Moon: Bears touched by 911 tribute

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Moon: Bears touched by 911 tribute

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011Posted: 11:30 a.m. Updated: 8:00 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin

Roy Williams caught all four of the passes thrown to him Sunday as a Chicago Bear. Something also caught him, on the inside.

It was his own emotion choking him up during the singing of the National Anthem. Players and coaches joined with police officers, firefighters, soldiers and others to unfurl and hold a giant American flag that covered the playing field as Cornelison sang.

Williams had heard Cornelison sing the Star Spangeled Banner in his time as a Detroit Lion, but when youre holding that flag, the land of the free, thats the part that hit me, Williams said.

I didnt want to be the only one in tears but it was very, very tough when you think of the people who died on 911 and their families. You hear so many stories of people that day and it was a touching moment.

Jay gaming

Jay Cutlers passer rating was 107.8 for Sundays game. The Bears are now 23-0, including the Seattle divisional playoff win, when Cutler has a 100 rating. Cutler has had 100 ratings in six of the last nine games.

Why this is more than just an interesting stat is that the Bears lost all three of the games when he was a sub-100 passer (New England, Green Bay twice and the NFC Championship).

But as far as feeling all warm and furry about a 312-yard passing game with 2 TD passes and 23 points tallied by the offense against an Atlanta defense that was fifth-best in points allowed in 2010, nope.

"We left some points out there, Cutler said, referring to two missed TD opportunities in three red-zone trips. We started off pretty good but we just have to get better in the red zone. We just have to hammer out some of these details because we left points on the board.

Duly noted
Right guard Lance Louis was in a plastic walking cast for his injured right ankle, which forced him out of the game in the first half. Chris Spencer took over at right guard, but that leaves questions:

Will Louis be ready in time for New Orleans? If not, would Spencer stay at right guard or flip-flop with Roberto Garza, since Spencer is a natural center and Garza a veteran at right guard?

Defensive end Julius Peppers and tackle Henry Melton switch positions on occasion and have going back into last season. Whats notable is that the two players make the decision themselveswell, sort of. Peppers was asked if Melton tells him to go on the inside and he, Meltonll play end? Peppers smiled the oh-I-dont-think-so smile.
Matt Toeaina found out Sunday morning that he was starting at nose tackle instead of Anthony Adams. A preseason calf injury kept Adams out of full practice until late in the week and a final decision was not made until Adams was put through drills Sunday morning. The decision was made to use him only in spot duty, taking less risk of re-injuring his calf.

The Atlanta Falcons surprised the Bears with a no-huddle offense but Bears defensive linemen felt that their conditioning and speed ironically gave them an edge over the bigger, slower Atlanta offensive linemen.

Hurry up, Devin

Devin Hester may be one of the fastest Bears and receiver-mate Williams, downfield blocking on Hesters 53-yard catch-and-run that saw him chipped out of bounds at the Atlanta 1-yard line. I thought he was gone, Williams said, then deapanned, I wouldve scored.

QB Hits

The game featured a pair of crushing hits on quarterbacks by defensive ends wearing No. 90.

Cutler was blasted by Lawrence Sidbury, coming around a missed block by tight end Kellen Davis, in the third quarter and was slow to get up after the hit.

Peppers, who had three sacks and other hits on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, pursued Ryan out of the pocket along the right sideline. He caught the Atlanta quarterback and delivered a sweeping hit that sent Ryans helmet rolling away on the ground.

Nice guy

After Matt Spaeth caught his one-yard TD pass in the third quarter, his first as a Bear, the tight end bee-lined for the first row of the north end-zone stands to hand the ball to his mother and aunt. Head equipment manager Tony Medlin traditionally takes the balls from significant plays and cleans them up.

New guy

Brandon Meriweather, signed last weekend from the New England Patriots, saw his first work at free safety in the third quarter, stepping in for Major Wright.

Peppers slid down inside to defensive tackle in some nickel alignments, with tackle Melton moving outside to end. The two combined for that kind of flip-flop last season, with good effect.
Ouch

Spencers better position is center but he was needed at right guard in the second quarter after Louis limped off with an ankle injury. When Louis suffered an injury in Game 4 last year, that ended his starts at right guard.

Remember him?

Hester -- rather than Johnny Knox -- was back as the kickoff returner for the Bears. Knox took the first snap at wide receiver on the first possession but Hester was back at his No. 1 spot on the start of the second series.

Knox was a Pro Bowl alternate as a returner in 2009 but slumped to less than 23 yards per return last season.
our flag was still there

With the words of the National Anthem sung by Jim Cornelison echoing across Soldier Field, players on both teams joined with police, fire fighters and others unfurling a United States flag that covered the entire playing surface.

When Cornelison pointed to the flag atop the stadium as he sang that our flag was still there enough said.

Lockout? What lockout?

So much for the lockout making it significantly more difficult for newcomers to break onto NFL rosters. Not only have the Bears built this years roster with 18 new players out of 53, but the active roster the Bears fielded for Game 1 included six rookies and one first-year player, fullback Tyler Clutts, playing his first NFL football after stints in the UFL.

Rookie Bears playing Sunday: Gabe Carimi, Chris Conte, Dane Sanzenbacher, Dom DeCicco, Winston Venable, Kyle Adams.

Rostering

Adams was active after missing most of the preseason with a calf injury but Toeaina was inserted as the starting nose tackle.

On the inactive list were running back Marion Barber, quarterback Nathan Enderle, guard Edwin Williams and defensive linemen Mario Addison, Stephen Paea and Corey Wootton. Special teams took a hit with receiver Sam Hurd on the inactive list and still recovering from an ankle injury in preseason.

The Falcons were without center Todd McClure and defensive tackle Corey Peters in their starting lineups.

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.

Kyle Fuller heads to injured reserve as Bears make other roster moves

Kyle Fuller heads to injured reserve as Bears make other roster moves

The upheaval that has afflicted the 2016 Bears roster ratcheted up a notch late Tuesday when the Bears placed cornerback Kyle Fuller on injured reserve due to a knee injury and shuffled the depth chart elsewhere.

The Bears waived tight end Greg Scruggs, who was making the switch to offense from the defensive line, and linebacker Jonathan Anderson, while moving linebacker John Timu from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. To fortify the defensive line, where nose tackle Eddie Goldman is down indefinitely with an ankle injury, the Bears signed CJ Wilson, a 2010 draft pick of the Green Bay Packers who has played for the Packers, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions, starting 19 of 78 career games played.

Fuller, the 14th-overall pick of the 2014 draft and once identified as a building block of the Bears defense, underwent knee surgery Aug. 15 while the team went to New England for practices and a preseason game with the Patriots. He had been making significant strides in recovery as far as straight-ahead running but was still hampered with change-of-direction.

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Coach John Fox on Monday said simply that Fuller “has a sore knee. It has some medical things that kind of restrict you. When we get that healed up, he’ll go.”

The IR designation does not necessarily end Fuller’s season. Beginning in 2013, under an agreement between the NFL and Players Association, one player per team may be placed on injured reserve and later be brought back to the active roster. That player must sit out six weeks and cannot be activated for an additional two weeks.

With inside linebacker Danny Trevathan out following surgery on his thumb, Anderson had been expected to see additional playing time, possibly with the No. 1 unit. But rookie Nick Kwiatkoski started Sunday at Dallas in the base 3-4 and Christian Jones cycled in with sub packages.

Three starting points for the Bears to salvage their 2016 season

Three starting points for the Bears to salvage their 2016 season

As the noted philosopher once intoned, the past is for cowards and losers. Applied to the 2016 Bears, the latter already applies, though not wanting to look at the recent past shouldn’t be taken as evidence of cowardice, just not wanting to revisit pain.

Looking to the future is the obvious only option for an 0-3 football team.

“You’ve just got to go into every week like it’s a new week,” said linebacker Jerrell Freeman, one of the few encouraging parts of an injury-speckled defense, whose 34 tackles are approaching twice those of No. 2 Jacoby Glenn (19), with four tackles for loss vs. no one else with more than two.

“Every week is a new season regardless of whether you’re winning or losing. You can’t look back, you always have to look forward. Because if not, you won’t give the next team the respect they deserve and have another bad result.”

But the fan base can be excused for expecting a next bad result simply because the Bears have given zero indications that the future will be any better than the immediate past.

That is the signal concern: Who turns this around or, for that matter, even slows the rate of descent?

No Bears team has made the playoffs in a season that began with three straight losses. The 1932 team was winless in its first three, but those at least were scoreless ties. So postseason isn’t a relevant concept anymore except possibly as some sort of punchline.

But one vintage NFL axiom is that things from a game are seldom as bad upon later review than you thought they were at the time (they’re also never as good, either, but good hasn’t shown up yet). And turnarounds do happen.

But those do have to start somewhere. Any Bears season course correction for 2016 has three possible starting points:

A defensive 'village'

The Bears do not have elite talent on defense, meaning that the solution can come only from a marshaling of forces that makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

John Fox teams are built on defense, and consensus had the Bears as potentially a top-10 defense before the successive miseries vs. Houston, Philadelphia and Dallas. The Bears have zero defensive star power at this point, which is a problem, by way of understatement.

Fox’s 2011 Denver team started 1-4, then reversed itself and made the playoffs at 8-8 with Tim Tebow as quarterback. (It also had Marion Barber stepping out of bounds and later fumbling away the Bears game, but never mind that for now.) But that team had Elvis Dumervil and a rookie Von Miller combining for 21 sacks. The Bears have a total of four sacks, and players representing 1.5 of those (Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan) are out indefinitely with injuries.

But linebacker Willie Young cut to the chase: “We have to control the running game before we can have fun in the backfield,” he said after the debacle in Dallas with the Cowboys rushing for 200 yards. “I don’t know what was going on. All I could do is ask the guys to give me all you got. One play at a time, just give me all you’ve got.”

That would be a place to start.

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Remember the 'Run and Shoop' offense?

John Shoop might have been the object of ridicule as Bears offensive coordinator. But when he took over after the defection of Gary Crowton to coach BYU, the Bears won two of their last three by running to the point of tackle James “Big Cat” Williams, nicknaming the offense the “Run and Shoop” offense. The linemen loved it initially because Shoop simply loaded up and ran the football and, most important, stayed with the plan.

The point is not to become plodding, which Shoop’s offense ultimately became. But the Bears abandoned the run at Dallas when they trailed 24-3 at halftime, even though they had the ball to start the third quarter and with one defensive stop after a touchdown could have been working to get within one score.

“It could have flipped quickly,” guard Kyle Long said. “One drive, it turns into a seven-point game, and that’s the NFL.”

The need for the Bears to run the football isn’t really worth spending time on. Obvious. The offensive line was built for running the football. But for various reasons coordinator Dowell Loggains has not had success with what was supposed to be the foundation of the offense. The Bears cannot win by being a pass-based team, regardless of whether Jay Cutler or Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley is doing the throwing.

The Bears will not be blowing out many, if any, teams. Their best option is to wear opponents down in first halves, live with Jordan Howard/Joique Bell/whomever netting 50 to 60 yards in a first half, then turning the two- to three-yard runs of the first half into four- to six-yarders in the second.

Shoop would like that.

Get one win

Playoff chances mean nothing. How good or bad the Bears are means nothing. All that matters is winning, not games, but one game. The next game. As Fox and other players have said, the Bears have not put together one complete game yet. That is not going to happen automatically, but one play, one quarter, one half at a time.

And they know it. “You want to win games,” Freeman said. “There’s no panic. There’s a sense of urgency, that’s for sure. We’ve got to put out this fire and put it out quick, like yesterday or the day before.”