Bears

Mullin: Mike Tice Miracle on O-Line? Not quite

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Mullin: Mike Tice Miracle on O-Line? Not quite

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
11:01 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Phew lots to range over with Mac and Spiegs this morning on the weekly visit with The Danny Mac Show on WSCR-AM 670. (CLICK HERE to listen to the segment).

Mac clearly isnt buying into the Mike Tice Miracle with the offensive line, a group that has improved almost weekly but still allowed (with contributions from poor blocking by tight ends and backs at times) a league-worst 56 sacks. And Dannys right; if youre 30th in offensive production, you dont rate a rainbow of bouquets.

But in fairness, I thought it worth acknowledging that Tice came in with an open-mind policy on players, which actually have hurt him in the selection process. What that meant was a guard like Johan Asiata jumps out in OTAs because hes athletic. Trouble is, when pads come on and playbooks expand, Tice finds out why Asiata wasnt in the mix before this.

Then Tice sees things from Lance Louis, enough so that he moves Roberto Garza to a new position (left guard) to fit Louis at right guard. Trouble is, Louis cant play effectively through what by NFL standards are minor injuries, so that path was a dead-end.

Throw in the injuries to Garza and Chris Williams and I do think you see the amount of assessment Tice had to do while all the while in the middle of teaching his group the new system and protections...

Mac (no surprise) had fun with what Anthony Adams had said to me, that there need to be more fat guys on magazine covers. Id add here that there need to be more fat guys in booths, meaning that bright bulbs like Adams should get more looks as analysts and color guys. Tony Siragusa is a cartoon figure but when I watch Michael Strahan, I see a job for Anthony Adams funny but thoroughly knows his game.

But back to MacTalk...

We went from Adams to the defensive line in general as the guys were interested in how the stats of Julius Peppers and the defensive line with him werent stunningly leaping up this year with the addition of No. 90. But thats probably another good measure of Peppers impact he has calmly said all year that hes not about the stats, winning is not about stats, and he and the Bears have played like it.

Draft breezes

Interesting brief look ahead when the guys alluded to Hub Arkushs thought that the Bears will have to address the defensive line this draft or offseason. Id agree with that, and mentioned a look back Id done at drafts in which Jerry Angelo was a part. A vast majority of them saw linemen (offensive or defensive) taken with his teams first pick, irrespective of round.

When he took over running the draft as Bears GM, what did he pick first? Offensive line (Marc Colombo, 2002), defensive line (Michael Haynes, 2003), defensive line (Tommie Harris, 2004). Two of the last three years he stayed bigs on his first picks: offensive line (Chris Williams, 2008), defensive line (Jarron Gilbert, 2009).

Given that Angelo doesnt need a quarterback, running back, tight end or safety, and he wont spend a first-round pick on a wide receiver, chances are very, very good that the lines are addressed with the top two picks in the 2011 draft.

Playoffing

Im on board with the guys thinking that Green Bay-Philadelphia is the game of the wild-card weekend. They werent sure why all the love for Green Bay, but the Packers were my preseason pick for NFC Super Bowl representative and the No. 1 reason is No. 12. Aaron Rodgers is still there, and as good a season as Michael Vick has had, I give the QB edge to Green Bay this weekend.

And just thinking about this right now: Mac noted that, yeah, the Packers cant run the ball. Agree. But what I see in Rodgers is a young Brett Favre without the image of the gunslinger. Favres teams were more than passable without a dominant run game, were very good with one (Dorsey Levens for a year to win a Super Bowl), and while this defense doesnt have Reggie White the way the Favre teams did, this one is more than good enough.

The Packers beat the Eagles in Philadelphia to start the season, with Vick taking over when Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion. This wont be the same Green Bay team (that one had RB Ryan Grant) or the same Eagles team (Vick has a season behind him). But the result will be the same.

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.

Pro Football Focus: Bears could be surprise playoff team in 2018

Pro Football Focus: Bears could be surprise playoff team in 2018

There's a lot of optimism about the Chicago Bears in 2018  because of the incredible offseason had by GM Ryan Pace. It started in free agency with several big-name additions on offense and continued in the NFL Draft with the selection of Roquan Smith, arguably the top all-around defender in the class.

Pace now finds himself in unfamiliar territory. He's entering a season with actual expectations. While those expectations vary, one thing is consistent: Improvement is expected.

According to Pro Football Focus, Chicago should end up challenging for a playoff spot.

No less than five additions on offense this offseason could make key impacts for the Bears, including wide receiver Allen Robinson who was one of the NFL’s best in 2015 before a down year in 2016 and essentially missing all of 2017 through injury. He’s joined at the position by Taylor Gabriel, who had three touchdowns on throws 20 yards or further downfield in 2016 and rookie Anthony Miller, who was tied for fourth among wide receivers in this draft class with 19 missed tackles forced on receptions. Add in tight end Trey Burton, who had three touchdowns from just 16 targets when lined up in the slot and rookie offensive lineman James Daniels from Iowa and it’s easy to see why this offense led by Mitchell Trubisky has the potential to trend upwards big time in 2018.

The Bears were one of five teams PFF listed as a surprise wildcard candidate. The road to the post-season will be challenging, however. Not only do all of the new pieces have to gel, but they have to do it while playing in one of the toughest divisions in football.

The NFC North could have three teams -- not including the Bears --  playing in January. The Vikings may be the most talented club in the NFC and the Packers will always be a contender with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. The Lions have some vulnerability, but they've had more success than Chicago in recent seasons.

Still, Pace deserves credit for winning the offseason.

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

NFL owners voted for sweeping changes to the kickoff play Tuesday, a decision that presents a new challenge for Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Player safety was the focus of the rule change. Collisions will be reduced and the play will look more like a punt than the traditional kickoff fans have become used to. Here's a breakdown of what's coming in 2018:

With less contact and physicality in the play, Tabor's game planning will be tested. Kickoffs won't require as many power players like the ones traditionally seen in the wedge block. Skill players like receivers, running backs and tight ends could be viewed as more valuable special teams pieces, as was suggested by NFL Network's Bucky Brooks.

Tarik Cohen could become even more lethal under the new rules. If kick returners end up with more space to navigate, Cohen will improve on the 583 return yards he managed as a rookie. He'll conjure memories of the recently retired Devin Hester.

The ability to contribute on special teams is critically important for players on the roster bubble. It'll be interesting to see if the Bears apply the approach suggested by Brooks. If they do, undrafted players like Matt Fleming and John Franklin III suddenly have more value and a better chance to make the team. 

For a complete breakdown of the new kickoff rule, click here.