Bears

Bears Grades: Jones-Quartey makes presence known with DBs

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Bears Grades: Jones-Quartey makes presence known with DBs

Among the unannounced position changes was Harold Jones-Quartey opening at safety in place of struggling Chris Prosinski. The switch may have seemed of only minor significance, but Jones-Quartey, who started the Kansas City and Detroit games when Antrel Rolle was injured, responded by forcing a fumble after Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin had gathered in a screen pass in the second quarter.

“I saw him run, I saw him cutting back,” said Jones-Quartey. ”You know he’s a tough runner, he’s very strong. [Sam Garnes, safeties coach] has been preaching on it all day, just to come out there and put it on the line for your brothers and your teammates and that’s what I tried to do out there.”

Quartey-Jones later saved a touchdown with a leaping interception of a Jameis Winston pass toward Sims in the end zone, returning it to the Chicago 24 to give the Bears a reset while trying to re-take the lead in the third quarter.

“I think there’s a big difference when you throw [a pass] like Cameron Brate’s [a 46-yard jump-ball completion] – when you throw it up,” said coach Lovie Smith. “That’s a good punt. It’s a little different when you are in the red zone and you have at least a field goal right there. Circumstances will allow you to be a little more aggressive. That wasn’t one of them.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Tracy Porter was late reacting on a broken play on which running back Charles Sims got past hobbled linebacker Pernell McPhee. Porter arrived too late to break up Jameis Winston’s pass and, more significantly, failed to at least make a tackle, allowing the catch-and-run to cover 50 yards for a go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter.

That was followed a possession later by safety Adrian Amos mistiming a jump on a Winston heave toward third-string tight end Brate, who turned a broken play into a 46-yard conversion on a third down in the quarter.

Kyle Fuller was able to break up a 60-yard launch from Winston to wideout Donteea Dye in the fourth quarter, avoiding pass interference and preventing a pivotal third-down conversion with the Bears holding a six-point lead.

If there was a shortcoming it was in DB’s failures in run support, too slow reading run plays by Doug Martin and Charles Sims. Amos and Quartey-Jones took poor angles and were flat-footed on a fourth-quarter run by Sims that initially was stacked up but went for 34 yards when Sims found untended gaps with defensive backs nowhere in the area.

But the overall saw the defense shut down Martin overall, with Amos finishing with 5 tackles and pass breakup and Jones-Quartey break up two passes in addition to the interception and forced fumble.

“[Jones-Quartey] had zip. He was fresh,” said coach John Fox. “This part of the season, you get worn down a little bit. It’s a long season. But he had a great week of preparation. I saw him improve. He got better just in practice. We get to watch him every day. So I was proud of the young man and the way he performed. I know it was a great pick. He played the ball well on that one. He’ll just continue to get better.”

Moon's Grade: A-

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

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Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

On Thursday, Brian Baldinger released another video clip on Twitter for his #BaldysBreakdowns series, this one praising the recent play from Bears QB Mitch Trubisky.

Baldinger states that Trubisky is "making some kind of jump", referring to how impressed he was with Trubisky's play when compared to his rookie season. 

In the video Baldinger explains in the video how you expect franchise QBs to make a big leap from year one to year two, and a big part of that leap for Trubisky is being unafraid to make aggressive throws downfield.

Baldinger highlighted a play where Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel 47-yards down the field, choosing to trust his wideout after he hit him with perfect ball placement despite tight coverage. He continued this theme later on in the video, showing Trubisky's TD strike to Allen Robinson, which was whipped right past a Dolphins defender. 

But Baldinger's video wasn't exclusively compliments for Trubisky. He discussed Tarik Cohen's effectiveness as a pass-catcher, saying that you "can't cover him" and comparing him to a Ferrari with his ability to go from first to fifth gear "about as fast as anybody."

He ended his video by showing Trubisky punishing the Dolphins for a blown coverage, hitting rookie Anthony Miller in stride for a 29-yard TD. Baldinger's point in including this clip was to show Trubisky's improved recognition, as he may not have spotted the blown coverage last year. Noticing when and how to take advantage of defensive sloppiness is one of the many things that seperate a "franchise QB" from a stopgap, and Trubisky is trending in the right direction. 

If Baldinger's breakdown is any indication, we should expect Trubisky to keep his incredible momentum rolling when the Bears take on the New England Patriots on Sunday. New England is 3rd worst in the league in passing TDs allowed, giving up 15 scores through the air in six games.