Bears

Moon: Fake punt was turning point for Bears

Moon: Fake punt was turning point for Bears

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
6:09 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears came into Sundays game ranked No. 3 in points allowed (17.3) and the Jets were fifth at 18.5 given up per game. The Bears topped those combined numbers by themselves and the Jets nearly did as well.

Was what should have been expected from a game most thought would be a defensive struggle? Absolutely.

It was a defensive struggle, linebacker Lance Briggs said, laughing. Both defenses struggled.

Big arm
The Bears and Denver Broncos are a combined 21-0 when Jay Cutler posts a passer rating of 100 or better, including Sundays 104.2 mark. Cutlers three touchdown passes in the third quarter pushed him to 50 as a Bear, passing George Blanda (48) and into a tie with Jim Harbaugh. He also is the first Bears quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a quarter since Erik Kramer accomplished that on Sept. 24, 1995 against the St. Louis Rams.

The Jets show a lot of crazy defensive looks, Cutler said. Once weonce I settled down, the offensive line played exceptional all game long, gave us a lot of time and the receivers made some plays for us.

Happy losers

The Jets backed into the AFC playoffs by virtue of the Jacksonville Jaguars losing to the Washington Redskins, occasioning cheers in the losers locker room after Sundays loss.

Im a huge Redskins fan, I can tell you that right now, and I appreciate it, said Jets coach Rex Ryan. We wanted to win to get in without question. We never got it done.

For the record, the Jets are a worthy wild-card team. They reached the AFC Championship game last season as a wild card before losing to the Indianapolis Colts.
Timing, timing

Chris Harris interception of Mark Sanchezs final pass was his fifth pick of the season, a career high and all since the Bears off week to give him six takeaways in the last eight games, seven of them Bears wins. It was also the third fourth-quarter interception of the season for Harris, to go with his game-saver against Buffalo and one on the Bears last defensive play in the first Minnesota game.

46 is a playmaker, Lance Briggs said. Im so glad to have him back on this squad.

What made Sundays particularly impressive was that, while he did not exactly set Sanchez up, he thought right along with and ultimately one step ahead of the Jets quarterback.

I had a feeling that was coming. I wasnt completely sure but when I saw the release of Santonio Holmes, I said, This might be the play. Sanchez was staring down the middle and pump-faked it to the middle, I didnt bite on it and just took off.

Duly noted

Robbie Goulds 37-yard field goal in the first quarter made him the first in franchise history to score 100 points in five consecutive seasons. Center Olin Kreutz tied Walter Payton at third on the Bears all-time list with his 190th game played, 133 of them consecutive starts.

Tommie Harris started his third straight game back at DT. He blew up the Jets first play, a couple yards into the backfield, despite a holding penalty flagged on his blocker.Julius Peppers dropped inside for a third-down rush from defensive tackle, Henry Melton going out to right end. The Jets pass into the end zone was incomplete.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub packaged Devin Hester as the deep returner on a kickoff, with Danieal Manning and Rashied Davis as up-returners. The Jets took them all out of play with a squib kickoff.

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.

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Before Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey met with the media on Wednesday, Allen Robinson was curious what his position coach would say about him in public. 

“I just told him, I don’t know you,” Furrey quipped. “Who’s Allen Robinson?”

Furrey, of course, knows who Robinson is. But the point behind that joke is that Furrey, the Bears’ court wide receivers coach in four years, is still getting to know all of his receivers — let alone the one who hasn’t participated in a practice yet. For all the positivity that's easy to find around Halas Hall these days, the Bears' biggest offseason acquisition hasn't taken a rep yet. 

The good news for the Bears, of course, is that Robinson’s past play speaks for itself. He combined for 153 catches, 2,883 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016, and has been adamant he’ll return to that high level of play when he’s cleared to practice. The Bears were confident enough in Robinson’s medicals to guarantee him a little over $25 million in March, per Spotrac, about a month before they let Cameron Meredith sign with the New Orleans Saints largely over medical concerns (Meredith’s torn ACL was viewed as more serious than Robinson’s, in short). 

So the getting-to-know-you phase for Furrey and Robinson is largely taking place off the field in the meeting rooms of Halas Hall. 

“What a great young man,” Furrey said. “He’s come in here, obviously, rehabbing and doing all those things. But he’s alert, he comes to meetings, he’s ready to go. Really, really smart, you can tell that from the beginning and he’s a professional.”

What Furrey, in particular, likes about Robinson is that he’s an “alpha,” but is far more than all talk and no action. 

“And a lot of times that alpha talks a lot and they don’t really put it out there,” Furrey said. “He kind of has that alpha quietness to him. He understands what’s going on, you can look at him and you just kind of get that feel of he has a great understanding of how to approach this game at this level. Obviously he’s been highly successful for a couple years with some big numbers, but he doesn’t act like that. He’s still hungry, he wants to learn, and I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder, which is a good trait to have too. So we’re excited about that.”

The expectation all along has been for Robinson to be cleared to fully participate in training camp practices. So while coach Matt Nagy said last week Robinson is “ahead of the game,” that may not mean he takes part in the final round of OTAs next week or veteran minicamp the first week of June. 

But while Robinson can’t prove himself to his new coaches on the field yet, he’s doing the right things off the field to make a positive first impression. 

“He knows you gotta come in early, he knows you gotta be the last one to leave, he knows you gotta study,” Furrey said. “It doesn’t matter five years in, six years in, you gotta take notes. It doesn’t matter if you hear it 10 times, you just gotta keep taking notes. He’s been really good at that, and I’ve been really impressed with that. I’ve been able to get on the field with him a little bit, just kind of throwing some balls to him, and I didn’t know he was that big. But obviously we’re excited for it to happen out there.” 

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Mitch Trubisky has been set up for a huge season in 2018 with all the firepower the Chicago Bears added on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton will give the second-year quarterback a variety of explosive targets to generate points in bunches.

None of the headline-grabbing moves will matter, however, if the offensive line doesn't do its job. 

According to Numberfire.com, the Bears' starting five could be the offense's Achilles heel. They were ranked 21st in the NFL and described as poor in pass protection.

Last year, the Bears ranked 26th in Sack NEP per drop back and 23rd in sack rate. These issues were especially apparent after Trubisky took over. In the games that [Kyle] Long played, their sack rate was 8.2%. It was actually 7.2% in the games that he missed. They struggled even when Long was healthy.

The Bears added Iowa's James Daniels in the second round of April's draft and he's expected to start at guard alongside Long. Cody Whitehair will resume his role as the starting center, with Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie at offensive tackle.

If Long comes back healthy and Daniels lives up to his draft cost, they should be a good run-blocking team from the jump. But Long has played just 18 games the past two years and is entering his age-30 season, so that's far from a lock. On top of that, the pass blocking was suspect last year and remains a mystery entering 2018.

The biggest addition to the offensive line is Harry Hiestand, the accomplished position coach who returns to Chicago after once serving in the same role under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. He most recently coached at Notre Dame and helped develop multiple first-round picks. He's going to have a huge impact.

The good news for the Bears is they weren't the lowest-ranked offensive line in the NFC North. The Vikings came in at No. 25. The Packers checked-in at No. 13, while the Lions were 16th.