Chicago Bears

Moon: Bears will be ready for upstart Seahawks

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Moon: Bears will be ready for upstart Seahawks

Monday, Jan. 10, 2011
4:40 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Julius Peppers cut to the chase, and he did it a lot better than the New Orleans Saints did.

The Bears defensive end watched as Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch broke a 67-yard touchdown run to end New Orleans' playoff hopes. What struck Peppers was how many Saints did not do much more than watch as well.

Lynch broke more than a half-dozen tackles and as far as that ever happening against Peppers and the Bears defense, No, he said simply. He repeated the statement with purpose. No.

I watched that play and it was a great play by Marshawn. He ran really hard on that but I saw a few guys miss tackles, get up and start watching. That doesnt happen around here. We get up and run to the ball. Somebodys going to get up and run to the ball.

The effort that he displayed was amazing. It was also a lack of effort on the other side by a couple of guys, and I dont think that well have that problem this week.

The Saints didnt play playoff football, which is somewhat surprising. They were out-coached, throwing 60 passes in a game that didnt require that, and they were out-played.

As for the Seahawks, the style of win over New Orleans may be a decided factor in the Bears favor. The Bears can speak from experience that it is often more difficult to come back from a good win than a bad loss, and the Saints game was arguably the Seahawks Super Bowl. To return to that level emotionally is unlikely, not from the perspective of game day, but from that of devoting every hour to the kind of preparation needed for that kind of win.

They mean it

The Bears came together for their usual pre-practice huddle Monday and broke with a yell that doubled as a mission statement: Champs!

Think its just clichd rah-rah, usual stuff? Think again.

Tim Jennings was a member of the Indianapolis Colts for the first four years of his career, including the Super Bowl game against the Bears as a rookie. But he wasnt sorry to see the Colts lose to the New York Jets on Saturday in the AFC wild-card round and not out of any sort of ill-wishes toward the team that didnt re-sign him last offseason.

I had a little sigh of relief, Jennings told CSNChicago.com, allowing himself a look ahead to where the Bears expect to be. Weve still got Tom Brady to worry about but its a relief to have one great team out of the playoffs.

Theres a couple more, but I didnt want to see Peyton in the Super Bowl.

Serious wager

Wide receiver Devin Aromashodu was wearing a stylish blue-and-orange sweatsuit with a large Auburn across the front. Not far away, defensive tackle Matt Toeainas shoes were sitting in his locker stall with the distinctive O for Oregon.

Their respective alma maters meet Monday night in the BCS championship game. I cant talk about our wagers, Aromashodu said. Hell have to wear this Auburn top for a day and weve got some other stuff.

Toeaina was willing to admit that Auburn had some chance against his Ducks. To a point.

Its a tough game to call, Toeaina said. But Im planning on bringing in one of the six Oregon jerseys I have and let him take his pick.

E-chatting

We can pick this up in our regular Monday on-line chat from 7-8 p.m. tonight on CSNChicago.com. And in the interest of disclosure, I had the Saints defeating Seattle on Saturday, but by less than the 10 points the Saints were favored by (thought New Orleans would win by 7). I did not see the Colts falling to the Jets on Saturday, either. I thought the Colts would win by 3.

I did, however, go with both road teams Sunday, with the Baltimore Ravens over the Kansas City Chiefs but by 3, not the 23 that the Ravens won by. And the Packers really werent that difficult a 4-point pick over Philadelphia.

For this week: Home teams hold serve. The Pittsburgh defense makes the Steelers a touchdown better than the Ravens. Tom Brady will work extra hard in the film room to ensure his Patriots spank the Jets and Rex Ryan. The Atlanta Falcons will have to score late to get past the finally-gassed Packers. And the Bears

Chicago 34 Seattle 20

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright saw two years ago what the transition for a quarterback, picked second overall and coming from a college spread offense, can look like. Marcus Mariota made that move smoothly and now looks poised to join the ranks of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year with the Tennessee Titans. 

Can Mitch Trubisky make a similarly successful transition? Wright, so far, has liked what he’s seen.

