Bears

Mullin: Those pesky (overlooked?) Lions

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Mullin: Those pesky (overlooked?) Lions

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Posted: 10:35 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

While it may be natural to dismiss the Detroit Lions and their now 2-10 record, and some Bears clearly did, to their discredit, these were the same Lions who led New England and Dallas at halftimes of their past two games and who had 10 days to prepare for the Bears. These were the same Lions who nearly defeated the Bears in Soldier Field Opening Day on an official's ruling, and who were tied with the Bears at halftime and in the fourth quarter or their games last year with the Bears.

"I don't know why but we never really seem to play great against the Lions," linebacker Brian Urlacher said, shaking his head. "But it's a division game and there's always going to be more on the line no matter what the records are."

The Detroit defense hung as many sacks (four) on the Bears as it did the first time the teams met this year. "They came out and played hard," said right tackle J'Marcus Webb, who had his pads full with defensive end Cliff Avril and a ramped up Detroit pass rush in the first half. "I guess you could say this was their game of the year."

When the Bears come to Detroit, "it seems like they just come out faster than we do; I don't know why," said safety Danieal Manning. "Next year we've got to start faster, period."

Sooo close

Devin Hester had the NFL record for return touchdowns in his sights, literally, in the third quarter when he took a Nick Harris punt back 30 yards before the last man, Harris, brought him down with a "tackle" that left Hester grumpy afterwards. Being tackled by kickers can leave returners that way.

"It's just lazy tacklers, they just get in the way and trip you up," Hester said. "It's frustrating. He fell down, I tried to jump over him and he grabbed my foot. ... That punt return should've been a touchdown."

Disturbing stat

Jay Cutler continues to develop as a quarterback but his stellar play of late and the overall progress of the offense shouldn't obscure one very ominous aspect that is still far from satisfactory.

The four sacks by Detroit marked the sixth time in 12 games that Cutler was sacked at least four times and in two of the others (Green Bay, Miami) he was taken down three times.

Huh?

No one had ever heard the call "simultaneous possession" and a couple players laughingly wondered if the officials came up with the phrase on the spot. But it cost the Bears a platinum chance of taking over Sunday's game much earlier than the fourth quarter.

Defensive end Israel Idonije forced a fumble by running back Maurice Morris at the Detroit 28 and gained control of the ball in the resulting scrum. But Morris wriggled in enough to get his hands on the ball and in the NFL, a tie goes to the offense.

"That was a terrible call. I clearly had the ball," Idonije said, crossing his arms tightly across his chest to demonstrate. "I had the ball for few seconds and then the other guy came in and just put his hands on the ball and the officials said it was this 'simultaneous possession.'"

"Turn out the lights, the party's over" ...

The passing of Dandy Don Meredith at age 72 throws a bit of a cloud over the NFL today. He, Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell made Monday Night Football, and the Danderoo was the absolute perfect counterweight to the (for some) detestable Howard.

Meredith was one fine quarterback as well, just with the misfortune of having his career overlap with the Green Bay Packers dynasty. And Chicago will have to always wonder what might have been had the Bears, who made Meredith their third-round pick in the 1960 draft, kept that kid out of SMU instead of trading him to the Dallas Cowboys for future draft picks.

But maybe things work out as they should after all. Meredith went to and helped fashion the "America's Team" that the Cowboys became. And for a fun watch sometime, watch "North Dallas Forty" and "Seth," the Mac Davis character in particular. You'll get the idea.

The NFL star is a little dimmer today for the loss.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel.  Kap is happy that Mitch Trubisky played ok and John Fox’s team lost again.  The panel disagrees.

Plus Leonard Floyd doesn’t have an ACL tear…. Yet. Should the Bears shut him down even if he gets good news?

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

With Sunday’s game on the line and the Bears owning the football at their 17-yard line, the offense needed a drive for field goal position to tie the Detroit Lions. But rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, with 1:03 on the clock, wasn’t thinking 3 points. He was thinking touchdown and a win, and the huddle knew it.

“I think that's his mindset all the time,” said guard Josh Sitton, who recognized something familiar in Trubisky’s face that Sitton had seen over his years with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. “He's a play-maker, he's got all the confidence in the world in himself and the guys around him.

