Bears

Lovie Smith, poet laureate - who knew?

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Lovie Smith, poet laureate - who knew?

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010
12:37 PM
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Lovie Smith doesnt spout a lot of iambic pentameter from the podium but indications are that he is nothing if not a student of poetry.

How better to sum up the Smith Way since he arrived in 2004 to head up the football play than the lines from Rudyard Kiplings If (which I believe are or at least were at one time inscribed over the players entrance to Centre Court, Wimbledon):

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

Well, the Bears have met triumph (Philadelphia, Green Bay, 8-3) and disaster (NY Giants, Seattle, Washington) and Smith is indeed treating those imposters just the same. Always has.

Weve beaten a lot of good football teams, just like we did Sunday, Smith said almost dismissively about the suggestion that the Eagles win was finally a statement about how good his Bears really were. No more than that.

Greg Olsen has seen Smith operation for going on four years now and his mentality of he doesnt let the ups get him too high, and he doesnt let the downs get him too low, I think is huge.

Not everyone always thinks so.

The amusing reality is that if youre even-dispositioned, at least outwardly, and your team is winning, youre a calming influence. Youre a Zen master. Youre serene.

If youre the same way and your team is losing, youre dull. You lack fire. You dont get your team up. Ask Dick Jauron, who was an enlightened hands-free leader when his team was 13-3 and dull when his team was.

Ask Smith, too, the titan of tranquility with a rookie quarterback getting him to the playoffs in 2005, the caliph of calm behind Rex Grossman and the mercurial 2006 Super Bowl year. And the earl of understatement when he forgot how to coach in 07 and 09. Same guy. Clearly hes a mope when his teams dont win.

Smith doesnt have a runaway look-at-me gene even if he does have a listen-to-me (when I tell you were good) chromosome, but show me a coach who doesnt. If anything, Smith gets some points for not being overly sensitive or remotely guided by what people think of him.

Of course, it the Bears lose in Detroit, itll be a disaster. May he treat that imposter just the same as beating Philadelphia.

Blame gaming

Longtime Lions beat guy Tom Kowalski has a solid take on the edginess and finger-pointing that has crept into the Detroit locker room and huddle in the wake of the losing streak there and in particular the demoralizing blowout suffered against New England.

Tom has been around Lions teams ranging from the playoff teams of Barry Sanders to the 0-16 group and he says that coach Jim Schwartz has to arrest any dissension before it reaches the dreaded players-only-meeting stage. If that happens, the Lions are in freefall and the Bears could be looking at a truly fragmented NFC North rival for the second time in a month (Minnesota).

Duly noted

With one more win in 010, Jay Cutler will have his first winning season as a starting quarterback since high school...

If youre a sayer of nay regarding the Bears because of a perceived weak NFL (Im not sure why its somehow supposedly weaker as a league this year than any other year but thats for another discussion), you might be missing the bigger picture. Youre watching history. According to @NFLfootballinfo, through 12 weeks there are 19 teams within one game of first places in the standings and thats the most in NFL history...

Check out former agentNFL exec Andrew Brandts look at the labor situation on National Football Post. Its the first in a series and Andrew gives some very readable, understandable perspectives on how things got to where they are and what forces are at work in the situation...

The Dec. 12 Bears-Patriots game is being moved from noon to 3:15 p.m. but for those of you asking, the Dec. 26 Bears-New York Jets game is confirmed in its noon slot. The Jan. 2 noon game at Green Bay, however, is still subject to flexing and if that is a deciding game in playoff scenarios, best guess is that it gets moved to the more prominent national slot.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

All week, reporters at Halas Hall tried to get Matt Nagy and the Bears to compare who they were during Week 1’s game against Green Bay to where they are now. And all week at Halas Hall, Matt Nagy and the Bears wouldn't bite. 

“We're both different. They're a little bit different, we're different,” Matt Nagy said. “They did a great job both as players and their coaches, so like I said yesterday, it feels like a while ago and that's why you play. You have a 16-game season and in division you get two chances. We'll just do everything we can to put it behind us and try to be better.” 

Different might be an understatement. Gone are Kyle Long and Bobby Massie. The Starting-Center-James-Daniel experiment is over, and Mike Davis is playing in the NFC South now. Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton – though the latter didn’t play in Week 1 – are on IR, too. Normally, losing two starting tight ends, a ‘starting’ running back, and the entire right side of the offensive line means you’re spending the last month of the season scouting for 2020. Instead, the Bears head to Lambeau Field on Sunday with a path to the playoffs still in front of them. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now. We’re a different team,” Mitch Trubisky said. “There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. 

“I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Perhaps the biggest difference between Week 1 and Week 15 has been the play of Trubisky, who looked like he was headed for a clipboard in 2020 before regaining his form over the last month or so. His comfortability in the offense is night and day compared to some of the struggles he went through during the first half of the season. If you ask him – which, duh, we did – he’ll tell you he’s felt the most growth off the field. 

“I just would say mental toughness, the ability to block out things on the outside,” he said. “Adversity, obviously, early in the season with people talking on the outside and then having to play through injuries and stuff, and just coming together closer as a team. My teammates having my back, that really gives me the most confidence.” 

The 14-week turnaround isn’t all about confidence, as Nagy 202 has morphed into something not expected but effective nonetheless. The running game has stabilized and they’ve found successful plays out of 4 WR sets – even if one of those receivers is Montgomery/Tarik Cohen. In Week 1? Montgomery had six rushes and the Bears ran two plays out of 10 personnel. Nagy said that he thought something clicked on Trubisky’s touchdown pass to Ben Braunecker against the Lions. 

“There's something there,” he said. “We felt it a little bit in the Chargers game, we just weren't effective in the red zone. But because we won the [Lions] game it magnifies it a little bit more … And then we just kind of started putting things together and I think over time we've just felt like it's just started to click. I don't know if it's specifically one play or not but that's probably my best guess.” 

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as the team prepares for what Nagy calls a “cat-and-mouse” game against Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who perhaps knows Trubisky better than any other opposing coordinator in the game. 

“Coach Pettine has done a great job throughout his career of being almost tendency-free,” he said. “And they’re even better now with how they deploy those guys, and it’s kind of a perfect, perfect storm of scheme and talent, and the guys on the back end help them out too.” 

The Bears are playing with a looseness that might come from essentially being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but oddly, it continues to work for them. And when you have to go play Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau with your season on the line, you don’t question what works. 

“I love it. You want to go against the best all the time,” said Akiem Hicks, who was taken off IR and will start on Sunday. “If you’re a true competitor, you want the best competition.”

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

With Doc Rivers, Patrick Beverly and the Los Angeles Clippers in town to face the Bulls, you knew the question was coming. Both Rivers and Beverly are from Chicago and not shy about their affection for the city. 

"Do you and Pat talk about coming to Chicago?" a reporter asked, during Rivers' pregame media scrum, Saturday night.

"We talk about Chicago, probably every single day," Rivers said with a hint of a smile. "We talk about the Bears the most."

That led to Rivers rapid-fire addressing a number of ruminations on the current state of the Bears, including his respect for head coach Matt Nagy.

"I’m a big Bears fan. A big Nagy fan. I think he’s a terrific coach," Rivers said. "I just do, every once in a while you get a feeling about someone, and I have that about him."

High praise coming from Rivers, the 13th-winningest coach in NBA history and an NBA Finals champion in 2008 with the Boston Celtics.

Now, he coaches the third-winningest team in the league in the Clippers, but he still finds time to keep up with current Chicago affairs.

"[Beverly and I] talk about everything with Chicago. We talk about the dominance of Proviso East [Rivers' high school alma mater] over Marshall [Beverly's alma mater], and every other team. He doesn’t like that conversation very much," Rivers said.

He added that he even contemplated driving down for the Bears' Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football (the Clippers were in town for a game with Milwaukee that Friday).

And as for tomorrow's crucial division game against the Packers, Rivers made his position abundantly clear.

"Well, you know what I think," Rivers said, when asked for a prediction for the contest. "Are you kidding me?"

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