Bears

Moon: Forte giving away the game plan?

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Moon: Forte giving away the game plan?

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011
Posted: 10:25 p.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
Matt Forte came as close to giving away a game plan this week as any player in the Lovie Smith tenure. And that would ostensibly be a good thing.

Going into Sundays game against Atlanta, Forte sent a message to the Falcons:

I expect to be how we were during the middle of the season last year when we started running the ball and be a balanced attack, the Bears franchise running back said. Both the pass and the run help each other out, so I think that well be balanced.

That message ideally is picked up by the Falcons, particularly sack threats and ends John Abraham and Ray Edwards, and has an effect similar to what the Bears achieved over the 7-2 run through the key portion of their schedule.

We did some good things at the end of the year, coach Lovie Smith said. We made progress I saw improvement throughout the year. And Ive seen that right now.
O-line help

The best help that coordinator Mike Martz can give young tackles Gabe Carimi and JMarcus Webb is to let them come off the ball and apply some muscle to Abraham and Edwards. Webb has a 70-pound advantage on Abraham. Carimi has 48 pounds on Edwards.

Whats perhaps been forgotten is that Lance Louis struggled early but never lost his starting job at right guard. Chris Williams ability to handle left guard faded as a topic of conversation, one of the nicest things that can happen to an offensive lineman.

Theyve made terrific progress in the last three weeks, particularly in the last two weeks, so Im anxious to see them play, Martz said. Well find out where we are with that. But Im excited about what theyve done so far. I think theyve got a chance to be a pretty good group.

Barber concerns

A factor in the improved performance by Forte, however, was Martzs willingness to have the ball handed to Chester Taylor 112 times and thrown to him another 20. Taylor was generally ineffective, which is why he is an Arizona Cardinal now rather than a Bear.

It is no coincidence, though, that Fortes career-best for yards per carry (4.5) was achieved when his workload was the lightest (237 carrries) of his career.

But the addition of Marion Barber from Dallas was made with the intention of not just lightening Fortes load; that could have been accomplished again with Taylor.

Barber has never averaged less than 3.3 yards per carry in his career (2010) or carried fewer than 113 times (also last year), one more than Taylor.

The calf injury Barber suffered against Tennessee in the preseason has had him out of practice ever since and he is not expected to play against the Falcons. Without his type of running, the ability of the offense to pound the Atlanta defense is reduced.

Hes such a violent runner, Martz said. Hes a guy that he can certainly jump-cut and do all of those things, but hell take a defender on, too, and break tackles that way. So hes kind of a complete back in that way. Hes a real tough, inside runner, but hes got the skills to get outside and hes an excellent receiver. Hes a guy that will excel, too, in short yards. We need to have him healthy. We really do.

Beyond Barber

What is different in the offense this year is that the presence of backup power to the backup power.

Kahlil Bell was inactive all 16 games last season as coaches were forced to have Garrett Wolfe on special teams. The trouble was, Wolfe was too small to suit Martz and was only used on four runs, all in the second Minnesota game.

Bell is 219 pounds, virtually identical with Barber and Forte.

Matts more comfortable with the scheme, and the offensive line and the way theyre opening holes, said quarterback Jay Cutler. Last year, Forte started a little slow, just like we all did, because everyone was getting comfortable with veering and we were trying to figure it out.

You add a Marion Barber a downhill guy, a short-yardage goal-line guy, packs a little more of a punch we got a good group back there.

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.

If shoulder sidelines Trubisky, Bears postseason hope could turn on defense, capable No. 2 QB -- again

If shoulder sidelines Trubisky, Bears postseason hope could turn on defense, capable No. 2 QB -- again

The Bears defeat of the Minnesota Vikings produced two dominant story lines: that the Chicago defense is quite possibly even better than early indications, and that Mitchell Trubisky has a throwing-shoulder issue, severity unknown.
 
With the 2018 playoffs within reach, those two narratives are closely connected.
 
