Bears

Lions' Suh thinks Bears O-Line 'vulnerable'

Lions' Suh thinks Bears O-Line 'vulnerable'

Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010
7:07 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT For the fourth time in the last seven games and the third in the five wins since the Bears off week, Jay Cutler did not throw an interception. He had exactly four pick-less games in all of 2009.

For the second game in a row Cutler was sacked four times and did not succumb to the pressure and commit turnovers, beyond one excusable one when he was hit and stripped on a sack.

In a game when it was the defense needing the offense to keep the Bears in the game while the Detroit Lions were trampling the defense through the first half, Cutler was fashioning a game with a 117.0 passer rating and taking another step in his development as a quarterback rather than simply a big NFL arm.

In games like this you need your special players to be special, Lovie Smith said. I thought he stepped up and made play after play.

Those plays again were with his feet and head instead of just his arm. Cutler was forced to run five times and netted 10 yards to go with spreading the ball among eight different receivers.

Its starting to get fun for us, Cutler said. The guys arent thinking as much; theyre just out there playing. They know exactly what their responsibilities are. Mike Martz, offensive coordinator is coming up with a great game plan. Hes getting a real feel for what were good at, what were comfortable doing.

Indeed, for the fifth game in row, coordinator Mike Martz called more than 20 runs (the Bears ran a total of 28 times, including kneel-downs) and the Bears rushed for more than 100 yards (114). All Bears wins.

Even with the Lions knowing the Bears were in full ball-control mode when they got the ball with 5 minutes 17 seconds to play, Cutler and the offense were able to methodically run out the remaining time in the game and never allow the Lions back on offense. The Bears ran seven plays prior to Cutler kneel-downs on the last two plays and the ball went to six different players as the Bears picked up four first downs and were never in a third down.

What was working, thats what we went with, said wide receiver Earl Bennett, who led the Bears with 7 catches and 104 yards. We did a great job of moving the ball down the field. And were still streaking.
Head case I

Detroit rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh gave the Bears a hand, a forearm actually, to be specific, when he delivered what officials saw as a blow to the back of quarterback Jay Cutlers head on a third-quarter stop deep in Lions territory. Cutler was going down and Suh swung his right forearm at Cutlers head, although he appeared to miss and in fact just shove Cutler to the ground.

No matter, in the officials eyes. Suh was flagged for unnecessary roughness to move the Bears into goal-to-go position, from where they scored the winning touchdown one play later.

I thought it was an unnecessary non-football act a blow to the back of the runners helmet in the process of him going down, referee Ed Hochuli told pool reporter Tom Kowalski from Booth Newspapers and MLive.com. As I saw it he hit Cutler in the back of the helmet.

Suh wasnt interested in behavior modification as a result. What for? he challenged. Honestly to be honest with you sic, I dont care. Im just going to keep playing.

Head case II

Suh, like the Philadelphia Eagles last week, wasnt particularly impressed with the Bears. He did not go so far as to declare, as several Eagles did, that his was clearly the better team Sunday, but as far as he was concerned, the Chicago offensive line was vulnerable, definitely vulnerable, Suh said.

And it appeared to him that the Bears knew they couldnt handle the Lions up front.

In my opinion, in the second half, the Bears came out with a lot of quick passes, Suh said. They came out with a lot of quick passes to null and void us on the defensive line.

Megatron(s)

Calvin Johnsons 46-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was the 33rd of his career, the most ever by a Detroit receiver in his first four NFL seasons.

Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril had four sacks coming into Sunday. He had three in less than two-and-a-half quarters vs. the Bears and ran his total to seven for the season

Duly noted

Robbie Goulds 54-yard field goal in the third quarter was the longest of his career. He is 3-for-4 from 50-plus this season.

Rev. Jesse Jackson was on hand for the game and a guest in the locker room afterwards, where he was the one giving out the autographs. I wanted to see the game, Jackson said, and Aretha Franklin is here with some friends and we got together.

Detroit quarterback Drew Stanton scored the games first touchdown on a quarterback draw around the Bears defensive right side, then went into a celebration dance, his rendition of The Dougie from rapper Doug E. Fresh and Cali Swag District.

Stantons performance bothered some Bears, but only for artistic reasons. Nah, it didnt bother me, said cornerback D.J. Moore. He was excited. It only bothered me that it was a bad Dougie .

Dubious designation

Being selected as a team captain is an honor, unless youre a Lion. Then its a liability. Among Detroit captains for 2010, quarterback Matthew Stafford has been inactive most of the season with shoulder injuries; defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch is battling a neck injury that put him out Sunday; and kicker Jason Hanson went on IR this week with a knee injury. Center Dominic Raiola is the only Lions captain in uniform.

No surprises among Bears inactives: defensive ends Barry Turner and Corey Wootton; guard Edwin Williams; running back Kahlil Bell; cornerback Joshua Moore; linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee); and tight end Desmond Clark.

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.

Can Cairo Santos be the kicker the Bears need?

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USA Today

Can Cairo Santos be the kicker the Bears need?

Since the Bears inserted Mitchell Trubisky as their starting quarterback, they've had 12 drives end with a field goal — an average of two per game. Connor Barth hit nine of those dozen kicks, which had an average distance of 38.4 yards, but all three of Barth’s misses came from 45 yards or longer. 

Barth’s missed game-tying 46-yarder in the final seconds Sunday against the Detroit Lions was the last straw for someone who hadn’t been consistent in his one and a half years in Chicago. So enter Cairo Santos, who made 89 of 105 field goals (85 percent) from 2014-2017 with the Kansas City Chiefs. More importantly: Santos has made 73 percent of his career field goals from 40 or more yards; Barth made 52 percent of his kicks from the same distance with the Bears. 

