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.

Bears face decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and 2017 roster

Bears face decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and 2017 roster

What we "knew" most about the 2016 Bears heading into the season is that, offensively, Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery would be the straws that stirred the offensive drink. 

Thanks to injuries, suspension and a perfect storm that resulted in a 3-13 season, the straw had a hole in it, the team still couldn't collectively close out games and a fifth-round rookie (Jordan Howard) and a second-year undrafted free agent (Cam Meredith) turned into the greatest causes for optimism on that side of the ball. 

The news that the team is shopping Cutler is hardly news-bulletin worthy. We've written about Cutler Fatigue here and discussed it on CSN's BearsTalk Podcasts for some time now. A breakup has seemed inevitable after eight years of .500 ball when he's been behind center. The tricky part is finding an alternative that would be a marked improvement for a coaching staff that might need to finish .500 to continue on the job in 2018. Yet that's the gamble that must be taken for a franchise that almost needs to move on, for better or worse, in order to find a way out of the muddy ditch it's found itself in.

Cutler must first be deemed healthy enough after labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder - something similar to what Buffalo did with Tyron Taylor this week following groin surgery. But Taylor might be a safer bet to stay with the Bills than Cutler is here. Those medicals might be out there already around the league if shopping has truly begun. And while a new destination for Cutler might not earn him the same salary (roughly $15 million) he'd make here, the thinking here is he'd prefer a fresh start just as much as the Bears want one. 

So let's go shopping.

Cleveland? No. 

San Francisco as a stopgap starter? Maybe. There's tons of salary cap space while a successor is groomed, and there's the Shanahan (Kyle/Mike) Factor. But more losing. 

How about Jacksonville to push his young clone, Blake Bortles? Perhaps. There's still a loaded, talented young defense that has yet to reach a promising ceiling, and a couple of talented receivers. 

The Los Angeles Rams could provide a push for Jared Goff (though it's hard not to see Goff being the starter, for better or worse). But if something should happen, Cutler would be ready, with Todd Gurley, what should be a respectable defense and a location close to where wife Kristin Cavallari can return to actressing. 

Jay in Buffalo? Good one! 

Arizona has already shot down interest. 

We don't see Denver wanting him back as they await Paxton Lynch's maturity with Trevor Siemian as a bridge. 

Reuniting with Adam Gase in Miami could be an option with Ryan Tannehill's health still a mystery. 

Then there's always Houston. I'm looking for Tony Romo's ultimate destination impacting Jay's. 

But retiring, as some reports this week suggested? No. Despite the public perception, Jay is a competitor, and I truly believe that still runs through him. He may not get to prove his reputation wrong before he retires, but despite what body language experts feel, I believe he'd still like to prove something. But I'm also not counting on any team giving up a draft pick for him. Teams know the Bears will release him, but if a club lower on the waiver claim wire truly desires him, Ryan Pace has squeezed something out from teams for his players on the discard pile before.

As for Jeffery, all remains quiet on the franchise tag front. The seal remains tight at Halas Hall over whether there have been any negotiations this past week, and if so, whether they've moved in a positive, long-term direction. 

Two things to keep in mind: the Bears did not tag him last year until the day before the deadline to do so. That deadline this year is March 1. The other is the fact that other teams in similar situations (such as Washington with Kirk Cousins and Kansas City with Eric Berry and Dontari Poe) have yet to make moves either, as that deadline looms. If the Bears determine they'll cut ties with Cutler, Eddie Royal and Lamarr Houston, that will free up another $24 million in cap space on top of the $60 million-plus they have already. Perhaps that factors into the decision on Jeffery, who'd get paid $17 million in 2017 under a second straight franchise tag for a team that needs play-makers and a coaching staff that needs wins next season. Letting him go would require attention and a portion of those dollars to replace him in the draft and/or free agency.

We leave all our internet/talk radio caller GM's with this question: Would you REALLY want to be in Ryan Pace's shoes this offseason? Can you be as shrewd, wise and run the table to the extent he must, especially at the most important, franchise-shaping position (which, granted, he's put on the back-burner his first two years)? And "get it right" to build momentum moving forward for a franchise that's reached the playoffs just once in the past decade? The rebuild remains substantial. And so are the decisions he faces in a crucial offseason.

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

This is apparently the week of Jay Cutler news.

Reports surfaced earlier this week the Bears are pushing hard to find a trade partner for the enigmatic quarterback, though Ian Rapoport reported the organization informed Cutler in mid-January they were shopping him around.

It seems clear Cutler's time in Chicago has come to an end and an ensuing move is more of a formality at this point.

But apparently Cutler may not even suit up again...for ANY team.

Rapoport reported on NFL Network Wednesday night Cutler is mulling over retirement, even as he's healthy and working out now after shoulder surgery.

"There's no guarantee Cutler even plays in 2017, one of several veterans who are still considering whether they want to play or not play, retire, walk away. A lot of things at play here for Jay Cutler."

Host Dan Hellie immediately followed up, asking for clarification on the retirement part.

"It is a consideration; it's something he's confided in people," Rapoport said. "But Dan, I would say, it's not a surprise for quarterbacks this age. We've heard [Ben] Roethlisberger talk about it; we've heard Tony Romo talk about it. If it's not perfect, if he can't find the team he wants or the contract he wants, it's very easy for Jay Cutler to walk away."

Whoa.

Cutler, 33, has made more than $112 million in his 11-year career and is owed at least another $2 million in 2017, even if he's cut by the Bears.