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.

Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

The 2019 college football regular season is over, which means the 2020 NFL draft season is right around the corner. Underclassmen are declaring by the day, all-star rosters are filling out and, of course, mock drafts are being published.

The really unique thing about the Bears in 2019 is how fluid their likely NFL draft needs have been. A few weeks ago, quarterback would've topped the list. Now? Not so much. Tight end, a position that's been non-existent in Chicago's offense all year, suddenly has two players (J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted) who've garnered some excitement.

Seasons like this year make trying to pinpoint which direction GM Ryan Pace will go in April's draft extremely challenging. According to the Draft Wire's latest three-round mock draft, the Bears will grab help for the secondary and offensive line in Round 2.

Their first selection (as of the start of Week 15) comes at No. 45 overall from the Raiders. Chicago uses that pick on Utah cornerback, Jaylon Johnson.

It's hard to argue this projection. The Bears may have a bigger need at cornerback by the time the draft rolls around than they do right now if they decide it's time to part ways with veteran starter Prince Amukamara. Chicago needs to make some difficult salary-cap decisions this offseason, and moving on from Amukamara would free up roughly $9 million in cap space. 

Johnson (6-0, 190) will be part of the second wave of cornerbacks to get drafted this year. He isn't a first-round talent, and barring an elite showing at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, he should be available in the middle portion of the second round.

The Bears land offensive line help at No. 50 overall in this mock draft via Tennessee's Trey Smith.

A former five-star recruit, Smith's talent is undeniable. It's first-round worthy. His medicals, however, are not.

After dealing with blood clots in his lungs in 2018, Smith returned to action this season and was once again a dominant force. He projects as an interior player in the NFL and would be an ideal target for a Bears team that needs to add more talent at guard in their effort to replace longtime starter, Kyle Long.

Smith's medical history is likely to push him into Day 3, however, at which point he'll qualify as one of this year's best value selections.

Sunday is Matt Nagy's chance to prove the Bears' changes are for real

Sunday is Matt Nagy's chance to prove the Bears' changes are for real

Matt Nagy thinks about the Packers a lot. 

He thinks about his first career game as an NFL head coach, at Lambeau Field, and how he’ll “never forget that day, that game, for so many different reasons.” 

He thinks about his first NFC North title, which was clinched when Eddie Jackson intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the end zone, avenging the season’s earlier loss.

And he thinks about Week 1 of this season, when millions of eyes tuned in on Opening Night to watch a supposed Super Bowl contender score three points, at home, in a loss to the Packers. 

“I try not to remember too much of that,” he said. “That was a rough one.”  

It just so happens that, this week, everyone else is thinking about the Packers too. On the surface level, it’s the 200th meeting in one the league’s most storied rivalries, and a pivotal game in this year’s race for the second Wild Card spot. There’s Aaron Rodgers, who Nagy called, “competitive as hell.” There’s a talented-and-maybe-underperforming defense, with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith on the edges creating matchup nightmares for an offensive line that’s undergone more change than anyone. 

“We knew what kind of players they were,” he added. “They’re not unknown anymore.” 

If you wanted to get esoteric, there’s a great redemption narrative to Sunday’s game too. The Packers came into Chicago and exposed the Bears’ starters – who, you’ll remember, sat out the preseason. Things would get worse – so much worse – but the book was out on Nagy’s Bears, and it took them three months to recover. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now,” Mitch Trubisky said. “We’re a different team. 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.” 

Things have been different than Week 1, even if you couldn’t say that until Week 12. Nagy has admittedly found a better rhythm as a play-caller, and many of the issues that plagued the Bears in Week 1 haven’t been an issue lately. The tight end room is producing, they’re shifting through personnel groupings less, and the run game has stabilized – all vital components of the offense that best suits the 2019 Bears. It’s not what Nagy envisioned, but 202 ended up being formative in ways he never expected. 

“I feel like a better coach going through this for the players, for my coaches and just the way we communicate,” he said. “The honesty, the belief in one another; going through this is important and it'll help me in the long run, to be able to handle these type of situations when they arise again.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.