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Bear down!

Monday, Nov 29, 2010

* This blog’s preferred sport is baseball. Occasionally, though, we dip our toes into other diversions. And yesterday’s Chicago Bears victory was just too good to pass up. From Rick Morrissey

This had nothing to do with luck or a soft schedule or sidelined adversaries or the possibility that Michael Vick’s body clock was set to Kazakhstan time.

This had everything to do with a Bears team that, finally given an opportunity against a real, live, talented opponent, rose to the occasion and made us naysayers say, in so many words, yea. […]

What we saw against the Eagles was as complete a game as the Bears have played in awhile, perhaps in years.

David Haugh

As expected, a quarterback dictated the outcome with deft running that made him a more dangerous passer. But his name wasn’t Michael Vick.

Cutler upstaged Vick by completing 14 of 21 passes for 247 yards and four TDs for a Tom Brady-like, career-high passer rating of 146.2. It was the Bears’ third-highest rating since 1950. A la Vick, Cutler even scrambled well enough when protection broke down to have to sheepishly answer a question about how the quarterbacks’ running styles compared.

“I don’t know, I do it as a last resort,” Cutler said. “Mike’s a little more savvy with it.'’

Perhaps, but Cutler never has appeared savvier with teammates responding to his brand of leadership. By now Chicagoans have all passed a course studying Cutler’s body language and, whether it was coming out of the huddle or sitting on the sidelines against the Eagles, the intangible message Sunday was, “Follow me.'’

Rick Telander

It’s easy to overlook, for instance, that kicker Robbie Gould has made 58 consecutive field goals inside 40 yards or that all four Bears starting defensive linemen got at least part of a sack Sunday or that Matt Forte ran for 117 yards or that safety Chris Harris picked off that Vick pass that was tipped by teammate, and no relation, Tommie Harris.

It all adds up to wins that nobody predicted.

But you can never do it for long without a great, savvy quarterback.

Right guard Roberto Garza said he was most proud of the third- quarter scoring drive the Bears put together that ate up more than 10 minutes of clock.

‘’What was that, 16 plays?'’ Garza said. Seventeen, if you count Gould’s chip-shot field goal.

Behind it was a quarterback doing what a leader does best. Plowing ahead.

This is a Chicago Bears open thread. Are they for real?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - lake county democrat - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 4:51 am:

    Anything is possible this year (see, e.g., Cleveland beating New England). The Bears have a great defense, a gelling offense, and have stayed largely injury free — no reason they can’t go all the way. Biggest concern is that offensive line.

  2. - dave - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 7:08 am:

    They are for real. Now, I am not sure that means that they are Super Bowl bound, but they showed yesterday that they can beat very good teams.

    They have a very good defense and great special teams, and their offense is capable of being good when they (Cutler) avoid mistakes

  3. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 7:11 am:

    Dear Santa - Can i get a superbowl ticket to see da bears play in Dallas in February?

    Interesting thing is that if the Bears do survive and make the superbowl, the Chicago media would actually focus on something other then the Mayoral race for a few hours!

  4. - someonehastosayit - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 7:22 am:

    The Mike Martz fan club can officially reconvene.

  5. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 7:41 am:

    The defense is for real. The addition of Julius Peppers (one of the best players in the NFL), the surprising play of Urlacher (rejuvenated after a year off) plus unexpectedly solid safety play has made them an elite unit. They don’t give up many big plays and the fewest points in the NFC.

    Special teams are for real, with Devin Hester suddenly interested again in taking it to the house on punts and Daniel Manning giving great field position on kickoff returns.

    The offense is a mirage. They’ll have some good games like yesterday, but the offensive line is awful, the skill players are average and Cutler is not the elite quarterback we hoped when we gave up two first round picks and a starting QB for him.

    They’ll compete in the mediocre NFC, and anything can happen if they make the playoffs. But I like Atlanta in the NFC, led by NIU grad Turner the Burner and New England in the AFC, led by Tom Brady, the Luckiest Man on Planet Earth. Money, Super Bowl rings, looks and Giselle. Life is tough.

  6. - chiatty - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 8:39 am:

    They’re real in a real off-year, but there’s no reason to believe that they’ll do anything in the post season. Cutler and the offensive line are too easily exposed. But, yes, they looked pretty solid on both sides of the ball yesterday, particularly on defense, where multiple players again contributed to a stout effort.

  7. - hawksfan - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 8:40 am:

    The bears are for real as long as they continue to play good defense, getting pressure on the qb and causing turnovers in the secondary. If they can continue to do this all the offense has to do is not make mistakes and manage the game. The field position set up by good defense and our great return game makes for a winning combination as long as the offense doesnt turn the ball over. So in short the bears are for real.

