Bears

Pressuring Hasselbeck: Can the Bears do it?

362711.jpg

Pressuring Hasselbeck: Can the Bears do it?

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011
4:45 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Two sequential commandments order the universe of just about every defense, including the Bears. The problem with the second one is that against the Seattle Seahawks, it may be next to impossible.

Commandment one is stop the run. Take away an option as well as yards and force opposing offenses to look at third-and-longish situations.

Then fulfill commandment two: Pressure the quarterback.

Easier said than done against Matt Hasselbeck, a 35-year-old veteran who went unsacked by the Bears in game one between the teams, one of three games. Nine of the 15 opponents Hasselbeck faced this season sacked him only once or not at all. Only four teams sacked him more than twice and the Seahawks went 2-2 in those games as it was.

Their offense is a quick game, said defensive end Julius Peppers. They rely on a lot of turn-in routes, quick stuff so weve got to do the best we can as far as getting to the quarterback. And if we cant get there, weve got to get our hands up in the lanes, bat passes down, that sort of thing.

Youre not going to get to him a lot but youre going to have places where they take chances deep, max-protect and play-action, and those are where you have the opportunities.

The Bears allowed third-down conversions at a rate of 35 percent, including 7 of the 18 opportunities by the Seahawks. Significantly, Hasselbeck and the Seahawks were 0-for-7 in third downs of 10 yards or longer but 6-for-9 when the situation was third-and-6 or shorter.

But...

Defensive linemen have characterized pass rush against a good West Coast quarterback as often little more than two steps and get your hands up.

When you go in against someone like Hasselbeck, you just play fundamentals, said defensive end Israel Idonije. You do have to stop the run first and then you make that team one-dimensional. That allows you to take over the game.

They do use a lot of short, quick stuff and youve got to have a plan as a defense to counteract that.

You have to force them into situations where they have to hold the ball longer and take shots down the field.

Hasselbeck comes with the lowest passer rating (73.2) of the eight quarterbacks still in the playoffs. Jay Cutler, at 86.3, ranks sixth among the eight, ahead of only Hasselbeck and New Yorks Mark Sanchez.

Curiously, though, Hasselbeck has a higher rating on third downs (76.9) than his overall (73.2). Cutler (75.1) is less efficient on third downs.

The Seahawks rank just 22nd in third-down conversions (the Bears rank 27th) while the Bears defense stands sixth in third-down efficiency allowing 33 percent conversions.

But Hasselbeck has been around playoffs since his early career days in Green Bay when Brett Favre was holding clinics. And he took the Seahawks to the playoffs every year from 2003-07, including the Super Bowl in 2005.

Hes a veteran, knows where to go with the football, does a lot of pump fakes to get you off your landmarks, and knows where to go with the football after that, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. "He doesnt make a lot of mistakes. Theyre protecting him well right now. I think the running game is helping. Anytime youve got a running game, its going help your quarterback. Theyre doing a good job right now.

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.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

4-16mattnagy.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller has quickly become a fan favorite on social media. He has the confidence and swagger found in most top wide receivers and it comes through on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Miller was one of 40 players in attendance at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere where he not only learned about the business and marketing side of football, but also suited up in his Bears gameday uniform for the first time. Of course, he shared the moment on Twitter:

Panini America, a sports collectible company, snapped a picture of Miller with fellow rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (Falcons) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (Steelers):

Miller has become something of a standout for the Bears despite not playing a single snap. He's expected to have a big role in an offense that has several new pieces and roles that are up for grabs.

Miller will compete with former first-round pick Kevin White and free-agent addition Taylor Gabriel for reps opposite Allen Robinson. Miller has the necessary skill set to play as both an outside receiver and in the slot which should give him an even greater opportunity to be on the field quite a bit.

The Bears first three draft picks are all vying for starting jobs in 2018. Roquan Smith (first round) is a lock to start next to Danny Trevathan and James Daniels (second round) will start at guard. Miller should make it three-for-three in a draft class that could end up the best of Ryan Pace's tenure.