Chicago Bears

No accolades, but Bears offense still jelling just fine

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No accolades, but Bears offense still jelling just fine

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010
4:40 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

No member of the Bears offense was voted to the NFC Pro Bowl roster. No giant surprise there, given that the unit ranks 30th in yardage, 18th in points per game and has absolutely been pantsd in a number of national games before putting 40 on the Minnesota Vikings in a game played after most votes were in.

The Bears scored one TD in each of the Miami and New England games, had more sacks than points against the Giants, and have been out-gained in five of their 11 wins. Not impressive.

But the Chicago offense right now is the quintessential case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. And that is a very good thing.

Matt Forte is averaging 4.7 yards per carry over the last eight games. Only LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia, Jonathan Stewart in Carolina and Tampa Bays LeGarrette Blount have averaged more. Forte and McCoy are the only backs in the NFC with 900 rushing and 400 receiving yards and Forte is poised to join Walter Payton as the only Bears with 1,000 rushing and 500 receiving yards in the same season.

The Bears have converted 46.3 percent of their third downs in the past eight weeks. The only teams ahead of them (New Orleans, Green Bay, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New England) are all in or near the playoffs. The reason: Jay Cutler is the NFLs best in third-down passes completion percentage for first downs (92.1) and in percent of overall attempts completed for firsts (54.7).

When the Bears played the Green Bay Packers the first time, only center Olin Kreutz and left tackle Frank Omiyale were starting in those positions, and Omiyale was making his first start there. Roberto Garza was out of position at left guard, and the right side consisted of Lance Louis at guard and Kevin Shaffer at right tackle.

When Cutler met with the media Wednesday, the subject of Pro Bowl never came up, maybe because the only Bears on the all-star roster were from defense or special teams. But you have the distinct feeling that the Bears could not care less about things like Pro Bowls at this point.

We dont really want to take a step back as a team or as an offense the way we have played the last couple games, Cutler said. Were kind of putting things together. We want to keep that going.

Obviously you cant take the last eight games and treat it like its own separate season.

Or can you? The Packers, who had two members of their offense (tackle Chad Clifton, receiver Greg Jennings) selected and three others named as alternates, are looking at the Bears exactly that way.

I think overall, theyre just starting to jell and come together, said linebacker Clay Matthews, one of three Pro Bowlers on the Green Bay defense. Obviously, Cutler has got a nice little rhythm going. Knox continues to make big plays. Obviously, Olsen at tight end and Forte has really got it going. I think more so than them changing, theyre really jelling. I think thats the biggest difference is theyre on a roll.

And that is a whole lot more important than being on a Pro Bowl roster.

Ouch

Kudos to Jay Glazer, FOXSports.coms NFL maven and good friend of View from the Moon (Glaze IDd the Bears as the NFC darkhorse team back when we hooked up in Bourbonnais) on breaking the 50,000 fine Brett Favre was tagged with by the NFL for failure to cooperate in the Jenn Sterger mess and investigation (http:tinyurl.com29666xz).

Glaze notes that the fine wasnt for violating a policy but for non-cooperation. Not exactly the Al Capone to Alcatraz for income tax evasion, but you get the idea.

Welcome thoughts

Compliments to a few of you for thoughts, even ones I disagree with, on recent columns. Geeman215 thinks staying healthy is the key through this final regular-season game vs. my point that the Lovie Smith Bears have stumbled badly when they phone in their last game. Gee notes that this isnt Rex Grossman were talking about, as we were in 2006. But Id just note that Grossman had more 100 passer ratings (seven) than Jay Cutler has this season. He wasnt the Bad Rex that ran off the rails in subsequent seasons. My point is that this team needs to stay focused and not take an excessive amount of time off before its playoff game.

dcrutch15 weighed in with an intriguing prospect for a Bears wide receiver: Plaxico Burress. Burress was one of three players the Bears were prepared to take in the 2000 draft (plus Thomas Jones and Brian Urlacher) at No. 9, whoever was left, and that turned out to be Urlacher after Pittsburgh grabbed Burress.

Burress is serving time for weapons charges and even managed to shoot himself in the leg. But hell be eligible for parole in early 2011 and I like dcrutchs alluding to Michael Vick as a successful rehab story.

Burress, like Vick, could well have been humbled by his fall and may be a superb low-risk gamble on a towering wideout who caught a Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass.

The comments are always welcome. Always enjoy things you all notice.

Kaping if off

Today is All-Kap All The Time Day here at "View from the Moon" where I spend more time with good buddy David Kaplan than his family does. Ill do a little talk-back (Kap considers it back-talk, but hey, he just doesnt like being sassed) on Comcast SportsNets Chicago Tribune Live at 5:40 p.m. and give Kap a chance to make his prediction for the score of the Bears-Patriots Super Bowl.

Then Ill visit with Kap on WGN-AM 720 a little after 8 p.m.

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.

What Mitchell Trubisky learned in that pre-draft workout with Ben Roethlisberger

What Mitchell Trubisky learned in that pre-draft workout with Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger came away from his pre-draft workout with Mitchell Trubisky — the two share the same agent — impressed, an opinion which the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers detailed on Wednesday. The feeling was mutual for Trubisky. 

“Yeah, Big Ben’s awesome,” Trubisky said. “It was really special and really a privilege to learn from him. … “I’ve really looked up to him ever since he came out because he’s an Ohio guy as well. He came from Miami, Ohio. And it’s unique he was able to have success early on in his career and that’s what you try to duplicate as a quarterback coming into this league, and just how he carries himself, how competitive he is. I just try to take those things and hopefully add them into my own game as well.”

Roethlisberger — who went to high school in Findlay, Ohio, which is about two and a half hour west of Trubisky’s hometown of Mentor — won every game he started his rookie year and won his first of two Super Bowls a year later. Beyond his success quarterbacking the Steelers over these last 14 years, though, Trubisky felt he could learn something from how Roethlisberger has been a leader in Pittsburgh’s locker room. 

“(He) owns the locker room, no matter where you’re at,” Trubisky said. “I think it’s just the type of person you are. You’re competitive. You’re an alpha. You know how things are supposed to be done and you won’t settle for anything less than what has to be done. You’re settling for nothing less than excellence. That’s what he strives he for and, I mean, that’s what we’re all striving for.”

Eventually, the Bears expect Trubisky to command the locker room in the same fashion (he certainly has the self-belief and confidence to do so). And perhaps he'll have the same kind of trophy-driven success over a long period of time enjoyed by Roethlisberger, too. While Trubisky isn't in control of his career just yet, that was another lesson he took away from Roethlisberger.

"One of the big pieces of advice he gave me was really take control of your career," Trubisky said. "And I think that's kind of how he instills how he carries himself in the locker room, on the practice field, at the line of scrimmage. The play is going to go how he wants it and that's really how I want my career to go. Just exactly what you dream of, and take control and get everyone to buy into the same plan. I think that's how you create a winning culture -- really taking control, really taking ownership and hopefully that trickles down through the rest of the team."

Bears: Kyle Long looks set for 2017 debut while Josh Sitton doubtful for Week 3

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USA TODAY

Bears: Kyle Long looks set for 2017 debut while Josh Sitton doubtful for Week 3

Kyle Long was a full participant in back-to-back practices Thursday and Friday, and wasn't listed on the team's injury report Friday, clearing the path for the three-time Pro Bowler to make his 2017 debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s been a lengthy, grueling process for Long to get to this point, with significant muscle atrophy in his ankle and a setback during training camp further delaying his return to the field. 

Where Long plays in his 2017 debut will be interesting to watch. The Bears have planned on moving him from right guard to left guard, though with Josh Sitton doubtful with a rib injury, Long — who didn’t get many full-team reps at left guard during training camp anyway — could start on the right side Sunday. 

Part of the equation, too, is that Cody Whitehair has more experience with the Bears at left guard, where he played until Sitton was signed before the beginning of the 2016 season. If Tom Compton (hip, questionable?) can’t play on Sunday, Whitehair presumably will move to guard while Hroniss Grasu will start at center. Whitehair did play both left and right guard in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to the injuries to Sitton and Compton. 

No matter where Long starts, though, his return will provide a boost to an offensive line that’s been flooded with extra defenders against the run so far this year. The Steelers would be smart to take the same stack-the-box approach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did, which led to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen being limited to 20 yards on 16 carries. 

Fox said Long won't be on a concrete snap count, but the Bears will evaluate him throughout the game. But even if Long isn’t 100 percent, or doesn’t play 100 percent of the snaps, he can be a difference-maker for an offense that’s needed difference-makers in 2017. 

“I mean, the expectations are where they left off when I left. I always have high expectations,” Long said. “If you play the game you change the game. If you’re out there doing anything other than that then you’re just witnessing it, you’re watching. It’s not a spectator sport.”