Bears

Lovie: We're not going to back to the drawing board

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Lovie: We're not going to back to the drawing board

Monday, Sept. 26, 2011Posted: 4:45 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Coaches, players and teams certainly dont admit to panic reactions (no matter how many times they drop back and pass, even when they dont need to or shouldnt). So not surprisingly, the Bears are not going to submit their offense, defense or special teams to any sort of major football niptuck procedure.

I dont think we need to go back to the drawing board, coach Lovie Smith said Monday. As you work the numbers, we lost two games where we didnt run the football.

But the thinking is that where the 52 pass plays11 runs vs. New Orleans was indefensible, the 439 distribution in the loss to the Green Bay Packers was simply the only way that made sense under the circumstances.

The offense didnt try running in New Orleans; it couldnt vs. Green Bay, and the decision to stay with throwing the ball was based on improved pass protection as well as the pathetic ground production.

We didnt run the ball enough, we didnt have enough rushes a week ago, Smith said. Im OK on the Atlanta game and the last game on what we had to do to win the football game. When you get behind, youre going to do whatever you need to do to win the game.

First game, we were in a position where we could have more of a balance. This week hopefully well start off and a lot of things will work and well have that kind of balance.

Dialing down the panic II

The hand-wringing over the notion of an undrafted rookie free agent being a significant piece of the Bears passing offense is amusing. No one seemed alarmed when another undrafted free agent Tom Waddle was doing good work with a playoff offense in 1990-91. John Randle was an undrafted, undersized free agent defensive tackle whos in the Hall of Fame. And Jay Hilgenberg wasnt bad, either, for a leftover afterthought.

By the way, can you name the four main wide receivers on the New England Patriots when they won Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004? Deion Branch was a No. 2 pick. David Givens was a 7. Troy Brown was an 8. And David Patten, undrafted free agent.

The difference? The quarterback. A sixth-round pick.

How people get to the NFL is beyond irrelevant. Dane Sanzenbacher gets that, even if not everyone seems to.

When youre targeted, Sanzenbacher said, you have to catch the ball.

It shouldnt be a big surprise that Sanzenbacher has caught more passes than any Bear except Matt Forte (which is a bigger problem, anytime your running back has more than twice as many catches 22 as any two of your wideouts combined). Roy Williams missed a game with a groin injury and Earl Bennett missed most of New Orleans and all of Green Bay with his chest injury.

Chico watch

Five years ago, in the aftermath of Super Bowl XLI, coach Lovie Smith had grown weary of then-defensive coordinator Ron Riveras annual flirtations with teams and head-coaching opportunities. Smith did not bring Rivera back in 2007 and Rivera went on to San Diego (where he blitzed the Bears senseless in the first preseason game last year and drove them to pull Jay Cutler after eight plays) and then to Carolina as head coach.

It is not a game of Rivera vs. Smith, at least in the mind of the latter.

We're excited about getting an opportunity to play the Carolina Panthers, Smith said, correcting a questioner whod inquired about thoughts coming up about matching up with Rivera. I dont think Ron is going to be out there but his football team is doing a heck of a job. They lost a couple of tough games before this one Sunday. They found a way to win. Their record is the same as ours right now. Its a football game we both need to win.

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.

Former Bear Greg Olsen randomly walks into marriage proposal, catches whole thing on video

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USA TODAY

Former Bear Greg Olsen randomly walks into marriage proposal, catches whole thing on video

Scenario: you're walking down the street and randomly walk into a marriage proposal. What do you do?

For former Bear and current Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, the answer was to capture the magical moment on video. 

Olsen was in Nashville this week to give a keynote speech at a healthcare conference. While walking back to his hotel on Thursday, he randomly stumbled into a marriage proposal. His first response: hit record on his phone and capture the whole thing on video.

"Did she say yes? I got it on video, dude," Olsen said emphatically. "I'm going to send it to you!

"She said yes and I got it all on video, and you don't even know me, but I'm going to send it to you."

The couple, according to the Panthers, is Max Harvat and Brooke Hartranft. The two were visiting Nashville for the week, but Harvat didn't necessarily plan the proposal. It was as much of a sporadic moment for him as it was random for Olsen.

"Oh my god, you're my hero," Harvat said to Olsen after the proposal.

As it turns out, Harvat grew up a Panthers fan. However, he had no idea that Olsen was the person recording the proposal in the moment, only happy that someone caught it on video. When he stood up, he realized who the mystery man was.

“When I stood up, I looked over and I started having a mini heart attack," Harvat said to panthers.com. "I was like, ‘I’m 90 percent sure that’s Greg Olsen from the Panthers!’

“I'm a huge Carolina fan. I was like, ‘Oh my God, you're telling me that Greg Olsen just recorded the whole thing?’ I was so excited. It was amazing."

The moment wasn't just special for Havrat and Hartranft, though.

"It's the best thing I've ever witnessed," Olsen said in the video.

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Bilal Nichols eyes an even bigger impact for Bears in 2019

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USA Today

Bilal Nichols eyes an even bigger impact for Bears in 2019

Even if Bilal Nichols repeated his 2018 performance in 2019, the Bears would be lauded for unearthing a solid rotational player with a fifth-round draft pick. But Nichols isn’t resting on his rookie accomplishments, and is aiming to be an even more impactful player on the Bears’ defensive line as he enters Year 2 in the NFL. 

“More consistent, more dominant,” Nichols said. “That’s the biggest thing for me right now.”

Nichols was a top-50 run defender in the NFL last year, as rated by Pro Football Focus — he made a “stop” on 8.7 percent of his run defense plays, ranking 44th in the league (PFF defines a “stop” as a play that constitutes a failure for the offense). For reference, Akiem Hicks ranked eighth at 13.3 percent, Eddie Goldman was 17th at 11.6 percent and Jonathan Bullard came in 40th at 9.1 percent. 

Nichols’ biggest “stop” came in the Bears’ narrow Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, in which he dropped running back Chase Edmonds for a three-yard loss on a third-and-two play inside Bears territory just after the two-minute warning. While Nichols debuted a week earlier against the Seattle Seahawks and recorded a pressure of Russell Wilson, that play against the Cardinals was critical in an important victory for the Bears. It also proved to Nichols that what he was doing was beginning to work. 

“That was really a situation where I had cut it loose and went,” Nichols said. “I knew what i was doing on that play, I knew the possible things I could get from the offense and that was just a situation where I cut it loose and just played football. And I happened to make a big play. 

“I can’t wait to do that this year.” 

Nichols, as he was figuring out how to form a routine and study opponents in the NFL after making the jump from FCS-level Delaware, played a shade under a third of the Bears’ snaps last year as part of a rotation that proved critical to the team’s defensive success. Hicks played the most snaps (780), followed by Goldman (552) and Roy Robertson-Harris (353). Nichols (328) pushed Bullard (298) to the bottom of the rotation, which helped keep members of Jay Rodgers’ unit fresh and at their most effective when they were on the field. 

The Bears’ defensive line is arguably their best and deepest unit, one which can collapse pockets and stymie opposing run games (the latter of which is especially important, given the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions’ renewed commitments to running the ball this year). Nichols was already a big part of it in 2018, and may be an even bigger part of it in 2019. 

“Last year, I was still trying to figure things out, still trying to figure the league out, figure myself out as a player,” Nichols said. “And now that I got everything figured out, I’m just able to go. I could just play and play fast and cut it loose.”