Moon: This game is more than just another game


Moon: This game is more than just another game

Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011
Posted: 12:01 a.m.

By JohnMullin BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin Ron Rivera will not be on the playing field Sunday but make no mistake: He will be a key figure in the game between the Bears and his Carolina Panthers.

Rivera was let go after the 2006 season despite the Bears reaching the Super Bowl. Exact reasons are always difficult to discern -- he and Lovie Smith had increasing differences over schemes; Smith grew tired of Rivera in an annual hunt for a head-coaching job; Rivera was becoming too much of a media darling for a defense that ultimately was Smiths purview.

Where the truth ultimately lies doesnt matter at all at this point. And it does not diminish the regard in which he is still held by his former players.

He was the ultimate players coach, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. You could talk to him about anything.

He wasnt a bitch coach he didnt bitch at you. He would relay his message to you but not where it was demeaning to you. And you definitely got his message.

Rivera has been successful at every stop in his NFL career. He was a member of the 1985 Bears, a second-round pick in the 1984 draft. When he moved into coaching, he was a success with the Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2003), the Bears (2004-2006) and the San Diego Chargers (linebackers coach first, then defensive coordinator). Taking over the woeful Panthers, he already has achieved one-half the victory total for Carolinas full 2010 season.

Lance Briggs was moved from strong-side to weak-side linebacker after Smith and Rivera arrived in 2004, a change that opened the career path for Briggs.

For me, Ron Rivera was just someone who would tell me how difficult it is to make a play, but at the same time, if I can make that play 'we'll shut this play down and you will help our team to win this game,' Briggs said. He had a way of explaining things to a player, to inspire him, and it also let me know that he was there.

He'll tell you, 'That's not an easy play for anybody to make, but if you can make that play, you will shut this play down.' For me, that helps in a lot of ways. I've gone through life with a lot of coaches who say, 'Just do it this way because I told you to do it.' Everybody kind of felt the same way about him."

The feelings are mutual. And this game is more than just another game.

Personally, it means a lot, because its Chicago, Rivera said. Its a great city and the citys been very good to me. The organizations been outstanding. Its kind of a homecoming. I was there for 17 years and its been outstanding.

And Ive told the players, Hey, Chicagos a great city and its been good to me. Im looking forward to coming back and being at Soldier Field.


The Panthers are with the Bears among the bottom-feeders at rushing the football, averaging just 3.3 yards per rush vs. the Bears 3.2.

Ironically, teams can win without being a dominant rushing team. The Detroit Lions average 2.8 yards per carry and are 3-0. San Francisco has gotten to 2-1 despite stumbling along at 2.5 yards per rush. And the Tennessee Titans, with franchise back Chris Johnson, also is at 2-1 despite a 2.4-yard average.

One big difference, however: The Lions have averaged 28 rushes per game, the 49ers 28 and the Titans 22. The Bears average 17.

We have to run and we will, offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. Thats one thing we can do: we can run the football. Well get that right. I have confidence in our ability to run the ball.

The big fella(s)

One of Urlachers assignments often was to spy a mobile quarterback, which he did with a Michael Vick and others. Those also included Minnesota Viking Daunte Culpepper, who was a size-match for Urlacher and then some.

Cam Newton is perhaps a better all-around athlete than Culpepper but he doesn't engender the kind of impact, literally, that Culpepper did.

Hes not like Daunte Culpepper, Urlacher said. Hes not that big. Daunte was big, thick. I dont see Cam as being thick. But theyre all big. Peyton Manning is 6-6, theyre all tall. Its not a big deal.

Were pretty tall, too.


The firestorm has not abated around Jeff Pearlmans new biography of Walter Payton, Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, as chronicled by (http:tinyurl.com4yadbww).

Former Payton agent and attorney Bud Holmes declared via TMZ that Payton was not hooked on drugs, did not abuse drugs or use illegal drugs. Holmes is quoted in the book as saying Payton was pounding his body with medication.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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 Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?


Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?

Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down where the Bears go at QB following Brian Hoyer’s injury and evaluate the defense’s gutsy performance on Thursday night against the Packers despite numerous injuries. Plus, a look at the big picture and who can help the Bears down the road.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here:

Bears Grades: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers

Bears Grades: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers

GREEN BAY, Wisc. – The Bears could scarcely have started off any worse Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers, with exactly one positive play in the entire first quarter.

And then things got bad.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer, having his worst outing since succeeding Jay Cutler, sustained a broken left forearm when he was hit by Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers after releasing a second-quarter pass. Matt Barkley replaced Hoyer, but the focus now centers on Jay Cutler returning from a thumb injury suffered in game two vs. Philadelphia, and Cutler starting a week from Monday in Soldier Field against the currently undefeated Minnesota Vikings.

“When [Cutler’s return] is going to be,” said coach John Fox, “I can’t say.”

Regardless of the quarterback, the offense showed none of the efficiency exhibited in the last four games under Hoyer. The Packers were good enough to encroach before the first snap; after the gratis five yards, the Bears netted exactly zero on three snaps before punting. The Bears failed to gain a yard on eight of their first nine plays

By the end of the first half the Bears were without both starting guards and their starting quarterback, with left guard Josh Sitton inactive due to an ankle injury and Kyle Long sidelined in the second quarter.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The offensive finished with 189 total yards, the lowest Bears total since game three of the 2015 season, in Seattle against the Seahawks (146).

“It was just a weird night,” said tight end Zach Miller.

Quarterback: F-    

Brian Hoyer was uncharacteristically inaccurate in the first half, missing on five of his first six passes and finished with 4-for-11 passing for 49 yards and a 50.9 rating. Worst of all, he overthrew a wide open Josh Bellamy on a seam route in the second quarter with Bellamy well behind the defense.

Matt Barkley, who last threw passes (three, all incomplete) for the Philadelphia Eagles in November 2014, fared poorly, not unexpectedly. Barkley completed six of 15 throws, was sacked once and threw two interceptions.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen the next couple weeks,” said Barkley, alluding to the uncertain status of Cutler. “I know I can do the job. ... I know I’m better than that.”

Running back: D+

With Hoyer gone, the Packers clamped down on the Bears’ rushing plans. But Ka’Deem Carey did an excellent job of gaining yards after contact, both on rushes and pass receptions. Carey finished with 48 rushing yards on 10 carries and caught his only pass target for nine.

Jordan Howard was completely shut down in the first quarter but recovered somewhat with an 11-yard carry and another for nine.

Receivers: B-

Quarterback issues and glaring inaccuracies rendered receivers as largely non-factors. Josh Bellamy gave the Bears their only positive play in the first quarter, with a 25-yard catch for a third-down conversion.

But while Alshon Jeffery was targeted 11 times, he finished with only three receptions. Zach Miller caught two of five. “You have to dial it back a little bit,” Miller said, “but we tried to stick to the game plan.”

Offensive line: D

The line was without Josh Sitton (inactive because of an ankle injury). Eric Kush started at left guard, his second NFL start since coming into the league in 2013.

Protection was about as good as could be expected overall, with Barkley taking one sack and Hoyer taking the huge hit on which he suffered his broken arm. But the Packers managed just five total hits on Bears quarterbacks and the run game averaged 3.8 yards per carry.

Coaching: C

What coaches could have done differently with the personnel available is difficult to analyze. Eventually the defense caved in because of the offense being unable to generate any continuity.