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.

Want to be in on Bears QB deliberations? 'Look at the film'

Want to be in on Bears QB deliberations? 'Look at the film'

Back in 1992 the Dallas Cowboys were in draft deliberations around the No. 17 spot of the first round, looking for upgrades on defense. A scout made a suggestion that they target Ohio State defensive end Alonzo Spellman, one of the most physically imposing (6-4, 280 pounds) players and best athletes in that draft.
 
Coach Jimmy Johnson responded, "Tell me about the production."
 
Came back the answer: Three years at OSU, nine total sacks.
 
"Oh, please!" Johnson scoffed, calling in cornerback Kevin Smith and leaving Spellman to the Bears at No. 22. Spellman had several respectable seasons but never more than 8.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons.
 
As investment advisers counsel, past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future results. But past performance can be, and an axiom in NFL personnel rooms is, look at the film.
 
CSNChicago.com is doing that as the NFL Scouting Combine approaches (Feb. 29) along with free agency and the start of the league year and its trading window. It becomes an increasingly relevant exercise to look at the intricacies behind some of the key players and positions the Bears will be addressing through the upcoming weeks. CSNChicago.com previously looked at the need to evaluate quarterbacks from the intangible standpoints first, then the measurables.
 
Using Jay Cutler as an object lesson for how immense physical skills have questionable correlations to immense NFL performance, a look at one aspect of quarterback "film" warrants more attention than the measurables that command a disproportionate share of attention and scrutiny.
 
Ball security.
 
It has been Cutler's single biggest issue through his eight Bears seasons, was a reason why coaches once wanted to stay with Josh McCown instead of returning to Cutler following a Cutler injury absence, and why Brian Hoyer played his way into prominence in the discussion of 2017 Bears plans. Adam Gase went from offensive coordinator to hottest head-coach prospect in no small measure because he managed Cutler into better ball security.

[SHOP: Get your Bears gear right here]
 
But the point here is less Cutler – expected to be traded or released within the near future – than the level of ball security in the available options beyond Hoyer.
 
So, look at the film:
 
The widespread drooling over a possible trade with New England for Jimmy Garoppolo. The best thing in Garoppolo's favor is that he has been a Patriots backup to Tom Brady. Garoppolo, drawing distant comparisons to a Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and other past experience-lite quarterback options, has thrown 94 NFL passes without an interception, which is impressive until matched against Hoyer's 200 last season without an interception, for comparison purposes.
 
But evaluating Garoppolo against the coming chief draft competition – DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson – suggests comparing apples to apples, meaning college ball security, since that's all the kids have to this point.
 
Garoppolo vaulted up draft boards (to New England's second round) on the strength of an Eastern Illinois senior season with 53 touchdown passes vs. nine interceptions, against chiefly FCS opposition. But in his first three seasons Garoppolo threw for 65 touchdowns and was intercepted 42 times.
 
Kizer? In his two Notre Dame seasons, 47 touchdowns, 19 interceptions.
 
Trubisky? 30 touchdowns last season, six interceptions. Including his two years as a North Carolina backup, 41 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
 
Watson? 90 touchdowns, 32 interceptions in three Clemson seasons, the last two as Tigers starter.
 
Observations:
 
Garoppolo put in four college seasons, but has a little of the Trubisky/Flynn/Cassel, one-year-wonder feel. 
 
Kizer and Watson have more starting seasons, but the Watson intangible of getting his team to two national-championship games speaks to another level of "intangible."
 
GM Ryan Pace will incorporate heavy input from coach John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. Coaches love ball security. Garoppolo? Watson? Trubisky? Kizer?
 
Look at the film.

BearsTalk Podcast: The risk and reward for Bears in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo

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USA TODAY

BearsTalk Podcast: The risk and reward for Bears in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo

In this edition of the BearsTalk podcast, CSN's Chris Boden, Sun-Times Bears beat writer Patrick Finley, and CSNChicago.com's Scott Krinch discuss the Bears' approach to the two-week window opening to franchise-tag Alshon Jeffery again, the risk/reward in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or drafting a QB (and how high to draft one), Scott's 2.0 mock draft, plus the workers' compensation controversy the team found itself in last week and the club's decision to raise ticket prices.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: