Moon: Should Bears address OT first?


Moon: Should Bears address OT first?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted: 11:00 a.m.By John Mullin

A question facing the Bears later this month remains whether or not, with needs on both the offensive and defensive lines, can they afford to wait on grabbing one or the other at No. 29.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks the Bears can get an immediate starter at offensive line, specifically a tackle, with that 29th-overall pick, possibly Colorados Nate Solder or Mississippi States Derek Sherrod.

But the Bears are high enough on JMarcus Webb to plan on moving him to left tackle. Chris Williams hasnt proved that hes a lock-down starter anywhere, although he had his best days at right tackle in the final third of 2009. So the need may not be truly at tackle, a spot where landing a rookie starter like Webb turned out to be is a rarity.

Kiper confirmed that the Bears could wait until the second round to address defensive tackle, perhaps with someone like Marvin Austin out of North Carolina or Miami DEDT Allen Bailey (6-3, 285). The problem with Austin, however, is a possible character flag since he was suspended and missed 2010 for improper dealings with an agent; Jerry Angelo was burned badly the last time he took a character question mark in the second round (Tank Johnson) and chances of him risking that again with Austin is virtually nil.

The third round will be where matters turn especially interesting. My own guess is that the Bears will look inside on the offensive line before they take a tackle, depending on grades obviously, but Kiper sees a number of centerguard types being there for the Bears in the third round, including Wisconsins John Moffitt (6-4, 315) or Stefen Wisniewski (6-3, 295) from Penn State. Theres a lot of those centerguard guys to look at, Kiper said.

But protecting Cutler is front and center, Mel said, speaking in a voice sounding suspiciously like Mike Martzs.
Backer thoughts

The Bears have two linebackers in place, both veterans in Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. That also ties up substantial payroll, meaning the Bears will not invest heavily at the position in free agency, particular for a player who projects to be a two-down role fit at least until either Briggs or Urlacher are substantially less productive.

The intrigue for drafting a linebacker is choosing one that fits a 4-3, which the Bears play, vs. one that fits a 3-4, which Green Bay and myriad other teams play. The clear first choice for the latter remains Von Miller out of Texas A&M, who is being compared physically to Lawrence Taylor, who created the rush linebacker type who is a hybrid backerDE.

When he comes around the edge, I dont know how he keeps his feet sometimes, Kiper said, noting that Miller also is the only senior among his top 12 players. If hes going to be a great player in the NFL, its going to be how he gets after the quarterback, not how he plays the run.

Kiper has seen more success than failure in the Miller types. A lot of these 3-4 guys have made it big, Kiper said. New York Jets linebacker Vernon Gholston is one of the few busts.

Carolina watchin
Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers have the first-overall pick of the draft. They also have former Notre Damer Jimmy Clausen as their quarterback, a second-round pick, and one school of thought says Clausen is worth waiting on to develop, rather than jumping at a quarterback with that No. 1 pick, presumably Missouris Blaine Gabbert.

Based on what I know about Jimmy Clausen, I would trade out of there, move down and get a Nick Fairley, KIper said. Defensive linemen with high grades are going to go down to No. 18.

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.

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

Some decisions have ways of simply making themselves. Decisions like, say, who will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Regrettably, one aspect of that decision was made for the Bears when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken left arm in the second quarter of Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. At that moment the Hoyer-or-Cutler question was rendered moot. As FOX’s Jay Glazer had reported, the No. 1 job was Hoyer’s to lose, and the injury unfortunately took care of that. Coaches never had to make that decision.

This is clearly not the way Cutler would like to have been returned to his job. No player is pleased to have an opportunity made possible by a catastrophic injury to a teammate.

Bigger picture: The 2016 season was always a prove-it year for Jay Cutler, more so than even last year because of guaranteed money, which is now gone. The rest of the 2016 now becomes a condensed prove-it crucible, where Cutler is playing for his job in Chicago or his next team. His price for 2017 ($15 million) is modest by starter standards, but so is his resume.

Without a strong final nine games, assuming his injured thumb is sufficiently recovered after nearly six weeks off, Cutler may find himself as next offseason’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, sort-of wanted by a team but for money nowhere close to the value he and his agent had in mind.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The play of rookies Dak Presott in Dallas and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia will reinforce the message that you can start and win with a rookie right away, which projects to depress any Cutler market. Why pay a marginal veteran, which Cutler has been and certainly is at this point and age (34 next April), when a rookie can be had at a fraction of the cost?

Without a massive contract renegotiation, a scenario of Cutler staying on as a bridge to a young successor is beyond a longshot. Hoyer, far more likely to fit that role, and his price will not approach Cutler’s.

Cutler now has his second chance. Whether he likes it or not, it’s an audition.

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

Bears Grades: Defense wears down under assault from Aaron Rodgers and Packers

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — It was a bright spot, a small one on an otherwise dismal night of losing to the Green Bay Packers. But it was at least something.

After struggling for months to stay healthy and gain NFL weight, Leonard Floyd finally played like the ninth-overall pick of an NFL draft.

The rookie outside linebacker collected a sack in the first half, then exploded past Green Bay right tackle Brian Bulaga as part of stunt with fellow linebacker Willie Young on the third play of the second quarter for a second sack of Aaron Rodgers, one that came with a strip of the football and recovery in the end zone.

"We had a great play called,” Floyd said. “Willie came down and picked the guard for me and I looped around and the play was done and I made it. It felt great [to get a touchdown], but at the end of the day I wanted a win."

That was one of the very few bright spots as the Packers piled up 311 yards through three quarters, at times using wide receivers Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery as running backs because of injuries. The drumbeat continued with touchdowns on three straight Green Bay possessions in the late third and early fourth quarters.

The defense has allowed 23 or more points in five of seven games this season, with the Packers rolling off consecutive touchdown drives of 85, 84 and 57 in the second half as the Bears were limited to 2:49 time of possession in the fourth quarter.

“It helps when you’re playing [defense], to actually have a little bit of a break,” head coach John Fox said. “Unfortunately in the second half, I think that probably caught up with us a little bit.”

The defense had its fullest complement of personnel yet this season, with outside linebackers Floyd and Pernell McPhee both active (McPhee for the first time this year following offseason knee surgery), in addition to starting cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Tracy Porter, both of whom were injured during the Jacksonville game. It was not enough.

[BEARS GRADES: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers]

Defensive line: F

The interior of the line was quiet for most of the game, with wide receivers lining up as running backs averaged more than five yards per carry. Cornelius Washington had the only hit by a defensive lineman on Rodgers as the line rarely collapsed the pocket with center-push or even kept him in the pocket.

Linebacker: B-

Floyd started after two games inactive and a zero stat sheet vs. Detroit. He struggled too often getting disengaged from Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari at the outset before breaking through with second effort for his first career solo sack. That was topped by the strip-sack and recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter. Floyd had a third hit on Rodgers and a tackle for loss.

"It is very tough,” Floyd said. “He gets the ball out pretty quickly. You just have to keep rushing every snap. He is at his best when he is scrambling around playing backyard football."

McPhee was a welcome addition to a slumping defense, even in his limited capacity (19 snaps). McPhee was not credited with any tackles but was surprisingly fast off the ball initially, and got penetration to alter running lanes and some pressure on Rodgers, although he appeared to slow somewhat, not unexpected considering how limited he has been throughout the year because of the surgery.

Sam Acho provided some edge pressure with two hits on Rodgers and a pass deflected. Jerrell Freeman had a quarterback hit and delivered a game-high 13 tackles.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Secondary: D

The secondary was forced to cover long into plays because of absent pressure on Rodgers but the coverage had its own problems with an offense that threw 56 times but was never intercepted. Three Green Bay receivers totaled double-digit receptions: Davante Adams (13), Cobb (11) and Montgomery (10).

Cre’Von LeBlanc started at corner as the Bears opened with six defensive backs, and delivered a goal-line stop in the first quarter, stuffing Montgomery, who was used as a running back because of injuries to the Green Bay backfield. LeBlanc finished with seven tackles and a hit blitzing Rodgers.

Porter matched up with Jordy Nelson and allowed the Green Bay wideout just one catch on four targets through three quarters. But breakdowns were deadly, allowing the Packers to stage their two longest scoring drives of the season in the second half. The second came when Porter and safety Harold Jones-Quartey both covered the same man in the end zone early in the fourth quarter, leaving Adams alone for his second TD catch of the game.

Adrian Amos interfered with Nelson to give the Packers a 44-yard penalty pickup in the first quarter. De’Vante Bausby had a number of solid plays despite a lack of meaningful pressure from the front. But Bausby had two holding penalties on the Packers’ second fourth-quarter scoring drive.

"There were a lot of penalties out there.,” Bausby said. “We had a good scheme and plan, but we just didn't finish in the second half as a group. Facing Rodgers is a challenge, but I felt like our play calling was excellent. We just didn't finish."

Special teams: B

Connor Barth converted from 39 yards to tie the game in the second quarter. It was Barth’s seventh in his last eight attempts. Pat O’Donnell turned in another strong night punting, averaging 43.8 net on five punts. Coverage helped keep three of those inside the 20.