Mullin, Florio talk Urlacher, Bears


Mullin, Florio talk Urlacher, Bears

Its always a great chat with Mike Florio over at and today was no exception. Few reporters have as strong a sense of the NFL overall, and Mike and I have successfully visited on the Bears in the past.

Among the issues Mike brought up and we covered on ProFootballTalk Live!:

Brian Urlachers status, injury and contract-wise

Urlacher is getting time off from full practice to do some rehab running on the knee injured during the final week of the season. A leg injury of any sort is a concern with a veteran player, especially one whose speed is key in his play and the defenses, but Urlacher and the Bears are being smart about this and he will be used judiciously throughout training camp. Id be surprised if he plays at all in game four, possibly even in game one of the preseason.

The Bears have taken care of Urlacher contractually with a couple of extensions. Best guess is that they will not send him into free agency when his deal is up after this season. Thats just bad PR with a pillar of the franchise.

And the Bears also have no succession plan in place, and that's perhaps another indicator of where they envision being with No. 54. Nick Roach can plan the Mike spot but thats a second-tier option. Nothing is done until its done, but an added year for Urlacher will make sense, as well as something for Lance Briggs as well.

The new Bears offense

Mike noted that some speculation is that the offense under Mike Tice will resemble the Minnesota offense when Tice was head coach there. He then added, Im not sure that would be a good thing.

Mike also wondered about the Bears becoming a more pass-oriented offense, which is a reasonable thought given the addition of receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and quarterback coach Jeremy Bates, who was with Marshall and Jay Cutler in Denver.

But as Ive noted before, and Marshall did as well, that Denver offense didnt win anything. The numbers were big; the key wins were not.

Lovie Smith is in a must-win year (another topic Mike raised) and he is not going to allow the offense to lose its compass as it did at the outset of both years under Mike Martz. The Bears now have the clear ability to be a big-game passing team but Smith wants sanity and balance. Tice brought that the past two years, and its unlikely the offense sets out to be an airshow.

But its a comfort for the Bears to know that they could be.

Biggest area of concern?

Based on this being the end of the offseason, with minicamp through Thursday, Mike wanted to know what was perhaps the one biggest area of concern. He and I have discussed in some depth the offensive-line situation, but I said that the tackle position on offense is not the one of most concern.

It would be the defensive tackle situation.

With Gabe Carimi, JMarcus Webb and Chris Williams, the Bears may not have incumbent Pro Bowlers. But all three tackles have started.

One defense, however, where Smiths scheme demands interior disruption from the three-technique, the Bears have only Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Matt Toeaina. Melton is in a contract year and flashed at times last year (seven sacks) and Paea started to show up later in the season.

But it is a perilously thin depth chart at a crucial spot, and Paea had knee problems last training camp. Best guess is that the Bears will be looking hard a cuts later in August for a fourth player, a veteran, to fortify what they have in front of Urlacher.

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

(For a bonus film review, check out the video above of Akiem Hicks' forced fumble on the one-yard line)

When Eddie Jackson didn’t stay on top shoulder of Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ season opener, there was a clear coaching point from that 75-yard backbreaking touchdown. The Bears’ defensive mantra the week after was to focus on “plastering” receivers, which this defense did a good job of over the next three weeks. 

There surely are coaching points leveled by Vic Fangio and his assistants after the Bears were carved up by Brock Osweiler and the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s 31-28 loss in Miami. But maybe the over-arching though here is this: The Bears didn’t, during the off week, go from being one of the league’s more sure-handed tackling teams to one of the worst. 

A defense that swarmed to the ball over the first four weeks looked a step slow and frequently out of position on Sunday. The more likely explanation for that development isn’t the plot to Space Jam 3, where a group of cartoon aliens steal the athletic power of an entire defense to use for their own. More likely, it was the heat in south Florida that sapped this team’s energy over the course of a long afternoon.

In this week’s film breakdown, we’re going to look at Albert Wilson’s 75-yard touchdown, which was wildly uncharacteristic of this defense. 

Image 1: the Bears are in nickel man coverage with Wilson (red circle) lined up in the slot across from Bryce Callahan. Danny Amendola goes in motion to the boundary (green arrow), with Danny Trevathan (green arrow) following him, though safety Adrian Amos will be the guy covering the Dolphins receiver. Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard are the two down linemen in the interior, with Leonard Floyd rushing from the left and Khalil Mack from the right. 

