Bears

View from the Moon: A Super Bowl in March?

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View from the Moon: A Super Bowl in March?

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011
7:18 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A Super Bowl in March? It could just about happen.

CSNChicago.com spent some time with an NFL player rep talking over some of the dizzying details of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The result was a few new perspectives on whats on the table, and what the upshot could be.

One was simple calendar math and the Super Bowl. If the 18-game season being sought by the NFL owners comes to be, you add two weeks to the season for those games. Fold in a second in-season off week and now youre adding three weeks. Owners are offering Labor Day plus the second off-week, but thats pretty much what the players already have most years.

The 2010 Super Bowl was played Feb. 6. Last seasons was on Feb. 7. Add three weeks to that and you are just about into March.

What also happens is that offseason programs usually begin in March, meaning that recovery time, whether from offseason surgeries or just general healing, loses almost a month.

A nasty domino chain.

The consensus does seem to still be that nothing will settle by Mar. 4 and probably not until right up against the season itself. The NFL walking out of a negotiating session last week isnt definitive in any respect except that people looking to get something done arent walking out of meetings.

Staff stuff
Offensive line coach Mike Tice was expected to be in play for job openings this offseason after the job he did through the Bears 2010 season. The Tennessee Titans, under new head coach Mike Munchak, have interest in Tice as offensive coordinator, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune on Sunday.

The Bears would need to give permission for Tice to interview, given that he has one year remaining on his Chicago contract and that this is not for a head-coaching job.

This puts the Bears, and Tice, in an interesting situation. Lovie Smith is a supporter of staff getting opportunities, and assistants Chris Tabor (special teams) and Eric Washington (defensive line) already have moved to new gigs.

But Tice is a core member of the current Bears staff and had considerable support to become the Bears offensive coordinator before the decision was made to hire Mike Martz. If the Bears arrow continues to point upward, Tice very likely has a future in Chicago. He was an integral part of the in-season turnaround by the offense and already has considerable clout in game-planning.

Oh, and Munchak was the Titans offensive line coach before Jeff Fisher left this offseason.

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: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.