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.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Western Kentucky WR Taywan Taylor

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky

5'11" | 203 lbs.

2016 stats:

98 receptions, 1,730 yards, 17 TD

Projection:

Third round

Scouting Report:

"Slot-only receiver with the athleticism and separation quickness to win on the NFL level. Benefitted statistically from Western Kentucky's scheme, but that offense benefitted from Taylor's ability to get open and his explosiveness in the open field. High floor with the potential to be an above-average slot receiver in an offense that recognizes his flexibility." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Auburn DL Montravius Adams

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Auburn DL Montravius Adams

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Montravius Adams, DL, Auburn

6'4" | 304 lbs.

2016 stats:

43 tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, INT, 2 FR

Projection:

Second-to-third round

Scouting Report:

"Adams disappointed the scouting community with a pedestrian junior season that lacked passion and production. This season, he played with greater consistency of effort and found his way into the backfield far more often. Can be disruptive off the snap but is not the type of player to recover quickly if beaten early in the rep. He is a rotational defensive tackle for gap-attack defenses, but is unlikely to offer much as a pass rusher." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles