It's official: Bears are a running team...for now

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It's official: Bears are a running team...for now

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010
Posted: 4:25 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If you think the notion of the Bears becoming a running team was just a figment of Lovie Smith's imagination, not so -- it's true. At least for November.

The Bears had 136 rushing attempts and 121 pass plays (attempts plus sacks) for their four November games and were second in the NFL in run ratio, keeping it on the ground 52.9 percent of the time (56.3 of San Diego's plays were runs).

Not coincidentally, the Bears trailed only New Orleans and Green Bay in third-down conversions with first downs picked up on 31 of 59 "money" downs. Defensively, no unit is allowing a lower percentage of conversions than the Bears' 30.6.

The Bears defense is at No. 2 behind only Pittsburgh in the latest Aikman Ratings, the standard the Bears use for measuring defenses because of its inclusion of many different factors. Julius Peppers has 8 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in five career games against the Lions.

The honorable Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler's four TD passes and 146.2 passer rating in the win over Philadelphia has earned him another nomination as FedEx Air player of the week. Cutler won the award after week one when he completed 23-of-35 passes for 372 yards against Detroit.

In four career games against the Lions, Cutler has completed 66-of-103 passes, posted a 110.1 rating and thrown eight TD passes vs. just one INT.

His teams (Denver, Chicago) are 18-0 when Cutler puts up a passer rating above 100.

Nice

Comcast SportsNet President Jim Corno is being honored with a prestigious "Top Regional Player in Cable Award" at the CableFAX 100 event Dec. 9 in New York. Jim also was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame this year.

Like what Comcast is doing in sports programming, digital and more? It starts at the top. Nice going, Jim.

Yikes I

Things have reached the point in the Motor City where Detroit Free Press writer Dave Birkett is doing a Monday look at where the Lions may or should be looking in next year's draft. The Lions are out of any playoff thought and at 2-9, you can forgive their fans for finding some Saturday games of more interest than the ones on Sunday.

For the draftniks out there, Dave notes that Carolina at 1-10 would pick first in this Wednesday's NFL draft, Detroit would have the No. 2 and Cincinnati, also at 2-9, comes in at No. 3, followed by Buffalo and Dallas.

Yikes II

Colleague Ray Didinger with CSNPhilly.com suggested today that hyped-out Eagles fans should relax and that there is no reason to panic. Good advice, Ray, because if you think Chicago can overreact to a Bears win or loss, consider the radio caller Ray cites:

"I should've known better," the man ranted. "This isn't a Super Bowl team. It isn't even a playoff team."

Well, all righty, then. ...

Stop a second ...

Walking back to my mother's cancer station at Advocate Lutheran Center for Advanced Care today during the Tuesday treatment, I passed a station where a young mother, maybe early 30s, was in the chair receiving her chemo IV. Her daughter, a little cutie probably 5 years old, was holding her hand.

My Mom is 85 and doing pretty well. So I've got a couple prayers I probably won't need for her, and I think I'm going to send 'em down the hall. If you've got one or two you're not using, there's someone somewhere who could use the kind thoughts, healing energy and support. That'd be a sweet Christmas gift that's never too early to give.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.