Facing great quarterbacks is common for Bears

Facing great quarterbacks is common for Bears

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010
7:55 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Very good quarterbacks are not a new experience for the Bears in 2010. When they faced the Philadelphia Eagles, they were going against the NFL's No. 1 passer in Michael Vick, now No. 2. They have seen Aaron Rodgers, now No. 4.

This is different. Tom Brady is different.

Brady is now the NFL's No. 1-rated passer (109.5). But Brady is also arguably the NFL's No. 1 quarterback as well.

Vick is having the finest year of his NFL career. Brady does this sort of thing every year. Five of Brady's last seven seasons have been better, passing, than Jay Cutler's best-ever year prior to 2010. And Brady has come up in Halas Hall conversation long before New England became next-up on the Bears' schedule.

"We've talked about it many times this year," Cutler said. That's the mark of a good team or good player is being consistent. He's been very, very, very consistent throughout his career. So he's fun to watch. We watched the Monday night game when Brady destroyed the New York Jets. Just seeing how much in command he is of that offense, you can tell that everything is going to go through him.

Everything except opponents, that is.

Maybe it's the focus. Brady was just named AFC offensive player of the week for the second time this season and was asked about how he felt this season was going for him. It was as if the question simply didn't even register.

"I think the Chicago Bears are a good team, and we got to play well this week," Brady said, not even attempting to transition from question to answer. "I'm excited for the challenge. It's a short week for us. I think we've really got to prepare well. We're quite a few days behind the Bears after playing Monday night. That's individual statistics really the last thing on my mind."

He is, to be very sure, not the last thing on the Bears' minds.
Oh, really?

Cutler rarely exhibits excessive emotion off the field and Wednesday was no exception.

In perhaps and indication that Cutler was not as inclined as some to write off Ndamukong Suh's forearm to the back of Cutler's head in last Sunday's Detroit game, he made exactly zero attempt to excuse the Detroit defensive tackle's actions as just part of the game. So when the NFL hit Suh with a 15,000 fine Wednesday, "I'm not surprised by that," was all Cutler had to say.

And out in Denver, the Broncos reversed course and fired head coach Josh McDaniels after a recent declaration by ownership that McDaniels would be in place this year and next. Daniels was the one at the heart of the issues that saw Cutler traded to the Bears but Cutler had no even superficial concern for McDaniels.

"You know," Cutler said, "none of my concern. I'm worried about the Patriots."

He apparently is not worried about the Bears' quarterback, and hasn't been. Listing reasons for the recent 5-0 turnaround from a 4-3 point, "the offensive line is playing well," Cutler began. "The receivers are on top of it. I think everyone's a lot more comfortable with the system. Mike Martz has done a good job of dialing stuff up for us. So there's a lot of things that go into it."

Sick bay

Linebackers Nick Roach (hip) and Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) did not practice Wednesday and running back Chester Taylor (knee) was also held out of practice. Tinoisamoa had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee two weeks ago and is not being ruled out of the New England game.

"Ideally we would like for Pisa to practice but we know a little bit about what he can do," Lovie Smith said. "If he can practice by Friday a little bit, or if he gets up Sunday and says, 'I can go,' we'll look at our options and go from there."

Quarterback Brady (shoulderfoot) and nose tackle Myron Pryor (back) were limited in practice for the Patriots. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (hip) and defensive lineman Mike Wright (concussion) did not practice.

Rostering

The Bears signed offensive lineman Herman Johnson off the Arizona Cardinals practice squad and onto the active roster, replacing defensive end Barry Turner who was waived. The Bears also added linebacker Marcus Buggs to the practice squad along with wide receiver Jeff Moturi.

To make room the Bears terminated the practice-squad contracts of tackle James Marten, wide receiver Freddie Barnes and defensive end Ervin Baldwin, who was re-signed to the practice squad late Wednesday.

Johnson was a fifth-round pick by the Cardinals in the 2009 draft, coming out of LSU at 6-7, 364 pounds. He was an All-SEC first teamer at guard but projects as a right tackle, where JMarcus Webb has won the starting job but has continued to have difficulties in pass protection.

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.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.