Mullin: NFC North makes a statement in Week 1


Mullin: NFC North makes a statement in Week 1

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
Posted: 2:25 p.m.

By John Mullin Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Around the NFC North

The first game weekend was an NFC North statement, if there are really such things. The Bears, Lions and Packers all hung losses on the best of the NFC South, and the Lions win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was on the road. Add the Vikings near-upset of the AFC West favorite Chargers (San Diego trailed until 5 minutes to play) and the North acquitted itself very, very well....

Matthew Stafford was exactly as expected in the win over Tampa Bay, with 305 passing yards. What was even more impressive was the passer rating of 118.9, meaning efficiency with not many turnovers (1 INT), and he had a 9.24-yd. average per attempt....Coach Jim Schwartz was incensed at some of his players for stupid plays, but a key here is that the Lions of the last decade always made stupid plays. They just werent good enough to overcome them....

Minnesota will be better, not necessarily good since adding quarterback Donovan McNabb. But the Vikings wont get much better unless McNabb can give them more than 39 passing yards, as he did at San Diego. Probably a blip, but theres a reason why Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan werent concerned about letting him go....

Around the schedule

The Bears had the good fortune last season of facing some teams missing key players and that will be the case Sunday with the Saints. Wide receiver Marques Colston will be out for at least the next month with a broken collarbone suffered in the Green Bay game....

Lovie Smith has never lost to the New Orleans Saints in four meetings, all from 2005-2008. The Dick Jauron Bears teams lost three straight to New Orleans (2000-2003, with the 2002 game being played at the University of Ilinois while Soldier Field was being built onto. The contest was moved over to LSUs Tiger Stadium because of the damage wrought by Katrina....

Cam Newton made the Carolina Panthers headlines with his 422 passing yards, a rookie record. But the Panthers also lost the game and, worse, lost Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jon Beason from a defense that already was among the NFLs worst....

Around the NFL

Hot starts, anyone? Exactly four quarterbacks finished 2010 with passer ratings of 100 or better Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick. The first weeks games produced 12, and neither Rivers nor Vick were among em.

Usual stuff

Brian Urlacher had 10 tackles, an interception, recovered fumble taken in for a touchdown, a tackle for loss and a pass deflection. For some linebackers playing against that Atlanta Falcons offense, that would be a career game.

Not for Urlacher. Not even his best game against the Falcons.

Urlacher was named NFC defensive player of the week after the Oct. 7, 2001 game in Atlanta in which he had 8 tackles, a sack, an interception of Vick, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble and a 90-yard TD return of a fumble (Vick didnt catch him). Urlacher wasnt interested in numbers or history after Sundays game.

"We won the game, thats all I care about, Urlacher said. Stats, this and that, you can have all that. There were a lot of questions about our team coming into the season. We are starting 1-0. We just need to keep going.

Important stuff

The annual coat drive run by Bears head equipment manager Tony Medlin is getting underway and will run through Dec. 4 with various drop-off points at Jewel-Oscos in the Chicago area. More than 25,000 coats were distributed last year but the goal is higher for 2011 and has a special target.

Sometimes you look around and see kids without a coat and we definitely want to stress that, for kids, Medlin said.

The drive is a joint effort by the Bears with Jewel-Osco, the Salvation Army and William Meyer Movers. For more information, including if you need a coat, check the teams website Chicagobears.comcommunity or call 773-205-3636.

Its a great thing that Tony does, said Urlacher.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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.

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots


NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots


Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.