Bears

Bears report card not championship worthy

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Bears report card not championship worthy

Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011
8:00 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Another difficult game to critique in a season with many of them. The offense was bumbling, then came to life with the game on the line. The defense was pushed around for the first 20 minutes, then shut the Packers out. And the Bears nearly won the NFC Championship with their No. 3 quarterback.

Quarterback C-

Jay Cutler D

Todd Collins F-

Caleb Hanie A (grading on a curve, for extenuating circumstances)

Cutlers knee injury took the No. 1 out of a game in which he was ineffective for two quarters and was unable to deliver key plays for a unit that needed a big boost in what was ultimately a close game. His interception in the first half was costly and gave the Packers momentum.

Collins was a disaster and is probably done in the NFL.

Hanie, however, is a different matter altogether. As the No. 3 he has not run a Bears offensive play since the off week 12 weeks ago. He came off the bench and directed two scoring drives in the fourth quarter against the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL. The interception thrown to DT B.J. Raji was not his finest moment but that was in the flow of a defensive scheme that someone who hasnt run his teams offense since October could hardly have recognized.

Running backs A-

Matt Forte provided what little initial offensive pop the Bears managed on a disappointing afternoon. He netted 160 total yards on 70 rushing and 90 receiving and was targeted on 15 passes, catching 10 of them. Chester Taylor got the goal-line score he was supposed to while Forte, clearly the focus of the Green Bay defense, delivered a respectable 4.1 yards per carry against a strong defensive front.

Receivers C-

Receivers appeared to have a bad case of jitters at times and did not distinguish themselves with route-running to give Cutler opportunities early. Devin Hester slowing at the end of a third-down route cost a potential completion inside the Green Bay 20 on the first possession and seemed out of his element with other poorly run routes. Earl Bennett nearly brought the Bears back with his 35-yard TD catch against double coverage that included Charles Woodson. Johnny Knox finished with just two catches but broke loose for a 32-yarder to set up a fourth-quarter score. Greg Olsen caught three passes and the tight ends made contributions to Fortes running.

Offensive line C-

Frank Omiyale and Chris Williams were flagged for false starts, in a home game. Bears linemen were repeatedly bull-rushed and were thoroughly handled for the better part of three quarters. But the Packers managed just two sacks and six quarterback hits despite repeated blitzing The run game was serviceable but in no area were the Bears able to establish consistent control on the line and the offense had seven three-and-out possessions in large part because the bigger front three of Green Bay was not being consistently blocked.

Defensive line B

Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije were invisible on the edges early and the tackles were being controlled in the first half. Tommie Harris had only one quarterback hit on his stat line and Matt Toeaina was initially credited with nothing in the way of even an assisted tackle. The play of the front picked up significantly in the second half with Peppers getting hits on Aaron Rodgers and Henry Melton contributing two solo tackles. Green Bays offense was shut out for the final 41 minutes of the game and the play up front was the key.

Linebackers B

Brian Urlacher had a sack of Rodgers in the first quarter to save points by moving the Packers back out of field goal range and his interception in the third quarter was (briefly) a momentum-changer. Lance Briggs intercepted a bobbled pass. Urlacher was credited with a team-high 10 tackles and Briggs with five plus a pass deflection to go with his interception. The linebackers were beaten on occasional plays; Urlacher was thoroughly faked out on one screen pass and Briggs lost contain on Rodgers. But the linebacker fills were solid and Packers running backs carried 25 times for 81 total yards.

Secondary D
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman looks on as the Packers celebrate winning the NFC Championship. Tillman and the secondary struggled to stop Green Bay receivers throughout the game. (AP)
The Packers had eight plays of 20 yards or longer and Rodgers threw for 244 yards against coverages that appeared slow to close with receivers and forced no turnovers. Greg Jennings caught eight passes for 130 yards, Jordy Nelson added four for 67 yards and the Packers piled up 107 passing yards and nine first downs in just the first quarter. Danieal Manning had six tackles, one for a loss, and Major Wright, Chris Harris and D.J. Moore all were credited with five.
Special teams C

The return game got a 22-yard punt runback from Bennett and Hester returned one kickoff 24. But Hester managed just 16 yards on three punt returns and the Bears started no possession in Green Bay territory, only one as far as their own 45. Brad Maynard punted nine times, with two inside the 20 but coverage allowed one to be a touchback and the unit did little of note in a game where note was needed.

Coaching C-

Moving Todd Collins ahead of Caleb Hanie on the depth chart made little sense when it happened and cost the better player practice time that may have equipped him to better handle his moment. But that was a while ago. The adjustments on defense at halftime allowed the unit to be more aggressive and hold the Packer offense scoreless as the Bears were rallying. Offensively the Bears held to a balanced plan (under the circumstances) with 21 run calls and 43 pass calls even though the Bears trailed throughout the game.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel.  Kap is happy that Mitch Trubisky played ok and John Fox’s team lost again.  The panel disagrees.

