Bears

Mullin: Mike Tice Miracle on O-Line? Not quite

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Mullin: Mike Tice Miracle on O-Line? Not quite

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
11:01 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Phew lots to range over with Mac and Spiegs this morning on the weekly visit with The Danny Mac Show on WSCR-AM 670. (CLICK HERE to listen to the segment).

Mac clearly isnt buying into the Mike Tice Miracle with the offensive line, a group that has improved almost weekly but still allowed (with contributions from poor blocking by tight ends and backs at times) a league-worst 56 sacks. And Dannys right; if youre 30th in offensive production, you dont rate a rainbow of bouquets.

But in fairness, I thought it worth acknowledging that Tice came in with an open-mind policy on players, which actually have hurt him in the selection process. What that meant was a guard like Johan Asiata jumps out in OTAs because hes athletic. Trouble is, when pads come on and playbooks expand, Tice finds out why Asiata wasnt in the mix before this.

Then Tice sees things from Lance Louis, enough so that he moves Roberto Garza to a new position (left guard) to fit Louis at right guard. Trouble is, Louis cant play effectively through what by NFL standards are minor injuries, so that path was a dead-end.

Throw in the injuries to Garza and Chris Williams and I do think you see the amount of assessment Tice had to do while all the while in the middle of teaching his group the new system and protections...

Mac (no surprise) had fun with what Anthony Adams had said to me, that there need to be more fat guys on magazine covers. Id add here that there need to be more fat guys in booths, meaning that bright bulbs like Adams should get more looks as analysts and color guys. Tony Siragusa is a cartoon figure but when I watch Michael Strahan, I see a job for Anthony Adams funny but thoroughly knows his game.

But back to MacTalk...

We went from Adams to the defensive line in general as the guys were interested in how the stats of Julius Peppers and the defensive line with him werent stunningly leaping up this year with the addition of No. 90. But thats probably another good measure of Peppers impact he has calmly said all year that hes not about the stats, winning is not about stats, and he and the Bears have played like it.

Draft breezes

Interesting brief look ahead when the guys alluded to Hub Arkushs thought that the Bears will have to address the defensive line this draft or offseason. Id agree with that, and mentioned a look back Id done at drafts in which Jerry Angelo was a part. A vast majority of them saw linemen (offensive or defensive) taken with his teams first pick, irrespective of round.

When he took over running the draft as Bears GM, what did he pick first? Offensive line (Marc Colombo, 2002), defensive line (Michael Haynes, 2003), defensive line (Tommie Harris, 2004). Two of the last three years he stayed bigs on his first picks: offensive line (Chris Williams, 2008), defensive line (Jarron Gilbert, 2009).

Given that Angelo doesnt need a quarterback, running back, tight end or safety, and he wont spend a first-round pick on a wide receiver, chances are very, very good that the lines are addressed with the top two picks in the 2011 draft.

Playoffing

Im on board with the guys thinking that Green Bay-Philadelphia is the game of the wild-card weekend. They werent sure why all the love for Green Bay, but the Packers were my preseason pick for NFC Super Bowl representative and the No. 1 reason is No. 12. Aaron Rodgers is still there, and as good a season as Michael Vick has had, I give the QB edge to Green Bay this weekend.

And just thinking about this right now: Mac noted that, yeah, the Packers cant run the ball. Agree. But what I see in Rodgers is a young Brett Favre without the image of the gunslinger. Favres teams were more than passable without a dominant run game, were very good with one (Dorsey Levens for a year to win a Super Bowl), and while this defense doesnt have Reggie White the way the Favre teams did, this one is more than good enough.

The Packers beat the Eagles in Philadelphia to start the season, with Vick taking over when Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion. This wont be the same Green Bay team (that one had RB Ryan Grant) or the same Eagles team (Vick has a season behind him). But the result will be the same.

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: