Tillman: Johnson is the Goliath of receivers

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Tillman: Johnson is the Goliath of receivers

Kip & Moon: Previewing Bears-Lions
Warner: Playing under Martz
Wright: Stopping the Lions' offense
Suh: The physical specimen
Read: Why can't teams contain Johnson?
When Charles Tillman said Monday that he was not entirely surprised by the Detroit Lions doing well, he had good reason.

The Lions led the Bears after three quarters in both 2010 games and that was with quarterback Matthew Stafford playing less than two of the combined eight quarters.

A Julius Peppers sack finished him in the second quarter of game one, but the Lions had a lead with less than two minutes to play, and then nearly won when Calvin Johnson was ruled to have not maintained possession of an apparent touchdown pass. That was all with the Lions rushing for all of 20 yards on 21 carries, Shaun Hill muddling through with 9-for-19 passing, and the Bears rolling up 463 yards.

By the time the Bears saw them again, the Lions were down to Drew Stanton at quarterback. Problem: He had the Lions up 20-14 in the third quarter and put up a passer rating of 102.4 that was second only to Tom Bradys against the Bears defense last season.

The problem now is that the Lions have Stafford intact (Stafford has been sacked five times, but all of those in one game, none in the other three), and Johnson is setting records for TD receptions, not putting them prematurely on the ground. He has two in each of Detroits first four games, an NFL first.

Johnson may even be too good for the Lions or anyone else. Maybe the whole NFL.

Hes in his own ballclub, Tillman said. To be that strong, that fast, his vertical is impressive. Hes in a league of his own.

Johnson has achieved Biblical proportions. Hes the Goliath of receivers, Tillman added.

(Goliath ultimately was a loser but thats for another discussion.)

Difficult read

The Lions, however, are difficult to gauge.

It looks like Detroits a second-half team and were a second-half team so it should be a good game.

The Bears are not particularly a second-half team, yet. They were outscored 10-7 by Green Bay and 14-3 by New Orleans in those losses, and out-pointed Carolina just 10-9 in escaping with that victory.

But are the Lions, for that matter, a second-half team?

They defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 48-3. But the only team the Chiefs have beaten this season has been Minnesota, and that was a team that squandered a 20-0 halftime lead to Detroit, giving the ball to Adrian Peterson exactly five times in the second half.

Detroit rallied from a 27-3 hole against Dallas, a team with a quarterback throwing two interceptions returned for touchdowns and a third to set up the Lions game-winner.

No class

It has nothing to do with the Bears but Brett Favre cant seem to quite let it all go. And hes doing a pretty good job of kicking dirt on his legacy as the patron saint of Green Bay football. Aaron Rodgers already has won as many Super Bowls (one) as Favre but Favre has basically given Rodgers a backhanded compliment: With the talent that Rodgers had around him, what took him so long?

ProFootballTalk.com recounts Favre comments made on an Atlanta radio station, both the exact comments and the scurrying trying to dull the edge on what sound like nothing short of sour grapes from someone who failed to achieve anything of note with two teams (N.Y. Jets, Minnesota Vikings) after the Green Bay Packers chose to put their future in the hands of Rodgers instead of a vacillating Favre (http:profootballtalk.nbcsports.com20111005atlanta-radio-station-bends-ov...).

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.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.