Five Questions From the First Five Games of the 2012 Season

Five Questions From the First Five Games of the 2012 Season

We'll be doing a lot of housekeeping around here Wednesday - Friday, including another round of tee shirt sales and the picks contest standings.

Also we'll be doing our first ever DA BEARS BLOG MAILBAG on Monday, October 15th. Many of you out there don't spend much time in the Comments arena and I thought it'd be nice to give you a chance to make your presence known on the site. Send a question or comment to jeff@dabearsblog.com.

First, five questions arising from these terrific first five games of the 2012 season.

QUESTION #1

Can Brandon Marshall insert himself into the MVP discussion if the Bears defense continues to dominate?

Doubtful but Marshall is on pace to shatter everything done by wide receivers in Chicago. He's staring down 100 catches, double-digit touchdowns and nearly 1500 yards. He has changed the complexion of the Bears offense by drawing the attention of opposing defensive coordinators and giving Jay Cutler a reliable target on third and fourth down short-yardage situations. Jay Cutler and Matt Forte are very good football players. I'm getting the sense Brandon Marshall is a great one.

Take a look at how Marshall is stacking up in Bears WR history by CLICKING HERE.

QUESTION #2

Both Major Wright and Chris Conte have struggled at times on pass plays over the top. Will this possible deficiency hurt the Bears anytime soon?

It very well could but we won't have to wait long to know. The Detroit Lions want their quarterback to drop back into the pocket and unleash the ball deep and they've got the wide receiver (Calvin Johnson) to do it. If the Bears don't get pressure on Stafford a week from Monday night, Conte and Wright will be seeing a heavy workload. Let's see how they produce.

QUESTION #3

Can Jay Cutler win a close one?

Maybe he won't face the situation but the Bears have yet to need their franchise quarterback to take the ball eighty yards, down four, three minutes to go. You can't fault the Bears defense for playing the way they're playing but the Bears will not win a Super Bowl without Cutler making a big play at a clutch moment. With his offensive line performing far better than even a few weeks ago, Cutler won't have any excuse for not succeeding in the big moment.

QUESTION #4

Will Devin Hester continue to look normal in the return game?

Thus far the greatest kick returner in the history of football has looked average. But one thing we know for sure is the Detroit Lions are somewhat-defined by their complete inability to make a tackle on special teams. If Hester continues to look human against the Lions at Soldier Field, we may be looking at the Bears no longer entering each game with the overwhelming special teams advantage they've maintained for seven years.

QUESTION #5

Will we see Brian Urlacher in 2012?

I believe it is the definitive question facing the Chicago Bears moving forward. Can the Bears defense continue to succeed with Urlacher playing at this 40-60% level? Yes. They are simply playing at outrageously high levels everywhere else on the defense. But teams will look at the Cowboys and Jaguars tapes and see two definitive lessons: (1) Urlacher is struggling to protect the middle of the field from tight ends and backs. (2) Urlacher is struggling to make it to the edge. Until he proves he can do both routinely, I expect teams to attack him directly. If Urlacher is able to get to 75-80%, this defense will not have competition for the status of league's best.

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  • seeing as last season was derailed by injury, shouldn't your first question be the ability of the major players to remain healthy? as happy as we all are now, we were equally elated at 7-3.

  • How would you write that answer?

    Question #1

    Will players stay heathy?

    I hope so.

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:

    Works for me. In fact, those are the second most eloquent three words a scribe can pen. The first being "They fucking better."

  • cheese stained wife-beater tank top trailer boy:

    So, the CedBen is out 8 weeks. We could have told you not to pin your dreams on Cheech Benson. But would you listen? No. No you would not.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    saaaay... where are all the packer trolls this year? Seems like they've been around less this year?

    Wonder why that is... any ideas GP?

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Cholesterol?

  • In reply to gpldan:

    Ha!

  • 1) I suppose it's remotely possible for Marshall to win an MVP award, since there are several of them. But the only WR *ever* to win any of them was Jerry Rice. Marshall would likely need *at least* 20 TD to win an MVP.

    2) Like you say, we'll see.

    3) I'm waiting for him to do so.

    4) Hester's performance is more than just Devin. The rest of the squad has to get better too.

    5) Watching Urlacher right now is painful. I think the staff needs to consider sitting him down. We all hope his legs will come back, but he seems to be regressing, not progressing, as the season goes on. Is it a matter of getting some rest and recovery time?

