Moon's Gameday Blog: Bears get banged up

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Moon's Gameday Blog: Bears get banged up

Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011
Posted: 11:32 a.m. Updated: 6:40 p.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
New Orleans -- The Bears made it through 2010 with minimal injuries. They are making up for that in record speed, unfortunately.

By the end of Sundays third quarter the Bears were without two wide receivers, both starting safeties and two starting offensive linemen. And this is only week two.

With running back Marion Barber still out with a calf injury and Roy Williams inactive with a groin strain, sick bay filled in earnest Sunday. Wide receiver Earl Bennett left with a chest injury early in the game after catching a quick slant from Jay Cutler then a big hit to the midsection by a Saints tackler. Bennett held onto the ball for a nine-yard gain but was down for several minutes and had to be helped off the field.

Rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi was lost with a knee injury late in the second quarter and was gone from the sideline in the second half. Right guard Lance Louis already was on the inactive list with an ankle injury from the Atlanta game.

And the deep secondary took a scary hit late in the third quarter when safety Major Wright, struggling already in coverage against the speed and size of the Saints receiver corps, was down for 5 minutes with a head injury, had to be helped off the field and was out for the remainder of the game. Starter Chris Harris already was on the inactive list with a hamstring injury.

We lost a couple guys, coach Lovie Smith said. Were starting to get a few injuries but were feeling good about the 53-man roster so other guy will get an opportunity. But today give the Saints credit. They played better than we did, made critical plays were we didnt.
Smart throws

The Bears reached the New Orleans 20 on their first drive of the second half and netted just three points on a Robbie Gould field goal. But while it may have appeared to be just another red-zone settle-for, Cutler's throws on three incompletions at that point were smart, all three in places where either his receiver or no one was going to make the catch.

The result was avoiding a devastating red-zone interception, something Cutler too often in the past committed in efforts to force passes places they didnt belong.

The Saints were the better team today. Cutler said. They rushed me hard and forced our offense to do things we didnt want to do.

Safety First
The safeties were badly burned on a third-and-12 situation when Major Wright appeared to misjudge the speed of New Orleans wideout Devery Henderson, who blew past Wright for a 79-yard touchdown, the kind of disaster play that reverses game momentum.

Rookie Chris Conte, coming over from the opposite side, couldnt get there in time but the problem was Wright. Instead of a possible stop on third-and-long, turning the ball back to the offense, the play gave New Orleans a touchdown and forced the offense to start its next drive after a kickoff into the end zone.

You have to be on your toes at all times because thats a high-powered offense we were playing against, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. We gave up a big touchdown early and that never helps.

Rostering
Matt Toeaina started again in place of Anthony Adams and appears to have supplanted Adams with the No. 1 unit.
Receiving end

Dane Sanzenbacher continues to be a nugget in the offense. As he has done on more than one occasion, Sanzenbacher forced a holding call from the defense before working his way open in the back of the end zone three plays later to give the Bears a 7-3 lead in the first quarter.
Who's in? Who's out?

As expected, the starting lineups took some hits due to injuries, Williams (groin) down for the game and Johnny Knox starting at wide receiver. Brandon Meriweather will start at free safety and Wright goes to strong safety, where Harris is on the inactive list with a hamstring problem.

Corey Wootton still isnt far enough back from his knee surgery so hes again inactive. But the need to get edge pressure on Drew Brees clearly is a priority and the actives this week not only include Nick Reed, coming off a good game against Atlanta, but also undrafted rookie free agent Mario Addison. Both are speed rushers and should be factors on the artificial turf.

But right guard Lance Louis is active after missing practice this week with the ankle sprain suffered in the first half of the Atlanta game. Also inactive: defensive tackle Stephen Paea, quarterback Nathan Enderle and running back Marion Barber, who hasnt been able to play since his calf injury in the Tennessee preseason game.

The Saints will be without wide receiver Marques Colston (broken collarbone). But No. 2 wideout Lance Moore is active despite limited practice this week.

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.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.