Moon: Rodgers and Lovie men of one mind?

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Moon: Rodgers and Lovie men of one mind?

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011
Posted: 1:00 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

You have the feeling that Aaron Rodgers and Lovie Smith have undergone some sort of Vulcan mind-meld.

Rodgers, appearing by phone on The Dan Patrick Show Tuesday morning on Comcast SportsNet, didnt hesitate even briefly answering Patricks question: Youll beat the Bears if you guys?

If we dont turn it over, I think, Rodgers said, in the first of three references to turnovers in one answer. They have a defense built by Lovie to really make you go the distance, not allow the big plays.

Big plays indeed cost the Bears dearly in their 2010 loss to the Packers as Rodgers had completions of 20 yards or longer to three different receivers, including ones of 33 and 44 yards to Greg Jennings. Green Bays winning touchdown in Green Bay last season was a 50-yarder to Jennings. The Packers first score in 2009s win No. 2 started with a 62-yard TD run by Ryan Grant.

But Rogers and Smith are of one mind especially on turnovers. The Bears committed 4 turnovers (Jay Cutler interceptions) to zero by the Packers in the 2009 first game. In game two, 2-2.

The Bears were plus-1 when they won in Game Three this season, even in the loss at Lambeau.

Simple point: The Bears need to win the turnover edge to win the game.

Rodgers ran through various defensive players, likening cornerback Charles Tillman to defensive player of the year Charles Woodson.

Theyre opportunistic on defense, Rodgers said. Theyre very athletic across the board so the key to playing Chicago is not to turn the ball over. I think thats the biggest key.

Rodgers confirmed a cordial relationship with Cutler, probably to the chagrin of rivalry purists who never had to ponder texting and Twittering by Sid Luckman, Bart Starr or Jim McMahon with their opposite numbers.

Jay and I are buddies and we hit each other up here and there throughout the season. We probably wont text much this week but Ill look forward to playing him Sunday.

What did we learn?

The Bears and Packers will be conducting their normal levels of scrutinizing each other, both from games against each other and also against particular opponents. What can be gleaned from those is always interesting in itself.

One difficult game to critique was No. 16, which meant everything to the Packers playoff chances and virtually nothing to the Bears. The Bears played their starters throughout but no player prepares to the max and beyond for a game that they know full well doesnt matter.

How much the coaches did is another matter. While it would be simple to assume that the Bears went vanilla against Green Bay on both sides of the ball, the results dont square with that.

The defense allowed 17 points and 379 yards of offense to Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay owned time of possession with nearly 36 minutes on the field.

In the second, meaningless meeting, with nothing to play for, the Bears allowed nearly 100 fewer yards (284), only 10 points and 2.6 yards per rush vs. 6.3 in the teams first game. Green Bays time of possession: 29:20.

And if the Bears were playing not to lose (bodies as well as on the scoreboard), then calling 45 pass plays and getting Cutler sacked six times was a strange way to do it particularly considering that the Bears had won the first game with a saner, safer 30 pass plays (3 sacks).

Maybe what the Bears learned then was what not to do against the scheming of Dom Capers.

And what to do: Matt Forte and Chester Taylor ran 14 times in the first game for 38 yards (2.7 per carry). They called 18 runs tailback runs in the second game and averaged 5.6 (102 yards).

If Cutler is called on to throw 45 times and is sacked six times in a one-score game this Sunday, Mike Martz should be fired. On the spot.

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.

2017 Bears Draft class and remaining picks

2017 Bears Draft class and remaining picks

The Bears made some waves just 10 minutes into the 2017 NFL Draft, sending four picks to the San Francisco 49ers to move up one spot and select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky second overall.

That package included two picks from Friday's Day 2 of the draft — the 67th overall pick and the 111th selection.

So what do the Bears have remaining?

Ryan Pace and Co. can still trade down in the second round — something they did twice last spring. But as of Friday afternoon, this is where things stand:

Round 2: Pick 4 (36th overall)
Round 4: Pick 10 (117th)
Round 5: Pick 3 (147th)
Round 7: Pick 3 (221)

The Bears will also be short a third-round pick in 2018 as part of the deal for Trubisky.

On second thoughts: Looking deeper at Bears gamble on Mitch Trubisky

On second thoughts: Looking deeper at Bears gamble on Mitch Trubisky

Upon further review and in the light of day, some observations and perspectives on the Bears’ epic trade of multiple meaningful draft choices to move up one spot in the 2017 first round to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky….

…So much for expert analysis. Maybe the 2017 quarterback draft class wasn’t as bad as its advance reviews. Three quarterbacks went in the Top 12 picks, and all three teams selecting them (Bears, Kansas City, Houston) traded, not down, but up to grab their guys (Trubisky, Pat Mahomes, DeShaun Watson).

Meaning: Pace didn’t panic in making the jump; he’d gotten calls from those teams looking to deal up for a quarterback, so he didn’t get bamboozled by 49ers GM John Lynch. When Pace didn’t want to deal with the Browns, Chiefs or Texans, he rightly figured he wasn’t their last call, in fact probably was their first.

And the coaches involved the Chiefs’ and Texans’ know something about good quarterbacks. Andy Reid mentored Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb. Bill O’Brien followed Josh McDaniels as Tom Brady’s quarterbacks coach in New England, then was offensive coordinator before leaving to rebuild the Penn State program.

As a footnote, for as voluminous as the positives were on Watson (including those of this reporter), Reid thought Mahomes was better.

*        *        *

…He doesn’t have a third-rounder this year, but what Pace does with the Bears’ second-round pick will worth serious watching, based on his history. His hit rate at that level is superb; Eddie Goldman in ’15, then trading down a couple times in ’16 and still landing Cody Whitehair, one of the top O-line nuggets from last year’s draft.

And Pace didn’t entirely gut his ’17 draft portfolio. As things stand at this moment, he still goes into Day 3 with a fourth-rounder – one of what he picked up last year in one of those trade-down’s in the second round on the way to Whitehair.

Pace’s tone and demeanor Thursday after Round 1 was noteworthy: He sounded anything but done being draft-aggressive: “There’s avenues, maybe we can acquire more picks, like we did last year. So you’re kind of weighing all that.”

*                 *                 *

… No, the Bears didn’t overpay for moving from No. 3 to No. 2. A one-slot move inside the Top 10 is always pricey, and inside the Top 5 carries a huge premium. As I mentioned Thursday night, Cleveland gave Minnesota three later picks in the 2012 draft to switch places, the Browns going to No. 3 and the Vikings down one to No. 4. The picks (a four, a five, a seven) were less than the Bears paid (two threes, a four), but the Bears were going from 3 to 2, and it involved a quarterback, always a situation with a premium.

Also, and not intended as any slight of the players, but just using the results from Pace’s own draft history: The Bears traded Hroniss Grasu (third round, 2015), Jeremy Langford (fourth round, 2015) and Jonathan Bullard (third round, 2016) to improve their 2017 draft position and secure what they believe will be a franchise quarterback.

Picks in the 3-4 range can be huge hits: Olin Kreutz, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown. They can also be Juaquin Iglesias, Jarron Gilbert or Brock Vereen. Pace didn’t mortgage the future in a wild swing for a franchise QB by trading away, say, a No. 1 (Rick Mirer) or maybe two No. 1’s (Jay Cutler).

*                 *                 *

…The Trubisky move doesn’t dislodge Mike Glennon from his berth as the starter, as long as Glennon is better than Trubisky. But for those hyperventilating with outrage over the signing of Mark Sanchez as a backup, the prospects for Sanchez just dimmed mightily if not all the way to black. Connor Shaw, who has a future, arguably has a better shot at a roster spot than Sanchez, who was insurance.

*                 *                 *

…Were the Bears masking their real intentions with the mass migrations of staff to scout DeShaun Watson, DeShone Kizer and a couple other prospects? Don’t think so. There are less expensive and cumbersome ways to blow smoke and create misperceptions.

More likely, the closer they looked at the Kizers and Watsons, the more doubts they had and the more they liked what they’d seen with Trubisky. Pace personally scouted a handful of his games (a Tarheel buddy in North Carolina text’ed me early last fall and said, “Hey, just FYI: Your GM is here scouting our quarterback”), and the more he saw, the more he liked.

Apparently not so with the other guys.