Nerves rise in Bears Nation after Packers beat Vikes

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Nerves rise in Bears Nation after Packers beat Vikes

Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010
2:36 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Looking at the Green Bay-Minnesota game (well, it was supposed to be one):

Not that the Bears and Bear fans wanted a booster shot for any NFC North nervousness but .

FOX Sports graphic showing the exact same win-loss records (23-18) for Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre through their respective first 41 games should have sent a jolt through Bears Nation. The real meat of the graphic was in the far better TD-INT ratio that Rodgers has to this career point vs. Favre. Because Rodgers is anything but a game-manager and he still is not giving the ball away to the degree that Favre did, and does.

James Jones Nice throw point to Rodgers after a deft touch pass along the deep right sideline was a statement. And Rodgers just needed a quick finger gesture and Greg Jennings broke his route in the end zone for a TD pass from Rodgers. Then Jones connection with Rodgers for the TD before halftime just was one more illustration of the growing connection that quarterback and receiver corps.

Throw in Jennings second TD connection with Rodgers in the third quarter and the Vikings were road kill. Then Rodgers drops another into Jennings lap to push things to 31-3.

Jay Cutler may eventually have that with Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and others. Not yet.

Faulting Favre
Brett Favres choppiness on the sidelines during this game says again how bad a fit he has become is his dotage. The Vikings turnover ratio reached a minus-13 with a poorly thrown slant throw that was intercepted near the end of the first half. It was Favres fault and his mesh with his receivers appears to be only slightly better than with his coaches.

At some point, when it starts looking like everybody else is the problem, you realize that theres one constant in all these issues: No. 4.

Much has been made about reports of how players dislike coach Brad Childress, but those seriously miss the point. It is never difficult to find the five (three, six, pick a number) players who dislike the head coach or manager; you want three in the Bears locker room, theyre there.

The real issue in Minnesota appears to be how divisive Favre has been

John Randle, Overachiever? No such thing

Fun to see John Randle receive his Hall of Fame ring Sunday. The Minnesota defensive tackle was in the Class of 2010 and was one of the great Bears tormentors of the 1990s as well as one of the funnier players to line up against the local 11.

He was also 6-1, 270 pounds and an undrafted free agent that no one thought was worth much of a look. But Randle is worth a very long look for more than just his sack total and domination of so many games.

Its easy to label people like Randle as overachievers because they accomplished so much more than expected. I look at Randles instead as inspiration he achieved everything he was capable of. The ones who decided how good Randle should be, ooops.

Matt Toeaina and I talked a little about the notion of overachiever this past week and he agreed that you cant over achieve (unless youre substance-aided or such). The Bears defensive tackle, himself undrafted and pretty much uncelebrated before winning Tommie Harris starting job this year, had an amusing self-assessment:

I dont look at what Im doing as over-achieving, Toeaina said, laughing. I think what I did before this was maybe me under achieving.

Couldnt have said it better.

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.

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

So Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing in his rookie season, despite just a dozen carries in the first three games. The fifth-round pick joined the man who beat him out for the rushing title, Ezekiel Elliott, as one of just five rookies in history to average five or more yards per carry on over 250 carries. And he set the Bears' rookie rushing record with his 1,313 yards while becoming just the fourth in franchise history to rush for that many yards in a season.

Sounds pretty hard to top, like we might be set up for the dreaded sophomore slump.

But...

"Things are a lot different this year because I know what to expect," Howard said during the team's minicamp two weeks ago. "I know all the plays and things like that. I’m not out there thinking, so I can just play free and fast.

"I definitely feel like a veteran 'cause I know what to expect and can help the young guys on the plays that they're not understanding. I’m just more comfortable and want to be a leader."

One of the other things we learned about Howard last year is he's low-key, a man of few words. So the Indiana product by way of UAB will make his points verbally when needed, but his actions will speak louder.

"He was a rookie a year ago and didn't even go in trying to be a leader, telling a five-year guy what was up," said head coach John Fox. "I think with time, and obviously with production like he had, I think it's a role he can fall in to. We're in a performance-based business and even in that locker room, what they do on Sundays gives them some credibility."

One of the concerns about Howard coming out of college was durability, but he answered the bell once he became the starter in week four against Detroit. And he probably wasn't used nearly as much as he should have. The good news about that is he was subject to less wear and tear, averaging just 18 carries per game from that Lions game on.

But besides taking more of a leadership role, Howard wanted to work on his speed without sacrificing the strong base that, paired with keen vision and work by the offensive line, allowed him to hit holes quickly and charge toward the second level of opposing defenses.

"Just improving on the little things – my conditioning, my weight, catching passes. And looking for ways to finish runs better," says Howard. "I feel like I’m in much better shape than I was at this time last year, a little more toned-up."

"It's just training," said Fox. "When you get to that it's more like track speed than football speed and I think he proved pretty worthy of that a year ago as a rookie. Y'know we all can improve on things, and that's the expectation. He's trained hard.

"This time of year last year he wasn’t even practicing," Fox remembered. "I like where we are, we’ve brought in more competition, and he’s better for it. He’s kind of gotten used to an NFL season, he’s come back ready to roll, but he still has work to do before we get to training camp."  

Oh, and the 22-year-old has a couple of other goals he didn't mind sharing, besides being a leader and getting a little faster.

"First off, make the playoffs. Be the leading rusher, and just help the team in any way I can and stay consistent."

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to keeping it real.

The outspoken All-Pro receiver never minces his words and that continued over the weekend when he showed off his signed jersey collection.

Marshall took to Instagram and showed off "Santa" hanging all of the jerseys he's swapped with other NFL players:

Santa doing work.. . #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

The list includes a host of current and future Hall of Fame players: Champ Bailey, Cris Carter, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lance Briggs, Adam Vinatieri, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas.

When almost all the framed jerseys were hung, Marshall took his followers through:

@nfl #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

Marshall compliments each player before, calling them "Hall of Famers" before getting to Jay Cutler at the end and going "Hall of..." multiple times.

Was that Marshall throwing shade at his former quarterback in both Denver and Chicago? If it was an innocent mistake or whatever, there's no way Marshall would've posted the Instagram video, right?

Marshall and Cutler were good friends from the beginning of their careers with the Broncos. So much so that the Bears traded a pair of third round draft picks in March 2012 to allow the two to continue their bromance by the lake:

But Marshall and Cutler have had a contentious relationship since.

Last summer, Marshall responded to a Tweet saying "of course" he misses Cutler. Last August, Marshall hopped on ESPN's First Take and said he thought Cutler could win the MVP Award in the 2016 NFL season.

At the same time, Marshall talked about his relationship with Cutler and said he was the only person on the Bears with the "huevos" to hold the enigmatic quarterback accountable. Marshall also said he was "sad" he didn't talk to Cutler much in the year leading up to August 2016.