Bears

Bears know wounded Lions are still dangerous

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Bears know wounded Lions are still dangerous

The Detroit Lions have inflicted their share of injury to opponents and now are limping into a Game 16 with one starting defensive lineman on injured reserve, his replacement not able to practice and their best defensive back also not practicing at the end of a season in which he has played just seven games so far.

Defensive tackle and 2011 first-rounder Nick Fairley went on IR and his fill-in, Sammie Hill suffered a toe injury in Detroits loss to Atlanta. Safety Louis Delmas has battled a knee injury all season and cornerback Jacob Lacey was lost to IR with a knee injury in the Arizona game two weeks ago.

But the Bears arent especially concerned about who wont be there. For one thing, all five of the Lions who registered sacks of Jay Cutler in the Bears 13-7 win on Oct. 22 linemen Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch, and linebackers Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant are playing.

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A couple guys banged up up front but theyve still got Suh, still got the edge rushers, new corner out there, said quarterback Jay Cutler. But its the scheme. Theyre going to try to get a lot of pressure from the front four, bring a few guys and play coverage behind it. Nothing we havent seen and we wont be prepared for.

The 2012 problem

Cutler has played as well against Detroit as against any team in his career. His teams have been 6-2 against the Lions and he has thrown 11 touchdown passes vs. one interception and put up a rating of 100.9, vs. a career rating of 83.9.

But Cutler has yet to establish himself as a championship quarterback and Sunday is one of those situations. The Bears have totaled just 13 points in two of the last three Detroit games, and the 37 in the third, game two of 2011 was deceiving. The offense netted 216 yards, the defense scored twice on interceptions and Devin Hester took a punt return to the end zone.

The Bears have won eight of their last nine games against the Lions but the credit belonged to more than the offense.

MORE: Win one for the...Lovie?

Indeed, part of the goal for the Bears offense on Sunday will be to play defense.

You want to flip the field, said coordinator Mike Tice. Theyre a very high-powered offense Detroit and we want to make sure we sustain drives.

We got back to doing pretty good in the red-zone again, so we want to get down in the red zone, because we had that stub-toe against Green Bay in the red-zone but over the last month or so, weve been pretty doggone good in the red-zone. So we want to continue that, so I told the guys this morning, Lets get in there more. And thatll be good, because we are pretty good in the red zone, actually.

Defensive disasters

The Lions have notoriety on defense Suh is a perennial top finisher in surveys of dirtiest in the NFL but the problems are more than reputation at this point.

In Detroits seven-game losing streak, the Lions have held no opponent to fewer than 24 points and have fallen to 29th in points allowed for the season (27.4).

The Bears have fallen hard in their last seven games but at least won two of the seven, the only two times (Minnesota, Arizona) they scored more than 17 points over that span.

The problem is that while the Bears rank ninth with 121.7 rushing yards per game, they have a No. 1 back (Matt Forte) dealing with an ankle injury and the No. 3 (Armando Allen) missing practice with a knee injury from the Arizona game.

MORE: Toub says Lovie 'needs to stay here'

The Lions are 26th in rush yards allowed per attempt (4.5 per carry). The Bears were able to escape the first Detroit game with a 13-7 win in large part because they were able to rush for 171 yards and average 5.3 per carry, one of only five times this season they have topped 4.5 per carry.

The plan is to slow the Detroit pass rush with a running game marked by efficiency: four or more yards on first downs. The Bears struggled early in Arizona when they took and missed shots downfield early and faced too many second- and third-and-long situations. Against a Lions rush that sacked Cutler five times in the first game, the Bears want to control the tempo if not the bigger picture.

We cant control our own destiny, but we can control our half of it, which is winning a football game, Tice said. Thats what were intent on doing: going into Detroit and winning a football game.

Nick Kwiatkoski was NFL's top linebacker in Week 10

Nick Kwiatkoski was NFL's top linebacker in Week 10

Chicago Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is in a contract year. And if he keeps playing the way he did in Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions, Ryan Pace better get ready to pay up.

Filling in for an injured Danny Trevathan, Kwiatkoski dominated the Lions offense to the tune of nine tackles, a sack and an interception. It was the second time this season that he stepped up in what could've been a crisis for the Bears defense. In Week 4 against the Vikings, Kwiatkoski filled-in for Roquan Smith who was deactivated shortly before kickoff for reasons still unknown. He was fantastic in that game, too.

But Kwiatkoski's performance on Sunday was borderline special. In fact, he was so good that he earned Pro Football Focus' highest grade of any linebacker in the NFL in Week 10 with a 92.4.

His ridiculous showing against Detroit pushed his season grade up to 88.2, which is second-best among Bears defenders with at least 100 snaps this season.

So, yeah, he's going to get paid.

Kwiatkoski's role moving forward is expected to change. He won't be coming off the bench filling in for Trevathan or Smith; he'll be starting for as long as Trevathan is on the mend. And with a starter's tag comes a week's worth of preparation by opposing offensive coordinators who will have more time to gameplan for his strengths and weaknesses. We'll find out real quick if his incredible flashes this season are sustainable as a traditional starter or if he'll be exposed in his newfound role.

Regardless, Kwiatkoski's emergence has been a bright spot in a season that's been lacking many of them so far.

Should the Bears consider signing Colin Kaepernick?

Should the Bears consider signing Colin Kaepernick?

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will work out for all 32 teams on Saturday in Atlanta in what's essentially a pro day organized by the NFL, according to ESPN NFL insider, Adam Schefter.

Kaepernick, 32, hasn't appeared in an NFL game since 2016 when he started 12 games for the 49ers and finished with a 1-11 record. His controversial social and political opinions became a lightning rod for debate as well as the presumed explanation for his inability to land with a team over the last three seasons.

Kaepernick said on Twitter that he's been preparing this opportunity.

"I’m just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday," Kapernick tweeted on Tuesday. "I’ve been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday."

The Chicago Bears are in midst of what feels like the last lap in the evaluation process of Mitch Trubisky, who after 34 starts and more than 1,000 passes as a pro still hasn't reached the expectations that come along with being selected with the second overall pick in the first round. His status as the team's starter for 2020 will likely be decided over the final seven games of 2019, and even if he posts respectable numbers to finish the season, the Bears are likely to at least add competition at the position this offseason.

Naturally, that begs the question: Should GM Ryan Pace consider Kaepernick as a potential solution to the quarterback dilemma in Chicago?

First, let's address the elephant in the room. This isn't about Kaepernick's politics or views on social justice. It's about football. For some Bears fans, his off-the-field opinions will render him untouchable. For others, it won't matter. And that's the beauty of the United States; neither opinion is right or wrong. It's a complicated situation that has many layers and no one article or tweet or facebook post will offer a reasonable solution. That's why Twitter is great; head over there if you want to debate that stuff. 

For now, let's just focus on football.

Kaepernick, in a way, would make a ton of sense for the Bears. If Pace isn't ready to bail on Trubisky just yet, adding Kaepernick would allow the team to continue rolling Trubisky out as the starter for the rest of this season as well as into the offseason program. After being away from the game for three seasons, it's going to take time for Kaepernick to get back up to speed. He won't pose a real threat to Trubisky until probably midway through 2020, if at all, but his presence on the roster will at least send a message to the team that it's no longer Trubisky or bust.

And that message wouldn't be smoke and mirrors, either. Kaepernick would provide the Bears with a viable option to replace Trubisky early next season if he continues to fail. There's no denying Kaepernick offers more upside than Chase Daniel as a potential in-season replacement for Trubisky, and the soonest he'd be ready to make that jump is probably right around the same time that the Bears would be ready to officially pull the plug on their former first-rounder.

Also, Kaepernick will cost pennies on the dollar compared to the other quarterbacks likely to be available this offseason. Even players like Titans backup-turned-starter Ryan Tannehill are setting up to cash-in this winter and while Kaepernick certainly represents a greater risk of failure because of his time away from the game, the cost to find out whether he can still play won't be nearly as much as what it will take to invest in someone like Tannehill, Cam Newton, Teddy Bridgewater or Andy Dalton.

Kaepernick's last two seasons in the NFL weren't great (2015-16). He completed less than 60% of his passes and threw just 22 touchdowns in 19 starts. But when he was in the zone, he was one of the best playmakers at the position. He was 'Lamar Jackson' before Lamar Jackson, especially in San Francisco's 2012 playoff win over the Packers when he threw for 263 yards, ran for 181 and totaled four touchdowns. He was unstoppable, but that was also seven years ago.

Now in his early-30's, Kaepernick may not have the juice in his legs like he once did. And if that part of his game is gone, his erratic and inconsistent passing could just result in what the Bears are already getting out of Trubisky. And if you have two Trubisky-types on the roster, you probably don't have a quarterback.

That's why Saturday's workout is so important. Is he in shape? Does he still have that quick-twitch? If the answer is yes, he could be worth a flier, even if just to send a message to Trubisky.

Pace and the Bears should do their due diligence on Kaepernick, just like they should do their due diligence on every quarterback who will be available this offseason. At this rate, almost all of them will offer an opportunity to upgrade the position.

If Kaepernick proves he can make all the throws and still has the athletic ability to be a threat with his legs, a team will sign him. Whether or not that team will be the Bears is anyone's guess.