Chicago Bears

Moon: No major changes needed for playoffs

332652.jpg

Moon: No major changes needed for playoffs

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011
3:06 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Jay Cutler doesnt like pressure. He doesnt like it in his face when hes wearing a helmet and he doesnt particularly care for it when its in the form of questioning him.

So when the issue was raised Wednesday about what the Bears might see a need to change in the wake of the Green Bay experience, Cutler cut the question short.

Were not fixing anything, he said abruptly. Were going to run our offense exactly how weve been running it. We took a look at the film and learned from it, corrected the mistakes we had to correct.

But were not changing anything. Were not going to let off what were doing. I think the guys have a very good belief in what were doing and know why we do it.

Well, OK, then.

Not making radical changes is without question the sensible approach, even for an offense that ranks 30th in yardage (28th in passing yards) and 21st in scoring. The Bears have struggled through portions of this season just mastering their Mike Martz offense and to start introducing gimmicks is far more likely to do damage than good.

There are some things we look at that I think wed like to try to do, Martz said, then qualified that, maybe. Were very well aware of any shortcomings that we have and well try to address them for this playoff.

Besides, said receiver Earl Bennett, we know what we can do, what type of team we are, and weve just got to go execute it, and feel like were able to do that.

What didnt work

The Chicago offense has defied typecasting in 2010, which makes any obstinance or defiance on the part of Cutler, Martz or others marginally understandable.

The simplest reason lies in the fact that as the season went on, in a business where trends are significantly more important than averages, the Bears got better offensively.

Cutler had 100-plus passer ratings in the first two games of 2010. Then he went missing in the stretch when the Bears were losing three of four, with the only victory coming in the game he sat out with a concussion.

But he posted 100-plus ratings in four of the final six games, melting down in the Green Bay and New England games.

His teams remain undefeated (21-0) in games when he reaches the 100-rating mark.

What has not worked for the Bears is when Martz and the offense has asked Cutler to carry the offense. He simply cannot. He is not Montana, Elway, Favre, Manning, Brady, and given that he is in his fifth NFL season, he likely never will be.

The flop in Green Bay that saw the Bears score 3 points and Cutler throw at a 43.5-rating rate revealed some of the limits the Bears need to avoid. Indeed, that result confirmed that the Bears in fact do not need to change what theyre doing, as long as its what they were doing since the off week and not what they did Sunday afternoon.

The last 12 plays were probably passes, I think, all passes, Martz said. Other than that, I think we had 23 called runs and 24 called passes or somewhere there were a couple of plays in between there but we were trying to get something going in the passing game on first down a little bit more than maybe what we have in the past.

We didnt make any of those plays, and weve got to make them, obviously. We had eight opportunities in the passing game to make really big plays, and we didnt make one of them, which is not like us. Im very disappointed in that. And of course if you dont make the play on first down, you give them second and 10 and so forth and so on. So that was unlike us, both in terms of the numbers and performance, I think, in the passing game, really.

So, change things? Not likely.

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.

Pernell McPhee placed on PUP list to start Bears training camp for second straight year

Pernell McPhee placed on PUP list to start Bears training camp for second straight year

After expressing optimism earlier Wednesday that he wouldn't have a player begin training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, general manager Ryan Pace's first major free agent signing will be held out when practices begin Thursday morning.

For the second straight camp, linebacker Pernell McPhee will be sidelined by a knee problem that's plagued him his first two seasons with the Bears. He'll still be able to attend meetings and receive treatment in Bourbonnais and can be activated at any time. 

A year ago, McPhee was coming off knee surgery and was on injured reserve the first six weeks of the season. He'd spent this off-season getting his weight down to decrease stress on the knee, but when physicals and conditioning tests were held Wednesday, the team determined to hold him out. McPhee was actually recovering from offseason labrum surgery, but their announcement only specifically mentioned the knee.

With several other players coming off injuries and being limited during OTAs and minicamp, it's not certain Wednesday night's announcement means McPhee will be the only player starting camp on PUP. Among others, Kyle Long, Zach Miller, Eddie Jackson, and Jeremy Langford were easing their way back from surgeries. Josh Sitton was another, and John Fox revealed Wednesday Sitton won't join the team until Saturday after his wife gave birth.

With McPhee sidelined, two other outside linebackers coming off surgery, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston would be set for more practice time at the position, along with Leonard Floyd, Dan Skuta and Sam Acho.

Thursday's opening practice is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. at Olivet Nazarene and will not include pads.

You can hold your fantasy football draft at Soldier Field this year

soldier_field_fantasy_event_slide.jpg

You can hold your fantasy football draft at Soldier Field this year

The CSN Fantasy crew is taking its talents on the road.

CSNChicago fantasy analysts Slavko Bekovic and Scott Krinch will join a Chicago Tribune panel of fantasy football experts for a Draft Party at Soldier Field on Thursday, Aug. 24.

It's the ultimate event to kick off the 2017 fantasy football season.

Sponsored by Jewel-Osco, fans will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host their fantasy drafts at Soldier Field, complete with insight and analysis from a panel of experts that includes Bekovic, Krinch, Rich Campbell and Phil Thompson from the Chicago Tribune, Bears broadcaster Jeff Joniak and The Score's Hub Arkush. Derek VanRiper and Kevin O'Brien from RotoWire will also be on hand to provide analysis.

The general admission tickets for fans include access to the Soldier Field press box. VIP tickets will give fans access to the private suites around Soldier Field for their drafts. All fans will receive complimentary food and beverages plus photo opportunities on the field and giveaways.

Head to ChicagoTribune.com/draftparty and follow @ChicagoSports and @CSNFantasy for more information.

The CSN Fantasy crew provides analysis all season long, from weekly podcasts and video segments to written articles that include a focus on the waiver wire as well as start/sit for each week.