Chicago Bears

View from the Moon: Peppers leading by example

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View from the Moon: Peppers leading by example

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

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 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.

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright saw two years ago what the transition for a quarterback, picked second overall and coming from a college spread offense, can look like. Marcus Mariota made that move smoothly and now looks poised to join the ranks of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year with the Tennessee Titans. 

Can Mitch Trubisky make a similarly successful transition? Wright, so far, has liked what he’s seen.

“His overall progression from OTAs to training camp to now, his overall everything he’s done in every area has gotten better,” Wright said. “The work he puts in, it helps him.” 

It’s not a perfect comparison, of course, given the offense Mariota so effectively operated at Oregon had a didn't resemble the look and feel of the one Trubisky ran at North Carolina. Mariota started far more games than Trubisky, too. They’re two different quarterbacks with different skillsets. And Mariota was given the opportunity to be a Week 1 starter from the moment he was drafted, while Trubisky — for now — remains behind Mike Glennon. 

“Marcus was in a different position where he came in and he was the quarterback,” Wright said. “I think it’s different. Once Mitch starts playing, whenever he starts playing, he’ll start progressing a lot more because he’ll actually be out there in game-like situations.”

But consider why the Titans were so confident Mariota could start immediately and make a successful transition to the NFL from that flashy Oregon offense:

“I don’t think the system he had in Oregon, I don’t think that held him back when he came into the league,” Wright said. “I think he was good at making his progressions, decisive. He’s like one of those players, it doesn’t matter what system he’s in, you put him out there and he’s a guy that’s a difference-maker.”

After espousing Trubisky’s accuracy back in April, Bears general manager Ryan Pace quickly pointed out this trait: “His ability to process and see the whole field jumps out right away. 

“… All these top quarterbacks, it’s just their ability to quickly process defenses, process coverage, find open targets, not panic under pressure, deliver accurate throws when there’s a noisy pocket – things are collapsing – those guys all have those traits. And Mitch has those traits, Drew (Brees) has those traits and those are things we value.”

The point being: No matter the system, both Mariota and Trubisky have good football intelligence, and are more than what Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians once bemoaned about college spread quarterbacks. 

“They hold up a card on the sideline and he kicks his foot and throws the ball,” Arians said in 2015. “That ain’t playing quarterback.”

Trubisky, of course, still has to improve with his pre-snaps reads, calling out protections, identifying coverages, learning the playbook, etc. But he seems to have the football intelligence to make those strides and marry them with his impressive physical skillset. 

And as was the case with Mariota, Wright doesn’t see a reason why Trubisky can’t succeed in the NFL. 

“(Trubisky) can do it all too,” Wright said. “He’s still learning, he’s still getting better, he’s never complacent. He has the ability to get better and he’s willing to get better. He’s a young guy that listens. He’s just a baller. You put him out there and he makes plays.” 

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

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USA Today Sports Images

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

Sunday will mark Kendall Wright’s first trip back to Nashville since he not-so-amicably split with the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 season. 

Wright has said he doesn’t want to talk about his time in Tennessee, where injuries and clashes with coaches led to a steady decline in targets and production after a standout 2013 season (139 targets, 94 receptions, 1,079 yards). But it’s easy to compare how he feels practicing with the Bears to how he felt toward the end of his days with the Titans. 

“A fresh start is good,” Wright said. “Football is fun again. 

“If you don’t have fun playing the game, what the use of you playing? And I didn’t really have too much fun the past few years. But when you’re out here playing and doing what you love to do, it’s fun. So you just gotta keep the game fun.”

Wright was a little more forceful earlier this year. 

“What motivates me the most is I probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year and I was playing, like, 10 plays a game,” Wright said during OTAs in June. 

But while this weekend’s game against the Titans could seem to be an opportunity for revenge, Wright is more approaching it for what it is — another preseason game to continue to improve with the rest of the first team offense. 

Wright caught a touchdown from  Glennon Saturday night in Arizona (he also was the target on Glennon’s interception, though that looked to be more on the quarterback than the receiver). And he seems to be clearly ahead of Victor Cruz to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver — Cruz wasn’t targeted against Arizona, while Wright received three targets. 

If the Glennon-led first-team offense is going to have success in the regular season, it needs improvements from every unit — quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line — based on what we’ve seen during the preseason. Perhaps a motivated, fun-having Wright, playing for the same offensive coordinator under which he had his best season, can be a part of that. 

“The game of football is supposed to be fun,” Wright said. “Don’t take the fun out of it. You just gotta go out there and have fun and make plays. When you’re making plays, it’s even more fun.”