Plus Leonard Floyd doesn’t have an ACL tear…. Yet. Should the Bears shut him down even if he gets good news?

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

With Sunday’s game on the line and the Bears owning the football at their 17-yard line, the offense needed a drive for field goal position to tie the Detroit Lions. But rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, with 1:03 on the clock, wasn’t thinking 3 points. He was thinking touchdown and a win, and the huddle knew it.

“I think that's his mindset all the time,” said guard Josh Sitton, who recognized something familiar in Trubisky’s face that Sitton had seen over his years with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. “He's a play-maker, he's got all the confidence in the world in himself and the guys around him.

“You can just see it on his face. I don't think he really says anything, he doesn't really need to say anything, you can kind of see it, by that look in his eyes. He's got what it takes to be a great player in this league.”

It was not intended to be any even remote comparison with Rodgers. More than eyes are involved in that. But while the drive Sunday ended in failure in the form of a missed field goal, something was noted in the process.

The 13-play drive for the Bears’ first touchdown Sunday was the longest sustained by the offense under Trubisky. And it was a statement possession for an offense that had not scored a first-quarter touchdown in nine prior games.

But if a negative among the many Trubisky positives was the fourth time in five situations that Trubisky has failed to direct a game-winning or –tying drive, which goes a long way to answering why the Bears are 2-4 under him. Actually the number of come-up-short drives is more than those if you count things like a three-and-out at Baltimore in regulation before Trubisky led a seven-play drive for a winning overtime field goal.

Still, looking a little deeper, Trubisky has gotten progressively “closer” to being the kind of finisher that the Bears have needed for decades. At the very least, Trubisky is keeping drives alive longer and longer, if not ending them with points. In these situations:

Vs.                     4th qtr/OT situation

Minnesota         1 play, interception ends potential winning drive

Baltimore          3 plays, punt, regulation ends in tie

                           7 plays, game-winning FG in OT

Carolina            Game already decided

New Orleans    2 plays, interception ends drive for tie

Green Bay        5 plays, ball over on downs on drive for tie

Detroit               11 plays, missed FG for tie

Within the huddle, the team confidence in Trubisky and vice versa has clearly grown, regardless of outcome, and that is something the offense did not consistently have in Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen or even Josh McCown.

“[Trubisky] is just growing and growing and you just see it,” Sittyon said. “You saw the talent right away and he just keeps ... the nuances of the game, he just keeps learning and learning. He gives you all the confidence in the world as a guy in the locker room and on the field, in the huddle.

“He has that look in his eye where you're thinking 'All right, he's going to get the job done.’”

Staff addition? Probably not but Bears have an opening

Taking a morning-after look around the NFL after the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Something to probably dismiss but at least worth mentioning… .

The Denver Broncos on Monday fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the same Mike McCoy who handled the Denver offense as John Fox’s OC. Don’t expect anything in-season, certainly not at this point, but the situation does offer an interesting future option if somehow Fox sees the fourth and final year of his contract, even looking further down the coaching road irrespective of Fox’s presence.

McCoy was ousted from a foundering Broncos situation, presumably over not being able to make anything much out of Trevor Simian

McCoy, who was the mix of candidates and interviewed to succeed Lovie Smith back in 2012, wouldn’t necessarily be brought in as offensive coordinator by Fox or anyone else. What about the role of “consultant” or “assistant head coach” added to the Bears offensive staff?

The Bears have neither position on the staff currently, and haven’t had an assistant head coach since Rod Marinelli had that as part of his title from 2009-2012 under Lovie Smith. Marinelli, like McCoy, had been a head coach as well.

Notably, Fox kept McCoy on his staffs when Fox was hired both in Carolina and Denver, a good measure of Fox’s take on McCoy’s offensive-coaching skills. Fox added the job of passing-game coordinator to McCoy’s duties as quarterbacks coach with Carolina in 2007-08. Since then McCoy coached Peyton Manning in Denver and Philip Rivers in San Diego.

Also notably, perhaps in the other direction, Fox might have brought McCoy to Chicago after the latter was fired as Chargers head coach after last season. That didn’t happen, possibly because McCoy instead wanted a full OC position, which wasn’t open with Loggains in place.

Offensive consultants aren’t necessarily staff bloating; they have been referred to as “coaches for coaches.” Bruce Arians brought in longtime OC Tom Moore when Arians became Arizona Cardinals head coach (following Phil Emery’s decision to go with Marc Trestman over Arians). Moore previously served as offensive coordinator, then senior offensive coordinator, then offensive consultant through the Peyton Manning years in Indianapolis. Moore subsequently became offensive consultant for the Jets (2011) and Tennessee Titans (2012), the latter stint while Loggains was offensive coordinator.

Longtime offensive line coach Jim McNally has been a “consultant” with the Jets (2011-12) and Bengals (2012-this season). Randy Brown was a kicking consultant working under Bears special teams coaches in the Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron regimes, going on to work under John Harbaugh in Philadelphia and Baltimore.