Bears

Harris: 'We'll see those guys again... in Super Bowl'

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Harris: 'We'll see those guys again... in Super Bowl'

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010
9:27 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris just slowly nodded his head at the question: Are the New England Patriots really that good?

Oh yeah, said Harris, who was returned to the starting job hed lost after the second game this season. Theyre that good.

But if the Bears were indeed bent by the New England onslaught on offense and defense in Sundays 36-7 embarrassment, they were far from broken. Harris followed his frank assessment of the Patriots excellence with a de facto prediction:

The Bears and Patriots will face off in Super Bowl XLV.

I feel like well see those guys again down the road, Harris said. Yeah. I feel like we will see them in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots clinched a playoff berth with their win. The Bears could clinch the NFC North division next Sunday with a victory over Minnesota, wherever that game ends up being played, and a Green Bay loss at New England.

But what the Bears take away from Sundays humiliation at the hands of a ranking member of the NFL elite will perhaps be the most important lesson they learn or fail to learn.

The Patriots in the 2001 regular season lost to the St. Louis Rams, then coached by current Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz. The Patriots, left at 5-5 at the time by the loss, did not lose again and in fact did see the Rams again that season, beating them in the Super Bowl.

New England on this day, however, showed the Bears a very harsh reality that the Bears may have lost sight of during their stretch of five straight wins before Sunday.

Sometimes you need a good whipping and thats what we got, said linebacker Lance Briggs. A good whipping helps us get ourselves back to where we need to be. A loss like this can be good if it comes at the right time.

The 2010 Bears would not be the first team to be bashed late in the season and move from that loss to a championship. The 1985 Bears were embarrassed in Miami and then not again that season. The 2010 Bears are at their own fork in the road and know it.

If you want to be world champs, theres a difference in the level of play, said center Olin Kreutz. Every once in a while when youre climbing to the top in something, somebody at the top shows you what it takes to be there. If you learn from them and next time you see them you close the gap on them, then this could be a great thing for us.

They showed us today how far we have to go to be world champs. If we accept that challenge, who knows where we could be. We have high-character guys in here. But its easy to be pretty good and its hard to be great and guys have to decide if they want to be great.

Critics, skeptics and doubters may not see the Bears playing more than their scheduled 16 games in 2010 but at least one of the Patriots does.

They are a playoff-caliber team, said nose tackle Vince Wolfork.

Duly noted

Because of the Packers loss to Detroit, Green Bay will have at least two division losses for 2010. If the Bears defeat Minnesota next weekend they will stand at 5-0 in the division and win a tiebreaker with the Packers based on division records, the second tiebreaker after head-to-head, in which the Packers can do no better than a split with the Bears.

Maybe this was all a Bill Belichick-Mike Martz thing. The 40-22 win in 2004 by Belichicks Patriots at the expense of Martzs St. Louis Rams was the worst home loss suffered by the Rams in five seasons.

The last time the Bears faced Soldier Field in-game precipitation like Sundays was on Halloween 1994 and they did not fare much better in the sheets of rain that night either. The Packers buried the Bears 33-6 on the night that the franchise retired the uniform numbers of Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers.

Over-viewing

General Manager Jerry Angelo has never seen a final four games on a schedule to rival the Bears closing stretch of New England, Minnesota, the New York Jets and Green Bay. But as difficult as it may be, Angelo likes the thinking behind the situation. The commissioner had a great idea, putting our division games at the end, Angelo said on WBBM-AMs pregame show. Should be great football.

As positive as much of the offensive line performance has been through the Bears five-game winning streak, the line is still a work in progress and its probably going to be that way to the end, Angelo said.

Sitting out

Rookie defensive end Corey Wootton was a surprise active for Sunday, his third game this season, taking the place of defensive tackle Marcus Harrison in a move to add height in the pass rush against a quick-release quarterback like Tom Brady. The Bears made repeated use of three tight ends in a power-run plan early, using Kellen Davis, Brandon Manumaleuna and Greg Olsen together. Tight end Desmond Clark, however, remained on the inactive list for the ninth game in the last 10..

Nick Roach opened at strong-side linebacker in place of injured Pisa Tinoisamoa for the third time in the last four games. But Roach and Rod Wilson were rotated on alternating series.

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.

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggains and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky? 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Laurence Holmes (670 The Score) and Phil Rogers (MLB.com) join Kap on the panel.

The crew discusses Bobby Portis’ suspension, Edzo’s return to the booth and the Bears' chances against the Panthers. 

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: