Field secrets? Hester not sharing any tips

Field secrets? Hester not sharing any tips

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011
7:45 PM
By John Mullin

So the Soldier Field turf is a problem? Not if you know your way around on it.

Opposing NBA players at one time thought that a true advantage for the great Boston Celtics teams were the dead spots in the parquet floor of Boston Gardens. An innocently dribbled basketball might go down but if it hit one of those dead spots, it wasnt coming back up. The Celtics knew how to pick their spots, literally.

And not all spots in Soldier Field are slip-inducing. You just have to know where the different spots are.

Some Bears know where to step and where not to.

Kind of, Devin Hester said, with a sly smile and a laugh. Yeah, kind of.

Would he mind sharing those now?

Uh, not sharing those, he said.

Sack Pack

Green Bay sacked Jay Cutler six times in the second game between the teams this season. The Packers sacked him three times in the first.

You have to understand that with some of the guys they have, depending on what you do, theyre going to go all out, and with hot protections there are going to be some sacks involved occasionally, said coordinator Mike Martz. You just have to limit those sacks and not get too concerned about it.

But at the time of the year when quarterbacks are all, sacks are a concern, more with Martz than many in his job. Running the offense of Ron Turner last season, Cutler went down five times in the two games last year.

Sacks definitely should be expected in a Martz offense. Veteran Jon Kitna was never sacked more than 37 times in a season prior to Martz taking over as the Detroit offensive coordinator. Kitna then was sacked 63 and 51 times in his two seasons with Martz, more than in any three combined seasons in his NFL career.

The problem is not necessarily poor blocking but rather in the variety of pass plays Martz uses and the accompanying myriad adjustments those require from the offense, particularly the line.

We throw a lot of hots reads a lot of sights adjustments, said offensive line coach Mike Tice, not necessarily pleased with all that comes with the scheme. We still have some deep routes. We throw some empties where its our five blockers against the world.

Sometimes were all on the same page where that stuff is coming from and sometimes were not. So theres going to be some sacks but as you get better, you expect those numbers to go down. And theyd better.

Criticizing the critics

His defenses have been among the NFLs best and at other times among the not-so-best but through it all and in the face of sometimes-shrill criticism, Lovie Smith has not wavered in his belief in his Cover-2 defensive scheme.

One reason not to care about critics attacks is the conclusion that they dont know what theyre talking about. That is especially the case when the attacks were based on the opinion the game had passed Smiths schemes by.

Well I look at criticism a little bit by who is giving it, Smith said. For people to criticize Cover 2, which has been around since George Halas and Vince Lombardi, and long before that. Cover 2 is a defense everyone uses. It will be around long after were gone.

Interestingly perhaps, no one seems to make those kinds of assaults on the West Coast offense or even the Mike Martz offense when it has not succeeded. We believe in what we do defensively, Smith declared.
Sick bay

Safety Chris Harris, who suffered a hip pointer in the Seattle game, was held out of practice Wednesday. Receiver Earl Bennett and cornerback Zackary Bowman did not practice for reasons not related to injuries.

Multiple Packers were limited in work Wednesday: offensive linemen Chad Clifton (knees) and Jason Spitz (, defensive ends Cullen Jenkins (calf) and Ryan Pickett (ankle), linebacker Clay Matthews (shin), cornerback Pat Lee (hip), running back John Kuhn (shoulder). Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) did not practice.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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 Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — It was a bright spot, a small one on an otherwise dismal night of losing to the Green Bay Packers. But it was at least something.

After struggling for months to stay healthy and gain NFL weight, Leonard Floyd finally played like the ninth-overall pick of an NFL draft.

The rookie outside linebacker collected a sack in the first half, then exploded past Green Bay right tackle Brian Bulaga as part of stunt with fellow linebacker Willie Young on the third play of the second quarter for a second sack of Aaron Rodgers, one that came with a strip of the football and recovery in the end zone.

"We had a great play called,” Floyd said. “Willie came down and picked the guard for me and I looped around and the play was done and I made it. It felt great [to get a touchdown], but at the end of the day I wanted a win."

