Bears

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

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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
CSNChicago.com 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 FOXSports.com. 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 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.

Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

The first phase of the 2020 NFL offseason will kick off on March 18 when the signing period for free agency officially begins. Teams can negotiate with free agents beginning on March 16, and the Bears are expected to be among the cluster of clubs searching for upgrades at several key positions.

GM Ryan Pace is likely to focus his free-agent budget on a veteran quarterback, help along the offensive line, and the secondary where players like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Prince Amukamara face uncertain futures. There's also the tight end problem, which Pace can use free agency to land a quick fix.

This year's free-agent class his headlined by high-upside yet risky players. Many of the top names are coming off of breakout seasons but have resumes of underwhelming production.

Here's a look at the top 30 free agents scheduled to hit the open market.

Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

Former Bears offensive linemen Kyle Long appeared on The Rap Sheet and Friends podcast hosted by NFL insider Ian Rapoport and he didn't shy away from questions about Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Long, while stating that he understood the questioning and criticism that Trubisky faces, still believes in him.

"The Bears have won with Mitchell Trubisky."

Indeed Mitch was the starter for 14 games of the Bears 12-4 season before this year's 8-8 disappointment. The issue was Trubisky's play was of course, as he didn't show any noticeable improvement in 2019 after tossing 24 touchdowns in 2018. "We all regressed this year, but unfortunately heavy lies the head that wears the crown, and Mitch is the captain," Long said. 

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise, and he’s young. He’s so young."

Long seems excited by the idea of Chicago's hires, saying that new faces could have quite the positive effect on Trubisky’s game "I’m looking forward to seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch. It’ll be cool to see.”

This offseason the Bears have brought in a new offensive coordinator (Bill Lazor), quarterbacks coach (John DeFilippo), and promoted former quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone to passing game coordinator. Bears head coach Matt Nagy, similar to Long, has faith in Trubisky developing, especially in regard to Ragone. In December Nagy said, “I think I know Mitch better than anybody in this building, except maybe Dave Ragone.”

Long certainly seems to miss his teammates though he clearly has no regrets about his decision. He and Trubisky definitely share a bond that will last long beyond their playing days. “I love the kid, he’s a great friend obviously, a teammate, but I’m looking forward to seeing him develop.”

Similar to the message delivered by the Bears’ front office, Long was in full support of Trubisky throughout the entire interview.

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise...”

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