Bears

Report Card: How many F's? Coaches get an 'I'

338772.jpg

Report Card: How many F's? Coaches get an 'I'

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010
8:41 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears will be looking for positives in a 36-7 loss to perhaps the NFLs best team. It will be a difficult search. New England dominated the game from the second series and never let the Bears develop momentum or production on offense, defense or special teams.

Quarterback F

Jay Cutler provided a fitting cap to a dismal game with a high-school-grade pass to a New England DB in the end zone in the fourth quarter. He lost the ball inside the Chicago 10 with a fumble on a sack and finished 12-for-26 passing for 152 yards, two interceptions and a 32.9 rating, his second-lowest as a Bear.

Running backs F

Chester Taylor scored on a one-yard run and Matt Forte turned in a 30-yard reception. But Bears backs totaled 26 rushing yards on 12 carries and were able to add just 44 receiving yards catching three of the eight passes thrown to them.

Receivers F

Footing was a problem but Patriot receivers were able to pick up substantial yards after catches and the Bears were not. Johnny Knox lost a fumble that was returned for a TD and only Earl Bennett (17.7) and Devin Aromashodu (16 yards, one catch) averaged as much as nine yards per catch.

Offensive line D-

New England sacked Cutler twice and got three other hits on him as protection was not as much a problem as receivers getting open and Cutler getting the ball out of his hands quickly. The Bears went with packages including three tight ends and unbalanced lines but failed miserably to control the line of scrimmage in a game that needed to be kept out of Tom Bradys hands.

Defensive line D

Israel Idonije shared a sack of Tom Brady in the first quarter. Julius Peppers sacked Brady in the third quarter and deflected two passes, and Anthony Adams took Brady down late in the fourth quarter. But against a very good New England offensive line the Bears could sustain no consistent pressure, particularly on third-and-long situations, and failed to control the line of scrimmage to blunt the Patriots on the ground.

Linebackers D

Brian Urlacher got a piece of a Brady sack but was out-positioned by TE Rob Gronkowski for a New England TD in the first quarter. Urlacher was credited with a game-high 11 tackles, three for loss and three passes broken up.

Secondary F-

Blown coverage accounted for a 59-yard Deion Branch TD catch just before halftime and Brady had no trouble picking the secondary apart for 369 yards, with Branch totaling 151 yards and Wes Welker 115, both with eight catches. Receivers were able to add substantial yardage after catches and the Patriots converted 12 of 19 third downs, many of longer than 10 yards.

Special teams C-

Danieal Manning and Devin Hester combined for 6 kickoff returns averaging 36 yards and Hester added a 17-yard punt return, only one of which (Hesters 61-yard KOR) the offense was able to turn into points. Conditions limited Brad Maynard top a net of 23.6 yards on 5 punts. Coverage units allowed the Patriots to return 2 punts for an average of 21.5 yards and benefit from field position that the Bears could not afford to allow.

Coaching I

Incomplete because execution in offense and defense was so poor as to make evaluating game plans virtually impossible. The Bears werent ready to play but the fault for too much lay with the players, not with coaching.

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.

NFL Mock Draft: Bears add pass-catching TE in 2nd round

NFL Mock Draft: Bears add pass-catching TE in 2nd round

Get used to the Bears being connected to just about all of the top tight end prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft as the mock-draft season kicks into high gear.

The latest mock draft from the Draft Wire is no exception. In this two-rounder, the Bears snag Washington tight end Hunter Bryant at No. 43 overall.

Here's how Bryant's game profiles, via The Draft Network's scouting report:

Hunter Bryant should be a dynamic receiving threat at the NFL level. Bryant brings excellent quickness, run after catch skills and versatility to a flex tight end role. Plugging Bryant into a traditional inline role will water down his receiving skills — he's best working off the LOS or as a flexed slot receiver who can serve as a H/W/S mismatch for opposing defenders. If Bryant it put in such a flex role, look for early production and long-term starter status in the pros. 

Sure sounds like the kind of player the Bears could use in the passing game, where the entire tight end depth chart combined for just 44 catches last season. Trey Burton led the way with 14. It was a brutal year at the position.

