Chicago Bears

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.

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright saw two years ago what the transition for a quarterback, picked second overall and coming from a college spread offense, can look like. Marcus Mariota made that move smoothly and now looks poised to join the ranks of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year with the Tennessee Titans. 

Can Mitch Trubisky make a similarly successful transition? Wright, so far, has liked what he’s seen.

“His overall progression from OTAs to training camp to now, his overall everything he’s done in every area has gotten better,” Wright said. “The work he puts in, it helps him.” 

It’s not a perfect comparison, of course, given the offense Mariota so effectively operated at Oregon didn't resemble the look and feel of the one Trubisky ran at North Carolina. Mariota started far more games than Trubisky, too. They’re two different quarterbacks with different skillsets. And Mariota was given the opportunity to be a Week 1 starter from the moment he was drafted, while Trubisky — for now — remains behind Mike Glennon. 

“Marcus was in a different position where he came in and he was the quarterback,” Wright said. “I think it’s different. Once Mitch starts playing, whenever he starts playing, he’ll start progressing a lot more because he’ll actually be out there in game-like situations.”

But consider why the Titans were so confident Mariota could start immediately and make a successful transition to the NFL from that flashy Oregon offense:

“I don’t think the system he had in Oregon, I don’t think that held him back when he came into the league,” Wright said. “I think he was good at making his progressions, decisive. He’s like one of those players, it doesn’t matter what system he’s in, you put him out there and he’s a guy that’s a difference-maker.”

After espousing Trubisky’s accuracy back in April, Bears general manager Ryan Pace quickly pointed out this trait: “His ability to process and see the whole field jumps out right away. 

“… All these top quarterbacks, it’s just their ability to quickly process defenses, process coverage, find open targets, not panic under pressure, deliver accurate throws when there’s a noisy pocket – things are collapsing – those guys all have those traits. And Mitch has those traits, Drew (Brees) has those traits and those are things we value.”

The point being: No matter the system, both Mariota and Trubisky have good football intelligence, and are more than what Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians once bemoaned about college spread quarterbacks. 

“They hold up a card on the sideline and he kicks his foot and throws the ball,” Arians said in 2015. “That ain’t playing quarterback.”

Trubisky, of course, still has to improve with his pre-snaps reads, calling out protections, identifying coverages, learning the playbook, etc. But he seems to have the football intelligence to make those strides and marry them with his impressive physical skillset. 

And as was the case with Mariota, Wright doesn’t see a reason why Trubisky can’t succeed in the NFL. 

“(Trubisky) can do it all too,” Wright said. “He’s still learning, he’s still getting better, he’s never complacent. He has the ability to get better and he’s willing to get better. He’s a young guy that listens. He’s just a baller. You put him out there and he makes plays.” 

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

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USA Today Sports Images

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

Sunday will mark Kendall Wright’s first trip back to Nashville since he not-so-amicably split with the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 season. 

Wright has said he doesn’t want to talk about his time in Tennessee, where injuries and clashes with coaches led to a steady decline in targets and production after a standout 2013 season (139 targets, 94 receptions, 1,079 yards). But it’s easy to compare how he feels practicing with the Bears to how he felt toward the end of his days with the Titans. 

“A fresh start is good,” Wright said. “Football is fun again. 

“If you don’t have fun playing the game, what the use of you playing? And I didn’t really have too much fun the past few years. But when you’re out here playing and doing what you love to do, it’s fun. So you just gotta keep the game fun.”

Wright was a little more forceful earlier this year. 

“What motivates me the most is I probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year and I was playing, like, 10 plays a game,” Wright said during OTAs in June. 

But while this weekend’s game against the Titans could seem to be an opportunity for revenge, Wright is more approaching it for what it is — another preseason game to continue to improve with the rest of the first team offense. 

Wright caught a touchdown from  Glennon Saturday night in Arizona (he also was the target on Glennon’s interception, though that looked to be more on the quarterback than the receiver). And he seems to be clearly ahead of Victor Cruz to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver — Cruz wasn’t targeted against Arizona, while Wright received three targets. 

If the Glennon-led first-team offense is going to have success in the regular season, it needs improvements from every unit — quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line — based on what we’ve seen during the preseason. Perhaps a motivated, fun-having Wright, playing for the same offensive coordinator under which he had his best season, can be a part of that. 

“The game of football is supposed to be fun,” Wright said. “Don’t take the fun out of it. You just gotta go out there and have fun and make plays. When you’re making plays, it’s even more fun.”