Bears

Mullin: Forte playing best football of his pro career

Mullin: Forte playing best football of his pro career

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
Posted: 1:50 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Another good Thursday visit at 10 a.m. with Dan McNeil and Matt Spiegel on "The Danny Mac Show" on WSCR-AM 670, with a tough quick ending question:

Who is the best team in the NFL right now?

My quick take was the New England Patriots, even with their recent loss to Cleveland. Why? Because there is no team in the NFL right now that I would like to face less than the Patriots, which is what the Bears will do after their visit to Detroit.

Mac and Spiegs weren't buying New England, partly because of the defensive situation that Mac pointed out. Their flavor of the week (given the way the NFL has bounced this year, probably a reasonable way to think) is San Diego and in no small measure because of what the Chargers did to Indianapolis.

I'll pass. I have never seen Philip Rivers as a big-game quarterback, whether for reasons of temperament or raw ability, and if there is a team more capable than the Chargers of spitting the bit at the finish line, I'm not seeing it.

San Diego is streaking right now, winning four straight. Great. San Diego always streaks sometime. New England has quietly won three straight, including wins over Indianapolis and by double-digits at Pittsburgh. Oh, and the Patriots went out to San Diego and beat the Chargers, the last time San Diego lost.

Given the number of games that come down to quarterbacking, I take Tom Brady over Rivers any and every time.

Closer to home, the guys were talking about the 2010 version of Matt Forte and I think we're all on board with the thinking that this is unquestionably the best Forte has played as a pro. Spiegs made a point of how patient Forte has been this year with sweeps and how that suggests some strong confidence in his offensive line. Spot on: Forte has been able to get squared with the ball without facing penetrating D-linemen or linebackers before the point of attack and that traces, as good running invariably does, to his front five.

And it traces to Mike Martz, an offensive coordinator who has taken stock of what he has, allowed that talent (including Jay Cutler) to do what it does best, and the results were almost predictable.

Mac questioned how many more wins I reasonably foresaw for this team, particularly since my preseason call on the Bears was 10-6 or better. They're 8-3 right now and some quick projection math here:

They will win three more. The Bears will beat Detroit, either New England or the New York Jets, and either the Vikings or Green Bay Packers. That'll pop to 11-5 and a place in the playoffs.

We'll see. And we'll visit again next Thursday, same time, same station.

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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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.

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: