Moon: Rodgers asserting dominance over Bears

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Moon: Rodgers asserting dominance over Bears

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011Posted: 12:50 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
The Bears-Packers relationship (rivalry is just tired at this point) has had some interesting pendulum swings. The Bears hope theyre not in one right now.

The Ditka Bears ruled the 80s. Brett Favre ruled the 90s and into the millennium, and Lovie Smith swung it back to Chicago with his 6-2 run vs. Favre.

Now the Aaron Rodgers time is upon the NFC North, and the Bears. He is 5-1 vs. the Detroit Lions, 3-3 vs. Minnesota and 5-2 against the Lovie Smith Bears, an abrupt and concerning reversal of fortunes. The bigger picture is that for one of the rare times in the long-shared history of the two teams, theyre both good at the same time. But thats another story for another time.

Rodgers was 2-1 against the Smith Bears in 2010; more importantly, the wins came in the two games with the most at stake: Game 16, which was a desperate must-win for Green Bay's playoff hopes, and the NFC Championship game with its ticket to the Super Bowl.

The Bears managed to hold Rodgers below his seasons passer rating (100.2) all three times they faced him. Thats the good news.

The bad news is that even with the level of familiarity that the defense has with Rodgers, only three quarterbacks (including Tom Brady and Michael Vick) put up ratings higher than the 89.7 and 92.5 ratings Rodgers put on the Bears. They improved in the NFC Championship game where they held him to a 55.4 rating based on two interceptions in his 30 attempts, made more remarkable because hed been picked off just 11 times in 475 attempts all season.

BTW, if youre paying attention to this sort of thing, the Packers called 28 running plays (including a Rodgers sneak and two kneel-downs) and 35 pass plays (four Rodgers scrambles) in the conference championship game.
Around the NFC North

The Packers (2-0) have injury problems of their own in the secondary all of a sudden, losing Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins done for the season with a neck injury suffered in the Green Bay win at Carolina. Collins left the field on a stretcher, waved to the crowd but this is a blow to the Packers and a scary moment for a quality player. The Packers were down 10-0 at the end of the first quarter and 13-0 before they started back.

The Detroit Lions (2-0) are close to being officially scary. It wasnt just the 48-3 annihilation of the Kansas City Chiefs coming after the week one win over Tampa Bay. It isnt even that the Lions now have won 10 straight games (final four last season, four preseason, two this year). Its that coach Jim Schwartz didnt seem especially delighted with the performance: We can play better.

The Lions will indeed play better if receiver Nate Burleson makes good on his goal of becoming the black Wes Welker, as described in some detail by Michael David Smith for ProFootballTalk.com.

Minnesota (0-2) keeps getting close to good teams but cant quite get over that hump. Week one it was at San Diego and Sunday it was against Tampa Bay. The Vikings, who put drives of 90 and 75 yards on the Bucs got out to a 17-0 lead on Tampa Bay before losing on a TD run with 31 seconds left.

Mikes likes

The Darren Sproles touchdown run not being reviewed properly in Sundays game was among the things ProFootballTalk.coms Mike Florio didnt like from the weekend as voiced on NBC SportsTalk. Mike also didnt like what he saw in the Seattle Seahawks 24-0 embarrassment vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Bears fans had to seriously like that game and 8 first downs that Seattle managed.
Around the schedule

The Bears will very soon get a look at the early runaway favorite for offensive rookie of the year when they see the Carolina Panthers (0-2) the week after Green Bay. Cam Newton followed his 400-yard debut with a 432-yard effort against the Packers. Notable, though, is that Newton threw three interceptions, which is why his passer rating was a pedestrian 72.0. If those start to clean up.

The Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) lost Pro Bowl tailback Jamaal Charles to IR with whats reported to be a torn left ACL in the Detroit game. Right now the Chiefs are looking nothing like the AFC West defending champions.

The Oakland Raiders (1-1) became the latest victims of the suddenly dangerous Buffalo Bills. The eye-popper was that the Bills rushed for 217 yards on the Raiduhs, who saw their victory vanish on a Ryan Fitzpatrick TD pass with 14 seconds to play.

Kyle Orton just wont go away, much as some Denver Broncos (1-1) wish he would. Orton threw two TD passes in the Denver win over Cincinnati, playing a typical Kyle game with 15-of-25 passing for 195 yards and a passer rating of 111.2. The thing to keep an eye on is Willis McGahee, who rushed for 101 yards.
Must-see TV

Longtime buddy Jay Glazer of FOX Sports and FOX TV is going to be a featured segment on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. I havent seen anything on it yet, but the Glaze is one of the better stories youll run across in all of sports.

Glaze has built up an entire MMA presence in addition to his work for FOX, which is among the best anywhere on the NFL. What makes Glaze all the more amazing a story is that there was a time when he couldnt get a job sniff from New York outlets (mostly newspapers at the time) even though he was whacking their beat writers (getting scoopage, as Glaze loved to call it) on a weekly basis as little more than a stringer.

Glaze and I go back quite a few years, had more than a few good times and thisll be fun to watch. Hes a good loyal friend in a business that doesnt use the words good, loyal and friend together often, if ever.

Glaze has his critics (who doesnt?) and I have no idea what tack Bryant and his folks will take. But nobody has ever worked harder than Glaze, whos earned a lot of respect from coaches, players and others within the NFL, and nobody ever gave him anything. He earned it.

Worth a look, trust me.

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 In-Foe: Since last meeting, Lions roar restored

Bears In-Foe: Since last meeting, Lions roar restored

What a difference two months makes. 

Matthew Stafford had his worst game of the season Oct. 2 at Soldier Field (23-of-36, 213 yards, no touchdowns, and two of the five interceptions the Bears have managed all year) in a 17-14 loss that left both teams 1-3. That was the last week the Bears weren't in last place in the NFC North by themselves.

Detroit has won seven of eight since, and is now in the division driver's seat, with a two-game lead over Green Bay and Minnesota (but it's really 2 1/2 over the Vikings after sweeping the season series). The Lions will either have a long memory from the first meeting, or look where the Bears have gone since, as they look forward to a difficult three-game finish if they're to hold on for the first division crown since 1993 (at New York Giants, at Dallas, host Green Bay).

Sunday's win in New Orleans was the first time the Lions hadn't trailed in the fourth quarter all season, with a start-to-finish 28-13 victory. While they had to settle for field goals on four of their trips to the red zone, they also answered the bell in a hostile environment.

The Saints had just scored to get to within 19-13 early in the fourth quarter. Facing a 3rd-and-10 from their own 34, Golden Tate got open for a 66-yard catch and score to quiet the Superdome. Yes, that's the same Tate who was benched during a one-catch-for-one-yard afternoon on the lakefront opposite Tracy Porter. 

The Golden Domer, admittedly dwelling on numbers following the retirement of Calvin Johnson, got the message. He's had 165- and 145-yard games (Sunday's was the latter) since, and seems back to his former self, up to 65 catches while ranking third among receivers in yards-after-catch. That's come as Marvin Jones has been hobbled by injuries since entering the first meeting with 118- and 205-yard efforts.

Ageless Anquan Boldin has caught six of Stafford's 21 touchdown passes, while Theo Riddick has five in ranking third among running backs with 53 receptions. While his 3.9-yard average fronts a 29th-ranked run game that's churning out just 81 yards per contest after the early loss of Ameer Abdullah, it's part of what's made this turnaround all the more impressive if you're into stats.

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The Lions are just 18th in points per game (22.9), entered Monday night 21st in yards (337.3), and middle-of-the-pack in red-zone touchdown percentage (55.9). Yet they're finding ways to win to make head coach Jim Caldwell's seat considerably cooler after a turnover in management. 

Speaking of turnover, even though he gave it up twice in Week 4 to the Bears, Stafford's been intercepted just 10 times over his last 23 games (with 47 touchdown passes). He set a franchise record by completing 13 straight passes Sunday. He ranks eighth in the NFL in completion percentage (67.2) this season, sixth in passer rating (100.5) and 10th in passing yards (3,224). 

After an injury-plagued first couple of seasons in which he was a Jay Cutler-like gunslinger, he's truly, finally, evolved into the franchise quarterback the Lions envisioned when they used the top pick in the 2009 draft on him, especially after Jim Bob Cooter took over play-calling duties midway through last season. His knack for comebacks (as noted this year above), keeps his team in games, and he's done it all along with shaky, at best, offensive lines.

The current makeup finds first-round pick Taylor Decker protecting his blind side, third-round rookie Graham Glasgow (from Marmion Military Academy) at left guard (supplanting struggling 2015 top pick Laken Tomlinson out of Lane Tech). 

Third-year third-rounder Travis Swanson continues holding down center, flanked on his right by 2013 third-rounder Larry Warford. Riley Rieff was once thought to be the left tackle of the future, but the 2012 first-rounder's been switched to the right edge in what may be his last season in Motown. 

Physically-gifted top 2014 choice Eric Ebron has been slow to blossom at tight end in an injury-plagued start to his pro career. He missed three games after the first meeting with foot and ankle woes, had a pair of seven-catch games upon his return, but has cooled down some since, while not scoring since the season opener.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the Bears getting better?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the Bears getting better?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) plus former Bears Jason McKie and Patrick Mannelly join Kap on the panel. The Bears win but are they getting better or did they just crush an awful team?

Rajon Rondo gets suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team. Will he be suspended again?

Plus CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes has the latest on the Chris Sale watch and does Big Ten Champion Penn State have a legitmate gripe about not making the playoffs?

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: