Bears

Still think Bears absolutely had to have Moss or T.O.?

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Still think Bears absolutely had to have Moss or T.O.?

Monday, Dec. 27, 2010
9:05 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Cleaning out the notebook the day after....

Spot-on

CSNChicago.com colleague and friend Jim Miller, who has been beyond question the most insightful and thorough analyst of quarterback Jay Cutlers play over the last two seasons, takes a quality look at what the Jets game revealed about the play of Cutler and the overall offense in the context of a Super Bowl prospect.

Jim, who knows, oh, just little bit about NFL quarterbacking (check out the 2001 Bears sometime), gets inside the way Cutler attacked the Jets defense. And Jim looks at the things, like pass protection and the wide receivers (T.O. who?), that make the strongest case for the Bears being a whole lot more than just a lucky team at this point of 2010.

And along that line, a good friend and former Big Ten player (and a Bear doubter in the early 010 going) texted me after Sunday with a simple message: That is one good football team. I am a believer.

The Bears may stumble in the playoffs. Someone always does. But this is indeed a good football team. And whats easy to overlook is the fact that on that offense, the quarterback, wide receivers and offensive line are just starting to be what theyre going to be before theyre all finished.

Rex-ing

One of the top national writers on hand for Sundays game (name withheld because it was casual conversation among friends) looked beyond the nonsense in New York and directly at the bizarre fake-punt call that was the point at which that game nosed over and started down for the Jets.

What he saw was the first glimpse of the end of Rex Ryan in New York. The schtick wont be enough was his observation, meaning that as likeable and entertaining as Ryan is, the coaching gaffes will count for far more in the wrong direction and ultimately be his undoing."

Rashied Davis, the Bears special teamer who broke up the Mark Sanchez pass on that play, didnt disagree that some element of arrogance could have played into Ryans decision. Not only on that play, but on the whole business of kicking to Devin Hester, another stupid call after a week of bogus feigning fear of the greatest returner in NFL history, and then tugging on Supermans cape. Bad idea.

From watching HBOs Hard Knocks, he seemed like an arrogant guy, Davis said. So we thought they would kick it to Devin, because all week he was saying Were not going to kick to Devin. But he loves his special teams.

Last laugh I

Anybody really think a couple of Bears assistants havent totally enjoyed the last two weeks?

First theres Mike Tice savoring the second blowout win over the Minnesota Vikings, the team that fired him as head coach via press release in the locker room after a loss.

And now there is Mike Martz, who was fired by Mike Singletary after 2008 when Singletary was in as San Francisco 49ers coach. Singletarys colorful tenure ended 15 games into this season when he was bounced after another highlight sideline scene (for all the wrong reasons) and more poor play.

Martzs season is going along quite nicely, thank you very much.

One head-shaker of full-circle irony here is that Singletarys final deal-killer was his in-game handling of a quarterback situation and his successor could be Jim Harbaugh, whos working wonders at Stanford. Singletary is one of the coaches from the Mike Ditka tree (Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Harbaugh, Ken Margerum) and it was Ditkas bombastic in-game handling of a quarterback situation in 92 that led to his ultimate ouster.

The quarterback back in 92: Jim Harbaugh.

Last laugh II

They wont make a public spectacle of it because thats just not how they and their coach are, but anybody happen to notice what Bears wide receivers did Sunday against perhaps the top cornerback tandem (Darrelle RevisAntonio Cromartie) in the NFL?

Darryl Drake has quietly and very firmly backed his guys ever since the start of last year when the group of Johnny Knox, Hester, Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodu (with a sprinkling of Rashied Davis) was coming together amid major public doubts.

Anybody still think the Bears absolutely had to have Terrell Owens or Randy Moss?

Flexing

Sunday's Bears-Packers game at Lambeau Field has been moved to a 3:15 p.m. start.

Checking in

We wont have our regular CSNChicago.com chat tonight at 7 p.m. because I need to get in-studio to finish off our Top 10 of 2010 highlights for the Bears (OK, OK, I know, I have a face for radio...).

But well toss around some Bears thoughts on Chicago Tribune Live at 5:30 p.m. And for those of you downstate, well pick it up at 4:40 p.m. on WFMB-AM SportsRadio 1450 as usual this afternoon.

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.

Chicago Bears planning a run at free-agent tight end Austin Hooper

Chicago Bears planning a run at free-agent tight end Austin Hooper

The 2020 NFL Combine is revving up off the field as much as it is on the field. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends kicked off the workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium, but it's what's going on inside the bars and restaurants in Indianapolis that should have Bears fans interested.

According to Jason Leiser of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears are preparing to make a run at prized free-agent tight end, Austin Hooper. The Falcons playmaker is the top free-agent tight end on the market this year and according to Atlanta's general manager Thomas Dimitroff, he'll be given the opportunity to find out what his market value is.

That number is likely to come close to $10 million per season, which seems like an impossible price to pay for a Bears team that's already up against the salary cap. But with a new CBA on the horizon, everything we thought we know about the salary cap could soon change.

Hooper would instantly provide the Bears with the kind of second-level threat the passing game's been lacking since, well, forever. Or, since Martellus Bennett left town in 2016.

Ryan Pace has to be careful, however. He's swung and missed on two free-agent tight ends since becoming the Bears GM. First, it was Dion Sims in 2017. Then came Trey Burton in 2018. 

Sims lasted just two seasons in Chicago. He totaled 17 catches as a Bear. Burton, who's battled injuries over his first two years in Chicago, had just 14 catches in 2019.

Pace doesn't really have a choice but to pay up at this point. If he hits on Hooper, the misses on Sims and Burton will be quickly forgotten.

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace said earlier this week that he is going to explore every avenue when it comes to upgrading the team's tight end group. The 2020 NFL Draft will be a great place to look for the pass-catcher Matt Nagy's offense needs at the position, and three prospects elevated their draft stock at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Sullivan, the wide receiver-turned-tight end, was one of the most impressive players at the 2020 Senior Bowl, and he continued his rise up the draft board with a strong showing in Indianapolis.

Sullivan, who weighed in at 6-5, 248 pounds, ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, which tied for second-fastest among all tight ends. His 36.5-inch vertical jump is an elite number, too.

He was smooth in the on-field drills and showcased his effortless catching style. 

Sullivan won't be an early-round prospect. He's probably going to slip into Day 3. And if he does, the Bears have to give him a long, hard look. He has a chance to be the biggest sleeper in the draft (regardless of position) who can become an impact playmaker in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Hopkins, like Sullivan, ran a 4.66 and looked every bit the part of a move tight end. He was smooth on downfield routes and caught the ball cleanly (for the most part). One of the concerns surrounding Hopkins is his tendency to double-catch. He did a nice job quieting that worry just a bit.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert 'O' was the big winner with his blazing 4.49 40-time, which ranks among the 10-best 40-times for a tight end since 1999, per the Mock Draftable database.

'O' is coming off a very disappointing season when he totaled just 26 catches for 306 yards and six touchdowns. But he lost his quarterback from 2018 -- Drew Lock -- and never got into an offensive rhythm in 2019.

It wasn't a perfect day for him, however. He loafed the gauntlet drill and continued the narrative around his game that suggests he doesn't give 100% effort on every down. But it's impossible to ignore his speed at 6-5, 258 pounds.