Bears

Tillman: Johnson is the Goliath of receivers

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Tillman: Johnson is the Goliath of receivers

Kip & Moon: Previewing Bears-Lions
Warner: Playing under Martz
Wright: Stopping the Lions' offense
Suh: The physical specimen
Read: Why can't teams contain Johnson?
When Charles Tillman said Monday that he was not entirely surprised by the Detroit Lions doing well, he had good reason.

The Lions led the Bears after three quarters in both 2010 games and that was with quarterback Matthew Stafford playing less than two of the combined eight quarters.

A Julius Peppers sack finished him in the second quarter of game one, but the Lions had a lead with less than two minutes to play, and then nearly won when Calvin Johnson was ruled to have not maintained possession of an apparent touchdown pass. That was all with the Lions rushing for all of 20 yards on 21 carries, Shaun Hill muddling through with 9-for-19 passing, and the Bears rolling up 463 yards.

By the time the Bears saw them again, the Lions were down to Drew Stanton at quarterback. Problem: He had the Lions up 20-14 in the third quarter and put up a passer rating of 102.4 that was second only to Tom Bradys against the Bears defense last season.

The problem now is that the Lions have Stafford intact (Stafford has been sacked five times, but all of those in one game, none in the other three), and Johnson is setting records for TD receptions, not putting them prematurely on the ground. He has two in each of Detroits first four games, an NFL first.

Johnson may even be too good for the Lions or anyone else. Maybe the whole NFL.

Hes in his own ballclub, Tillman said. To be that strong, that fast, his vertical is impressive. Hes in a league of his own.

Johnson has achieved Biblical proportions. Hes the Goliath of receivers, Tillman added.

(Goliath ultimately was a loser but thats for another discussion.)

Difficult read

The Lions, however, are difficult to gauge.

It looks like Detroits a second-half team and were a second-half team so it should be a good game.

The Bears are not particularly a second-half team, yet. They were outscored 10-7 by Green Bay and 14-3 by New Orleans in those losses, and out-pointed Carolina just 10-9 in escaping with that victory.

But are the Lions, for that matter, a second-half team?

They defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 48-3. But the only team the Chiefs have beaten this season has been Minnesota, and that was a team that squandered a 20-0 halftime lead to Detroit, giving the ball to Adrian Peterson exactly five times in the second half.

Detroit rallied from a 27-3 hole against Dallas, a team with a quarterback throwing two interceptions returned for touchdowns and a third to set up the Lions game-winner.

No class

It has nothing to do with the Bears but Brett Favre cant seem to quite let it all go. And hes doing a pretty good job of kicking dirt on his legacy as the patron saint of Green Bay football. Aaron Rodgers already has won as many Super Bowls (one) as Favre but Favre has basically given Rodgers a backhanded compliment: With the talent that Rodgers had around him, what took him so long?

ProFootballTalk.com recounts Favre comments made on an Atlanta radio station, both the exact comments and the scurrying trying to dull the edge on what sound like nothing short of sour grapes from someone who failed to achieve anything of note with two teams (N.Y. Jets, Minnesota Vikings) after the Green Bay Packers chose to put their future in the hands of Rodgers instead of a vacillating Favre (http:profootballtalk.nbcsports.com20111005atlanta-radio-station-bends-ov...).

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: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

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

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?

Two reasons why the Bears could finally start stacking wins

Two reasons why the Bears could finally start stacking wins

The Bears winning a road game against a perennial playoff contender, one with a winning record coming in – that’s great.

Winning in Baltimore with a rookie quarterback in only his second NFL appearance – that’s terrific.

Generating more takeaways than giveaways and netting points from them – that’s just outstanding.

And now what?

Because too often under John Fox the Bears have posted a victory and failed to have it mean much of anything because of what followed a week later – a largely self-inflicted loss. The Bears have not posted consecutive wins since midway through the 2015 season, and even then proceeded to unravel on by squandering opportunities sitting squarely within their grasp.

Why should this time be any different? Because if it’s not, and the Bears again fail to stack even one win on top of another, then a dominating performance against the Baltimore Ravens (leaving out special teams, which surrendered in two plays more points than the defense did in 14 entire Baltimore possessions) becomes another meaningless afternoon in the overall for a team determined to reinvent itself.

