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Several Bears articles

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Trumpet_Man, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006

    Not a shocking loss
    Defense looked great, but you don't beat AFC powers without offense

    September 10, 2007
    BY MIKE MULLIGAN mmulligan@suntimes.com

    SAN DIEGO -- The result was inevitable. The Bears lost their season opener to the Chargers on Sunday just as they were supposed to lose. Ask the Las Vegas oddsmakers. Ask any expert in the country. Ask your inner self.
    The best team in the NFC, which the Bears still might be, isn't supposed to beat the best team in the AFC, which the Chargers could be. New Orleans traveled to Indianapolis on Thursday and learned the same cruel lesson. AFC good. NFC bad. It was simply the Bears' turn to drain that bitter cup of defeat.

    ''It just wasn't our day,'' Bears quarterback Rex Grossman said. ''We'll learn from it and get better, and hopefully we'll see them down the road.''

    It's nice to know Grossman is still thinking Super Bowl despite the 14-3 loss. Indeed, you suspect the Bears will live to win another day. Nothing happened Sunday that will ruin the season, even if they find themselves momentarily in last place in the NFC North after Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit all found ways to win. In fact, the way the defense played Sunday should give the Bears confidence that they are the class of the NFC, as everyone believes.

    It would be sad if safety Mike Brown's knee injury ends his season. Brown's emotional reaction after the game makes you think that's true. Dusty Dvoracek was taken to the locker room on the same cart that Brown rode, also suffering a knee injury. Tough way to end your first NFL game. Brown is an inspirational player and he'll be missed.
    The team moves on, of course, even if an individual can't. Football teams are like vampires; they survive and thrive on fresh blood. The Bears can plug in last year's starter, Danieal Manning, at free safety and start Darwin Walker in place of Dvoracek, moving Antonio Garay onto the roster and activating Anthony Adams at that position. Odd as it might sound, the defense probably won't miss a beat, even without a natural leader like Brown.

    The only things that can stop the Bears' defense are the Bears' offense and their special teams. The Chargers won the turnover battle 4-2 and with it they won the game. To beat a great team on the road, you have to play mistake-free football. The Bears' defense was on the field for nearly a quarter longer than the Chargers' defense. They wore out in the end.

    ''We kept the defense on the field too long,'' receiver Bernard Berrian said. ''We turned the ball over too much.''

    Miscommunication hurts
    It was the key to the game. Grossman threw an interception that might have been his fault or perhaps Berrian made the error. Either way, it killed an excellent scoring chance.
    Brandon McGowan was charged with a fumble when a short punt bounced and hit him in the shoulder while he was blocking. Very unlucky.

    The Bears returned 10 of their 11 starters on offense, losing only Thomas Jones, who was traded to the Jets for a swap of second-round picks. Whatever you say about Jones, he was a sure-handed player who could be trusted to carry the ball, especially late in games.

    His replacement, Cedric Benson, managed 42 yards on 19 carries, but also made a costly fumble. Second-string running back Adrian Peterson, who again looked like a better fit behind the Bears' offense, had 38 yards on seven carries. He also fumbled.

    In case you are keeping track, Jones played for the Jets in a 38-14 loss to visiting New England and matched Benson's 42 yards on just 14 carries. Jones didn't fumble.

    ''We hurt ourselves with the turnovers,'' said Benson, who said the Chargers' Jamal Williams made a good play by getting an arm around the running back's shoulder and knocking the ball out. ''We knew the only way of losing his game was us beating ourselves. Not to take nothing away from them; they are a great football team. But turnovers hurt us.''

    Bears center Olin Kreutz used the word ''unacceptable'' about five times in the postgame locker room. He said the offense had to play better regardless of the circumstances or the opponent.

    ''We played bad, real bad,'' Kreutz said. ''You always expect to be a little behind [opposing defenses] when Week 1 hits, but you don't expect to play like that. You don't expect to be the reason your team lost. We have to play better, period.''

    Ultimate goal unchanged
    It was a harsh assessment, given that the loss came against a star-studded defense that includes Williams and Shawne Merriman, in front of a wild crowd of 67,837.
    ''We are here to get it done,'' Kreutz said. ''We don't want to be the part of the team that keeps us from getting to the Super Bowl.''

