Bears

Bears don't want to join 'upset victims' list

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Bears don't want to join 'upset victims' list

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
10:42 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If the Bears lose to the Detroit Lions and the search begins for reasons, it likely will be necessary to look no further than Wednesday.

Not because of what happened Wednesday. Because of what didnt happen.

A loss to a 2-9 starting its third-string quarterback typically does not happen on game day. Thats simply when the tests are passed out and it is discovered, painfully, that not everyone was prepared for, studied hard enough for, was ready for, the pop quiz presented by the Detroit Lions.

Perhaps it was that extra tape not watched, or the extra look at a play design in a playbook.

It could just be that one or two plays that show up on Sunday, said cornerback Tim Jennings. But then if you go back to during the week, you see that you didnt really prepare yourself. And the difference between a good team and a great team is one or two plays.

The Bears do not want to be Mike Tyson to Detroits Buster Douglas, or Rocky Balboa to the Lions Clubber Lang (the first fight), or the Titanic to Motowns iceberg.

When you see a better team that shouldve won, and you see it in college and every level, it happens more during the week than on game day, said safety Chris Harris. On game day everybodys usually up and ready to play.

But Michigan is, after all, the state where Appalachian State stunned the Maize and Blue. And the Bears are the division leaders at 8-3 facing a team that has lost four straight and likely its top two quarterbacks, depending on the state of Shaun Hills broken right index finger.

The Lions are coming off a potentially demoralizing fourth-quarter collapse Thanksgiving Day in which the New England Patriots scored 21 points, 28 unanswered in all.

But the Lions are also the team that on that short week got on top of the far stronger Patriots before New England rallied. The Lions also took the New York Jets into overtime.

And lest anyone forget (the Bears have not), the Lions were within an officials ruling of defeating the Bears in Chicago in Game 1, when wide receiver Calvin Johnsons apparent TD catch was ruled a drop after Johnson put the ball on the ground while getting to his feet.

I think a letdown happens getting prepared for the game, said wide receiver Johnny Knox. Going in you have a different mindset. But each week going in, we have that same mentality. We know that Detroits a 2-9 team but weve played them and they played pretty good ball against us.

The film of the first Detroit game, as long as players do their due diligence and watch it thoroughly, should be enough to preclude any letdown.

The Bears had more than twice as many yards (463-168) as the Lions ran for five times as many yards (101-20) as the Lions. But Detroit led 14-3 at one point, 14-13 at halftime and sacked Jay Cutler four times to the Bears two sacks.

The jolt should have stayed with the Bears and if it didnt, there are veterans to remind everyone that letdowns and upsets do happen.

Not here, safety Harris insisted. The group of guys weve got here, and the coaches, they wont let that happen. They wont allow it. Weve got a good group of veterans and we wont let a letdown happen.

The Bears are a significantly better team than the one that escaped the Lions in week one but so are they, quarterback Cutler said. Its going to be a good matchup for us, tough matchup, division game, on the road. Thats always going to be tough.

But this team is led by veterans, guys whove been there before, and I think everyone realizes this is not the time to let up.

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.

Is Jordan Howard underrated in fantasy football?

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USA Today

Is Jordan Howard underrated in fantasy football?

Jordan Howard has accomplished some pretty amazing things to start his career. Most notably, he's the only running back in Chicago Bears franchise history to finish his first two seasons with more than 1,000 rushing yards, including 1,313 yards as a rookie, good for a team rookie record.

Still, Howard has been the target of criticism this offseason because of his questionable set of hands. He was plagued by a case of the drops last season and he's been labeled as a guy who can't catch the ball heading into 2018. Combine that with the player nipping at his heels -- Tarik Cohen -- and the overwhelming theory advanced by analysts is that he'll give way to Cohen on passing downs.

This presumption has made its way into the world of fantasy football, too. Howard is rarely if ever mentioned as one of the first running backs that should be drafted this summer and in a recent player vs. player showdown on Pro Football Focus, 49ers starter Jerick McKinnon was selected as a more appealing fantasy starter in 2018.

It’s close, but I give the nod to Jerick McKinnon. Howard’s troubles in the passing game are very real and it’s clear the Bears want to focus on that more this year. Meanwhile, McKinnon was handed a fat contract and has little competition when it comes to carries.

McKinnon, a career backup, was signed by San Franciso to be Kyle Shanahan's feature running back. He has a real chance to be a stud in fantasy circles, but should he be valued over a guy like Howard who's proven to be a contender for the NFL's rushing crown?

All of this offseason chatter will serve as great motivation for Howard who has to prove, first and foremost, that he can be a three-down back for coach Matt Nagy in the Bears' new offense. If he has a consistent training camp as a receiver and carries that momentum into the preseason and regular season, those fantasy players who draft McKinnon or another less-proven player over Howard will long for a redo.

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 8 - Eddie Goldman

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 8 - Eddie Goldman

Eddie Goldman is entering the final year of his contract this season and in order to cash in on a big payday, he'll need to stay healthy and make good on his top-tier potential. 

If he does, he'll become a very wealthy man and the Bears defense will have an even better year than its top-10 finish a season ago.

Goldman, 24, came to Chicago via the second round of the 2015 NFL draft and quickly became a household name among Bears fans. He started 12 games that season and finished with a surprising 4 1/2 sacks, a total that was more productive than his college scouting report predicted. He was pegged as a breakout star for 2016, but injuries ultimately derailed his second season. He played only six games that year (started five) but still flashed a surprisingly productive set of pass-rush traits; he finished 2016 with 2 1/2 sacks.

This past season represented something of a mixed bag for Goldman. He started 15 games and quieted some of the injury concerns that started bubbling around him, but his production dipped. He managed only 1 1/2 sacks. That said, he set a career-high with 27 tackles, nearly doubling his output as a rookie.

Still, Goldman wasn't a dominant force in 2017. He finished the year ranked 69th among interior defenders with a 76.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. Despite being healthy and available, it was the lowest season grade of his career from PFF.

Nose tackle is arguably the most critical position for any defense running a 3-4 scheme. It's no exception in Chicago. Goldman will set the table for linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith and the more bodies he can consume or attention he can draw from offensive lines, the more room second-level defenders will have to work. It's not just about filling up the stat sheet for Goldman. If he clogs running lanes and collapses the pocket consistently, he'll be worth every penny of a big contract extension despite lacking numbers.

The Bears need Goldman to bring his A-game in 2018, especially as a pass rusher. Chicago resides in arguably the most talented quarterback division in the NFL and for the defense to make those quarterbacks uncomfortable, Goldman has to apply pressure up the middle. He's proven he can do it, as evidenced by his rookie year production. But he's been on a steady decline in this area of his game since then and there's no room for more regression in 2018.

Players entering contract years tend to bring extra motivation to the field and there's no reason to expect anything less from Goldman. If he can combine his rookie year production with last season's availability, he could end up with the most well-rounded year of his career en route to leading the Bears' defensive line on a late-season playoff push.