Mullin: Bears gettingsending mixed signals?

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Mullin: Bears gettingsending mixed signals?

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
Posted: 11:19 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Mixed signals result in false starts or worse on an offense. For an offense lacking identity and production, some of the disparate cadences coming from Halas Hall are both puzzling and concerning at this early tipping point of the 2011 Bears season:

Receivers

Against Green Bay, Bears wide receivers struggled at times with bad Jay Cutler passes and their own bad hands. Or did they?

Off. Coord. Mike Martz: The wide receivers are playing much faster, good routes. Their game has really been elevated.

GM Jerry Angelo, on the team website ChicagoBears.com: The receivers have hit a plateau so far but its still early.

Offensive line

It wont go down as the most enthusiastic endorsement by a quarterback of his offensive line. Cutler said Wednesday that he indeed had confidence in his offensive line. Sort of.

Cutler: Yeah, I dont have a choice. Those are the guys weve got to go with, and weve got to get them ready, and Ive got to believe in them (which is not quite the same thing as saying he actually does believe in them).

You talk to any quarterback, whenever youre getting a lot of pressure and youre getting flushed and youre getting hit a lot, that clock in your head is going to be tinkered a little bit, Cutler said. Its going to start ticking a little bit faster.

That could well be. But while pressure has an obvious impact on passing offenses, its effects on Cutler are harder to assess conclusively.

In his 2008 Pro Bowl season with the Denver Broncos, Cutler was sacked 11 times. He completed 62.3 percent of his passes. In 2010 Cutler was sacked 52 times. He completed 60.4 percent of his passes.

Against the Atlanta Falcons in week one, Cutler was sacked five times. He completed 68.8 percent of his passes.

Martz: The offensive line did a terrific job Cutler was very pleased with the protection.
Jay Cutler

Cutler missed badly on a number of throws in the Green Bay game. In the first half alone he threw a poorly aimed interception, overthrew Devin Hester and Roy Williams, and threw twice behind Dane Sanzenbacher at the goal line when he was not particularly under pressure from the Packers front. He was not sacked in the first half.

Cutler: Even sometimes when you do have a good amount of time, youre going to be feeling it even if its not there. So its a constant battle. The more consistent we get up front and the more time I have, and the more comfortable I feel, the more consistent Im going to get.

In this instance the various parties do appear to be on the same playbook page. Cutlers protection ostensibly is in place.
Angelo: In our last two games, penalties, dropped balls and protection have all played a part in the lack of consistency, Angelo told the team website ChicagoBears.com (http:tinyurl.com6d5vpf8).

Restricting the offense

The Bears were 11-5 last season. Within that, the record was 7-2 when a more conservative offensive approach was adopted and some restrictions were put in place, in the form of cutting back on certain elements that werent working.
Matt Forte (prior to the start of the season): The offense in general was restricted a little bit in both running and passing games. We were shifting around linemen and trying to get everything under control and making it fit.

But now, with an offensive line missing two starters, a new center, a left tackle moved over from right, and a starting wideout (Williams) conceded by all to still need more acclimating to Cutler.

Martz: No, no. Cutting back is probably the worst reaction you could have. Youre telling players that you dont have confidence in their ability. Thats what youre saying.

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.

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Both teams are on track to be drafting in the top five, and the inevitable “the loser is the winner” talk has made its rounds, meaning that a defeat moves the loser higher in the draft order. The reality is that neither team will tank the game for draft position.

But the chances of two woeful teams playing well are slim. The 49ers won in Week 1 and then have lost 10 straight. The Bears are trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time under John Fox.

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick burst upon the NFL scene in 2012 with a blowout of the Bears in his first start. He has regained his starting job in San Francisco and is still one of the prototypical mobile quarterbacks.

But the 49ers are the NFL’s worst defense in both points and yardage allowed, and they are the worst rushing defense in the league. Expect the Bears to try exploiting that and give quarterback Matt Barkley a balanced run-pass game plan.

Prediction: Bears 24, 49ers 20

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Kyle Fuller was one of the seeming fixtures in the Bears’ defense as it transitioned from the 4-3 of old to the 3-4 of Vic Fangio. And he may be again, the Bears hope very soon, as he has begun practicing after months on injured reserve following knee surgery in August.

The Bears could place Fuller on the active roster as late as Saturday after he practiced all three days this week. “He made it three days in practice, no setbacks,” said coach John Fox. “He seems to be adapting pretty well. He has another practice [Saturday] and we don’t have to make a decision until 3 p.m. because of where he is on the roster. We’ll evaluate that after tomorrow.”

Were Fuller to return — restoring one projected 2016 starter to a defense that has been forced to field five different starting secondaries in the span of 11 games — he may be phased back in with a managed number of snaps, as other certain other players returning from injury have been.

But getting Fuller back projects to be an instant upgrade for a defensive backfield among the NFL’s worst at producing takeaways.

“We all play different positions so we’re kind of used to it, people moving in and out over the year,” said Bryce Callahan, who was initially ticketed for nickel duty as the No. 3 cornerback this season but has been pressed into service starting at cornerback in four games.

“It’s always good to get someone like Kyle back.”

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The Bears would need to weigh what workload Fuller could handle vs. roster needs based on only having 46 players active on game day.

“You’re always a little bit cautious because it does affect your roster,” Fox said. “But if you feel like he makes you better, that’s a move you make. Now we’re just working through him medically, durability-wise, and how much he can play.”

Jay Cutler (shoulder) was officially declared out and is headed for surgery on Saturday, ultimately to injured reserve.

Other availability questions include receiver Eddie Royal (toe), guard Josh Sitton (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (ankle), all questionable. Linebacker Willie Young (knee) did not practice but linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to practice on a limited basis although his status in the concussion protocol will not be known until closer to game time.