Because very good Bears teams have survived and even flourished in situations where an injury to the starting quarterback propelled a backup into his stead, with postseason results. Those results were sometimes less under the No. 2’s but the regular seasons did not automatically crumble. The overarching reason lay with the defenses at the other end of the locker room and that No. 2 being serviceable.
 
Irrespective of how Trubisky’s shoulder injury occurred – whether Vikings safety Harrison Smith is in fact a direct descendant of Charles Martin or Hugh Douglas – a scenario is in the offing that could require Chase Daniel to step in for Trubisky, if not as early as this Thursday in Detroit, then likely at some point of this or next season. The odds and elementary analytics of quarterback durability say so.
 
Which is where the matter of the defense and a capable No. 2 come in, as they sometimes have been able to on occasion in Bears history:

1985 -- Steve Fuller for Jim McMahon

McMahon was injured in a game-nine win and Fuller started the following week – against the Detroit Lions. The 24-3 win was followed by shutouts of Dallas and Atlanta, a three-game span in which the Bears’ defense scored more points (14) than the three opposing offenses (3).
 
 
1986 -- Mike Tomczak/Doug Flutie for McMahon

Green Bay defensive lineman Charles Martin was suspended for pile-driving McMahon into the turf, resulting in a season-ending shoulder injury for McMahon, who missed 10 total games in the season. The Bears fashioned the NFL’s best record (14-2) but did lose those two games behind backup Mike Tomczak, then lost in the first round of the playoffs under Doug Flutie.

2001 -- Jim Miller for Shane Matthews

Matthews started but was injured in game one at Baltimore. Miller replaced him and the Bears finished 13-3. But in the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia defensive end Hugh Douglas body-slammed Miller after an interception, Miller left with a shoulder injury, the Bears lost and Miller was never the same.

2004 -- Hutchinson/Krenzel/Quinn for Rex Grossman

Lovie Smith installed Grossman as the starter. But Grossman injured knee ligaments and was replaced – unsuccessfully – by Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn. The defense, building under Smith’s design, slumped with Brian Urlacher plagued by hamstring issues.

2005 -- Kyle Orton for Grossman

Grossman suffered a broken ankle in preseason. Rookie Kyle Orton went 10-5 as his replacement and with one of the great defenses in franchise history. But the Bears lost in round one of the playoffs with Grossman returned to starter.


2011-- Caleb Hanie for Jay Cutler

A 7-3 start dissolved when Cutler broke his right thumb and Hanie foundered despite a defense that still had Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher. Josh McCown won a by-then-meaningless game 16.
 
 
2012 -- Jason Campbell for Cutler

When Cutler suffered a concussion against Houston, Jason Campbell stepped in against the Texans and the following week against the 49ers and their Vic Fangio defense. The Bears lost both those games, missed the playoffs at 10-6 and Smith was fired.
 
2013  -- Josh McCown for Cutler
 
Cutler was in and out of the lineup with injuries. McCown resurrected his career with his relief work, going 3-2 as interim starter and becoming the first Bears quarterback to pass for 300 yards in three straight games. Cutler returned from injury and was ordered back in as the starter by GM Phil Emery. With a historically bad Bears defense throughout the season, Cutler started the final three games, the Bears lost the last two to finish 8-8 and lose the division to 8-7-1 Green Bay.

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: The Bears won big on SNF, but just how far will they go this season?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: The Bears won big on SNF, but just how far will they go this season?

David Haugh, Patrick Finley and Kevin Fishbain join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the guys to dissect the Bears huge win over the Vikings. They discuss the defense’s dominating performance against Minnesota, grading Mitch Trubisky’s night and predict how far Matt Nagy’s team can go this season.

15:00- The guys react to the news of Denzel Valentine needing season-ending ankle reconstruction and discuss if it’s even worth it to let go of Fred Hoiberg during this season.

18:30- Patrick Kane turns 30 today. Can he play into his 40s?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

SportsTalk Live Podcast

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