Bears

For Lions' O, something missing - just like Bears'

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For Lions' O, something missing - just like Bears'

Forgive the members of the Bears defense if, while they watch tape of the Detroit Lions, they wonder if someone inadvertently put on film of the Chicago offense.

The dysfunctional Bears offense as run through wide receiver Brandon Marshall this season and slipped down among the leagues worst despite the presence of a Pro Bowl receiver and quarterback (Jay Cutler was one once, in 2008).

The Lions have tilted all season toward Calvin Johnson, the consensus best wideout in the NFL, with Pro Bowl alternate quarterback Matthew Stafford channeling passes Johnsons direction the way that Cutler does to Marshall.

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(Almost. Marshall has accounted for 32 percent of Chicagos offensive yardage this season; Johnsons 1,892 yards represent 30.4 of Detroits.)

Stafford is throwing it well, said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. Theyve lost a few guys and theyre still playing at such a high level. Obviously theres Calvin and the guy Stafford is a heck of a quarterback. Theyve got that thing clicking.

Not truly clicking

But for all of the QB-WR firepower, something is not working for the Lions, just as for the Bears.

Johnson has struggled to get into the end zone, with just five touchdowns from his NFL-leading 117 catches. Marshall has scored 11 times.

Stafford is 305 yards short of throwing for 5,000 yards for a second straight season but has a passer rating (79.2) worse than Cutler (80.2).

Charles Tillman effectively earned his way to a second Pro Bowl with his shutdown of Johnson in the first Bears-Lions game, allowing just three catches for 34 total yards. But the defense held the Lions scoreless until 30 seconds to play.

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That has been the tipping point for Detroit. The gaudy Johnson and Stafford numbers have obscured the fact that the Lions are 16th in scoring with 23.2 points per game.

The only thing people care about is whether youre scoring or not, admitted Lions coach Jim Schwartz. We need to do a better job of getting the ball to other people other than Calvin.

What works, what doesnt

The Bears are 12-5 against the Lions under Lovie Smith, with one obvious thread running through those seasons: The Lions have scored more than 24 points against the Bears just once under Smith (game one, 2007). The Detroit point production increased with the arrival of Stafford in 2009, with four games of 20-24 points but only one of those a victory (game one, 2011) but while the Lions talent ostensibly has improved, the results have not.

The Lions drafted Iowas Riley Reiff with the 23rd-overall pick of the 2012 draft but Reiff has started just seven games, and six of those as a second tight end. He has not been able to unseat 12-year veteran Jeff Backus or right tackle Gosder Cherilus.

Efforts to find a running back to complement Staffords passing netted nothing from a first-round pick in 2010 when Jahvid Best suffered career-threatening concussions, and 2011 second-rounder Mikel Leshoure has not been a true force.

Leshoure has scored nine touchdowns this season despite a mediocre 741 rushing yards and average of 3.7 per carry. But the Lions have vacillated between Leshoure and Joique Bell and failed to achieve anything resembling a challenging run game.

The Lions are 23rd in rushing yards and 17th in average per carry and rushed for 100 yards just once in the past three games (vs. Green Bay, Arizona, Atlanta,), all losses by an average of 16 points to teams ranked 23rd, 22nd and 29th stopping the run.

But for Johnson, Stafford and others on both sides of the ball, beating the Bears might serve as some sort of exit validation for lost season.

They have some records, said linebacker Lance Briggs. The Lions have some records that they can achieve here. There is always winning, ending with a W, ending one of their rivals chances of getting in the playoffs. Thats always big.

You want to leave the season with a good taste in your mouth. So they definitely have things to play for.

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.