Bears

Tillman: Johnson is the Goliath of receivers

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Tillman: Johnson is the Goliath of receivers

Kip & Moon: Previewing Bears-Lions
Warner: Playing under Martz
Wright: Stopping the Lions' offense
Suh: The physical specimen
Read: Why can't teams contain Johnson?
When Charles Tillman said Monday that he was not entirely surprised by the Detroit Lions doing well, he had good reason.

The Lions led the Bears after three quarters in both 2010 games and that was with quarterback Matthew Stafford playing less than two of the combined eight quarters.

A Julius Peppers sack finished him in the second quarter of game one, but the Lions had a lead with less than two minutes to play, and then nearly won when Calvin Johnson was ruled to have not maintained possession of an apparent touchdown pass. That was all with the Lions rushing for all of 20 yards on 21 carries, Shaun Hill muddling through with 9-for-19 passing, and the Bears rolling up 463 yards.

By the time the Bears saw them again, the Lions were down to Drew Stanton at quarterback. Problem: He had the Lions up 20-14 in the third quarter and put up a passer rating of 102.4 that was second only to Tom Bradys against the Bears defense last season.

The problem now is that the Lions have Stafford intact (Stafford has been sacked five times, but all of those in one game, none in the other three), and Johnson is setting records for TD receptions, not putting them prematurely on the ground. He has two in each of Detroits first four games, an NFL first.

Johnson may even be too good for the Lions or anyone else. Maybe the whole NFL.

Hes in his own ballclub, Tillman said. To be that strong, that fast, his vertical is impressive. Hes in a league of his own.

Johnson has achieved Biblical proportions. Hes the Goliath of receivers, Tillman added.

(Goliath ultimately was a loser but thats for another discussion.)

Difficult read

The Lions, however, are difficult to gauge.

It looks like Detroits a second-half team and were a second-half team so it should be a good game.

The Bears are not particularly a second-half team, yet. They were outscored 10-7 by Green Bay and 14-3 by New Orleans in those losses, and out-pointed Carolina just 10-9 in escaping with that victory.

But are the Lions, for that matter, a second-half team?

They defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 48-3. But the only team the Chiefs have beaten this season has been Minnesota, and that was a team that squandered a 20-0 halftime lead to Detroit, giving the ball to Adrian Peterson exactly five times in the second half.

Detroit rallied from a 27-3 hole against Dallas, a team with a quarterback throwing two interceptions returned for touchdowns and a third to set up the Lions game-winner.

No class

It has nothing to do with the Bears but Brett Favre cant seem to quite let it all go. And hes doing a pretty good job of kicking dirt on his legacy as the patron saint of Green Bay football. Aaron Rodgers already has won as many Super Bowls (one) as Favre but Favre has basically given Rodgers a backhanded compliment: With the talent that Rodgers had around him, what took him so long?

ProFootballTalk.com recounts Favre comments made on an Atlanta radio station, both the exact comments and the scurrying trying to dull the edge on what sound like nothing short of sour grapes from someone who failed to achieve anything of note with two teams (N.Y. Jets, Minnesota Vikings) after the Green Bay Packers chose to put their future in the hands of Rodgers instead of a vacillating Favre (http:profootballtalk.nbcsports.com20111005atlanta-radio-station-bends-ov...).

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.

Three questions for Bears CBs: Will continuity breed success?

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USA TODAY

Three questions for Bears CBs: Will continuity breed success?

 

Pre-camp depth chart

Outside corner

1. Kyle Fuller
2. Marcus Cooper
3. Michael Joseph
4. Tyrin Holloway

1. Prince Amukamara
2. Sherrick McManis
3. Kevin Toliver II
4. Rashard Fant
5. John Franklin III

Nickel corner

1. Bryce Callahan
2. Cre’Von LeBlanc
3. Jonathon Mincy

1. Can Kyle Fuller build off a 2017 breakout?

A year ago, it would’ve been unbelievable to hear Fuller would be fifth highest-paid cornerback in the NFL by average annual salary, ahead of two guys (A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore) in whom the Bears had interest in free agency. This was a guy who — justifiably, given he missed all of 2016 with an injury — didn’t have his fifth year option picked up and wasn’t even assured of a roster spot coming into training camp.

But Fuller earned that paycheck with an outstanding season. Consider:

No cornerback was targeted more times than Fuller last year, even though only 51 percent of those targets were caught and he led the NFL in passes defended with 17, according to Pro Football Focus. Fuller held opposing quarterbacks to a rating of 69 when they threw his way, good for 17th among all cornerbacks.

“His preparation Is second to none,” fellow cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “How he prepares for games and how he anticipates what’s going on —  I feel like I prepared enough but when I watched him and how he does it before games there’s a lot I can learn from him and I’m just glad he’s back because he’s going to improve my game a little more and hopefully I can help him improve his.”

Why opposing teams targeted Fuller so much when Amukamara allowed a higher quarterback rating (89.1), didn’t have an interception and only broke up five passes is still a head-scratcher of sorts. But if Fuller wasn’t respected last year by opposing offensive coordinators, he will be in 2018.

So the goal for Fuller will be to be even more stifling when the ball is thrown his way. Adding a few more interceptions — he only had two last year, and both came in December — would go a long way toward him earning that four-year, $56 million offer sheet the Bears had to match.

2. Where will the interceptions come from?

The Bears are the only team in NFL history to record eight or fewer interceptions in three consecutive seasons, and Ryan Pace doubled down on an outside cornerback pairing of Fuller and Amukamara that only produced two interceptions in 2017. Nickel corner Bryce Callahan showed a bit of a playmaking streak last year with two interceptions (and a pretty sweet punt return touchdown in Week 1).

But that only accounts for four picks, a number which was equaled or eclipsed by 13 cornerbacks in 2017. All the pressure to get takeaways isn’t on Amukamara, Fuller, Callahan and a handful of reserves — Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos will need to contribute more too — but given the questions surrounding the Bears’ pass rush, increasing the interceptions generated from this unit will be important for the overall success of the defense.

So if you see Fuller or Amukamara pick off Mitch Trubisky in Bourbonnais, perhaps look at it as good thing (it’ll be a learning experience for Trubisky, too, which isn’t a bad thing either).

3. Will any of the intriguing UDFAs make the team?

The Bears, a little surprisingly, didn’t draft a cornerback in April, but did sign a handful of undrafted free agents that will have an opportunity to fight for a roster spot in training camp. Two players in particular will be interesting to watch in July and August: Kevin Toliver II and John Franklin III.

Toliver is a former five-star recruit who didn’t live up to that hype at LSU, only intercepting two passes in 31 career games. The 6-foot-2 Toliver has projectable size and length, but his lack of production was why he went undrafted after leaving Baton Rouge following his junior season. He’s the kind of high-upside guy undrafted free agent who could garner some attention in training camp with a few good practices, but will have to consistently prove to the defensive coaching staff and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor he’s worthy of a roster spot.

Franklin may be more of a long shot, but the former “Last Chance U” star nonetheless will be a fascinating watch in Bourbonnais. The former quarterback-turned-receiver is now trying to not only make an NFL roster, but is trying to do so while learning an entirely different position on the side of the ball on which he’s never played before. Franklin had a healthy perspective on learning how to play cornerback during OTAs and minicamp (https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/bears/last-chance-u-john-franklin-iii-chicago-bears-nfl-defensive-back-quarterback-wide-receiver), and the Bears saw something in his raw speed and athleticism to give him a shot on defense. It’d be a surprise if Franklin earned a spot on the 53-man roster, but it’d be one heck of a story if he even wound up on the Bears’ practice squad come September.

Allen Robinson appears on latest 'Big Guys in a Benz'

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USA TODAY

Allen Robinson appears on latest 'Big Guys in a Benz'

New Bears wideout Allen Robinson appears on the latest episode of 'Big Guys in a Benz' hosted by Anthony Adams. In the episode, Robinson touches on a number of topics from growing up rooting for the Minnesota Vikings despite being from Detroit, his favorite Chicago baseball team and how he went about free agency.

When asked where the Bears were ranked when looking at teams in free agency, Robinson said the Bears were No. 1 on his list.

...especially once they hired coach Nagy, you know, I had been watching his work over the past couple of years and I know it's a system that I would definitely fit into and flourish in. 

As far as growing up a Vikings fan?

Bears fans can forgive Robinson as he grew up idolizing Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss. He went on to explain that once a year for his birthday he would get to go see the Vikings play in Detroit. Things came full-circle for Robinson when he was able to train for four weeks straight with Moss last summer, which Robinson said "took his game to the next level". 

When pressed to choose White Sox or Cubs, Robinson quickly responded "Cubs", making his allegiance to the North Siders known. 

And though the interview didn't touch on Robinson's ACL rehab, it did show how Robinson is quickly endearing himself to Bears fans as he prepares for a bounce-back season.