Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010
Posted: 1:15 p.m.
By John Mullin
Sometimes it really is all in your head. It certainly was with D.J. Moore.
After a virtually invisible rookie season, the former Vanderbilt All-American has emerged as an impact player in the Bears' nickel packages. He had six solo tackles, one for loss, against Philadelphia, and followed that with another half-dozen (three solo, three assists) in Detroit, plus a sack shared with Brian Urlacher, another tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and a pass deflection.
Moore also is among league leaders with four interceptions.
It is a borderline-remarkable turnaround for a fourth-round draft choice from a rookie in which he played in only three games and then mostly on special teams. And that was an especially painful comedown after playing in 37 SEC games for Vanderbilt, starting 34, and being voted All-SEC as both a sophomore and a junior.
Moore didn't exactly pout but his attitude was ultimately as much a problem as anything else.
"I was mad last year," Moore admitted. "I didn't play and I knew I was good, so I was upset. You've just got to work hard and wait for the coach to put you out there. Learned just working hard, just not taking everything.
"I was so upset last year. I don't know what to tell you. Everything. I was mad at everybody and I probably should've been mad at myself for not working hard enough."
Not even one-on-one coaching from former defensive back Lovie Smith was enough to get his head facing in the right direction.
"I think sometimes you've just got to wait and I had a little different attitude last year," Moore said. "I think I could've played last year but sometimes you've got to wait when it's not your time."
Feeling a draft?
What's a little notable with New England is how the organization built its offensive line, the one that takes awfully good care of Tom Brady, himself a sixth-round draft choice an NFL long time ago. The Patriots have a No. 1 at left guard (same as the Bears; OK, so that wasn't the original idea with Chris Williams, but stay with me on the overall) in Logan Mankins.
Their center, Dan Koppen, was a fifth-round pick, same as Bears left tackle Frank Omiyale.
But New England spent No. 2's on right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and left tackle Matt Light. Omiyale is turning out to be arguably the best personnel nugget since Roberto Garza, but both of them were acquired via free agency and right tackle J'Marcus Webb, who may turn out to be the nugget of the 2010 draft someday, was a seventh-rounder.
A No. 1 and two No. 2's out of five starting positions: Is that one explanation behind the long-term New England excellence on offense besides simply Brady? You decide.
But while you're thinking about it, consider this: New England could have three first-round picks in the next draft. The Patriots have their own No. 1 plus the Oakland Raiders' No. 1 via the Richard Seymour deal. And they hold Carolina's second-round pick, which right now (with the Panthers at 1-11) is the first pick of the second round.
New England with three picks in the first 33, after finagling eight trades around the 2009 draft and seven this past draft -- the word you're looking for is "scary."
Coaches look at turnovers as a defining game statistic. The Bears continue to make significant achievements in two others regarded as key.
The offense converted 5 of 9 third downs against the Lions after just 3 of 10 vs. Philadelphia. In their five-game winning streak since the off week, the Bears have converted 36 of 68, nearly 53 percent.
As important, the Bears scored touchdowns on all three of their red-zone possessions, an area of serious concern earlier this season. The 3-for-3 day follows a 3-for-4 against Philadelphia. Since the off week they have scored touchdowns on 9 of 13 red-zone possessions and field goals on two others (vs. Minnesota).
Really big numbers
The Bears had to deal with Michael Vick two games ago and now they draw another top-rated quarterback in Tom Brady, leading the NFL with a passer rating of 109.4. Brady has thrown 27 touchdown passes and only four interceptions and is sacked only once every 22.4 pass plays.
By comparison, Jay Cutler has been sacked once every 8.8 pass plays.
"Tom Brady is a future hall of famer, maybe a first-ballot guy when he's finished playing," said safety Chris Harris. "He's arguably the greatest quarterback in the league."
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.