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Moon: What to expect from BearsSaints

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Moon: What to expect from BearsSaints

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011Posted: 11:20 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
The Bears defensive line ran into something of a problem this week that could be something of a real problem on Sunday.

You always want to study film on an upcoming opponent, to clarify strengths and things to stay from, and to identify weaknesses and things you can exploit. In the case of latter when it came to New Orleans Saints guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, forget about it.

We were trying to find some tape where they actually got beat, defensive tackle Henry Melton said, shaking his head and marveling. It was hard to find.

So will sacks be for Melton, who had two in his first start last Sunday, against Atlanta.

Ouch
If you want a great first-hand idea of what Jay Cutler is going to be put through (at least thats the Saints plan) on Sunday, give a serious read to the analysis of Gregg Williams defenses done by Comcast SportsNet colleague Jim Miller in his "15 on 6" blog.

Jimmy faced Williams defenses, which are distant cousins to the Buddy Ryan groups that had an unspoken bounty deal working on opposing quarterbacks. For all of the fascination with the Bears newfound prowess with the screen pass, Jimmy doesnt see Williams letting the Bears repeat that. And the premium may well be placed on Cutler's accuracy down the field, which gets into a whole other issue, whether his offensive line can protect for that approach to work in the Noise-a-torium known as the Superdome.

Great thought on how to help the young Bears tackles: no-huddle. It worked for Green Bay. Its traditionally a way of minimizing blitz opps. Aaah, but heres the rub: The Packers were at home, this is on the road, and huddling takes time, which is a solid way of keeping Drew Brees and that offense watching.

Think about this

I mentioned this in the main advance for this game but it warrants repeating: Smith's Bears are 42-9 when opponents score 17 or fewer points.

But throw this in along with it, and you get a real glimpse into it takes to make a championship team, which the Bears most definitely believe they are.

Lovie Smith Bears teams are 54-10 when they score 18 or more points.

Now, refine all of this into cause-effect terms:

In the three playoff years under Smith, the Bears were 25-5 when they capped opposing point totals at 17 or less (2005, 11-1); 2006, 8-1; 2010, 6-3). And when they scored 18 or more, the record has been a net 28-1 (2005, 6-0; 2006, 12-0; 2010, 10-1).

What you really see in all this is why the Bears believe they can be something seriously great with Cutler and the offense taking a step up. They know their defense is solid and they win when they play D. When they put points on the board from the offense, they become legitimate NFC Championship or Super Bowl prospects.

Oh, in case youre wondering, the only time in three playoff years when the Bears scored 18 and didnt win the game? The Seattle game last year, a 23-20 loss to Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks.

And finally

With all of that, what happens Sunday?

The Saints are favored, by about a touchdown, which says that the better public isnt convinced that the Bears are as good as an 18-point winner over the Atlanta Falcons, or that the Saints can be beaten at home by a team with an offensive line thatll be given its most severe test since the New York Giants game last season. That was a road game as well.

If this game is early last season, the Saints are the pick. The reason is pretty simple: That offensive line was in real trouble (five different front fives in the first seven games) from the start. This one isnt even in the discussion with that bunch.

Not one starter from the first five games last year is in the same position as he was last year. A lot of ink and sound has been spent talking about the problems of line continuity but in this case, that kind of turnover is a good thing, not a bad one.

What that means is that Cutler will not automatically be in the peril he was last season, and of the five sacks he took against the Falcons, only two of those were the lines fault and Cutler can eliminate others with more timely release.

The Bears defense simply does not get trampled, and the Saints without Marques Colston are missing a huge field-stretching threat. That means that the defense can tighten down on the Saints running game (just a guess here, but they spent a No. 1 pick on Alabamas Mark Ingram not to upgrade their passing offense).

If the Saints cant get the Bears into a shootout and force CutlerMike Martz to abandon balance, the Bears will be 2-0 come sundown:

Bears 23, Saints 20

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.

Here's where Allen Robinson ranks on list of 2021 NFL free agents

Here's where Allen Robinson ranks on list of 2021 NFL free agents

Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson still doesn't have his contract extension. The COVID-19 pandemic is an obvious explanation for the delay in re-signing Chicago's most important offensive weapon to a multi-year deal, but as the calendar inches closer to the start of the 2020 regular season, the odds of inking A-Rob to a new contract get worse.