  8. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 8:57 am:

    The defense is for real. The addition of Peppers and a rejuvenated Urlacher makes it an elite unit.

    The special teams are for real, now that Hester is enthused about his return game again.

    The offense is a mirage. They’ll have the occasional good game like yesterday, but the offensive line is awful, the skill players are mediocre and Cutler has yet to become the QB worthy of trading two first-round picks and a starting QB.

  9. - Stones - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:05 am:

    The Bears are much better than I thought they were at the beginning of the year. I am not purchasing Superbowl tickets yet but they have proven that they can rise to the occasion. I still think Atlanta, New England, Jets and Baltimore are all better teams at this point in time.

  10. - Loop Lady - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:11 am:

    they are as for real as any NFL team can get in relation to all comers…Cutler was jacked up yesterday…The Patriots are still the best team in football, even though I hate Tom Brady, he is consistent as hell…

  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:28 am:

    –even though I hate Tom Brady–

    Three Super Bowl rings, exceptional talent, movie-star looks, and a super-model wife who makes more money than him. You could hate me, too, if I was living the dream like that.

  12. - JustaJoe - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:32 am:

    Nice to have an up-beat Monday. But, is this Bears team really a Super Bowl contender? My gut says “no” and there is plenty of time for a downturn, from injury or bad play.

  13. - Irish - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:41 am:

    Let’s wait to see what they can do on the road against a good team. They are one of the few teams that play on real grass. Their groundskeepers also purposely keep the turf long and soft. The Bears players are used to this and their shoes are specific to that condition. In the home games they have played against good teams you can see the other teams having difficulty with footing. I predict that once they are on the road against the tougher teams and their Divisionsal rivals they will not be the Bears we saw yesterday.

  14. - bored now - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:41 am:

    sure, the bears deserve to be thought of as “for real.” while the still suffer from some deficiencies (they need to start drafting offensive linemen, for example), this year their coaching staff has been *much* better at covering for those deficiencies. the bears won for a lot of reasons, but let’s not overlook the fact that the bears out-coached the eagles.

    the problem is that the bears schedule is a monster after the lions. as a dolphins fan, i can only hope the bears bail me out with the jets and the pats (hey, it could happen!). the packers schedule is nothing to laugh at, either, with their last three games at the pats (a little help there would be greatly appreciated, as well!), then the giants — who will need a win to stay in the hunt — and then the bears.

    in the end, with a 16 game schedule, it all comes down to what teams are healthy going into the playoffs. that’s where the bears o-line really has to step up. culter is going to get hurt one of these days if they can’t protect him better (and the reason that the bears need to prioritize offensive linemen in future drafts) and they bears can’t afford injuries to key defensive players like julius pepper. but, yeah, they are for real…

  15. - Holdingontomywallet - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:46 am:

    I agree with Irish. When you get the Bears on artificial turf against a good team, it’s going to be a problem. I’m also not sold on Cutler yet. He makes a lot of poor decisions. Did you see the pass he threw on 3rd down with less than 2 minutes left in the game? He threw it right in the middle of three Eagle defenders - lucky it wasn’t picked. Having said that, I’m enjoying the victories and hope they can keep winning.

  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:52 am:

    –Their groundskeepers also purposely keep the turf long and soft. The Bears players are used to this and their shoes are specific to that condition.–

    No. The groundskeepers can’t keep the turf at all. It’s basically sod that they roll out like a carpet every week, it never knits. The soil at land-fill, lakefront Soldier Field is not conducive to growing grass.

    Shoes and length of cleats mean nothing, it just susceptible to pop up on hard cuts and you lose footing. Players on the Bears and opponents have been falling down for years.

    Most high schools have better field conditions.

    Bears players hate it because the turf is a career-ending injury waiting to happen.

    It’s a years’ long standoff between the park district and the McCaskeys as to who should pay for field turf. The McCaskeys have to support about sixty family members on the payroll, so you know it won’t be them.

  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:55 am:

    ==They are one of the few teams that play on real grass==

    By “few” you mean just under half the teams in the NFL? 49ers, Raiders, Chargers, Chiefs, Cardinals, Texans, Steelers, Packers, Panthers, Titans, Dolphins, Bucs, Jaguars, and Bears all play on grass…as God intended.

  18. - Deep South - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 9:59 am:

    Sorry, the Bears weren’t on over-the-air TV down here. However, the Rams were and THAT was a good game.

  19. - the Patriot - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 10:16 am:

    It was a good win, let’s not go nuts. It was a product of a very bad Eagles Defense. Cutler threw 21 times. Brady like, are you kidding me? Lets see him keep that passer rating throwing 42 times. They are not going to win their division and with the remaining schedule, still may not make the playoffs.

