Bears

Moon: Cleaning out the notebook the day after...

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Moon: Cleaning out the notebook the day after...

Monday, Nov. 29, 2010
10:14 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Any doubt about the absolute importance of the Bears running the ball often as much as well, hopefully in Mike Martzs mind, should be forever dispelled after what the offense did to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Matt Forte ran for 117 yards on 14 carries and now has a rushing average of 4.2, something that has been the case too seldom in his two-plus year career. But Sunday was his seventh 100-yard rushing game, it was the first 100-yard rushing game against Philadelphia this season, and the Bears are 7-0 in games when Forte runs into triple figures.

Dont for a moment dismiss the yardage total because 61 of the yards came on one run and 28 on another, meaning that Forte averaged 2.3 on the other 12 runs. Big runs come because they have enough chances to happen and Martz is giving his tailback enough chances.

And also dont dismiss entirely the lack of production from Chester Taylor, who had minus-3 yards on 6 carries. The 6 carries and pass protection were contributions and thats what the Bears need from their backs. The yards will come, either passing or running, if the offense shows it can and will do both.

Nice calls

Compliments to old buddy Jay Glazer, NFL maven for FOXSports.com, who told CSNChicago.com back in training camp that the Bears were his NFC darkhorse. Glaze also had the Miami Dolphins as a quiet one to watch in the AFC. The Dolphins problem is being stuck in an AFC East with the New England Patriots and New York Jets, but thats a team that is 5-1 on the road and managing to play with huge injury issues at quarterback.

Lets not be too hard on another good friend, Peter King, for still ranking the Green Bay Packers (No. 4) ahead of the Bears (No. 5) in his excellent Monday Morning Quarterback". Peter still has doubts about the Bears offensive line, which is reasonable. But Peter somehow doesnt seem to have significant questions about Green Bays ability to run the football and he still sees the Packers playing in the NFC Championship game.

Peters in-depth look at the goofy Josh McDaniels-videoGate situation in Denver, plus Ron Riveras great job in San Diego, are definitely worth looks.

Stat-ing

On the subject of handling the football

Martz called 16 pass plays in the first half vs. 7 handoffs to Forte and Taylor. Jay Cutler was sacked four times and ran twice. In the second half, with a run game established in the form of Fortes 61-yard excursion, Martz had Cutler throw 11 times vs. Forte, Taylor and Devin Hester (handoff from Wildcat QB Earl Bennett) running ball 14 times. Cutler wasnt sacked, although he did set off on runs five times, which ultimately takes a toll on defensive linemen forced to pursue and put that threat in the minds of opposing secondaries.

Of those 11 second-half passes, five went to other than wide receivers, who were the only targets in the first half. Tight ends were 2-for-2 with Greg Olsen scoring on his one catch and Brandon Manumaleuna creating a first-and-goal with his. Forte was targeted three times in the second half, meaning that Cutler threw six times to wideouts in the second half and five times elsewhere. Good distribution.

Cutler morph

Jay Cutler has been a passer throughout his career. What he has become over the past four games is a quarterback. Theres difference, a huge one.

As Ive stated previously, Cutler is in no way a game manager, which has wrongly been assigned a negative connotation by some. (No one calls Tom Brady or (usually) Peyton Manning a game manager but are there any better ones?) Kyle Orton wasis a game manager and the Bears went 10-5 behind him in 2005 so thats not a bad thing necessarily.

But Cutler becoming a quarterback is without question the most significant development of 2010, bigger even than the signing of Julius Peppers. Taking a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty in Sundays fourth quarter for continuing a rant at an officials non-call was beneath stupid and beyond immature. But Cutler has grown up as a football player as this season has gone on. And if he can grow up as a football player, finally, the suspicion would also be that he can grow up as a person as well, which is what being a quarterback and a leader is all about.

Hell be back?

Could Brett Favre be swayed into coming back for one more year one more time? Theres suddenly a little buzz coming out of Minnesota with the elevation of class guy Leslie Frazier to head coach and all Favre ever seems to need is a little buzz from somewhere.

Frazier earned a Gatorade shower (the invention of the 1984 Bears, by the way, not the New York Giants) with the Vikings win over Washington. Next they have the Buffalo Bills coming, a probable win in the first of three straight home games. After that they host the New York Giants and finally the Bears on MNF.

The Minnesota answer doesnt lie in Tavaris Jackson. I dont see Frazier or any more teammates traveling to Mississippi to beg Favre back this time, but Favre leaving on a down note (which his 010 has been) somehow doesnt seem like the gimme it did a little while ago with Brad Childress there.

Ya never know, ya know?

Hell be back!

A little bit of your football heart has to go out to Buffalo Bills wideout Steve Johnson, who has been nothing short of an emerging star playing to the limit for a team with nothing to play for each week. Johnson had and dropped what would have been a game-winning touchdown against none other than the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday and was near tears standing up to the questions afterwards.

Ill never get over it, said Johnson, who burned the Bears for 11 catches and 145 yards up in Toronto. Ill never get it. Ever.

Just guessing, but Johnson will. And you want him to. Hes never stopped caring and thats a good thing.

Oooops

Still think the Bears should have gone after Randy Moss so they could finally have a true No. 1 receiver (whatever that is)? Call the Tennessee Titans; you can probably still get him. Moss line: three games, all losses, 4 receptions, zero TDs.

Sad story

Sympathies go out to those close to the young man who died in a fall at Soldier Field Sunday. Police were still investigating late Sundayearly Monday but regardless of circumstances, that puts a sad pall over the day.

Lez talk

Probably one or two things to e-talk about tonight on the Monday night chat, 7-8 p.m. on CSNChicago.com. Let me know what you think.

Will check in about 4:40 p.m.with Larry and Don and central Illinois on SportsRadio 1450 WFMB-AM in Springfield for our weekly Bears catch-up. Always fun with the guys and that area of BearsNation.

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.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

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Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: