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.

Bears training camp preview: Three burning questions for the offensive line

Bears training camp preview: Three burning questions for the offensive line

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Friday's unit: the offensive line. 

1. Will Kyle Long and Josh Sitton flip spots, and will it be effective?

One of the more intriguing storylines to come out of the Bears’ offseason program was the possibility of a Kyle Long-Josh Sitton guard swap, with Long moving from right to left and Sitton to left to right. The prevailing wisdom is that Long’s athleticism would be better suited for the pulls needed at left guard, while Sitton has made Pro Bowls at both positions. But is it prudent for the Bears to make this switch with Long still recovering from November ankle surgery and some nasty complications that came after it? He’s shown he’s skilled enough to already make one position switch on the offensive line (from right tackle to right guard), so there’s no reason to doubt he couldn’t handle another so long as he’s healthy. We’ll see where he is next week. 

“You want flexibility,” coach John Fox said. “You don’t want as much flexibility as we had to use a year ago because we had to play so many guys due to injury. But we’re messing around with (Sitton) and Kyle both playing opposite sides, whether one’s on the left, one’s on the right. We’ll get those looks in camp, we got plenty of time.”

2. Can Charles Leno Jr. capitalize on a contract year?

Leno has been a pleasant surprise given the low expectations usually set for seventh-round picks. He started every game in 2016, checking off an important box for John Fox — reliability. Whether Leno can be more than a reliable player at left tackle, though, remains to be seen (if the Bears thought he were, wouldn’t they have signed him to an extension by now?). He has one more training camp and 16 games to prove he’s worthy of a deal to be the Bears (or someone else’s) left tackle of the future. Otherwise, the Bears may look to a 2018 draft class rich in tackles led by Texas’ Connor Williams and Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey. 

“I know if I take care of my business out here, everything else will take care of itself,” Leno said. 

3. Will Hroniss Grasu survive the roster crunch?

A year ago, Grasu was coming off a promising rookie season and was in line to be the Bears’ starting center. But the Oregon product tore his ACL in August, and Cody Whitehair thrived after a last-minute move from guard to center. If the Bears keep eight offensive lineman this year, Grasu could be squeezed out: Leno, Long, Whitehair, Sitton and Bobby Massie are the likely starters, with Eric Kush and Tom Compton filling reserve roles. That leaves one spot, either for fifth-round guard Jordan Morgan or Grasu. The Bears could try to stash Morgan, who played his college ball at Division-II Kutztown, on the practice squad and keep Grasu. But Grasu doesn’t have flexibility to play another position besides center, which could hurt his case. 

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Thursday's unit: the tight ends.

1. Will Zach Miller make the 53-man roster?

Miller didn’t play a single down from 2012-14, and has missed seven games in two seasons with the Bears, but he’s been productive when on the field: 110 targets, 81 receptions, 925 yards and nine touchdowns. But the Bears signed Dion Sims to an $18 million contract and then drafted Adam Shaheen in the second round of the draft, moves that seemingly put Miller in a precarious position heading into Bourbonnais. Not helping Miller’s case is the Lisfranc fracture he suffered last November, which kept him sidelined through OTAs and veteran minicamp in May and June. He’d be a valuable player for the Bears to keep around, but at the same time, training camp could be a perfect storm for Miller to be among the cuts.

“They’re going to cutting it close for training camp,” coach John Fox said of Miller (and Danny Trevathan) in June. “But right now they’re right on target and that’s kind of what we expected all offseason.”

2. What can we expect from Adam Shaheen?

Shaheen was among the bright spots during May and June, hardly looking like someone who played his college ball at Division II Ashland while going against NFL defenders. But those were just shorts-and-helmets practices without any contact, so it’d be premature to project anything about Shaheen off of them. The real test for Shaheen will be when he puts the pads on in Bourbonnais and gets his first experience with the physicality of the NFL after a few years of being head and shoulders — literally — above his competition in college. It’s unlikely Shaheen will live up to his “Baby Gronk” hype in Year 1, but if he handles training camp well, he could be a valuable red zone asset for Mike Glennon as a rookie. 

“You don’t know until you put the pads on,” Shaheen said. “That’s what I’m excited for.”

3. How productive can this unit be?

Between Sims — who had a career high four touchdowns last year with the Miami Dolphins — and Shaheen, the Bears have two new, big targets for an offense that tied for 24th in the NFL with 19 passing touchdowns a year ago. If Miller sticks around, this group would have enviable depth. But even if he doesn’t, the Bears liked what they saw from Brown last year (16 receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD in six games). There are fewer questions about the tight ends heading into training camp than the receivers, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Glennon leans on this unit, especially early in the season.