Bears

Mullin: Best collection of Bears skill players?

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Mullin: Best collection of Bears skill players?

Monday, Sept. 12, 2011
Posted: 10:46 p.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
Every Monday afternoon I have a good time talking Bears with the folks at SportsRadio 1450, WFMB-AM in Springfield (and the Bears have some serious fans downstate). The guys put a great question on the table in the aftermath of the Atlanta game:

Is this the best collection of Bears skill players in the last 25 years?

The quick-evaluation answer on the show: Yes.

With more time to think about it and look back in some detail: Yes.

These comparison things are generally tiresome and clich. Usually its comparing the defense to the 1985 or 1986 group; enough of that, please.

But since the guys downstate asked, lets think about it:

For all of the Jay Cutler debate, or whether Matt Forte is worth Chris JohnsonFrank Gorewhoever money, or whether the Bears have or even need a No. 1 receiver, looking at the skill players was more fun.

Sadly, the points of comparison are pretty scant. The 1988 group, basically. Maybe the 1995 core of Erik Kramer-Rashaan Salaam-Curtis Conway-Jeff Graham. Thats about it.

1988?

Right now, Cutler is a better passer and arguably as good a quarterback as the 1988 Jim McMahon; Neal Anderson and Forte are a wash and two of the best all-around backs in franchise history. Tight ends are bit players in both systems.

But the 2011 Bears wide-receiver group is significantly better than Dennis McKinnon (best season, 45 catches) group, even if none of Earl Bennett - Devin Hester - Johnny Knox - Roy Williams - Sam Hurd - Dane Sanzenbacher are remotely in McKinnons class as a blocker.

I didnt consider the Bears receivers trash last year and I definitely dont now. Whether theyre anywhere close to good enough for reaching a Super Bowl (they showed last year that they were), go ahead; have at it. But this corps is the deepest for the Bears of the past quarter-century.
1995?

The 1995 group is the only other one with a seat at the table. Cutler hasnt had a season yet thats quite at the level of Kramer and his 93.5 passer rating, but Cutler has topped 100 for passer rating in six of the last nine games, including Sundays 107.8. Forte is a better runner, a far better blocker and an exponentially more accomplished receiver than Salaam. Plus, he holds onto the football.

Conway and Graham were both 1,000-yard receivers and each was better than any of Bears wideout right now. Those are the only two from the 95 skills who would start for the 2011 Bears, unless you like Keith Jennings over Matt SpaethKellen Davis.

But would you take Michael Timpson as your No. 3, or Bennett? Knox? For this offense and this quarterback, no comparison. And does anybody not think the 2011 group has a collective arrow pointing up?

None of these comparisons mean a whole lot. But as clichd as it has been to denigrate particularly the Bears wide receivers, give it all a rest. Enjoy it. This group may not play more than 16 games (the 95ers didnt) but its as good as theres been here since Walter Paytons era.

They can see that all the way down in Springfield.

Passing thoughts

Atlantas Matt Ryan became the latest quarterback to perform below his norm against the Bears. Of the 18 quarterbacks facing the Bears last season (not including fill-in Drew Stanton in Detroit), only Tom Brady (Patriots), Mark Sanchez (Jets) and Matt Hasselbeck (Seahawks) twice managed to reach their season passer rating against the Chicago defense.

Ryan, a 91.0 passer in 2010, posted just a 76.5 rating against the Bears.

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.

The road to Super Bowl LIV filled with plenty of intrigue for Bears fans

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USA TODAY

The road to Super Bowl LIV filled with plenty of intrigue for Bears fans

Super Bowl LIV is going to have plenty of intrigue for Bears fans. There are many connections in terms of the players in the game and each team's journey to Super Bowl LIV contained plenty of points of interest for the Chicago fan base along the way. With the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers set to faceoff on February 2, 2020, let's take a look at the most important connections for Bears fans to monitor and think back on as they prepare for the big game. 

Aaron Rodgers' big dud:

Aaron Rodgers, who has otherwise had a great season (4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns), laid an absolute dud in the first half against the 49ers, resulting in the Packers entering the half down 27-0. In Rodgers' first-half performance he threw for under 70 yards, had one interception, and two fumbles, losing one of them. 

There is no shame in playing poorly against the San Francisco defense, which is No. 1 in the league in postseason total defense (yards per game) but that being said, Rodgers and the Packers were thoroughly dominated. Rodgers pick was to Emmanuel Moseley on what appeared to be a miscommunication and his fumble was a result of a bad handoff exchange between him and center Corey Linsley. 

Rodgers capped off the game with his final turnover, an interception to Richard Sherman, as the Packers fell 37-20 to the 49ers.

Welcome to "The Show" Raheem Mostert (Remember him?)

For the most diligent of Bears fans, the name Raheem Mostert may ring a bell. For those who are drawing a blank when it comes to the connection between the explosive Mostert and the Bears, you need to go back to 2016, when Mostert was a running back on the Bears practice squad. The Bears signed Mostert in Septemeber 2016 and he actually was elevated to the Bears active roster at some point that season. Mostert appeared in two games for the Bears in 2016, not seeing much action in either contest. The Bears released the running back out of Purdue on November 24, 2016. He landed on the 49ers practice squad in 2016 and was used sparingly over the years before his big break in the 2019 season. 

Mostert lit up the Packers' defense to the tune of 220 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He had touchdown runs of 36, 9, 18, and 22 yards.

The San Francisco rushing attack is extremely potent. evidenced by the fact that they had three different players rush for over 500 yards in the 2019 regular season. Mostert led the way with eight rushing touchdowns in the regular season but Matt Breida (6) wasn't too far behind. When the Bears had Mostert, he likely wasn't running the way he is now. But the 49ers are tops in the league in postseason rushing yards per game and Mostert's play is obviously a big reason, leaving Bears fans to wonder what could have been. 

The local kid vs the 2018 NFL MVP 

He didn't have to do much on Sunday but local product Jimmy Garoppolo will be making his Super Bowl debut after going

Graoppolo, who grew up in Arlington Heights, went to Rolling Meadows High School, where he performed well enough to end up at Eastern Illinois. In his three years with the Panthers, Garoppolo broke the pass completions record that was held by former Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo on his way to becoming a New England Patriot and one of the hottest trade chips in the NFL. The Pats eventually traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft in a move that many fans are still wishing the Bears would've or could've made. 

The 49ers' handpicked franchise QB had a solid 2019 regular season, throwing for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Similar to Mitchell Trubisky in 2018, "Jimmy G" is backed by a great defense that allows him to operate as stress-free as possible. While Bears fans are surely intrigued about the idea of Garoppolo as a Bear, it is no doubt Patrick Mahomes who induces the longest sighs. 

Mahomes, who the Bears and a bunch of other NFL teams now infamously passed up on in the 2017 draft, is already a league MVP who is now getting ready to play in his first Super Bowl all before the age of 25. Mahomes lit up a very physical Tennesse Titans defense, throwing for 294 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 53 yards and another touchdown. For a team that has had no trouble scoring as is, Mahomes' recent surge in rushing yards adds another dimension to an already potent attack.

Garoppolo-Trubisky comparisons could be interesting depending on how the rest of the season shakes out. But it was already unfair to compare Trubisky's solid career to what has been a meteoric rise for Mahomes in KC, and will be an even tougher comparison should Mahomes rack up some additional hardware in February. 

The Bears REALLY made an impact in this one 

We mentioned that running back Mostert was a former Chicago Bear, but with Chicago-favorite Robbie Gould still acting as the kicker for the 49ers, former Bears scored all 37 of the 49ers points on Sunday.

We told you the Bears had a strong presence in this one! Super Bowl LIV will kick off on February 2, 2020 at the Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

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

Tom Brady to meet with other teams in 2020 free agency

Tom Brady to meet with other teams in 2020 free agency

Let the games begin! After spending his entire NFL career at Gillette Stadium with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady is entering free agency. Per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Brady is open to talks with other teams for what is to be the last contract of his playing career.

Brady has been a staple of the Patriots franchise for 19 years. There are young New England fans who haven’t ever been alive during a time without Brady under center. The Patriots are certain to undergo changes in the future, with many wondering how much longer Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick will be at the helm of the organization, so it is understandable to see Brady ready to explore his options.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

At 42-years-old, Brady has been telling those close to him that, unless he is sidelined by injury, he anticipates playing until age 45. Brady is also excited at the prospect of mentoring a young quarterback so that whatever organization he plays with during his final NFL stint, it is set for success after he retires. The question for Bears fans is, could that young quarterback be Mitch Trubisky?

After an uninspiring season, there is much talk about creating some competition at QB for the three-year Bears starter. Some healthy competition could drive Trubisky to play like the draft pick that Ryan Pace hoped he would be. The Bears are currently in the bottom-five of salary cap space in the NFL, meaning they would have to do some serious budgeting to be able to afford Brady, but fans will have to wait and see what Pace intends to do this off-season after a disappointing 2019 campaign.

La Canfora reports that it would “extremely surprising” if Brady were to agree to a new deal with the Patriots before free agency begins in March. There have been other reports of the Brady family moving to Connecticut (still technically in New England, but a move nonetheless) and a deep clean of Giselle Bündchen’s suite at Gillette Stadium, indicating that Brady is indeed ready to move on. We will all just have to wait and see where Brady will end up in 2020. 

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