Bears

Coaches nearly come to blows

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Coaches nearly come to blows

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Jim Harbaugh charged across the field, lifting his shirt to expose his belly to attempt a chest bump. He extended his right hand to Jim Schwartz for a shake and slapped him on the back with his left hand. Schwartz didn't like what was done or said -- claiming he heard an expletive -- and went charging after Harbaugh. What an emotion-filled scene following a meeting of turnaround teams that matched pregame hype in San Francisco's 25-19 victory over Detroit on Sunday. The NFC might have a nasty new rivalry no one saw coming. After the 49ers knocked the Lions from the unbeaten ranks on Alex Smith's touchdown pass with 1:51 left, both coaches added some highlights -- or lowlights -- of their own. Harbaugh took the blame in one breath -- and a shot in the next. "That's totally on me," Harbaugh said. "I shook his hand too hard." NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the incident will be reviewed. Harbaugh, a first-year NFL coach who played at Michigan, had to be separated from Schwartz more than once after Schwartz came running and lunging toward him as both teams were going to the tunnel. "I went to congratulate coach Harbaugh and got shoved out of the way," Schwartz said. "I didn't expect an obscenity at that point. Obviously, when you win a game like that, you are excited, but there is a protocol that goes with this league." Players from the 49ers (5-1) and Lions (5-1) gathered and appeared to restore order -- probably because they were worn out from a hard-hitting, penalty-filled game with four lead changes after halftime. "Ironically, I was playing peacemaker," Detroit defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "But this is an emotional sport." Smith's fourth-down, 6-yard pass to Delanie Walker gave San Francisco the go-ahead touchdown with 1:51 left. The play stood after video review didn't show definitely whether Walker's right knee was down before the ball reached the goal line. David Akers gave San Francisco a six-point lead with 1:02 to go with a 37-yard field goal. Detroit had a chance to drive for a winning TD, but couldn't get a first down against a swarming defense that hit and confused quarterback Matthew Stafford from the start. That last drive started with San Francisco's fifth sack and ended with a catch and lateral -- 69 yards short of the end zone -- to trigger Harbaugh's exuberant celebration. "It fires me up a lot," Harbaugh said. "If that offends you or anybody else, then so be it." San Francisco lost its first five games last season and the five-time championship franchise failed to finish with a winning record for the eighth straight year. Harbaugh has made an instant impact, quickly changing culture with many of the same players. The NFC West-leading 49ers have won five of their first six games for the first time since 1998. "He loves football," Smith said. "He's an emotional guy, and it's showing up on this team." Smith lost a fumble on his first snap and threw an interception late in the third quarter, matching his turnover totals from the first five games in both categories. But the No. 1 pick overall from the 2005 draft made a clutch pass to Walker for the win when Michael Crabtree drew away the defense. "They kind of jumped Crab and left me open in the middle," Walker said. "Alex made a great read and made a perfect throw." Smith was 17 of 32 for 125 yards, going early and often to Crabtree, who matched a career high with nine receptions for 77 yards. Frank Gore ran 15 times for 141 yards, including a season-long 55-yard gain, and scored a TD that pulled the 49ers within three after they were outscored 10-0 in the first quarter. Stafford looked shaky for the first time this season and San Francisco had a lot to do with that. "It's a good defense," he acknowledged. Stafford was 28 of 50 for 293 yards with two TDs. Detroit had won nine straight regular-season games, dating to last season, in what was the league's longest active streak. "We had trouble getting guys free, and when we did, we didn't always make the throws," Schwartz said. "We need to get the running game going so that we don't look quite so one-dimensional." The Lions couldn't move the ball on the ground with either Jahvid Best or Maurice Morris against a sturdy front and perhaps the league's best linebacking corps, allowing the 49ers to hit and harass Stafford. He was sacked once in the end zone, giving the 49ers a safety that cut their deficit to one point midway through the second quarter. Jason Hanson missed a 52-yard field goal that would've given Detroit a four-point lead late in the first half. Akers made a 55-yard kick to match a season high, putting the 49ers ahead 12-10 as time expired in the half. Brandon Pettigrew had eight catches for 42 yards and a score. Calvin Johnson added seven receptions for 113 yards, but didn't score after being the NFL's first player with nine TD receptions in the first five games of a season. Stafford connected with Nate Burleson on a 5-yard pass into the end zone ruled incomplete on the field. It was overturned after video review, giving Detroit a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Burleson caught the ball and got both feet down, then lost the ball after tumbling beyond the end zone -- a play similar to Johnson's well-documented catch that was ruled incomplete last year at Chicago. The 49ers overcame 15 penalties, including five false starts at raucous Ford Field, and Detroit drew six flags. "Once you get a couple false starts, it's like throwing gasoline on a fire," Smith said. Notes: San Francisco and Chicago combined for 14 false starts at Detroit, matching Houston's record from 2004 for the most false starts by visiting teams in back-to-back games since 1991, according to STATS LLC. ... The teams met with 9-1 records after being 1-9 at same point last season. ... Harbaugh played for Baltimore in 1998, when Schwartz was a Ravens assistant.

Chargers' Anthony Lynn says Mitch Trubisky reminded him of Aaron Rodgers

Chargers' Anthony Lynn says Mitch Trubisky reminded him of Aaron Rodgers

Imagine, for a moment, what this Bears team would be like if it had Aaron Rodgers under center, leading the offense, with a defense captained by Khalil Mack. It seems nearly impossible to picture it, but according to Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, it wouldn't have been as difficult back in 2017 when Trubisky was a highly-touted draft prospect.

Lynn, during his conference call with reporters Wednesday, said Trubisky reminded him of the future Hall of Famer when he was coming out of North Carolina.

"He made throws. He had a quick release. He reminded me sometimes of Aaron Rodgers," Lynn said. "The way he moved around. If he ever got in a bind, he could create. I just thought he had the total package."

Trubisky's final season as a Tar Heel feels like ancient history, but Lynn's assessment isn't far off. Trubisky completed 68% of his passes for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions. His 5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio is an elite stat, and his ability to create with his legs made him that much more appealing to NFL general managers. He was so desired that GM Ryan Pace infamously traded up one spot (from No. 3 overall to No. 2) to draft him.

What may have been overlooked, however, was the offense Trubisky operated in at UNC. It was a very basic, quick-hitting system that didn't require much "quarterbacking" from the now-struggling pro. And while it's still too early to say Trubisky will never become a franchise passer, it's pretty clear he isn't destined to be in the elite tier.

Through five games (four if you factor in his early exit against the Vikings in Week 4), Trubisky's completed 64.4% of his passes for 839 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. Sadly, more than 250 of his yards and two of his touchdowns came in what Matt Nagy admitted was garbage time in Week 7's loss to the Saints.

General managers, coaches and scouts will often hold onto scouting reports way too long. Maybe it's a pride or ego thing. Maybe it's a failure to accept reality. But with Trubisky, it's pretty clear his college scouting report was flawed, and it's on Pace and Nagy to make sure they know if his issues are correctable. If not, they can't hold onto hope that a Rodgers-like breakout will suddenly (and miraculously) occur.

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In a way, Roquan Smith's recent struggles mirror the Bears' larger defensive issues

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USA Today

In a way, Roquan Smith's recent struggles mirror the Bears' larger defensive issues

It’s wild to think about how, only two months ago, Bears’ linebacker Roquan Smith was wrapping up a month of training camp where – on more than one occasion – he looked like the best player on the team. Hyperbole reigns in Bourbonnais, but given his stellar rookie season, expectations for Smith’s second season were through the roof. 

Fast forward six games, and Smith’s season has looked far closer to a worst-case scenario than the All-Pro campaign that many (including yours truly) had him locked in for. Personal issues aside, Smith’s performance on the field hasn’t lived up to the standard he set last year, when he led the team in total tackles (122). 

“He can definitely play better,” Matt Nagy said on Tuesday. “And he knows that. That’s where we’re at right now. And he’s gonna. I think he will. We all know exactly what we’ve all done together in the last couple weeks.” 

Nagy wouldn’t speculate on whether Smith is still finding his form after missing some time with an off-field issue that was never disclosed. Last Sunday he was only on the field for 54 of 78 snaps, and seemed to be subbed out on 3rd down more frequently than in the past. When he has been on the field – especially in the last two games – the tape hasn’t been kind. 

Per Pro Football Focus, here’s how Smith graded out, and where it ranked among all linebackers, after his rookie season: 

Overall Def: 65.0 (71)
Run defense: 55.1 (137) 
Tackling: 73.9 (69)
Pass Rush: 72.8 (28) 
Coverage: 67.8 (41)

And now, this season: 

Overall Def: 48.0 (117) 
Run defense: 50.3 (113)
Tackling: 77.5 (31)
Pass Rush: 47.2 (131)
Coverage: 50.7 (95)

“He’s doing everything he can,” Nagy added. “None of it is because of lack of effort or want or any of that. And none of it is because of the lack of couldn’t. We all look at each other. We all want to help each other out. And we feel like we all can coach and play better.”

In some ways, Smith’s issues are a good microcosm of what’s plagued the Bears’ defense over the last month. Eddie Jackson said that side of the ball has lost some of their swagger, and even a casual eye test can see that the team isn’t playing with quite the same physicality that became their calling card under Vic Fangio. 

“Well, I would agree with that,” Nagy added. “There hasn’t been that physicality. They know that. Again, none of it is because of a lack of want. A lot of it just comes down to there are certain plays and certain parts of the game that it’s not getting done, and it was before.” 

Losing Akiem Hicks obviously doesn’t help. The Bears’ defense still has plenty of talent at all levels, however, and no one inside Halas Hall (and certainly no one outside it) is feeling sorry for themselves. 

“I think it’s preparation,” Nagy replied when asked how the defense could get back to an elite level. “Then there’s reactionary skills, of when it happens, you’re prepared, you saw what happened and you can react. That’s probably the biggest thing. That’s something you would have to ask each and every player because they’re all different on how much they prepare and how well they prepare.”

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