View from the Moon: Patriots can run as well?

View from the Moon: Patriots can run as well?

Friday, Dec. 10, 2010
Posted 4:37 PM
By John Mullin

The Bear defense will be without Pisa Tinoisamoa for the third time in four weeks after the veteran starter at strong-side linebacker was declared out of the New England game.

Im dealing with it day to day but stuff happens so you try to make the best of it, said Tinoisamoa, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last month. I feel great but Ive still got to wait on it, just having had surgery Patience isnt one of my best assets but weve got to be smart with this.

He isnt biding his time for them necessarily, but Tinoisamoa said that he does not want to come back prematurely and then be unable to play in the playoffs. In the meantime, Nick Roach was able to practice Friday, back from the hip injury he suffered in the Detroit game, and Roach is expected to start Sunday.

He got better as the week went along, coach Lovie Smith said, so hopefully hell be able to go on Sunday.

If Roach is unable to play, Rod Wilson would start. Wilson filled in at Detroit after Roach was injured.

Wait, you mean they run the ball, too?

With the hype and fascination surrounding Tom Brady and the New England passing offense, it has been easy to overlook a Patriot running game comprised of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, who have combined for 1,054 rushing yards, 4.6 yards per carry and 14 rushing touchdowns.

The problem they pose for defenses is that Green-Ellis is a pile-driver and Woodhead, at 5-7, 195 pounds, hides behind piles and catches passes, 28 as a matter of fact.

Green-Ellis is a one-cut, physical, get-downhill type of back who fits their scheme real well, the type of guy who gets more yards after the first hit, linebacker Lance Briggs said. Hes in the 220s so the guy can run through tackles and thats probably his biggest asset.

Woodhead was a little more difficult to type-cast. Briggs was asked about him this week and clearly didnt know all the names he was about to see. Tough guy, he said, stammering a bit for someone who never does. help the team.Hes a big team player, he concluded, laughing.

Briggs coach understands. Both of their running backs are good players, Lovie Smith said, but you can see why you might get overlooked.

No regrets

Bears kicker Robbie Gould has no hard feelings over being cut by the Patriots late in training camp 2005 by a New England team that had Adam Vinatieri at the time. And the man who was forced to let Gould, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history go doesnt look back wistfully either.

I think any time you look back, there are always things that you can look back on and think that you might have been able to handle it a little bit differently or done something a little bit differently, Bill Belichick said. But I dont really spend a lot of time worrying about that. We did what we did. Robbies a good player. Hes had a great career and hes an outstanding kicker. We knew he was good when we had him here, but again, its one of those situations where you have to make some decisions and you make the ones that you think are best for your team.

Checking in

Good friend Alex Marvez from is at Halas Hall Friday working on an interesting look at the Bears, particularly the defense. Alex and I go back quite a while and he was an outstanding beat writer covering the Denver Broncos and then the Miami Dolphins before FOX grabbed him.

Alex checked in with us during training camp from Bourbonnais (from where partner Jay Glazer also named the Bears as his darkhorse pick for the NFC in 2010) and itll be good to hear what he thinks of the team he saw in its formative time vs. what its become.

By the way, The Glaze had the Bears come up in his recent chat, and whether they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. As ever, The Glaze cuts right to it.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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.

Bears' roster moves create a looming roster hurdle for Kevin White


Bears' roster moves create a looming roster hurdle for Kevin White

Questions have been hanging over Kevin White ever since GM Ryan Pace opted to invest the No. 7 pick of the 2015 draft on a wide receiver with one outstanding college season on his resume. Given Pace’s strike for a quarterback with a roughly similar body of work last draft, this may qualify as a Pace “strategy,” but that’s for another discussion closer to the draft.

But in the wake of signings at wide receiver by Pace and the Bears over the start-up days of free agency, a new and perhaps darker cloud is forming over White. This is beyond the obvious ones visited on the young man by his succession of three season-ending injuries, and by a nagging belief in some quarters that White is a bust irrespective of the injuries.

The point is not that White will never amount to anything in the NFL. Marc Colombo came back from a pair of horrendous leg injuries to have a career as a solid NFL tackle, albeit with the Dallas Cowboys, not the Bears.

The problem facing White now, assuming he comes back able to stay healthy in a competition with Cameron Meredith for the spot opposite Allen Robinson, is whether there is reasonably going to be a roster spot the Bears can use for him.

This would be on top of whether Pace and the organization could bring themselves to cut ties with a quality individual in a move that would amount to admitting a failure in what was supposed to be a defining initial top-10 pick by a regime committed to building through the draft.

White is still under his rookie contract with its $2.7 million guaranteed for this season, so there is little reason to simply give up on him, even assuming an offset if White then signs on somewhere else.

But Robinson and slot receiver Taylor Gabriel account for two of the starting three wideout spots. For the other wide receiver job, Meredith, also coming off season-ending knee surgery, rates an early edge on White based on Meredith’s 66-catch 2016 season.

If White does not start, he then becomes a backup, and backups are expected to contribute on special teams. It’s what has kept Josh Bellamy in the NFL, and what new Bears tight end Trey Burton points to as his ticket to making it through his first years with Philadelphia.

White doesn’t cover kicks, doesn’t return them, doesn’t block them. The Bears have typically expected special-teams participation from their No. 4-5 receivers, although the fact that Meredith and Robinson are coming off knee injuries, and chances that the Bears will keep six wide receivers in the West Coast offense of Matt Nagy, all could tilt a decision in favor of White simply as insurance/depth, even with his own injury history.

It is difficult not to have a spot of rooting-interest in White, a young guy trying so hard to get a career dream off the ground. It’s just also difficult to see a clear fit in the new Bears world that began forming in earnest in the past several days.

Do you realize just how many things have to break right for a Bears 2018 rebound?


Do you realize just how many things have to break right for a Bears 2018 rebound?

Not all that long ago, back in the seemingly promising Dave Wannstedt days, something of an annual narrative began around the Bears. All too frequently since then it has been the refrain of more offseasons than not, including last year’s. And if there is a cause for very, very sobering realism in the wake of the heady wave of free-agency signings in the first days of the new league year, it lies in what has so often transpired to put the lie to that optimism.

The mantra then, and now, has been various iterations of, “If these three (or four, or six, or 12) things work out, the Bears are gonna be good this year.” Because the reality is that all those what-ifs seldom, if ever, all come to pass, whether because of injury, mis-evaluated abilities or whatever.

Look no further than this time last offseason, just considering the offense:

If Kevin White can come back from (another) injury, if Markus Wheaton flashes his Pittsburgh speed, if Dion Sims takes that next step from a promising Miami stint, if Kyle Long is back from his lower-body issues, if Cameron Meredith comes close to those 66 catches again, if Mike Glennon has the upside that led the GM to guarantee him $18.5 million, and hey, Victor Cruz, too, if… and so on.

And exactly zero of those “if’s” came to pass, with the result that John Fox and Dowell Loggains became idiots.

The point is not to a picker of nit or sayer of nay. But the fact is that a lot of the offseason moves and player development ALL need to come down in the plus-column for the Bears to be even as good as they were back in, say, 2015, when the offense had Martellus Bennett at tight end, Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver, Eddie Royal coming in at slot receiver (with 37 catches in an injury-shortened season), Kyle Long at his Pro-Bowl best, and Jay Cutler about to have the best full season of his career. And a new (proven) head coach and defensive coordinator, and an offensive coordinator with head-coaching talent.

All those things “worked” for a team that would wobble to a 6-10 year.

Now consider 2018:

The current top two wide receivers are both – both – coming off season-ending ACL injuries;

The incoming slot receiver has never had a season as reception-productive as the one (Kendall Wright) he is replacing (59) or as many as Royal had in just nine 2015 games (37);

The new tight end has never been a starter and has fewer career catches (63) than Bennett averaged (69) in three supremely disappointing Bears seasons;

The best offensive lineman (Long) is coming off missing essentially half of each of the past two seasons with injuries, and the co-best (Sitton) is gone from an offensive line that was middle of the pack last year and has high hopes for two linemen (Hroniss Grasu, Eric Kush) who’ve been largely backups, and a third (Jordan Morgan) who missed his rookie season with an injury;

And the quarterback (Trubisky) upon whom the franchise rests, who needs to overcome any so-called sophomore jinx and improve from a rookie level (77.8 passer rating) that was barely better than Cutler’s worst NFL season (76.8).

All of which sounds negative, but it really isn’t, just a perspective. Offseasons are about hope, but realism isn’t all bad, either.