What is the real 'standard' for a Super Bowl?

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What is the real 'standard' for a Super Bowl?

Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010
Posted: 10:17 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The standard being used to measure the 2010 Bears defense has been the 2006 unit because that group ostensibly got the Bears to the Super Bowl. That's not quite right.

The considerably better unit arguably was the '05 group, the one that got the Bears to the post-season despite a rookie quarterback (Kyle Orton) and held opponents to a total of 202 points, third best in franchise history behind only the '86 (187) and '85 (198) defenses.

The '06 team had the advantage (no, seriously -- "advantage") of Rex Grossman and an offense that put up the bulk of 427 points vs. the 260 of the '05 offense. Grossman may have come off the rails at times that season and certainly after that year but he had as many 100-passer ratings (seven) in 2006 as Peyton Manning.

The '06 Bears needed overtime and 282 Grossman passing yards to get past Seattle in the divisional round. The Seahawks netted more than 300 yards of offense, 108 of it on runs by Shaun Alexander.

Drew Brees passed for 354 yards in the NFC Championship game but he and the New Orleans Saints were buried under 196 Bears rushing yards.

Brian Urlacher, Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown all had more sacks in 2005 than 2006 and teams averaged just 3.7 per rush against the former vs. 4.0 against the Super Bowl group.

The Bears kept winning in 2006 despite losing Mike Brown to IR in midseason, Tommie Harris to a knee injury for the last four games and playoffs, and Tank Johnson for two late games to his behavioral issues.

The Greater Unknown

Defenses in fact may be easier to compare and be subject to more accurate comparisons than offenses. Defenses tend to have fewer extreme highs and lows; if you have a good defense, you are likely going to be close in a lot of games.

But offense is another issue entirely for the Bears.

Is the 2010 Bears offense as good as the 2006 offense?

The difference between the 2006 reaching a Super Bowl and the 2005 model exiting against wild-card team was obvious: the quarterback.

Grossman posted a passer rating of 73.9 compared to Orton's 59.7 for the 2005 season (identical with Grossman's for that year).

Whether the 2010 team reaches its Super Bowl will again depend on the quarterback, one with a disturbing career propensity for throwing interceptions. Grossman threw 20 vs. his 23 TD passes but managed to get himself sacked just 21 times.

Cutler has 16 TD passes to date compared with his 10 interceptions this year. More significantly, he has thrown for nine of the scores in the last four games but only three interceptions. His passer rating is up to 90.4, a level he has never reached for an entire season.

Even more notable, Cutler was sacked four times in the first half of the Philadelphia game, yet threw zero interceptions against the defense ranked No. 1 in takeaways.

That is Super Bowl stuff.

Bad blood
Longtime pal and MLive.com Lions beat guy Tom Kowalski is not buying any of the niceties being spoken by Detroit quarterback Drew Stanton and "Killer" lays out exactly why there will be no more motivated player on the field Sunday than Stanton....

Actually there may be one other Lion looking to make a major statement as well. Left tackle Jeff Backus gave up the sack to Julius Peppers in the first half of the first game that resulted in the shoulder injury that took down quarterback Matthew Stafford and dramatically altered the course of the Detroit season, although Backus told the Detroit Free Press that he's not looking back at any of that. We'll see.

Interesting weekend
FOXSports.com senior NFL guy Alex Marvez takes a spin around the NFL with stops at each division in "a December to Remember." Alex posits that it wouldn't be surprising to see either the Bears or Packers fade in the stretch, because of their difficult remaining schedules, and that the NFC North race well could be decided before that Jan. 2 game between the two.

With the Bears at Detroit and Green Bay hosting San Francisco, it also wouldn't be surprising to see the NFC North frontrunner that loses to a seeming doormat this weekend be the one to go into the fade that Alex envisions.

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.

With Ted Larsen, Bears O-line doesn't yet need SOS call

With Ted Larsen, Bears O-line doesn't yet need SOS call

The story from about five years ago goes like this: Ted Larsen and his girlfriend were out on the water, deep sea fishing, when they heard a Coast Guard warning about three kayakers in distress. Realizing the location was relatively nearby, Larsen immediately headed to the area, found the trio, and pulled them aboard before any other help could get there.

The Bears offensive line isn't in nearly as much distress, but after the retirements of veterans Manny Ramirez and Nate Chandler before they would even play a game for them, along with Kyle Long going down on with a calf strain in Thursday's opening practice of training camp, the former Buccaneer and Cardinal may be an important lifeline on Dave Magazu's unit.

"We gotta get some depth there. We have very little depth," Larsen said earlier this week in Bourbonnais. "The guys we do have are good. I think it's just finding the five best guys we have and throw them out there. There's competition everywhere, obviously besides Kyle, so...I'm ready to play whatever position. I've started ten-plus games at every position inside. Wherever they need me to help the team out, I'm ready to go."

Which he wasn't back in June, missing the last half of OTAs and the entire three-day mandatory minicamp with a calf strain of his own. Long was on the sidelines Saturday watching practice without the boot he'd been wearing the previous two days in hopes of speeding the healing process. And while the team's encouraged it's not a long-term injury, flashbacks of Alshon Jeffery's struggles that began with a calf strain a year ago will force them to proceed cautiously.

