Bears

Moon: Bears still need to find themselves

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Moon: Bears still need to find themselves

Friday, Sept. 9, 2011
Posted: 11:01 a.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
The New Orleans-Green Bay game was almost exactly what should have been expected from two of the absolutely elite offenses and, in the end, from an elite defense as the Packers stuffed Heisman-Boy Mark Ingram at the goal line to preserve the win.

It was a game that no doubt sent scares through Bears Nation because the reality is that the Bears cannot score with either of those teams.

But thats not the point. The point is whether the Bears even should try. Because they shouldnt.

You dont win by pursuing a strategy that the other guy clearly does better than you do. You play to your strength, not his.

And you begin by knowing yourself. The Bears quarterback sounds like he completely gets that.

You know, its only the second year for a lot of the guys in this offense, and we got some new guys that are just coming into it, quarterback Jay Cutler said. Were still growing, were still figuring things out, were still learning by experience, so we just got to go out there and play mistake-free football. Were going to mess up some plays, and have some mentals out there. We just got to limit them.

One thing that was graphically made clear last year is that the Bears do not have the blocking prowess to run the passing offense Mike Martz operates. Ideally, a quick-release West Coast system puts an average offensive line in its best position for success, but Martz doesnt run that. So if the Bears use a game plan that throws the ball as many times as Green Bay and New Orleans did, the only question is not whether Cutler will be sacked, but how often?

The Bears have a seventh-rounder (JMarcus Webb) at left tackle and a rookie (Gabe Carimi) at right. The Packers have second-rounder Chad Clifton at left and 2010 first-rounder Brian Bulaga on their edges. They run an offense that uses short drops, and notably, Aaron Rodgers was sacked 50 times in 2009 and 31 last season.

But right now, as impressive as Ryan Grant and James Starks were running the ball for the Packers, the Bears have a clear advantage over Green Bay in the persons of Matt Forte and, when he comes in, Marion Barber.

The point of this Bears season will not be how often they throw the football visavis Green Bay or New Orleans. If they throw the ball that often, they will finish up the track, probably without Cutler upright. Cutler doesnt have the Green Bay or New Orleans receiver group, or a tight end the equal of Jermichael Finley.

If they try to play like they do, season over.
Good perspective

Tom Thayer weighed in on Matt Fortes situation during last nights Countdown to Kickoff. '

Running backs are a dime a dozen but football players are few and far between. Matt Forte is a football player, said Thayer, former Bear and current WBBM-AM color commentator. Matt is the perfect fit for the Chicago Bears. Matt deserves an upgrade in this contract because hes a great football player, not because hes a running back.

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 the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Everything changed for the Bears after going up 17-3 last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims was immediately followed by Bobby Rainey running a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, then the offense was bogged down with three fumbles (two lost) on three consecutive possessions. 

But Adrian Amos seemed to seal the game with his 90-yard pick six — that is, until Michael Campanaro ran Pat O’Donnell’s punt back 77 yards for what wound up being a game-tying touchdown after a two-point conversion.

The point is the Bears should’ve cruised to a comfortable win last week; a few critical mistakes didn’t allow that to happen. The Bears haven’t led at the end of the fourth quarter this year, a pretty strong indicator they haven’t played a complete game yet despite having two wins. 

The Carolina Panthers have road wins over the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots this year, and only lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by five points last week (despite Cam Newton throwing three interceptions). The bet here is the Bears keep things close on the backs of a strong defense, but either can’t make enough plays or make too many mistakes to win. 

Prediction: Panthers 20, Bears 16

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

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USA TODAY

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera saw a lot of Mitchell Trubisky last year, with the North Carolina quarterback on TV quite a bit in the Charlotte area. The Panthers, set with Cam Newton, weren’t in the market for a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Trubisky nonetheless stood out to the seventh-year Carolina coach and former Super Bowl-winning Bears linebacker. 

For Rivera, more than Trubisky’s arm strength and athleticism jumped off the screen. 

“Leadership,” Rivera pointed to. “When you watch him when he was playing — I love watching guys that either get on their teammates when they’re not doing it or they take accountability when they make a mistake. And you saw that with him.

“… We think the young man has got what it takes. We like who’s he’s gonna become. We do. We think the future can be bright for him. We are big fans here.”

Trubisky took accountability for both of his turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings: The interception Harrison Smith baited him into was certainly his fault, but his sack-strip fumble was more the result of Everson Griffen jumping the snap and blowing past left tackle Charles Leno. Against the Baltimore Ravens, Trubisky also lost a fumble on a sack-strip when cornerback Lardarius Webb hit him and dislodged the ball.

Trubisky’s explanation of that fumble was that he moved off his first read too quickly, causing him to miss Webb making a beeline for him in the backfield. But according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, that fumble wasn’t the quarterback’s fault. 

“That’s because he’s a stud,” Loggains said of Trubisky taking responsibility for it. “We screwed the protection up. We should have been sliding to the guy. The guy should not have been coming free. That’s Mitch taking a bullet that he doesn’t need to take. The reality is he saw the guy coming and tried to get over to the check down quickly but we got to do a better job up front protecting him.”

But that Trubisky was willing to say he was at fault for that fumble plays into why he quickly gained the respect of the Bears’ the locker room. That’s what a quarterback should be doing when speaking to the media after the game — accepting responsibility and deflecting off his teammates, even if he’s not at fault. That kind of stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Stopping Superman

Pernell McPhee offered this goal up for his fellow defensive teammates this week: Make sure Newton stays as Clark Kent on Sunday. 

“He’s a very talented guy, but the only thing I told the defense is let's make him be Cam Newton, not Superman,” McPhee said, referring to Newton’s signature touchdown move. “We don't want him opening up the cape.”

So how does a defense stop Newton from being Superman?

“He’s a very versatile quarterback,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Obviously his running the ball, whether it be through his improvising with scrambling on called pass plays, or the called running plays they do have for him, that’s a strength for him. We can’t just focus on stopping that. We’ve gotta stop Cam Newton the passer and the runner. They’ve got good running backs they’re handing it off to and receivers and running backs he’s throwing it to, so you’ve got a total offense to stop.”

One point to note here: Newton threw three interceptions last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and had been picked off eight times this year. A Bears secondary that intercepted Joe Flacco twice last week could have some more shots at takeaways on Sunday. 

High praise

Sunday will mark Thomas Davis’ 156th game in the NFL, with the linebacker playing every one of those with the Carolina Panthers. He played for John Fox from 2005-2010. But where we’re going here is what he had to say about how the Bears run their offense with a rookie quarterback:

“I think this is probably the best running game that we’ve seen from an offense with a rookie quarterback,” Davis said. “You look at some of the other rookies that come in. Teams want to run the ball. But when you look at the physicality and the style of play that this team plays with, I think that really makes the job a lot easier for a young quarterback. So I definitely feel like that physicality in their running game is definitely going to help him out.”

The Bears ran the ball 50 times against a Baltimore Ravens defense that played a lot more Cover-2 than expected. With star linebacker Luke Kuechly out for Sunday, the Bears may try to use a similar strategy, even if Carolina loads the box more than Baltimore did (a little more than once one every three runs by Jordan Howard). 

But if the Bears’ offense is going to have success, it’s going to be behind Howard, Tarik Cohen and an improving offensive line. Maybe Davis’ comments are hyperbole, but he’s also played a lot more football than you and me.