Lions' Suh thinks Bears O-Line 'vulnerable'

Lions' Suh thinks Bears O-Line 'vulnerable'

Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010
7:07 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT For the fourth time in the last seven games and the third in the five wins since the Bears off week, Jay Cutler did not throw an interception. He had exactly four pick-less games in all of 2009.

For the second game in a row Cutler was sacked four times and did not succumb to the pressure and commit turnovers, beyond one excusable one when he was hit and stripped on a sack.

In a game when it was the defense needing the offense to keep the Bears in the game while the Detroit Lions were trampling the defense through the first half, Cutler was fashioning a game with a 117.0 passer rating and taking another step in his development as a quarterback rather than simply a big NFL arm.

In games like this you need your special players to be special, Lovie Smith said. I thought he stepped up and made play after play.

Those plays again were with his feet and head instead of just his arm. Cutler was forced to run five times and netted 10 yards to go with spreading the ball among eight different receivers.

Its starting to get fun for us, Cutler said. The guys arent thinking as much; theyre just out there playing. They know exactly what their responsibilities are. Mike Martz, offensive coordinator is coming up with a great game plan. Hes getting a real feel for what were good at, what were comfortable doing.

Indeed, for the fifth game in row, coordinator Mike Martz called more than 20 runs (the Bears ran a total of 28 times, including kneel-downs) and the Bears rushed for more than 100 yards (114). All Bears wins.

Even with the Lions knowing the Bears were in full ball-control mode when they got the ball with 5 minutes 17 seconds to play, Cutler and the offense were able to methodically run out the remaining time in the game and never allow the Lions back on offense. The Bears ran seven plays prior to Cutler kneel-downs on the last two plays and the ball went to six different players as the Bears picked up four first downs and were never in a third down.

What was working, thats what we went with, said wide receiver Earl Bennett, who led the Bears with 7 catches and 104 yards. We did a great job of moving the ball down the field. And were still streaking.
Head case I

Detroit rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh gave the Bears a hand, a forearm actually, to be specific, when he delivered what officials saw as a blow to the back of quarterback Jay Cutlers head on a third-quarter stop deep in Lions territory. Cutler was going down and Suh swung his right forearm at Cutlers head, although he appeared to miss and in fact just shove Cutler to the ground.

No matter, in the officials eyes. Suh was flagged for unnecessary roughness to move the Bears into goal-to-go position, from where they scored the winning touchdown one play later.

I thought it was an unnecessary non-football act a blow to the back of the runners helmet in the process of him going down, referee Ed Hochuli told pool reporter Tom Kowalski from Booth Newspapers and MLive.com. As I saw it he hit Cutler in the back of the helmet.

Suh wasnt interested in behavior modification as a result. What for? he challenged. Honestly to be honest with you sic, I dont care. Im just going to keep playing.

Head case II

Suh, like the Philadelphia Eagles last week, wasnt particularly impressed with the Bears. He did not go so far as to declare, as several Eagles did, that his was clearly the better team Sunday, but as far as he was concerned, the Chicago offensive line was vulnerable, definitely vulnerable, Suh said.

And it appeared to him that the Bears knew they couldnt handle the Lions up front.

In my opinion, in the second half, the Bears came out with a lot of quick passes, Suh said. They came out with a lot of quick passes to null and void us on the defensive line.

Megatron(s)

Calvin Johnsons 46-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was the 33rd of his career, the most ever by a Detroit receiver in his first four NFL seasons.

Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril had four sacks coming into Sunday. He had three in less than two-and-a-half quarters vs. the Bears and ran his total to seven for the season

Duly noted

Robbie Goulds 54-yard field goal in the third quarter was the longest of his career. He is 3-for-4 from 50-plus this season.

Rev. Jesse Jackson was on hand for the game and a guest in the locker room afterwards, where he was the one giving out the autographs. I wanted to see the game, Jackson said, and Aretha Franklin is here with some friends and we got together.

Detroit quarterback Drew Stanton scored the games first touchdown on a quarterback draw around the Bears defensive right side, then went into a celebration dance, his rendition of The Dougie from rapper Doug E. Fresh and Cali Swag District.

Stantons performance bothered some Bears, but only for artistic reasons. Nah, it didnt bother me, said cornerback D.J. Moore. He was excited. It only bothered me that it was a bad Dougie .