Coaches typically divide seasons mentally into quarters, and clearly in Fox’s mind, Sunday was part of a different quarter from the 1-3 first quarter. “Really it takes almost four games, it’s almost like the preseason anymore, where you kind of get it figured out,” Fox said. “So just developing that confidence, usually good things have to happen to gain that confidence. And we did some good things.”

But the Bears have done “some good things” in games past and it becomes much ado about nothing, sound and fury signifying less than nothing. So again: Why should this time be any different?

Two reasons, actually. Neither absolute, but neither very complicated, either.

Reason No. 1: Trubisky

Without making too much out of one individual player, the chief reason arguably lies in the person of Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback who already has palpably changed the psyche of a previously languishing team.

“The team didn’t make nearly as many mental errors this week because of his patience,” said wide receiver Kendall Wright, who supported Trubisky with a leaping catch of 18 yards to set up the game-winning field goal.

Unlike Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer and 2016 Jay Cutler, each of whom won one game and one game only over the past 22, Trubisky delivered the ball security of Hoyer with added impact that none of his predecessors did manage, or arguably even could have managed.

Put simply, the Bears do in fact have a quarterback who even at this point appears able not only to make plays as drawn up, but also to create something out of nothing or at least avert catastrophe.

“Mitch made some great plays,” Fox said. “I mean, if you look at the snap over his head in the end zone, there’s probably only five or six or seven quarterbacks in this league that could get out of that. I go back to the touchdown pass to Dion [Sims, tight end]. He flushed [from the pocket], we adjusted and he dropped a dime in the end zone for a touchdown. And the play obviously at the end where more than likely if we don’t get that, we’re probably punting, the play he made to Kendall. I think Mitch played outstanding… .

“Those are really good decisions. It beats six interceptions, for sure. There’s a 3rd-and-3 play in the red area, low red, sprint out to our left. It wasn’t all perfect but he did the next best thing and that’s throw it away. So those are really, really good decisions that I think sometimes the casual or un-casual fan does not see.”

The noteworthy element in Trubisky’s game was the impact achieved by a Bears quarterback who completed all of eight passes. The reality is that Trubisky doesn’t need to attempt more than 20 passes a game (including the four sacks his protection allowed, which absolutely needs to be fixed).

For perspective purposes: Ben Roethlisberger in his first two seasons averaged 17.4 and 15.9 passes per game. The Pittsburgh Steelers reached the AFC Championship game and won the Super Bowl in those two seasons, running an offense that was just short of 60 percent runs.

Reason No. 2: Mistake reduction

A mistaken notion as to how improvement happens is the belief that it comes from just getting better and better, skill sets rising to the loftiest heights.

Not necessarily. Anyone who has had the good fortune of working their golf handicap down knows that the stroke reductions come less from suddenly adding 30 yards to drives or developing a draw on a 200-yard three-iron, than from eliminating the fluffed pitch shots, the approach shots pushed into traps, the drives into the woods. Cut down the mistakes and good things happen.

So it is with the Bears, who effectively lost the Minnesota game by allowing a 58-yard TD run by Jerick McKinnon, and sealed it with a poor Trubisky pass on a possession with a chance to tie or win. They lost the Atlanta game simply by dropping passes. They aren’t as good as the Green Bay Packers – at least not until Trubisky reaches full extension and proves to be a challenge to Aaron Rodgers.

But only in the Atlanta near-miss did they self-destruct with fewer penalties (four) than they did at Baltimore (five). Sunday was the first time since Atlanta that they threw zero interceptions. And the defense limited the Ravens to three third-down conversions out of 18, one indicator of fewer breakdowns on the most important down.

“As long as we eliminate those mistakes that we’ve been making,” Fox said, “we’re gonna be right there going into the end of the game.”

The Bears have had positive spikes in the past and then collapsed; even after winning three of four in late 2015, the inept home losses to San Francisco and Washington were arguably a tipping point in the Fox era.

The point next Sunday against Carolina is to determine if the Bears are through with their one-and-done ways.