Bears

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
CSNChicago.com

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 FOXSports.com 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 FOXSports.com chat, and whether they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. As ever, The Glaze cuts right to it.

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.