Bears

Hasselbeck exactly the kind of QB Bears hate

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Hasselbeck exactly the kind of QB Bears hate

He is 37 years old, not especially mobile and really playing primarily because the Tennessee Titans No. 1 draft choice is hurt. He isnt even listed as the starter on the Titans depth chart after starting the last four games and will on Sunday vs. the Bears.

But Matt Hasselbeck is arguably precisely the kind of quarterback the Bears do not like playing. Brett Favre, Michael Vick, Cam Newton, the mobile guys no problem.

A wily veteran, however, one that is patient and with a long career history in the patient West Coast scheme that is a problem.

The Bears prefer quarterbacks and offenses getting impatient.

Hes very methodical, knows what hes doing, said defensive end Israel Idonije. Hes not the most mobile guy but the last time we played him, the ball was out. Hes a good quarterback.

Hasselbeck has faced the Bears and lost twice in divisional-round playoffs. But he has won three of the four times he has faced the Bears in the regular season.

More to the immediate situation, he has only lost to them in Chicago.

Hasselbeck has a higher passer rating (83.3) than Jay Cutler (78.9). Away from Soldier Field, Hasselbeck has had games of 90.8 and 106.0. In his last four Bears games, he has thrown a total of one interception vs. seven TD passes.

Familiarity factor

Hasselbeck has seen Bears defensive players like Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman while a backup to Favre in Green Bay and as a starter for the Seattle Seahawks.

I think I learned a good amount about that defense when I was in Green Bay, being that Tampa was running a similar defense, and Tampa was the best defense in the division when I was in Green Bay, Hasselbeck said. So we studied it, we learned it, and we talked about it.

Then when I went to Seattle, St. Louis was a really, really good team, and people talked about their offense, but their defense was very good, with people like Grant Wistrom and Leonard Little and Aeneas Williams. And I believe Lovie was there.

Then in Chicago, since Ive played them, they got All-Pro players, guys who are perennial Pro Bowlers, guys who are great at their position. And its a defense that you not only know because you watch them on TV as a fan but you also study them and you raise your game in preparation, in a sense, just to try and be successful.

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.