Moon View: Absent Cutler stealing Super Bowl show

Moon View: Absent Cutler stealing Super Bowl show

Monday, Jan. 31, 2011
9:19 p.m.
By John Mullin

The Bears may not be at this years Super Bowl but at least one of their number is still on the minds of some questioners around the event. And that suggests something.

Speaking to The Dan Patrick Show on Comcast SportsNet on Monday, veteran interviewer Rich Eisen from the NFL Network opined that Jay Cutler was a more in-demand interview this week than either Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger.

Not sure I agree as far as Roethlisberger is concerned, since the background issues with him should (I said should) be of greater interest than Cutlers degree of injury or whatever people are making of the NFC Championship game situation.

But theres a touch more here than just the endless fascination or whatever it is with Cutlers departure from his last game. The reality is that the Bears have quietly become a story worth talking about this season, for all of the detractors, doubters, critics and whoever that have dismissed them.

Put another way, if the Bears didnt matter, neither would Cutler.
Check it out

A lot is going to be said and written this week about the zone blitz as practiced by coordinators Dom Capers in Green Bay and Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh. The NFLs two best scoring defenses both operate out of a 3-4 scheme and colleague Ray Didinger out East at does a great job running thought the particulars of what could be the story of this years Super Bowl.

If youve forgotten (and the Bears would like to), it was a zone blitz variation that dropped Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji into underneath coverage, resulting in Rajis interception and TD return for what would be the winning points in Green Bays win over the Bears in the NFC Championship game.

Just thought Id mention that.

Reason to hope?

It doesnt guarantee a successful end hovering into view in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, but anytime people are talking, its usually encouraging.

According to a joint statement from the two sides in the process, NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met Monday in New York to discuss a range of issues related to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

As part of a process to intensify negotiations, they agreed to hold a formal bargaining session with both negotiating teams on Saturday in the Dallas area. They also agreed to a series of meetings over the next few weeks, both formal bargaining sessions and smaller group meetings, in an effort to reach a new agreement by early March.

Its been behind the scenes but sources have told me that Goodell and Smith talk at least once a week anyway, just the two of them. If things are moving into the public venue, consider that a good sign.

In play

No surprise that Bears assistant coaches are in demand after a strong season. Special-teams assistant Chris Tabor already has moved on to head up special teams for the Cleveland Browns and now defensive line coach Eric Washington has taken a similar post on Ron Riveras staff with the Carolina Panthers.

The Philadelphia Eagles have asked the Bears for permission to interview defensive backs coach Jon Hoke for the job as defensive coordinator, which became open when the Eagles fired Sean McDermott two weeks ago.

Nice idea

Kudos to the folks at Ascension Lutheran Church in Northfield for a very nice touch on Super Sunday. The congregation is designating next Sunday, Feb. 6, as the day for its Souper Bowl and bringing cans of soup or a little cash or both to services, with the donations going to needy folks in the Chicago area.

Hopefully the forecasted snow doesnt put the plan on ice.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?

Brian Hedger (, Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune) and Rich Campbell (Chicago Tribune) join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

The Bears reluctantly go back to Jay Cutler as the starter. Meanwhile, can the Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?

The guys give their predictions for the Bulls season, Hedger dissects the Blackhawks penalty kill problems and Teddy explains why Michigan will win the Big Ten.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below:

Bears running back committee still a work in progress as ground game languishes

Bears running back committee still a work in progress as ground game languishes

The Bears have a fantasy football conundrum. Which of their running backs do they go with?

Jeremy Langford is listed as the starter. Then Ka’Deem Carey. Then Jordan Howard. Joique Bell was waived Monday, a clear statement that Langford is sufficiently back from the sprained ankle he suffered against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Bears have had three different leading rushers through seven games, which might be considered promising, except that none has established any sort of consistent identity with the opportunities.

The problem: in a production-based business, the depth chart is in inverse order of results. Howard is averaging 4.8 yards on his 73 carries and has a receiving and rushing touchdown. Carey is netting 4.7 on his 23, of which 10 came against the Green Bay Packers. Langford is rushing at the 3.7-yard average of his rookie season, but with two rushing touchdowns. Howard’s 14 pass receptions are nearly double the combined by Langford (5) and Carey (3).

And Howard has played 265 snaps, vs. 100 for Langford and 65 for Carey.

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But Howard was muzzled by the Packers and Langford is coming off a month’s worth of inactivity. And after averaging 116 rushing yards per game last season, the offense that was being committed to the run is down to 88 ground yards per game.

So who’s the Bears’ choice, because “committee” hasn’t exactly been the way, either. With the exception against the Jacksonville Jaguars when fullback Paul Lasike got a fourth-down rush for a first down, only once (Philadelphia Eagles) have the Bears had carries by all three running backs.

“When you look around the league, I don’t think many people are running it very effectively in general,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “I think in our division I think it’s maybe a little bit more important than it is league-wide. Again, to me the essence of football is still being able to stop the run and being able to run the ball. So we emphasize it quite a bit.”

If it’s being emphasized, that’s perhaps even more concerning. Better if the failed run game was due to neglect rather than an area of emphasis. And the reality is that it needs to succeed if the Bears are going to.

“We’ve got to keep running the ball well,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “I don’t think we’re running the ball well the last couple of weeks as we wanted to. That three-game span we were doing OK [4.4 ypc. combined vs. Detroit-Indianapolis-Jacksonville].”