Lovie: We're not going to back to the drawing board

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Lovie: We're not going to back to the drawing board

Monday, Sept. 26, 2011Posted: 4:45 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Coaches, players and teams certainly dont admit to panic reactions (no matter how many times they drop back and pass, even when they dont need to or shouldnt). So not surprisingly, the Bears are not going to submit their offense, defense or special teams to any sort of major football niptuck procedure.

I dont think we need to go back to the drawing board, coach Lovie Smith said Monday. As you work the numbers, we lost two games where we didnt run the football.

But the thinking is that where the 52 pass plays11 runs vs. New Orleans was indefensible, the 439 distribution in the loss to the Green Bay Packers was simply the only way that made sense under the circumstances.

The offense didnt try running in New Orleans; it couldnt vs. Green Bay, and the decision to stay with throwing the ball was based on improved pass protection as well as the pathetic ground production.

We didnt run the ball enough, we didnt have enough rushes a week ago, Smith said. Im OK on the Atlanta game and the last game on what we had to do to win the football game. When you get behind, youre going to do whatever you need to do to win the game.

First game, we were in a position where we could have more of a balance. This week hopefully well start off and a lot of things will work and well have that kind of balance.

Dialing down the panic II

The hand-wringing over the notion of an undrafted rookie free agent being a significant piece of the Bears passing offense is amusing. No one seemed alarmed when another undrafted free agent Tom Waddle was doing good work with a playoff offense in 1990-91. John Randle was an undrafted, undersized free agent defensive tackle whos in the Hall of Fame. And Jay Hilgenberg wasnt bad, either, for a leftover afterthought.

By the way, can you name the four main wide receivers on the New England Patriots when they won Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004? Deion Branch was a No. 2 pick. David Givens was a 7. Troy Brown was an 8. And David Patten, undrafted free agent.

The difference? The quarterback. A sixth-round pick.

How people get to the NFL is beyond irrelevant. Dane Sanzenbacher gets that, even if not everyone seems to.

When youre targeted, Sanzenbacher said, you have to catch the ball.

It shouldnt be a big surprise that Sanzenbacher has caught more passes than any Bear except Matt Forte (which is a bigger problem, anytime your running back has more than twice as many catches 22 as any two of your wideouts combined). Roy Williams missed a game with a groin injury and Earl Bennett missed most of New Orleans and all of Green Bay with his chest injury.

Chico watch

Five years ago, in the aftermath of Super Bowl XLI, coach Lovie Smith had grown weary of then-defensive coordinator Ron Riveras annual flirtations with teams and head-coaching opportunities. Smith did not bring Rivera back in 2007 and Rivera went on to San Diego (where he blitzed the Bears senseless in the first preseason game last year and drove them to pull Jay Cutler after eight plays) and then to Carolina as head coach.

It is not a game of Rivera vs. Smith, at least in the mind of the latter.

We're excited about getting an opportunity to play the Carolina Panthers, Smith said, correcting a questioner whod inquired about thoughts coming up about matching up with Rivera. I dont think Ron is going to be out there but his football team is doing a heck of a job. They lost a couple of tough games before this one Sunday. They found a way to win. Their record is the same as ours right now. Its a football game we both need to win.

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.

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

PHOENIX – Brandon Marshall never needed a whole lot of encouragement to step before a microphone but the NFL, which sometimes wished he'd put a sock in it, has now invited the former Bears wide receiver to speak up.
 
The NFL extended an invitation for Marshall, whose time in Chicago ended in some measure because of his insistence on pursuing the media portion of his career, to address the league higher-up's ostensibly as part of a communications bridge-building. Marshall jumped at the chance.
 
"They thought it was important for a player to come up and give a player's perspective and talk about the relationship between owners and players," Marshall said on Monday at the outset of the NFL owners meetings. "I think it's evident that our relationship could be so much better."
 
Marshall has been part of Showtime's "Inside the NFL" in recent years, flying to New York to participate in taping the show, and ultimately accepting a trade from the Bears to the Jets in 2015, which obviously cut down on his commute. The Jets released Marshall earlier this month, after which Marshall signed on with the Giants.
 
He told owners this week, "If we want our game to continue to be on that [positive] track, that it's on being super successful and being a pillar in our community and being a thread in our community, we have to make sure our relationship as players and owners is good."

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]
 
The immediate response was more than a little positive: Per San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York:

https://twitter.com/JedYork/status/846400103472480256
 
Marshall predictably welcomed the forum and wants to see it expanded.

"I'd like to see more players be more involved in our owners meetings," Marshall said. "And not only at the owners meetings, but any time we're talking football, we should have players at the table. Commissioner Goodell is always open-minded. He always has that open-door policy. So I think he'll continue to listen and continue to evolve this part of our business."

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

PHOENIX — The Bears next play a team named "Raiders" in 2019, having just played them in 2015 at Soldier Field. Whether the Bears' schedule of opponents will say Oakland Raiders or Las Vegas Raiders is still fluid, but the Raiders are leaving Oakland sometime in the next several years after the expected vote Monday at the NFL owners' meetings.

Leaving a press conference at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Raiders owner Mark Davis and a couple other league figures formally announced the foregone conclusion of the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, a Cleveland media counterpart fell in beside me and remarked, "Well, at least that's one story you won't have to worry about covering in Chicago."

Maybe yes, maybe no.

The NFL game presents endless spurts of the byzantine and bizarre, so my colleague — who saw his Browns bolt from their lakefront to Baltimore one dark upon-a-time — might be premature with his effort at comfort. Besides, nobody to my knowledge ever took the temperature of Decaturites when their town lost the Staleys to Chicago (at least the Bears kept a Staley as a mascot). And a deal had been worked out, later abandoned, to move the Bears to Hoffman Estates in the mid 1990s, something that had been preceded by then-chairman Michael McCaskey shopping the franchise to various suburbs, low-lighted by a flirtation with Gary, Ind., to something that concept drawings labeled "Planet Park."

Hizzone Da Mare once told George Halas that if Papa Bear took his team out of the city, the "Chicago" part of its name wasn't going with it. And son Richie blustered regarding Gary, "Let them move to Alaska."

Well, I mean, then again, hey, if Juneau or Fairbanks can come up with the requisite relocation fees.

And you can only wonder how many members of Raider Nation are feeling that way about the Raiduhs, that they can go to Alaska (or Gary) for all they care.

The vote approving the Raiders' move to Las Vegas (presumably the league toned down any anti-gambling rhetoric for the day) was believed to be 31-1, with only the Miami Dolphins saying nay. But the side issues were everywhere and somewhat more entertaining, given that the deal was a fait accompli ever since the city of Oakland failed to deliver enough of a stadium package to keep its Raiders where they'd begun under Al Davis when the AFL was formed in 1960.

It was difficult not to chuckle as Mark Davis opined that he thought his late father "would be proud" of moving the team to the self-appointed entertainment capital of the world. True that; Al moved the Raiders to Los Angeles in 1982, to a second location in that market subsequently, and then back to Oakland in 1995. Definitely a legacy to be proud of.

And one for Goodell, too, who summarized, "You know that our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each of those teams and the league," meaning stable financially, not necessarily geographically. "We're all disappointed for Oakland and their fans," Goodell managed to say.

The Raiders do have one-year options on their lease in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and Davis said that if their Las Vegas facility isn't completed for the Bears' 2019 visit (OK, he didn't say "Bears," that was me), an extension might be in order.

Some observers are waiting for a reaction statement from jilted Oakland mayor Libby Shaaf, who got a thanks-but-no-thanks public letter from Goodell this weekend and sent a last-minute one for the league to delay its vote on the Las Vegas move, which the league didn't do. Somehow the thought of the Raiders asking Oakland to do something for them in their time of need is something worth buying a ticket to.

In the meantime, the move proceeds as expected, adding another mystery to the NFL firmament: moving a team to a significantly smaller sports market from the one it already occupied; moving not one but two teams into the Los Angeles market that had been abandoned by the Rams, Raiders and even Chargers (one of the teams now returning there); those sort of things.

How viable the Las Vegas market is for NFL football is something that'll play out over the next number of years. For now, good seats still available ... in Oakland.