“You can just see it on his face. I don't think he really says anything, he doesn't really need to say anything, you can kind of see it, by that look in his eyes. He's got what it takes to be a great player in this league.”

It was not intended to be any even remote comparison with Rodgers. More than eyes are involved in that. But while the drive Sunday ended in failure in the form of a missed field goal, something was noted in the process.

The 13-play drive for the Bears’ first touchdown Sunday was the longest sustained by the offense under Trubisky. And it was a statement possession for an offense that had not scored a first-quarter touchdown in nine prior games.

But if a negative among the many Trubisky positives was the fourth time in five situations that Trubisky has failed to direct a game-winning or –tying drive, which goes a long way to answering why the Bears are 2-4 under him. Actually the number of come-up-short drives is more than those if you count things like a three-and-out at Baltimore in regulation before Trubisky led a seven-play drive for a winning overtime field goal.

Still, looking a little deeper, Trubisky has gotten progressively “closer” to being the kind of finisher that the Bears have needed for decades. At the very least, Trubisky is keeping drives alive longer and longer, if not ending them with points. In these situations:

Vs.                     4th qtr/OT situation

Minnesota         1 play, interception ends potential winning drive

Baltimore          3 plays, punt, regulation ends in tie

                           7 plays, game-winning FG in OT

Carolina            Game already decided

New Orleans    2 plays, interception ends drive for tie

Green Bay        5 plays, ball over on downs on drive for tie

Detroit               11 plays, missed FG for tie

Within the huddle, the team confidence in Trubisky and vice versa has clearly grown, regardless of outcome, and that is something the offense did not consistently have in Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen or even Josh McCown.

“[Trubisky] is just growing and growing and you just see it,” Sittyon said. “You saw the talent right away and he just keeps ... the nuances of the game, he just keeps learning and learning. He gives you all the confidence in the world as a guy in the locker room and on the field, in the huddle.

“He has that look in his eye where you're thinking 'All right, he's going to get the job done.’”

Staff addition? Probably not but Bears have an opening

Taking a morning-after look around the NFL after the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Something to probably dismiss but at least worth mentioning… .

The Denver Broncos on Monday fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the same Mike McCoy who handled the Denver offense as John Fox’s OC. Don’t expect anything in-season, certainly not at this point, but the situation does offer an interesting future option if somehow Fox sees the fourth and final year of his contract, even looking further down the coaching road irrespective of Fox’s presence.

McCoy was ousted from a foundering Broncos situation, presumably over not being able to make anything much out of Trevor Simian

McCoy, who was the mix of candidates and interviewed to succeed Lovie Smith back in 2012, wouldn’t necessarily be brought in as offensive coordinator by Fox or anyone else. What about the role of “consultant” or “assistant head coach” added to the Bears offensive staff?

The Bears have neither position on the staff currently, and haven’t had an assistant head coach since Rod Marinelli had that as part of his title from 2009-2012 under Lovie Smith. Marinelli, like McCoy, had been a head coach as well.

Notably, Fox kept McCoy on his staffs when Fox was hired both in Carolina and Denver, a good measure of Fox’s take on McCoy’s offensive-coaching skills. Fox added the job of passing-game coordinator to McCoy’s duties as quarterbacks coach with Carolina in 2007-08. Since then McCoy coached Peyton Manning in Denver and Philip Rivers in San Diego.

Also notably, perhaps in the other direction, Fox might have brought McCoy to Chicago after the latter was fired as Chargers head coach after last season. That didn’t happen, possibly because McCoy instead wanted a full OC position, which wasn’t open with Loggains in place.

Offensive consultants aren’t necessarily staff bloating; they have been referred to as “coaches for coaches.” Bruce Arians brought in longtime OC Tom Moore when Arians became Arizona Cardinals head coach (following Phil Emery’s decision to go with Marc Trestman over Arians). Moore previously served as offensive coordinator, then senior offensive coordinator, then offensive consultant through the Peyton Manning years in Indianapolis. Moore subsequently became offensive consultant for the Jets (2011) and Tennessee Titans (2012), the latter stint while Loggains was offensive coordinator.

Longtime offensive line coach Jim McNally has been a “consultant” with the Jets (2011-12) and Bengals (2012-this season). Randy Brown was a kicking consultant working under Bears special teams coaches in the Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron regimes, going on to work under John Harbaugh in Philadelphia and Baltimore.