Bears prepare for Jets, wonder if they're true 'closers'

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Bears prepare for Jets, wonder if they're true 'closers'

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
10:05 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
Few weeks of the 2010 season have passed without at least one question being raised or answered by the Bears performance. Its just been that kind of year.

So the question going into Sundays meeting with the New York Jets (10-4) is there:

Are the Bears true closers yet?

The elite teams in the NFL typically seize true opportunities when they are before them. The Bears have flirted with elite status at times, only to slip back and leave themselves open to doubt, sometimes within their own locker room.

That the Bears (10-4) are a good, even very good, team they have never doubted. But elite has been another matter.

So among the usual tactical questions going into a game is the one as to whether the Bears can finish off a good opponent when the stakes are a step toward a vitally important goal such as the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and earn a bye through the first round of the postseason.

Things have been a little lighter, obviously, since we played on Monday night and this has been a short week, said linebacker Lance Briggs. For us, weve got to keep getting better. Weve got a lot of fight for the rest of the season and into the playoffs so this game is very important to us just securing things in the playoffs.

To take that step toward being the kind of closer that wins championships means taking several specific smaller steps.

Get on the Mark

Mark Sanchez is expected to start for the Jets despite some shaky practice days because of an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder. That could be good news for the Bears, who have gotten some of the best coverage play from their secondary in decades.

Three Bears defensive backs Chris Harris, D.J. Moore, Charles Tillman have 4 interceptions. No other team in the NFL has three DBs with 4 and no Bears team since the 1983-86 teams have had three with that kind of production.

On the other side is Sanchez not throwing a touchdown pass in his last 106 attempts and none in his last three games, two of them losses in which the Jets managed just 9 total points.

Before the last two games before the Pittsburgh game, I wouldve said Im making better decisions., using my legs a little more, sliding a lot better, getting rid of the ball, getting to my check-downs a lot faster, Sanchez said. But those two weeks we didnt play very well, I reverted back to some of those poor decisions, not having two hands on the ball and just got sloppy with my fundamentals.

The Bears have two edge rushers in Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers who are 6-6 and 6-7, respectively, and both with 8 sacks. No team has more than the Bears 21 sacks over the last seven games, six of them wins, and that may be enough to help Sanchez get sloppy again with his fundamentals.
New identity?

The problem is in the run game. The last three opponents each have gained more rushing yards and the last four averaged more per carry than the Bears, a disturbing trend for a team that had allowed 100 rushing yards in just two of the previous six games.

What has changed, however, is any belief that the Bears will go only as far as their defense takes them.

I disagree with that, linebacker Brian Urlacher said. Were known as a defensive team, but our offense scored 40 points last week. I know special teams scored seven of them, but it still goes to the offense.

I disagree with that. I think were a good team, all-around. The offense has been there for us the last eight or nine weeks. Theyve been playing better. Once they figured out the offense, and how to run stuff, theyve been playing well.

They carried us in the Philly game. Detroit; we didnt play well. They carried us. There have been a few games here lately where we needed them and they came through for us

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.

Players drafted by NFL head coach who led team at Senior Bowl

Players drafted by NFL head coach who led team at Senior Bowl

The Bears coaching staff will get a close look at some of the draft's top prospects when they head to Mobile to coach the 2017 Reese's Senior Bowl on Jan. 28.

John Fox and his staff will spend a week in Mobile getting to evaluate and work one-on-one with players from the North team, leading up to All-Star game.

If you're a Bears fan, you'll want to take a close look at the North roster because if past history is any indication, at least one of those prospects will likely be a member of the Bears in 2017.

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CSN stats guru Chris Kamka compiled a list of players drafted by the NFL head coach who led their team at the Senior Bowl (2000-16).

Check out the full list below:

2000 - Carolina Panthers (George Seifert)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (23rd) Rashard Anderson DB Jackson St.
3rd (82nd) Leander Jordan T Indiana (PA)
6th (182nd) Jeno James G Auburn
7th (221st) Lester Towns LB Washington

2000 - Kansas City Chiefs (Gunther Cunningham)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (21st) Sylvester Morris WR Jackson St.
2nd (54th) William Bartee DB Oklahoma
6th (188th) Darnell Alford G Boston College

2001 - Pittsburgh Steelers (Bill Cowher)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (39th) Kendrell Bell LB Georgia

2001 - Green Bay Packers (Mike Sherman)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (71st) Bhawoh Jue DB Penn St.
3rd (72nd) Torrance Marshall LB Oklahoma

2002 - Arizona Cardinals (Dave McGinnis)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (81st) Josh McCown QB Sam Houston St.
4th (113th) Nate Dwyer DT Kansas 
5th (149th) Jason McAddley WR Alabama

2002 - Seattle Seahawks (Mike Holmgren)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
5th (171st) Matt Hill T Boise St.

2003 - Detroit Lions (Marty Mornhinweg)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (99th) Artose Pinner RB Kentucky
5th (137th) Terrence Holt DB North Carolina St.
7th (216th) Ben Johnson T Wisconsin

2003 - Houston Texans (Dom Capers)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (41st) Bennie Joppru TE Michigan
3rd (75th) Seth Wand T NW Missouri St.
3rd (88th) Dave Ragone QB Louisville
4th (101st) Domanick Williams RB LSU

2004 - Cincinnati Bengals (Marvin Lewis)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (49th) Keiwan Ratliff DB Florida
2nd (56th) Madieu Williams DB Maryland
6th (183rd) Greg Brooks DB Southern Mississippi

2004 - San Diego Chargers (Marty Schottenheimer)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (65th) Nate Kaeding K Iowa
3rd (66th) Nick Hardwick C Purdue
4th (98th) Shaun Phillips DE Purdue
5th (133rd) Dave Ball DE UCLA
5th (154th) Michael Turner RB Northern Illinois
7th (209th) Shane Olivea T Ohio St.

2005 - Oakland Raiders (Norv Turner)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (78th) Kirk Morrison LB San Diego St.
6th (175th) Anttaj Hawthorne DT Wisconsin

2005 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jon Gruden)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (5th) Cadillac Williams RB Auburn
2nd (36th) Barrett Ruud LB Nebraska
3rd (71st) Alex Smith TE Stanford
4th (107th) Dan Buenning G Wisconsin
6th (178th) Anthony Bryant DT Alabama

2006 - San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (22nd) Manny Lawson DE North Carolina St.
4th (100th) Michael Robinson WR Penn St.
5th (140th) Parys Haralson DE Tennessee
6th (192nd) Marcus Hudson DB North Carolina St.

2006 - Tennessee Titans (Jeff Fisher)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
5th (169th) Jesse Mahelona DT Tennessee

2007 - San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (11th) Patrick Willis LB Mississippi
1st (28th) Joe Staley T Central Michigan
3rd (76th) Jason Hill WR Washington St.
3rd (97th) Ray McDonald DE Florida
4th (104th) Jay Moore DE Nebraska
6th (186th) Thomas Clayton RB Kansas St.

2007 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jon Gruden)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (35th) Aaron Sears G Tennessee
4th (106th) Tanard Jackson DB Syracuse
7th (246th) Kenneth Darby RB Alabama

2008 - San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (29th) Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina
4th (107th) Cody Wallace C Texas A&M

2008 - Oakland Raiders (Lane Kiffin)

No players selected.

2009 - Cincinnati Bengals (Marvin Lewis)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (38th) Rey Maualuga LB USC
4th (106th) Jonathan Luigs C Arkansas
5th (142nd) Kevin Huber P Cincinnati
6th (179th) Morgan Trent DB Michigan

2009 - Jacksonville Jaguars (Jack Del Rio)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (107th) Mike Thomas WR Arizona
7th (250th) Rashad Jennings RB Liberty

2010 - Miami Dolphins (Tony Sparano)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (28th) Jared Odrick DE Penn St.
2nd (40th) Koa Misi LB Utah
3rd (73rd) John Jerry T Mississippi
4th (119th) A.J. Edds LB Iowa

2010 - Detroit Lions (Jim Schwartz)

No players selected.

2011 - Buffalo Bills (Chan Gailey)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (68th) Kelvin Sheppard LB LSU
4th (100th) Da'Norris Searcy DB North Carolina
6th (169th) Chris White LB Mississippi St.

2011 - Cincinnati Bengals (Marvin Lewis)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (35th) Andy Dalton QB TCU
4th (101st) Clint Boling G Georgia

2012 - Minnesota Vikings (Leslie Frazier)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (29th) Harrison Smith DB Notre Dame
7th (210th) Audie Cole LB North Carolina St.

2012 - Washington Redskins (Mike Shanahan)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (102nd) Kirk Cousins QB Michigan St.
4th (119th) Keenan Robinson LB Texas
6th (173rd) Alfred Morris RB Florida Atlantic

2013 - Detroit Lions (Jim Schwartz)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1st (5th) Ezekiel Ansah DE BYU
3rd (65th) Larry Warford G Kentucky
7th (211st) Michael Williams TE Alabama

2013 - Oakland Raiders (Dennis Allen)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (66th) Sio Moore LB Connecticut
4th (112th) Tyler Wilson QB Arkansas
6th (172nd) Nick Kasa TE Colorado
6th (184th) Mychal Rivera TE Tennessee

2014 - Atlanta Falcons (Mike Smith)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2nd (37th) Ra'Shede Hageman DT Minnesota
3rd (68th) Dezmen Southward DB Wisconsin

2014 - Jacksonville Jaguars (Gus Bradley)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
3rd (93rd) Brandon Linder OL Miami (FL)
4th (114th) Aaron Colvin DB Oklahoma
5th (144th) Telvin Smith LB Florida St.
5th (159th) Chris Smith DE Arkansas

2015 - Jacksonville Jaguars (Gus Bradley)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
7th (229th) Ben Koyack TE Notre Dame

2015 - Tennessee Titans (Ken Whisenhunt)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (108th) Jalston Fowler FB Alabama
5th (138th) David Cobb RB Minnesota

2016 - Jacksonville Jaguars (Gus Bradley)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (103rd) Sheldon Day DT Notre Dame
6th (201st) Brandon Allen QB Arkansas

2016 - Dallas Cowboys (Jason Garrett)

ROUND (overall) PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
4th (101st) Charles Tapper DE Oklahoma
4th (135th) Dak Prescott QB Mississippi St.

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Bears GM Ryan Pace struck gold with his signing of Jerrell Freeman last offseason.

Freeman, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bears last March, was graded as the NFL's No. 1 inside linebacker in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

Freeman's 93.8 overall grade was PFF's third-highest defensive grade behind Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald (95.6) and Oakland Raiders standout edge rusher Khalil Mack (93.9). 

Here's what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about Freeman's historic 2016 season:

One of the most impressive pure statistics any player amassed this season came from Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He made 40 tackles in coverage while missing only one tackle attempt. That ratio is insane, and it’s the best we’ve recorded since 2012. That’s about the only exciting stat, though, as the Bears’ front-seven desperately missed a fully-healthy Pernell McPhee for a good portion of the year.

Despite Freeman's outstanding season, he was left off of PFF's All-Pro Team for 2016. Although he was ranked ahead of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (91.6) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (92.9), PFF likely omitted Freeman due to him missing four games with a PED suspension.

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In his first season with the Bears, the 30-year-old Freeman led the team with 110 tackles (the next highest total was Harold Jones-Quartey's 78). Freeman also finished with a team-high 7 tackles for a loss. 

Check out a snapshot below of Freeman's PFF metrics from last season:

If there's any doubt about Freeman's play falling off after serving a suspension, he put that theory to rest. Freeman's second-best game grade came in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings (3.5). Freeman also had a positive grade (1.4) in his first game coming off the suspension against the Washington Redskins in Week 16.

"People know me," Freeman told the media after returning from suspension. "People know who I am. People know what I'm about. I wouldn't do that on purpose. I made a mistake and that's what it is. It's not like I was going out of my way to do something (illegal). But it happened. It's my fault and I take responsibility for it."