Moon: Fake punt was turning point for Bears

Moon: Fake punt was turning point for Bears

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
6:09 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears came into Sundays game ranked No. 3 in points allowed (17.3) and the Jets were fifth at 18.5 given up per game. The Bears topped those combined numbers by themselves and the Jets nearly did as well.

Was what should have been expected from a game most thought would be a defensive struggle? Absolutely.

It was a defensive struggle, linebacker Lance Briggs said, laughing. Both defenses struggled.

Big arm
The Bears and Denver Broncos are a combined 21-0 when Jay Cutler posts a passer rating of 100 or better, including Sundays 104.2 mark. Cutlers three touchdown passes in the third quarter pushed him to 50 as a Bear, passing George Blanda (48) and into a tie with Jim Harbaugh. He also is the first Bears quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a quarter since Erik Kramer accomplished that on Sept. 24, 1995 against the St. Louis Rams.

The Jets show a lot of crazy defensive looks, Cutler said. Once weonce I settled down, the offensive line played exceptional all game long, gave us a lot of time and the receivers made some plays for us.

Happy losers

The Jets backed into the AFC playoffs by virtue of the Jacksonville Jaguars losing to the Washington Redskins, occasioning cheers in the losers locker room after Sundays loss.

Im a huge Redskins fan, I can tell you that right now, and I appreciate it, said Jets coach Rex Ryan. We wanted to win to get in without question. We never got it done.

For the record, the Jets are a worthy wild-card team. They reached the AFC Championship game last season as a wild card before losing to the Indianapolis Colts.
Timing, timing

Chris Harris interception of Mark Sanchezs final pass was his fifth pick of the season, a career high and all since the Bears off week to give him six takeaways in the last eight games, seven of them Bears wins. It was also the third fourth-quarter interception of the season for Harris, to go with his game-saver against Buffalo and one on the Bears last defensive play in the first Minnesota game.

46 is a playmaker, Lance Briggs said. Im so glad to have him back on this squad.

What made Sundays particularly impressive was that, while he did not exactly set Sanchez up, he thought right along with and ultimately one step ahead of the Jets quarterback.

I had a feeling that was coming. I wasnt completely sure but when I saw the release of Santonio Holmes, I said, This might be the play. Sanchez was staring down the middle and pump-faked it to the middle, I didnt bite on it and just took off.

Duly noted

Robbie Goulds 37-yard field goal in the first quarter made him the first in franchise history to score 100 points in five consecutive seasons. Center Olin Kreutz tied Walter Payton at third on the Bears all-time list with his 190th game played, 133 of them consecutive starts.

Tommie Harris started his third straight game back at DT. He blew up the Jets first play, a couple yards into the backfield, despite a holding penalty flagged on his blocker.Julius Peppers dropped inside for a third-down rush from defensive tackle, Henry Melton going out to right end. The Jets pass into the end zone was incomplete.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub packaged Devin Hester as the deep returner on a kickoff, with Danieal Manning and Rashied Davis as up-returners. The Jets took them all out of play with a squib kickoff.

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.”