Eye on the Enemy: Broncos Miller thinks Carimi is a beast


Eye on the Enemy: Broncos Miller thinks Carimi is a beast

There are more questions than answers to take away from the Bears 31-3 loss to the Broncos in Thursdays preseason opener, but Denver linebacker Von Miller is certain of one thing.

Gabe Carimi looks like he did in college and he was a beast in college, Miller said.

Miller, a member of the same 2011 draft class as Carimi, was impressed with the Bears front five, even though the offense was only able to accumulate 41 total yards and went 0-for-5 on third downs in the first half.

I think they can be successful, Miller said. Its the NFL, there arent any geeks on any team. I know Gabe Carimi personally and he looked pretty well. He had a lot of injuries last year, but this season Im expecting him to do big things and to give other defensive lines problems.

The Wolfman Howls

Another Denver defender, rookie defensive end Derek Wolfe, was also beast-like during the first half, registering a pair of sacks working against the Bears offensive line.

I dont want to let my secrets out, Wolfe said. I think we did a good job of staying after them and not just relying on the first move. Our second effort stuff was getting us there.

The six-feet-five-inch, 300 pounder out of Cincinnati got to Jason Campbell on Chicagos second series of the game and then put Josh McCown on the ground in the closing minutes of the first half.

Miller, who was handing out nicknamesleft and right, envisions great things in the near future for his new teammate.

Hopefully we can hear the Wolfman howl at Mile High Stadium coming up this season, Miller said.

Manning Learns from Hanie?

All eyes were on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in his first action in almost a year. After the game he was very reflective on his journey back to the playing field.

I sure have come a long way in a year, Manning said. I know how much hard work Ive put in and how much help Ive gotten along the way. Its been a long haul for me.

Manning orchestrated an impressive opening drive, going 4-for-6 and throwing for 44 yards before an interception at the Bears two-yard line.

I heard Caleb Hanie talking about the key is how you evaluate yourself and how you improve throughout the preseason, Manning said.

Hanie, who fell out of favor in the Windy City after being thrown into the fire last season, went 7-for-14, passing for 79 yards in his return to Soldier Field.

It doesnt matter what year you are in the NFL, the key is trying to get better through the preseason, Manning said. Thats what we hope to do. Thats what I hope to do.

Funny how a former Bears backup quarterback, who was booed on his first snap of the game, can teach a future Hall-of-Famer a thing or two.

King of Comedy

Although things were pretty cut and dry from the four-time MVP, Manning did offer a brief moment of humor for the media.

Maybe in some ways Ive even gotten better. Manning said. Now I have the ability to throw the ball in a linebackers hands and tip it to my own player. Thats a positive.

Miller Respects Mr. Manning

It was great to see Mr. Manning go out there complete some passes and move the ball, Miller said following the victory.

The second-year linebacker registered 11.5 sacks, 51 tackles and forced three fumbles on his way to being named second-team All-Pro in 2011 insisted that Manning was someone he looked up to.

I dont have to call him that, but I feel like its a respect factor involved. The type of guy he is, he commands respect the way he comes to work every day. The way he competes, the way he displays leadership, I feel like I have to call him Mr. Manning.

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

Some decisions have ways of simply making themselves. Decisions like, say, who will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Regrettably, one aspect of that decision was made for the Bears when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken left arm in the second quarter of Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. At that moment the Hoyer-or-Cutler question was rendered moot. As FOX’s Jay Glazer had reported, the No. 1 job was Hoyer’s to lose, and the injury unfortunately took care of that. Coaches never had to make that decision.

This is clearly not the way Cutler would like to have been returned to his job. No player is pleased to have an opportunity made possible by a catastrophic injury to a teammate.

Bigger picture: The 2016 season was always a prove-it year for Jay Cutler, more so than even last year because of guaranteed money, which is now gone. The rest of the 2016 now becomes a condensed prove-it crucible, where Cutler is playing for his job in Chicago or his next team. His price for 2017 ($15 million) is modest by starter standards, but so is his resume.

Without a strong final nine games, assuming his injured thumb is sufficiently recovered after nearly six weeks off, Cutler may find himself as next offseason’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, sort-of wanted by a team but for money nowhere close to the value he and his agent had in mind.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The play of rookies Dak Presott in Dallas and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia will reinforce the message that you can start and win with a rookie right away, which projects to depress any Cutler market. Why pay a marginal veteran, which Cutler has been and certainly is at this point and age (34 next April), when a rookie can be had at a fraction of the cost?

Without a massive contract renegotiation, a scenario of Cutler staying on as a bridge to a young successor is beyond a longshot. Hoyer, far more likely to fit that role, and his price will not approach Cutler’s.

