Bears

Mullin: Those pesky (overlooked?) Lions

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Mullin: Those pesky (overlooked?) Lions

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Posted: 10:35 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

While it may be natural to dismiss the Detroit Lions and their now 2-10 record, and some Bears clearly did, to their discredit, these were the same Lions who led New England and Dallas at halftimes of their past two games and who had 10 days to prepare for the Bears. These were the same Lions who nearly defeated the Bears in Soldier Field Opening Day on an official's ruling, and who were tied with the Bears at halftime and in the fourth quarter or their games last year with the Bears.

"I don't know why but we never really seem to play great against the Lions," linebacker Brian Urlacher said, shaking his head. "But it's a division game and there's always going to be more on the line no matter what the records are."

The Detroit defense hung as many sacks (four) on the Bears as it did the first time the teams met this year. "They came out and played hard," said right tackle J'Marcus Webb, who had his pads full with defensive end Cliff Avril and a ramped up Detroit pass rush in the first half. "I guess you could say this was their game of the year."

When the Bears come to Detroit, "it seems like they just come out faster than we do; I don't know why," said safety Danieal Manning. "Next year we've got to start faster, period."

Sooo close

Devin Hester had the NFL record for return touchdowns in his sights, literally, in the third quarter when he took a Nick Harris punt back 30 yards before the last man, Harris, brought him down with a "tackle" that left Hester grumpy afterwards. Being tackled by kickers can leave returners that way.

"It's just lazy tacklers, they just get in the way and trip you up," Hester said. "It's frustrating. He fell down, I tried to jump over him and he grabbed my foot. ... That punt return should've been a touchdown."

Disturbing stat

Jay Cutler continues to develop as a quarterback but his stellar play of late and the overall progress of the offense shouldn't obscure one very ominous aspect that is still far from satisfactory.

The four sacks by Detroit marked the sixth time in 12 games that Cutler was sacked at least four times and in two of the others (Green Bay, Miami) he was taken down three times.

Huh?

No one had ever heard the call "simultaneous possession" and a couple players laughingly wondered if the officials came up with the phrase on the spot. But it cost the Bears a platinum chance of taking over Sunday's game much earlier than the fourth quarter.

Defensive end Israel Idonije forced a fumble by running back Maurice Morris at the Detroit 28 and gained control of the ball in the resulting scrum. But Morris wriggled in enough to get his hands on the ball and in the NFL, a tie goes to the offense.

"That was a terrible call. I clearly had the ball," Idonije said, crossing his arms tightly across his chest to demonstrate. "I had the ball for few seconds and then the other guy came in and just put his hands on the ball and the officials said it was this 'simultaneous possession.'"

"Turn out the lights, the party's over" ...

The passing of Dandy Don Meredith at age 72 throws a bit of a cloud over the NFL today. He, Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell made Monday Night Football, and the Danderoo was the absolute perfect counterweight to the (for some) detestable Howard.

Meredith was one fine quarterback as well, just with the misfortune of having his career overlap with the Green Bay Packers dynasty. And Chicago will have to always wonder what might have been had the Bears, who made Meredith their third-round pick in the 1960 draft, kept that kid out of SMU instead of trading him to the Dallas Cowboys for future draft picks.

But maybe things work out as they should after all. Meredith went to and helped fashion the "America's Team" that the Cowboys became. And for a fun watch sometime, watch "North Dallas Forty" and "Seth," the Mac Davis character in particular. You'll get the idea.

The NFL star is a little dimmer today for the loss.

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.

Former Bear Greg Olsen randomly walks into marriage proposal, catches whole thing on video

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USA TODAY

Former Bear Greg Olsen randomly walks into marriage proposal, catches whole thing on video

Scenario: you're walking down the street and randomly walk into a marriage proposal. What do you do?

For former Bear and current Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, the answer was to capture the magical moment on video. 