  • In reply to SC Dave:

    With all fairness to Brian, he's only coming back from an injury and game fitness takes time to get back. He should look a lot better after the bye, if not, then he just needs more time.

  • +1 Irish. I actually think Lach is getting better not worse as the season progresses. His lack of mobility in the first couple games was way more glaring to me than the last couple. I think he's getting back to form and I don't think that's just me being hopefully optimistic. As everyone has said his side to side run coverage and pass coverage is still under par for him, but he's been pretty good in run support up the middle.

  • In reply to SC Dave:

    By the way, Wikipedia lists 5 major (which I define as having presented at least 20 winners) MVP awards

    1957-2011 Associated Press
    1975-2011 Pro Football Writers
    1955-2007 Newspaper Enterprise Association
    1954-2011 Sporting News
    1959-2011 Bert Bell

    The distribution is as follows. I use the notation QB/2 and HB/2 to indicate shared awards.

    148 QB
    12 QB/2
    79 RB
    10 RB/2
    6 WR (Jerry Rice four polls in 1987, 1990; Harlon Hill, 1955)
    1 TE (Pete Retzlaff, 1965)
    2 DT (Alan Page, 1971; Merlin Olsen, 1974)
    4 LB (Lawrence Taylor, four polls in 1986)
    1 DE (Andy Robustelli, 1962)
    2 K (Mark Moseley, two polls in 1982 )
    1 QB-K (G. Blanda, 1970)
    1 T-K (Lou Groza, 1954)

    Cut & paste and pivot tables... so simple.

  • We're about the best in the league at sacking the QB and taking the ball away. The guy that makes sure everybody knows what's up is Urlacher. I don't know where the 40-60% thing comes from Jefe but I'll take it over anything else on offer. The Hattie Hillenmeyer fiasco is still painfully fresh in the memory.

    Brandon became great the day he broke the all-time receptions record for a single game. QB was Kyle someone or other.

  • Listen Irish, we all love Brian. But I stand by what I originally thought and the Bears should have put him on PUP. It would have given him six games of the season, with a a bye week, to build up that knee. I don't think Brian is struggling to get acclimated to game speed. I think he's struggling to get his knee to work.

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:

    I agree, Jeff. It may be a confidence thing, but seeing him just let MJD run around him on the outside is a clear indicator something is seriously amiss.

  • In reply to Jeff Hughes:

    He's plain dumb if he's doing that ... unless he figures this is his swansong?

    As it is, we're #2 in stopping the run. Rest up Bri.

  • Question #4

    I don’t blame Hester for looking “normal”. Punt returns are very difficult to begin with and teams know not to kick it to Hester. This combination is not good for the return leader. On Punts he’s been “Black Listed” by every coach out there to not give Hester a chance. Kick it high or over his head or toward the side lines. If he even gets the chance to return a punt it’s a miracle and during these rare moments he seems to “over try” running east and west in lieu of up the field. The league has screwed Hester on Kickoffs with the new placement rules. Most kickers these days kick it over the end zone. On kickoff returns Hester has a bit more flexibility but it’s minimal. He’s way over due on a TD return but I don’t see it happening which to me is very sad indeed.

    Question #5

    Urlacher is slowly coming back but I don’t think anyone, including Urlacher, thinks he’ll ever be 100% again. You Cannot heal quickly playing football...period. I agree putting him on the side line for a few games might be a good idea if it looks like we're going to get to the playoffs. However is a 75% Urlacher better than a Replacement Player at 100%? If that player, whether it be a rookie or a vet from elsewhere, if they are not “Ray Lewis” caliber than what good are they? I say Urlacher is still our MLB future for next year…the year after that will tell the tale. I think Urlacher may be too proud to give it up just yet. If his injuries continue to haunt him I can see him retiring after the 2014 season on his own. Peanut Tillman is also getting "up there". We'll need a bad ass CB in next year's draft to start the process of eventual replacement.

  • In reply to Bears-4-Ever:

    I think the NFL has developed a strategy for Hester, which is to never let him catch the ball in the middle of the field, where he could go either way and the kicking team doesn't know which way Toub has set the return up for. Toub is simply too good teaching this.

    Instead, pin him against a sideline, even if the kick goes out of bounds, and close down the angles for the gaps he's so good at hitting.

    Hester has responded by catching and running sideways, looking for his blocks so he can break up and hit the wedge, but that wedge hasn't formed as well. His blocking isn't nearly as good as it was early in his career.

    I don't think we will see many teams deviate from this. Nobody is going to let the Chicago Bears set up a center field return on them as long as he is back there.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    You're right about the decline in blocking GP, and that's what I meant when I wrote about the rest of the squad having to get better.

    In the first couple of years, everyone on the field fed off Hester's mojo and the blocking really was a thing of beauty.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    I'm going to throw this unpopular idea out there... it's one that I've been cooking for a couple years now...

    He doesn't try nearly as hard as he used to.

    there it is. He def. doesn't like getting hit. He almost always takes the easy way out of bounds or just dives down instead of taking a risk and making a play. Unless there's an 'obvious' lane, he never really tries to make something break anymore.

    I've been pretty unimpressed with him lately.

    ...and yes, it's because my expectations are ridiculously (and unfairly) high because of who he is.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Maybe so, MB, maybe so. Kinda like the new guy said a couple of threads ago about contract years and playing harder.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Completely agree. Not the same anymore. I don't think he has the same
    burst anymore either. Noticed it a few years ago even. When Danieal Manning toom kicks out it looked entirely different. This doesn't mean you pull him. He's still the best option on the team. Just not the returner he once was.

  • In reply to Johnnywad:

    He's got different guys blocking for him now, I don't know that he's any slower or forgot how to return. One thing's for sure, the receiver experiment does seem to be working. Cutty threw that pass waaaaay before Devin made his break (check out OBR's breakdown vid) and he caught the shit out of that ball. Sucks that Baby Brandon is out though.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    I actually wouldn't blame him for that MB, he's a receiver now, and he wants a career. That was my concern from the start. Either play him as a return man extraordinaire or a receiver. Hard to be good/effective at both. Receivers don't look for contact by nature and maybe that's rubbing off on him.

    That's why WalterP will always be my hero, never was concerned about taking it easy or shying away from contact ... and PManning will always be a girl with a turtle-shaped head.

  • "Can Jay Cutler win a close one?"

    Huh?

    2009-
    Last 2 minutes, game - winning field goal drive against the Steelers.

    Overtime bomb to Aromashadu to beat the Narcissus-led Vikes on a Monday night.

    2010-
    4th Quarter: Green Bay 17, Bears 14.
    Final: Bears 20-17.

    4th Quarter: Lions 20, Bears 17.
    Final: Bears 24-20.

    2011:
    4th Quarter: Eagles 24, Bears 20.
    Final: Bears 30-24.
    IN Philly!

    Do those not count on his resume' anymore?

    There are multiple Denver examples as well.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Good points, Al. EN FUEGO!

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Also the SF meltdown. Admittedly, his last minute TD pass was caught by a Niner and not Kellen Davis ... but it would have been an awesome game-winning drive against those pansies. The Eighties still smart.

  • he also drove it all the way against the Pack and won it in 09 late in the fourth quarter...until the defense let the Pack go 80 yards in 1:21 to win it.

  • Actually Irish, I was there, in that endzone in '09, and it was old Greg(Olsen) who was targeted on the play. That was a tough losers' walk out of the stands for me and my now wife.

  • In reply to ben in norcal:

    It was Olsen?? @#*%! PANSY!

  • BTW, if goodell called me and said... as the official Bears fan-GM I'm going to let you poach one player from another team for your bears right now for free.

    I would take JJ Watt in a NY minute (see how I did that).

    Guy is a fucking ANIMAL and would allow us to not even need any safeties. My god that dude is a one-man wrecking crew.

    actually, that's a good question... who would you guys take?

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Patrick Willis.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    ohhhhh... gooood one.

    I wanted lofton in FA. Oh well.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    Good one.

    Jason Peters for me though.

  • he's out for the year with a blown achilies mate. A guy that can help us win the SB this year"

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Oh, you want someone with two achilles?
    Oh. Duane Brown.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1061841-br-nfl-1000-top-32-left-tackles/page/31

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Jake Long

  • In reply to Johnnywad:

    over watt? really?

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    whoops. I was thinking you mean Chris Long (Howie's kid).

    Good one.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Watt is something scary. His vertical is ridiculous combined with his off the charts wing span and non-stop motor. I might pick him too.

  • In reply to Crown:

    Bang! Bang!

  • Dude... read this NOW: http://profootballmock.com/?p=5020

    Holy sheite muslim!

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Wow. Now THAT is fkn funny. Quality japes from a Jape-meister extraordinaire.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Good shit for sure!