[MORE: Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension]

As a result, Larsen's stepped in for Long at right guard when the original plan was to have him compete with second-round pick Cody Whitehair and Hroniss Grasu (who have one season of NFL experience between them) at left guard and center, respectively. In his six-year career, Larsen's started 34 games at left guard, 13 at right guard, and ten at center.

"As the unit gets better, the whole team gets better. I'm not scared of any rookies or younger guys. I've played a lot of games, some playoff games. We all have experience in this league. Whoever's out there is out there, whether I'm playing center and helping Cody, or I'm helping Grasu, or whatever it is. You don't want guys to play worse, you want `em to play better, so when you're in there, you're playing at a high level."

The Bears struck on the opening day of free agency to sign Larsen's Arizona teammate from the last two seasons, Bobby Massie, to become their new right tackle. Two weeks later, Larsen followed.

"It's a program on the rise," the 29-year-old explained. "Bobby had signed here.  We played together and it was just another opportunity to come in on a one-year ($1.65 million) deal. It's kinda what I wanted. Play well, have a chance to start, and be on a competitive team."

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The deal came a day after Ramirez originally signed and a month before Whitehair was drafted and Matt Slauson subsequently cut. Things have changed again since then, and for a team adapting to more of a zone-blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, cohesion and communication and comfort is crucial before the regular season starts.

Larsen originally played alongside Willie Young as a defensive lineman at North Carolina State before being switched to the other side of the line his junior season. Larsen was a sixth-round draft pick of New England in 2010, but was subsequently cut. Young was a seventh-rounder by Detroit that year. As Young earned a two-year contract extension Saturday, Larsen hopes to prove his worth to the Bears this season, as well. While avid fisherman Young reeled in a new deal, Larsen shares the same off-field passion, part of the reason he was around to help rescue those kayakers.

"We actually were on a flight to Fort Lauderdale this offseason, same day. He was actually going to fish somewhere else and I was going to the (Florida) Keys. It's definitely a mutual interest, same for Bobby Massie - he's another big fisherman."

Who's the best?

"I dunno," Larsen answers. "We just do it for fun."

Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension

Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension

Watch out Bass Pro Shops: Willie Young may be stopping in with a bag full of money.

The Bears announced Saturday morning they have agreed to a two-year contract extension with the veteran outside linebacker.

Young, who was heading into his final season of a three-year deal he inked with the Bears in 2014, is now signed with the team through the 2018 season.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The 30-year-old Young finished second on the Bears last season with 6.5 sacks after switching from defensive end to outside linebacker in Vic Fangio's base 3-4 defense. Young notched a career-high in sacks with 10 during the 2014 season.

Young, originally a seventh-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, has amassed 97 tackles and 22.5 sacks in 141 career games.

Bears Camp Shorts: Kyle Long out, 'The Interceptor' is in the house

Bears Camp Shorts: Kyle Long out, 'The Interceptor' is in the house

BOURBONNAIS — As expected, right guard Kyle Long was absent from practice on Friday, nursing a calf strain that the Bears will handle conservatively and not rush their Pro Bowl offensive lineman back onto the field.

Long strained his left calf late in Thursday’s practice and Friday saw veteran Ted Larsen step in at right guard with the No. 1 line, as the Bears leave rookie Cody Whitehair in place as the starting left guard for now.

- Additionally, rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to make his way through lunch but not onto the practice field after leaving due to ongoing illness Thursday.

[MORE: Bears wide receivers give defense a taste of its own medicine]

- Former Bears cornerback Nathan “The Interceptor” Vasher is in camp as a defensive intern, and the Bears also have brought in former New York Jets center Kevin Mawae to work with the offensive line and young center Hroniss Grasu. Vasher is part of the NFL’s internship program while Mawae is in as a guest instructor, something routinely done for stretches of training camp and preseason.

Vasher earned his nickname in 2005 when he was a Pro Bowl and All-NFL selection after collecting eight interceptions — the Bears combined total for all of 2015 — for Lovie Smith’s first playoff team.

“The league instituted [the internship program] a while ago,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “Have had a lot of guys that were ex-players that are now coaching in the league. I think everybody kind of searches for what they want to do when they retire at a very young age from the game, so I think some guys have coaching in them, some don't. I think Kevin was a very smart player in his career; he can help in the NFL in the coaching profession."

- The Bears secondary could use a little dose of “Interceptor” right about now. Demontre Hurst managed an interception of a Brian Hoyer pass on Friday, but that represents the lone takeaway by the defense through two days of practice. The lack of takeaways proved lethal to the Bears last season, with the lowest full-season total (17) in franchise history.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

- Thursday’s rains appeared to leave the Olivet Nazarene University fields healthy but apparently a little treacherous, as a number of Bears had their feet slip out from under them through Friday’s practice.

- Officials were on hand to “work” the Bears’ practice on Friday, throwing flags where warranted and drawing occasional sharp disagreements with certain Bears coaches.

“You know, you try to simulate as well as you can a real game and they're out there in games,” Fox said. “These aren't NFL officials; they'll be here next week as we prepare for our Fan Fest at Soldier Field to build towards getting ready for games, but obviously it's helpful. They get to monitor the players and kind of do's and don't's and I think it's good simulated football.”