New England Julius? Free-safety Julius?

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New England Julius? Free-safety Julius?

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
Posted: 2:42 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Great piece by Comcast SportsNet colleague Tom Curran out east on CSNNE.com about the possibility of Julius Peppers being in the "other" uniform this Sunday.

Peppers opened the door to talk of him in New England a year before he became a free agent when he talked about interest in a 3-4 defensive scheme in April 2009, Tom chronicles. "I thought about a number of teams including New England," Peppers said Wednesday. "In free agency you look at all your options. You want to play for one of the better franchises and I definitely had interest in playing for those guys."

The Patriots did sign a Bears pass-rushing force once when the Bears did not want to pay linebacker Rosevelt Colvin what New England was willing to after Colvin, who beat out Brian Urlacher for the SAM linebacker spot in Brian's rookie season. But the Patriots also lavished money on rush-linebacker Adalius Thomas in free agency subsequent to that and Thomas was a huge-money bust, doing a "New England faceplant in his three well-compensated seasons," Tom says.

How well Peppers in fact might have fit in a 3-4 scheme is open to question, if only because 3-4's typically do not get high sack totals from their ends. Peppers, however, likely would have been far more of a devastating factor in New England's 3-4 at 283 pounds than Thomas was at 270.

"You can put him pretty much anywhere, except corner, maybe," Bill Belichick said. "But anywhere else. He can definitely play on his feet and play linebacker. I mean, he'd be wasted there but you could put him there... You could put him at tight end. Probably make a left tackle out of him. I wouldn't want to tackle him if he was carrying the ball."

New England Robbie?

Where Peppers might have been a Patriot, Bears kicker Robbie Gould actually was one

Gould, pretty clearly the greatest kicker in franchise history, went to New England as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State in April 2005. The problem is that the Patriots had Adam Vinatieri, a Super Bowl winning kicker, and Gould was there to give Vinatieri a break, not a job.

Gould handled all kickoffs and one extra point in the first preseason game, kickoffs in game two, and second-half kickoffs in game three. He was slated to handle all kicking in game four but an injury elsewhere on the roster forced the Patriots to add a position player and cut Gould.

Bitterness over the cut? Not even a little bit.

"New England is a great place, like here, and they were always straightforward with me," Gould said. "And Bill Belichick, I love the guy. He's probably the greatest coach of all time."

"Iceman" Belichick?

New England coach Bill Belichick has been called many things but he may be in line for some sort of new nickname besides "Hoodie" (after his trademark hooded sweatshirt).

Linebacker Lance Briggs called on a movie reference to describe the persona Belichick and his defensive posses have.

"I like to think of them like 'Top Gun,'" Briggs said, using the blockbuster Tom Cruise film for a Belichick likeness, in particular the hyper-cool fighter pilot nicknamed "Iceman" and played by Val Kilmer.

"Remember Iceman. It's like he didn't make mistakes. He was just patient. He waits for you. As soon as you slip up a little bit -- bam -- he's got you."

IceBill?

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.