WBEZ | Bear football http://www.wbez.org/tags/bear-football Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Bears are looking good – so far http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bears-are-looking-good-%E2%80%93-so-far-103743 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bears_helmet.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 620px;" title="The first half has been successful; the second half will be tough.(AP Photo/Joe Howell)" /></div><p>The Chicago Bears have eight down and eight left &mdash; games that is. With a 7 and 1 record the Bears are enjoying their view from the top of the NFC North. Here&#39;s what&#39;s working and what is down the road.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>It&#39;s the &quot;D&quot;&nbsp;</strong></p><p>When the season opened in September the feeling was the Bears aging defense would have to be bolstered by the somewhat revamped offense: Urlacher was coming off knee surgery, Tim Jennings was almost an ex-Bear after his 2012 performance, the safeties were questionable and Tillman, Briggs, Urlacher and Peppers have years of wear and tear on their collective bodies.&nbsp;</p><p>This Bears unit has played at a very high level; Jennings leads the league with six interceptions, Urlacher is not what he was, but is still contributing, Peppers is the glue to the defensive line and is doubled-team on nearly every play. That frees up the rest of the line to pressure the quarterback; Briggs and the rest of the defense dominate against opposing running backs and Tillman is having a monster season<strong>.</strong> His forced fumbles and his ability to cover receivers are a challenge for all the offensive coordinators in the league.&nbsp;</p><p>The defensive line rotation allows for rest and using players&#39; strengths &mdash;&nbsp;Stephen Paea, Henry Melton, Israel Idonije, Wooten and Peppers are making huge contributions. Rookie Shea McClellin has fared well on passing downs. With the line&#39;s play, it has enabled the Bears safeties the space to play the &quot;Tampa 2&quot; defense and make adjustments when needed.</p><p>Already this season the Bears have grabbed NFC defensive player honors, Jennings for September, Tillman for October and Urlacher defensive player for this past week.</p><p>This Bears defense is a feared group right now and they will be tested on Sunday against the Houston Texans.</p><p><strong>Bears &quot;O&quot; not quite there yet</strong></p><p>It&#39;s hard to imagine the Bears have a receiver actually playing at the level of his capability, but that is exactly what Brandon Marshall is doing. What an absolute steal by General Manager Phil Emery for two third-round draft picks. The rapport between Marshall and his QB Jay Cutler is elevating each and every game. Cutler is still dealing with an offensive line that has many issues, although Lance Louis is really making big strides.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_tillman_strip.jpg" style="float: right; height: 178px; width: 300px;" title="Bears Charles Tillman has had a monster first half. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)" />The Bears are still making a concerted effort to get the ground game going for Matt Forte. Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery was a nice complement to Marshall until he broke his hand. His return may be in the next few weeks. The rest of the receivers, particularly, Devin Hester has struggled. Earl Bennett was hampered by injuries and has had some key receptions the past two games. The offense has not gotten on track to start the game, different story in the fourth quarter where Jay Cutler has a 135 passer rating that leads the NFL&nbsp;There is no doubt the chemistry between Cutler and Marshall has made them on of the best quarterback-receiver duos to be reckoned with in the league.&nbsp;</p><p>The Bears offense has been aided by the scoring defense, but they are looking for more balance.</p><p><strong>Special teams are always special</strong></p><p>Year in and year out, Coach Dave Toub continues to have this unit thrive.Their coverage has been outstanding and Robbie Gould is still one of the league&rsquo;s most reliable kickers. If there is a concern, it has been with Devin Hester. His role has switched from concentrating on returns to limited receiving plays, to more snaps on offense after Jeffrey&#39;s injury. Last Sunday it was important for Hester to have a punt return that almost scored. He needs success to build on.</p><p>Last week the punt block by Sherrick McManis was a big play that earned him NFC Special Team Player honors. Just before the season started the Bears dealt Tyler Clutts to Houston for McManis-sometimes a small deal pays off.</p><p><strong>What happens now?