“His overall progression from OTAs to training camp to now, his overall everything he’s done in every area has gotten better,” Wright said. “The work he puts in, it helps him.” 

It’s not a perfect comparison, of course, given the offense Mariota so effectively operated at Oregon didn't resemble the look and feel of the one Trubisky ran at North Carolina. Mariota started far more games than Trubisky, too. They’re two different quarterbacks with different skillsets. And Mariota was given the opportunity to be a Week 1 starter from the moment he was drafted, while Trubisky — for now — remains behind Mike Glennon. 

“Marcus was in a different position where he came in and he was the quarterback,” Wright said. “I think it’s different. Once Mitch starts playing, whenever he starts playing, he’ll start progressing a lot more because he’ll actually be out there in game-like situations.”

But consider why the Titans were so confident Mariota could start immediately and make a successful transition to the NFL from that flashy Oregon offense:

“I don’t think the system he had in Oregon, I don’t think that held him back when he came into the league,” Wright said. “I think he was good at making his progressions, decisive. He’s like one of those players, it doesn’t matter what system he’s in, you put him out there and he’s a guy that’s a difference-maker.”

After espousing Trubisky’s accuracy back in April, Bears general manager Ryan Pace quickly pointed out this trait: “His ability to process and see the whole field jumps out right away. 

“… All these top quarterbacks, it’s just their ability to quickly process defenses, process coverage, find open targets, not panic under pressure, deliver accurate throws when there’s a noisy pocket – things are collapsing – those guys all have those traits. And Mitch has those traits, Drew (Brees) has those traits and those are things we value.”

The point being: No matter the system, both Mariota and Trubisky have good football intelligence, and are more than what Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians once bemoaned about college spread quarterbacks. 

“They hold up a card on the sideline and he kicks his foot and throws the ball,” Arians said in 2015. “That ain’t playing quarterback.”

Trubisky, of course, still has to improve with his pre-snaps reads, calling out protections, identifying coverages, learning the playbook, etc. But he seems to have the football intelligence to make those strides and marry them with his impressive physical skillset. 

And as was the case with Mariota, Wright doesn’t see a reason why Trubisky can’t succeed in the NFL. 

“(Trubisky) can do it all too,” Wright said. “He’s still learning, he’s still getting better, he’s never complacent. He has the ability to get better and he’s willing to get better. He’s a young guy that listens. He’s just a baller. You put him out there and he makes plays.” 

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

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USA Today Sports Images

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

Sunday will mark Kendall Wright’s first trip back to Nashville since he not-so-amicably split with the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 season. 

Wright has said he doesn’t want to talk about his time in Tennessee, where injuries and clashes with coaches led to a steady decline in targets and production after a standout 2013 season (139 targets, 94 receptions, 1,079 yards). But it’s easy to compare how he feels practicing with the Bears to how he felt toward the end of his days with the Titans. 

“A fresh start is good,” Wright said. “Football is fun again. 

“If you don’t have fun playing the game, what the use of you playing? And I didn’t really have too much fun the past few years. But when you’re out here playing and doing what you love to do, it’s fun. So you just gotta keep the game fun.”

Wright was a little more forceful earlier this year. 

“What motivates me the most is I probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year and I was playing, like, 10 plays a game,” Wright said during OTAs in June. 

But while this weekend’s game against the Titans could seem to be an opportunity for revenge, Wright is more approaching it for what it is — another preseason game to continue to improve with the rest of the first team offense. 

Wright caught a touchdown from  Glennon Saturday night in Arizona (he also was the target on Glennon’s interception, though that looked to be more on the quarterback than the receiver). And he seems to be clearly ahead of Victor Cruz to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver — Cruz wasn’t targeted against Arizona, while Wright received three targets. 

If the Glennon-led first-team offense is going to have success in the regular season, it needs improvements from every unit — quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line — based on what we’ve seen during the preseason. Perhaps a motivated, fun-having Wright, playing for the same offensive coordinator under which he had his best season, can be a part of that. 

“The game of football is supposed to be fun,” Wright said. “Don’t take the fun out of it. You just gotta go out there and have fun and make plays. When you’re making plays, it’s even more fun.”