Bears

Bears prepare for Jets, wonder if they're true 'closers'

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Bears prepare for Jets, wonder if they're true 'closers'

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
10:05 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
Few weeks of the 2010 season have passed without at least one question being raised or answered by the Bears performance. Its just been that kind of year.

So the question going into Sundays meeting with the New York Jets (10-4) is there:

Are the Bears true closers yet?

The elite teams in the NFL typically seize true opportunities when they are before them. The Bears have flirted with elite status at times, only to slip back and leave themselves open to doubt, sometimes within their own locker room.

That the Bears (10-4) are a good, even very good, team they have never doubted. But elite has been another matter.

So among the usual tactical questions going into a game is the one as to whether the Bears can finish off a good opponent when the stakes are a step toward a vitally important goal such as the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and earn a bye through the first round of the postseason.

Things have been a little lighter, obviously, since we played on Monday night and this has been a short week, said linebacker Lance Briggs. For us, weve got to keep getting better. Weve got a lot of fight for the rest of the season and into the playoffs so this game is very important to us just securing things in the playoffs.

To take that step toward being the kind of closer that wins championships means taking several specific smaller steps.

Get on the Mark

Mark Sanchez is expected to start for the Jets despite some shaky practice days because of an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder. That could be good news for the Bears, who have gotten some of the best coverage play from their secondary in decades.

Three Bears defensive backs Chris Harris, D.J. Moore, Charles Tillman have 4 interceptions. No other team in the NFL has three DBs with 4 and no Bears team since the 1983-86 teams have had three with that kind of production.

On the other side is Sanchez not throwing a touchdown pass in his last 106 attempts and none in his last three games, two of them losses in which the Jets managed just 9 total points.

Before the last two games before the Pittsburgh game, I wouldve said Im making better decisions., using my legs a little more, sliding a lot better, getting rid of the ball, getting to my check-downs a lot faster, Sanchez said. But those two weeks we didnt play very well, I reverted back to some of those poor decisions, not having two hands on the ball and just got sloppy with my fundamentals.

The Bears have two edge rushers in Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers who are 6-6 and 6-7, respectively, and both with 8 sacks. No team has more than the Bears 21 sacks over the last seven games, six of them wins, and that may be enough to help Sanchez get sloppy again with his fundamentals.
New identity?

The problem is in the run game. The last three opponents each have gained more rushing yards and the last four averaged more per carry than the Bears, a disturbing trend for a team that had allowed 100 rushing yards in just two of the previous six games.

What has changed, however, is any belief that the Bears will go only as far as their defense takes them.

I disagree with that, linebacker Brian Urlacher said. Were known as a defensive team, but our offense scored 40 points last week. I know special teams scored seven of them, but it still goes to the offense.

I disagree with that. I think were a good team, all-around. The offense has been there for us the last eight or nine weeks. Theyve been playing better. Once they figured out the offense, and how to run stuff, theyve been playing well.

They carried us in the Philly game. Detroit; we didnt play well. They carried us. There have been a few games here lately where we needed them and they came through for us

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Roquan Smith 'beyond excited’ to be drafted by the Bears

Roquan Smith 'beyond excited’ to be drafted by the Bears

Roquan Smith was still giddy over being drafted by the Bears when he dialed into a teleconference with the media at Halas Hall Thursday night. 

“I’m beyond excited, I can’t put it into words how excited I am about this opportunity to be a Chicago Bear,” Smith said. “It’s insane and I’m ready to give the city of Chicago everything I have in me.”

Smith already spoke like a future team leader — a role he ably filled as a junior during Georgia’s run to the College Football Playoff title game — and like a player who can make the rest of the Bears’ defense better. 

“What they can expect from me when I arrive is a relentless guy on the field and off the field,” Smith said, “(and) going about my business the right way and going to do whatever it takes to put the Bears in the best possible situation every time I step on to the field.”

Smith said he enjoyed his pre-draft visit to Halas Hall (he even mentioned the ongoing renovations to the facility) and is looking forward to playing with Leonard Floyd again, his teammate at Georgia in 2015. And for a guy who’s spent his entire life in Georgia, he already knows plenty about the Bears’ historic success at his position. 

“It’s a great franchise,” Smith said. “It has a lot of rich tradition especially on defense from way back with Dick Butkus and then you have Mike Singletary, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, all those type guys, so it’s insane and I’m excited.”

Under Center Podcast: Welcome to Chicago, Roquan Smith

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Welcome to Chicago, Roquan Smith

The Bears took Roquan Smith at No. 8 in the NFL Draft so JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin discussed how Roquan Smith fits in Vic Fangio’s defense and why this felt like a solid, sensible pick by Ryan Pace.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: