Bears

History Lesson: Bears will bounce back strong

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History Lesson: Bears will bounce back strong

Monday, Dec. 13, 2010
5:04 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears will need a rebound after Sundays debacle at the hands of the New England Patriots. History says they will quite possibly get it, because Lovie Smith has managed to pick his teams up after very bad losses.

Indeed, the worse the loss, usually the better the comeback.

Last year they were blown out by Baltimore on Dec. 20 and recovered to defeat Minnesota and Detroit in the next two games. After the Cincinnati Bengals destroyed them in late October, they came back the next week to beat Cleveland.

In 2008, a 37-3 loss to Green Bay, then in 2007, a 27-3 win over St. Louis. A 20-point loss to Minnesota, then three straight wins. A 19-point loss to end 2006, then two straight playoff wins to reach the Super Bowl.

The Bears need very much for a repeat of the things they do after bad losses.

I think the key is identifying some of the things you did wrong quickly with the video, Smith said. I dont believe in not watching the tape and all that. You learn from games like yesterday. We did that. You want to see exactly what happened.

At times its hard to know exactly what was going on, even seeing what was happening out there at times. We were able to see what was happening out there. Most of it we didnt like. But some of it we did.

Playoffs?! Youre talking about playoffs?!

The New England Patriots are behind them and the MinnesotaDetroit Vikings are a week off, albeit without a playing venue set yet. The Bears can take a big step toward clinching the NFC North with a win over Minnesota, and that does enter into their thinking this week.

We all know the numbers and where we stand, said center Olin Kreutz. Hopefully Sunday was a learning experience.

Getting defensive

Anytime an opponent rolls over a defense for record yardage and massive point totals, that scheme comes under question. Doubts about the preferred Cover-2 scheme of Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli will be flying around like Sunday snowflakes, even though the Bears were near the top of the NFL in fewest points allowed before Sunday.

That was a rare happening yesterday, Lovie Smith said. Theres nothing wrong with our scheme. We played a little Cover 2 yesterday. Normally, thats easy for a person to jump on, but yesterday we werent in an awful lot, to be truthful. So were not going to use that. The scheme is good; we didnt execute. The scheme has helped us get to 9-3, but yesterday, again, we didnt execute.

The bad thing.

about all the weather conditions Sunday is that they actually were perhaps more revealing about the Bears rather than less. The Chicago defense may have functioned better in better weather, for instance, but so might the New England offense, to be perfectly fair. The weather took some disguise and scheming out of play for both sides.

They outplayed us, said defensive tackle Tommie Harris. When you line up in those conditions theres not going to be much trickery.

Welkering down

Wes Welker did to the Bears about what hes been doing to lots of teams for a number of years now. Whats perhaps most remarkable is that hes, well, unremarkable as he goes about being one of the only players in NFL history to catch 100 passes in three straight seasons.

He works hard but its not like hes going to over-amaze you, said nickel back D.J. Moore. Hes just good. And combine him with that quarterback and its a pretty good combination.

Good guys

Chris Harris and Corey Graham may still be treating wounds from Sunday but theyre making time for kids on Tuesday as part of their After-School All-Stars Touchdown vs. Shutdown from 2-4 p.m. at J.Ward Middle School in Chicago. Harris and Graham donate on a per-tackle basis to after-school programs and activities for at-risk youths and will hang out with the kids Tuesday afternoon to answer questions and talk about issues.

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: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.