NFL.”



  • Tell me this column from Paola Boivin at the Arizona Replublic doesn’t sound very familiar:

“Something is askew in the personnel hierarchy.

“How do you go two years without drafting an offensive lineman and five years without taking one above the fifth round?

“How do you allow a quarterback carousel to spin so out of control that merely watching it requires an air-sickness bag?

“It is not about money with the Cardinals anymore.

“It is not even that much about coaching.

“It is about talent evaluation.”

“The Cardinals have a gifted defense, one that leads the NFL in interceptions. They could be battling for a playoff spot if they had even an average offensive attack. A stellar defense can mask a lot of wounds.

“But no one imagined these wounds would be so deep and the organization’s bones would be so broken.”

  • How emotional was the Cardinals’ victory over the Lions last week? According to Kent Somers at the Arizona Republic veteran safety Adrian Wilson actually wept.

There are no guarantees, of course. But I’ll bet my hat this team is going to let down badly against the Bears this Sunday.



  • Does Packer’s kicker Mason Crosby have incriminating pictures of head coach Mike McCarthy? Becasue that’s the only explanation I can think of for this.
  • Biggs quotes a national scout on Manti Te’o, who some believe might be available for the Bears to draft as a middle linbacker.

“‘The kid is a productive player,’ the scout said. ‘Is he better than some of the other guys that came out the last couple years? A couple of them. He’s in the mix to be a mid-round pick. He does what you ask. He is a three-down linebacker. There are not many times you get a chance to get a three-down linebacker. When you do, you better draft them in the first round. Does (Brian) Urlacher ever come off the field? Does (Lance) Briggs ever come off the field? There you go.

“‘When you get a three-down backer you have added value. I never would have drafted (Brandon) Spikes in the first round. I would have drafted him in the second round because he is not a three-down linebacker. People may say he can’t run and this and that. I saw that. He plays on the third downs. He must be able to run a little bit or he wouldn’t be playing on third downs. Listen, between now and the draft people are going to poke holes in every player. That’s just the way it is.'”

  • RGIII and Kirk Cousins are singing duets, also on profootballmock.com.


One Final Thought

I haven’t paid much attention to Brian Urlacher’s stupid comments about the fans Sunday night. But I thought the take of Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times was interesting:

“So before we jump all over Urlacher, let’s understand that he’s a product of the professional environment he was brought up in here. Sunday’s comments simply open the window to that environment a little wider.

“The franchise’s paranoid attitude has been there all along. And friendliness? Well, Colin Montgomerie has nothing on the Bears.

“In his nine years as coach, Smith couldn’t have been more dismissive of the media. He has never cared that, by doing so, he was also deeming fans as unworthy of his valuable time and deep well of football knowledge. He has made a career out of saying nothing — not out of having nothing to say, but out of sheer disregard for his audience.

“He’s not alone.

Phil Emery rarely talks with the media. He is the general manager of an NFL team. Amazing.

Virginia McCaskey, the owner of the team, makes herself available to reporters about as often as white smoke wafts from the Sistine Chapel.

“You can count on one or two fingers the times chairman George McCaskey, her son, has sat down with the media as a group this year.”

First of all I’m going to let the McCaskeys off the hook. They’re mostly just trying to stay out of the way, something I appreciate. I wouldn’t mind hearing more from them but not if its going to interfere with the football people doing their jobs.

And franky I don’t want to hear from Emery, yet, either. I want to hear from him after the season when decisions need to be made about coaching staff and personnel but right now I think letting Smith run the team is the right thing to do. You don’t need the players hearing multiple voices during the season.

But the rest? That’s a different story. In particular, Lovie Smith has revealed so little of himself in the nine years that he’s been here that few fans are really going to miss him if he goes. He’s had a great deal more success than, for instance, Dick Jauron, and he’s a better head coach. But I was a lot sorrier to see Jauron go than I will be Smith whenever that happens. The players apparently love Smith, as Urlacher’s comments indicate. But from a fan perspective he’s a hard man to like. Perhaps it’s something for the people associated with the franchise to think about.

