Chicago Bears

Burleson gives Bears bulletin-board material

Burleson gives Bears bulletin-board material

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
7:07 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Its not exactly Joe Namath calling his shot with the New York Jets in Super Bowl III but for an NFC North rivalry game, itll have to do.

Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson, against whom the Bears played when he was a Seattle Seahawk and Minnesota Viking before he became a Lions last offseason, likes his new teams chances against the Bears, winners of four straight, even though the Lions are 2-9 and losers of four straight.

Burleson this week issued what is being construed as a guarantee of a Detroit victory Sunday.when he said on his local radio show, We will win on Sunday.

The Bears supposedly posted the guarantee on bulletin boards, which surprised Burleson, who clarified and tempered his comments substantially, which were hardly inflammatory in the first place.

You can take it as a guarantee, Chicago can take it as a guarantee, they can take it however they want, Burleson said, as reported on MLive.com. We play to win the game, we want to try to win on Sunday, and we think weve got a chance to win.

Not exactly something to start a war of words, and if that in fact does incense the Bears, that may be the bigger surprise.

Deep down every player, I would think you would guarantee a win every week you go into it, said linebacker Lance Briggs. Its good. It should fire them up. I know it definitely fires us up. Weve got it pinned up everywhere in our meeting rooms.

It was none other than Briggs who guaranteed a win in 2004 over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. No record of whether that added anything to Indianapolis motivation, but the Colts left Soldier Field with a 41-10 win that day. Im not going to guarantee more wins, he guaranteed.

And guarantee that this will not be the last guarantee made somewhere by someone.

Ive heard it so many times in the last 11 years, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. Its locker room material. If you need to get fired up at this point in the season, somethings wrong with you, but it does add a little more fuel to the fire.

So does pundits and observers showing little or no respect for the Bears or their accomplishments. In fact that may be the one thing that does put some fuel to the Bears fire, and their coach sees to it that they know theyre being disrespected.

The no respect thing I think does provide motivation, Urlacher said. We play on that pretty well. Weve done a good job of it. Coach Smith hypes it up pretty good, and we kind of thrive on that.

"But other than that, if you cant get ready to play and get ready for a game at this point in the season or even at the beginning of the season, somethings wrong. You shouldnt be playing football. Because now they mean a lot unless youre 2-9 or so, then they dont mean as much. But our games mean a lot right now, so we need to be ready to play.

Sick bay

Chances increased Thursday for Nick Roach starting at strong-side linebacker for the third straight game as Pisa Tinoisamoa returned to practice but only on a limited basis. Whenever you have a guy who isnt able to practice on Thursday, theres some concern, said coach Lovie Smith.

The Lions officially lost kicker Jason Hanson to a right-knee injury that has raised questions about his career. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus was unable to practice as well because of a knee injury and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch was out again with a neck injury.

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.

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Markus Wheaton was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and wasn’t on the Bears’ injury report Thursday, signaling that the 5-foot-11, 189 pound speedster will make his Bears debut Sunday against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s not the solution for the Bears’ offense, but he could be part of it. 

For an offense that’s woefully lacked someone who can reliably stretch the field, Wheaton can at least provide the threat of going deep. Two years ago, while with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wheaton averaged 17 yards per reception. Mike Glennon’s longest completion this year went for 22 yards. 

“It definitely adds another dimension,” Glennon said. “It’ll be great having Markus back.”

But Wheaton only played in three games last season (four catches, 51 yards) and, at his best, averaged 48 catches, 696 yards and four touchdowns a year from 2014-2015. Is it fair to expect Wheaton to be a big part of the Bears' offensive solution given he hasn't played much recently, and was limited to only a handful of reps in training camp and preseason practices due to a pair of freak ailments?

Maybe not, but with the Bears 0-2, he's the best hope they have at a skill position. 

Wheaton needed an emergency appendectomy the first weekend the Bears were in Bourbonnais — “I thought I had to poop,” Wheaton said, maybe providing too much information, before realizing the excruiating pain in which he was in was something worse. Shortly after returning to the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University, Wheaton fractured his pinkie finger in gruesome fashion (he said the bone was sticking out) when he was awkwardly grabbed while trying to catch a pass. 

That Wheaton broke a finger wasn’t only significant for his ability to catch passes. Consider what his former quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger — had to say about what makes Wheaton an effective deep threat:

“He’s got a very good ability of using his hands,” Roethlisberger said. “When you’re trying to stretch the field, you’ve gotta have some little techniques to help you get open because DBs can run as much as receivers can. So you gotta be able to use your hands to swim, kinda, get some swiping, get the hands off, I thought that he really had some good technique when it came to the deep ball and getting away from DBs.”

Roethlisberger and Wheaton shared a good rapport in Pittsburgh, with the quarterback clearly communicating to the receiver what he expected timing-wise in his routes. It’s been a challenge to develop something similar with Glennon given the lack of practice time, but Wheaton said putting in extra work after practice has helped. 

If Wheaton and Glennon can get on the same page, perhaps that can lead to at least some deep ball attempts. The Bears have to find a way to prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box and focusing on stopping Jordan Howard, who only has 59 yards on 22 carries this year. 

“We're going to face overpopulated boxes, we know that,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “There's going to be seven, eight guys in the box every time and we have to execute better and it comes down to that.”

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, only three of Glennon’s 85 pass attempts have traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The only completion of those was Sunday’s garbage-time touchdown to Deonte Thompson, which was caught near the back of the end zone. 

The threat of Wheaton going deep won’t be enough, though. Glennon still has prove he can complete those deep balls — the last time he completed a pass of 25 or more yards was on Nov. 2, 2014 (though he’s only attempted 96 passes since that date). 

But Wheaton feels ready to go and is confident he can do his job — which, in turn, could, in a best-case scenario, help his other 10 teammates on offense do their jobs, too. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wheaton said. “I’m excited and hopefully this is the week.”

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

kris_bryant_mitch_trubisky_slide_photo.jpg
AP

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

Count Kris Bryant among the Chicagoans who are calling for Mitch Trubisky to start at quarterback for the Bears.

OK, that may be a bit extreme as Bryant simply said he would supporting giving Trubisky a "shot", but still:

After a rough game for incumbent starting QB Mike Glennon last week, most of Chicago has been clamoring for the No. 2 overall pick to get some snaps under center.

Why wouldn't the crown prince of Chicago baseball get in on the noise?