The 2012 NFL draft is fast approaching.Its hard not to peek at all the mock drafts, but I about lost it when I recently saw one mock projecting mammoth DT Dontari Poe from Memphis to the Bears. Poeweighs350 pounds.You only have to go back two training camps to know, the Bears held out former DT Marcus Harrison because heweighed over 310 pounds. When you factor in Lovies Tampa 2 defense -- it's all about quick, penetrating, undersized defensive tackles --you can quickly weed out Poe.Poe is a two gapping nose tackle for a 3-4 defense which is about as far from a penetrating 4-3 DT as you can get. Just look up Poes stats. Registering only one sack last year in a subpar conference isnt a glowing endorsement for Ooh, ooh, ooh, pick me!" Im not going to mock the mocker, but they suggested the Bears needed a run stuffer. The fact is the Bears were aTop 5defense last year versus the run yielding just over 96 yards per game. The Bears could utilize depth at DT, but it will be in the form of a lean, mean, fighting machine that fits what they do schematically. Lets try to hone in on a handful of guys who fit the Bears in Round 1.SecondaryMark Barron:SS Alabama, 6-foot-1 213 lbs.This is a wishprayer. Teams preceding the Bears starting with Dallas at 14 all need safety help. If Barron falls, the Bears should grab him and never look back. Barron would finally close the revolving door at safety.Stephon Gilmore: CB South Carolina, 6-foot-1 190 lbs.I wrote about Gilmore in a previous column for pick No. 19. Recent reports continue to have him moving up as high asNo. 7to the Jaguars. That is a little too high, but Gilmore, like Barron, may not be there. The Bears may have to think about Alabamas CB Dre Kirkpatrick --6-foot-2, 186 lbs --whos marijuana charge was recently dropped.Defensive LineQuinton Coples: DE North Carolina, 6-foot-6, 284 lbsEverybody says his attitude has him dropping. Ill believe it when I see it, but defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is the perfect guy for any attitude adjustment.Whitney Mercilus: DE Illinois 6-foot-4, 261 lbsIs Mercilus a one year wonder? The fact is, Mercilus moved up and down the Illinois defensive front for matchup reasons. Lovie and Marinelli have dabbled in this the last three years with Izzy and the last two with Peppers. Mercilus is versatile.Wide receiverStephen Hill: Wr Georgia Tech, 6-foot-4, 215 lbsOther than Justin Blackmon in Round 1, I think Hill will be a very special NFL wide receiver. It is rare for a guy Hills size to run 4.36. Dont believe the hype about Georgia Techs offense not preparing wide receivers. Detroits Calvin Johnson and Denvers Demaryius Thomas are difference makers who block coming out of Tech.Watch what Thomas does this year with Peyton Manning. Jay Cutler would love to work wonders breaking in Hill.Offensive lineJonathan Martin: T Stanford, 6-foot-5, 312 lbsand Mike Adams: T Ohio State, 6-foot-7, 323 lbsOnly the Bears know where GabeCarimis health is at this point.Only offensive coordinator Mike Tice can truly tell you if he is comfortable with J'Marcus Webb at left tackle. Webb gave up sacks, but a handful was strictly on Mike Martzs play-calling. I personally like Adams over Martin, but a recent positive drug test by Adams has him dropping to late first round. Why? It's interesting that this news comes out prior to the draft.Some team leaked it, hoping Adams will fall. I dont think he will.Adams is too good.All are impactful players other than Whitney Mercilus who is young and may take some time, but the Bears would utilize Mercilus much like Mark Anderson his rookie season which resulted in double digit sacks.
The Bears announced on Saturday they have elevated tight end Ben Braunecker from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and waived defensive lineman C.J. Wilson.
Braunecker, 22, signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Harvard following the 2016 NFL Draft. In 25 collegiate games, Braunecker compiled 68 receptions for 1,168 yards and 10 touchdowns. Braunecker was named first team All-America (AP, Walter Camp and STATS) and selected as the CFPA tight end award recipient following his senior season.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
Wilson, who signed with the Bears earlier in the week, has appeared in 78 games with the Green Bay Packers (2010-13), Oakland Raiders (2014-15) and Detroit Lions (2015). Wilson has notched 111 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 15 TFL's throughout his six-year NFL career.
The Bears' 53-man roster is now full.
Talking about what the Bears can do to defeat the Detroit Lions suddenly has a vague feel of irrelevance, since the downward spiral of the 0-3 start raises far broader questions and doubts than one game. But in point of fact, it IS about one game. More on that later.
