Mullin: No way 9-3 Bears are just lucky

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Mullin: No way 9-3 Bears are just lucky

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
Posted: 5:00 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Mmmm, maybe not

I don't have a rooting interest one way or the other but I'm not sure I'm buying this.

SI.com's Andrew Perloff, in a segment folded into Peter King's always-enjoyable (if a little heavy on Steelers-Ravens this week) "Monday Morning Quarterback," opines that the Packers will win the NFC North and simply are a better team than the Bears, which Andrew still sees making the playoff and being "dangerous," he said.

Andrew's reasoning: The Packers "have that explosiveness on offense," whereas the Bears are "not making the plays like the Packers are."

He appears to be more fascinated by highlight play like Aaron Rodgers' memorable game-tying pass to Jordy Nelson to force a recent overtime against Atlanta. Andrew sees the "new" Bears as more balanced offensively with the combination of Jay Cutler's passing and Matt Forte's running.

But "when it comes down to it," he concluded, "Rodgers is the MVP and Cutler is just a good player."

You who know me know I am a reporter first and that I had no vested or rooting interest when I pointed out the night of the DenverCutler trade that a restrained reaction might be the call since Cutler had never had a winning season as a starting quarterback since high school.

But right now, he is a very good player, which he was not last season or through the first half of this one aside from isolated situations. I would be concerned about the number of hits Cutler is taking (48 in the last five games, between sacks, QB hits and runs he's made).

But the fact that Cutler is being called a "game manager" (usually a diss of a quarterback) should -- and I think is -- sending a tiny shiver through at least the NFC North. As long as he was just a thrower, even a passer, he could be counted on to error away the moment.

Not any more. The Packers could well win the division but my guess is that it'll be by tiebreaker, in which the Bears, who'll make good my "10 wins or better" prediction for the season, will be the wild-card team absolutely nobody wants to play.

Loud Lovie?
As he has on a number of occasions in the past when he's unhappy with the play of his guys, Lovie Smith let them know about it at halftime Sunday. The particular target was the defense, which was coming in after allowing a third-string quarterback to direct the Detroit offense to 253 first-half yards.

Clipboards did not hit walls, fists did not hit lockers, and players like Julius Peppers seemed to be more stunned by the poor play of the defense than by the Smith equivalent of a hissing match.

But just as players once spoke of "The Look" they dreaded getting from Dick Jauron, they don't like to hear Smith deviate from his fairly constant volume and venom levels.

"He was still mild-mannered but maybe instead of talking at a '5' he's talking at a '9,'" said safety Chris Harris. "Lovie is not a guy who swears. He's still a mild-mannered guy. But when he's angry you know he's angry. His point comes across and gets across to the players the way it should."

Smith's reaction to his reaction was, well, mild-mannered, naturally.

"We weren't happy with how we played the first half," Smith explained. "Guys realized that. As far as the '9,' you media guys know me. I'm a '5' most of the time. I try to be."

Huh?

I'm still amused by some who view the Bears' 2010 results (12 games of them at this point) as "lucky" or "getting the breaks." It calls to mind former Mets and White Sox pitcher Jerry Koosman dismissing former teammate and Hall of Famer Tom Seaver as just "lucky."

"Seaver was just lucky," Koosman said, "because he was always pitching on the day when the other team wasn't hitting."

A few other observations on the whole "lucky" nonsense:

Bear Bryant's legendary proclamation the "Luck follows speed" definitely applies to the Bears, who are a universally fast team.

And my favorite James Bond assessment comes into play: "Once is chance; twice is coincidence; three times is enemy action." Lucky is once; oh-come-on is twice; 9-3 is not lucky.

Lez chat

I'll be on the Comcast SportsNet set for Chicago Tribune Live at 5:30 p.m. (and later rebroadcasts) but then I'll be on CSNChicago.com from 7-8 p.m. for our weekly online chat. Always fun (well, mostly) to noodle over what just happened the day before.

And absolutely, I'll have the Pats-Jets on at the same time.

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.

Eddie Jackson healthy, ready to bring center fielder range to Bears' secondary

Eddie Jackson healthy, ready to bring center fielder range to Bears' secondary

Eddie Jackson’s senior year at Alabama was cut short by a broken leg, but the Bears’ fourth-round pick doesn’t expect that injury to affect him in 2017. 

Jackson suffered his injury Oct. 22 returning a punt against Tennessee and missed the rest of Alabama’s season. 

“I’m just ready to get there and work with the training staff at the Bears,” Jackson said. “I know I’m gonna be ready for training camp 100 percent, no limitations.”

When healthy, Jackson was an electric playmaker — nine interceptions, 12 pass breakups and five total touchdowns — who worked initially as a cornerback and later as a safety at Alabama. Two of those scores came in 2016 as a punt returner, a position where he could make an immediate impact for the Bears.

“(The Bears) told me they liked me as a returner,” Jackson, who averaged 23 yards per punt return, said. “That’s one of the things they want to try me at, or see how well I do. All I’ve got to say is I’m just ready to come in and compete and work. You know, take advantage of every opportunity that’s given to me right now.”

Jackson moreso fits a Bears need as a rangy free safety, though he wasn’t a sure tackler with 16 missed tackles in 122 attempts from 2014-2016, according to Pro Football Focus. In addition to those nine interceptions (six of which came in his junior year), Jackson broke up 12 passes in four years, and in 2016, he limited opposing quarterbacks to a 38.3 passer rating when they threw his way. 

And Jackson turned three of his interceptions into touchdowns. For some context: Malik Hooker, the Colts’ 15th overall pick who was regarded as the best “center fielder” safety prospect this year, had three touchdowns on seven college interceptions. 

“When I get the ball, I feel like I turn into a receiver,” Jackson said. “It’s my mindset. I don’t think about going out of bounds, or think about going down, I think about touchdowns.”

The Bears only intercepted eight passes as a team last year, a void the team began to address with the signing of Quintin Demps (six interceptions in 2016) in March. Jackson will push Adrian Amos, who doesn’t have an interception in over 1,800 career plays. 

“I just feel like wherever I’m needed I can do it all,” Jackson said. “I’ll have good coaching they can teach me what I need to be taught and they talked to me about playing safety and special teams. I’m just looking forward to come out there and earn a spot and hopefully take us to a Super Bowl. It’s possible.”

Is Bears' fourth-round pick Tarik Cohen a smaller Tyreek Hill or a Darren Sproles comp?

Is Bears' fourth-round pick Tarik Cohen a smaller Tyreek Hill or a Darren Sproles comp?

"The Human Joystick" nickname came from game action YouTube videos. But Tarik Cohen really got on the map for those who weren't aware of his on-field exploits through his acrobatic Instagram videos, including catching footballs simultaneously with each hand as he completes a backflip.

"It started because I had seen someone else do it. And we were bored after summer conditioning and decided to go out and try it," Cohen told reporters at Halas Hall Saturday afternoon. "The first two times (with one football, one hand) I failed, but the third time I got it pretty naturally. Then I was competing with someone else at a different school and he had done it too. So then I had to one up myself because everyone was asking what was next. So then I did it with two. Social media got ahold of that and things went crazy." 

As for the nickname?

"I really prefer ... Someone on ESPN had called me "Chicken Salad" and I really liked that," Cohen said. "I don't think it's bad. "Human Joystick," I like it too."

Chicken Salad?

"I don't know, I've never heard anybody called that, I wanted to be the one of one," Cohen said.

[MORE: Bears select Alabama safety Eddie Jackson in the fourth round]

Cohen became Ryan Pace's second fourth-round pick on Saturday (No. 119) with a vision of becoming the running game's change of pace to last year's Pro Bowl fifth-round surprise Jordan Howard. In four years at North Carolina A&T, the 5-foot-6, 179 lb. waterbug piled up a MEAC-record 5,619 rushing yards and 61 touchdowns. Cohen notched 18 of those scores as a senior, including four of 83 yards or more. He had the fastest 10-yard split as part of his 4.42, 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine.

"I was really disappointed with my 40 time because I wanted to run a sub 4.40 and I stumbled on the first one and it seems the second is always slower than the first," Cohen said.

Last season, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill became the all-purpose headache for Chiefs opponents, especially in space, with six receiving touchdowns, three rushing and three more on returns. Cohen is four inches shorter than Hill and doesn't return kicks, but size wise is a comp for Darren Sproles, who was also a fourth-round pick by the Chargers in 2005, but all three of his Pro Bowl appearances have come in the last three seasons.  The physical stature in Sproles has seemed to be a bigger issue for opponents than the player himself, missing only eight games in his career.

"I think it'll play a key role and benefit me," Cohen told us. "The linemen are going to be bigger and it'll be really hard for defenders to see behind my linemen.

"I didn't want to necessarily be bigger (growing up), but I wanted to beat the bigger kids."

Did he?

"Oh yeah, definitely. I've got that chip on my shoulder and when I went against the bigger kids I felt I had something to prove so I always go harder."

Now he'll face the biggest of them all with the Bears.