Bears

Seahawks didn't sense any quit in blown-out Bears

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Seahawks didn't sense any quit in blown-out Bears

By Josh Liebeskind

SEATTLE — One coach told CSNChicago.com this past week that if any quit was detected in a player, it would spell the end of his tenure on the team. Whether that means any of the Bears should be imminently concerned about their job security is to be determined.

If the Seattle Seahawks have a say in the matter, though, Bears players shouldn’t have to worry this week about losing their jobs due to effort-based issues; even with a 26-0 defeat in Seattle on Sunday.

Last year’s Marc Trestman-led team found it difficult to muster much response after suffering a big defeat. The 48-23 loss to Arizona last week gave the Bears an early season test of their ability to bounce back. While the result isn’t pretty, at least some opposing players felt it isn’t necessarily a direct correlation to effort.

“We kicked a lot of field goals, I think they felt like they were in it,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said. “A touchdown here, a turnover here, another touchdown, there’s a chance they can get back in the game. So I don’t think either team let up.”

[MORE BEARS: Shutout in Seattle: Bears offense flat in loss to Seahawks]

With all eyes on backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who was pushed into the starting role due to a hamstring injury to Jay Cutler, it was Matt Forte who stole the show early. Forte found a rhythm in the running game from the outset and had 64 yards on the ground at halftime.

By the time the Bears’ offense took the field in the second half, though, they faced a 13-0 deficit and all but abandoned the run game. Forte had two carries in the third quarter and gained only 10 yards on five carries in the second half.

“I believe they tried to just make sure he ran the ball and didn’t lose the game,” Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said. “I thought (Clausen) did OK. We just make sure that we stopped the run game and try to make the backup quarterback beat us.”

The key to slowing down Forte, whose yard average per carry decreased from 4.8 in the first to 4.3 in the second — and finished at 3.7 — was adjusting defensive schemes, Wright said. The Bears ran plays the Seahawks hadn’t seen, and it took an in-game defensive change to stop the Bears running attack.

[WATCH BEARS: Fox: Wasn't really a great way to start the second half]

Even with Forte’s minimal success, the Bears were unable to sustain a lengthy drive and didn’t advance the ball past the Seahawks’ 45-yard line. Clausen finished 9-for-17 for 63 yards with a third of his yards coming on one play. As the deficit grew larger and they were forced to throw the ball more, the struggles became evident — the Bears were out-gained in the second half, 246-37.

The Bears defense did their part to keep the team in the game, allowing only one offensive touchdown, but the lack of offensive production made their job all the more difficult.

“I thought our defense hung in there,” coach John Fox said. “We fought hard in the first half ... Then we just couldn’t generate anything. We flopped around a little bit running it early. We kept it close. But eventually you need to be able to do both (run and pass) pretty well in this league to succeed and win games.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can the Bears pull off an upset at home against Tom Brady and the Patriots?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Can the Bears pull off an upset at home against Tom Brady and the Patriots?

Chris Emma, Matt Zahn and Gabe Ramirez join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh joins the panel to discuss the Bulls’ terrible defensive performance as well as Zach LaVine’s impressive season debut.

11:35- Khalil Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Can the Bears pull off the upset against Tom Brady?

23:50- NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran joins Kap to talk about how New England views the Bears and discuss how Matt Nagy’s team can exploit the Patriots’ weaknesses.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.

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Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears in line to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack participated in the Bears’ final practice of the week on Friday, clearing the way for the edge rusher to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Friday that the Bears expected Mack, who hasn’t missed a game in his career, to play after suffering an ankle injury early in Week 6’s 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack is officially questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 

Mack had little interest in discussing his ankle with the media on Friday, passing on answering questions about his readiness for New England. Coach Matt Nagy, though, said he thought Mack “looked pretty good” during practice on Friday. 

Mack didn’t record a sack against Miami and was held to just one pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins’ gameplan was to commit plenty of resources to stopping Mack, but he wasn’t effective even when he had one-on-one pass rushing opportunities as the game went on. 

“He was (affected),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I can't put a percentage on it, but he definitely was.”

Having Mack available — even if he’s not full strength — will be critical for the Bears’ defense to have a chance at keeping Tom Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The key for the Bears will be to generate pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback without blitzing, which is something Fangio’s defense was successful at prior to Sunday’s wacky loss to the Dolphins. 

Brady’s passer rating is 138.4 when he’s blitzed, per Pro Football Focus, while when under pressure his rating is 87.2. That’s still pretty good, but it’s worth noting that all of the six interceptions he’s thrown this year have come when he hasn’t been blitzed. And only one of the eight sacks he’s taken has come when he’s been blitzed. 

The point being: If the Bears feel like they have to start blitzing to generate pressure, they can expect Brady to pick them apart.  

“You could say all of that but ultimately (Brady’s) a gamer,” Mack said. “He’s going to take those hits, and you gotta be able to deliver them but also have coverage over the top. It’s going to be real important for us.” 

The good news for the Bears, perhaps, is that New England’s tackles have struggled at times this year. Left tackle Trent Brown has allowed 17 pressures in 234 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (about one in every 14 snaps). And starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is out with a concussion, giving way for backup La’Adrian Waddle, who’s allowed eight pressures in 78 pass blocking snaps (about one in every 10). 

So the opportunities will be there for Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and the Bears’ pass rush to affect Brady on Sunday.

A bigger injury concern?

While cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will play Sunday, slot corner Bryce Callahan suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice and did not participate Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday. 

Callahan “did his ankle,” Nagy said, toward the end of Thursday’s practice, and he felt worse as the day went on. Nagy characterized Callahan’s absence from Friday’s practice as “precautionary.”

Callahan’s availability may be more of a pressing concern than Mack’s, given how well the Patriots’ offense has played since slot receiver Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping (11 catches on 16 targets, 111 yards, 1 TD), New England’s offense has scored 38 and 43 points in his two games back. 

“Brady has always had a guy in the slot that he’s comfortable with; whether it be (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola or Edelman,” Fangio said. “It’s a big part of their offense. They haven’t missed a beat, but I really think it’s helped their offense and played a big part in them basically averaging 40 points in the last three weeks. I really appreciate and respect how good of a player he is and has been.”

If Callahan isn’t available, Sherrick McManis could be the next man up at slot corner.