At some point, Robinson might decide it's better to play out the final year of his contract and improve his open-market value in 2021. The addition of Nick Foles should be a boon to Robinson's production, assuming he takes the field at some point this season. Robinson had nearly 100 catches and more than 1,100 yards catching passes from a devolved Mitch Trubisky and duck-and-chuck backup, Chase Daniel. Just imagine the kind of numbers Robinson would put up with steady quarterback play.

And with more production comes more cash.

READ: Todd McShay has Bears taking a QB in latest NFL Mock Draft

The Bears have to be very careful with their handling of Robinson. If they allow him to hit the open market, he won't be back. Teams will line up for his services and the bidding will get out of control. In fact, Robinson would command a contract that would put him at or near the top of the wide receiver market.

And this isn't just a Bears-biased opinion of Robinson. He's already regarded as one of the top players scheduled to hit free agency next winter, according to NFL.com.

7. Allen Robinson 

Robinson, who turns 27 later this month, would be known as one of the 10 best receivers in football if he played with better quarterbacks.

Ryan Pace has proven during his tenure in Chicago that he isn't afraid to pay his own players. He already did it this offseason with Eddie Jackson when he signed the Pro Bowl safety to a four-year, $58.4 million deal.

It isn't time to panic yet. Pace tends to take his time with these transactions and is infamous for getting big-money extensions signed by his guys on the eve of the regular season. Maybe Robinson will be the next guy in line.

He better be.

 

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NFL Mock Draft 2021: Todd McShay has Bears taking a quarterback

NFL Mock Draft 2021: Todd McShay has Bears taking a quarterback

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay published his first mock draft of the 2021 NFL draft cycle on Wednesday, which is exactly what all football fans need after the Big 10 and Pac 12 conferences announced they're delaying football until the spring. The remaining Power 5 conferences could follow suit in the coming days. Draft season is already here, folks.

McShay's mock draft was a mix of chalk and surprises. Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) was the first pick to the Jaguars, which almost every draft analyst assumes is a lock at this point. Lawrence is a franchise-changing quarterback prospect and whoever owns the first overall pick is going to take him. You can safely move on to the second pick, which is where McShay's first major curveball came.

At No. 2 overall, McShay has the Washington Football Team selecting Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II. 

Surtain is a surefire first-round pick but it isn't a slamdunk that he's the top cornerback in this year's draft class, let alone a top-five player overall. Instead, that distinction should go to Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who McShay has off the board at the third and fourth overall picks to the Bengals and Panthers respectively.

READ: 4 reasons to feel optimistic about the Bears in 2020

As for the Bears, McShay is one of many who are buying into the quarterback narrative. Chicago is expected to be one of the teams on the shortlist of clubs targeting a passer in Round 1 next April (assuming the draft is in April). In this mock, McShay sends the Bears Trey Lance, the North Dakota State star who enjoyed a 41-touchdown, zero-turnover season as a passer and runner in 2019.

"Lance is big, athletic and tough, and he absolutely dominated the FCS last season," McShay wrote of the Bears' pick at No. 14 overall. "He threw zero interceptions on nearly 300 pass attempts in 2019 and offered dual-threat production, rushing for 50-plus yards in nine of his 16 games. The Bears need a guy they can build around, and they can't afford to whiff this time around.

"Chicago's thoughts on Mitchell Trubisky were made clear when it didn't give him his fifth-year option and signed a soon-to-be 32-year-old Foles who is coming off an injury-plagued, poor 2019 season. Lance is a third-year sophomore with some questions still to be answered -- including whether he'd want to declare for the draft at all -- but the Bears would love to get this talented signal-caller in the middle of the first round based on his ceiling."

Lance will be a fascinating player to monitor over the next few months. He, unlike some of the other top prospects from bigger programs, needs another season of tape to solidify his grade as an early first-round pick. It doesn't look like he's going to get it.

RELATED: Is Mitch Trubisky the Bears' biggest liability this season?

Lance is making a jump from a lower level of competition at the game's most complex position. He only has 288 pass attempts on his collegiate resume. Compare that to Trubisky, who entered the NFL with 386 college pass attempts and was considered inexperienced and raw during the 2017 draft cycle.

Can Ryan Pace (or whoever is the Bears' general manager during the 2021 draft)  roll the dice on another quarterback who has just one season as a starter? It seems like an easy answer (which is 'No' in case you're wondering). 

Buckle up. It's going to be an extremely long draft season with dozens and dozens of mock drafts between now and April. Players like Lance will move up and down the first round, and pundits will cycle through names for the Bears' first-rounder like Chicago's gone through kickers in recent years. 

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