Bears don't want to join 'upset victims' list

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Bears don't want to join 'upset victims' list

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
10:42 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If the Bears lose to the Detroit Lions and the search begins for reasons, it likely will be necessary to look no further than Wednesday.

Not because of what happened Wednesday. Because of what didnt happen.

A loss to a 2-9 starting its third-string quarterback typically does not happen on game day. Thats simply when the tests are passed out and it is discovered, painfully, that not everyone was prepared for, studied hard enough for, was ready for, the pop quiz presented by the Detroit Lions.

Perhaps it was that extra tape not watched, or the extra look at a play design in a playbook.

It could just be that one or two plays that show up on Sunday, said cornerback Tim Jennings. But then if you go back to during the week, you see that you didnt really prepare yourself. And the difference between a good team and a great team is one or two plays.

The Bears do not want to be Mike Tyson to Detroits Buster Douglas, or Rocky Balboa to the Lions Clubber Lang (the first fight), or the Titanic to Motowns iceberg.

When you see a better team that shouldve won, and you see it in college and every level, it happens more during the week than on game day, said safety Chris Harris. On game day everybodys usually up and ready to play.

But Michigan is, after all, the state where Appalachian State stunned the Maize and Blue. And the Bears are the division leaders at 8-3 facing a team that has lost four straight and likely its top two quarterbacks, depending on the state of Shaun Hills broken right index finger.

The Lions are coming off a potentially demoralizing fourth-quarter collapse Thanksgiving Day in which the New England Patriots scored 21 points, 28 unanswered in all.

But the Lions are also the team that on that short week got on top of the far stronger Patriots before New England rallied. The Lions also took the New York Jets into overtime.

And lest anyone forget (the Bears have not), the Lions were within an officials ruling of defeating the Bears in Chicago in Game 1, when wide receiver Calvin Johnsons apparent TD catch was ruled a drop after Johnson put the ball on the ground while getting to his feet.

I think a letdown happens getting prepared for the game, said wide receiver Johnny Knox. Going in you have a different mindset. But each week going in, we have that same mentality. We know that Detroits a 2-9 team but weve played them and they played pretty good ball against us.

The film of the first Detroit game, as long as players do their due diligence and watch it thoroughly, should be enough to preclude any letdown.

The Bears had more than twice as many yards (463-168) as the Lions ran for five times as many yards (101-20) as the Lions. But Detroit led 14-3 at one point, 14-13 at halftime and sacked Jay Cutler four times to the Bears two sacks.

The jolt should have stayed with the Bears and if it didnt, there are veterans to remind everyone that letdowns and upsets do happen.

Not here, safety Harris insisted. The group of guys weve got here, and the coaches, they wont let that happen. They wont allow it. Weve got a good group of veterans and we wont let a letdown happen.

The Bears are a significantly better team than the one that escaped the Lions in week one but so are they, quarterback Cutler said. Its going to be a good matchup for us, tough matchup, division game, on the road. Thats always going to be tough.

But this team is led by veterans, guys whove been there before, and I think everyone realizes this is not the time to let up.

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 numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

There's a sense of irony and, to a certain degree, concern about what changes the Bears' coaching staff has undergone.

Think of the best of Ryan Pace's 2016 rookie class: Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Jordan Howard. They were brought along under the position group tutelage of outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, offensive line coach Dave Magazu and running backs coach Stan Drayton. The latter was the first to depart, shortly after the season ended, to return to the collegiate ranks on Texas' new staff.

He's been replaced with former 49ers and Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins (also serving as that position coach in Detroit, Buffalo, Arizona and Kansas City). Howard certainly adapted to the NFL game well, more than anyone expected, as the NFL's second-leading rusher. One would think Drayton played a part in that.

Longtime John Fox assistant Magazu was also let go after the season despite the impressive move of second-round pick Whitehair to center the week of the season opener after Josh Sitton was signed following his release by Green Bay. Whitehair was sold as a "quick study" following his selection out of Kansas State, where he was a four-year starter at three different positions (but not center).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Like Howard, he wound up making the All-Rookie team, but whether he remains in the middle of the line or not, he'll be getting his orders now from Jeremiah Washburn.

Rounding out the trio of All-Rookie selections was Floyd, who was brought along by Hurtt. He impressed Fox enough to be kept around from Marc Trestman's staff, and moved from defensive line to outside linebackers.

That's where he assisted Willie Young in morphing to a foreign role, yet still managing 14 sacks over the last two seasons. The Bears have yet to name a replacement for Hurtt, who's joined the Seahawks in taking over one of their strengths in recent years, the defensive line.

These three were already good, and the jewels of last year's draft. But if they're to grow and ascend into impact contributors if and when this team becomes a regular playoff contender, it'll come from new faces, new voices in their respective classrooms and position groups.