Adams, Webb named Piccolo Award winners

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Adams, Webb named Piccolo Award winners

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted: 11:10 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
Tackle JMarcus Webb was the winner of the Bears prestigious Brian Piccolo Award, named for the former Bears running back and created in 1970 following death due to cancer on June 16 of that year.

Defensive tackle Anthony Adams, already the winner of the Bears Ed Block Courage Award this year, was honored Tuesday as the winner of the award for veterans. The veteran award was established in 1992 and first presented to Mike Singletary, who was retiring at the end of that season.

The winners are chosen by the players. This is the 41st anniversary of the award. Piccolo wore No. 41 when he played for the Bears from 1966-69

When an award is voted on by your teammates, it is special, said coach Lovie Smith.

Adams was a particular hit with one fan in attendance. Daddy, youre funny, son Anthony III piped up as Adams finished at the podium.

Coordinator Mike Martz presented the award to Webb, a seventh-round draft choice out of West Texas A&M. The odds of him making this team were pretty remarkable, Martz said. To accomplish what Webb did says a lot about JMarcus and the kind of many he is.

Webb was visibly moved by the moment. I stand here humbled by the Brian Piccolo Award, Webb said. He was a man who inspired people from all walks of life with his dedication... Im not sure Ill be able to measure up to such a man but I will seek to inspire others with my hard work and dedication.

Adams epitomizes the term and concept of teammate, said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli in presenting Adams.

I just appreciate everybody, on down to the training staff that kept us on the field, Adams said. Its definitely a great honor and it was definitely a great experience this year, being one game away from the Super Bowl...

Im sorry to be talking about Green Bay but I hate having this bad taste in my mouth.

Following Piccolos death, the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund was established and proceeds sent to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York for research on embryonal cell carcinoma. The disease that was 100 percent fatal at the time of Piccolos death had the rate reduced to 50 percent today.

The late Ed McCaskey played a prominent role in helping Piccolo through his illness and in the work against cancer after Piccolos death. The Fund has since turned its work to breast cancer research and raised more than 8 million since 1991.

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.

Bears establishing smash-mouth core with Jordan Howard

Bears establishing smash-mouth core with Jordan Howard

Eric Kush was in some pain after the Bears win over the San Francisco 49ers. But it was a “good” pain, particularly since part of it was inflicted by a teammate.

The teammate was running back Jordan Howard, and the Bears left guard was learning along with his linemates that when Howard is coming, “he’s a-comin’,” Kush said.

“Oh man, sometimes you’re, ‘[groan-groan-groan], and he’ll hit you right in the back, you fall and try to take your guy down with you and stick him in the snow so you’re not the only one getting soaking wet and cold. But Jordan’s a lot fun and we try to kick some butt for him.”

The rookie running back has become more than simply a draft nugget from the fifth round of this year’s draft. Howard has established himself as an integral part of a winning formula of complimentary football, the concept long favored by John Fox, Lovie Smith and coaches who operate from the foundation of a premier running game, impact defense and solid special teams.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The Bears’ three wins have come this season in the only games in which Howard has been given 20-plus carries: 23 vs. Detroit, 26 vs. Minnesota, 32 vs. San Francisco. Add to those the 3 pass receptions against the Lions and the 4 against the Vikings and the true centerpiece of the 2016 Bears offense is more than a little apparent.

For obvious reasons beyond simply the rushing numbers.

“Especially pass protection,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “I think he's taken a big jump that way. When you're young in this league, those are the things that can get grey for you. You run the football, he's obviously a talented player there, but in pass pro, he's made his biggest growth.”

As a corollary to Howard, San Francisco was only the second game this season in which the Bears called fewer than 30 pass plays (the only other time was at Green Bay, when the Bears only ran a total of 45 plays, 27 of them pass plays). In that respect, the snow was viewed as an ally by some in the locker room who have been unhappy at the run:pass balance, which was just 36-percent-run coming into the 49ers game.

“It was one of these games where, with the weather, we couldn’t pass the ball like we normally do —  30 times — so we had to keep it on the ground,” said one member of the offense.

Howard’s breakout game as an NFL ball carrier came against the Lions (23 carries, 111 rushing yards, 3 receptions). The Bears, looking for a breakout of their own in the form of a first two-game win streak in more than a year, are expected to keep it simple — and in Howard’s hands.

“I always expected a lot out of myself,” Howard said. “I didn’t really think that things would happen maybe this soon or this fast. I’m definitely grateful for it.”

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.