NFL Combine: Bears, Pack shouldn't look past Lions

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NFL Combine: Bears, Pack shouldn't look past Lions

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011
10:51 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
Nicely done
Kudos to NBC colleague Peggy Kusinski for her excellent job following up on some of the torment in the Dave Duerson tragedy. Sometimes the splash of a news event can overshadow the sad realities of the people involved and Peggy does a her usual tremendous job talking with Alicia Duerson about some of the difficulties swirling around DD. Its good to always remember that we dont cover or read about sports; we cover and read about people.

Doin well

These events are excellent for catching up with old friends and it was very good to see Randy Brown, former Bears kicking coach who was a factor with Jeff Jaeger back in the day and was the calming influence on Todd Sauerbrun (such as it could be).

Randy, the kicking coach for the Baltimore Ravens the last four years, still has a nice trace of a tan from his trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, courtesy of Billy Cundiff. The Ravens signed Cundiff, an undrafted free agent out of Drake whod been with eight different teams over the years, including four seasons with Dallas before flaming out there. With Randys help, Cundiff tied a record for touchbacks (40) and responded by taking Randy and his wife with him to the Pro Bowl.

But the funny part of running into Randy and having some time to visit: He gives me his business card (the non-football one). And turns out hes mayor (no, really, he is) of Evesham Township in New Joisy, when hes from. We hung out a while before he had to run off to finish some Combine interviews and also get some work done on his township budget, due Tuesday.
FootstepsThe Bears and Green Bay Packers may be looking hard at each other as the team to beat in 11 but they probably dont want to look too far past a one-time doormat in the NFC North.

The Detroit Lions increased their win total from zero in 2008 to two in 2009 to six in 2010. The jump last season came with No. 1s Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle and Jahvid Best at running back and significant signings in free agency, which wont be available to the Lions this year.

So the question was put to coach Jim Schwartz as to whether he thought the Lions could close the gap between themselves and the Bears and Green Bay Packers, the former being the division winners and the latter being the Super Bowl champions.

Schwartz bristled, appropriately, then provided a bit of Rex Ryan Lite in declaring that he and the Lions arent in business to close gaps with anybody. Theyre about the business of winning the NFC North.

For anyone just tuning in, Schwartz was kind enough to provide some 10 play-by-replay:

Split with the Pack and lost by four both times against the Bears. Obviously the opener, the way that ended, and then Drew Stanton had a three-point lead with I guess it was a few minutes left when Cutler was able to lead them to that last touchdown.

We need to win more games and we really dont take a whole lot of pride in having six wins or even having the last four. There werent many teams in the NFL that won four in a row. That stuff sort of makes you feel good, but you cant expect that to carry over. It is what it is, it happened in the past and how we do next year wont be because of what happened in last years game against the

Packers or last years game against the Bears, it will be how we do in training camp and how we do in everything else as we move forward.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.