(73 percent from long range isn’t bad, but it’s not great, either: Philadelphia Eagles kicker and Lyons Township High School alum Jake Elliott has made 88 percent of his 40-plus-yard kicks; Harrison Butker, who replaced Santos in Kansas City, has made 90 percent of his kicks from that distance. Both players are rookies who were drafted and cut prior to the season.)

Santos was released by the Chiefs in late September after a groin injury landed him on injured reserve (he played in three games prior to being released). The injury wasn’t expected to be season-ending, and Santos said he’s felt 100 percent for about two weeks before joining the Bears on Monday. 

“It was a long and difficult battle, but I was confident that it wasn’t going to be a serious injury, I just needed time,” Santos said. “I dealt with it in training camp, I was kicking really well, I was the only kicker in KC, and I didn’t have the appropriate time to heal. I tried to play the first three games and it got worse, so my main goal was to get 100 percent. I’ve been kicking for about a month now and finally the last week been able to come here and visit with the Bears. The muscle is in good shape to come and take a full load of a week’s practice and games, so thankful the opportunity worked out.”

For Santos, these next six weeks can be an audition for him to stick in Chicago next year. If the Bears can look optimistically at the improvements made by the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams with second-year top-drafted quarterbacks, they’ll need to figure out their kicking situation sooner rather than later. Bringing in Santos provides a good opportunity for that down the stretch. 

“He’s kicked in Kansas City, which is a similar climate,” special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. “Their field is similar to Soldier Field. He’s played in some big games, played in some important situations and he’s, by and large, been successful in those situations.”

Looking deeper to understand how John Fox still commands Bears trust through bad times

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USA TODAY

Looking deeper to understand how John Fox still commands Bears trust through bad times

I’ve always placed great stock in the drama tenet, “Action is character.” What an actor/person does in significant part defines their character, or lack of same.

Conversely, in some situations, what someone doesn’t do can be equally defining or revealing. A couple of those involving the Bears are worth noting, because they suggest things about John Fox and and his staff, and perhaps a bit of what players think of them.

Nothing stunning, just a case of when you pull the camera back for a little wider angle, a broader picture forms out of seemingly separate or isolated incidents. Fox has never lost his teams through three generally miserable seasons, those teams consistently played hard through bad times. A handful of specific situations offer some insight into perhaps why:

The Cohen conundrum

Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains came in for scalding criticism for their recent seeming under-utilization of running back Tarik Cohen. The closest either came to laying out the real reason was a reference to concerns about the rookie’s pass-protection capabilities, no small issue against Green Bay and coordinator Dom Capers’ blitz proclivities; coaches want to see Mitch Trubisky wearing a Bears uniform, not Clay Matthews.

Cohen may be the Bears’ leading receiver, but if a back can’t present the viable option of pass protection, the offense is limited even more than it already is anyway with a rookie quarterback.

Come forward a week: Overlooked in the aftermath of the loss to Detroit, in which Cohen was not part of the hurry-up offense driving for a winning or tying score, was the fact that Cohen simply didn’t know the plays well enough in that situation. Fox didn’t say so. Neither did Loggains.

Cohen did.

Asked afterwards what he wasn’t solid with, Cohen owned it: "Probably the hurry-up plays at those positions. I know certain plays at those positions, but to open up the whole playbook with me, I’ll have to learn all of those plays.”

Should he have been up to a faster speed in week 10? That’s another discussion. But like it or not, his coaches were not going to be the ones to out him.

The Howard hassle

Jordan Howard finished 2016 second to only Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott in rushing yardage. He began the year inactive for game one and lightly used in games two and three. The reason Loggains gave from the podium was that coaches didn’t really know what they had in Howard.

Yes. They did. But Loggains didn’t cite Howard for not being in shape to carry the load the offense needed. Neither did Fox.

Howard did.

“I should’ve been in better shape,” Howard said at the outset of training camp last July. “I should’ve been playing earlier if I would’ve handled what I had to do.”

Some very effective coaches have used public embarrassment for motivation; Mike Ditka assessed that he wasn’t sure Donnell Woolford could cover anybody, and Buddy Ryan summarized that “No. 55 [Otis Wilson] killed us,” for instance.

Fox and his staff don’t do that and they’ve have taken the heat for their players, which does frustrate those tasked with accurately reporting sometimes hard information.

Medical restraint

Fox’s tenure has been awash in major injuries to pivotal players. He has made points in his locker room by shielding those players and their issues whether outsiders like it or not.

That started back with Kevin White and the infamous stress fracture that Fox was accused of knowing about and lying that he didn’t. The real situation was that medical opinions (and the Bears had gotten a bunch) were divided to the point where the Bears opted against surgery until it was conclusive that the shadow on an x-ray was indeed a fracture. Fox refused to call the injury a stress fracture with the doctors so divided, and he was pilloried for it. But not in his locker room.

The organization very much needed Pro Bowl lineman Kyle Long this season for an offense that certainly wasn’t going to live on the arm of Mike Glennon. Long was testy and combative during training camp, and “honestly I’ve been champing at the bit to get back,” he conceded, “but they’ve done a good job of pulling the reins a little bit and making sure that I understand that it’s a long season.”

Small things, not necessarily connected, but as Fox’s third season winds down, what his team shows will factor into decisions on his future. The Bears right now, after the Green Bay and Detroit losses effectively ended the “hope” part of their season, are entering that dreary phase of a year when effort will be critiqued as critically as performance.

The on-field results now will say something about character, Fox’s own and the collective one he has worked to instill since January 2015.