Bears

Moon: Should Bears address OT first?

438133.jpg

Moon: Should Bears address OT first?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted: 11:00 a.m.By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A question facing the Bears later this month remains whether or not, with needs on both the offensive and defensive lines, can they afford to wait on grabbing one or the other at No. 29.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks the Bears can get an immediate starter at offensive line, specifically a tackle, with that 29th-overall pick, possibly Colorados Nate Solder or Mississippi States Derek Sherrod.

But the Bears are high enough on JMarcus Webb to plan on moving him to left tackle. Chris Williams hasnt proved that hes a lock-down starter anywhere, although he had his best days at right tackle in the final third of 2009. So the need may not be truly at tackle, a spot where landing a rookie starter like Webb turned out to be is a rarity.

Kiper confirmed that the Bears could wait until the second round to address defensive tackle, perhaps with someone like Marvin Austin out of North Carolina or Miami DEDT Allen Bailey (6-3, 285). The problem with Austin, however, is a possible character flag since he was suspended and missed 2010 for improper dealings with an agent; Jerry Angelo was burned badly the last time he took a character question mark in the second round (Tank Johnson) and chances of him risking that again with Austin is virtually nil.

The third round will be where matters turn especially interesting. My own guess is that the Bears will look inside on the offensive line before they take a tackle, depending on grades obviously, but Kiper sees a number of centerguard types being there for the Bears in the third round, including Wisconsins John Moffitt (6-4, 315) or Stefen Wisniewski (6-3, 295) from Penn State. Theres a lot of those centerguard guys to look at, Kiper said.

But protecting Cutler is front and center, Mel said, speaking in a voice sounding suspiciously like Mike Martzs.
Backer thoughts

The Bears have two linebackers in place, both veterans in Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. That also ties up substantial payroll, meaning the Bears will not invest heavily at the position in free agency, particular for a player who projects to be a two-down role fit at least until either Briggs or Urlacher are substantially less productive.

The intrigue for drafting a linebacker is choosing one that fits a 4-3, which the Bears play, vs. one that fits a 3-4, which Green Bay and myriad other teams play. The clear first choice for the latter remains Von Miller out of Texas A&M, who is being compared physically to Lawrence Taylor, who created the rush linebacker type who is a hybrid backerDE.

When he comes around the edge, I dont know how he keeps his feet sometimes, Kiper said, noting that Miller also is the only senior among his top 12 players. If hes going to be a great player in the NFL, its going to be how he gets after the quarterback, not how he plays the run.

Kiper has seen more success than failure in the Miller types. A lot of these 3-4 guys have made it big, Kiper said. New York Jets linebacker Vernon Gholston is one of the few busts.

Carolina watchin
Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers have the first-overall pick of the draft. They also have former Notre Damer Jimmy Clausen as their quarterback, a second-round pick, and one school of thought says Clausen is worth waiting on to develop, rather than jumping at a quarterback with that No. 1 pick, presumably Missouris Blaine Gabbert.

Based on what I know about Jimmy Clausen, I would trade out of there, move down and get a Nick Fairley, KIper said. Defensive linemen with high grades are going to go down to No. 18.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can the Bears pull off an upset at home against Tom Brady and the Patriots?

10-17mitchtrubisky.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can the Bears pull off an upset at home against Tom Brady and the Patriots?

Chris Emma, Matt Zahn and Gabe Ramirez join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh joins the panel to discuss the Bulls’ terrible defensive performance as well as Zach LaVine’s impressive season debut.

11:35- Khalil Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Can the Bears pull off the upset against Tom Brady?

23:50- NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran joins Kap to talk about how New England views the Bears and discuss how Matt Nagy’s team can exploit the Patriots’ weaknesses.

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

Subscribe:

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears in line to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack participated in the Bears’ final practice of the week on Friday, clearing the way for the edge rusher to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Friday that the Bears expected Mack, who hasn’t missed a game in his career, to play after suffering an ankle injury early in Week 6’s 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack is officially questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 

Mack had little interest in discussing his ankle with the media on Friday, passing on answering questions about his readiness for New England. Coach Matt Nagy, though, said he thought Mack “looked pretty good” during practice on Friday. 

Mack didn’t record a sack against Miami and was held to just one pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins’ gameplan was to commit plenty of resources to stopping Mack, but he wasn’t effective even when he had one-on-one pass rushing opportunities as the game went on. 

“He was (affected),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I can't put a percentage on it, but he definitely was.”

Having Mack available — even if he’s not full strength — will be critical for the Bears’ defense to have a chance at keeping Tom Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The key for the Bears will be to generate pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback without blitzing, which is something Fangio’s defense was successful at prior to Sunday’s wacky loss to the Dolphins. 

Brady’s passer rating is 138.4 when he’s blitzed, per Pro Football Focus, while when under pressure his rating is 87.2. That’s still pretty good, but it’s worth noting that all of the six interceptions he’s thrown this year have come when he hasn’t been blitzed. And only one of the eight sacks he’s taken has come when he’s been blitzed. 

The point being: If the Bears feel like they have to start blitzing to generate pressure, they can expect Brady to pick them apart.  

“You could say all of that but ultimately (Brady’s) a gamer,” Mack said. “He’s going to take those hits, and you gotta be able to deliver them but also have coverage over the top. It’s going to be real important for us.” 

The good news for the Bears, perhaps, is that New England’s tackles have struggled at times this year. Left tackle Trent Brown has allowed 17 pressures in 234 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (about one in every 14 snaps). And starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is out with a concussion, giving way for backup La’Adrian Waddle, who’s allowed eight pressures in 78 pass blocking snaps (about one in every 10). 

So the opportunities will be there for Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and the Bears’ pass rush to affect Brady on Sunday.

A bigger injury concern?

While cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will play Sunday, slot corner Bryce Callahan suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice and did not participate Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday. 

Callahan “did his ankle,” Nagy said, toward the end of Thursday’s practice, and he felt worse as the day went on. Nagy characterized Callahan’s absence from Friday’s practice as “precautionary.”

Callahan’s availability may be more of a pressing concern than Mack’s, given how well the Patriots’ offense has played since slot receiver Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping (11 catches on 16 targets, 111 yards, 1 TD), New England’s offense has scored 38 and 43 points in his two games back. 

“Brady has always had a guy in the slot that he’s comfortable with; whether it be (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola or Edelman,” Fangio said. “It’s a big part of their offense. They haven’t missed a beat, but I really think it’s helped their offense and played a big part in them basically averaging 40 points in the last three weeks. I really appreciate and respect how good of a player he is and has been.”

If Callahan isn’t available, Sherrick McManis could be the next man up at slot corner.