Moon's Mailbag: Evaluating the 2011 defense


Moon's Mailbag: Evaluating the 2011 defense

Each week until the end of the season, Bears Insider John 'Moon' Mullin will be answering questions from fans. Submit your questions on Twitter and check back on to see if your question gets a response.

Here are this week's questions:

From Aube2010:

Moon - What will the Bears do when Marshall is taken away by other team's defenses?

Two thoughts here. One is that Marshall doesn't get completely taken away very often. That's why he's had five straight 1,000-yard seasons and no fewer than 81 catches in those years, when he was the focus of defenses. The second is that it's impossible to take away ALL weapons in a good offense (unless you are rushing with the Steel Curtain). The Bears' most consistent receiving threat the past four years has actually been Matt Forte, and three of those were with Jay Cutler, so No. 6 is more than comfortable going to his franchise back, who is also a good bet to get back on top of 1,000 rushing yards. The drafting of Alshon Jeffery was a statement on top of Marshall as well.

The whole point of this offseason was to diversify as well as upgrade offensive firepower. Someone will shut Marshall down for a time; the Bears finally have more than one arrow in the quiver.

From KevinMcDonough5:

@MattBowen41 Will Marinelli deviate from the traditional Tampa 2? Will this offense expose how easy it is to exploit this scheme?

I'll cover for Matt. The fact is that the Bears were in true Cover-2 about one-third of the time last season. And I was watching practice with Matt and he was noting some specific attack points against the Cover-2. Every defense has pressure points; watch a Green Bay game, opening drive, and you'll more than see.

From @dsetwitt:

@CSNMoonMullin What's wrong with Carimi? Break yesterday makes sense. Break today means injury or demotioncompetition?

There's really nothing wrong with 72, more a matter of being supremely sensible about mixing rest with exertion. There is no demotion there, believe me, no is there true 'competition.' There's simply no point in pushing him until there actually is a problem. He's really looked very good, body fat down significantly and better quickness than even last year.

From @freak_44:
@CSNMoonMullin How does Roach look at mike back?

Roach always look the same there, very solid, and even more so now that he's another year in the system. I talked with Nick at some length about where he is now as the Mike, since it wasn't an instant success '09, for various reasons. He's a different player than he was then and I've always thought that if contract situations are managed smartly, you're looking at the real successor to Brian Urlacher.

From @helen goerne:
will it be Spaeth or Adams who makes roster at TE?

That'll show up in preseason games. Spaeth is more of a blocking force but Adams is a contributor on special teams. This could be a good competition before it's all settled.

From @RoadRage:
How would you rate the DT's?

I've been tracking Stephen Paea through all the offseason and he's looked the best overall, with Henry Melton flashing a lot more than he did last year. The thing I note with Melton is that he went to Texas as a running back, converted to defensive end, and didn't really switch to tackle until spot duty in 2010, with good results. A lot of people are eager to see if Brian Price has anything left in football after his personal losses. Matt Toeaina is a proven plugger. The competition with Price, John McCargo and DeMario Pressley is ongoing and you'll know what I know based on watching the preseason games and who plays first and most.

From @Reg:
Overall does this look as good as the 2011 defense?

Until the shots are thrown in anger, pretty hard to evaluate. The emergence of Stephen Paea is an upgrade at defensive tackle, which is significant, and investing a No. 1 draft choice on a pass rusher makes that area better, on paper. The Bears did not take steps backwards on defense other than adding a year to their vets' ages, but right now I would rate 2012's D ahead of 2011's.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North


Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

NBC Sports Chicago’s John "Moon" Mullin talked with The MMQB's Albert Breer, who shared his thoughts on where the Bears stand — and if they’ll be able to compete — in a highly competitive NFC North.

Moon: The Bears have made upgrades, but they’re in the NFC North and not many divisions are tougher, given the strength at quarterbacks.

Breer: Yes. You look at the other three teams, and they all very much believe they’re in a window for winning a championship. The Packers are going through some changes, but they’ve gotten Mike Pettine in there as defensive coordinator and a new general manager who was aggressive on draft day. I know that internally they feel that’s going to give them a boost, and bringing Aaron Rodgers back obviously is the biggest thing of all.

Minnesota, all the things they did this offseason, signing (quarterback) Kirk Cousins, (defensive lineman) Sheldon Richardson, and they were knocking on the door last year.

The Lions have been building for two years under (general manager) Bob Quinn and (new coach) Matt Patricia, who lines right up with the general manager — the two of them worked together in New England. They really believe that Matthew Stafford is ready to take the sort of jump that Matt Ryan made in Atlanta a few years ago, where you see that mid-career breakthrough from a quarterback that we see sometimes now.

It’s one of the toughest divisions in football, and every team in the division believes that it’s in the position to contend right now.

Moon: We didn’t see a lot of Mitch Trubisky — 12 games — so it sounds possible that the Bears could improve and still lose ground.

Breer: The Lions were pretty good last year. The Vikings were in the NFC Championship game. And who knows where the Packers would’ve been if Rodgers hadn’t broken his collarbone. The biggest change is that Aaron Rodgers will be back, and that’s the best player in the league. It was a really good division last year, and you’re adding back in a Hall of Fame quarterback.

As far as the Bears, there’s going to be questions where the organization is going. It’s been seven years since they were in the playoffs. I think they certainly got the coach hire right. This is a guy who I know other organizations liked quite a bit and was going to be a head coach sooner or later.

And I think he matches up well with Mitch. I think the Bears are in a good spot, but as you said, they’re competing in a difficult environment, so it may not show up in their record.

Moon: A lot of love for the Vikings after they get to the NFC Championship and then add Kirk Cousins.

Breer: A lot of people look at Minnesota and think Kirk Cousins’ll be a huge improvement. And maybe he will be. I think he’s a very good quarterback, top dozen in the league. But Case Keenum played really, really well last year, so it wasn’t like they weren’t getting anything out of that position last year.

The NFC right now is clearly the strength of the league. If you picked the top 10 teams in the league, you could make a case that seven or eight of them are in the NFC. I think there will be NFC teams that miss the playoffs who could be in the Super Bowl coming out of the AFC. There’s a little bit of an imbalance there.

Moon: Trubisky projects as part of a wave of new quarterbacks league-wide, a sea change in the NFL.

Breer: The interesting thing is that this is probably as stable as the league has been at quarterback in a long time. There’ve been questions where the next great quarterbacks will come from, but I don’t know that there’s a team right now in the NFL like you looked at the Jets or Browns last year, where you say that team is definitely drafting a quarterback in 2019.

Everyone either has a big-money veteran or former first-round pick on their roster. One team that doesn’t is the Cowboys, but they’ve got Dak Prescott who’s played really well. Every team in the league has some stability at the position. I think the position is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, and you’ve got a lot of good young prospects.