Quick Comments: Packers at Bears


  1. The Packers started the game with seven in the box and two deep safeties just like the game at Lambeau earlier in the year. They tried to hold the line on that. However, the Bears ran the ball well and they did force the Packers to bring an eigth guy down starting on the second offensive series.
  2. The Packers defense was getting an awful lot of penetration into the backfield for good chunks of this game. It looked like new right offensive guard James Brown had his hands full with B.J. Raji (not surprising for the rookie).
  3. Great run after the catch by Marshall on the first touchdown.
  4. On a related note, there was some awful tackling out there by the Packers defense.
  5. And, related to that, Matt Forte had a nice game. He’s a guy with good vision and toughness and he showed that. He broke a lot of tackles and made quite a lot of yardage on his own. He made a nice catch in the third quarter.
  6. My understanding was that wide reciever Joe Anderson would be playing his this game. If he was out there, I didn’t notice.
  7. Cutler had a rough game. He was under pressure for most of the game. The interception at the end of the first half was bad. Perhaps most important, he wasn’t very accurate for most of the game. As pointed out by both Joe Buck and color man Troy Aikman, he didn’t frquently didn’t seem to be on the same page with the recievers.
  8. End of the tird quarter, first and goal from the five yard line and the Bears settle for a field goal. The Bears coaches continue to believe that their offensive line can blow people off the ball. They can’t.


  1. Like the Packers, the Bears spent most of this game playing seven in the box. At that point I was sure that the game on this side of the ball would depend upon the Packers ability to run the ball. I was wrong. As pointed out early by Aikman, the Packers continued to throw the ball.
  2. Having siad that, the Packers did run the ball reasonably well. Just not very often. This led to the occasional but very effective play action pass.
  3. Related to that, this was a poor game for D.J. Moore. The Packers were picking on him and for good reason. His undisciplined play, peaking into the backfield or otherwise being out of position, hurt the Bears time and time again. I think we know now why head coach Lovie Smith benched him.
  4. In fairmess, this was a rough game for all of the defensive backs, not just Moore. It looked to me like Jermichael Finley pretty much did what he wanted against whoever was covering him. James Jones obviously had a great game.
  5. On the positive side, the defensive line got good pressure for most of this game. It was nice to see some passes batted down.
  6. But this game came down to Aaron Rogers. Unfavorable defensive formations or not, the Packers put the ball in his hands and they went as he went. He had a rough first quarter and so did the team. He was pretty amazing for most of the rest of the game and the Packers did much, much better.


  1. Fox has assigned the television crew of Buck, Aikman and Pam Oliver for this game. Another stellar announcing team that showed it. Aikman was timely and spot on with his analysis, for example, as pointed out above, he caught what the Packers were doing on offense early. Buck asked near the beginning of the first half when the Packers went for it on fourth and long a and passed on a 44 yard field goal, “Would you rather depend on the arm of Aaron Rogers of the leg of Mason Crosby?” Easy decision.
  2. The Bears did a good job of avoiding drops this game. Until Rogers heated up the Packers did the usual and dropped balls all over the field. They were better after that.
  3. The NFL has assigned referee Walt Anderson and his crew to the game.
    • Starting with Roberto Garza’s false start making thrid and one into third and six which killed drive the Bears were continually shooting themselves in the foot with penalties. This is not a team that can afford that.
    • Blake Costanzo gave the Packers the ball back as the 12th man on the field. It looked like Devin Hester was trying to get a timeout and didn’t get it.
    • Chris Conte’s pass interference in the endzone cost the Bears seven points.
    • Alshon Jeffery isn’t gong to get away with all of the stuff Brandon Marshall does as a rookie (nor is he as good at hiding it).
    • The roughing the passer penalty on Julius Peppers in the fourth quarter was big in that the Packers got a first down to run off more clock. I disagree with Troy Aikman in that I thought the penalty was well-deserved. It looked like Peppers left his feet.
    • On the Packers side there was a damaging penalty on Morgan Burnett but it was really a good penalty. Alshon Jeffery had him beat for a potential touchdown. The Bears came away with a field goal.
  4. I thought the Beas special teams were pretty good. The Packers were starting in bad field position for much of the game. The Packers unbelievable bone-headed backward pass on the punt return in the fourth quarter put the game in jeopardy for the Packers. The Packers basically won this game without a field goal kicker.
  5. Jay Cutler’s interception looked really bad. It was so far off I was sure that Devin Hester ran the wrong route. But Lovie Smith told Oliver that it was just a bad throw. It was a huge play in this game. I loved seeing Charles Tillman force another fumble.
  6. Did anyone notice how much more intensity there was on the sideline from the Bears coaches this game. It’s possible they were trying to instill a much needed sense of urgency into the players. Its also possible that they sense that their jobs are on the line…
  7. I’m not one of those guys who puts this whole season on the back of Jay Cutler. But this game was largely depndent upon which quarterback was going to rise to the occasion. Aaron Rogers did and Cutler didn’t. It wasn’t the reason the Bears lost. But it played a big part in it.

Can I Hear an Amen? And Other Points of View


  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times reviews comments from some of the Packers that have angered Brandon Marshall:

“What did [Charles] Woodson and [Tramon] Williams say that riled Marshall? Woodson tweaked Jay Cutler in a post-game interview, telling ESPN’s Rachel Nichols ‘it’s the same old Jay’ after the Packers held Cutler to 126 passing yards and a 28.2 passer rating in the Packers’ 23-10 victor on Sept. 13 at Lambeau Field.

“But it was Woodson’s comments on The Jim Rome Show that apparently irked Marshall.

“‘They do have some big receivers over there, but they’re not fast receivers,’ Woodson told Rome. ‘There’s no Calvin Johnson on that team that’s going to stretch a defense. Yeah, there are some big guys, physical guys and they like to push and pull and grab and get behind guys, but we weren’t going to let that happen, so it worked in our favor.’

“The ‘they like to push and pull and grab’ part seems to be the source of Marshall’s ire. ‘I want [Woodson] out there because of some of the things that they say,’ Marshall said. ‘I take it personal when someone takes jabs at the way I approach the game or my career. I’m excited to see him out there at full speed.'”

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune tells us essentially what Woodson meant by “we weren’t going to let that happen”:

“The Packers bracketed Marshall with a lot of two-man coverage, meaning the cornerback had man coverage underneath with safety help over the top. That support allows the cornerback to sit on routes. Marshall couldn’t get open and quarterback Jay Cutler held the ball too long waiting for him to break open, ultimately allowing the four-man rush to get to him repeatedly. The Bears entered the game hoping they would get a dose of press man coverage — the kind of physical action Marshall covets — and it didn’t happen.”

“As illogical as it sounds, the Bears offense is actually less potent this season with Brandon Marshall than it was a year ago without him. The bottom line is points, and the Bears are averaging 23.7 per game after scoring 22.1 a year ago. When you factor in eight return touchdowns this season, the offense is short of the pace from 2011 even with a bona fide No. 1 receiver. The upshot of this is the roster is more flawed than anyone expected when the team raced out to a 7-1 start. And as much as he would like to, Marshall cannot do it alone.”

Its not at all illogical. The runnings game has been absent and Mike Martz was a better, more experienced offensive coordinator.

James Brown was in for about 40 plays at LG against the Vikings. How did he grade out? Barring a free agency move or a high pick at guard in the draft are we seeing the future at LG? — Vic Fiebig, Springfield, VA

“Brown played OK for his first extended exposure. Nothing great. Nothing terrible. We don’t have anywhere near enough evidence to say if he will be a permanent starter in the near future. From the looks of it now, the Bears will be shopping for a veteran guard who can step in and play the position next season while Brown develops. But it will be interesting to see how he plays for the rest of the season, assuming he does play.”

“With the production Michael Bush has had along with the struggles [Matt] Forte is having does a Matt Forte trade make sense in the off season? What do you think we could get in return for the running back? — Joe Devine, Edmonton, Canada

“My impression is Forte is worth more to the Bears than he would be in a trade, but I could be wrong. Teams don’t want to pay much for older running backs. Forte just turned 27. He has not been as productive as he was in 2011, and he is the 17th leading rusher in the NFL. What could you get for him? Probably a third round pick. Maybe a second. Maybe not. But he is an all-around back who can help the Bears offense as a runner, receiver and pass protector. Players like him are not easy to find. I would not be looking to trade him, and I don’t think the Bears will be either.”

The lack of respect that Forte gets from fans constantly amazes me. He’s not having his greatest season but when I watch him catch and run with such nice vision and compare him in my mind to other running backs around the league, I just can’t understand why fans are so anxious to trade him. He’s one of only three or four Bears players that good teams like the Packers can look at with envy. I agree with Pompei. You don’t trade assets like Forte.


