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.

Bears In-Foe: Can this offense expose two key Lions injuries?

Bears In-Foe: Can this offense expose two key Lions injuries?

Coming off two long fourth quarter drives by the Titans the week before that cost them their home opener, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers kept Detroit's defense in the dumps Sunday, shredding the Lions for 31 first-half points.

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been tasked with replacing the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Stephen Tulloch over the last couple of years, and having to Band-Aid the unit from key injuries. One was game-changing linebacker DeAndre Levy, who played just 17 snaps all of 2015 after signing a $20 million extension. Austin, who's had nine head coaching interviews the past two off-seasons, had to be welcoming Levy back with open arms. Then he suffered a quad injury in the Titans game, sat out versus the Packers, and his status will be one to watch this week.

Then there's Ziggy Ansah, the fifth overall pick from 2013 who's only in his sixth year of even playing football.  His 14.5 sacks last season gave him 30 in 46 career games and made him the new centerpiece of the defense. But the Ghana native sustained a high ankle sprain in that same game against the Titans and is not expected to be ready for Sunday's noon date on the lakefront.

Who could possibly pick up some of that pass rush slack? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Kerry Hyder.

Who?

The undrafted free agent spent 2014 on the Jets' practice squad, then moved to the Lions last year. He almost seemed destined to spend another year on The Squad before he finished the preseason strong. The door opened, and the 6-foot-2, 270-pound end has four sacks so far. Tackle Haloti Ngata, who is 32 years old, struggled with injuries after coming over to help replace Suh, but finished strong, and has started well. Second-round pick A'Shaun Robinson rotates in after the Alabama product was passed over by the Bears.

[MORE BEARS IN-FOE: From Megatron to MegaMarv?]

Levy's injury left the Lions with only four linebackers at Lambeau after one promotion from the practice squad. Speedy, physical Tahir Whitehead took over for the now-departed Tulloch in the middle and earned his way into the starting lineup the last couple of years. Austin has given the other starting spot to Kyle Van Noy in a last-ditch attempt to prove spending a second-round pick on him in 2014 wasn't a mistake.

The secondary includes a stud corner and safety. Darius Slay (2013 second round) has turned into their shutdown guy and signed a four-year, $48 million extension in July. Nevin Lawson is just 5-9 but plays physical and fast opposite Slay - and was called for a 66-yard (!) pass interference penalty Sunday. Free safety Glover Quin's interception has the defense's lone takeaway this season and is one of the game's best. The team invested a fourth-round pick on heavy-hitting Miles Kinnebrew, and injury-prone Rafael Bush in free agency. But former Illini Tavon Wilson was signed away from the Patriots and held down the strong side before departing Sunday's loss with a neck injury.

Special teams

The Lions' coverage teams are top ten in both punts and kickoffs. The loss of Ameer Abdullah to his foot injury will affect the return game firepower, with backup wideout Andre Roberts filling in. Kicker Matt Prater is 5-for-6 on field goals thus far after being fifth in accuracy last year, including a 59-yarder versus the Bears at Soldier Field in last year's season finale.

Bears In-Foe: From Megatron to MegaMarv?

Bears In-Foe: From Megatron to MegaMarv?

Jim Bob Cooter. An interesting name. Some interesting stuff in his past, too. But since he took over the Lions offense about midway through last season, Matthew Stafford's been as good as ever, and it's carried over so far into this season. Even after his Megatarget - Calvin Johnson - decided to retire after last season.  But one aspect remains a concern after a recent injury.

Detroit is top-five in points, total yards and passing yards per game. They've jumped from last in the NFL last season to 15th in rushing, but after second-year back Ameer Abdullah averaged 5.6 yards per carry into their Week Two matchup, he tore a foot ligament and could be out for the season. With that, they managed just a 2.2-yard average Sunday in Green Bay, falling behind 31-3 before walking out of Lambeau a 34-27 loser to drop to 1-2.

Theo Riddick is a dangerous weapon out of the backfield (16 catches, 130 yards) after 80 receptions for nearly 700 yards a year ago, but he's still averaging just 3.3 per carry after 3.1 in 2015. Enter seventh-round rookie Dwayne Washington, who had a couple of touchdown runs in the preseason (one for 58 yards), along with a 96-yard kickoff return TD. He carried 10 times for 38 yards against the Packers.

[MORE BEARS IN-FOE: Can this offense expose two key Lions injuries?]

Stafford finished last season with 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions. That ratio is 7-to-2 this year. Through three weeks, he's second in passing yards, fourth in yards-per-attempt, and sixth in completion percentage. And wouldn't you know? His main target is the guy they brought in to replace Calvin Johnson: Marvin Jones. Many thought he wouldn't come close to comparing.

So far, the former Bengal has been targeted 29 times, with 18 catches for a league-high 408 yards. Six of those receptions and 205 of those yards came Sunday against Green Bay. Soon-to-be-36-year-old Anquan Boldin was a late signing despite still being physically imposing, and the 12th-leading receiver in league history. He's caught a pair of touchdowns among his 11 receptions for 105 yards. For the past two years (189 catches), Golden Tate was to Johnson what Randall Cobb is to Jordy Nelson in Green Bay when both are healthy. The Golden Domer has 13 grabs for 94 yards. And 2014 first-round tight end Eric Ebron has tested Motown's patience with knee, quad, and hand injuries his first two seasons. He's caught 14 passes thus far after 47 a year ago.

Stafford has a five-year non-injury starting streak after some health issues his first couple of seasons. That's amazing with the way he's been knocked around (44 sacks a year ago). He's hit the turf eight times the first three weeks. They've gone to great lengths in recent drafts to fix that, spending high picks trying to shore up protection and get a ground game going to complement their aerial assault. That continued this spring under new GM Bob Quinn, who came over from New England and kept coach Jim Caldwell in place. Tackle Taylor Decker out of Ohio State was chosen 16th as 2012 top pick Riley Reiff has underachieved heading into his contract year. Last year's number-one pick, guard Laken Tomlinson out of Lane Tech High School, has yet to live up to his selection. 2013 third-rounder Larry Warford compared to Kyle Long in the same draft class, but has struggled with injuries. And for the second time in three years, the Lions drafted a center in the third round (Graham Glasgow from Michigan via Marmion Military Academy in 2016; Travis Swanson in 2014).