After win over Panthers, Bears head to Lions den

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After win over Panthers, Bears head to Lions den

Monday, Oct. 3, 2011
Posted: 9:10 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
A win over Carolina staved off a threatening free-fall for the Bears, who now go into the Lions den, where Matthew Stafford waits. And Megatron. And Ndamukong.

Sept. 11, Atlanta Falcons (2-2) W 30-12
Jay Cutler puts up 107.8 passer rating to go with Matt Fortes 158 total yards. Defense holds Matt Ryan and Falcons O without a TD.

Sept. 18, @ New Orleans Saints (3-1) L 13-30
Forte puts up 166 total yards but Mike Martz eschews the run, Cutler is sacked 6 times, 5 in the fourth quarter.

Sept. 25, Green Bay Packers (4-0) L 17-27
More Martz mystery: 9 run calls for Forte net 2 yards, Aaron Rodgers controls the game and the ball for 37 minutes 29 seconds.

Oct. 2, Carolina Panthers (1-3) W 34-29
Matt Forte runs for 205 yards, Cam Newton passes for 374 yards and Panthers rush for 169. Hester punt return and D.J. Moore INT provide winning points.

Mon. Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m. @ Detroit Lions (4-0) Next: BEARS (MNF)
The one-time doormats nearly beat the Bears twice in 10 and now have won 12 straight (last four in 10, four preseason, first four in 11). Comeback wins over Minnesota and Dallas finally a Lions team to believe?

Sun., Oct. 16, 7:20 p.m. Minnesota Vikings (0-4) Next: vs. Arizona

Sun., Oct. 23, noon @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) Next: vs. Indianapolis, tonight
Colts shouldnt present much of a challenge without Peyton Manning.

Oct. 30, Off week

Mon., Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m. @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) Next: at Buffalo
Dream Team living a nightmare after losing to San Francisco to go 0-2 at home. Michael Vick throws for 416 yards but Philly D gives up 513.

Sun., Nov. 13, noon Detroit Lions (4-0)
Sun., Nov. 20, 3:15 p.m. San Diego Chargers (3-1) Next: at Denver
Not a lot of trouble getting past Miami as Philip Rivers completes 21 of 31 and Chargers rush for 118.

Sun., Nov. 27, 3:05 p.m. @ Oakland Raiders (2-2) Next: at Houston
Raiders pile up 504 yards on Patriots defense which holds Darren McFadden to 75 on the ground.

Sun., Dec., 4, noon Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) Next: at Indianapolis
Chiefs manage first win over Minnesota but being without RB Jamaal Charles, only so much damage possible from 010 NFC West champs.

Sun., Dec. 11, 3:05 p.m. @ Denver Broncos (1-3) Next: San Diego
Kyle Orton threw 3 INTs vs. Green Bay and Willis McGahee rushed for 103 but Broncos no match for Packers machine.

Sun., Dec. 18, noon Seattle Seahawks (1-3) Next: at N.Y. Giants
Seahawks miss 61-yard FG in final seconds after coming back from 27-7 hole to lose 30-28 after doing nothing running vs. Falcons defense.

Sun., Dec. 25, 7:20 p.m. @ Green Bay Packers (4-0)
Rodgers throws for 4 TDs and 408 yards and runs for 2 more scores against over-matched Broncos.

Sun., Jan. 1, noon @ Minnesota Vikings (0-4)

Game time subject to change

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

So Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing in his rookie season, despite just a dozen carries in the first three games. The fifth-round pick joined the man who beat him out for the rushing title, Ezekiel Elliott, as one of just five rookies in history to average five or more yards per carry on over 250 carries. And he set the Bears' rookie rushing record with his 1,313 yards while becoming just the fourth in franchise history to rush for that many yards in a season.

Sounds pretty hard to top, like we might be set up for the dreaded sophomore slump.

But...

"Things are a lot different this year because I know what to expect," Howard said during the team's minicamp two weeks ago. "I know all the plays and things like that. I’m not out there thinking, so I can just play free and fast.

"I definitely feel like a veteran 'cause I know what to expect and can help the young guys on the plays that they're not understanding. I’m just more comfortable and want to be a leader."

One of the other things we learned about Howard last year is he's low-key, a man of few words. So the Indiana product by way of UAB will make his points verbally when needed, but his actions will speak louder.

"He was a rookie a year ago and didn't even go in trying to be a leader, telling a five-year guy what was up," said head coach John Fox. "I think with time, and obviously with production like he had, I think it's a role he can fall in to. We're in a performance-based business and even in that locker room, what they do on Sundays gives them some credibility."

One of the concerns about Howard coming out of college was durability, but he answered the bell once he became the starter in week four against Detroit. And he probably wasn't used nearly as much as he should have. The good news about that is he was subject to less wear and tear, averaging just 18 carries per game from that Lions game on.

But besides taking more of a leadership role, Howard wanted to work on his speed without sacrificing the strong base that, paired with keen vision and work by the offensive line, allowed him to hit holes quickly and charge toward the second level of opposing defenses.

"Just improving on the little things – my conditioning, my weight, catching passes. And looking for ways to finish runs better," says Howard. "I feel like I’m in much better shape than I was at this time last year, a little more toned-up."

"It's just training," said Fox. "When you get to that it's more like track speed than football speed and I think he proved pretty worthy of that a year ago as a rookie. Y'know we all can improve on things, and that's the expectation. He's trained hard.

"This time of year last year he wasn’t even practicing," Fox remembered. "I like where we are, we’ve brought in more competition, and he’s better for it. He’s kind of gotten used to an NFL season, he’s come back ready to roll, but he still has work to do before we get to training camp."  

Oh, and the 22-year-old has a couple of other goals he didn't mind sharing, besides being a leader and getting a little faster.

"First off, make the playoffs. Be the leading rusher, and just help the team in any way I can and stay consistent."

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to keeping it real.

The outspoken All-Pro receiver never minces his words and that continued over the weekend when he showed off his signed jersey collection.

Marshall took to Instagram and showed off "Santa" hanging all of the jerseys he's swapped with other NFL players:

Santa doing work.. . #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

The list includes a host of current and future Hall of Fame players: Champ Bailey, Cris Carter, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lance Briggs, Adam Vinatieri, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas.

When almost all the framed jerseys were hung, Marshall took his followers through:

@nfl #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

Marshall compliments each player before, calling them "Hall of Famers" before getting to Jay Cutler at the end and going "Hall of..." multiple times.

Was that Marshall throwing shade at his former quarterback in both Denver and Chicago? If it was an innocent mistake or whatever, there's no way Marshall would've posted the Instagram video, right?

Marshall and Cutler were good friends from the beginning of their careers with the Broncos. So much so that the Bears traded a pair of third round draft picks in March 2012 to allow the two to continue their bromance by the lake:

But Marshall and Cutler have had a contentious relationship since.

Last summer, Marshall responded to a Tweet saying "of course" he misses Cutler. Last August, Marshall hopped on ESPN's First Take and said he thought Cutler could win the MVP Award in the 2016 NFL season.

At the same time, Marshall talked about his relationship with Cutler and said he was the only person on the Bears with the "huevos" to hold the enigmatic quarterback accountable. Marshall also said he was "sad" he didn't talk to Cutler much in the year leading up to August 2016.