Sunday serves as proof Bears schedule gets tougher

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Sunday serves as proof Bears schedule gets tougher

Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010
6:25 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Philadelphia Eagles are the immediate concern for the Bears but what was happening a little further down the schedule was startling. General manager Jerry Angelo said last Thursday that he thought the Bears didnt necessarily have to get any better this season to be successful, just be as good as they are now but do it consistently.

But the Bears themselves might concede that theyll have to keep their game at its highest level in the face of whats coming in the next six weeks after Michael Vick and the Eagles:

New England (Dec. 12)

New England scored touchdowns on each of its first three possessions against the Indianapolis Colts and very methodically was doing business at the Colts expense. Then Peyton Manning began doing what Peyton Manning does.

Missing receivers and running backs and working with a patchwork offensive unit, Manning brought the Colts virtually back from a three-score deficit before throwing his third interception with Indianapolis nearly within range of kicking a tying field goal (sound vaguely familiar?).

The Patriots have won seven of their last eight, with only that head-scratcher in Cleveland cluttering up the run. Nasty observation: New England has scored no fewer than 23 points in any game this year and put up 30 or more in six of their 10 games.

New York Jets (Dec. 26)

New York blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter against Houston, then scored a winning TD to down the Texans 30-27 in what longtime Houston Chronicle NFL guru John McClain called the second-worst collapse ever (the first being Houstons vs. Buffalo a long time ago in a playoff nightmare bad enough to get D-coordinator Buddy Ryan to take a sideline swing at offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride).

Mark Sanchez continues toward elite status among NFL quarterbacks, engineering the Jets final TD drive with precision throws and finishing with 315 passing yards and 3 TDs vs. just one INT.

The Bears last shutout before the one Thursday in Miami was against the Jets in 2006. Just a guess, but Im not seeing another shutout when the Jets show up in Soldier Field the day after Christmas.

Green Bay (Jan. 2)

Green Bay spotted the Minnesota Vikings a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, then obliterated Brett Favre and the rest of that spiraling team, 31-3. The drama playing out with Favre and Brad Childress may be interesting copy, but what the Packers have done since losing consecutive OT games a month ago is significant.

Since edging by the Vikings 28-24, the Packers have beaten the Jets, Dallas and now Minnesota again, allowing 0, 7 and 3 points. Aaron Rodgers is making the highlight films; the defense is officially becoming scary.

The Packers have allowed 146 total points. Same as the Bears. The Bears-Packers difference? Green Bay has scored 252 to the Bears 191.
Missing Moss

Is anybody charting Randy Moss impact on the Tennessee Titans offense? The guy that some observers thought the Bears simply could not prosper without has caught exactly one (1) pass for Tennessee and it did not come in Sundays overtime loss to the Washington Redskins.

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.