Olsen was in Nashville this week to give a keynote speech at a healthcare conference. While walking back to his hotel on Thursday, he randomly stumbled into a marriage proposal. His first response: hit record on his phone and capture the whole thing on video.

"Did she say yes? I got it on video, dude," Olsen said emphatically. "I'm going to send it to you!

"She said yes and I got it all on video, and you don't even know me, but I'm going to send it to you."

The couple, according to the Panthers, is Max Harvat and Brooke Hartranft. The two were visiting Nashville for the week, but Harvat didn't necessarily plan the proposal. It was as much of a sporadic moment for him as it was random for Olsen.

"Oh my god, you're my hero," Harvat said to Olsen after the proposal.

As it turns out, Harvat grew up a Panthers fan. However, he had no idea that Olsen was the person recording the proposal in the moment, only happy that someone caught it on video. When he stood up, he realized who the mystery man was.

“When I stood up, I looked over and I started having a mini heart attack," Harvat said to panthers.com. "I was like, ‘I’m 90 percent sure that’s Greg Olsen from the Panthers!’

“I'm a huge Carolina fan. I was like, ‘Oh my God, you're telling me that Greg Olsen just recorded the whole thing?’ I was so excited. It was amazing."

The moment wasn't just special for Havrat and Hartranft, though.

"It's the best thing I've ever witnessed," Olsen said in the video.

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Bilal Nichols eyes an even bigger impact for Bears in 2019

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USA Today

Bilal Nichols eyes an even bigger impact for Bears in 2019

Even if Bilal Nichols repeated his 2018 performance in 2019, the Bears would be lauded for unearthing a solid rotational player with a fifth-round draft pick. But Nichols isn’t resting on his rookie accomplishments, and is aiming to be an even more impactful player on the Bears’ defensive line as he enters Year 2 in the NFL. 

“More consistent, more dominant,” Nichols said. “That’s the biggest thing for me right now.”

Nichols was a top-50 run defender in the NFL last year, as rated by Pro Football Focus — he made a “stop” on 8.7 percent of his run defense plays, ranking 44th in the league (PFF defines a “stop” as a play that constitutes a failure for the offense). For reference, Akiem Hicks ranked eighth at 13.3 percent, Eddie Goldman was 17th at 11.6 percent and Jonathan Bullard came in 40th at 9.1 percent. 

Nichols’ biggest “stop” came in the Bears’ narrow Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, in which he dropped running back Chase Edmonds for a three-yard loss on a third-and-two play inside Bears territory just after the two-minute warning. While Nichols debuted a week earlier against the Seattle Seahawks and recorded a pressure of Russell Wilson, that play against the Cardinals was critical in an important victory for the Bears. It also proved to Nichols that what he was doing was beginning to work. 

“That was really a situation where I had cut it loose and went,” Nichols said. “I knew what i was doing on that play, I knew the possible things I could get from the offense and that was just a situation where I cut it loose and just played football. And I happened to make a big play. 

“I can’t wait to do that this year.” 

Nichols, as he was figuring out how to form a routine and study opponents in the NFL after making the jump from FCS-level Delaware, played a shade under a third of the Bears’ snaps last year as part of a rotation that proved critical to the team’s defensive success. Hicks played the most snaps (780), followed by Goldman (552) and Roy Robertson-Harris (353). Nichols (328) pushed Bullard (298) to the bottom of the rotation, which helped keep members of Jay Rodgers’ unit fresh and at their most effective when they were on the field. 

The Bears’ defensive line is arguably their best and deepest unit, one which can collapse pockets and stymie opposing run games (the latter of which is especially important, given the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions’ renewed commitments to running the ball this year). Nichols was already a big part of it in 2018, and may be an even bigger part of it in 2019. 

“Last year, I was still trying to figure things out, still trying to figure the league out, figure myself out as a player,” Nichols said. “And now that I got everything figured out, I’m just able to go. I could just play and play fast and cut it loose.”