Bears

'Lach is back at practice for the Bears

537826.jpg

'Lach is back at practice for the Bears

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011
Posted: 3:29 p.m. Updated: 6:50 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Brian Urlacher was at Halas Hall and at practice Thursday. But running back Marion Barber (calf) was out on Thursday after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday, not a good sign for Sunday. Guard Lance Louis (ankle), safety Chris Harris and receiver Roy Williams (groin) also did not practice Thursday.

The impact of Urlachers return following some time away after his mother Lavoyda died earlier this week was immediate.

His play speaks for itself, as good as anybody in this league for a lot of years, said coordinator Rod Marinelli. What else he brings is leadership to the defense, knowledge, command of the huddle, command of the system. Hes got a Ph.D in this system and it shows.

Hes the leader of our defense and in the locker room. They just have so much respect for him and not just as a player; how he conducts himself. Hes a pro, a real pro.

Looking ahead
Checked in with the folks on Versus to talk a bit of Bears-Saints this afternoon from 5-6 p.m.

"Where's Waldo?" NFL-style

The New Orleans Saints do not have one of the NFLs taller offensive lines. Only right tackle Zach Strief (6-7) is taller than 6-5, and center Olin Kreutz is 6-2. By contrast, the Bears have three linemen 6-6 or taller plus two tight ends each 6-7.

But the Saints have a running back in Darren Sproles who is nearly a foot shorter than his blockers. What that means is, good luck finding Sproles in among the tall timber, particularly with the Bears fielding defensive ends Israel Idonije (6-6) and Julius Peppers (6-7).

Theyve got big linemen, said linebacker Lance Briggs. Sometimes, it can be hard to find the little guy behind there. You know, scatback; hes a fast guy with quick little feet. He reminds me of one of those old Scooby Doo cartoons.

But seriously, folks...

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has moved from the sidelines to the coaches booth on game days. He definitely took his sense of humor with him, too.

The advantage of being in the booth calling plays?

Good hot dogs, he quipped, laughing, then gave the real answer. Its quiet. You have a chance to take notes, and sort through things. Youre quicker with calls. I hadnt been up there in a long time, but its good. I like it.

Tweet, tweet

Brian Urlacher used his new Twitter account (@BUrlacher54) to thank well-wishers in the wake of his mother Lavoydas death earlier this week. He also sent along some good news on the football side of things:

Back at practice. Thank you for your thoughts. Please send donations to: The Lavoyda Fund co City of Lovington. Urlacher is from Lovington, N.M.

Punch it up?

Not long after he was drafted by the Bears in 1998, native Hawaiian Olin Kreutz asked me, tongue-in-cheek because he was a rookie and an offensive lineman at that, about endorsement possibilities. He already had a rep as a tough guy from a fracas with a college teammate, so he had an idea.

How about Hawaiian Punch, he said, laughing.

The Bears lost an enforcer when Kreutz signed with the New Orleans Saints. He has not been a fighter in games -- the really tough guys dont have to prove it very often -- but he is never reluctant to deliver shots within the flow of the game.

Im sure that there will be some words exchanged, said linebacker Lance Briggs. There will be some good contact, you know. Maybe there will be some blows.

He laughed: But if theres blows exchanged, hopefully Im giving them and not receiving them.

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?

10-22johnfox.jpg
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.