Dubious designation

Being selected as a team captain is an honor, unless youre a Lion. Then its a liability. Among Detroit captains for 2010, quarterback Matthew Stafford has been inactive most of the season with shoulder injuries; defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch is battling a neck injury that put him out Sunday; and kicker Jason Hanson went on IR this week with a knee injury. Center Dominic Raiola is the only Lions captain in uniform.

No surprises among Bears inactives: defensive ends Barry Turner and Corey Wootton; guard Edwin Williams; running back Kahlil Bell; cornerback Joshua Moore; linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee); and tight end Desmond Clark.

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: One-time starter Christian Jones willing to forge a new role in changing D

Bears: One-time starter Christian Jones willing to forge a new role in changing D

What’s wrong with this picture? Or maybe, what’s right?

Over the past two years, no Bear made more tackles than Christian Jones’ 196 – a total accomplished in spite of being shunted around in a death-spiraling 4-3 scheme under the Marc Trestman staff in 2014 and then moved inside as part of the John Fox/Vic Fangio 3-4 last season.

An undrafted free agent picked up by the Phil Emery regime out of Florida State, Jones also was third in special-teams tackles (11) in 2014 and contributed four last season along with four pass breakups and four quarterback pressures.

Then this offseason Jones could only watch as the Bears made replacing him (and Shea McClellin) a priority, signing inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. And suddenly Jones finds himself in a battle for a roster spot. He even saw his number (59) taken to one of the new guys (Trevathan).

It is not often that teams put replacing one of their leading tacklers high on their offseason to-do lists. But there it was.

“You can’t really get surprised,” said Jones, still among the most upbeat players to be found anywhere on the roster. “It’s the NFL, and they brought in two good players, and that’s going to help the team, the defense. I was all in for that.

“So it’s taking my role and doing the best I can with that.”

The trouble is, that “role” is fluid.

[MORE: Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus]

Coaches came to Jones early in the offseason and said they were moving him back to the outside. Fine. He was comfortable there before. Except that since the start of training camp, Jones has been something of a “Where’s Waldo?” character – inside, outside, try finding him.

If there’s an irony, it lies in the fact that not finding Jones a clear role sets him up as a piece of roster versatility that teams crave.

“We went and signed two inside linebackers in free agency and moved him to outside, and now we’ve kind of moved him back inside, so he’s kind of a hybrid,” said coach John Fox. “And sometimes you have to be that.

“There’s the old adage, ‘The more you can do… ,’ and there are a lot of those hybrid guys in different spots. It gives him an advantage, too, as far as offensive recognition.”

Fox and the Bears staff have placed a premium on attitude as well, and Jones has continued to be a factor on special teams, something not every three-year veteran and former starter embraces.

Jones thinks clearly: “You want to have a job,” he said, laughing. “That’s the main thing.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The bumping around between positions has not set Jones’ development back. Indeed, “I think it’s been somewhat smooth, and playing both, I’m getting a sense of the defense,” Jones said. “That helps a lot. It’s a good thing to know both spots because you never know with injuries, so in the long run it helps me and helps the team.”

When Jones was tasked with calling defensive signals in McClellin’s absence last season, it did not go overly well. Jones was benched by Fangio in Week 15 for inconsistency.

Indications are that something has changed. “I think there is a maturity difference, in my opinion,” Fox said.

Not enough injury woes? Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus

Not enough injury woes? Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus

John Fox could be excused for wondering if someone somewhere is sticking voodoo pins in a Bears doll. If it weren’t for bad luck, the 2016 Bears might have no luck at all. And now things have gotten worse, not better.

The Bears coach has overseen the M*A*S*H unit working to look like an NFL team while dealing with a sick bay situation that some days has made it seem easier to list the Bears who ARE practicing rather than the ones who aren’t.

Besides the injury tsunami that has beset them, the Bears this week are dealing with a flu/stomach virus that has hit as many as a dozen players, some more severely than others, and had one Bears higher-up facetiously (or maybe not) reaching for the Walter Payton Center door handle with his hand covered.

“We've got about six illnesses,” Fox said Wednesday, a list that included rookie cornerback Deiondre’ Hall, right tackle Bobby Massie and fullback Darrel Young for the first time.

