Moon: Cleaning out the notebook the day after...

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Moon: Cleaning out the notebook the day after...

Monday, Nov. 29, 2010
10:14 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Any doubt about the absolute importance of the Bears running the ball often as much as well, hopefully in Mike Martzs mind, should be forever dispelled after what the offense did to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Matt Forte ran for 117 yards on 14 carries and now has a rushing average of 4.2, something that has been the case too seldom in his two-plus year career. But Sunday was his seventh 100-yard rushing game, it was the first 100-yard rushing game against Philadelphia this season, and the Bears are 7-0 in games when Forte runs into triple figures.

Dont for a moment dismiss the yardage total because 61 of the yards came on one run and 28 on another, meaning that Forte averaged 2.3 on the other 12 runs. Big runs come because they have enough chances to happen and Martz is giving his tailback enough chances.

And also dont dismiss entirely the lack of production from Chester Taylor, who had minus-3 yards on 6 carries. The 6 carries and pass protection were contributions and thats what the Bears need from their backs. The yards will come, either passing or running, if the offense shows it can and will do both.

Nice calls

Compliments to old buddy Jay Glazer, NFL maven for FOXSports.com, who told CSNChicago.com back in training camp that the Bears were his NFC darkhorse. Glaze also had the Miami Dolphins as a quiet one to watch in the AFC. The Dolphins problem is being stuck in an AFC East with the New England Patriots and New York Jets, but thats a team that is 5-1 on the road and managing to play with huge injury issues at quarterback.

Lets not be too hard on another good friend, Peter King, for still ranking the Green Bay Packers (No. 4) ahead of the Bears (No. 5) in his excellent Monday Morning Quarterback". Peter still has doubts about the Bears offensive line, which is reasonable. But Peter somehow doesnt seem to have significant questions about Green Bays ability to run the football and he still sees the Packers playing in the NFC Championship game.

Peters in-depth look at the goofy Josh McDaniels-videoGate situation in Denver, plus Ron Riveras great job in San Diego, are definitely worth looks.

Stat-ing

On the subject of handling the football

Martz called 16 pass plays in the first half vs. 7 handoffs to Forte and Taylor. Jay Cutler was sacked four times and ran twice. In the second half, with a run game established in the form of Fortes 61-yard excursion, Martz had Cutler throw 11 times vs. Forte, Taylor and Devin Hester (handoff from Wildcat QB Earl Bennett) running ball 14 times. Cutler wasnt sacked, although he did set off on runs five times, which ultimately takes a toll on defensive linemen forced to pursue and put that threat in the minds of opposing secondaries.

Of those 11 second-half passes, five went to other than wide receivers, who were the only targets in the first half. Tight ends were 2-for-2 with Greg Olsen scoring on his one catch and Brandon Manumaleuna creating a first-and-goal with his. Forte was targeted three times in the second half, meaning that Cutler threw six times to wideouts in the second half and five times elsewhere. Good distribution.

Cutler morph

Jay Cutler has been a passer throughout his career. What he has become over the past four games is a quarterback. Theres difference, a huge one.

As Ive stated previously, Cutler is in no way a game manager, which has wrongly been assigned a negative connotation by some. (No one calls Tom Brady or (usually) Peyton Manning a game manager but are there any better ones?) Kyle Orton wasis a game manager and the Bears went 10-5 behind him in 2005 so thats not a bad thing necessarily.

But Cutler becoming a quarterback is without question the most significant development of 2010, bigger even than the signing of Julius Peppers. Taking a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty in Sundays fourth quarter for continuing a rant at an officials non-call was beneath stupid and beyond immature. But Cutler has grown up as a football player as this season has gone on. And if he can grow up as a football player, finally, the suspicion would also be that he can grow up as a person as well, which is what being a quarterback and a leader is all about.

Hell be back?

Could Brett Favre be swayed into coming back for one more year one more time? Theres suddenly a little buzz coming out of Minnesota with the elevation of class guy Leslie Frazier to head coach and all Favre ever seems to need is a little buzz from somewhere.

Frazier earned a Gatorade shower (the invention of the 1984 Bears, by the way, not the New York Giants) with the Vikings win over Washington. Next they have the Buffalo Bills coming, a probable win in the first of three straight home games. After that they host the New York Giants and finally the Bears on MNF.

The Minnesota answer doesnt lie in Tavaris Jackson. I dont see Frazier or any more teammates traveling to Mississippi to beg Favre back this time, but Favre leaving on a down note (which his 010 has been) somehow doesnt seem like the gimme it did a little while ago with Brad Childress there.

Ya never know, ya know?

Hell be back!

A little bit of your football heart has to go out to Buffalo Bills wideout Steve Johnson, who has been nothing short of an emerging star playing to the limit for a team with nothing to play for each week. Johnson had and dropped what would have been a game-winning touchdown against none other than the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday and was near tears standing up to the questions afterwards.

Ill never get over it, said Johnson, who burned the Bears for 11 catches and 145 yards up in Toronto. Ill never get it. Ever.

Just guessing, but Johnson will. And you want him to. Hes never stopped caring and thats a good thing.

Oooops

Still think the Bears should have gone after Randy Moss so they could finally have a true No. 1 receiver (whatever that is)? Call the Tennessee Titans; you can probably still get him. Moss line: three games, all losses, 4 receptions, zero TDs.

Sad story

Sympathies go out to those close to the young man who died in a fall at Soldier Field Sunday. Police were still investigating late Sundayearly Monday but regardless of circumstances, that puts a sad pall over the day.

Lez talk

Probably one or two things to e-talk about tonight on the Monday night chat, 7-8 p.m. on CSNChicago.com. Let me know what you think.

Will check in about 4:40 p.m.with Larry and Don and central Illinois on SportsRadio 1450 WFMB-AM in Springfield for our weekly Bears catch-up. Always fun with the guys and that area of BearsNation.

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 announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”