Image 2: Mack is chipped by tight end Nick O’Leary (yellow circle), with Roquan Smith (yellow arrow) responsible or covering him. Trevathan (green circle) is in space with Amos (blue circle) picking up Amendola. With Mack chipped, the Bears have three pass rushers to go against five offensive linemen. 

Image 3: There’s about 10 yards of space between Mack and Osweiler (yellow arrow) after Mack comes free of O’Leary’s chip. Trevathan (green circle) is in a good position here, with Amos (blue arrow) closing on Amendola. Wilson works into space ahead of Callahan (red arrow), while both Dolphins outside pass-catchers run go routes to clear cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Kevin Toliver II out of the play. 

Image 4: First, the white circle — Hicks had his helmet ripped off, with right tackle Jesse Davis the apparent culprit. He still manages a good pass rush against a double team that could’ve hit home, or forced Osweiler to Mack (who’s about five yards from Osweiler when the ball is released) or Floyd, had the play extended longer. Meanwhile, when the ball is released, Callahan (red arrow) and Trevathan (green arrow) are in good position to bring down Wilson, while Amos (blue arrow) is there for help if Wilson were to turn upfield to the far sideline. 

Image 5: Wilson catches the ball and goes to the far sideline, away from Callahan (red arrow) and toward Trevathan (green arrow). After O’Leary and Smith engaged, the rookie linebacker is the farthest back from the play of these three when the ball is caught. 

Image 6: Trevathan (green arrow) seems to over-commit, giving Wilson a lane toward the boundary to cut upfield. 

Image 7: Amos (blue arrow) still has a chance to bring down Wilson short of the sticks.

Image 8: Amos misses the tackle, and Trevathan is blocked by O’Leary. That leaves Jackson (yellow arrow) as the last guy who can stop Wilson from breaking this play open. 

Image 9: In missing the tackle, Amos tripped Wilson a bit, which Jackson admitted threw him off (“but that’s not an excuse for it,” he added). Wilson re-gains his balance, cuts inside, and Jackson whiffs on the tackle. 

“Probably just try to shoot my shot on the tackle instead of just guessing, just probably should have shot my shot,” Jackson said of what he felt he should’ve done differently. 

Wilson goes to the house, and the Dolphins tie the game one play after the Bears took the lead. The last image here is Wilson’s route chart from NFL Next Gen Stats, which shows just how much running he did after the catch on that play — yardage-wise, it was 71 yards, but by distance it was much further. 

“We talked about how many tackles we missed,” Jackson said. “Some of that could have really changed the momentum of the game if we would have made some of those tackles. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in big play touchdowns.”

No members of the Bears defense were willing to use the heat as an excuse, instead opting for thumb-pointing instead of blaming teammates, coaches or the sun. But there’s a good chance we look back at Week 6 in Week 10 or 11 and can say with some confidence that the Bears beat themselves more than the Dolphins did, and it’s something that hasn’t happened since. 

“We know we made mistakes, that don’t kill our confidence,” Jackson said. “That don’t kill our swagger. We know what we gotta do, we know what we gotta correct. So we come in here, we’re going to play Chicago Bears football that we’re used to playing.”

Bill Belichick sees "overlap" between the Bears and the Chiefs, and who are we to disagree with him

Bill Belichick sees "overlap" between the Bears and the Chiefs, and who are we to disagree with him

If Bill Belichick talks football, it's probably worth listening to. 

Talkin to reporters ahead of this weekend's Bears-Patriots matchup, Belichick mentioned how similar he views the Bears and the Chiefs: 

“Well, I mean they have a lot of good players,” Belichick said. “They have good skill players, good receivers, big offensive line, good tight end, athletic quarterback, good backs. I mean there’s some movement and some motion and shifting. I wouldn’t say it’s an extraordinary amount. They get the ball to a lot of different people and they’re all pretty effective when they get it. That’ll be a big challenge. They throw the ball down the field and have a lot of catch-and-run plays and have a good running game.”

Statistically speaking, Kansas City ranks 2nd in offensive DVOA while the Bears are down at 17th. But otherwise they're identical! We're with you, Bill.