Earlier in this week your humble and faithful narrator laid out three foundation points upon which the Bears could begin building a way out of the abyss. Nothing has changed in the meantime other than a few injury designations, and there is zero reason to dwell on those because the solution is about as simple as things can get. And they extend beyond Sunday’s game against the Lions.
“You’ve just got to keep improving,” said Brian Hoyer, the presumptive starting quarterback Sunday against Detroit and until Jay Cutler’s injured right thumb is sufficiently healed. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. Everybody has injuries. It’s unfortunately part of the business so everybody just has to step up.
“And not only the guy himself has to step up, the guys around him have to step up. That’s just the nature of the beast.”
Which gets back to those three “turnaround” elements, because those comprise the basic formula for the Bears to overcome the Lions and themselves. Consider these the proverbial “three keys,” tailored to the immediate game at hand.
Unleash a defensive “village”
The Bears have not proved themselves capable of winning enough one-on-one matchups pretty much anywhere on the field, any side of the football. An alternative exists on defense, however: Swarm to the football, something that was axiomatic with Lovie Smith defenses but evaporated under Marc Trestman/Mel Tucker and has not developed under John Fox and Vic Fangio. It is also the only realistic way the Bears can have a dominant defensive game, which is the only realistic way the Bears can win a football game.
The Lions were never a particularly fun matchup for Chicago defenses when they had Calvin Johnson. In beating the Bears the last six times the teams met, Detroit averaged 29.3 points per game. Without Megatron the Lions are averaging 27 per game this season. Meaning: Things haven’t necessarily gotten any better since the Big Fella called it a career.
In place of Johnson, the focal point of the Detroit offense has become wideout Marvin Jones, No. 2 in the NFL in receiving yards and averaging 22.7 yards on his 18 receptions. Equally concerning: Jones has picked up first downs on 13 of those 18 catches.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
“He's made some big plays,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “He's had some big ‘chunk’ plays, a 73-yarder last week, I think he had a 50-some yarder in another game. He leads the [NFC] in receiving yards and [is No. 2 in] average per catch. They've got a lot of weapons.”
The problem with that is that the Lions are predominantly a three-receiver offense, another team that will schematically force the Bears out of their base 3-4 and into nickel. The Bears intercepted a Houston Texans pass on the first possession of the season. They have not intercepted one in the 34 opponent possessions since then.
Detroit doesn’t run the football overly well (101 yards per game), but if the Bears cannot force quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw toward Jones or Golden Tate before he wants to, an undermanned secondary has no chance.
The defense no longer has a shutdown corner, even one must-account-for pass rusher or an established all-around game-changer. Jerrell Freeman is the best player on a struggling defense. The solution is a form of flash-mob flying to the football, second and third men in stripping the ball. One tackler or pass rusher has proved insufficient.
Take it on the run
It is far from any sort of exact correlation, but all six of the Bears’ wins last season came in games where they rushed more times than their opponent. A seventh win escaped them when Robbie Gould missed a kick against San Francisco. Only the Lions in Week 17 rushed fewer times than the Bears and won.
The Bears are not only among the NFL’s worst rushing teams (70 yards per game, 30th), but also its least busy, with 53 total attempts through three games. The total is mystifying because the Bears led the Texans through three quarters and the Eagles for most of two, making the reasoning that the Bears were trailing and forced to throw very difficult to understand.
The Lions allow 5.1 yards per rush, worst in the NFL. They are without top pass rusher Ziggy Ansah. If the Bears cannot run on this defense (allowing 28.3 ppg.), the issues are far deeper than feared and the philosophies and play calling of coordinator Dowell Loggains will come under even more scrutiny than they already have.
“I was pretty disappointed as well [after 15 rush attempts at Dallas],” guard Kyle Long said. “Just execution, and sometimes it’s not execution. It’s just you’ve got to beat the guy across from you and we haven’t done that enough.”
Win one play…then one drive…one quarter…one game
The Bears cannot get back to .500 Sunday afternoon. Barring a 28-point outburst, they cannot win the Detroit game in the first quarter. They led Houston and Philadelphia in first halves and lost.
To his credit, Fox has kept the target small, and simple. Because it is.
“It’s execution and it’s execution in all three phases,” Fox said. “Whether it’s the first half or the second half, they’re two equal times. And you have to put a complete game together and we have not done that through the first three games.”
And the winner is...
“View from the Moon” erred in Dallas by going against its first impression and pick back early in the offseason, that the Bears would lose to the Cowboys, which they did. The Bears have done little to suggest that they are poised to go on any sort of upswing, but the Lions inspire not a lot to suggest that they are an NFC North power. The preseason pick stays:
Bears 17, Lions 14
View from the Moon 2016 record: 1-2