    Good win they needed, but that is about it. BTW. I hope they did soak the field. Did Indy build a dome because of harsh winters? NO, it is to their advantage with the team they have. Manipulating the playing surface is part of the game. If I am an Eagle, my excuse is that I showed up in Chicago and expected the field to play like a carpet the week after thanksgiving. That is a dumb as Pat Quinn saying I won, now Madigan has to give me a tax increase because I say so. Wishful thinking but not realistic.

  20. - Team Sleep - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 10:31 am:

    Of course they are for real. Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo knew they were on the hot seat after the underperforming team from last year. They signed Peppers and brought in some role players to shore up some of the shallow depth charts. The O-Line is playing well enough as a group to keep Cutler upright and allow Matt Forte to run through some holes. Urlacher, Charles Tillman and Lane Briggs are playing like their pants are on fire. If they get a first round bye, they will probably make it to the NFC Championship.

  21. - lawyerlady - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 10:35 am:

    Yeah, they’re for real. People have been calling their wins lucky since the season started, but the truth is, they’ve shown promise from Game 1. It’s just that they are finally getting consistent. With Peppers joining the mix and Urlacher back in top form, the D is looking amazing - I could hardly believe how we shut down Vick. Special teams has been solid as ever. The offense is getting some consistency and is working around the problem of having a weak O-Line. The short, quick passes and the improved running game have done wonders. Plus, our wide receivers appear to finally be completing their routes (mostly). All of this, to me, means that this isn’t luck - - this is a team working hard to improve and seeing results.

    I’m not saying they’re going to the SB or anything just yet. But they’re shaping up to be a damn good team, and I’m excited to see where they go from here. If we could get some decent offensive linemen in there next year, it could be incredible.

  22. - Fries is Extra - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 10:35 am:


  23. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 10:46 am:

    I predict they will limp into the playoffs and choke the first round matchup unless they get the NFC West winner. Lovie keeps his job.

  24. - Irish - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 10:51 am:

    Word - According to the Sun Times, the Tribune and the Bears own information the sod was changed in 2009 after the U-2 concert at a cost of between one quarter and a half million dollars, not weekly. The sod doesn’t grow well due to the cold weather. The sod also is considered to be a benefit to the type of offense the Bears are used to having, grinding it out on the ground. Now that they are using a quicker air type offense there is talk of going to a Field Turf which is a mix of organic and non-organic materials. will give more info.

  25. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 11:04 am:

    Irish, they have to replace large chunks of it after every game as it is torn up, particularly in the middle of the field. The lousy field conditions are not a conscious tactic to slow down faster teams, they’re just lousy field conditions.

    Back in the day, though, the Cubs practically let the prairie reclaim the left side of the Wrigley Field infield to accommodate the rather limited (read none) range of 3b Ron Cey and SS Larry Bowa.

  26. - Jo - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 11:07 am:

    The soil at land-fill, lakefront Soldier Field is not conducive to growing grass.

    Considering that the field sits on top of a concrete drainage system, I don’t think the lakefront soil has anything to do with it.

  27. - Lincoln Parker - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 11:22 am:

    I remember reading within the last year that the Chicago Park District actually proposed installing field turf at their expense and the McCaskeys vetoed it. As I understand it, it is the responsibility of the Park District to pay for the re-sodding every time it is done, so McCaskeys have little incentive to allow them to save money by installing turf, even though it makes sense.

  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 11:32 am:

    I didn’t get to see the game, but listened to it over the intertubewebs. It was a convincing win against a quality opponent, but are they for real?
    As long as Martz remembers we have a pretty good running back, the defense plays as well as it did yesterday and Cutler can avoid bonehead moments….yeah, they are. If they have players who shine in the spotlight (Peppers)anything can happen in January. Heck, Rex Grossman took a team to the Super Bowl..

  29. - Lefty Lefty - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 12:28 pm:

    I don’t think any athlete wants to play on a cruddy field. Hester slipped on an end zone route that looked like it could have been a TD if he hadn’t.

    It’s all about turnovers for a team that doesn’t have the horses to play past them and has a good defense. If Cutler keeps his head the Bears could go places.

  30. - amalia - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 12:42 pm:

    as go the lines, so go the Bears. and the O line and D line were
    very good yesterday, surprising for the O line. I think the play of the line is what dictates how Cutler does, although I still have some questions about time of day and game play with him, and he has mentioned the diabetes and tiring so he has had a few problems of his own making. but yesterday he was great.

    liked the play calling and the receivers had velcro on hands for the most part. Cutler to Bennett….money. meanwhile, my little doggy liked watching Vick get sacked!!