Cutler now has his second chance. Whether he likes it or not, it’s an audition.

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — It was a bright spot, a small one on an otherwise dismal night of losing to the Green Bay Packers. But it was at least something.

After struggling for months to stay healthy and gain NFL weight, Leonard Floyd finally played like the ninth-overall pick of an NFL draft.

The rookie outside linebacker collected a sack in the first half, then exploded past Green Bay right tackle Brian Bulaga as part of stunt with fellow linebacker Willie Young on the third play of the second quarter for a second sack of Aaron Rodgers, one that came with a strip of the football and recovery in the end zone.

"We had a great play called,” Floyd said. “Willie came down and picked the guard for me and I looped around and the play was done and I made it. It felt great [to get a touchdown], but at the end of the day I wanted a win."

That was one of the very few bright spots as the Packers piled up 311 yards through three quarters, at times using wide receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery as running backs because of injuries. The drumbeat continued with touchdowns on three straight Green Bay possessions in the late third and early fourth quarters.

The defense has allowed 23 or more points in five of seven games this season, with the Packers rolling off consecutive touchdown drives of 85, 84 and 57 in the second half as the Bears were limited to 2:49 time of possession in the fourth quarter.

“It helps when you’re playing [defense], to actually have a little bit of a break,” head coach John Fox said. “Unfortunately in the second half, I think that probably caught up with us a little bit.”

The defense had its fullest complement of personnel yet this season, with outside linebackers Floyd and Pernell McPhee both active (McPhee for the first time this year following offseason knee surgery), in addition to starting cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Tracy Porter, both of whom were injured during the Jacksonville game. It was not enough.

[BEARS GRADES: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers]

Defensive line: F

The interior of the line was quiet for most of the game, with wide receivers lining up as running backs averaged more than five yards per carry. Cornelius Washington had the only hit by a defensive lineman on Rodgers as the line rarely collapsed the pocket with center-push or even kept him in the pocket.

Linebacker: B-

Floyd started after two games inactive and a zero stat sheet vs. Detroit. He struggled too often getting disengaged from Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari at the outset before breaking through with second effort for his first career solo sack. That was topped by the strip-sack and recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter. Floyd had a third hit on Rodgers and a tackle for loss.

"It is very tough,” Floyd said. “He gets the ball out pretty quickly. You just have to keep rushing every snap. He is at his best when he is scrambling around playing backyard football."

McPhee was a welcome addition to a slumping defense, even in his limited capacity (19 snaps). McPhee was not credited with any tackles but was surprisingly fast off the ball initially, and got penetration to alter running lanes and some pressure on Rodgers, although he appeared to slow somewhat, not unexpected considering how limited he has been throughout the year because of the surgery.

Sam Acho provided some edge pressure with two hits on Rodgers and a pass deflected. Jerrell Freeman had a quarterback hit and delivered a game-high 13 tackles.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Secondary: D

The secondary was forced to cover long into plays because of absent pressure on Rodgers but the coverage had its own problems with an offense that threw 56 times but was never intercepted. Three Green Bay receivers totaled double-digit receptions: Davante Adams (13), Cobb (11) and Montgomery (10).

Cre’Von LeBlanc started at corner as the Bears opened with six defensive backs, and delivered a goal-line stop in the first quarter, stuffing Montgomery, who was used as a running back because of injuries to the Green Bay backfield. LeBlanc finished with seven tackles and a hit blitzing Rodgers.

Porter matched up with Jordy Nelson and allowed the Green Bay wideout just one catch on four targets through three quarters. But breakdowns were deadly, allowing the Packers to stage their two longest scoring drives of the season in the second half. The second came when Porter and safety Harold Jones-Quartey both covered the same man in the end zone early in the fourth quarter, leaving Adams alone for his second TD catch of the game.

Adrian Amos interfered with Nelson to give the Packers a 44-yard penalty pickup in the first quarter. De’Vante Bausby had a number of solid plays despite a lack of meaningful pressure from the front. But Bausby had two holding penalties on the Packers’ second fourth-quarter scoring drive.

"There were a lot of penalties out there.,” Bausby said. “We had a good scheme and plan, but we just didn't finish in the second half as a group. Facing Rodgers is a challenge, but I felt like our play calling was excellent. We just didn't finish."

Special teams: B

Connor Barth converted from 39 yards to tie the game in the second quarter. It was Barth’s seventh in his last eight attempts. Pat O’Donnell turned in another strong night punting, averaging 43.8 net on five punts. Coverage helped keep three of those inside the 20.