Bears

Moon: Fake punt was turning point for Bears

Moon: Fake punt was turning point for Bears

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
6:09 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears came into Sundays game ranked No. 3 in points allowed (17.3) and the Jets were fifth at 18.5 given up per game. The Bears topped those combined numbers by themselves and the Jets nearly did as well.

Was what should have been expected from a game most thought would be a defensive struggle? Absolutely.

It was a defensive struggle, linebacker Lance Briggs said, laughing. Both defenses struggled.

Big arm
The Bears and Denver Broncos are a combined 21-0 when Jay Cutler posts a passer rating of 100 or better, including Sundays 104.2 mark. Cutlers three touchdown passes in the third quarter pushed him to 50 as a Bear, passing George Blanda (48) and into a tie with Jim Harbaugh. He also is the first Bears quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a quarter since Erik Kramer accomplished that on Sept. 24, 1995 against the St. Louis Rams.

The Jets show a lot of crazy defensive looks, Cutler said. Once weonce I settled down, the offensive line played exceptional all game long, gave us a lot of time and the receivers made some plays for us.

Happy losers

The Jets backed into the AFC playoffs by virtue of the Jacksonville Jaguars losing to the Washington Redskins, occasioning cheers in the losers locker room after Sundays loss.

Im a huge Redskins fan, I can tell you that right now, and I appreciate it, said Jets coach Rex Ryan. We wanted to win to get in without question. We never got it done.

For the record, the Jets are a worthy wild-card team. They reached the AFC Championship game last season as a wild card before losing to the Indianapolis Colts.
Timing, timing

Chris Harris interception of Mark Sanchezs final pass was his fifth pick of the season, a career high and all since the Bears off week to give him six takeaways in the last eight games, seven of them Bears wins. It was also the third fourth-quarter interception of the season for Harris, to go with his game-saver against Buffalo and one on the Bears last defensive play in the first Minnesota game.

46 is a playmaker, Lance Briggs said. Im so glad to have him back on this squad.

What made Sundays particularly impressive was that, while he did not exactly set Sanchez up, he thought right along with and ultimately one step ahead of the Jets quarterback.

I had a feeling that was coming. I wasnt completely sure but when I saw the release of Santonio Holmes, I said, This might be the play. Sanchez was staring down the middle and pump-faked it to the middle, I didnt bite on it and just took off.

Duly noted

Robbie Goulds 37-yard field goal in the first quarter made him the first in franchise history to score 100 points in five consecutive seasons. Center Olin Kreutz tied Walter Payton at third on the Bears all-time list with his 190th game played, 133 of them consecutive starts.

Tommie Harris started his third straight game back at DT. He blew up the Jets first play, a couple yards into the backfield, despite a holding penalty flagged on his blocker.Julius Peppers dropped inside for a third-down rush from defensive tackle, Henry Melton going out to right end. The Jets pass into the end zone was incomplete.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub packaged Devin Hester as the deep returner on a kickoff, with Danieal Manning and Rashied Davis as up-returners. The Jets took them all out of play with a squib kickoff.

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.

View from the Moon: Bears 'siestas' continue, leaving progress difficult to find, but it’s there ... somewhat

View from the Moon: Bears 'siestas' continue, leaving progress difficult to find, but it’s there ... somewhat

Consider this a connect-the-dots exercise, with the end game being to figure out what the overall picture is. Because the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions was many things, a couple actually very good, but too many of them kinda-to-very bad...

The overarching point of the 2017 season, per senior Bears management, is progress. Not just on the part of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who had a fourth solid performance in six NFL starts; but on the Bears as a whole. A week after showing anything but, the Bears showed something that could masquerade as progress.

How real is it? The Bears in the past eight days have given few reasons to trust it.

Because while coming close against a respectable Lions (6-4) team counts for something, the Bears are still 3-7 at the end of the day and 3-13 under John Fox against the NFC North – a division winning percentage of .188, which would be lower than that of the Marc Trestman Bears (.250), who managed to win their three NFC North games in two seasons vs. Fox’s three.

As concerning perhaps, the loss left the Bears 3-9 under Fox in games decided by three or fewer points, the hallmark of what simplistically can be ID’d as “losing” teams.

“We’ve had a lot of close games, and it’s just finding a way to close those out,” Trubisky said. “We’re going to work towards that, and figure it out for sure.”

What makes “progress” difficult to see, though, is that the Bears do not play like a team either coached to be or with the proven ability to play at a professional level all the time. Teams with that problem typically make coaching changes at the ends of seasons, since the conclusion usually is that the talent can be there, just that the coach in hand, fair or not, can’t get it out of the roster.