    The offense won't hold the Bears back any more than it did last year. It would be nice to be able to score points against good teams as well as bad, but there are not many teams like San Diego's left on the schedule. And if they meet again at a neutral site, maybe the Bears can manage a touchdown or two.
  2. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006


    Plan B arrives a bit early
    Bears 'D' a force even without Dvoracek and Brown

    David Haugh
    On the Bears

    September 11, 2007

    Tuesday's two-minute drill ...

    If emotional Bears fans well up with tears along with Mike Brown at the thought of the popular safety suffering another season-ending injury, go ahead and let them flow. Brown deserves pity as much as he does respect.

    But cry not for the Bears' defense. It will survive losing two starters for the season in Brown and defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek.

    Nobody at Halas Hall likes it. But nobody was unprepared for this inevitability, either, especially with Brown.

    In other words, anyone looking for an excuse why the Bears now can lower their Super Bowl expectations can keep looking. These losses hurt, but they did more damage to the heart and soul of the team than the core of the roster.

    Even now, is there a better defense in the NFC?

    Danieal Manning will step in for Brown as he did last season and actually provide more speed and athleticism that will help compensate for Brown's savvy. He isn't the blitzer or run supporter Brown is, but at this point of their respective careers, he covers more ground and breaks on the ball quicker. The addition of Adam Archuleta should help plug the holes against the run that showed up during Brown's absence in 2006.

    Expect a dropoff in awareness and big-play potential, but Manning at least gives the Bears a reliable player they can count on every Sunday. That counts for something in a league where injuries are an inevitable part of the game every team anticipates.

    Lucky for the Bears they are so well-prepared.

    People who say the Bears aren't the same team without Brown, out of respect for the veteran, make a valid point. But Brown has missed 28 regular-season games since coach Lovie Smith arrived in 2004—more than half the schedule—and the Bears' defense has remained among the NFL's elite. It knows how to play without Brown because that has been the rule and not the exception.

    Who backs up Manning now might keep Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo up late, as well as renew questions about the curious trade of Chris Harris, but the Bears like the options rookie Kevin Payne gives them.

    As for Dvoracek, remember that he was a luxury; a young player who developed quicker than expected and willed his way into the lineup. Dvoracek's loss eventually will raise more questions about his durability than the Bears' depth at defensive tackle.

    Darwin Walker will slide into the position he was supposed to fill in the first place when the Bears traded for him last month. Walker, an eight-year veteran, cruised through the preseason, but Bears coaches noted that he was a different player in practice last week with the regular season looming. His active play against the Chargers confirmed that.

    The apparent return of Tommie Harris to being Tommie Harris also quells concerns. If the Bears had any doubts about Harris, they wouldn't have made free-agent signee Anthony Adams inactive for the Chargers game. This elevates Adams a notch. Antonio Garay, kept around on the practice squad because the team values his development, figures to move up too.

    If another injury occurs down the road, maybe former Bear Ian Scott will be healed and on the market by then once the Eagles release him after he is healthy. Depending on how desperate the Bears become, Tank Johnson remains unsigned, and one Bears official over the weekend said he believed Johnson was informed his eight-game suspension started Sunday. ...

    Switching to offense, Devin Hester needs to play more. He touched the ball once. All preseason the Bears raved about the progress Hester had made in his transition to wide receiver, yet he only took one snap at wideout against the Chargers. Granted, the Chargers' complex blitz package out of the 3-4 might have been a good reason to keep someone inexperienced at reading defenses off the field. But for an offense that desperately needed a big play, keeping Hester on the sideline was one of the oddest calls offensive coordinator Ron Turner made on a day that wasn't one of his better ones. ...

    In this case, maybe the Bears really can blame the media for changing momentum in Sunday's game. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Chargers punter Mike Scifres claimed his 22-yard punt bounced off a wire of a TV camera cable that was hovering high above the field to get a different view for the Fox telecast. A team official confirmed that it did. The punt then fell short and hit oblivious Bears safety Brandon McGowan, the Chargers recovered on the Bears' 29 and scored their first touchdown four plays later. ... The Bears indirectly helped put Chargers rookie safety Eric Weddle in position to make his sack of Rex Grossman on a blitz in the second quarter. San Diego took Weddle with the 37th pick in last April's NFL draft—a choice the Bears traded to the Chargers for their second-, third- and fifth-round picks and a third-round selection in 2008. ...

    Final San Diego snapshot: The Union-Tribune also reported that LaDainian Tomlinson was resting in bed at the team hotel Saturday night when his cell phone rang about 11 p.m. It was Tommie Harris, and he wasn't reminiscing about the Nike commercial. Harris asked LT for tickets. "He [also] said, 'Tell [Kris] Dielman to take it easy on me,' " Tomlinson said, referring to the Chargers' left guard. "He said, 'Man, I'm coming off an injury. Y'all got to take it easy on me.' " ...

    Another byproduct of Cedric Benson's slow start could be a national media following the Bears this year more than ever will dredge up the cool reception Benson once got in the locker room. After Sunday's game, Yahoo! Sports reported a conversation with an unnamed Bear in July that suggested Benson still has hard feelings for Brian Urlacher and Ricky Manning Jr. for their treatment of him. The same online report quoted an anonymous Chargers player saying of Benson: "We felt we could get in his head. It's not like we were looking at Larry Johnson or anyone back there saying 'let's go.' I talk to guys around the league. [Benson] took himself out of the Super Bowl. That's letting down your team. I guess that's what kind of guy he is. We knew that, and we played accordingly."
  3. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006

    Chargers 14, Bears 3
    Bears drop season opener
    'Winded' defense plays well, but can't bring home win
    By Vaughn McClure

    Tribune staff reporter

    10:37 PM CDT, September 9, 2007


    Inside a somber Bears' locker room, Tommie Harris glanced at pouting teammate Mark Anderson and immediately gave the defensive end an encouraging but stern earful.

    "We have next week, man," Harris said. "I'm not telling you to smile about it. But hey, man, you can't be mad."

    The defense had every right to be furious.

    When you hold reigning NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson to 25 yards rushing—his lowest total since 7 yards against Philadelphia in 2005—and when you make arguably one of the top offenses in the NFL look more like a team of replacement players for more than three quarters, you're supposed to win. The Bears didn't, meaning the defensive effort was as meaningful as an exhibition victory.

    Sunday's 14-3 loss to the San Diego Chargers proved that no matter how hard it tries, the defense can't shoulder the entire load if the Bears want a return trip to the Super Bowl. The offense and Rex Grossman sputtered. Costly second-half turnovers allowed the Chargers to eat up clock and wear down the defense.

    "I don't like losing, no matter what," Anderson said. "We were on point for about two, three quarters. Than we let them do what they do. We let them off the hook."

    Defensive coordinator Bob Babich's bunch was better than advertised, save for one big hiccup—a 17-yard touchdown pass from Tomlinson to Antonio Gates in the third quarter that wiped out the Bears' 3-0 lead. But nothing hurt the defense more than running backs Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson fumbling in the second half and a special teams mishap on which a Chargers punt hit off the Bears' Brandon McGowan before the Chargers' Matt Wilhelm covered it.

    Babich refused to make excuses for his defense.

    "I saw a lot of energy from our guys," Babich said. "In taking a peek at the third-down stats, I think we could have done a better job to get ourselves off the field."

    The Chargers had possession for 12 more minutes than the Bears in the second half. No wonder the defense was chugging Gatorade bottles so quickly in the fourth quarter.

    "We don't get tired," linebacker Brian Urlacher contended. "Sometimes we get winded, but we don't get tired."

    Some of that wind got sucked out on the Tomlinson touchdown toss with 52 seconds left in the third quarter. He took a pitch from quarterback Philip Rivers, ran parallel to the line of scrimmage, cocked his right arm and fired to Gates. The burly tight end got behind Hunter Hillenmeyer then sneaked into the end zone with a stretch of the arm before free safety Mike Brown could get to him.

    Babich wouldn't say which player was out of position on the play, but with three safeties on the field, someone needed to help cover. No one did.

    "I just saw the toss to my side, I came up, and … that's all," McGowan said. "It's not frustrating. You've just got to get over it."

    Shaking off this one will be tough considering how the defense couldn't escape San Diego unscathed. Brown, set to make a magical return from a foot injury after grabbing an early interception, left the game with a left knee sprain and was in tears afterward. Nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek, who, like Brown, was coming off an injury last season, also suffered a knee injury. Losing Brown for any extended time will hurt, considering the leadership he brings. And Dvoracek's run-stuffing ability is something the Bears' could use with Larry Johnson and the Kansas City Chiefs coming to town Sunday.

    Before Brown and Dvoracek exited, they contributed greatly to a defensive effort that was pitching a shutout. The Bears held the Chargers scoreless in the first half, something that last happened in '05 against the Eagles. And the Chargers led the NFL in scoring last season, averaging more than 30 points per game.

    At one point, Tomlinson had nine rushes for minus-1 yard as the defense loaded the box to shut him down. The pass rush was excellent, with Anderson, Adewale Ogunleye and Nathan Vasher credited with sacks. And the Bears had all this success without blitzing much.

    Harris exemplified how tough the defense played, getting into the backfield twice in the second half to stuff plays, including one that caused Rivers to fumble at the Bears' 1. Brown recovered that third-quarter fumble.

    Strong safety Adam Archuleta, upset in much the same manner as Anderson after the game, appreciated the big plays his teammates made but put everything in perspective.

    "As a defense, we need to tell ourselves we need to make more game-changing plays," he said. "The first half? What does that mean? We can feel good after 30 minutes, but the bottom line is we lost the first game."

    But the season won't be a loss, as long as defense doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting.
  4. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006

    Chargers Seek a Fouts-Seau Mix
    Players say the win over Chicago in the season opener was the type of game they lost last year at Baltimore and Kansas City.

    By Tom Shanahan

    Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007 | Imagine the Dan Fouts Chargers with a defense.

    Imagine the Junior Seau Chargers with an offense.

    The 2006 Bolts thought they had a Fouts-Seau kind of balance between offense and defense -- the mix it takes to win a Super Bowl -- when they finished the regular season with a 14-2 record and held home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    But now, from experience, they say they understand they were missing something, an element that they now possess. Maturity, they say, helped them survive a physical battle with the Chicago Bears in Sunday's season opener with a 14-3 win.

    "Most of that talk of maturity came from the players, and it came after the game," said new Chargers head coach Norv Turner. "The discussion was coming from them, and that's the most important thing. That's what experience is. People say a guy that has played a long time is experienced, and hopefully that means he's better. But I've been around experienced players that keep doing the same things over and over, and that's not good."

    Football teams working to improve are constantly measuring themselves. The players find signs in wins that may or may not really mean anything, but what's important is they think it does.

    Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers pointed to the team's two losses last year compared to coming from behind to beat Chicago as evidence the team has matured.

    In a frustrating 16-13 loss at Baltimore, the Chargers' offense didn't score in the second half. The defense was keeping the game close until Baltimore scored on a six-play, 60-yard drive with 34 seconds to play.

    "It's a gratifying team win for the way we battled and leaned on each other," Rivers said. "It was a very similar game to Baltimore last year, but we didn't win that game."

    In the 30-27 loss at Kansas City last year, the Bolts scored only two field goals in the first half, and when the offense warmed up with 21 points in the second half, it wasn't enough to come from behind and win.

    "At Kansas City, we didn't finish," Rivers said. "I felt (Chicago) was that type of a game, and that's why it was important for us to win and gain that kind of experience. Those kind of games give you continued maturity. We're a better team at winning those types of games."

    Chargers tight end Antonio Gates said the Bolts were more physical and patient than they have been in the close games in the past.

    "We talked about it today and laughed and joked about it," Gates said. "It was one of those games you had to grind it out and stay patient. That's what we tried to do. They made some defensive plays, but we knew we'd make some plays if we continued to pound them and press the envelope. Eventually, things opened up for us."

    The 1994 Chargers had a big-play offense that, when mixed with the Seau-led defense, was enough to reach the Super Bowl. But that offense couldn't score points quickly, and the Bolts were routed by the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

    This week the Chargers travel to New England to play a team with an offense capable of scoring quickly and a defense that plays physical football. The Chargers have to be able to show they can adjust from playing the defense-oriented, low-scoring Bears to the high-scoring, physical Patriots.

    In early team meetings Monday, Turner plopped down a bigger-than-usual game plan for his quarterbacks.

    "Billy Volek talked about how much volume there was compared to what he was used to," Turner said of Rivers' backup. "We've got to put together a game plan that in our minds prepares to go out and score 40 points. The game may dictate a different score, but we have to prepare. I wish I knew how the game would unfold."

    But a team with a Fouts-Seau mix can adjust to any game and opponent.
  5. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006

    Merriman gets in last word: Win

    September 10, 2007
    BY MARK BROWN Special to the Sun-Times
    SAN DIEGO -- A feud between two linebackers wasn't going to amount to much, but that didn't stop Shawne Merriman from getting in the last word in his battle of wits with Brian Urlacher.
    ''I have everything I need,'' Merriman said after Sunday's victory. ''We have the win, and that's all that matters.

    ''Hey, that's a good team over there, and they will win a lot of games. But we have the win. Guys will trash-talk all they want, but we did our talking on the field.''

    Merriman, who exchanged a hug with Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris after the game, had three tackles, and Urlacher had six.

    First-year Chargers coach Norv Turner, meanwhile, described how the seed was planted for LaDainian Tomlinson's touchdown pass.

    ''When I took this job, I made a point to speak to the players,'' Turner said. ''L.T. immediately said, 'Coach, I can throw,' and I kept that in the back of my mind.''

    The perfect situation developed for a Tomlinson pass in the third quarter. Turner called the opportunity ''a structured chance, and we liked it.''

    It was first-and-10 from the Bears' 17 when Tomlinson took a pitch right and ran laterally. He stopped, looked toward the end zone and passed the ball to where only tight end Antonio Gates could make the catch to put the Chargers up 7-3.

    ''It was a tremendous throw by L.T.,'' Gates said. ''He has a very strong arm, and maybe he should take some snaps. The ball was well thrown because either I catch it, or it goes out of bounds.''

    Tomlinson made the read of a quarterback.

    ''I saw Mike [Brown] as the only defensive back on that side,'' Tomlinson said. ''When I started to run, he moved up and saw Antonio move toward the sideline. When Mike made his break, I threw as hard as I could.''

    It helped offset a tough game running for Tomlinson, who gained only 25 yards on 17 carries.

    ''That's a team that went to the Super Bowl last year and still has so many great players,'' Tomlinson said. ''You can't run up and down the field on this team. You have to be patient and take what they give you.''

    ''We'll be a team with great poise,'' Turner said. ''Good teams respond to adverse conditions by remaining poised.''
  6. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2006

    Sights, sounds & happenings from the Bears-Chargers game

    September 10, 2007

    Long division
    It wasn't a good day for Chicago sports fans. While the Bears were losing, all of the other NFC North teams were winning, putting the Bears in the division cellar.
    During the game, Fox's crawler at the top of the screen would include baseball scores. And while the Cubs were losing, Milwaukee was winning, putting the Cubs in second place in the National League Central.

    No hard feelings
    For all of the talk last week about Brian Urlacher being mad with LaDainian Tomlinson for his commercial, or being upset with Shawne Merriman for mouthing off, it was no surprise to see everyone shake hands after the game. Urlacher hugged Tomlinson on the field after the game, and Merriman hugged Tommie Harris as Harris headed to the team bus.

    Chico was the man
    As Comcast's William Jackson was doing his postgame spot from Qualcomm Stadium, a happy Ron Rivera walked by and nudged Jackson, before giving him the peace sign. Rivera was let go after being the defensive coordinator for the Bears last season and now is San Diego's linebackers coach.

    Wolfe in LT clothing
    While some fans likely were wondering why Garrett Wolfe wasn't used to try to spark a dormant ground game, Nathan Vasher credited Wolfe for preparing the Bears' defense by simulating LaDainian Tomlinson last week in practice.

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