Mullin: One-and-done for Bears' Taylor?

311281.jpg

Mullin: One-and-done for Bears' Taylor?

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011
10:50 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Elaborating on an earlier item...

How the Bears running back situation played out this year was an intriguing case study as Matt Forte had the best year of his career in the wake of the offseason signing of veteran Chester Taylor. Thomas Jones had never been as good as he was when the Bears drafted Cedric Benson. As coaches are fond of saying, there is nothing like competition.

The fate of Taylor now is another issue, however. As I reported recently, an NFL source said the Bears will part ways with Taylor, who signed a four-year contract last March for a respectable 12.5 million that included 7 million in the first year. But this is not entirely about money.

A problem for Taylor, besides a decided lack of impact in the ground game, is that the Bears invested a seventh-round pick last July in the supplemental draft on BYU tailback Harvey Unga, whom they signed for a four-year deal. At 237 pounds Unga was a potential fit as a short-yardage back (Taylors best value-added for the Bears) as well as an H-back but was forced onto IR with a hamstring injury in training camp.

The Bears may opt to let camp play out before making a move on Taylor. And it would not be strictly due to finances. They already have paid the heavy freight charges on Taylor, and GM Jerry Angelo and contract guru Cliff Stein dont do shell deals that are back-loaded such that no one expects to see final years.

But Taylor averaged less per carry in 2010 than Garrett Wolfe in any of Wolfes previous three NFL seasons, and Taylor is 32 and not a contributor on special teams.

Taylor had 338 rushing yards for the Vikings in 2009 in a complementary role behind Adrian Peterson. He managed just 267 yards and 2.4 yards per carry as Fortes relief but provided some in-close pop with 3 touchdowns, plus two 1-yard scoring bursts in the playoff games. He averaged 1 yard or less per carry in six of the last eight games.

This would not be the first time, nor the most costly one-and-done for the Bears. They signed veteran cornerback Thomas Smith away from the Buffalo Bills in 2000 for a 22.5 million package in 2000. That was Smiths one year as a Bear.

Courts in session

The Bears 2011 schedule may have just gotten a shade less difficult, depending on the order of battle and subject to possible further legal goings-on.

Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com reports that a judge has ruled in favor of the NFL in the StarCaps supplement case. If the ruling holds un-reversed, the league may be in position to suspend Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams as well as New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, all members of teams facing the Bears next season.

No good feelings here. You want football issues settled on the field, not on the bench, judges or otherwise.

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 numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

There's a sense of irony and, to a certain degree, concern about what changes the Bears' coaching staff has undergone.

Think of the best of Ryan Pace's 2016 rookie class: Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Jordan Howard. They were brought along under the position group tutelage of outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, offensive line coach Dave Magazu and running backs coach Stan Drayton. The latter was the first to depart, shortly after the season ended, to return to the collegiate ranks on Texas' new staff.

He's been replaced with former 49ers and Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins (also serving as that position coach in Detroit, Buffalo, Arizona and Kansas City). Howard certainly adapted to the NFL game well, more than anyone expected, as the NFL's second-leading rusher. One would think Drayton played a part in that.

Longtime John Fox assistant Magazu was also let go after the season despite the impressive move of second-round pick Whitehair to center the week of the season opener after Josh Sitton was signed following his release by Green Bay. Whitehair was sold as a "quick study" following his selection out of Kansas State, where he was a four-year starter at three different positions (but not center).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Like Howard, he wound up making the All-Rookie team, but whether he remains in the middle of the line or not, he'll be getting his orders now from Jeremiah Washburn.

Rounding out the trio of All-Rookie selections was Floyd, who was brought along by Hurtt. He impressed Fox enough to be kept around from Marc Trestman's staff, and moved from defensive line to outside linebackers.

That's where he assisted Willie Young in morphing to a foreign role, yet still managing 14 sacks over the last two seasons. The Bears have yet to name a replacement for Hurtt, who's joined the Seahawks in taking over one of their strengths in recent years, the defensive line.

These three were already good, and the jewels of last year's draft. But if they're to grow and ascend into impact contributors if and when this team becomes a regular playoff contender, it'll come from new faces, new voices in their respective classrooms and position groups.