“The Bears look like they are running scared now. Lovie Smith treats Brian Urlacher like Rex Ryan treats Darrelle Revis. When the Jets lost Revis for the year, Rex basically said, ‘We are done. We suck.’ Look at the records in Chicago when Urlacher is not playing. The defense cannot line up or stop anyone. It’s a disaster. … I’m surprised Nick Roach is still on the team. I always thought he was a backup. I’m shocked he has stayed healthy (all year).”


  • Most of us are used to thinking about the blow to the offense and defense but Potash highlights the problem special teams coordinator Dave Toub has on special teams due to injuries.
  • Pompei says to expect Olindo Mare‘s kickoffs to be a bit shorter than Robbie Gould‘s and that Smith likely won’t have as much confidence in his on longer field goals.

“Recently the contracts and job security of Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Tice have come under scrutiny. But the other guy on the staff with reason to worry might be longtime strength and conditioning coach Rusty Jones. The Bears don’t seem very strong or well-conditioned. Their offensive linemen hardly impose their will on anybody. Their roster has sustained so many injuries through 13 games that Lovie Smith was forced to cancel practice Wednesday because he didn’t have enough healthy bodies.”

“You look at the last game we played, and I hate to go back to the last game, a couple plays here and there. It’s not like we were just playing terrible football. We’re going to tighten up a few things, which we’re doing, which is our routine, and we’re going to win a few football games and everything will be OK.”

Indeed, they weren’t playing terrible football. Many of us would feel better if they had. The truth is they aren’t much better than the Vikings (or the Lions). Add the effect of a dome on the offensive line and the penalties that come with that and its the difference between winning and losing against an opponent that doesn’t play badly enough to blow it.



“Three-four defenses like the Packers use have been a problem for the Bears this year, in part because they are different. Three of the Bears’ five losses have come against teams that play 3-4s, and the Bears have averaged 7.6 points per game in those losses.

“Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice explains.

“‘Most of the teams we play are ‘over’ teams, so it’s one gap, one gap, one gap,’ he said. ‘You spend the whole offseason and training camp working against an over front that is a penetrating, slanting, quick front. Now you play a two gap team, it’s different. It’s a whole different technique.’

“Against a three-man front, blockers have to figure how long to stay on the down lineman before releasing and seeking out the defender at the next level. There are different combination blocks to be concerned with.”


“The Ravens got a steal with Corey Graham. He is now starting for the Ravens as a cornerback. He was brought in to be a special-teams phenom, and he has turned out to be a find for them on defense with all the injuries they have had at the position.”

“I hear the name of (Chiefs pro personnel director) Ray Farmer and I like him. He’s a great guy, but no one wants anything to do with the Kansas City Chiefs right now. … I know how they run it. It’s way too mechanical. They want robots in the front office, not evaluators. It’s important to have a system and to make scouting a science as much as you can, but this business is about having a gut feel and calling it like you see it. I don’t want a robot scouting for me.”

“OK, so what’s next, Joe Vitt putting a bounty on Gregg Williams?”

  • The ideal gift for the Eagles fan. From profootballmock.com:


One Final Thought

This comment from Biggs has the ring of truth:

“Speculation only mounts when it comes to the future of coach Lovie Smith, who is signed through 2013. The bottom line: The Bears have eight wins with three games to go, giving them a decent chance of finishing with 10 victories and a playoff berth. As disconcerting as it might be for some fans, 10 wins and a playoff berth — no matter how long it lasts —probably would ensure Smith’s future with the team. You don’t see many NFL teams launch a coach after double-digit wins and a postseason appearance. Jim Schwartz would love to be in Smith’s spot right now.”

I’m not thrilled with the way the players are responding to Smith right now and the way they came out in the first quarter last week gave me pause. If they continued to do that, I’m thinking the Bears won’t get those 10 wins. But if Smith does get them and makes the playoffs, that means the team will have responded to him and won at least one game I didn’t think they would. His job should be safe.

I know a lot of fans want to launch Smith. But the issue is overblown. Whether you think he’s a good head coach or not, the team’s primary problem is still lack of talent. As long as they’re moving to address that, they’ll be going in the right direction.

Having said all that I’ll wrap up with what might be the most important point as Pompei answers another question:

“If da Bears lose this game to Green Bay, will the search for a new head coach start? — @WCW4Life12, from Twitter

“No, it would be too early. You have to let the season play out. But I’ll say this. General managers and owners all over the NFL need to be prepared in the event that they decide to make a change. Dec. 31 is too late to start doing homework on available coaches.”

Amen, brother.