Bears

View from the Moon: Bears business-like after win

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View from the Moon: Bears business-like after win

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010
2:31 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears did some celebrating on the field after Monday nights pasting of the Minnesota Vikings. They were wearing party hats and T-shirts that said 2010 NFC North Division Champions.

But in the locker room there was a mood and universal demeanor best described as business-like. The elation over Devin Hester setting the NFL record was shared throughout, an accomplishment truly group in nature, which Hester will honor with elegant watches for those whom he considers responsible for his honor.

The reason for the lack of other celebration was pretty obvious: The Bears havent won anything yet. And this is where the quality core of veterans becomes crucial.

Division titles are nice; a number of Bears have a handful of them. Lance Briggs, Olin Kreutz, Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman, Brian Urlacher, others.

They also have something else a failed trip to a Super Bowl. They know how important first reaching the playoffs is but they also know painfully well how incomplete a win that really is.

This is a great accomplishment for me, for this team, for the young guys, everybody, Peppers said. But weve got to stay focused at this point. We have to realize that its only one of the first steps toward the ultimate prize. Thats our role as veteran leaders, to let guys know that, and let guys know that it only gets harder from here.

And there is a deeper realization the leaders are beginning to pound into younger heads. Rookies and NFL newbies think this sort of thing, even reaching a Super Bowl, happens every year.

Lovie Smith reached the divisional round of the playoffs in his second year as Bears coach. He was in the Super Bowl (and lost) his third year. Both accomplishments were achieved faster than Mike Ditka managed. He went to a Super Bowl his first year as a defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams (and lost).

He now joins his veterans in delivering the same strong message to young players in particular.

You assume youll be back every year, Smith said. It just doesnt work like that.

Peppers was a member of the Carolina team that lost to the New England Patriots in the Pats first Super Bowl win. He experienced that same sense of NFL entitlement.

That was my thought, Peppers said. My rookie year we didnt do well but the next year we went to the Super Bowl and you think its going to happen all the time. I was lucky enough to win a couple of division championships but Ive never been able to get back to the Super Bowl.

The stats, even things like the divisional title, theyre nothing compared to the big things.

Favreing it up again, or...

Corey Wootton has been active only occasionally this season, four games in fact, counting Monday night. Yet here was this rookie defensive end setting up a Pro Bowl left tackle, beating him and putting his first career sack on a Hall of Fame quarterback.

The nerve of that kid...

Wootton beat Bryant McKinnie on a second-quarter rush, got the edge on the massive blocker, and took down Brett Favre with enough of a smash-down to put the quarterback out of the game with head and shoulder injuries.

McKinnie is a great player, Wootton said. I was able to get a good jump on the snap, use a little bit of power, rip outside and get to Favre and get him down. I kind of set him up wit a little inside pressure to make him think I was coming inside and then went outside. Coach Marinelli has done a great job of helping me get better every week and thats what I want to do, just keep improving.

The rookie impressed an important teammate, whose first thought was worry.

He got a sack? linebacker Brian Urlacher said Hell probably get fined.

The sack could give Wootton a place in Favre history, although a part of Favres NFL history the QB wouldnt mind forgetting about.

Favres last passes as an Atlanta Falcon, Green Bay Packer and New York Jet all were intercepted. His last 2009 pass as Minnesota Viking was intercepted in the playoff loss to New Orleans but Favre returned for 2010.

And given that injury and the lost cause that is the Minnesota season, the sack could well be Favres final pass play.

Goal-setting

The Bears indeed have something very, very important to play for. The Nos. 1 and 2 playoff seeds, the two division winners with the best records, receive a bye week (as distinguished from the mis-named bye week in-season, which is simply a week off, not a bye, because no one advances in that week).

The others face wild-card qualifiers, meaning they need to play an extra game, meaning they can see their playoffs come to abrupt endings. In each of the last three postseasons, fully one-half of the wild-card games were lost by the division winners.

Chicago Bears Facial Fur Society

A number of Bears are looking a little ratty around the edges but its a good thing. They are letting beards grow until after the Super Bowl or after the Bears lose in the playoffs, whichever comes first.

Not all the chin upholstery looks bad by any means. Wide receiver Johnny Knox is letting his grow, although he looks to me a little like a Mennonite, very distinctive, actually. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub has his trimmed in a fashion a little like my own (mine is not coming off, regardless of playoff outcome, in case you were wondering).

It helps keep a little warm in this cold weather, too, Toub said, laughing.

Yep, sure does.

Lez e-talk

If youve got any Bears thoughts, lets chat tonight at our usual 7-8 p.m. on CSNChicago.com. Should be some good fodder to noodle on. Always is.

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.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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USA TODAY

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

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USA TODAY

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

On Thursday, Brian Baldinger released another video clip on Twitter for his #BaldysBreakdowns series, this one praising the recent play from Bears QB Mitch Trubisky.

Baldinger states that Trubisky is "making some kind of jump", referring to how impressed he was with Trubisky's play when compared to his rookie season. 

In the video Baldinger explains in the video how you expect franchise QBs to make a big leap from year one to year two, and a big part of that leap for Trubisky is being unafraid to make aggressive throws downfield.

Baldinger highlighted a play where Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel 47-yards down the field, choosing to trust his wideout after he hit him with perfect ball placement despite tight coverage. He continued this theme later on in the video, showing Trubisky's TD strike to Allen Robinson, which was whipped right past a Dolphins defender. 

But Baldinger's video wasn't exclusively compliments for Trubisky. He discussed Tarik Cohen's effectiveness as a pass-catcher, saying that you "can't cover him" and comparing him to a Ferrari with his ability to go from first to fifth gear "about as fast as anybody."

He ended his video by showing Trubisky punishing the Dolphins for a blown coverage, hitting rookie Anthony Miller in stride for a 29-yard TD. Baldinger's point in including this clip was to show Trubisky's improved recognition, as he may not have spotted the blown coverage last year. Noticing when and how to take advantage of defensive sloppiness is one of the many things that seperate a "franchise QB" from a stopgap, and Trubisky is trending in the right direction. 

If Baldinger's breakdown is any indication, we should expect Trubisky to keep his incredible momentum rolling when the Bears take on the New England Patriots on Sunday. New England is 3rd worst in the league in passing TDs allowed, giving up 15 scores through the air in six games.