Bears

Belichick Coach of the Year; Lovie gets one vote

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Belichick Coach of the Year; Lovie gets one vote

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011
Posted 11:45 a.m.By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Maybe it shouldnt have been a surprise but it was when Bill Belichick copped his third Coach of the Year honor. Belichicks New England Patriots finished 14-2 and pretty much had their way with virtually every opponent over the second half of the season before running afoul of the New York Jets in the playoffs (where Belichick arguably was out-coached by Rex Ryan, but voting is done before the postseason so never mind).

The head-shaker was that Belichick received 30 of the possible 50 votes to finish ahead of Raheem Morris, who guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an 11-5 turnaround from 3-13.

Both were certainly impressive jobs. But Belichick was given credit for retooling the Patriots. Now, this is a team that has won no fewer than 10 games in a season since 2002 besides winning a Super Bowl in 2001. Retooling somehow doesnt work when youre starting with Tom Brady in his prime.

Morris is a reasonable part of the discussion, particularly after his team was tasked with an early season schedule that included Cleveland, Carolina, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Arizona among its first seven games, and Carolina, San Francisco and Detroit over a later six-game stretch (and Lovie Smith was getting doubts because of the Bears schedule?).

Todd Haley finished third, which isnt a bad consolation prize for losing three of your last five games.

But Smith (the Chicago one, the one who engineered a turnaround from 7-9 to 11-5), Mike Smith in Atlanta, Andy Reid in Philadelphia (who actually did retool his team in the post-Donovan McNabb era) and Steve Spagnulo (who came within a last-game loss of reaching the playoffs with a rookie quarterback after being 1-15 in 2009) each getting exactly one vote each wow.

Experience counts

Former Pittsburgh Steeler great Jerome Bettis dropped by Thursday on The Dan Patrick Show on Comcast SportsNet with a perspective worth watching for on Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Bettis was a teammate of a young Ben Roethlisberger when the Steelers were on the way to winning the 2005 Super Bowl over Seattle. Bettis recalled Roethlisberger getting upset with himself was he wasnt playing well in the game, and Bettis helped calm him down, with winning results.

Patrick asked Bettis if that experience was perhaps key in Roethlisberger being superbly under control in the game-winning drive in the 2008 Super Bowl, a drive which ended with Roethlisbergers pinpoint throw and epic catch by Santonio Holmes.

Bettis said immediately that it absolutely was crucial because Roethlisberger had learned that perfection on every play wasnt going to happen and wasnt the point anyway, that playing past a gaffe or poor play.

That may turn out to be a tipping point for the Green Bay Packers, who have Aaron Rodgers in his first Super Bowl in an offense that is exponentially more dependent on him playing well than the Steelers offenses have always been with Roethlisberger.

The Steelers led the NFL in sacks (48, one more than Green Bay), meaning there will be enormous pressure brought to bear on Rodgers. The Steelers also ranked No. 2 in takeaways, meaning there will be turnovers.

The key for Green Bay may be less the number of great plays that Rodgers makes than how he responds to the bad ones when they come. And they will.

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.

Bears do not believe Leonard Floyd tore his ACL, but expect him to ‘miss some time’

Bears do not believe Leonard Floyd tore his ACL, but expect him to ‘miss some time’

Bears coach John Fox said doctors do not believe linebacker Leonard Floyd tore his ACL, but stressed the 2016 first-round pick is still being evaluated to determine the exact nature of his knee injury. 

Fox, though, admitted Floyd is “going to miss some time” due to the injury, which was suffered when cornerback Kyle Fuller awkwardly fell into Floyd’s leg early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions. Placing Floyd on injured reserve, which would end his season with six games remaining, is an option, per Fox.

“He’s one of our top players,” Fox said. “Obviously disappointing. He was having a heck of a game, he was playing extremely well. It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.”

With Floyd out, the Bears are down to three healthy outside linebackers in Pernell McPhee, Sam Acho and Isaiah Irving. McPhee is third on the Bears with four sacks and 10 hurries, while Acho has half of a sack and four hurries this year. Irving — an undrafted free agent signed off the practice squad last month — has only played three defensive snaps in six games, and mostly has received special teams snaps. 

“I think (Irving’s) kind of caught our eye on some special teams, our fourth down things,” Fox said. “He’s played sparingly as an outside backer but he’s a guy that obviously we’ve had in the system and he’s been working and I think he’ll get more opportunities moving forward.”
 

With Connor Barth waived, trying to make sense of why the Bears signed him in the first place

With Connor Barth waived, trying to make sense of why the Bears signed him in the first place

The Bears addressed an open wound at the core of their special teams with the waiver of kicker Connor Barth and signing of former Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos.

Not to spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror, but a question still lingers, the kind of inevitable second-guessing that follows any failed personnel decision, because so many of those moves made a lot of sense at the time: What were the Bears thinking when they opted at the end of the 2016 preseason to replace Robbie Gould with Barth?

An easy question to ask at this point, with Barth missing a game-tying field-goal try from 46 yards to leave the final Bears-Lions score at 27-24 on Sunday. It’s also easy to forget that Gould’s exit traced to a missed 36-yarder for a win over San Francisco to reach .500, followed a week later by a 50-yard miss for a tie to reach overtime against Washington. Even though Gould made his final seven field-goal attempts of that season, he missed two PATs during the 2016 preseason, reopening a confidence wound and sealing the deal, because when the head coach loses confidence in a player, that player is gone.

Easiest to forget, particularly right now, is that Barth converted 15 of 16 field-goal attempts in 2014 with the Denver Broncos — coached by John Fox. Barth was successful that year on four of his five attempts from beyond 40 yards, a range at which Sunday’s miss against Detroit left him 6-for-10 as a Bear.

Jettisoning Gould two years into the four-year, $15 million contract he signed in late 2013 wasn’t entirely about money. But it remains head-scratching if only because Gould was successful on 84.6 percent of his field goals in 2015. But in fairness to Fox, general manager Ryan Pace and Bears evaluators, Barth had been successful on 86.5 percent of his field goals (115-for-133) in the five seasons before the Bears signed him.