That was one of the very few bright spots as the Packers piled up 311 yards through three quarters, at times using wide receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery as running backs because of injuries. The drumbeat continued with touchdowns on three straight Green Bay possessions in the late third and early fourth quarters.

The defense has allowed 23 or more points in five of seven games this season, with the Packers rolling off consecutive touchdown drives of 85, 84 and 57 in the second half as the Bears were limited to 2:49 time of possession in the fourth quarter.

“It helps when you’re playing [defense], to actually have a little bit of a break,” head coach John Fox said. “Unfortunately in the second half, I think that probably caught up with us a little bit.”

The defense had its fullest complement of personnel yet this season, with outside linebackers Floyd and Pernell McPhee both active (McPhee for the first time this year following offseason knee surgery), in addition to starting cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Tracy Porter, both of whom were injured during the Jacksonville game. It was not enough.

[BEARS GRADES: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers]

Defensive line: F

The interior of the line was quiet for most of the game, with wide receivers lining up as running backs averaged more than five yards per carry. Cornelius Washington had the only hit by a defensive lineman on Rodgers as the line rarely collapsed the pocket with center-push or even kept him in the pocket.

Linebacker: B-

Floyd started after two games inactive and a zero stat sheet vs. Detroit. He struggled too often getting disengaged from Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari at the outset before breaking through with second effort for his first career solo sack. That was topped by the strip-sack and recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter. Floyd had a third hit on Rodgers and a tackle for loss.

"It is very tough,” Floyd said. “He gets the ball out pretty quickly. You just have to keep rushing every snap. He is at his best when he is scrambling around playing backyard football."

McPhee was a welcome addition to a slumping defense, even in his limited capacity (19 snaps). McPhee was not credited with any tackles but was surprisingly fast off the ball initially, and got penetration to alter running lanes and some pressure on Rodgers, although he appeared to slow somewhat, not unexpected considering how limited he has been throughout the year because of the surgery.

Sam Acho provided some edge pressure with two hits on Rodgers and a pass deflected. Jerrell Freeman had a quarterback hit and delivered a game-high 13 tackles.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Secondary: D

The secondary was forced to cover long into plays because of absent pressure on Rodgers but the coverage had its own problems with an offense that threw 56 times but was never intercepted. Three Green Bay receivers totaled double-digit receptions: Davante Adams (13), Cobb (11) and Montgomery (10).

Cre’Von LeBlanc started at corner as the Bears opened with six defensive backs, and delivered a goal-line stop in the first quarter, stuffing Montgomery, who was used as a running back because of injuries to the Green Bay backfield. LeBlanc finished with seven tackles and a hit blitzing Rodgers.

Porter matched up with Jordy Nelson and allowed the Green Bay wideout just one catch on four targets through three quarters. But breakdowns were deadly, allowing the Packers to stage their two longest scoring drives of the season in the second half. The second came when Porter and safety Harold Jones-Quartey both covered the same man in the end zone early in the fourth quarter, leaving Adams alone for his second TD catch of the game.

Adrian Amos interfered with Nelson to give the Packers a 44-yard penalty pickup in the first quarter. De’Vante Bausby had a number of solid plays despite a lack of meaningful pressure from the front. But Bausby had two holding penalties on the Packers’ second fourth-quarter scoring drive.

"There were a lot of penalties out there.,” Bausby said. “We had a good scheme and plan, but we just didn't finish in the second half as a group. Facing Rodgers is a challenge, but I felt like our play calling was excellent. We just didn't finish."

Special teams: B

Connor Barth converted from 39 yards to tie the game in the second quarter. It was Barth’s seventh in his last eight attempts. Pat O’Donnell turned in another strong night punting, averaging 43.8 net on five punts. Coverage helped keep three of those inside the 20.

Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?


Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?

Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down where the Bears go at QB following Brian Hoyer’s injury and evaluate the defense’s gutsy performance on Thursday night against the Packers despite numerous injuries. Plus, a look at the big picture and who can help the Bears down the road.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: