Bears

Grizzled and experienced: Bruce Arians

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Grizzled and experienced: Bruce Arians

One of the hottest coaches and biggest names Bears general manager Phil Emery has on his head coaching list is Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinatorinterim head coach Bruce Arians, whom Emery is scheduled to interview this week.
Arians has a long coaching history with some of the greatest coaches that helped build the great game of football. Arians played quarterback for Virginia Tech, finishing his senior season as team MVP in 1974 before embarking on his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Hokies one year later.
Arians has come a long way since running the Hokies wishbone offense, where he only completed 53 of 118 pass attempts (44.9) for 952 Yards, 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions during his MVP season. Quite a turnaround from when he played and when now compared to Arians' latest quarterback project, first round pick Andrew Luck, who just broke the rookie record for most pass attempts in a season (627).
Arians was actually accused of throwing the ball too much when he served as Steelers offensive coordinator for five seasons, from 2007-2011. While coaching quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Arians helped win three AFC North Division titles, two AFC Championships and Super Bowl XLIII. Arians served as wide receivers coach when the Steelers won Super Bowl XL under Bill Cowher.
Under Arians' direction, Pittsburgh became known as a passing team where Roethlisberger averaged 247.4 net passing yards per game from 2007-2011, ranked eighth in the NFL and fifth in the AFC. Roethlisberger also became the first quarterback in Steelers history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. This same offensive unit in 2009 had two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher, which were also Steelers firsts.
Steelers ownership wanted to get back to their trademark of running the football, and it was rumored Arians was too close in his relationship with Roethlisberger. They live close to one another in Georgia and would play golf two-to-three times a week in the offseason. Roethlisberger is on record stating Arians was a father figure to him during some difficult times off the field.
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Arians is a hard-nosed coach who rides his players to succeed. He demonstratively denounces those who question his ability to run the football. I run it when the defense dictates we should run it, he told me during the SirusXM NFL training camp tour in Anderson, Ind. this past fall. Its hard to argue his point, as Arians Temple Owls led the nation in rushing while he served as their head coach from 1983 to 1988.
A little Paul Bear Bryant must have rubbed off on Arians when served on Alabamas staff, but plenty of former Indianapolis offensive coordinator Tom Moores genius certainly has. Moore was the Colts offensive coordinator who was given the job of breaking in Peyton Manning into the NFL. His offenses and their success speak for themselves. They are quarterback-driven, where the entire playbook is at the quarterback's fingertips at the line of scrimmage. Who served as Peytons quarterback coach under Tom Moore in Indianapolis? None other than Bruce Arians.
Arians is more than capable of being a head coach and reigning in quarterback Jay Cutler. His job as interim head coach for the Colts while Chuck Pagano recovered from leukemia this year speaks for itself. Some worry about longevity as Arians was thinking about retirement before Pagano threw him a life line to tutor Andrew Luck. Arians is a lifer and why Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson is trying to fatten Arians contract to finish what he started in Indianapolis. On a funny note, Bears fans may have to put the earmuffs on during an Arians press conference... he's old school!

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

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USA TODAY

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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USA TODAY

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.