Chicago Bears

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

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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.

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright saw two years ago what the transition for a quarterback, picked second overall and coming from a college spread offense, can look like. Marcus Mariota made that move smoothly and now looks poised to join the ranks of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year with the Tennessee Titans. 

Can Mitch Trubisky make a similarly successful transition? Wright, so far, has liked what he’s seen.

“His overall progression from OTAs to training camp to now, his overall everything he’s done in every area has gotten better,” Wright said. “The work he puts in, it helps him.” 

It’s not a perfect comparison, of course, given the offense Mariota so effectively operated at Oregon had a didn't resemble the look and feel of the one Trubisky ran at North Carolina. Mariota started far more games than Trubisky, too. They’re two different quarterbacks with different skillsets. And Mariota was given the opportunity to be a Week 1 starter from the moment he was drafted, while Trubisky — for now — remains behind Mike Glennon. 

“Marcus was in a different position where he came in and he was the quarterback,” Wright said. “I think it’s different. Once Mitch starts playing, whenever he starts playing, he’ll start progressing a lot more because he’ll actually be out there in game-like situations.”

But consider why the Titans were so confident Mariota could start immediately and make a successful transition to the NFL from that flashy Oregon offense:

“I don’t think the system he had in Oregon, I don’t think that held him back when he came into the league,” Wright said. “I think he was good at making his progressions, decisive. He’s like one of those players, it doesn’t matter what system he’s in, you put him out there and he’s a guy that’s a difference-maker.”

After espousing Trubisky’s accuracy back in April, Bears general manager Ryan Pace quickly pointed out this trait: “His ability to process and see the whole field jumps out right away. 

“… All these top quarterbacks, it’s just their ability to quickly process defenses, process coverage, find open targets, not panic under pressure, deliver accurate throws when there’s a noisy pocket – things are collapsing – those guys all have those traits. And Mitch has those traits, Drew (Brees) has those traits and those are things we value.”

The point being: No matter the system, both Mariota and Trubisky have good football intelligence, and are more than what Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians once bemoaned about college spread quarterbacks. 

“They hold up a card on the sideline and he kicks his foot and throws the ball,” Arians said in 2015. “That ain’t playing quarterback.”

Trubisky, of course, still has to improve with his pre-snaps reads, calling out protections, identifying coverages, learning the playbook, etc. But he seems to have the football intelligence to make those strides and marry them with his impressive physical skillset. 

And as was the case with Mariota, Wright doesn’t see a reason why Trubisky can’t succeed in the NFL. 

“(Trubisky) can do it all too,” Wright said. “He’s still learning, he’s still getting better, he’s never complacent. He has the ability to get better and he’s willing to get better. He’s a young guy that listens. He’s just a baller. You put him out there and he makes plays.” 

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

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USA Today Sports Images

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

Sunday will mark Kendall Wright’s first trip back to Nashville since he not-so-amicably split with the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 season. 

Wright has said he doesn’t want to talk about his time in Tennessee, where injuries and clashes with coaches led to a steady decline in targets and production after a standout 2013 season (139 targets, 94 receptions, 1,079 yards). But it’s easy to compare how he feels practicing with the Bears to how he felt toward the end of his days with the Titans. 

“A fresh start is good,” Wright said. “Football is fun again. 

“If you don’t have fun playing the game, what the use of you playing? And I didn’t really have too much fun the past few years. But when you’re out here playing and doing what you love to do, it’s fun. So you just gotta keep the game fun.”

Wright was a little more forceful earlier this year. 

“What motivates me the most is I probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year and I was playing, like, 10 plays a game,” Wright said during OTAs in June. 

But while this weekend’s game against the Titans could seem to be an opportunity for revenge, Wright is more approaching it for what it is — another preseason game to continue to improve with the rest of the first team offense. 

Wright caught a touchdown from  Glennon Saturday night in Arizona (he also was the target on Glennon’s interception, though that looked to be more on the quarterback than the receiver). And he seems to be clearly ahead of Victor Cruz to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver — Cruz wasn’t targeted against Arizona, while Wright received three targets. 

If the Glennon-led first-team offense is going to have success in the regular season, it needs improvements from every unit — quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line — based on what we’ve seen during the preseason. Perhaps a motivated, fun-having Wright, playing for the same offensive coordinator under which he had his best season, can be a part of that. 

“The game of football is supposed to be fun,” Wright said. “Don’t take the fun out of it. You just gotta go out there and have fun and make plays. When you’re making plays, it’s even more fun.”