Mullin: Panthers should look at Bears' QB history

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Mullin: Panthers should look at Bears' QB history

Monday, April 11, 2011
Posted: 9:41 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Platteville buddy Peter King of Sports Illustrated recounts an interesting chat with Carolina Panthers GM Marty Hurney in his Monday Morning Quarterback, appropriately titled because the talk around Cam Newton is picking up. The Panthers have the No. 1 overall pick and itll be primarily Hurneys call on which player, or players, first-time head coach Ron Rivera is given.

Missouris Blaine Gabbert has been the consensus pick if Carolina goes quarterback but the Panthers have gotten tapes of Newton playing at Blinn Junior College, which raises eyebrows as well as draft stock. A variable in Carolina is the presence of Jimmy Clausen, a Hurney second-round pick last year, and the fact that the Panthers are still looking at a quarterback might not bode well for Clausen long-term.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper is one who thinks Carolina would be making a major mistake giving up on Clausen, who struggled horrendously against the Bears (12.0 passer rating, pulled) last season. Can Clausen still be successful?

No question about it, Kiper declared. Jimmy Clausen written out as a reject? I dont see it.

Mel has questions, as do most evaluators, about Newton but a lot of them are the kind raised about every highly rated quarterback. And you wonder if those Blinn tapes are going to create an even loftier image of Newton that hell have to maintain.

Things came easy for Cam Newton, Mel said. I hope he doesnt think its going to come easy in the NFL. When he hits that adversitywhen he starts being called a bust, how does he deal with that? Thats something to concern yourself with... Anytime your transitioning from one level to the next, its tough.

The Dallas Cowboys once went after Steve Walsh with a No. 1 pick in a supplemental draft after already taking Troy Aikman No. 1 overall in the regular draft. The San Francisco 49ers traded a couple draft picks for Steve Young even with Joe Montana in place and still at an MVP level. Howd those work out?

You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many potential franchise quarterbacks in your pipeline. Just ask the Bears what happens if you dont.

Get it right the first time

Whether the Bears address their offensive line on the first or second day of the draft, or both, the football absolute at work is the need to get the pick right. Very, very right.

This is beyond the obvious need to acquire talent now. It involves not having to go after the same position again and again if theres a miss near the top of the draft. Because the cost of a failed pick ripples into subsequent drafts, as the Bears have found too often.

A reason the Bears are still in need of a dominant offensive lineman is in part because Chris Williams hasnt been, which is the expectation of a 14th-overall pick. A reason the Bears needed to bring in guards Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza via free agency was the lack of impact from third-rounders Mike Gandy and Terrence Metcalf in 2001-2002.

Replacing players because of age or free-agency departures is part of the deal. But needing to address the same position year after year is a hidden disaster. When Jim Coverts career was cut short because of a back injury, the Bears went through Stan Thomas (1991, No. 1), Troy Auzenne (1992, No. 2) and Marcus Spears (1994, No. 2) trying to find a tackle and ultimately had to buy Andy Heck to stop the draft hemorrhaging.

The Bears need a hit up front, particularly with elite-level guards costing upwards of 6 million a season.

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.

Wrapping up Bears-Chiefs: Not all bad, so why not find some good?

Wrapping up Bears-Chiefs: Not all bad, so why not find some good?

Bears coach John Fox declared in the wake of Saturday’s 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that what transpired hadn’t been all bad. And that’s true; good wins don’t usually look as good in the film room afterwards, and bad losses don’t automatically show up all dark, either.

And so it is after preseason game No. 3 that the Bears in fact did have some good along with some bad in what was the worst performance of the preseason, if only because so much of it involved the No. 1 units, and they’re supposed to be better than that.

Since so much seemed to be (and actually was) bad on Saturday night, the contrarian approach is invoked here: Let’s start with the good.

Good: The Bears faced Kansas City (which also was missing a handful of key starters) without Bryce Callahan, Leonard Floyd, Kyle Fuller, Kyle Long, Pernell McPhee, Zach Miller and Eddie Royal. Tracy Porter left with a concussion. They expect to have some if not all of those starters and sub-starters back by Week 1.

Bad: Miller, Porter, Royal and McPhee have varying degrees of injury histories, McPhee the least of the group but had never been put in the position of holding up as a full-time starter before last season. The chances of the Bears having all their key players for full seasons are slim.

Good: Jay Cutler has thrown 31 passes this preseason. None of them have been intercepted. In what proved to be a foreshadowing of a ball-security breakthrough for the historically turnover-prone quarterback, Cutler threw zero interceptions in 33 attempts last preseason. In the regular season Cutler had two games of 31 attempts and another of 33 with zero interceptions, plus pick-free games of 24, 27 and 45 attempts.

Preseason and training camp stats mean nothing; preseason and camp performances often do.

