Bears

Patriots' Kraft: NFL labor deal 'is possible'

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Patriots' Kraft: NFL labor deal 'is possible'

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
2:26 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

It isnt necessarily hard news but a report by colleague Tom Curran with CSNNE.com quotes New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft as saying that an agreement between the league and its players is possible.

What makes that a bit more noteworthy that other statements to (or through) the media is that Kraft has not been viewed as a clarion voice of conciliation. So possible coming from Kraft in fact does get deliciously close to news at this point...

The next few days NFLNFLPA negotiations will have their own drama and, hopefully, results. But the days and hours leading up to the deadline extension late last week had some thoroughly intriguing intrigue of their own, including the fact that the whole shaky structure of things was within minutes of imploding.

Good friend Jim Trotter, one of the countrys top NFL writers for Sports Illustrated, put together a riveting tick-tock of events that went down for SI, and Peter King worked out with Jim and the editors to have the piece run as part of Peters always-must-read Monday Morning Quarterback. Jim is as good as it gets and what makes the piece, folded into MMQB, particularly good is that he was able to keep it from being a polemic for one side or the other of lapse into anything other that solid reporting. Check it out.

And Peter makes a quick reference to Plaxico Burress, the former New York Giants wide receiver who is being released from prison in June, earlier than anticipated because of good behavior. I do know the Bears are doing their due diligence on Burress, whose TD catch won a Super Bowl, and who, as Peter throws in, may be approaching 34 but hes a year and a half younger than Hines Ward.

Peter would give Burress a training-camp shot any day of the week and I have been advocating that as well. Hes not the same guy who went into jail and were a nation of second chances. This guy deserves one.

Footsteps?

Talk is always cheap but sometimes its worth noting. Like when Detroit Lions defensive tackle ...sees no reason why the Lions cant go 16-0.

Huh?

The first rookie to make first-team All-Pro since 1951, Suh told the NFL Network that there is no question that the sky is the limit. As ProFootballTalk.coms Michael David Smith says, you have to admire his confidence, if not necessarily his sense of perspective.

But heres a thought for Bears fans: Suhs team won its last four games. That left them at 6-10 and with the distinction of improving from 2009 to 2010 by the same number of wins as your division-champion Bears. Detroit 2009 was 2-14. The Bears were 7-9 in 2009, then 11-5 last season. The Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers the second time they faced them; the Bears didnt beat Green Bay the second or third times they met the eventual Super Bowl winners.

Split with the Packers, split with the Vikings, lost twice by 5 and 4 points to the Bears. Took the Jets to overtime. Beat the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in OT in Tampa.

Its not 16-0. But its something to think about.

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.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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USA TODAY

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

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USA TODAY

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

On Thursday, Brian Baldinger released another video clip on Twitter for his #BaldysBreakdowns series, this one praising the recent play from Bears QB Mitch Trubisky.

Baldinger states that Trubisky is "making some kind of jump", referring to how impressed he was with Trubisky's play when compared to his rookie season. 

In the video Baldinger explains in the video how you expect franchise QBs to make a big leap from year one to year two, and a big part of that leap for Trubisky is being unafraid to make aggressive throws downfield.

Baldinger highlighted a play where Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel 47-yards down the field, choosing to trust his wideout after he hit him with perfect ball placement despite tight coverage. He continued this theme later on in the video, showing Trubisky's TD strike to Allen Robinson, which was whipped right past a Dolphins defender. 

But Baldinger's video wasn't exclusively compliments for Trubisky. He discussed Tarik Cohen's effectiveness as a pass-catcher, saying that you "can't cover him" and comparing him to a Ferrari with his ability to go from first to fifth gear "about as fast as anybody."

He ended his video by showing Trubisky punishing the Dolphins for a blown coverage, hitting rookie Anthony Miller in stride for a 29-yard TD. Baldinger's point in including this clip was to show Trubisky's improved recognition, as he may not have spotted the blown coverage last year. Noticing when and how to take advantage of defensive sloppiness is one of the many things that seperate a "franchise QB" from a stopgap, and Trubisky is trending in the right direction. 

If Baldinger's breakdown is any indication, we should expect Trubisky to keep his incredible momentum rolling when the Bears take on the New England Patriots on Sunday. New England is 3rd worst in the league in passing TDs allowed, giving up 15 scores through the air in six games.