Not all of practice was a study of absenteeism. Kicker Robbie Gould capped off Wednesday’s indoor session with a 57-yard field goal, consistent with his standing as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history.

Gould has converted a respectable 83.2 percent of attempts in the wind tunnel known as Soldier Field. He has converted 90 percent of his kicks in NFL stadiums with either a dome or retractable roof.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Eddie Royal practiced again on Wednesday wearing don’t-hit-me red jerseys throughout practice, emblematic of their return from preseason concussions. They represent critical elements in the Bears’ passing offense, with Royal signed to put in place a steady veteran for three-receiver packages.

“We’re at a point now where we’re like, 'hey, we’ve got some time here with you guys; let’s get you guys back to 100 percent,’” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “We know what they can do on the field. It’s just a matter of us getting into game week and getting them back in the flow.”

How did Royal look coming back from his missed time? “Fresh,” Cutler said, smiling. “As he should be.”

Three Bears making strides with unfortunate opportunities from injury epidemic

Three Bears making strides with unfortunate opportunities from injury epidemic

Injuries will remain a swirling Bears story until the start of the regular season in Houston on Sept. 11, at which time the injuries will be separated from what coach John Fox termed “owies” on Tuesday. Players are trained to know the difference between pain (which you can play through) and injury (which you can sometimes worsen by playing on) and the next couple weeks, more than Saturday’s preseason game No. 3, will see all that play out.

In the meantime, however, projected roster decisions are being affected by what a handful of Bears are revealing about themselves in the vacuum created by injuries to front-liners.

These three do not automatically translate into changes at the top of the depth chart. Players lose jobs, not because of injury, but because their replacements play better than they were, and that hasn’t necessarily happened. But a team looking for quality depth is getting glimpses of some while starters are sidelined.

1.   Jeremy Langford/Ka’Deem Carey down, Jacquizz Rodgers rising.

Over the past couple weeks, the Bears’ running back committee has been expanding even as certain key figures have coped with injuries. Carey was put in the concussion protocol after a hit on special teams during the Denver game, and Langford was in a walking boot from a minor foot injury suffered in the New England game.

Rodgers, the senior member of the running-back committee, may have been an outsider in a roster squeeze, particularly after the drafting of Jordan Howard this offseason. But Rodgers has materialized with the No. 1 offense with increasing frequency, even with Carey back.

“You know 'Quizz was a big part of what we were doing early last year and then he got injured, he broke his arm,” said coach John Fox. “You know he's a real pro's pro as far as he approaches the game. He's a leader in that running-back room, you know he's a big contributor on 4th down as well as a guy who can go in and tote the rock. 

“But we didn't get a lot of looks at that last year and I've liked what I've seen this year.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

2. Grasu/Long down, Cornelius Edison rising.

First it was center Hroniss Grasu going down with a torn ACL. Over the past week it has been right guard Kyle Long sitting out with a worrisome shoulder injury. The first occasioned installing Ted Larsen, edged out at left guard by rookie Cody Whitehair, at center. The second sent Larsen to right guard and moved Cornelius Edison up into the center spot with the No. 1 offense.

Edison, who’d spent part of his rookie year on the Bears’ practice squad, went undrafted out of Portland State and was far from a player to watch when camp began, even mistakenly ID’d as a linebacker in team literature.

Not anymore. Long is expected back at some point and Larsen the presumptive starter at center. But Edison has earned time with the No. 1 offense and done enough with it to be a serious candidate to stick on a roster in need of interior insurance.

“[Edison] is athletic,” Fox said. “He doesn’t have quite the experience that Ted has but he’s a good young prospect and the more snaps he gets [the better]. He got quite a few snaps Thursday night in New England and I thought he performed pretty well.”

3. CB’s down, Kevin Peterson rising. 

Kyle Fuller required knee surgery a week ago. Bryce Callahan has been hobbled and held out of practice. Jacoby Glenn started at New England but went out with a concussion. All are favorites for roster spots, but their absences has allowed Peterson onto the field and into situations where he has played his way into position to surprise when final cutdowns are done.

An undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State, Peterson is an obvious prospect for practice squad. “He's been here all through the off-season and into training camp,” Fox said. “He hasn't had a lot of opportunity until we got nicked up at the [cornerback] position. So [the Kansas City game] will be a big opportunity for him as well as the final preseason game against Cleveland.”