Bears

Bears: Richard Sherman knows Kyle Fuller's no-confidence zone

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Bears: Richard Sherman knows Kyle Fuller's no-confidence zone

As difficult as it may be to believe now, Richard Sherman, one of the charter members of the Seattle Seahawks’ famed Legion of Boom secondary, knows something about lack of confidence. The Seattle cornerback has been where Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller appears to be right now.

“When I was really young,” Sherman recalled of his crisis of confidence. “I think in order to get to this level, you have to have a tremendous belief in yourself and what you do and what your abilities are.

“I haven’t not had confidence in a long time.”

Fuller’s confidence is open to question after the second-year cornerback has struggled through a shaky preseason and now two regular season games. While there can be questions over which is chicken and which is egg, whether confidence comes from playing well or playing well comes from confidence, if a cornerback’s confidence is shaky, so is his entire game.

What leads to coverage breakdowns, to penalties, to loss of composure, “I think ultimately it’s playing with confidence,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “Tiger Woods these past two years hasn’t been the Tiger Woods we know and everybody’s over-analyzing him. The fact is that he hasn’t been able to take his game from the range to the course and he’s not been playing with confidence.

“Kyle’s got to be able to take his game from the practice field to the game field and play with confidence. You’re not going to have confidence until you do good things. You can’t just can’t say ‘I’m whoever’ and go out and play and have results.”

[MORE: Week 3 Bears in-foe -- Lynch-pins lagging]

A problem for Fuller and any cornerback, however, is that their football lives are so affected by the level of pass rush in front of them. Pass breakups or interceptions are so rare in seven-on-seven practice sessions because there is no rush on the quarterback.

And the Bears do not have a single quarterback sack through two games, something that last happened at this point of the 2010 season.

But Fuller’s problems ultimately lie with Fuller.

“He has to be a true professional, and he has to be a true studier of film,” veteran safety Antrel Rolle said during an appearance Tuesday on WSCR-AM 670’s “The Spiegel and Goff Show.” “And more importantly, he has to play with his strengths. If you’re going to press a guy, you have to make sure you put your hands on a guy. You can’t line up in front of a guy and then not disrupt him whatsoever.”

The Bears made Fuller the 14th overall pick of the 2014 draft and he flashed early with interceptions, eventually becoming just one of only six NFL rookies over the last 25 years to collect four interceptions and three forced fumbles.

So far this season he has none of either, with issues in his technique as well as his confidence, two intertwined essentials.

“If you’re playing well,” said Sherman, a three-time All-Pro cornerback, “your technique is usually on point, you’re playing well and you’re usually confident in what you’re doing.”

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.