Naturally, adding a playmaker who can expand Matt Nagy's playcalling toolbox is a critical 'must' for Ryan Pace this offseason, and a prospect like Bryant could be an ideal fit.

In Round 2 of this mock draft, the Bears add Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison. Like tight end, linebacker will be an area of need depending on what happens with free agents Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski. It's likely that one of them will return, but even with Trevathan or Kwiatkoski back in the fold, the Bears have to add depth behind the starters. Will they address that need as early as the second round? Probably not, especially with pressing needs along the offensive line and in the defensive backfield.

If, however, Harrison does end up being the pick, the Bears would be getting a strong run defender who doesn't project as an every-down player at this point in his evaluation. He's likely to slide into the third round, if not later.

Should the NFL’s playoff changes mean the Bears should be more aggressive in a quarterback trade or free agent signing?

Should the NFL’s playoff changes mean the Bears should be more aggressive in a quarterback trade or free agent signing?

If the NFL’s proposed collective bargaining agreement is ratified, seven teams from each conference will make the playoffs in 2020— a change that will immediately alter the league's player movement landscape in the coming weeks and months.

Under the proposed structure, the Los Angeles Rams would’ve been the NFC’s No. 7 seed in 2019, with the 8-8 Bears finishing one game out of a playoff spot (really, two games, given they lost to the Rams). But as the Tennessee Titans showed last year, just getting into the dance can spark an underdog run to a conference title game. The vast majority of the NFL — those not in full-on tank mode — should view the potential for a seventh playoff spot as a license to be more aggressive in the free agent and trade market as soon as a few weeks from now.

So, should the Bears look at this new CBA as reason to be more aggressive in pushing to acquire one of the big-name quarterbacks who will, or could, be available this year? After all, merely slightly better quarterback play could’ve leapfrogged the Bears past the Rams and into the playoffs a year ago.

The prospect of Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr or Andy Dalton representing that upgrade feels tantalizing on the surface, right?

But the CBA’s addition of a seventh playoff team does not, as far as we know, also include an addition of significantly more cap space available to teams in 2020, even if the salary cap has increased 40 percent over the last five years. An extra $25 million is not walking through that door to add to the roughly $14 million the Bears currently have in cap space, per the NFLPA’s public salary cap report.

So that means every reason we laid out why the Bears should not make a splash move at quarterback remains valid, even with the NFL lowering its postseason barrier to entry.

The Bears’ best bet in 2020 remains signing a cheaper quarterback like Case Keenum or Marcus Mariota (who shares an agent with Mitch Trubisky, potentially complicating things) and banking on roster improvements being the thing that gets them back into the playoffs. Adding a quarterback for $17 million — Dalton’s price — or more would hamstring the Bears’ ability to address critical needs at tight end, right guard, inside linebacker and safety, thus giving the Bears a worse roster around a quarterback who’s no sure bet to be good enough to cover for the holes his cap hit would create.

Does it feel like a good bet? No, and maybe feels worse if it’s easier to get in the playoffs in 2020. But a Trubisky-Keenum pairing, complete with a new starting right guard to help the run game and more than just Demetrius Harris to upgrade the tight end room, is a better bet than Dalton or Bridgewater and a worse roster around them.

Also: This new playoff structure will tilt the balance of power significantly toward the No. 1 seeds in each conference. The last time a team made the Super Bowl without the benefit of a first-round bye was after the 2012 season, when the No. 4 seed Baltimore Ravens won the title. Otherwise, every Super Bowl participant since hasn't played on wild card weekend. 

So while the Bears may become closer to the playoffs if the new CBA is ratified, they won’t be closer to getting a No. 1 seed. And that holds true even if they were to find a way to sign Tom Brady.

Getting in the playoffs can spark something special. But the Bears’ best path back to meaningful January football still involves an inexpensive approach to addressing their blaring need for better quarterback play. 
Is it ideal? No.

But it’s far less ideal to be in this situation three years after taking the first quarterback off the board with 2017’s No. 2 overall pick. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.