  31. - 47th Ward - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 1:05 pm:

    I’m torn. I want them to win, absolutely, but I’d also like Lovie and Jerry Angelo to be sent packing as soon as the season ends. The Bears are something like 7-4 against the spread, meaning they are defying the oddsmakers and that is very tough to do. And yet they lost to Carolina and Seattle.

    Angelo has proven to be a terrible judge of talent. The list of draft pick busts is so horribly long, the NFL should name all draft pick busts “Angelo’s”. This team has like 3-4 head coaches and other than Dave Taub, I don’t have much confidence in any of them.

    So as pessimistic as I am, they keep surprising me. The stretch run to the playoffs will be very tough. Ask me again in January.

    But please, if the McCaskeys are reading this: don’t extend any contracts for Lovie or Jerry. Save your money and either hire Bill Cowher or steal Jeff Fischer from the Titans. Give either one both titles, GM and Head Coach.

  32. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 1:24 pm:

    I’m with you 47. As a Bears fan, I want them to win every week…but, also as a Bears fan, I want them to dump the dead weight in the Head Coach and GM positions that will hurt the team long term

  33. - Wumpus - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 1:27 pm:

    Defense is good, special teams are stellar. The offense is still a joke as the offensive line cannot block anyone. A few good runs by Forte do not mask that. They are a deeply flawed team as the o-line is so bad. They are getting better, though.

  34. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 3:53 pm:

    I’m a football nut, and Rich opened the door, so I’m going to empty my Illinois football bag here:

    – Prayers to Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger (DeKalb High, Eastern Illinois) who went to work yesterday and started chemo today. The Heimerdingers are bedrock Good People in DeKalb. Old man Bob was a star QB at NIU and athletic director at DeKalb High for many years.

    – Congratulations to interim Minnesota coach Les Frazier for coaxing a win out of the soap opera known as the Brett Favre Vikings. Frazier, a lockdown Bears corner whose playing career was ended after an injury in Super Bowl XX, paid his dues as coach of Trinity College in Deerfield. He’s a star, a heckuva better coach than that overrated, blowhard, egomaniac Mike Singletary.

    – How about them NIU Huskies, ranked #24 in the AP poll? Jerry Kill and staff are outstanding. Carbondale’s loss was DeKalb’s gain.

    – Congrats to a good guy, Ron Zook, for over-achieving in Champaign. Wished they would have beat Minnesota, though.

    – How you gonna keep Pat Fitz in Evanston, now that the Cats are bowl eligible again, in a year when the Big Ten is the toughest conference in the country? The best defensive college player of his time is now the hottest coaching prospect (along with Jim Harbaugh) for those upcoming Michigan and Notre Dame vacancies.

    – Here’s to Maine South coach Dave Inserra and team for their third straight 8A title. Unlike other sports, there are so many moving parts in football, coaching is everything. Inserra is one whale of a coach whose kids do things the right way.

    – Here’s to Player of the Year Reilly O’Toole and 7A champs Wheaton-Warrenville (and to Lake Zurich, who gave them their toughest game of the year). Reilly has an oral commitment to the Illini, but he’s got a couple good quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart. Let’s hope Zook can lock him down before the the Feb. 1 signing deadline.

    – Finally, here’s to Dan Persa of Northwestern, pound-for-pound, maybe the most talented, toughest, gutsiest player in the country. He went down guns blazing in the win against Iowa. Splendid behavior.

  35. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 4:07 pm:

    I forgot, here’s to the Illini’s Mikel Leshoure, who rushed for 330 yards against Northwestern.

    Red Grange never rushed for 330 yards. Neither did Buddy Young or Rashard Mendenhall.

    And Mikel did it at Wrigley Field. No one can ever take that away from you, son.

  36. - sal-says - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 4:52 pm:

    As reported; the bears have the least challenging strength of schedule. Chest thumping stuff, that.

    lovie took 1/2 this season to get martz’s attention that what martz was doing wasn’t working.

    don’t forget that lovie fired ron rivera; ooops; he’s doing pretty well in san diego, isn’t he. then lovie took a few more years go get a sort of defensive coord that actually worked.


  37. - Jo - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 7:16 pm:

    yea, sal-says, its that private sector management that every is always yearning for…

  38. - Liandro - Monday, Nov 29, 10 @ 11:25 pm:

    The defense has been rock-solid, and the special teams is probably the best in the league. If the offense continues gelling, especially the qb-receiver connections and the O-line, we’re going to make a run. Although I think the receiver’s may have a higher ceiling than the o-line…still, we’re the match of any team in the league when we’re firing like this. It wasn’t a fluke.

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