Bears focused on Eagles offense, not just Vick


Bears focused on Eagles offense, not just Vick

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
9:15 AM

By John Mullin

Forget about Michael Vick for a minute. The Bears have some major, serious issues to deal with Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and not all of them involve Vick.

For all of the attention paid to Vicks emergence as an NFL passer, the Eagles are No. 3 in, not passing yards, but rushing yards, with more than 150 per game. The bad news is that this is not the Atlanta Falcons of earlier this decade when Vick was a huge component of the rushing offense and was supplanting Bobby Douglass and Fran Tarkenton as the running-est quarterback in NFL annals.

The really bad news is that Vick doesnt have to be what he was in Atlanta. LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and has 6 touchdowns. Vick has 375 yards and 5 TDs rushing, but thats through 10 games, McCoy is tied for 16th in pass receptions with 51 and Jeremy Maclin has 47, of which 7 were for touchdowns. DeSean Jackson is averaging 19.8 yards per reception and has 5 touchdowns.

The point isnt to just rattle of names and numbers. Its that this Philadelphia team has substantially more firepower than the ones that Donovan McNabb directed to multiple wins over the Bears.

Vick may be the most electric player in the NFL right now with the ball in his hands. The real story, however, is whats happening now that hes mastering the art of getting the ball out of his hands. And the Bears know it.

Weve played Michael Vick before, Lovie Smith said. Hes a great player. We normally do what we do with our defense. We dont normally change up what we do. We believe in our defense and its set up to play. We give him all the respect in the world. Our guys are expected about playing against him, but its not only him. Its more than Michael Vick. Its the Philly offense. They have good skill guys over there.

More bad news

Even worse, no team is really even close to the Eagles plus-15 turnover ratio (the Bears are up the track at plus-3). Thats fully 50 percent better than the plus-10 of Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

Worse still is that Philadelphias 19 interceptions, a big bulge on a passel of teams, including the Bears, with 15. But only Minnesota, Carolina and the New York Giants have thrown more than the Bears 15 picks, although only 10 of those were thrown by Jay Cutler.

Watch list

If some of the faces look familiar in the upcoming Thanksgiving Play 60 video spot with the NFL and United way, they should. Israel Idonije and members of the Bears Rookie Club (Levi Horn, Joshua Moore, Averell Spicer, Barry Turner, JMarcus Webb, Corey Wootton, Major Wright, Harvey Unga) joined a number of other NFL players to send the message of get on the bus and get involved in Play 60 activities. The Bears segment was filmed with kids from the Chicago Youth Center.

Good news

Michael Vick is on the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated, and a portrait, not just an action shot. A good jinx may be just what the Bears need.

And they have game film of the Eagles against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants. Both beat the Bears and both were beaten by Vick and the Eagles, so there were lessons to be learned, more or less.

In that Washington game, it looked like he was jogging and the Redskins were running, but their angles were all messed up, which tells me hes at a different speed, said linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, laughing. Thats not fair... I watched the Washington game and thatll give you nightmares: How are you going to stop this guy?

The good thing is that hes one person and were 11 defenders and we feel like we match up well and know not to do some of the silly things that the Giants did. When youre in the game it can happen but I dont see us losing contain the way the Giants did.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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 In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II

Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II

It's bad enough that Jay Cutler will be rusty and he may not have Kyle Long and Josh Sitton protecting him. But even if all the Bears' offensive hands were on deck, Monday night's challenge would've been formidable anyway.

The Vikings' defense leads the league in fewest yards allowed (279.5 per game), is tied for the league-lead in allowing fewest points (14.0), third in rushing defense (81.7), fourth in pass defense (197.8), and sixth in third-down defense (34.2 percent). And oh yeah, they lead the league in turnover ratio (plus-11), courtesy of their nine interceptions (tied for second), seven fumble recoveries and 19 sacks (seventh-most in the NFL).

It's nice to have quality and depth up front. That's where that push comes from, especially off the edges, with ends Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and sophomore Danielle Hunter supplying four sacks apiece. That trio combined for 21.5 sacks a year ago (when the Bears totaled 35 as a team). And while injury-prone Sharrif Floyd finds himself sidelined again since the opener, tackle Linval Joseph (three sacks) is back playing at the All-Pro level he was at a year ago before an ankle injury slowed him. And Tom Johnson contributed 6.5 sacks a year ago rotating in with Floyd at three-technique.

[RELATED: Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense]

Reunited UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are in their second year together in a run the Bears will likely have to deal with for another decade. This is the 11th and final year they'll see Chad Greenway, who's more leader than playmaker now in the middle of that defense.

Ryan Pace, Vic Fangio and position coach Ed Donatell must also be jealous of the Vikings' deep defensive backfield. Top cover man Xavier Rhodes, last year's top pick Trae Waynes and Andrew Sendejo have two picks each. Waynes still hasn't taken a job away from ageless 37-year-old Terence Newman. The Vikes were trying to upgrade on Sendejo, who answered the challenge and should be able to play Monday after departing the Eagles game with an ankle injury he suffered almost taking an interception to the house. It's almost unfair that second-round rookie Mackensie Alexander can't even surpass fourth cornerback Captain Munnerlyn for playing time.

But we must not forget Harrison Smith. The humble Golden Domer, humorously nicknamed "Gangsta White Boy" by Adrian Peterson, became the NFL's richest safety by inking a five-year, $51 million deal this summer, is coming off a first Pro Bowl that probably would've come sooner if not for a couple injuries. Two of his four career pick-sixes have come against the Bears, and Pro Football Focus has him as the only safety to grade positively in coverage, run support, and pass rush over each of the last two seasons.

Special teams

Just as Robbie Gould fell under the microscope of the current Bears brass with last season's rough finish, the strong-legged Blair Walsh probably feels a few more eyes on him after missing the 27-yard game-winning attempt in the frigid playoff loss to Seattle. He's 10-of-13 on field goals this season, 11-of-13 on extra points.

But while the Vikings' kickoff coverage was burned by Josh Huff's return Sunday in Philadelphia, the Bears coverage units have to be disciplined and smart against Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels. Both have burned the Bears more than once before. With more than his seven kick returns, Patterson's 29.9 average would lead the league. Sherels' 14.6-yard return average on punts ranks third in the NFL. He's already returned two for touchdowns this season after burning the Bears at Soldier Field a year to the day short of Monday's contest.

Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense

Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense

Mike Zimmer couldn't hold back his frustration after Sunday's 21-10 loss in Philadelphia.

Realistically, big picture-wise, he should feel fortunate. Not that his team isn't any good. We've seen these Vikings coming for awhile. But his offense, minus so many pieces that have been subtracted due to injuries, hadn't turned the ball over once in its 5-0 start.

That's when Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who'd seen Sam Bradford for all of training camp before he was traded a week before the opener, dialed things up. The result? Four turnovers, including Bradford's first interception of the season, coupled with a pair of fumbles. Schwartz doesn't have as many pieces as the Vikings' defense, but he had enough to sack Bradford six times, deliver 19 hits and 14 knockdowns.

Bradford's managed to step in for Teddy Bridgewater more easily than starting tackles Matt Kalil (hip) and Andre Smith (triceps) have been replaced. T.J. Clemmings is capable after starting all of his rookie season a year ago, but the hope that former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long had anything left took a serious hit Sunday. He'd gone unclaimed for quite a while (even reportedly going through a workout with the Bears), and we saw some of the reasons against the Eagles. He was replaced by journeyman Jeremiah Sirles. The middle of that line seems OK, thanks in part to the free agent signing of guard Alex Boone to anchor the interior with Brandon Fusco and center Joe Berger.

[RELATED: Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II]

The great Adrian Peterson's torn meniscus in week two has him on injured reserve, with little hope he'll make it back. And while Jerrick McKinnon (3.2 yards per carry) and Matt Asiata (3.3) are serviceable, the line hasn't been able to help those replacements rush for an average of even 75 yards per game (31st in the NFL).

And think about this: Yes, the Bears have played one more game than the Vikings, but they have four receivers who've matched or surpassed the dangerous Stefon Diggs' team-leading total of 27 receptions. Three of Bradford's seven touchdown passes have gone to tight end Kyle Rudolph. Former Illinois High School Player of the Year Laquon Treadwell was targeted to be the big target Bridgewater/Bradford needed, but had just two snaps the first three games and has yet to catch his first NFL pass. It's part of the Zimmer Way to bring along draft picks slowly (think Trae Waynes last year, albeit at a much deeper position on this team). Zimmer's indicated the 23rd overall pick's still too mechanical, still thinking too much at this level to earn snaps over Adam Thielen, Charles Johnson and now, even the once-exiled Cordarrelle Patterson, who scored the Vikings' lone touchdown Sunday on a pass from Bradford.

Like the Bears, this banged-up unit has trouble in the red zone (touchdowns on just 47 percent of their trips inside), and their 21.5 points per game average is boosted by four touchdowns combined from its defense and special teams. It'll be interesting to see if Leonard Floyd, Willie Young and perhaps Pernell McPhee can have themselves a good night next Monday against that susceptible line, and who's able to go among the Bears' defensive backs versus a passing offense that's averaged only 225 yards a game.