Mullin: 1934 'Sneakers Game' repeat?


Mullin: 1934 'Sneakers Game' repeat?

Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010
3:33 p.m.

By John Mullin

Now that it appears the Bears will indeed be playing outside at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis against the Vikings, it is time to turn to matters of true import.


The Bears have been on the wrong end of icy conditions in big games at memorable times in the past. They are planning on a different outcome this time, with the field at expected at worst to be nothing short of a sheet of ice by the second half next Monday night, possibly sooner.

I just dont want to be on Skating with the Stars, said defensive tackle Anthony Adams.

A number of players told that they indeed are preparing for the Minnesota game with non-cleated, sneakers-style footwear.

Some are considering more extreme measures, if only in fun.

Snow boots, said linebacker Lance Briggs. You know, the boots with the tennis rackets on the bottom. Those are the ones right there. Cross country skis, yeah.

Bears players wore sneakers in the Green Bay game last Dec. 13 in Soldier Field. Cleats wont dig into the grass, the surface, Adams said. Its like being on skates.

Footwear is the individual players choice and a key is understanding that what feels OK in warmups may not work once the play begins in earnest.

Its going to be different once the double-team hits you. Its different from just running around, when two O-linemen are trying to press you out of the gap.

The Bears were victimized in the famous 1934 Sneakers Game, the NFL Championship game in New York. With both teams sliding around on an icy field during the first half, the Giants equipment man went to nearby Manhattan College, borrowed nine pairs of sneakers. The Giants went from trailing 13-3 to a 30-13 victory.

The Bears dont envision that scenario for themselves.

Well have the proper shoe on, coach Lovie Smith said, clearly not unhappy to see a week of talk about cold, indoorsoutdoors, ice and now shoes is winding down. I think were too deep into this now. Every surface we have, well have the proper shoe on for that. We have guys looking for that. You work through to find the perfect shoe each week and this is no different than that.
Sick bay

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who practiced fully on Friday, was limited on Saturdays work at Northwestern Universitys practice field and is listed as questionable.

All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson will miss his third straight game with a broken thumb and hell have a seat next to the man he helped persuade come back for the 2010 season, Brett Favre. The quarterback is officially out with his shoulder injury, as is safety Tyrell Johnson (concussion).

Hutchinson is an all-pro lineman for them, Lovie Smith said. But he hasnt played in a few games so they have moved on a little bit without him. But I dont think youre ever as good a football team as you would be with a player like that. Seems like this time of year except for maybe the Chicago Bears were not missing a lot of guys most teams are missing some of their players.

Running back Adrian Peterson practiced for the first time this week, albeit on a limited basis, and is listed as questionable, although no one expects the franchise running back to miss the game. Defensive end Ray Edwards (ankle) also practiced on a limited basis and is questionable, as is safety Jamarca Sanford (concussion).

Defensive end Corey Wootton had to endure some good-natured ribbing Saturday as Bears buses pulled up and delivered players to Northwestern Universitys outdoors practice fields. The Bears moved practice there in order to get a days orientation to artificial turf similar to that in TCF Bank Stadium and also to work on it outdoors rather than just another day on artificial turf but indoors at the Walter Payton Center.

It was fun being back where I played for five years, said Wootton, a Northwestern grad selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Guys were kidding me, though: Oh, Coreys homecoming. But it was nice.

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.