Bears

After Brady experience, Bears' Fangio not taking Osweiler for granted

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After Brady experience, Bears' Fangio not taking Osweiler for granted

With injured Peyton Manning being replaced as Denver Broncos starter and Brock Osweiler scheduled to make his first NFL start, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will have any number of insights to share.

But first Fangio will likely tell them a horror story.

When then-starter Drew Bledsoe was injured against the New York Jets in Week 2 of the 2001 season, the New England Patriots were forced to turn to a backup from the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft as a stop-gap. That was nothing short of a turning point in NFL history because the backup was Tom Brady, who’d never started a game to that point.

Fangio was defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, the Patriots’ opponent that week, and had a painfully good vantage point from which to witness Brady’s Patriots trample his Indianapolis defense in a 44-13 rout. The Patriots rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns, and not even the Colts having Peyton Manning as their quarterback helped.

[MORE BEARS: Confident Bears have 'a different feeling' with playoffs in mind]

Some defensive coaches may relish the prospect of facing a first-time NFL starter – which Osweiler will be, after Manning’s poor health and performance from the loss to Kansas City last weekend.

Fangio knows better.

“I remember I coached against Brady in his first start,” Fangio said, managing a slight smile. “And you know how that turned out.”

The Bears also should know that quarterback starts are an imprecise indicator. And they do.

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“Imagine guys like Tom Brady,” said linebacker Sam Acho, hinting at what and about whom Fangio may have told his players. “When you get your first start you’re trying to go out there and prove something, so we want to make sure he’s not proving anything against us.”

Small sample sizes don’t matter a great deal with some quarterbacks. The Bears got past the Minnesota Vikings last year with a rally after rookie Teddy Bridgewater, in just his sixth start, had gotten the Vikings off to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. When the Bears saw Bridgewater the second time, Bridgewater threw for 209 yards in what was the final game of the Marc Trestman era. The third time they saw Bridgewater, he beat them again.

“I think at times that’s a little overrated,” Fangio said. “Obviously the veteran [quarterbacks] react to things better but [Osweiler] has played – I think this is his fourth year in the league – so he’s been around and he’s had the advantage of sitting with Peyton these last three years. You never know what’s going to happen with that.”

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

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USA Today

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams. 

Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs? 

The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD. 

Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week? 

You can take a look here and see where they landed.