Bears

Moon: Forte reaches a Payton milestone

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Moon: Forte reaches a Payton milestone

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011
Posted 8:27 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

GREEN BAY Running back Matt Forte began the day needing 22 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the second time in three NFL seasons and he had that before the game was one-quarter over.

Forte circled his left end behind blocks by left tackle Frank Omiyale and pulling right guard Roberto Garza and streaked 25 yards to top the 1,000-yard target. He then immediately went after 1,100 with 21 more yards on the next play.

That run and his 54 total for the first half, plus 41 more on 4 pass receptions, made Forte the first Bear since Walter Payton to rush for 1,000 yards and total 500 receiving yards in the same season. In a strong show of consistency, Forte netted 961 yards of total offense over his last nine games.

For him to get 1,000 yards is our goal, said guard Roberto Garza. Hes without a doubt one of the best backs in the league and he makes us look good.

Forte will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2011 so as far as any lavish gifts right now for his offensive linemen, I cant, he said. I dont have any money.
To play or not to play

Bears players were very unhappy with the outcome Sunday but not with the situation in which no starters were given the day off. Indeed, the unmistakable feeling was that playing was a good thing.

I think it was good coaching to let us play the whole game, said linebacker Lance Briggs.

The Packers, going after the No. 6 seed for the playoffs, gave the Bears an early look at playoff football. It was definitely a playoff atmosphere and they were coming after us, said center Olin Kreutz.

To Brian Urlacher, it was nice to play the whole game. It keeps us in shape because were off next week. We have a bye, then weve got to come back and play a game that counts for something.
Nice gesture

Julius Peppers took time out Sunday morning to reach out to John Fox, the embattled Carolina Panthers coach who was Peppers coach since the defensive end came into the league in 2002 and until this year.

I textd him this morning and told him I was proud of him, Pepper said. Hes been through a lot there and I really wish him the best always.

Peppers isnt likely to send as nice a message to Sundays officials after he was called for roughing the passer. Peppers hit Aaron Rodgers with his shoulder just after Rodgers got rid of a pass on a scramble and the yellow flag came out.

I thought it was a bogus call, Peppers said. I thought it was for helmet-to-helmet contact but the official said I didnt have to hit him.
Pick it

The defense went into Sunday looking for turnovers and got one early when cornerback D.J. Moore punched the ball out of receiver Donald Drivers hands in the first quarter, a fumble recovered by Charles Tillman.

Tillman put the offense in scoring position with a third-quarter interception and return of 42 yards to the Green Bay 15. The interception gave the Bears two players (Tillman, Chris Harris) with 5 interceptions for the first time since Tillman and Ricky Manning each had 5 in the 2006 Super Bowl season.

Tillmans twisting return confirmed the informal consensus that all defensive backs are secretly running backs and wide receivers at heart. Im a big Devin Hester fan, Tillman said. Im just not as successful as he is.

Sick bay

Safety Major Wrights run of first-year injuries continued Sunday with a leg injury in the first quarter that took him out of the remainder of the game. Wright was injured during training camp, in the Bears second game and again on Sunday, a surprise for a player who missed not so much as a practice while playing at Florida.

Safety Chris Harris suffered a stinger making a tackle on the next-to-last series Sunday but said afterwards he will be ready to practice this week.
Duly noted

Wide receiver Johnny Knox needed 40 yards to reach 1,000 for the season but was thoroughly throttled by the Green Bay secondary. Knox caught none of four passes thrown to him through three quarters.

Creepy: Strong-side linebacker Nick Roach was injured on the first play Sunday. A year ago when the Bears played the Packers, Pisa Tinoisamoa injured his knee on the first play of the game.
Zackary Bowman, a starting cornerback to open the season but replaced by Tim Jennings after breakdowns in coverage, did his chances of regaining the job no good when he was beaten for a 47-yard completion to set up a go-ahead Green Bay touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Restful Sunday

The Bears placed wide receiver Earl Bennett on their inactive list to give his injured ankle a game day off to heal. Otherwise the Bears made no changes in their lineups or game-day roster for a game that carried little meaning with Atlanta blowing out Carolina to clinch the No. 1 seed.
Welcome back

Tight end Desmond Clark was active for the first time since the Seattle game and responded with a special-teams tackle on Brad Maynards first punt.

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.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on if Bears', 2020 NFL season will start on time

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on if Bears', 2020 NFL season will start on time

On Saturday, President Trump talked to several commissioners of professional sports leagues and reportedly told them that he believes the NFL season will start on time despite the ongoing pandemic. A day later, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about that possibility.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Jake Tapper asked Pritzker if the Bears would be playing in Soldier Field in September, and if there would be fans. Pritzker did not give a definitive prediction.