  • OMG, there's a nother one!

    http://profootballmock.com/?p=4810

    So AWWWEEEEESSSSOOOOOOMMMEEEE!

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    I like the Eli v. Vick part...

  • In reply to SC Dave:

    "in the time it took him to write 'plus 1' he threw 3 interceptions."

    "You'll probably just miss me and hit a DB instead"

    BAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Aw, that one's even better!

  • as mentioned by GPO above: http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2012-10-08/green-bay-packers-lose-cedric-benson-to-foot-injury-could-be-out-for-season?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D217554

    *SNIFF*

  • if ANYTHING should be outlawed it's this fucking pussy bullshit. What a fucking cunt move.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/brian-cushing-leaves-texans-jets-game-uncalled-questionable-022626147--nfl.html

    That dude should be fined and suspended without pay for the rest of the year. Fucking bullshit.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    I HATE to agree with Lesbian Thor on anything...but he's absolutely right. It's a double standard. That was a dirty block and yes that douche should be fined at the very least.

  • In reply to Bears-4-Ever:

    Yes, he is right.

  • In reply to Bears-4-Ever:

    No spelling mistakes either.

  • Anyone see Kid Rock being a shill for Romney? That's a Pey-Pey facepalm right there. Rockers for Romney. Fuck off.

  • Amazing the hate coming out of the Obama camp these days. I'm sure they're happy to have you, Irish. At least people like these are...

    http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/stacey-dash-twitter-backlash-voicing-support-romney-170600904.html

  • In reply to SC Dave:

    Whoa nelly. Obama is a shill for the Federal Reserve and Wall Street in general. I don't trust any of those bastards. No Dem/Rep labels here. Just watching the clown car burn from the bleachers. Doesn't make the blindest bit of difference who the sock puppet is, the Fed love the show, and that's all it is. If Obama can't beat a billionaire Mormon out of the race ....

    Last Prez to take on the Fed got his brains splattered all over his wife.

  • Question #3 should be Question #1.

    Can Cutler NOT choke, esp vs the Packers or Elite (not wild-card) teams? That's my question, and it's already been partially answered.

    How will Cutler react when JJ Watt and Aldon Smith are harassing him all night? How will he respond on X-mas against the Pack and Matthews treating Webb like an express toll booth lane?

    That's really the only big question I harbor, and I won't have a definitive answer until after this season.

  • don't worry $, I will be at the pack game, and based on their performance the last time I was in attendance at Soldier... we'll be juuuust fine. #goodluckcharminthetizzhouse

  • I don't think he ever 'chokes' not in a Peyton Manning or Rohomo sense ... he's just not generally an accurate passer.

  • Few notes on other observations.

    Hester

    He has lost acceleration, IMO. He just no longer explodes once the ball touches his hand. That's why we can't use him in a Harvin/Cobb/Titus Young role - he's simply not that explosive anymore. That's also why teams really don't sweat Hester beating them over the top as much as we wish they would.

    But, this is a golden opportunity for Weems to get some returns. We can now use the excuse that we need Hester for WR duties more, and phase him out of the return game. I might give him one more game against the HORRIBLE Lion's SP TEAMS which have allowed both KR/PR TDs in two consecutive weeks, and if Hester can't pop against them, then it's Weems time.

  • I think Hester misses his blocking more than he misses his burst. He can still turn on the jets but has no place to go. Patience.

  • Note 2.

    Lach-Conte-Wright.

    Other teams have been inches away from that deep ball, but I'm not sure it's entirely our Safeties fault. I just think that they're trying to compensate for Lach. They see him in a knee brace limping around every day at practice, and they know that a lot of those short-middle range responsibilities which Lach used to gobble up now falls partially to them.

    It's also a scheme thing. One of the drawbacks of playing more man, blitzing, or varying from the Cover-2 is that the deep ball will be more available. It's just a matter of the other team recognizing the coverage and executing the long ball. We've just been spoiled in the Cover-2 since it's specifically designed to take away the bombs.

  • one word for you $: Manti Te'o

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    I've been wanting him since I've watched a highlight reel of him last year (and dutifullly presented it to the blog). I think Murph was on the bandwagon early as well, but Notre Dame isn't exactly off the radar, and Te'o is playing out of his mind this year. He maybe one of those rare LBs who go in the Top 5.

    But, who knows? Maybe we'll get a little of that Old Irish luck coming this way. After JA got fired, I now believe in Jungs collective unconscious! Manti mantra Manti Mantra...hummmm....

  • see that's the thing though. We need to pay whatever we need to in order to get him.

    You don't get your 12 year franchise MLB replacement in the 4th. So, pay the fuck up and get it done this year... then use the rest of our picks and FA for oline and some DB depth. We're pretty solid everywhere else.

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    Been crying that from the rooftops for two years MB. Angelo clearly had no intention of trying to replace Brian or Olin, and now we're an injury away from being a terrible defense.

  • Mini-rant forming. Everytime Brian's name come up I think ... why does Garza always get a pass?

    #2 run-stopping defense in the league. #1 Sack leaders. #1 Takeaway leaders. Can somebody show me in tangible things how Brian is hurting us? We're killing teams with our D alone.

    Garza wears TWO knee braces - not in practice - but on the field of play in regular season games. Garza is the guy that's hurting us. We have an aged guard with NO KNEES playing center. We have zero push up the middle on an already poor offensive line. Please let this be his last season.

  • Happy Birthday Samurai Mike: http://www.spacemanjr.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/costacos-brothers-Mike-Singletary-samurai-linebacker.jpg

  • In reply to Crown:

    Nice.

  • Well can we all say it now or can I be the first to say it maybe mike Tice finally has the formula he has been looking for even though it was right in front of his face I said this once ,twice, 3 times this offense starts with the running game this football club gets on and off the bus running this is what we do this is how this team is built we have a horse in Forte who can do it all and Bush could start for at least 5 other team out there everything starts and stops with the rush look the jags were putting 7 guys in the box sunday why? cause they knew if we get this thing going then they have no chance and hence the formula for sunday is exactly what it should have been with the running game going then passing game well you saw too massive if we can do this each week wow it will do what it did sunday and Cutler and the wide outs well you saw what they did. look Mike Tice think got caught up in the whole pass happy league thing at the start of the season you saw it first down pass second down pass I don't not have to tell you guys. For Tice it took a few games to figure that out also look how well the O line is playing uh uh uh I said this will be the strongest part of our game this season and they are playing well and why is that cause of the running game thats why. I love the Chicago Bears man they play the football they way i like it Bear football thats right Bear football when was the last time we could say this keep up the good work guys

    frank deleo
    Bronx ny

  • In reply to frankie5134:

    Wtg Frank. Bring it.

  • In reply to frankie5134:

    new game i just invented: try to read that first sentence out loud in one breath.

    agree with you on the points. tice looked at his new toys and got a little martzian. "who needs to run when we can just throw to the big boys?"

    the packers game sucked, but if it put us on the path to 18-1 then i'm ok with how it transpired.

  • In reply to frankie5134:

    Bring Da Commas Frankie!

  • He gets a chickie that looks just like Kim, and he knocks her up.

    http://www.eonline.com/news/352553/reggie-bush-s-girlfriend-lilit-avagyan-is-pregnant

  • wow, never thought we'd be reading this from SI:

    2. Charles Tillman, Bears (NR). His position is cornerback. His role is playmaker. He has returned two interceptions for scores and has forced a fumble. He and Tim Jennings comprise one of the game's top cornerback tandems.

    Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/jim_trotter/10/09/nfl-awards-2012-week-5/index.html#ixzz28q0cTUbi

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    and here there were people talking about moving nut to safety. pshaw.

  • In reply to evantonio:

    He'd be an awesome safety!

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    NFC defensive player of the week

  • btw, there was also this little ditty in that same piece:

    "Defensive Rookie of the Year

    1. Chandler Jones, Patriots (1). The defensive end has 18 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He has been a consistent presence for New England, which has definitely found a core player for years to come."

    How you all feelin about Chicken Dinner over Chandler Jones again?

  • In reply to MB30SD:

    They got my man Hightower too. Can't remember who got Michael Kendricks, but he's been ripping it up too.

    In defense of Shamus, aren't we the sack masters? Well, we share the lead with Cincy and GB at 18 but we are on top. That's all lead to us being Interception leaders with 13, the nearest are Atlanta on 9.

    But hold the front page. In the top thirty defensive linemen listed, we have FIVE linemen in there.

    Chandler has 3 sacks? Henry has 4, Shea has 2, Julius and Izzy are on 2.5 .. .and WOOT!WOOT! has 3.5 Looking good.

  • Blogfader is hawking tees in a new thread.

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