Bears

No home-field advantage for Bears vs. Eagles?

No home-field advantage for Bears vs. Eagles?

Friday, Nov. 26, 2010
6:20 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Home field advantage. An interesting and sometimes misleading factor in athletic contests, including the Bears for 2010.

The Bears are within a last-second officials ruling vs. the Detroit Lions of being at risk of a sub-.500 home record to this point of the season. They have not finished below .500 in Soldier Field since Lovie Smiths first year (2004) and have the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and New York Jets remaining on the home portion of their schedule.

This is not good news. The Eagles are 4-1 on the road; the Patriots are 4-2; and the Jets are 5-0.

The mid-week rains and a high-school game wont improve the sometimes-fragile state of Soldier Field turf. Both the Eagles and Bears have real speed on the offensive edges, Philadelphia with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Bears with Devin Hester and Johnny Knox.

But as to whom a slower track favors, Do you want to talk to a defensive guy or an offensive guy, coach Lovie Smith said. Thats pretty much how it goes. Im not going to say it favors either one. You could say it favors the offense because the receivers know where they are going to cut and defensive players dont.

On the other side of the ball, its easier to take the ball away in conditions like that. I dont know if it favors either one. Both teams are going to play on the same surface.

If any conditions contribute to turnovers, whether in the form of poor footing for a quarterback, running back or receiver, the game will feature the NFLs two best at taking balls away. The Eagles are No. 1 with 26 takeaways in 2010 (19 of them interceptions) and the Bears No. 2 with 25.

Sick leave?

Philadelphia has three defensive starters listed as questionable, two of them linemen in Antonio Dixon and end Juqua Parker, neither of whom practiced Friday. Also, All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel, leading the NFL in interceptions with seven, did not practice all week because of a hip injury and is likely to be replaced by No. 3 corner Joselio Hanson.

The Bears have zero players on their week-end injury report and while the injuries on defense may force the Eagles to make some adjustments, the injury situation does not affect the Bears planning.

It really doesnt, Lovie Smith assured. Theyll have someone out there. We know Asante has missed a couple days but we assume hell be out there and ready to go. Thats how we plan.

Hurtin D

Those injuries to the Philadelphia defense could in fact limit the effectiveness of one of the NFLs consistently solid units. Parker is No. 2 on the Eagles with five sacks and Dixon at 322 pounds has been the linchpin of the Philadelphia run defense holding opponents to just 74 rushing yards per game over the last six.

Because the Eagles have 10 players with at least one sack, it is more than evident that they do a great job of attacking your protections and making you accountable for everybody, said offensive coordinator Mike Martz. A lot of guys will blitz and with the formations sometimes that we do, you spring a guy free.

Its hard to do against these guys. Theyre very, very responsible when they blitz. They understand what theyre doing and the ramifications and where the guys are moving to. They dont make mistakes.

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 Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

The first major move of Ryan Pace’s 2018 offseason hit on Tuesday, as NFL Network reported the Bears will not exercise Josh Sitton’s $8 million option for 2018. 

The move accomplishes two things for the Bears: 1) It frees up about $8 million in cap space and 2) Removes a veteran from the offensive line and creates a hole to fill, presumably by a younger free agent or draft pick. 

The 31-year-old Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears after Green Bay cut him just before the 2016 season, and was a Pro Bowler his first year in Chicago. Sitton played 26 of 32 games in two years with the Bears, but him being on the wrong side of 30 was likely the biggest factor here. If the Bears saw his skills eroding, releasing him now and netting the cap savings while going younger at the position does make sense. 

“Going younger” doesn’t guarantee the Bears will draft Notre Dame brawler Quenton Nelson, though that did become a greater possibility with Tuesday’s move. Nelson might be one of the two or three best offensive players in this year’s draft, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand knows him well from the four years they spent together at Notre Dame. 

There’s a natural fit there, of course, but a few reasons to slow the Nelson-to-Chicago hype train: Would he even make it to No. 8? Or if he’s there, is taking a guard that high worth it when the Bears have needs at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback? Still, the thought of Nelson — who absolutely dominated at Notre Dame — pairing with Hiestand again is tantalizing, and Nelson very well could step into any team’s starting lineup and be an immediate Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

If the Bears go younger in free agency, Matt Nagy knows 26-year-old guard Zach Fulton (No. 25 in Bleacher Report’s guard rankings) well from their time in Kansas City. Fulton — a Homewood-Flossmoor alum — has the flexibility to play both guard positions and center, which could open the door for Cody Whitehair to be moved to left guard, the position he was initially drafted to play (though the Bears do value him highly as a center, and keeping him at one position would benefit him as opposed to moving him around the line again). There are some other guys out there — like Tennessee’s Josh Kline or New York’s Justin Pugh — that could wind up costing more than Fulton in free agency. 

Or the Bears could look draft an offensive lineman after the first round, perhaps like Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or UTEP’s Will Hernandez. How the Bears evaluate guards at the NFL Combine next week will play an important role in how they go about replacing Sitton. 

The trickle-down effect of releasing Sitton will impact more than the offensive line, too. Freeing up his $8 million in cap space -- which wasn't a guarantee, unlike cutting Jerrell Freeman and, at some point, Mike Glennon -- could go toward paying Kyle Fuller, or another top cornerback, or a top wide receiver, or some combination of players at those positions (as well as outside linebacker). The Bears were already in a healthy place cap-wise; that just got healthier on Tuesday. 

Bears cut ties with linebacker Jerrell Freeman

Bears cut ties with linebacker Jerrell Freeman

The Bears began their slew of offseason moves by releasing inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Freeman, 31, signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Bears in 2016.

In his first year in Chicago he amassed 110 tackles in 12 games but was suspended four games for PED use. He played in just one game lsat season before suffering a pectoral injury that placed him on IR. He then tested positive again for a performance-enhancing drug, resulting in a 10-game suspension that bleeds over into 2018 for two more games, wherever he winds up.