Bears

Speed Racer: Hester, Knox compete with Jackson

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Speed Racer: Hester, Knox compete with Jackson

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
12:04 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicacgo.com
If youre planning on attending Sundays Bears-Philadelphia Eagles game, be prepared for wind burn. Not wind chill; wind burn.

The game will feature Devin Hester and Johnny Knox on the Bears side and DeSean Jackson for the Eagles.

Jackson, selected to the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver and returner, tied an NFL record last year with eight touchdowns of 50 yards or more and was second in the NFL with 18.5 yards per catch. This year hes increased that to 19.8 per reception and scored five times.

Not to be outdone, Knox is tied with Jackson for catches of 20 yards or longer with 11. But Jackson is averaging nearly 10 yards more per 20-yarder (43.5 yards to Knoxs 33.9) and leading the NFL for long-distance strikes.

The worry for the Bears is that one out of every Jackson catch this year is going for more than 20 yards. Knox is at nearly 30 percent and averaging 18.2 yards on his 37 catches this year.

Jackson is explosive, Eagles coach Andy Reid agreed, then laughed. But youve got a couple right there in Chicago that are pretty stinkin explosive. Theres going to be a little speed on that field, as there was last year, and Jeremy Maclins not chopped liver. He can run too. Theres going to be a little speed there on both sides.

What is of some concern for the Bears is not the speed, the catches or even the yardage. Its the scoring. Maclin (7 TDs) and Jackson (5) each have more touchdowns than all Bears wide receivers combined (4).

The situation is similar on the running side. Both LeSean McCoy (6) and Michael Vick (5) have as many rushing touchdowns as Bears running backs and quarterbacks combined (5).

Head masters

Much has been made about a Bears coaching staff that includes four head coaches (Lovie Smith, Mike Martz, Rod Marinelli, Mike Tice) but the Philadelphia Eagles arent far behind in staff seniority.

Besides Reid, the longest-tenured head coach in the NFC (12 years) and second only to Tennessees Jeff Fisher (15) in the NFL, the Eagles also have former Bear leader Dick Jauron as senior assistantdefensive backs, and Marty Mornhinweg as assistant head coachoffensive coordinator. Mornhinweg coached the Detroit Lions in 2001-2002 and was offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in the four seasons prior to that.

Mornhinweg has coached four quarterbacks who have gone to Pro Bowls Brett Favre, Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Steve Young. And a recount may be demanded if that list does not grow by one with Michael Vick this season.

Indeed, Mornhinweg is getting significant credit for helping turn Vick from an athlete who plays quarterback to a quarterback who is an ultimate athlete. Vick had played previously for Dan Reeves and Jim Mora in addition to coordinator Greg Knapp but the thing Vick did was he took a little more mature attitude towards it and the fundamentals and then theres Marty, Reid said.

Hes our offensive coordinator but hes also a phenomenal quarterback coach. Whether its a right hander or a left hander, Marty can relate to you because of his experience with Steve Young. Steve had mobility and was very accurate in this offense. Marty broke it down for him fundamentallybut it really comes down to the kid wanting to do it and thats what Michael wanted to do. He wanted to get better fundamentally.

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.

Tom Brady to meet with other teams in 2020 free agency

Tom Brady to meet with other teams in 2020 free agency

Let the games begin! After spending his entire NFL career at Gillette Stadium with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady is entering free agency. Per CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Brady is open to talks with other teams for what is to be his last contract of his playing career. Brady has been a staple of the Patriots franchise for 19 years. There are young New England fans who haven’t ever been alive during a time without Brady under center. The Patriots are certain to undergo changes in the future, with many wondering how much longer Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick will be at the helm of the organization, so it is understandable to see Brady ready to explore his options.

At 42-years-old, Brady has been telling those close to him that, unless he is sidelined by injury, he anticipates playing until age 45. Brady is also excited at the prospect of mentoring a young quarterback so that whatever organization he plays with during his final NFL stint, it is set for success after he retires. The question for Bears fans is, could that young quarterback be Mitch Trubisky?

After an uninspiring season, there is much talk about creating some competition at QB for the three-year Bears starter. Some healthy competition could drive Trubisky to play like the draft pick that Ryan Pace hoped he would be. The Bears are currently in the bottom-five of salary cap space in the NFL, meaning they would have to do some serious budgeting to be able to afford Brady, but fans will have to wait and see what Pace intends to do this off-season after a disappointing 2019 campaign.

La Canfora reports that it would “extremely surprising” if Brady were to agree to a new deal with the Patriots before free agency begins in March. There have been other reports of the Brady family moving to Connecticut (still technically in New England, but a move nonetheless) and a deep clean of Giselle Bündchen’s suite at Gillette Stadium, indicating that Brady is indeed ready to move on. We will all just have to wait and see where Brady will end up in 2020. 

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Which of these 2 Titans free agents should the Bears consider signing?

Which of these 2 Titans free agents should the Bears consider signing?

The Tennessee Titans' 2019 campaign should provide Bears fans with hope that Chicago's underachieving year can quickly turn around in one season, assuming GM Ryan Pace makes calculated decisions to protect the team from another regression.

Tennessee's trade for quarterback Ryan Tannehill was the kind of chess move that allowed the Titans to give Marcus Mariota one more season to prove he's the franchise quarterback so many draft experts predicted he'd be, while also making sure the team could still compete if he failed. Mariota didn't take advantage of that opportunity, and he was out of the lineup for good by Week 7.

But Tannehill doesn't deserve all the credit for the Titans' breakout on offense. Two other players, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents in March, deserve some attention and potentially an offer from the Bears in free agency: Running back Derrick Henry and offensive tackle Jack Conklin.

RELATED: Top 30 Free Agents of the 2020 NFL Offseason

Henry ran for a league-leading 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns in 15 games and would probably be the 2019 NFL MVP if it wasn't such a quarterback-tilted award. In fact, an argument can be made that Henry is the engine behind Tannehill's success. With so much attention paid to stopping the 250-pound workhorse, play-action and downfield opportunities were easier to complete. Tannehill did, after all, complete over 70% of his passes in 2019.

Imagine if Mitch Trubisky had the luxury of handing the ball to a player like Henry 25 times per game. His job would become, well, easy. And this isn't to suggest running back David Montgomery can't be an effective bell-cow back who can rumble for 1,250 yards. But Henry is an elite player who will remain at or near the top of the league's running backs for the next few seasons.

Will Ryan Pace pay nearly $14 million per season for a running back? It seems highly unlikely considering the limited salary-cap space the Bears have and the pressing need to add a Tannehill of their own. If Henry's asking price drops a bit, then who knows. But assuming a team with a lot of money to spend is willing to pay up, the Bears would be better served looking elsewhere.

So what about Conklin? Chicago needs an upgrade along the offensive line and while Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie have proven to be adequate starters during their careers, Conklin was at one time considered one of the NFL's top young tackles before injuring his knee in the 2017 playoffs.

He returned to form in 2019 and was graded as the 15th-best tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus. Compare that to Leno, Jr. and Massie, who graded 86th and 65th respectively.

According to Spotrac, Conklin's projected market value is $15 million per season, which is a little bit higher than Henry but is also for a position that is much harder to fill. 

The Titans declined Conklin's fifth-year option last May and as a result, he's going to cash-in on the open market. Tennessee may end up using the franchise tag to keep him, which would all but eliminate him from consideration for the Bears.

If, however, both Conklin and Henry are allowed to flirt with new teams, it seems pretty clear that Conklin would be the better use of funds. Sure, Henry would be a lot of fun to watch pound opposing defenses into submission, but Montgomery has the potential to be the same kind of fan-favorite. Conklin, on the other hand, is a clear upgrade over Leno, Jr. and Massie, and would provide more long-term returns for the money, too. 

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