Bears

Mullin: One-and-done for Bears' Taylor?

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Mullin: One-and-done for Bears' Taylor?

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011
10:50 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Elaborating on an earlier item...

How the Bears running back situation played out this year was an intriguing case study as Matt Forte had the best year of his career in the wake of the offseason signing of veteran Chester Taylor. Thomas Jones had never been as good as he was when the Bears drafted Cedric Benson. As coaches are fond of saying, there is nothing like competition.

The fate of Taylor now is another issue, however. As I reported recently, an NFL source said the Bears will part ways with Taylor, who signed a four-year contract last March for a respectable 12.5 million that included 7 million in the first year. But this is not entirely about money.

A problem for Taylor, besides a decided lack of impact in the ground game, is that the Bears invested a seventh-round pick last July in the supplemental draft on BYU tailback Harvey Unga, whom they signed for a four-year deal. At 237 pounds Unga was a potential fit as a short-yardage back (Taylors best value-added for the Bears) as well as an H-back but was forced onto IR with a hamstring injury in training camp.

The Bears may opt to let camp play out before making a move on Taylor. And it would not be strictly due to finances. They already have paid the heavy freight charges on Taylor, and GM Jerry Angelo and contract guru Cliff Stein dont do shell deals that are back-loaded such that no one expects to see final years.

But Taylor averaged less per carry in 2010 than Garrett Wolfe in any of Wolfes previous three NFL seasons, and Taylor is 32 and not a contributor on special teams.

Taylor had 338 rushing yards for the Vikings in 2009 in a complementary role behind Adrian Peterson. He managed just 267 yards and 2.4 yards per carry as Fortes relief but provided some in-close pop with 3 touchdowns, plus two 1-yard scoring bursts in the playoff games. He averaged 1 yard or less per carry in six of the last eight games.

This would not be the first time, nor the most costly one-and-done for the Bears. They signed veteran cornerback Thomas Smith away from the Buffalo Bills in 2000 for a 22.5 million package in 2000. That was Smiths one year as a Bear.

Courts in session

The Bears 2011 schedule may have just gotten a shade less difficult, depending on the order of battle and subject to possible further legal goings-on.

Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com reports that a judge has ruled in favor of the NFL in the StarCaps supplement case. If the ruling holds un-reversed, the league may be in position to suspend Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams as well as New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, all members of teams facing the Bears next season.

No good feelings here. You want football issues settled on the field, not on the bench, judges or otherwise.

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.

Puppy Pick 'Em Puppy Walter makes his Week 7 picks for Bears-Saints

Puppy Pick 'Em Puppy Walter makes his Week 7 picks for Bears-Saints

When the Bears announced their 2019 schedule, we decided to have some puppies reveal the opponents. Now, we have taken it a step further. We have a puppy that will make weekly picks for the Bears games.

It is Week 7!

Walter's choices in Week 7 are a chance to go to Mardi Gras or a celebration of St. Patrick's day in Chicago. Bears fans should be excited about his decision in Week 7... and now we're all looking forward to St. Patrick's Day again!

The 12-week old dachshund was hand-selected by the scouts at NBC Sports Chicago and hails from One Tail at a Time rescue. He came from a shelter in Alabama and was transported to Chicago.  At just 7 weeks old and without his mom, he beat a deadly virus and spent some time in the doggie ER, where he healed and became strong again. 

Now, Walter is ready to rumble between the well-manicured lines of Sweetness Field. He is NOW adoptable via onetail.org and has two adorable sisters named Martha and Millie, who are already adopted. 

Walter will pick the games throughout the NFL season, including the playoffs and we hope that his nose follows the scent to the Bears every week, all the way to that magical game in Miami in February. Narrated by Jason Benetti, play-by-play announcer for the White Sox.  

It is time for Puppy Pick ‘Em presented by Nissan.

To learn more: www.onetail.org

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Saints

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Saints

1. Get production from receivers not named Allen Robinson. 

Robinson can expect to be followed all game by Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who’s limited opposing receivers to nine catches on 20 targets in his last three games (a sampling of those receivers: Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, D.J. Chark). So if Robinson isn’t open, it likely will have less to do with his own play and more the play of one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. 

With that in mind, Sunday will be a significant test for the Bears’ other pass catchers. This team’s offensive identity was supposed to be steeped in an ability to spread the ball around to guys like Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson and Trey Burton, but so far this season, the only thing the Bears have proven to do well is get the ball to Robinson. That absolutely has to change on Sunday. 

Miller feels primed for a breakout game after ditching his shoulder harness, while Gabriel is back from a concussion suffered on the final catch of his explosive three touchdown game in Week 3 against Washington. Those two guys need to show up, and the Bears need to better scheme plays for Cohen, who’s averaging 4.5 yards per touch — lower than his average in 2017 with Dowell Loggains calling the plays. 

Robinson still could have a productive day — he’s that good — but the Bears shouldn’t count on it.

2. Hold your own against the Saints’ front. 

The Saints are outstanding at affecting quarterbacks without blitzing, with their 76 pressures ranking second in the NFL — this for a team that’s only blitzing on 22 percent of its defensive snaps. And of those 76 pressures, 63 have come from defensive linemen. 

Marcus Davenport and Cam Jordan have been monsters this year, combining for eight sacks while consistently generating that pressure off the edge. Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie will need need to have their best games of 2019 to keep them away from Mitch Trubisky, but the interior of the Bears’ line will have its hands full, too. David Onyemata, Malcom Brown and Sheldon Rankins all have at least one sack, putting an onus on Cody Whitehair, James Daniels and Rashaad Coward and/or Ted Larsen to keep those guys out of Trubisky’s face.

If not, Trubisky will have a difficult time getting comfortable and going through his progressions, which could lead to some forced/panicked throws...which could be jumped by Lattimore or another one of the Saints' defensive backs.   

3. Get game-wrecking plays on defense.

The thought here is Sunday’s game will be a tight defensive battle, with the game swinging on which team gets a turnover deep in its opponent territory. For the Bears, that means coming up with the kind of game-wrecking play (or plays) we’ve come to expect from this defense. 

Teddy Bridgewater has been sacked on only 16.7 percent of his drop-backs (24th, per PFF), though, with tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead among the best pass blockers at their position in the NFL. It’ll be a fascinating matchup for Khalil Mack, who will need to be at his best to beat the Saints’ best and “sack the football,” as he’s so good at doing. Or maybe Sunday is time for Eddie Jackson to get his first interception of the season (though he’s only been thrown at about two times per game, down from his average of nearly three times per game in 2018). 

However the Bears’ defense does it, they need to do it in a game in which their offense very well could struggle to move the ball. 

Prediction: Saints 13, Bears 9. 

While the Saints will be without future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, star do-it-all running back Alvin Kamara and reliable tight end Jared Cook, this is a team should have the advantage at the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense (the Bears, of course, will be without Akiem Hicks and might start a greenhorn at right guard in Coward). That advantage matters greatly in close games, in which grinding out a few yards here and there will become critical, especially in the fourth quarter.

And too, Sean Payton has built a strong coach of the year case for how he’s guided the Saints to an undefeated record without Brees. The Saints are playing a strong brand of complementary football, with a ball security-based offense and a defense that’s progressively got better this year (punter Thomas Morstead, for what it’s worth, is outstanding and shouldn’t be completely overlooked). 

So the Saints will arrive at Soldier Field undermanned, but with an advantage at the line of scrimmage and on the sideline. And those will be enough for New Orleans to emerge with a win, sending the Bears to 3-3 in the process. 

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