[RELATED: Bears defense can't pick up all the pieces from a broken offense]

Bad: Kevin White has shown less than nothing through preseason, catching a total of three passes and dropping an equal number in what is his de facto rookie season. He has run imprecise routes and looked a seventh-round draft pick, not a seventh-overall one. Despite his apparent explosiveness, no Bear is averaging less than White’s 4 yards per reception.

Good: Josh Bellamy and Cameron Meredith have had next-step preseasons, a matter of some potential significance given the health concerns with Eddie Royal and production concerns with White. No Bear has caught more than Bellamy’s 10 passes, and no Bear with more than two catches has averaged more than Meredith’s 16 yards per catch.

Bad: The Bears need a road win at Cleveland next Thursday to avoid the fifth winless preseason in franchise history.

Good: Of the previous four no-win warmup slates, the Bears finished 9-5 in 1962 and 11-5 and in the NFC Championship in 2010. The 1998 season, Dave Wannstedt’s last, wound up 4-12 but 1978 at least was 7-9.

Five of the last six times the Bears lost the “all-important third preseason game,” the Bears finished 8-8 or better.

Bad: (put in the Kansas City game tape)

Bears cut 10 players, trim roster to 80

Bears cut 10 players, trim roster to 80

The Bears have until Tuesday to move their roster down to 75, and they began Sunday by cutting 10 players.

The following players were waived: DL Keith Browner, WR Kieran Duncan, WR Derek Keaton, OL John Kling, RB Senorise Perry, WR Darrin Peterson, DB Joel Ross, TE Gannon Sinclair, OL Martin Wallace, FB Darrell Young

The Bears' roster currently sits at 80 players. After getting the roster down to 75 on Tuesday, the team will then cut down to 53 for the start of the regular season.

The Bears open their regular season on Sept. 4 in Houston against the Texans.

For the Bears, defense can’t pick up all the pieces from broken offense

For the Bears, defense can’t pick up all the pieces from broken offense

The current state of affairs for the 2016 Bears is seriously concerning when, after adding multiple starting players and investing high draft choices, the best that can be said about the Bears defense is that it isn’t as bad as the Bears offense.

A unit predicted to contend for a spot among the NFL’s top 10 this year was pushed around for 378 yards and 23 points in a 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. To push all of it off onto the fact that it was a preseason game won’t work, if only because the No. 1 defense allowed 239 of those yards and 20 of those points in the first half.

One mitigating fact is that the Bears offense hit a new preseason low and was coming back off the field before most members of the defense had had time to look at photos and to hydrate. Five of the Bears’ first seven possessions lasted less than 1 minute 30 seconds. Defensive players usually had time to get water or get with their coaches; not both.

And the defense did stiffen in the red zone, forcing the Chiefs twice to settle for field goals with the ball inside the Chicago 10 and a third time at the 23. And players at least bristled at the suggestion that the Bears are soft. “I take that personally,” said safety Harold Jones-Quartey. "I have never heard that word… . The first time I’ve ever heard anybody call us ‘soft’ is [now].”

Coach John Fox found some good in “the way our defense improved. We got a couple turnovers down in the lower-red area.”

[SHOP: Get your Bears gear here]

But those were scant positives in a game that saw Kansas City put together drives of 50 yards or longer five of the first six times it had the football, and those were against the supposed front liners.

The Chiefs drove 53 and 62 yards on their first two possessions, which included conversions of third-and-5 and third-and-14, part of the Chiefs converting six of 10 third downs in the first half. (“Obviously our third-and-long defense wasn’t real sufficient,” Fox allowed.)

Kansas City piled up 106 yards in the first quarter and what defensive “stops” there were might just as easily be credited to Kansas City execution as Bears playmaking. The Chiefs arguably had their initial drive stopped as much by tailback Spencer Ware colliding with blocking back Darrin Reaves on a third-and-short (2) for no gain. A fourth long drive of the half ended only when the Chiefs had a Bears blitz blocked, only to have Smith miss wide open wideout Albert Wilson inside the Chicago 10.

Special teams did the defense few favors. Kansas City punt returns of 18 and 15 yards put the ball at the KC 36 and the 50. The Bears did well to leave those possessions giving up only 3 points.

The game, in which starters and first-alternates play the longest of the preseason, had its points of player evaluation. Rookie cornerback Deiondre’ Hall, whose preseason has been marked by impact plays (not all of them good, of course), did generate another in the third quarter with an interception that thwarted a Kansas City scoring drive deep in the Chicago end. This was, however, after he had lost the ball and the receiver on a 58-yard completion the previous Chiefs possession.

And rookie defensive end Jonathan Bullard, after missing practice last week to attend to family matters, collected two quarterback hits, a sack and two tackles for loss among his three solo stops, according to initial game stats.

But rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd, who has missed practice time with three different health issues since the start of training camp, was limited in practice this week with a hamstring strain, and missed an important opportunity for much-needed work against unfamiliar competition.

“We got a chance to look at some young guys and make evaluations,” Fox said, “and that’s what preseason’s for.”