Bears

Three and out: Pernell McPhee talks relationships, Kyle Long describes the Bears’ ‘beacon of hope’

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USA Today

Three and out: Pernell McPhee talks relationships, Kyle Long describes the Bears’ ‘beacon of hope’

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens let Pernell McPhee hit free agency after the 2014 season, in which the former fifth-round pick recorded a career high 7 1/2 sacks. So Sunday will be an awkward homecoming of sorts for McPhee against the team that spurned him a few years ago. 

“If your girlfriend or your wife leaves you, that’ll hurt, right? Okay,” McPhee said, “that answers that question.” 

That’s one way to put it. Defensive end Akiem Hicks — who will face a former team of his, the New Orleans Saints, in the Bears’ next road game — expanded on that thought. 

“Any time you go against your former team you want to prove a point, correct?” Hicks said. “He hasn’t made too big a deal out of it and he hasn’t been hoo-rah’ing about it. But I’m sure as anybody else that’d be going into that situation you want to go out there and put on a show.”

A big game from McPhee and/or Leonard Floyd against an interception-prone Joe Flacco could, at least, help keep things close on Sunday, or at best swing momentum in the Bears’ favor and push Mitchell Trubisky to his first career win. 

“I mean, it just was a relationship, just like you’ve got a girlfriend. They leave you sometimes,” McPhee said. “It is what it is, but like I said, I’m just very thankful that (general manager) Ozzie Newsome and coach (John) Harbaugh gave me the chance to become a Raven and see how it was to be a Raven. That’s the best feeling I got out of it.” 

More flowing analogies

While McPhee described facing the Ravens in terms of relationships, offensive lineman Kyle Long offered an eloquent description of how badly Bears fans want Mitchell Trubisky to finally end the quarterback drought in Chicago. 

“Being here since 2013 I’ve definitely understood the obsession with the quarterback position in this town,” Long said. “I mean, Mitch is a young guy with a lot of talent and this is a town that’s hungry for success in their sports, especially football. And I think that they see a beacon of hope and light with Mitch Trubisky, and it’s my job and the guys around me, their job is to keep that beacon of light nice and shiny and keep him upright.”

Snap decisions

Cody Whitehair has had some rather odd issues snapping this year, with a handful of snaps going high to both Trubisky and Mike Glennon over the Bears’ first five games. The second-year center wasn’t making any excuses when asked about it on Friday, but it is worth noting the Bears moved Whitehair between center and guard due to injuries to Long, Josh Sitton, Tom Compton and Hroniss Grasu in training camp and through the first three weeks of the season. 

“Just get back in that muscle memory,” Whitehair said. “For whatever reason, I dunno why, they’ve been bad. That’s what I’ve been focused on this week.”

Whitehair, who was flagged for holding against Minnesota, summed up his season to date:  “I haven't been where I've wanted the last four games and I'll continue to work on that. I feel like I'm getting back into my groove and we'll see how the season goes.”

The Bears don’t have any long-term concerns about Whitehair, who was solid as a rookie last year and should continue to be an important piece of their offensive line. 

“Once we get that consistent, exactly where we want it, he’s moving guys off the ball,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “He’s a big part of the run game. He’s a really talented player.” 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who might be the next Bears head coach?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who might be the next Bears head coach?

Hub Arkush (Pro Football Weekly/670 The Score), Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune) and Danny Parkins (670 The Score) join Kap on the panel. Fox Watch continues. Is his dismissal a foregone conclusion? And how many other coaches will be fired after this season? Plus, the guys discuss Jerry Jones vs. the NFL and the latest installment of “As The Bulls Turn.” 

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With matchup against Golden Tate looming, Bears need Kyle Fuller to have a short memory

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USA Today

With matchup against Golden Tate looming, Bears need Kyle Fuller to have a short memory

A couple of relevant stats on Detroit Lions receiver Golden Tate: Passes toward him average 6.5 yards in the air, the second-lowest average among NFL receivers this year (via NFL Next Gen Stats). Tate, though, leads receivers with 315 yards after the catch, and is ninth in the league with 659 total receiving yards. 

The point: Matthew Stafford gets Tate the ball quickly, and when he gets the ball, he’s a dangerous weapon. 

“He’s kind of built like a running back and runs like one,” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s a double threat – not just catching it but then after he catches it what he does with it. He’s good on the low routes but yet he can get deep balls also, too. He’s kind of a complete receiver with really good running ability after the catch.”

This is especially relevant for Kyle Fuller, who whiffed on a third down tackle attempt on Green Bay’s first drive last weekend, resulting in a 38-yard gain for Randall Cobb. Fuller went on to have his worst game of the season, allowing 127 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets and missing five tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Fuller was one of the Bears’ best defensive players in October, and with free agency looming after this year looked like he could be setting himself up for a sizable payday. But he’ll need a short memory to move on from his struggles against the Packers. 

“I hope (he has that),” Fangio said. “You need to at that position in this league.”

If Fuller’s tackling issues re-surface this weekend, Tate could be in for some gaudy numbers. Or Fuller could find his starting spot in jeopardy, with Marcus Cooper — who signed a three-year, $16 million contract in March but has only played 14 defensive snaps in the last three weeks — in position to play if coaches make that call. 

“Anything but your best effort in tackling, both from a mindset and technique stand point, is going to be needed when you are going up against a guy like this,” Fangio said.