Offensive line wasn't the Bears' primary need


Offensive line wasn't the Bears' primary need

With the No. 19 pick the Bears had an opportunity to address the clich need constantly ascribed to them: offensive line. Stanford guard David DeCastro, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, Georgia guard Cordy Glenn andIowa tackle Reilly Reiff were all available (Glenn and Martin still are, going into Day 2). The Bears passed.That was the right non-call.The Bears certainly dont need ratification here, but offensive line was not a primary need and shouldnt have been the No. 19 pick unless one of the available blockers was appreciably better than McClellin or the other edge rushers on the board. Consider:-- Forget the total sacks of a season. Its meaningless for the 2011 Bears. Jay Cutler was sacked 23 times in his 10 games and only 12 times over the final eight. The 10-game rate is about what Aaron Rodgers (2.4 per game) and Tom Brady (2.0) endured, and the arrow was clearly pointing up when Cuter broke his thumb.-- The Bears rushed for 2,015 yards last season. That includes six games without their starting quarterback and defenses knowing Caleb Hanie was not going to beat them. And that includes 4-34 games after Matt Forte went down with his knee injury.-- And three different Bears backs had 100-yard rushing games. Marion Barber ran for 108 yards at Denver. Kalil Bell rushed for 121 against the Packers.-- Think Mike Martz wasnt part of the problem? Of Cutler's 23 sacks, 14 came in the first three games when the playcalling breakdown was 128 pass plays vs. 51 runs: a 72-28 ratio. At Green Bay, the Bears ran 42 times and passed 28. Josh McCown was not sacked. At Minnesota (pitting JMarcus Webb against Jared Allen, in that dome) the backs carried 21 times and McCown threw or scrambled 29 times and was sacked on the other seven pass plays.The lasting impressions of the Bears offensive line were formed in that nine-sack first half against the Giants in 2010, the mystery game-planned first couple of games last season, and the Minnesota game.Those dont tell the full offensive line story. The full story was there in the first round Thursday.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Trubisky throw more?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Trubisky throw more?

Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky air it out more often?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh, Adam Jahns and Mark Carman join David Kaplan to discuss the Bears' second straight win, a great defensive performance and minimal work by Trubisky.

Listen to the latest episode below:

Bears handling of Mitch Trubisky, run-pass balance fits a pattern as Leonard Floyd heats up

Bears handling of Mitch Trubisky, run-pass balance fits a pattern as Leonard Floyd heats up

Shaking some last crumbs out of the notebook after the Bears reached 3-4 with their 17-3 win over the Carolina Panthers…

The thought that offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains somehow needs to loosen the leather restraints he’s put on quarterback Mitch Trubisky may be the head-scratcher of the weekend; more than just this weekend, really.

Set aside the mistaken notion that the only goal of the 2017 season is Trubisky’s development. First of all, that’s an objective, not a goal (winning is a “goal”); and somewhere in all this, the developments of Leonard Floyd, Eddie Jackson and Cody Whitehair might be at least a little important, but that’s digressing...

Realize that Loggains has been the boots-on-the-ground prime mover behind the plan and program that has had Trubisky on a developmental fast track practically since the quarterback was drafted. And Loggains is a self-professed “’I like to throw it’ guy” even if John Fox isn’t, although the 2016 season is worth a look regarding the latter’s feelings about throwing. More on that in a minute.

More to the play-calling specifically: Carolina was No. 2 in the NFL in sacks and a top-10 pass defense. Baltimore is 12th against the pass and tied for the NFL lead in interceptions (10). Loggains and the offense overwhelmingly ran the football against both of those defenses.

Against Minnesota, which is a more workable 17th in passing yardage allowed, the Bears ran 56 plays. Of those, 27 were pass plays, not counting Trubisky running three times.

Fold in this perspective: Loggains was part of the Adam Gase staff in 2015 when the Bears were a 54:46 pass:run ratio offense. Last year, with the quarterback mayhem of Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Jay Cutler-Matt Barkley, Loggains as OC threw the ball 61 percent of the time. Anyone who cared to look really closely at the “why” there would have seen that Loggains didn’t have an in-shape Jordan Howard early, by Howard’s own assessment, or a fully healthy Jeremy Langford late.

Meaning: Loggains has worked with what he had, both last year and now this year, when he doesn’t have Alshon Jeffery and Cameron Meredith, or Markus Wheaton (inactive for four of the seven games) for that matter, for Trubisky (or Mike Glennon) to catch passes. Fox wants an offense that, of its top five priorities, not turning the football is Nos. 1-4, and that’s what Loggains and Trubisky have given him.

The “culture” that’s increasingly evident in and around Halas Hall

Not every fun or revealing locker room quip should be reported. So when Leonard Floyd was bantering not too long ago with Akiem Hicks, the outside linebacker issued a declaration that I thought oughta stay in its corner of the locker room, at least until the young man played up to the bar he was setting for himself.

“I’m hot,” Floyd had informed Hicks, who gave every appearance of dismissing the boast as the overly self-hyping rant of a second-year NFL pup, more intent on finding a missing sock than indulging the youngster. “I…am…hot,” Floyd repeated to ensure that Hicks was on notice.

The good-natured by-play was more than just a little smack.

Floyd and Hicks have a friendly but definitely intense sack competition, Floyd has had four sacks over the last four games, to which Hicks has to up his game with four sacks over the last three. But for Floyd, his year heated up with his first 2017 sack, at Green Bay.

“It was that sack – when I sacked Aaron Rodgers – I felt ‘hot,’” Floyd said on Sunday after the Carolina win, in which Floyd was credited with four tackles, one for loss, and two quarterback hits. Floyd did sack Rodgers last season at Green Bay, forcing a fumble that Floyd recovered in the end zone. But “I didn’t have any sacks going into Green Bay [this year],” Floyd said, “so when I sack Aaron Rodgers, I know I can sack anybody."

Not that Floyd is superstitious or anything, but “I’m still wearing the same cleats I wore in that Green Bay game,” Floyd added, rummaging through his bag and extracting the well-worn, good-luck footwear.

Winning makes everything a little more relaxed, although conversely, actually “playing” football not uncommonly leads to winning as well. Whichever is cause and which is effect, something is noticeably different inside a team that not too long ago too many had been given up for NFL dead.