Chicago Bears

Mullin: Mike Tice Miracle on O-Line? Not quite

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Mullin: Mike Tice Miracle on O-Line? Not quite

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
11:01 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Phew lots to range over with Mac and Spiegs this morning on the weekly visit with The Danny Mac Show on WSCR-AM 670. (CLICK HERE to listen to the segment).

Mac clearly isnt buying into the Mike Tice Miracle with the offensive line, a group that has improved almost weekly but still allowed (with contributions from poor blocking by tight ends and backs at times) a league-worst 56 sacks. And Dannys right; if youre 30th in offensive production, you dont rate a rainbow of bouquets.

But in fairness, I thought it worth acknowledging that Tice came in with an open-mind policy on players, which actually have hurt him in the selection process. What that meant was a guard like Johan Asiata jumps out in OTAs because hes athletic. Trouble is, when pads come on and playbooks expand, Tice finds out why Asiata wasnt in the mix before this.

Then Tice sees things from Lance Louis, enough so that he moves Roberto Garza to a new position (left guard) to fit Louis at right guard. Trouble is, Louis cant play effectively through what by NFL standards are minor injuries, so that path was a dead-end.

Throw in the injuries to Garza and Chris Williams and I do think you see the amount of assessment Tice had to do while all the while in the middle of teaching his group the new system and protections...

Mac (no surprise) had fun with what Anthony Adams had said to me, that there need to be more fat guys on magazine covers. Id add here that there need to be more fat guys in booths, meaning that bright bulbs like Adams should get more looks as analysts and color guys. Tony Siragusa is a cartoon figure but when I watch Michael Strahan, I see a job for Anthony Adams funny but thoroughly knows his game.

But back to MacTalk...

We went from Adams to the defensive line in general as the guys were interested in how the stats of Julius Peppers and the defensive line with him werent stunningly leaping up this year with the addition of No. 90. But thats probably another good measure of Peppers impact he has calmly said all year that hes not about the stats, winning is not about stats, and he and the Bears have played like it.

Draft breezes

Interesting brief look ahead when the guys alluded to Hub Arkushs thought that the Bears will have to address the defensive line this draft or offseason. Id agree with that, and mentioned a look back Id done at drafts in which Jerry Angelo was a part. A vast majority of them saw linemen (offensive or defensive) taken with his teams first pick, irrespective of round.

When he took over running the draft as Bears GM, what did he pick first? Offensive line (Marc Colombo, 2002), defensive line (Michael Haynes, 2003), defensive line (Tommie Harris, 2004). Two of the last three years he stayed bigs on his first picks: offensive line (Chris Williams, 2008), defensive line (Jarron Gilbert, 2009).

Given that Angelo doesnt need a quarterback, running back, tight end or safety, and he wont spend a first-round pick on a wide receiver, chances are very, very good that the lines are addressed with the top two picks in the 2011 draft.

Playoffing

Im on board with the guys thinking that Green Bay-Philadelphia is the game of the wild-card weekend. They werent sure why all the love for Green Bay, but the Packers were my preseason pick for NFC Super Bowl representative and the No. 1 reason is No. 12. Aaron Rodgers is still there, and as good a season as Michael Vick has had, I give the QB edge to Green Bay this weekend.

And just thinking about this right now: Mac noted that, yeah, the Packers cant run the ball. Agree. But what I see in Rodgers is a young Brett Favre without the image of the gunslinger. Favres teams were more than passable without a dominant run game, were very good with one (Dorsey Levens for a year to win a Super Bowl), and while this defense doesnt have Reggie White the way the Favre teams did, this one is more than good enough.

The Packers beat the Eagles in Philadelphia to start the season, with Vick taking over when Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion. This wont be the same Green Bay team (that one had RB Ryan Grant) or the same Eagles team (Vick has a season behind him). But the result will be the same.

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.

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Markus Wheaton was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and wasn’t on the Bears’ injury report Thursday, signaling that the 5-foot-11, 189 pound speedster will make his Bears debut Sunday against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s not the solution for the Bears’ offense, but he could be part of it. 

For an offense that’s woefully lacked someone who can reliably stretch the field, Wheaton can at least provide the threat of going deep. Two years ago, while with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wheaton averaged 17 yards per reception. Mike Glennon’s longest completion this year went for 22 yards. 

“It definitely adds another dimension,” Glennon said. “It’ll be great having Markus back.”

But Wheaton only played in three games last season (four catches, 51 yards) and, at his best, averaged 48 catches, 696 yards and four touchdowns a year from 2014-2015. Is it fair to expect Wheaton to be a big part of the Bears' offensive solution given he hasn't played much recently, and was limited to only a handful of reps in training camp and preseason practices due to a pair of freak ailments?

Maybe not, but with the Bears 0-2, he's the best hope they have at a skill position. 

Wheaton needed an emergency appendectomy the first weekend the Bears were in Bourbonnais — “I thought I had to poop,” Wheaton said, maybe providing too much information, before realizing the excruiating pain in which he was in was something worse. Shortly after returning to the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University, Wheaton fractured his pinkie finger in gruesome fashion (he said the bone was sticking out) when he was awkwardly grabbed while trying to catch a pass. 

That Wheaton broke a finger wasn’t only significant for his ability to catch passes. Consider what his former quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger — had to say about what makes Wheaton an effective deep threat:

“He’s got a very good ability of using his hands,” Roethlisberger said. “When you’re trying to stretch the field, you’ve gotta have some little techniques to help you get open because DBs can run as much as receivers can. So you gotta be able to use your hands to swim, kinda, get some swiping, get the hands off, I thought that he really had some good technique when it came to the deep ball and getting away from DBs.”

Roethlisberger and Wheaton shared a good rapport in Pittsburgh, with the quarterback clearly communicating to the receiver what he expected timing-wise in his routes. It’s been a challenge to develop something similar with Glennon given the lack of practice time, but Wheaton said putting in extra work after practice has helped. 

If Wheaton and Glennon can get on the same page, perhaps that can lead to at least some deep ball attempts. The Bears have to find a way to prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box and focusing on stopping Jordan Howard, who only has 59 yards on 22 carries this year. 

“We're going to face overpopulated boxes, we know that,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “There's going to be seven, eight guys in the box every time and we have to execute better and it comes down to that.”

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, only three of Glennon’s 85 pass attempts have traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The only completion of those was Sunday’s garbage-time touchdown to Deonte Thompson, which was caught near the back of the end zone. 

The threat of Wheaton going deep won’t be enough, though. Glennon still has prove he can complete those deep balls — the last time he completed a pass of 25 or more yards was on Nov. 2, 2014 (though he’s only attempted 96 passes since that date). 

But Wheaton feels ready to go and is confident he can do his job — which, in turn, could, in a best-case scenario, help his other 10 teammates on offense do their jobs, too. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wheaton said. “I’m excited and hopefully this is the week.”

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

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AP

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

Count Kris Bryant among the Chicagoans who are calling for Mitch Trubisky to start at quarterback for the Bears.

OK, that may be a bit extreme as Bryant simply said he would supporting giving Trubisky a "shot", but still:

After a rough game for incumbent starting QB Mike Glennon last week, most of Chicago has been clamoring for the No. 2 overall pick to get some snaps under center.

Why wouldn't the crown prince of Chicago baseball get in on the noise?