View from the Moon: Peppers leading by example


View from the Moon: Peppers leading by example

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011
10:46 a.m.
By John Mullin

The measure of Julius Peppers impact on games may be in his numbers. Or lack of them.

Peppers finished with the lowest tackle total (50) and solo total (33) of his career and only twice in his previous eight seasons did he post a lower sack total than the 8 in 2010. Notably perhaps, his next-lowest numbers year was 2003 when he had 7 sacks as a Carolina Panther. And his team went to the Super Bowl then.

Worth noting also is that 2003 was a year in which Peppers wasnt selected to the Pro Bowl. What has been apparent week after week this season is that Peppers has no real interest in stats other than wins, and when your 91 million man operates under that principle, thats whats called leading by example.

The Bears defensive line accounted for just one more sack this season (25) than last (24). But anyone think this years group wasnt a significant step better than last years?

It would be hard for me to say exactly what type of impact Julius has without going on and on, raving about it, said coach Lovie Smith. Whether its playing the run, playing the pass, everything we ask him to do. Everything I wanted him to be coming in, hes done. Hes been a factor of offenses preparing for him each week: This is what we have to do for Peppers. So I couldnt be more pleased with what he did throughout the course of the year.

The gaffe of leaving Corey Graham off the Pro Bowl roster as the best coverage man in the NFC is not the 25 solo tackles (no, thats not a misprint two-five twenty-five 25 solos) he turned in this year but the fact that he had 20 as a rookie in 2007 and 23 in 2009.

Put another way, Graham is not a blip or newbie. Hes been at an elite level for several years now and thats the mark of a professional And not a bad performance by someone who had to get past the disappointment of being shunted out of the rotation at the top of the cornerback depth chart.

Good look

All through the NHLs Winter Classic and Northwesterns game with Illinois, the fact that the Bears once played their home games in Wrigley Field. Now theres a chance to get a good look a lot of looks, actually and what that was like.

Pro Football at Wrigley Field from Prairie Street Art is a fun collection of black-and-white photographs by Ron Nelson with text from longtime Bear Report writer Beth Gorr that includes a Foreword by former Bear Ronnie Bull.

It starts with the Bears 1963 playoff game and a little nugget on George Halas refusing a request from Commissioner Pete Rozelle to move the game to Soldier Field. Well, the Bears finally did move to Soldier Field and Nelson and Gorr do a fun job of looking at some of the goings-on before that happened.
Superstitous? Absolutely!

This entry is coming late Tuesday night because its bad luck to change things when youre winning and Ohio States working over of Arkansas would be jeopardized if I went to bed after watching the first half. Daughteralum Jenny would never forgive me.

Tickticktick. Perfect! A good BCS day for the Bucks.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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.

Why the Bears can't afford a complete collapse just for a better draft pick

Why the Bears can't afford a complete collapse just for a better draft pick

As the 2016 Bears season spiraled down to its 1-6 point, one segment of the fan base looks at that problem and sees opportunity in the form of a total collapse that would position the Bears in 2017 to draft a true franchise quarterback.

Nothing could be worse.

Because if the crumbling continues and the Bears wind up, say, 2-14, the Bears might wind up with the No. 1 or No. 2 pick overall. But the lurching downwards will have revealed so many grievous need craters that the organization will be forced to shop the pick in order to fill more gaping holes than they appear to have even now. “Best available” is where teams like that go, because almost any pick at any position will be an upgrade, and a 2-14 team will need a lot of “best availables.”

Put another way: If the Bears bumble in at 2-14, one broader conclusion could be that two years of franchise-reforming by general manager Ryan Pace have been utter failures. If that comes to pass (unlikely), his ability to successfully direct a third draft would be highly suspect.

Instead, consider: The Bears held the No. 7 pick in the 2015 draft. They took their due-diligence look at Marcus Mariota in that draft class. But Tennessee wanted a ransom, and the Bears concluded that the price for moving up would have gutted Ryan Pace’s first draft class. Instead, the Bears landed what was five starters (Kevin White, Eddie Goldman, Hroniss Grasu, Jeremy Langford, Adrian Amos) before the injury tsunami rolled through.

The Titans used the pick for Mariota and improved — from 2-14 to 3-13, leaving them at No. 2 again. This time they traded out of the pick and built a book of 10 selections, but only one (Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin, No. 8) is starting on a 3-4 team. Quantity does not assure quality.

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Now consider: The Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles finished 7-9 in 2015. Meaning, they had solid pieces in place: for the Rams, Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Robert Quinn; for the Eagles, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Jason Peters.

The Rams climbed the draft from No. 15 to the No. 1 pick that belonged to the Titans. They took Jared Goff, who’s still waiting for Jeff Fischer to conclude that the rookie could do a whole lot worse than Case Keenum’s 8-10 touchdown-interception ratio and 77.5 rating. Even with that, the Rams are still 3-4.

The Eagles (4-2) went all in for Carson Wentz (swapping 2016 No. 1s and giving up a No. 2, a No. 3, and No. 4 this year, and their 2017 No. 1) and thought enough of him to deal away Sam Bradford to the Vikings, whom Wentz and Eagles just bested last weekend.

Better in the Bears’ current situation and have a demonstrably good enough core that dealing up for a top-ranked quarterback — Clemson's Deshaun Watson, Ole Miss' Chad Kelly or North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky? — makes sense rather than to be a complete shambles at the end of the 2016 season and wondering if any draft pick, quarterback or other, could be trusted.

Bears get Jay Cutler back as QB competition with Brian Hoyer fades to black

Bears get Jay Cutler back as QB competition with Brian Hoyer fades to black

If there was any quarterback “controversy” swirling about the Bears – and one likely will be after this season – this one is safely resolved with Jay Cutler cleared by team medical staff to return from his injured thumb and begin practicing this week, all of this about the time that Brian Hoyer was undergoing surgery for his broken right arm suffered in the loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Whether Cutler would have been re-installed as the starter had Hoyer remained healthy, and throwing for 300 yards per game, is a moot point now. Indications were that Hoyer would not lose the job if he was playing well.

But now, “obviously Jay’s our starter,” said coach John Fox. “He was injured, not permitted to play medically. And now that he’s healed he’s back to being our starter.

“That’s really the facts and kind of what happened and where we’re at now. So I don’t know that there was a ‘competition’ to speak of. Just like there wasn’t a competition when Matt Barkley went in [at Green Bay]; he was our only quarterback left. So it’s good to have Jay back. We’re excited to have him back and hopefully he can remain healthy.”

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Team chemisty is difficult if not impossible to gauge from the outside. And whether teammates prefer Cutler or Hoyer personally is only marginally relevant anyway.

But Cutler was voted an offensive co-captain (along with Alshon Jeffery) and the offense ostensibly is more dangerous with Cutler and his deep-threat capability. Still, the Bears scored just 21 points in the combined seven quarters behind Cutler, while reaching 17-17-23-16 in whole games under Hoyer.

Cutler’s return is expected to have a ripple effect on the rest of the team.“We don’t really play into that much,” said center Cody Whitehair. “[Whoever’s] back there, we’re going to try and do our best to protect them and do our thing on the run.

“But you know, it is nice to have him back. He’s been a leader on the sideline even while he wasn’t playing and it’ll be nice to have him back out there.”