Lions' Suh thinks Bears O-Line 'vulnerable'

Lions' Suh thinks Bears O-Line 'vulnerable'

Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010
7:07 PM

By John Mullin

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 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.


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'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.

No hard feelings between John Fox and Jay Cutler, but no clear future, either

No hard feelings between John Fox and Jay Cutler, but no clear future, either

Jay Cutler returned to practice as he left it before the Week 2 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in which he suffered a thumb injury that sidelined him for the past five games. He was back as the No. 1 quarterback.

But the landscape changed over those five weeks, at least outwardly, with Brian Hoyer filling in with a succession of 300-yard passing games and coach John Fox indicating that as long as Hoyer was performing well, he could hold onto the job.

Now Hoyer is gone to IR with a broken left arm suffered in a Week 7 loss to the Green Bay Packers and Cutler returns to a situation where his head coach’s endorsement and support has appeared conditional.

“He doesn’t have a choice, I guess, at this point,” Cutler said on Tuesday. “Brian is out, so I’ve got to go. I’ve had good conversations with Foxy this week, last week, the week before. There’s never been any strain in our relationship. We’re both very open and honest, and we’re on the same page. We just want to win football games.”

Fox has been ripped in some quarters for what was taken as creating a quarterback controversy. In fact, consistent with a competition mantra that has applied to every position since the end of last season, Fox supported each quarterback when their time was at hand: Hoyer when Hoyer was performing well, and Cutler now that he is back.

Bill Belichick made it clear that, regardless of how well Jimmy Garappolo played for his New England Patriots, Tom Brady would be back as the starter when his four-game suspension was over. Cutler has not established a Brady lock on the position.

Speaking about the running back situation, where one-time starter Jeremy Langford is returning from injury to find Ka’Deem Carey and Jordan Howard in front of him, Fox laid out the NFL reality, which applies to the Cutler-Howard situation.

“Earlier in the season I mentioned that way back in the day, if you were the starter, when you got hurt, it was yours when you came back,” Fox said. “Well, that’s not really the case as much anymore. It can be; you’re going to play the best guy and there’s competition to be involved in that.”

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The broader issue overhanging Cutler is whether the Bears plan to bring him back in 2017. This season has been bluntly described as a prove-it year for Cutler, who has no guaranteed contract money after this year, and Cutler has not proven a great deal in seven quarters of football, with a 75.7 passer rating, one TD pass and two interceptions.

Whether that is regressing from last year to levels closer to his career standards is what the next several weeks will reveal. At this level, the Bears would be unlikely to pay Cutler $15 million in 2017.

“I think those are conversations for the end of the year,” Cutler said. “Right now I’m working with Dowell [Loggains, offensive coordinator] and ‘Rags’ [QB coach Dave Ragone] and we’re just trying to find first downs and get our third-down conversion rate back up, score more points. That’s all we’re really trying to do and that’s all my focus is.

“Whatever happens at the end of the year, it’s supposed to happen, and we’ll go accordingly. But right now it’s not something that I worry about. It’s my 11th year, my eighth year here. I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, and it’s how it goes. At the end of the year, we can have those conversations. Whatever happens, happens.”

As far as the best way to handle the inevitable questions about the future, “I think ignoring it is,” Cutler said. “I think it's going to be there; you can't completely ignore it.”

Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II

Bears In-Foe: Vikings defense is Purple People Eaters, Part II

It's bad enough that Jay Cutler will be rusty and he may not have Kyle Long and Josh Sitton protecting him. But even if all the Bears' offensive hands were on deck, Monday night's challenge would've been formidable anyway.

The Vikings' defense leads the league in fewest yards allowed (279.5 per game), is tied for the league-lead in allowing fewest points (14.0), third in rushing defense (81.7), fourth in pass defense (197.8), and sixth in third-down defense (34.2 percent). And oh yeah, they lead the league in turnover ratio (plus-11), courtesy of their nine interceptions (tied for second), seven fumble recoveries and 19 sacks (seventh-most in the NFL).

It's nice to have quality and depth up front. That's where that push comes from, especially off the edges, with ends Brian Robison, Everson Griffen and sophomore Danielle Hunter supplying four sacks apiece. That trio combined for 21.5 sacks a year ago (when the Bears totaled 35 as a team). And while injury-prone Sharrif Floyd finds himself sidelined again since the opener, tackle Linval Joseph (three sacks) is back playing at the All-Pro level he was at a year ago before an ankle injury slowed him. And Tom Johnson contributed 6.5 sacks a year ago rotating in with Floyd at three-technique.

[RELATED: Bears In-Foe: Purple a fitting color for Vikings' battered, bruised offense]

Reunited UCLA linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are in their second year together in a run the Bears will likely have to deal with for another decade. This is the 11th and final year they'll see Chad Greenway, who's more leader than playmaker now in the middle of that defense.

Ryan Pace, Vic Fangio and position coach Ed Donatell must also be jealous of the Vikings' deep defensive backfield. Top cover man Xavier Rhodes, last year's top pick Trae Waynes and Andrew Sendejo have two picks each. Waynes still hasn't taken a job away from ageless 37-year-old Terence Newman. The Vikes were trying to upgrade on Sendejo, who answered the challenge and should be able to play Monday after departing the Eagles game with an ankle injury he suffered almost taking an interception to the house. It's almost unfair that second-round rookie Mackensie Alexander can't even surpass fourth cornerback Captain Munnerlyn for playing time.

But we must not forget Harrison Smith. The humble Golden Domer, humorously nicknamed "Gangsta White Boy" by Adrian Peterson, became the NFL's richest safety by inking a five-year, $51 million deal this summer, is coming off a first Pro Bowl that probably would've come sooner if not for a couple injuries. Two of his four career pick-sixes have come against the Bears, and Pro Football Focus has him as the only safety to grade positively in coverage, run support, and pass rush over each of the last two seasons.

Special teams

Just as Robbie Gould fell under the microscope of the current Bears brass with last season's rough finish, the strong-legged Blair Walsh probably feels a few more eyes on him after missing the 27-yard game-winning attempt in the frigid playoff loss to Seattle. He's 10-of-13 on field goals this season, 11-of-13 on extra points.

But while the Vikings' kickoff coverage was burned by Josh Huff's return Sunday in Philadelphia, the Bears coverage units have to be disciplined and smart against Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels. Both have burned the Bears more than once before. With more than his seven kick returns, Patterson's 29.9 average would lead the league. Sherels' 14.6-yard return average on punts ranks third in the NFL. He's already returned two for touchdowns this season after burning the Bears at Soldier Field a year to the day short of Monday's contest.