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


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

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

By John Mullin

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.

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Positives were difficult to find in last Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. So maybe the place to look for improvement lies in just getting rid of a few negatives.

As far as positives, Leonard Floyd would be the obvious one, with two sacks, one a strip and fumble recovery for a TD. Ka’Deem Carey would be another, with 10 carries for 48 yards, his second straight game with high-impact running; Jordan Howard has been shackled for two weeks, so the Bears have needed another backfield-committee member contributing. Jeremy Langford may have trouble finding work when he comes back from his ankle injury.

But negatives have far outweighed positives, which is how you get to 1-6. Fixing three of those will go a long way toward improving their chances against a Minnesota Vikings team that appeared eminently beatable in losing at Philadelphia on Sunday:

Stop the penalty hemorrhaging

For the third straight game the Bears had 10 penalties walked off against them. This "streak" started after eight infractions in the win over Detroit. The 10 in Green Bay cost the Bears 108 yards in a game where their offense netted just 189. Seven of the penalties were charged to the defense, six of which gave the Packers first downs.

The three offensive penalties were mental. A wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery) lined up offsides. The quarterback (Matt Barkley) drew a delay flag. An offensive lineman (Ted Larsen) was illegally downfield.

All of which point to a discipline problem getting worse, not better. Whether the fault lies with players losing focus or coaches not instilling a mindset is a debate, but meaningless if the problem is not addressed. “There were a lot of penalties out there,” said cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who committed three of those penalties. “We had a good scheme and plan but we just didn’t finish in the second half as a group.”

Stop the dinking

While Brian Hoyer replacing Jay Cutler scaled back the downfield element of the offense, the loss of an emerging Kevin White should not be understated. The de facto rookie may not have gotten in the end zone but he was leading the team in receptions before he suffered a broken leg in the win over Detroit.

Since the loss of White, however, the offense has shrunk. The Bears averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt through four games with White. Without White the average is 7.0, and that is including the blip in Indianapolis, which stands as a complete anomaly. The average was 5.9 in the Jacksonville loss and 5.0 in Green Bay.

Hoyer’s ball-security orientation has been a positive, but also a limiting factor. Cutler last year had one of the best ball-security seasons of his career, yet the offense was able to average 7.5 yards per attempt.

The Bears scored two of their three rushing touchdowns in games with White, who may not yet be the field-stretcher his 4.35 speed but the prospect of White arguably made for a more threatening offense than even with the contributions of Cam Meredith.

Stop the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have suffered injuries at a rate like the Bears’ but have overcome them. Until Sunday in Philadelphia, when the Eagles sacked Sam Bradford six times and hit him more than a dozen other times. The Vikings never sacked Carson Wentz, who wasn’t special but was good enough while Minnesota was self-destructing.

The Vikings have beaten the Bears the last three times they’ve met, the first time that’s happened since 1999 and 2000, which is also the last time the Bears started 1-6. And the Bears have lost three straight.

The Bears were able to end the first three-game skid by focusing on one game: the Lions. The result was shutting down a very good offense, the lowest yardage-allowed (263) of the season and the firmest commitment to the run game (29) attempts.

Morale inside the locker room can only be revived by a win. One game. This game.

Report: Bears looking for Jay Cutler return against Vikings; Matt Barkley on stand-by

Report: Bears looking for Jay Cutler return against Vikings; Matt Barkley on stand-by

FOX insider Jay Glazer confirmed on Sunday that the Bears expect quarterback Jay Cutler will be back from his sprained thumb and able to start against the Minnesota Vikings next Monday night in Soldier Field.

That would put Matt Barkley back where he has been pretty much his entire three-plus-year NFL career. Waiting.

That's the Bears want what every team wants – a young quarterback in the developmental pipeline – is no secret. Ryan Pace is among the NFL executives who speak of drafting a quarterback as much as every year, even if they don’t.

Could the Bears already have that player on their roster?

If Barkley, who was pressed into service when Brian Hoyer went down with a broken arm in last Thursday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, is in fact that player, he might not be surprised. But the rest of the NFL would be.

"I'm confident that no matter where I am or what the deal is,” Barkley said, after going 6-for-15 with no TD’s and two interceptions, “I can play in this league.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

He may be one of the few still holding onto that belief. The Bears picked up Barkley after the Arizona Cardinals discarded him in early September. The Cardinals didn’t see Barkley as even a practice-squad option, which the Bears did and where Barkley was working before Cutler’s thumb injury forced the Bears to sign him to the active roster.

“The [Bears] personnel people thought he was a taller [6-2] guy that stood in the pocket pretty well,” said coach John Fox. “A guy that we thought we could work with, that had some experience and, hopefully, he got a little bit more experience [at Green Bay].”

Barkley has gone from possible No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft to just another touted USC quarterback who failed or were no better than just-OK at the NFL level (Todd Marinovich, Rob Johnson, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez), who has thrown 65 NFL passes, none for a touchdown and six that were intercepted, including two in the Bears’ 26-10 loss last Thursday in Green Bay.

The question for Barkley at this point in his career is whether Chicago is his last stop and/or chance. Fourth-round draft picks have played their ways into prominence (Kirk Cousins in Washington, Dak Prescott in Dallas, even Sonny Jurgensen and Norm Van Brocklin if you want to find Hall of Famers), but Barkley has the added challenge of being on his third team and learning yet another offense after beginning this season running Houston and Philadelphia plays for the Bears’ defense.

Barkley offered no excuses for his poor showing (18.3 passer rating). Sort of.

“It definitely would be more beneficial [to have gotten more snaps before Green Bay],” Barkley said. “I’m not going to say what Coach should do; that’s his decision and you’ve got to deal with what you’re dealt.

“Just since I’ve been here, you know, scout-team reps and trying to put our plays into what we’re seeing on cards, you try to do every little thing you can to get better no matter what you’re doing. That’s no excuse.”