</strong></p><p>Houston on Sunday, followed by San Francisco the following week give the Bears two difficult opponents to start the second half. They also have four divisional games left on the schedule.</p><p>Health will be a factor &mdash; don&rsquo;t forget the Bears were 7-3 last year when Cutler&rsquo;s and Forte&rsquo;s injuries ruined playoff hopes.</p><p>The Bears do not want anything derailing their post-season chances. They have a strong opportunity to do something special &mdash; and they are half way there.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://&lt;http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame?fref=ts&gt;">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bears-are-looking-good-%E2%80%93-so-far-103743 Blow out win for the Bears going into the bye week http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-10/blow-out-win-bears-going-bye-week-102958 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_2lovie_smith.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F62662153&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>It was a tale of two halves for the Bears in their 41-3 win over Jacksonville as they head into the bye-week with a 4-1 record. Head Coach Lovie Smith and his staff should delete the game plan they had drawn up in the first half. As bad as it was with a 3-3 tie, the second half was 100 percent better in every phase of the game. It would have been great to be a fly on the wall to hear the halftime talk Smith had with his team. The coaching staff did an excellent job of implementing adjustments, which got the team back on track.</p><p>The Bears opened the third quarter on offense and although the drive only netted a field goal it was a long, sustain drive that seem to wear out the Jaguars defense.</p><p>It didn&rsquo;t take long for the Bears to flex their muscles on defense; they forced a rattled Jacksonville&rsquo;s quarterback Blaine Gabbert on a 2nd and long into throwing a bad pass, which allowed Charles Tillman to snare an interception and a score just as the Bears cornerback did on Monday night in Dallas against the Cowboys. Bears linebacker Lance Briggs also duplicated his turnover from week four; he grabbed a pick and went into the end zone. For three straight weeks the Bears defense has scored touchdowns on opponents&rsquo; miscues-that has not happened since November 1950.</p><p>The rout was on in the second half the Bears as they piled up 38 points the most the team has scored after halftime since 1941.&nbsp;</p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t just the Bears defense that turned the screws on Jacksonville; Jay Cutler had two touchdown receptions, one to Brandon Marshall and another one that may be costly to rookie Alshon Jeffery. After the touchdown, Jeffery came off the field the Bears medical staff attended to an injury to his right hand. If he has to miss any significant time it will be a difficult loss for the Bears offense.</p><p>The blow-out allowed the Bears to take out starters Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte as they got to watch the game from the sideline during the final minutes. In those waning moments, they got to see running back Armando Allen scampered 46 yards for his first NFL career touchdown.</p><p>Forte finished the game with 107 rushing yards and Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards and a TD. It was the first time in six years the Bears had a player rush for over 100 yards and catch over 100 yards.</p><p>This win gives the Bears a tremendous feeling heading into the bye-week. It wasn&rsquo;t just a so-so win; it was a major blow-out and gives them a lot of confidence no matter if it was Jacksonville or any other team.</p><p>What makes this win sweet for the Bears, their divisional rivals, the Green Bay Packers got beat by the Indianapolis Colts 30-27, dropping them to a record of 2-3. The surprise team of the division has been Minnesota; they won again, beating Tennessee 30-7. The Vikings and Bears are on top of the NFC North division with a 4-1 record.</p><p>This Bears defense despite its age and many believed they were too old (myself included), look vibrant and youthful. There seems to be a right blend of young defenders with older ones that are producing right now. If they stay healthy &mdash; always a concern &mdash; this could be an opportunity to have a special season.</p><p>There is still a long, long way to go and plenty of football is left on the schedule. At least this week, they get to rest, continue to refine their game plan and prepare for their next opponent , the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football October 22. The national spotlight has captured the Bears mojo once again.</p></p> Mon, 08 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-10/blow-out-win-bears-going-bye-week-102958