“Well, the Bears are a great team whether they’re playing or not, but I will say this, it’s not up to us,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know. None of us really knows. But what I do know is this; if the researchers are able to come up with a treatment, something that will save lives, something that will keep people off ventilators, maybe even keep them out of hospitals, then that will be an enormous development for our country and for the future. It may allow us to open things up in the way the president is describing. But the truth is that no one predicts now that we’re going to have that treatment any time in the next few weeks or even in the next month, and no one really knows if we’ll have it by September.”

“What we do know is that if you have a vaccine, that ultimately will help us deal with the problem,” Pritzker said. “Because it’s either going to be a treatment and herd immunity that ultimately allows us to open everything back up, or it’s a vaccine.”

The sports world will continue to hold its breath until there are more answers.

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Open competition might be what Mitch Trubisky needs to salvage Bears' career

Open competition might be what Mitch Trubisky needs to salvage Bears' career

I used this space on Friday to explain why I see Nick Foles as the clear favorite to be the Bears’ starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2020 season. Based on the information we have, it’s easy to see why Foles should beat out Mitch Trubisky in the Bears’ “open competition.” 

And I very much believe that'll happen. But I do want to acknowledge something here, an unknown of sorts: We don’t know how Trubisky will handle a legitimate competition. 

“The competitor that Mitch is, the way that he was with us was really neat to see because he embraced it,” Matt Nagy said. “It wasn’t about excuses, it wasn’t about anything other than, ‘OK, I understand that, I’m gonna give you everything that I’ve got, we’re gonna compete, and you’re gonna get that best that I’ve got.’”

Nagy and Ryan Pace both talked up Trubisky’s competitive nature when discussing the Foles trade over about 40 minutes on Friday. It’s all they can talk up at this point — anything else about his game or past results would’ve been hot air. Maybe the competitiveness thing is hot air, too. 

But this brings up a question that’s lingered as Trubisky’s career has drifted into disappointing territory, so follow my tangent: Why wasn’t he North Carolina’s starting quarterback sooner in college?

Trubisky sat behind Marquise Williams for two and a half seasons before taking over as the Tarheel’s QB1 in 2016. Williams spent one training camp with the Green Bay Packers before being cut and spent the next few years as a backup in the CFL, AAC and XFL.

Trubisky — the second overall pick in 2017's draft — couldn’t beat that guy out? Huh?

The thing is, though, there wasn’t really a competition in Chapel Hill for the Tarheels’ starting gig. Williams QB’d five consecutive wins to get North Carolina to a bowl game in 2013, then was pretty good in six-win 2014. North Carolina went 11-1 in 2015, Trubisky’s third year on campus, with Williams as their guy. 

Former UNC quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf explained to me after the 2017 draft why there wasn’t truly a competition for Trubisky to win. 

“That success we had as a team with Marquise made it hard for us to pull him out of the lineup,” Heckendorf said. “And I think if (Williams’ success in 2013) hadn’t happened, there may be a completely different conversation. It was not for a lack of talent, it was not because (Trubisky) wasn’t capable, but it’s hard to take a guy who had the success — not only as the team winning but individually — as Marquise had and put him on the bench for an unproven commodity.”

Of course, if Trubisky were lighting things up in practice and limited game reps, he would’ve forced UNC’s hand. He didn’t.

But the point is Trubisky’s failure to win a starting gig in college sooner wasn’t necessarily the product of him losing an open competition. He pushed Mike Glennon as a rookie in 2017, but he didn’t show up to training camp in a true “battle” (especially as he QB’d the third-team offense so much). He took over for Glennon because, first and foremost, Glennon was a disaster.

So we don’t really know how he’ll handle a competition the Bears are framing as fair and even.

Could Trubisky all of a sudden grow with the challenge to his job? Could the mere presence of Foles get him to start hitting more deep balls, or make the right reads at the line, or help him avoid those head-scratching interceptions?

Probably not. Football types love to say competition brings out the best in everyone, but it’s hard to see it erasing three years of inconsistent tape.

But we don’t know for sure. For what it's worth, this worked for Kyle Fuller three years ago, when the Bears signed Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara and he wound up winning his old job back, and then keeping it.

Trubisky, too, still has more upside than Foles. The Bears would much rather start the version of Trubisky Pace hoped he was getting in 2017 rather than a 31-year-old with 13 starts over the last four years.

Still, Foles is most likely going to be the Bears’ starter when the 2020 season begins (hopefully on time). But the Bears should at least take a look at Trubisky in a true competition.

It may not need to be a long look. But it should be a look.

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