Still think Bears absolutely had to have Moss or T.O.?

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Still think Bears absolutely had to have Moss or T.O.?

Monday, Dec. 27, 2010
9:05 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Cleaning out the notebook the day after....

Spot-on

CSNChicago.com colleague and friend Jim Miller, who has been beyond question the most insightful and thorough analyst of quarterback Jay Cutlers play over the last two seasons, takes a quality look at what the Jets game revealed about the play of Cutler and the overall offense in the context of a Super Bowl prospect.

Jim, who knows, oh, just little bit about NFL quarterbacking (check out the 2001 Bears sometime), gets inside the way Cutler attacked the Jets defense. And Jim looks at the things, like pass protection and the wide receivers (T.O. who?), that make the strongest case for the Bears being a whole lot more than just a lucky team at this point of 2010.

And along that line, a good friend and former Big Ten player (and a Bear doubter in the early 010 going) texted me after Sunday with a simple message: That is one good football team. I am a believer.

The Bears may stumble in the playoffs. Someone always does. But this is indeed a good football team. And whats easy to overlook is the fact that on that offense, the quarterback, wide receivers and offensive line are just starting to be what theyre going to be before theyre all finished.

Rex-ing

One of the top national writers on hand for Sundays game (name withheld because it was casual conversation among friends) looked beyond the nonsense in New York and directly at the bizarre fake-punt call that was the point at which that game nosed over and started down for the Jets.

What he saw was the first glimpse of the end of Rex Ryan in New York. The schtick wont be enough was his observation, meaning that as likeable and entertaining as Ryan is, the coaching gaffes will count for far more in the wrong direction and ultimately be his undoing."

Rashied Davis, the Bears special teamer who broke up the Mark Sanchez pass on that play, didnt disagree that some element of arrogance could have played into Ryans decision. Not only on that play, but on the whole business of kicking to Devin Hester, another stupid call after a week of bogus feigning fear of the greatest returner in NFL history, and then tugging on Supermans cape. Bad idea.

From watching HBOs Hard Knocks, he seemed like an arrogant guy, Davis said. So we thought they would kick it to Devin, because all week he was saying Were not going to kick to Devin. But he loves his special teams.

Last laugh I

Anybody really think a couple of Bears assistants havent totally enjoyed the last two weeks?

First theres Mike Tice savoring the second blowout win over the Minnesota Vikings, the team that fired him as head coach via press release in the locker room after a loss.

And now there is Mike Martz, who was fired by Mike Singletary after 2008 when Singletary was in as San Francisco 49ers coach. Singletarys colorful tenure ended 15 games into this season when he was bounced after another highlight sideline scene (for all the wrong reasons) and more poor play.

Martzs season is going along quite nicely, thank you very much.

One head-shaker of full-circle irony here is that Singletarys final deal-killer was his in-game handling of a quarterback situation and his successor could be Jim Harbaugh, whos working wonders at Stanford. Singletary is one of the coaches from the Mike Ditka tree (Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Harbaugh, Ken Margerum) and it was Ditkas bombastic in-game handling of a quarterback situation in 92 that led to his ultimate ouster.

The quarterback back in 92: Jim Harbaugh.

Last laugh II

They wont make a public spectacle of it because thats just not how they and their coach are, but anybody happen to notice what Bears wide receivers did Sunday against perhaps the top cornerback tandem (Darrelle RevisAntonio Cromartie) in the NFL?

Darryl Drake has quietly and very firmly backed his guys ever since the start of last year when the group of Johnny Knox, Hester, Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodu (with a sprinkling of Rashied Davis) was coming together amid major public doubts.

Anybody still think the Bears absolutely had to have Terrell Owens or Randy Moss?

Flexing

Sunday's Bears-Packers game at Lambeau Field has been moved to a 3:15 p.m. start.

Checking in

We wont have our regular CSNChicago.com chat tonight at 7 p.m. because I need to get in-studio to finish off our Top 10 of 2010 highlights for the Bears (OK, OK, I know, I have a face for radio...).

But well toss around some Bears thoughts on Chicago Tribune Live at 5:30 p.m. And for those of you downstate, well pick it up at 4:40 p.m. on WFMB-AM SportsRadio 1450 as usual this afternoon.

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’ Markus Wheaton says wide receiver group is 'definitely underrated'

Bears’ Markus Wheaton says wide receiver group is 'definitely underrated'

No doubt, there are doubts about the makeup of this 2017 Bears wide receiver corps. But as the departed Alshon Jeffery created doubts, health-wise, the past two years about whether he could stay on the field to prove himself worthy of a big payday (which he didn’t even get from the Eagles), Ryan Pace brought in a handful of replacements who’ve flashed in this league before. But recent history’s shown each of them has something to prove as well.

From Rueben Randle to fellow former Giant Victor Cruz. From former first rounders Kendall Wright to Kevin White, taking a third swing at making it though an entire NFL season.

Then there’s Markus Wheaton, the only free agent signee at the position this season to receive a two-year deal ($11 million total, with $6 million guaranteed). Like the rest of the group, though, he’s at a career crossroads. Following seasons with 53 and 44 catches in Pittsburgh in 2014 and 2015 (with a 17-yard average in the latter), the quick-twitch former Steeler was limited to three games a year ago before eventually undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in January.

“Everyone’s new, so we don’t know what it’s gonna be,” he said of the group at the team’s recent minicamp in Lake Forest. “In Pittsburgh you kind of have a clue `cause they’ve done it for so long. Everybody’s new, everybody’s trying to find their niche, so we’ll see how it goes. Anything’s possible. We’ve got a lot of guys who are looking for opportunity. A lot of guys that are hungry and have something to prove. Anything’s possible. Anyone can come out on top. The ultimate goal is to win games and I’m sure the coaches will put us in position to do that.”

The former third-round pick out of Oregon State (where he’s the Beavers’ all-time career leader in receptions, one ahead of Brandin Cooks) played all three receiver positions in Pittsburgh at various times, and while he seems most natural in the slot, is working to make himself as versatile as possible here. But that comes with some risk as a quarterback room that’s also gone through its share of turnover tries to get on the same page with all the targets. But Wheaton is more than confident the results will come from within this group.

“I think we definitely are underrated," Wheaton said. "We’ve come in and worked to get to where we wanna be. We will get there, and it’ll show up on the field.”

The incumbents in the room include Joshua Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Daniel Braverman, Cam Meredith, and, of course, White. Wheaton can see the potential in the ex-seventh overall draft pick.

“I couldn’t imagine all the stuff he’s been through, all the pressure that’s been put on him," Wheaton said. "But he’s a down-to-earth guy who works extremely hard, so I think he’s gonna get his. He’s a big-time playmaker, so I’m excited to see him play.

“They welcomed me with open arms. Everybody’s down to earth, been easy to talk to so when I have questions, I’ve been getting answers, so it’s been real easy for me.”

That surgically-repaired shoulder was cleared for full participation just in time for minicamp two weeks ago. And Wheaton won’t allow himself to become hesitant physically as he aims to conquer what hesitation he could have within the offense, working with quarterbacks not named Ben Roethlisberger.

“I really don’t think there’s time for that. When you’re ready to go, you just go,” Wheaton told us. “You come in, you work, you rehab. And for me personally I had to rehab a lot to get back to where I wanted to be. There’s a level I want to be at. I’ve been just working to get there, so there’s no time for that.”

That last statement comes even if some observers hesitate to call Wheaton and these wideouts “underrated.” They’ll start attempting to prove that when the Bears report to Bourbonnais exactly one month from Monday.

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”