Moon: A tree grows in... the NFL


Moon: A tree grows in... the NFL

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010
1:20 p.m.

By John Mullin

It is common to talk about a coaching tree, the assistants who apprenticed under a Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick, Tom Landry or whomever and who have gone on to coach in the NFL. But if there is a stronger root system than the Buddy Ryan tree, its hard to see.

Its just that theyre players, not just coaches.

Ex-Buddy linebacker Ron Rivera as defensive coordinator has the San Diego Chargers No. 1 in the league. Cornerback Leslie Frazier is the interim head coach in Minnesota and could have the interim tag removed, if his players decide that quitting on one head coach (Brad Childress) in a season was enough.

Buddy backer Mike Singletary is hanging on in San Francisco and defensive back Jeff Fisher has made the Tennessee Titans into a perennial power.

And the Ryan tree crosses generational lines, with son Rex getting the New York Jets to the AFC Championship game last season in his first year as a head coach and to 10-4 in his second.

Its really something, Ryan said. A lot of stems from Mike Ditka and the type of leader he was. I think, sometimes hes underrated because hes such a tough guy and personality but hes a hell of a coach and a heck of a leader.

Buddy hasnt meddled in his sons (Rex and Rob, Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator) but the leaf never falls too far from the tree, coaching or otherwise.

Were probably similar and if it is its probably a great compliment, Rex said. I dont try to go out and be my father. Im just myself. Thats the way any successful coach has to be. You just have to go be yourself and believe in yourself.

The reason Ive been successful throughout my career and here with the Jets is the people Im with. Obviously, it starts with the players and then it goes to the coaches youre around. Ive got a staff right here that I think is a tremendous coaching staff, and these guys dont coach for me they coach with me. I cant believe Im around such quality people. Its going to be hard for me not to succeed.

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.

Complete Bears-49ers coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-49ers coverage on CSN

The Bears try to get a third win in 2016 when they host the 49ers, and CSN has you covered.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Jim Miller and Chris Boden airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on and

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago

The 3 Bears necessities for win No. 3

The 3 Bears necessities for win No. 3

Insert title of this "Bowl" game here...

Two teams. Three wins combined. December. So much for holiday cheer. The snow may provide a certain Christmas element on the lakefront Sunday. But something different has to happen for the Bears defensively. In their spirit of giving, the 49ers have allowed a league-high 76 points off their turnovers. Problem is, the Bears have just eight of them in eleven games. If that San Francisco generosity doesn't change – either by Vic Fangio's defense finally making plays despite the core of their defense missing, or by the visitors finding a way to protect the ball in those conditions after practicing in Orlando all week – it's a golden chance for the Bears to gain a smidge of momentum before becoming a factor in the division race (because they face all three other NFC North contenders in their final four games).

1. Read zone read

Colin Kaepernick has grown much more comfortable with time in Chip Kelly's offense. He had the Dolphins hanging on for dear life until the clock struck zero last week. He became just the sixth quarterback in league history to pass for three touchdowns in a game while rushing for over 100 (no, Bobby Douglass isn't one). The challenge becomes greater minus the talented inside linebacker tandem of Danny Trevathan (injury) and Jerrell Freeman (suspension). It becomes even greater if Leonard Floyd's quickness and speed is taken away as a shadowing option as he recovers from being carried off the field on a flat board two weeks ago. He's listed as questionable. So that makes it imperative for inside replacements John Timu and Nick Kwiatkowski to find a way to be instinctive while remaining disciplined enough to contain the league's best rushing quarterback by yards per attempt (8.1).

2. Don't stray from the run

Give this Niners defense without NoVorro Bowman and Eric Reid enough opportunities to be gashed, and they'll let you. Too many times the pregame formula has been for Jordan Howard to get the ball, only to find reasons not to – whether it's looking at the clock while trailing by double digits, too much traffic at the line of scrimmage or panic after injuries up front (to name a few). The 172 rushing yards per game allowed by San Francisco is the worst in eight years (Detroit).  Howard's 5.14 average gain per attempt is fifth in the NFL. Enough said.

3. Catch the ball!!!

Okay, Marquess, Josh and Deonte. Okay, Cam, Jordan and Jeremy. Okay Daniel (and/or Eddie?). We know conditions might be a little slick if it's snowing/sleeting/raining. You're supposed to be among the best in the world at what you do, even if you're down the original depth chart. Can you get your mitts on the football and hang on to it this week? Help your guy Matt out a little bit? After all, if you cut last week's nightmare in half, and maybe you're shooting for (oooh!) a fourth win Sunday, not a third.

Get set for Sunday's noon kickoff at 11 a.m. on CSN as ex-Bears Jim Miller, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Chris on "Bears Preagme Live." Then as soon as the second quarter ends, come back here to, where Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments. And finally, when the game goes final on Fox, switch immediately back to CSN as Chris and the three former Bears give you 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, live press conferences and locker room interviews on "Bears Postgame Live."