Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
By John Mullin
Michael Vick isnt pointing fingers with respect to his problems, including the ones on football fields where he has been an underachiever based on being a No. 1-overall draft choice and one of the great all-around athletes of his era.
Hes pointing the thumb.
Not being more successful before this season didnt have anything to do with the coaches, Vick said. It was pretty much me.
You have to have the desire to want to be great. Your coaches can only talk to you about it, inform you of things you can and cant do. Its up to you, at the end of the day. And basically I didnt take advantage of the time that I had, and the opportunities that I had.
So I had to just start from Ground Zero.
The Bears may not have a classic No. 1 wide receiver but Johnny Knox continues to do an awfully good impersonation of one.
The second-year wideout, an accidental starter as a rookie only because Devin Aromashodu was injured in training camp, has caught 37 passes through 10 games. The rate of reception (3.7 per game) is up slightly from the 3.0 he averaged in 15 games as a rookie, although he has only one TD vs. 5 last season.
But the real difference in Knox is showing up in big plays. Knox is averaging 18.2 yards per catch this year after a surprisingly modest 11.7 last year; surprising, because Knox is possessed of more speed than anyone else on the roster (Devin Hester and Danieal Manning may dispute that). And it is giving his quarterback a new level to which to throw.
Hes the kind of guy youve got to quietly account for him defensively, because if not, hell get going, said quarterback Jay Cutler. Hes got so much speed in that second level that hell get away from you in a hurry.
Knox came into the league from Abilene Christian (Tex.), the same school that gave the Bears Manning. When he arrived the Bears were deep into the Ron Turner version of the West Coast offense. Now he has switched to Mike Martzs program.
I think hes getting better and better with his routes, Cutler said. Hes getting better and better at learning the offense. Hes still a young player in the league, so to have to learn two different offenses as quickly as hes had to learn them is tough.
Vick noted that teams seldom any more resort to the spy system, assigning one defensive player to be locked onto him at all times during a play. The Washington Redskins did that for several plays and Vick annihilated the Redskins in perhaps the greatest performance of his career, throwing for four touchdowns and running for two.
The Bears did some of that way back in the early years of Brian Urlachers career, and they limited Vicks Atlanta Falcons teams to one TD in three games. They certainly could use that approach again but their favored defense makes it almost redundant.
All of our players will know where he is most of the game, coach Lovie Smith said. We probably play more zone coverage than we do man. One of the benefits of playing zone coverage is you have everybody looking at the quarterback.
But whether we spy, well know where he is most of the time. Hes not really hard to know where he is.
Defensive end Julius Peppers was named NFC defensive player of the week after recording 3 sacks and deflecting a pass that was intercepted by cornerback Charles Tillman in the Bears 16-0 shutout victory at Miami in Week 11. The three sacks by Peppers tied a career-high and marked the eighth time he has had a three-sack performance since entering the league in 2002, the most by any player over that span.
Peppers three sacks were the most by a Bears player since Adewale Ogunleye had three at Oakland in Week 10 of the 2007 season. The honor is the fourth of Peppers career and his first in a Bears uniform. It is the third Player of the Week award for the Bears this season: Matt Forte (offensive, week 1) and Hester (special teams, week 10).
The Bears and Eagles are headed into Sundays game as perhaps the two healthiest teams in the NFL. The Bears had only linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa limited in practice while the Eagles had only defensive end Juqua Parker (hip) and cornerback Asante Samuel (knee), the NFL leader in interceptions, held out of practice.
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.