Bears

Moon: Monster final four awaits on Bears schedule

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Moon: Monster final four awaits on Bears schedule

Monday, Nov. 29, 2010
8:27 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears finished an impressive November with a 4-0 record that included strong wins against NFC rivals Minnesota and Philadelphia. The play of the defense and Jay Cutler make them capable of beating anyone on any given Sunday and they finish the third quarter of the season with the Detroit rematch before a monster final four of teams quite capable of beating them as well.
W 19-14 Sept. 12 vs. Detroit Lions (2-9)
Bears survive four turnovers and red-zone failures to escape with a W after officials rule Calvin Johnson did not complete a potential winning TD catch. Cutler passes for 372 yards, Matt Forte nets 201 yards on 24 touches.

W 27-20 Sept. 19 At Dallas Cowboys (3-8)

Cutlers zero INTs plus in-game adjustments to Dallas pressure produced TD passes to Devin Hester, Greg Olsen and Forte. Physical defense forced three Cowboys turnovers, all involving nickel back D.J. Moore who gets his first two career picks.

W 20-17 Sept. 27 (Mon.) Green Bay Packers (7-4)
Nothing like a truly pivotal game just three weeks into a season. The winner gets the first tiebreak edge and the Bears have a chance to go 3-0 in the NFC. All games are statement games this one comes with an exclamation point.

L 3-17 Oct. 3 At New York Giants (7-4)

The missing pass rush returned to get Cutler and vault the Giants squarely back in the midst of a very tight NFC East race among non-exceptional teams. Cutler was sacked nine times and left at halftime with a concussion that ruled out realistic chances for a comeback.
W 23-6 Oct. 10 At Carolina Panthers (1-10)

A horrendous, 4-interception performance by Todd Collins was offset by 218 rushing yards, 166 by Forte who scored twice, and the defense shutting down the Panthers with 147 yards. Bears finally exploded in a first quarter and stayed with a run commitment with changes in the OL.

L 23-20 Oct. 17 Seattle Seahawks (5-6)

Seattle bumbled to three points in a loss to St. Louis, then came in from the week off to handle the Bears everywhere but special teams. Bears play calling (12 runs, 47 pass plays) becoming an issue as Cutler was sacked six times and Bears rarely got close to laying a hand on Matt Hasselbeck.
L 17-14 Oct. 24 Washington Redskins (5-6)

Cutler throws four INTs to DeAngelo Hall and fumbles at the goal line in another game in which Mike Martz refuses to run the football. Bears lose at home for the second straight week, first time since Lovie Smiths rookie year (2004). Questions now are whether Bears can change course on offense after three miserable performances in last four games.

Oct. 31 Off week

W 22-19 Nov.7 At Buffalo BillsToronto (2-9)

Tim Jennings interception led to a game-winning touchdown in a game that the Bears nearly let get away and gave up three TDs on defense for just the second time this season (Seattle). Cutler managed the offense with some control and the offensive line allowed just one sack while coaches committed to the run enough to call 26 plays on the ground.
W 27-13 Nov. 14 Minnesota Vikings (4-7)
In a best game of the season with all three phases playing well, the Bears all but bury the season for a dysfunctional Vikings team that has a quarterback done after the season and head coach possibly sooner. Cutler throws three TD passes and backs carry 32 times; defense gets four takeaways; and Hester shows he hasnt forgotten how to return kickoffs as well as punts.

W 16-0 Nov. 18 At Miami Dolphins (6-5)

The defense recorded the first shutout since 06 and the offense, while not punching in red-zone opportunities the way it needs to, was efficient. A third straight game with 30 or more rushes was a first for a Mike Martz offense and has helped the offensive line settle in and taken pressure off Cutler. The result is another solid game of third-down conversions against a respectable defense.
W 31-26 Nov. 28 Philadelphia Eagles (7-4)

The building continues with a new high for Cutler passing as he throws four TDs on just 21 attempts and Forte runs for 117 yards in 14 carries. The defense stays basic to deal with Michael Vick, who gets some passing yards but into the end zone only twice.
Dec. 5 at Detroit Lions (2-9) Next: vs. BEARS

The Lions were toe-to-toe with New England at 24-all after three quarters on Thanksgiving, then were blown away in the perfect passing game of Tom Brady that produced 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points. Detroit has lost four straight, cant run the ball and has been reduced to the dreaded role of spoiler, which they would like to be for the Bears.

Dec. 12 New England Patriots (9-2) Next: vs. NY Jets (MNF)

The Pats trailed Detroit at halftime and could not pull away until late against a team with nothing to play for. The impression is growing that the Pats play as well as they need to, which will be pushed to the limit in a showdown with the Jets, a game that features two of the Bears next three opponents after Detroit.

Dec. 20 At Minnesota Vikings (4-7) Next: vs. Buffalo

Winning the first game of Leslie Fraziers NFL coaching career was solid motivation and beating the Redskins in Washington was a respectable victory. Brett Favre not throwing an interception for just the second time this season is not good news for the Bears, who would like to count on his help when they see him on MNF in a few weeks.
Dec. 26 New York Jets (9-2) Next: at New England (MNF)
The woeful Cincinnati Bengals were no challenge (26-10) for the Jets, who are off to the second-best start in franchise history. The Jets have beaten Cincinnati three times in less than a year but this Bengals team (2-9) is not going to the wild-card round the way last years did.

Jan. 2 at Green Bay Packers (7-4) Next: vs. San Francisco

QB Aaron Rodgers was able to throw the Packers into a late tie vs. Atlanta but the Falcons issued a statement of sorts by defending home field against a potential playoff opponent. QB Matt Ryan was Rodgers equal in a matchup of two of the NFCs true elite quarterbacks. Packers need to firm up their run defense after Michael Turner ripped off 110 yards on 23 carries.

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.

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

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USA TODAY

Bears ’18 offseason dramatically different from ’17 but with difficult money-management issues looming

About this time a year ago the Bears were setting up for the annual NFL beauty pageant in Indianapolis, sitting with the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft and with myriad roster decisions to address with both that draft and free agency. Because of the Bears’ lofty draft position, even more scrutiny and attention swirled around the college prospects (Deshaun Watson, Jamal Adams, Solomon Thomas, not enough on Mitch Trubisky as it turned out, a testimonial to GM Ryan Pace’s ability to keep a secret).

But what was developing in free agency was arguably of even greater significance in what was then the short term, at least for John Fox, as it turned out. And the changed landscape this year bodes considerably better for Pace and the Bears. At least in one important respect.

First, a perspective from last year’s pre-Combine period...

Because of the unsettled quarterback situation – the Bears were working toward Mike Glennon and cutting Jay Cutler two weeks later – and concerns about a possible lame-duck situation for Fox, free agents and their agents were willing to look at the Bears but only if the Bears would pony up excessive guaranteed dollars. The worry any time a coach is heading into a tipping-point year is that if things go badly, the coach and staff are gone, and the resulting changes will alter the job situation of that particular veteran player.

So the likes of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye or Stephon Gilmore opted for less total money from Jacksonville and New England, respectively, because the Bears weren’t offering higher guarantees to compensate for the uncertainty.

(One of the reasons then-President/CEO Michael McCaskey stated to this reporter for firing Mike Ditka after the 1992 season was a concern over the negative pall Ditka cast over playing for the Bears as the NFL prepared for the 1993 start of free agency. A quarter-century later, Pace didn’t fire Fox because of free agents’ aversion to Fox, but the overall wasn’t making Pace’s job any easier.)

Would Alshon Jeffery have stayed if...

On a slightly different tack: Would Alshon Jeffery have given the Bears a more receptive look had the quarterback position been addressed sooner in the Fox/Pace tenure? Jeffery took less from the Eagles in a one-year prove-it deal, not because Philadelphia was so much warmer than Chicago, but in large part because of where the offensive arrow was pointing in Chicago with Fox, Dowell Loggains and an unsettled quarterback situation.

Not insignificantly in the Jeffery case: Jeffery had four choices – Bears, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia. The Colts weren’t sure about Andrew Luck, coming off shoulder surgery and ultimately missing all of ’17. The Vikings were resting then on brittle Sam Bradford, whose knee broke down early, and Case Keenum wasn’t CASE KEENUM at that point. The Bears with Loggains and Glennon? Jeffery didn’t go with Philadelphia, Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz only for the money, which did come anyway.

The Bears have “fixed” all of those issues in the year that’s played out since Jeffery signed with the Eagles almost concurrent with the Bears moving on from Cutler. None of that matters now in the least with Jeffery, Bouye, Gilmore or any other options that demanded too much guaranteed money or spurned the Bears back then, but it does matter going into the run-up to free agency over the next couple weeks.

Why this in fact matters more than the draft is that, while sound organizations are grounded in quality drafting, the reality is that in virtually every offseason, more starters for that season are acquired via free agency than the draft. Last year’s draft centerpiece was Trubisky, though he wasn’t supposed to start last season. But free agents Glennon, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps and Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright were.

The money pit

Longtime Bears and NFL personnel chief Bill Tobin once remarked back in the beginning of free agency, “Just because you pay a guy $2 million doesn’t make him a $2-million player.” That still applies, adjusted for inflation. And that could make this free agency dicey for the Bears.

Because price isn’t always determined solely on quality; it’s a matter of supply and demand. And while the Bears are among those with the greatest estimated space under the projected cap of $178 million, the others way up on the list include Cleveland, Indianapolis, the Jets, Houston and Tampa Bay – all teams with five or fewer wins in ’17 and expected to be the most aggressive in using free agency to fix gaping holes. The Bears have a lot of money to spend, but so do a whole lot of others.

Meaning: A lot of dollars will be chasing a select few players, which will make some of them overpaid, not unlike Glennon was last offseason (how many apparently better options were there?) or a couple of others, who will be paid like $2 million players even if they aren’t, adjusted for inflation.

The result is another offseason of brinksmanship for Pace, this time in need of better results than his first three free agencies if the outcome for his second head coach is to be better than it was for his first.

Report: Bears could be a potential landing spot for Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry

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USA TODAY

Report: Bears could be a potential landing spot for Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry

The Bears are looking for an upgrade at wide receiver this offseason, and there may be one available.

The Dolphins used the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry on Tuesday, in a move that many believe signals the team's desire to deal him instead of losing him in free agency for nothing.

Landry put up excellent numbers last season, catching 112 passes for 987 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the league in catches and was fourth in touchdown receptions but was just 17th in yards. His yards per reception ranked 108th of 139 qualifying players.

Still, it's no secret he'd be an upgrade for the Bears at wide receiver. Though they'll get Cam Meredith and Kevin White back from injury, the corps largely struggled and didn't give rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky much help.

Luckily, they may be interested in Landry, per NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

"There are a couple teams that we should keep an eye on as far as a potential Jarvis Landry landing spot......the Chicago Bears are looking for receviers," he said.

Rapoport also mentioned the Titans, Panthers and Saints as options for Landry. The franchise tag will pay Landry about $16 million before he becomes a free agent in 2019 (or has the franchise tag used on him again).