“We’ve shown spurts and moments, like we have for some time now,” Fox summarized. “But we have lulls. We have siestas. We just don’t do it for 60 minutes. ... People have ups and downs. Well, we’re in a stage as a football team where we have those moments in games. We have to do a better job of coaching it and we have to do a better job of executing it in games.”

The Green Bay Packers were one kind of measuring standard last week, and the 3-7 Bears were embarrassed against a foundering team that had been soundly beaten by the Lions the week before the Bears faced them, and buried 23-0 at home Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens.

The Lions were a different kind of quiz, a real offense putting up more than 27 points per game. The Bears allowed the Lions their requisite 27 points (seven of those coming on a touchdown return of a Trubisky fumble), but put up nearly 400 yards and 24 points of their own in a game that ended on a Connor Barth missed field goal from 46 yards, Barth’s fifth miss in 11 attempts from beyond 40 yards.

(Barth’s miss may have been particularly bitter for Fox, after watching Detroit’s Matt Prater win the game from 52 yards – the same Matt Prater who kicked for Fox in Denver in 2011 when Fox’s Broncos beat the Bears in the Marion Barber Game with Prater field goals from 59 yards to tie with 3 seconds left, and from 51 yards to win in OT.)

“All these games in the NFL – they’re hard games – but when you have a game like this that you should win, you just have to win those games,” said wide receiver Kendall Wright. “I think with us, when we win one of those close games, it will help us get over the edge and we’ll start stacking them up on top of each other.”

Then again...

The Bears seemed to lose their compass in the third quarter, with one rushing yard on four attempts. But they finished with 222 yards and the way they amassed them mattered: 125 and a touchdown for Jordan Howard; 53 for Trubisky, a number of them on designed runs; and 44 plus a TD for Tarik Cohen – all combining to average 7.4 yards per carry.

Bigger picture, the Bears were in the position of having at least a chance to tie because Trubisky managed to drive the Bears 55 yards in the final 1:32 from the Chicago 17 to the Detroit 28. This would constitute something shiny lying there in the mud, and make no mistake: This is a big deal.

To put Trubisky in some kind of context: Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, the fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, replaced Tyrod Taylor in the Bills starting lineup Sunday, against a Los Angeles Chargers defense allowing opponents to complete more than 64 percent of their passes. Peterman completed 11 of 14 in the first half, about 79 percent. But – five of the Peterman “completions” were to Chargers.

DeShone Kizer has been in and out and back in the starting lineup for the Cleveland Browns, suffering through a rookie season with one of the worst teams arguably in NFL history. But – Kizer, with 12 interceptions vs. four TD passes, is one of the reasons the Browns are in various “worst ever” discussions.

Trubisky threw 30 passes without an interception on Sunday, and 65 without a pick over his past two games. He’s thrown 145 NFL passes with just two interceptions, an INT rate of 1.4 percent that ranks ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan and a list of others. Critics of his development can have their points, but the kid has learned ball security at an early NFL age even while averaging 32.4 pass plays per game.

The next step is getting his team over the top, because he is still completing just 53.1 percent of his passes and was missed badly on a number of throws on Sunday. His deft TD pass to tight end Adam Shaheen in the first half was NFL-perfect (where his guy or nobody catches it), but his throw low and behind running back Benny Cunningham at the goal line in the first quarter forced the Bears to settle for a field goal in a game decided ultimately by three points.

Trubisky clearly gets the big picture, too, pointing the thumb and not any fingers. He paused before answering a question about his rookie learning curve:

“I think adversity is a great teacher,” he said. “Overcoming the struggle is a great teacher. There’s no rookie excuse. You don’t get a freebie because you’re a rookie.

“My teammates trust me and they have confidence in me, so I’m preparing as I should. Coaches have me prepared and my teammates have my back. New situations are going to arise every time, but there are no excuses. I’m just looking at these opportunities as chances to overcome, and not dwell on it.”

Under Center Podcast: Alex Brown goes off on Connor Barth

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Alex Brown goes off on Connor Barth

On the latest Under Center Podcast, Laurence Holmes, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down the Bears loss to the Lions on Sunday following Conner Barth’s missed field goal in the last seconds of the game and debate whether or not Tarik Cohen should be a part of the Bears two-minute offensive packages.

Plus, if the Bears hope to keep Vic Fangio past 2017, does he need to finish out the season as the Bears interim head coach?

Listen to the full Under Center Podcast right here: