Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
By John Mullin
The Bears have had to listen all year to critics who pointed to one lucky break after another giving the Bears games, and wins, against teams missing elite players. While no one seemed to be noticing, the Bears occasionally were on the wrong side of injury luck.
Matt Hasselbeck noticed. The Seattle quarterback had the good fortune of facing the Bears without perhaps their best single defensive player at the time.
Linebacker Lance Briggs was out with an ankle injury and Hasselbeck is of the opinion that Briggs absence took something away from the accomplishment of beating the Bears in Soldier Field.
Hes arguably one of the best defensive players in the game, Hasselbeck said. Going into that game, we fully expected him to play. He didnt play, and that was a big deal.
So for us to sit back and say, Oh, hey, we beat them at their place. We can do it again, that would be a dangerous way to feel. Because Lance Briggs did not play in that game. He is a big, big-time difference-maker and a great football player. As hard as this game was going to be the fact that hes back up, that takes it to a whole other level, Hasselbeck said.
Zackary Bowman, Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman didnt leave the practice field Monday with the rest of their teammates. The three cornerbacks went off to a corner of the field and worked against each other.
Only they werent working against each other. They were working against Mike Williams, the one-time bust as a 10th-overall pick of the Detroit Lions in 2005 who did so little in three seasons that he was out of football for the 2008-09 seasons. It was Williams who had a career game against the Bears back in October with 10 receptions for 123 yards
Hes not the same guy as he once was, Jennings said. You can tell. Hes in shape, hes learned how to run routes a little better and you can tell hes been working on stuff outside football when he wasnt in football. Hes more committed to the team, working hard and hes gotten better in certain areas.
Hes huge. Hes gotten better.
The Bears played their cornerbacks on their respective sides rather than assign one to match up exclusively with Williams. His size (6-5, 230) makes Tillman the logical assignment but the Williams had just 55 catches in the other 15 games this season and may not warrant jury rigging the defense to stop him specifically.
We have to play a lot better against him, and we do plan, said coach Lovie Smith. Its like that each week. If you dont have success, you look for a better way of doing things. Maybe a better way is just to play what we had planned in a little bit better. Show up Sunday and youll see.
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.