Could Tommie Harris be key for Bears vs. Pats?

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Could Tommie Harris be key for Bears vs. Pats?

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
Posted: 11:23 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Another thoughtful Thursday go-round with Mac and Spiegs on "The Danny Mac Show" on WSCR-AM 670, which I always like not just because the guys are fun to hang and talk football with, but because I get story ideas when we visit...

Like it occurring to me that there is likely to be a surprise player for Bears who could have a dramatic influence on this game if the Bears are going to win. Danny and Matt didn't instantly buy in (they will) but my quick pick for that player is Tommie Harris.

Harris has done little of note all season, making him one of the few legitimate personnel disappointments in a season otherwise relatively free of them. But Harris also has been played sparingly and at this time of year, when he has traditionally worn down a bit, he has a chance to be the impact player against a New England offensive line that is one of the NFL's best but also gave up three sacks of Tom Brady last Monday night. We'll see.

Harris or Julius Peppers or Israel Idonije or Henry Melton rank as keys to the game if only because pressure is the only reliable way to cope with Tom Brady. The Bears have fared well through this mid-section of the season relying primarily on their front four creating pressure, with the occasional D.J. Moore blitz sack, and leaving the back seven to create a weed patch for Brady to get through is crucial.

But the game strategically could be taken out of Harris' and a lot of others' hands if, as we talked over, Bill Belichick can goad, scheme, entice, force, whatever, Mike Martz into abandon the offensive recipe that has been instrumental in the Bears' 5-0 run the past month-plus.

I do expect Chester Taylor to play Sunday, by the way. The veteran running back was held out of Wednesday's practice with a sore knee but he has missed just five games in a career of nearly nine years.

Taylor and Matt Forte have been instrumental in the Bears' season turnaround simply by their utilization in Mike Martz's "new" offense. The two have caught 19 passes over the last five games while combining for no fewer than 20 carries in any of those five.

Some observers want to dismiss the New England wins over Martz's Detroit and San Francisco offenses in 2006 and 2008, respectively. The reasoning is that Martz simply didn't have the personnel to match up with Belichick's defense.

The problem with that, as I detailed in a previous blog, is that the Lions turned the ball over on their final three possessions to lose. The 49ers led 14-7 roughly 10 minutes into their game with the Patriots and then could score just once in the final 50 minutes.

The point really isn't to pick on Martz so much as to look objectively at his history vs. one of the elite defensive schemers in the NFL.

Looking forward now to visiting with the guys again next Thursday. By then we'll know how Harris, Martz, Belichick and all the rest played out.

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.

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.

The Bears also announced the additions of assistant coaches Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II Wednesday morning:

Staley will replace Clint Hurtt as outside linebackers coach and Swinton will be the assistant special teams coach under Jeff Rodgers.

Swinton is reprising his role he held on the Bears coaching staff in 2015 before leaving to take a promotion with the San Francisco 49ers special teams. 

Hurtt left the Bears to take a position as the defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Staley spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Division-III John Carroll University, the alma mater of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will there be any takers for Bears QB Jay Cutler?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will there be any takers for Bears QB Jay Cutler?

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly) and Brian Hedger (NHL.com) join Kap on the panel.

ESPN is reporting that the Bears have begun shopping Jay Cutler. Will there be any takers? 

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. Would that be a mistake?

Miguel Montero makes his peace with Joe Maddon but was this even a big deal? Sammy Sosa says he put Chicago on the map, and compares himself to Jesus. When he will the Cubs welcome him home?

Plus, Pat Boyle drops by to talk Blackhawks and the “Roly Poly Goalie” is looking for work all because he ate a pie.

Check out the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: