Mullin: Will Cover-2 be successful vs. Falcons?


Mullin: Will Cover-2 be successful vs. Falcons?

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011
Posted: 9:47 a.m. Updated: 10:16 a.m.

By John Mullin Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
READ: Barber likely out vs. FalconsREAD: Forte giving away the game plan?WATCH: Forte disappointed extension didn't happen

Taking shots at the CoverTampa-2 defense of Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli as being passe and behind the NFL times may be fashionable. Its also off target. Facing the offense of the Atlanta Falcons by way of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, thats notable.

In three of the last five seasons the Bears ranked in the top four in scoring defense. When the Philadelphia Eagles and their West Coast offense of Andy Reid (why is it that the West Coast never seems to go out of style?) faced the Bears last year, it seemed to me an intriguing match between two classics, because like it or not, the Cover-2 works and has worked for a long time.

Why thats important is that in 13 of 18 games last season the Bears held the opposing quarterback below, sometimes far, far below that QBs passer rating for the season. The ones they didnt included Tom Brady and Matt Hasselbeck (twice), advanced practitioners of West Coast schemes.

The ones they did, however, included Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers (three times). And these results were achieved without a year marked by pass-rush pressure close to sufficient by Bears standards.

Where all of this is going is toward dealing with Ryan and the Atlanta offense. The Falcons have scored 21 and 22 points in their two Ryan games against the Bears, so scoring can occur against the SmithMarinelli scheme. But not usually enough to win, which would be a big part of the reason the Bears are the only NFC North team to have four winning seasons over the past six.

Packers vs. Saints

If you want to establish some sense of what the Bears 2011 early road looks like, the NFL has been kind enough to put the New Orleans Saints together with the Green Bay Packers Thursday night in Lambeau Field.

These are the last two Super Bowl winners and also the second and third teams appearing on the Bears schedule. This is distantly reminiscent of the Bears hosting the New York Giants to start the 1987 season (won decisively by the Bears) and is maybe the biggest must-see of this season outside of the Bears schedule.

Whats a notable element in these first three teams on the schedule, plus the Bears, is that all four were playoff teams and returned established cores with a stable coaching situation. Teams that had coaching changes, besides being bad anyway (which, after all, is usually why you make a coaching change), were further hurt by the lockout and lost offseason for scheme installations, personnel orientation and all the rest.

And add one other thought, one that doesnt bode well for the Bears: The Packers believe they actually benefitted from the lockout.

Check out what Aaron Rodgers told longtime pal Alex Marvez of Alex was up in Green Bay as part of his annual North American Tour of camps, sat down with Rodgers, who told him, In a way I think this lost offseason was a blessing in disguise. We didnt have to keep re-living the 2010 season...You dont start with that momentum.

Maybe not. But you couldnt prove it by Rodgers preseason: 78.7 percent competion, 4TDs, 0 interceptions.

Just keep telling yourself: It was only preseason, It was only preseason, It was only preseason...

Can Bears stop the run?

Nice to visit with Dan McNeil on our regular Thursday A.M. hit on WSCR-AM 670s "McNeil and Spiegel Show" this morning with Lawrence Holmes sitting in for Matt Spiegel. Lawrence and I sit at neighboring work slots at Halas Hall and share a lot thoughts anyway.

The Packers-Saints was an obvious talking point, and my thought here is that Green Bay is an easy pick at home but this is anything but an easy game, and a Saints win to me is very, very possible given the explosiveness of a New Orleans offense that can score on just about anybody. A Saints win would be a huuuuge bonus for the Bears, because tiebreakers decide playoff qualification in lots of years and a conference loss for the Packers would be a good thing.

Danny has some concerns that the Bears wont really stop the run against the Falcons, and hed also done his homework (reading View from the Moon I like this McNeil guy) and noted that the Bears havent sacked Matt Ryan even once in two games despite him throwing 30 and 33 passes in those games.

The reality is that this is the NFL and, as Jay Cutler saw fit to mention Wednesday, there are no D-2 schools out there on the schedule. So anybody can run on you (unless youre the Pittsburgh Steelers), and the Falcons have Michael Turner and his 1,371 yards and 12 rushing TDs as a one-man credential for their run game.

But one reason I have been consistent in seeing this Bears team as better than most observers do is that there are simply too many good players (Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, Anthony Adams, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, Chris Harris) for this defense to be bad. Somebody will run on them; somebody will throw on them. The Falcons could do both. This is the NFL. The Falcons are not D-2.

Lawrence agrees with me on not believing the Detroit Lions hype; show me were his exact words. Just thinking about it here, its funny how easily everyone seems to believe that the Lions, who have won nothing for a long, long time, will be good and no one seems inclined to believe that the Bears, who have four winning seasons in the last six years, more than any other NFC North team, might actually be good.

10-6 or better - thats the prediction for record, again.

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.

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.

Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:

Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85). 

Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.

Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.