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.

Hall of Fame writers rank Jay Cutler behind Brandon Marshall on all-time Bears list


Hall of Fame writers rank Jay Cutler behind Brandon Marshall on all-time Bears list

The summer days of the offseason are prime ranking season, and the Bears official website is entering the mix as part of the team’s 100th season celebration.

Hall of Fame writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson ranked the top 100 players in franchise history for their upcoming centennial scrapbook, and Monday the team released the first 25 names on the list.

The biggest standout was quarterback Jay Cutler, who ranked 85th.

Plenty of Hall of Famers should rank above the Bears’ all-time leading passer, but 84 is quite a few.

It’s hard to compare a modern quarterback to players from previous decades, like 82nd-ranked George Blanda, but Cutler even came in behind the likes of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, neither of whom spent more than five years in Chicago.

Third-year safety Eddie Jackson also made an appearance at 96 on the list, and beloved former long snapper Patrick Mannelly started off the list at 100.

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 11-17

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 11-17

A lot has changed since the NFL released the 2019 schedule. Teams have added through the draft and free agency, and learned more about their rosters with rookie minicamps. Now with all that behind us, let’s take another look at which opposing rookies could make an impact in 2019. We’ll go over the first five opponents on Wednesday, the next four on Thursday and the last four on Friday.

Week 11 at Rams

If LA doesn’t re-sign Ndamukong Suh they’ll have a major vacancy on their defensive line: enter fourth-rounder Greg Gaines. The Rams traded back into the fourth round to snag Gaines, so clearly they think highly of the first team All-Pac-12 DL who had 56 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season at Washington.

Week 12 vs. Giants

The Giants made the biggest splash of the draft by selecting Daniel Jones No. 6 overall. Reactions to the picks in the media and on social media were very similar to when the Bears traded up to pick Mitchell Trubisky No. 2 overall in 2017, and Trubisky has already publicly given Jones advice for how to deal with the negative attention. Will Jones follow in Trubisky’s footsteps and have replaced Eli Manning under center by the time the Giants visit Chicago?

Week 13 at Lions

See Thursday’s preview of Bears’ opponents. 

Week 14 vs. Cowboys

Fourth-round pick Tony Pollard is the lesser-heralded running back from Memphis rather than Darrell Henderson, but he can run and catch. Over his last two seasons, he put up 782 rushing yards, 994 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns. He also adds much needed depth to the Dallas running back room, as the leading rusher behind Ezekiel Elliott last season was Dak Prescott with 75 attempts for 305 yards. After that, it was Rod Smith with 44 attempts for 127 yards.

Week 15 at Packers

See Wednesday’s preview of Bears’ opponents.

Week 16 vs. Chiefs

If Tyreek Hill doesn’t play this year due to domestic violence allegations, second-round pick Mecole Hardman could get a lot of snaps at WR in his stead. Hardman can blow by defenders, like Hill, and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine. That number was good for fifth-best among all participants this year. On the field for Georgia, he caught 35 balls for 543 yards and seven touchdowns. He added a punt return touchdown, as well.

Week 17 at Vikings

See Wednesday’s preview of Bears’ opponents.