The whole backup quarterback issue really is still the hot button and it was good to visit with Matt Spiegel and Lawrence Holmes (sitting in for Danny Mac) on The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 for our regular 10 a.m. Thursday chat.
An overriding issue, as Ive discussed on Bears Talk, is somehow coming back to Mike Martz, his system and his philosophies. The fact that Josh McCown is starting at quarterback Sunday in Green Bay and Nathan Enderle is still considered not ready after 15 weeks of season plus training camp and preseason, says not-good things about the Martz system and approach.
I threw out the Kyle Orton experience in 2005 where a rookie mid-round-pick quarterback took over under Ron Turner and did more than just survive. The way Turner made it work was to give Orton a Cliff Notes playbook and keep the offense even more controlled than even the normal West Coast.
And in a year when rookies Andy Dalton (Cincinnati), Cam Newton (Carolina), Christian Ponder (Minnesota), Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville), and Jake Locker in Tennessee have played, some of them well, what is it all saying about Martzs system?
And is it also points a light on Martzs predisposition away from young quarterbacks and preference for veterans. It was why Martz wanted a Todd Collins last year and unquestionably part of why McCown is preferred over Enderle despite the obvious lack of current NFL work.
The guys brought up Tim Jennings, who talked Wednesday about the fragile state of the cornerback position. He was pulled and replaced after a costly deep completion by the Seattle Seahawks, as Zack Bowman was last year for mistakes in the first Green Bay game.
My response here is that youre seeing a typical response when things turn sour with losing. Any player whos taken out is going to feel scapegoated, and both Bowman and Jennings are playing for contracts next year.
Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents.
That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?
The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room).
So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure.
Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return.
“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”
If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length.
Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16
Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game?
Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.
Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: