Chicago Bears: Michael C. Wright

Bears preview: Make-or-break stretch

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
The first half of this team's schedule fits that description, considering the Bears play five of their first seven outings on the road against the 49ers, Jets, Panthers, Falcons and Patriots. If the Bears go into their Nov. 2 bye relatively healthy with a record of at least .500, the rest of the schedule sets up nicely, with just three road games remaining and the rest set for the frigid winter conditions at Soldier Field, a definite home-field advantage during the latter portion of the season.

Complete Bears season preview.

Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

November, 4, 2013

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 27-20 win over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night at Lambeau Field:

What it means: Playing without starting quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears forced a three-way tie atop the NFC North with the win over the Green Bay Packers. Because they lost at Detroit on Sept. 29, the Bears technically sit at second place, despite owning the same 5-3 record. The victory sets up a showdown against the Lions on Sunday for sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

Stock up: Matt Forte put together his first 100-yard outing of the season, rushing for 125 yards (with 179 yards from scrimmage). Forte has rushed 216 yards over Chicago's past two games for a 5.4-yard average. He made several key runs down the stretch, and had the presence of mind to stay inbounds at the end of the runs to keep the clock moving.

McClellin sack makes difference: Second-year defensive end Shea McClellin produced his first career three-sack game against the Packers, but it was his first sack of the night that undoubtedly affected the outcome. McClellin collected his first full sack of the season (he posted a half sack in Week 1) at the end of Green Bay's first possession, and the play knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game with an injured shoulder.

McClellin dropped Rodgers for a 3-yard loss on third-and-8 from the Chicago 9, and as the quarterback tumbled to the turf, the defensive end and nickel corner Isaiah Frey crashed down on him. Rodgers immediately went into the locker room, and team officials declared him out.

Seneca Wallace filled in and compiled a passer rating of 37 in the first half.

Confidence in McCown warranted: Bears coach Marc Trestman said all last week he wouldn't scale back the offense for backup quarterback Josh McCown, and he certainly didn't. The veteran quarterback operated the full scope of the scheme, and did it at a high level, completing 22 of 41 passes for 272 yards, two touchdowns and, most importantly, no turnovers.

McCown displayed unshakable poise in the pocket -- especially on the 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall in the first quarter when it appeared he was about to suffer a sack -- and made smart decisions with the football.

The Bears expect Jay Cutler back on Sunday against the Lions, but they'd definitely be in good hands if they had to go forward with McCown as the starter.

What's next: The Bears will take Tuesday off before beginning preparations for Sunday's clash with the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.

Considering Brandon Marshall is one of the NFL’s elite receivers, his peripheral vision probably works better than most. So when Marshall ran out of the brisk cold air at the practice fields on his way to the doors leading into Halas Hall, surely he saw more than a dozen cameramen and reporters scrambling his direction.

Typically when Marshall wants to talk, he stops. Not this time. He knew what was about to be asked, and made the right decision in declining to address irrelevant commentary from a peer.

Not long before Chicago’s practice came to a close on Monday, Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather -- fresh off serving a one-game suspension for vicious hits, including two against the Bears on Oct. 20 -- fired off an attack on Marshall’s personal life when asked to respond to comments made by the receiver in the aftermath of that game.

“Guys like that, maybe he needs to get suspended or taken out of the game completely,” Marshall said of Meriweather, after the safety smashed him in the end zone during Washington’s 45-41 win against the Bears, which drew a 15-yard penalty and played a part in the suspension. Then, on Monday, Meriweather took the back-and-forth to another level.

“He feels like I need to be kicked out of the league. I feel like people who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out of the league, too," Meriweather said. "You tell me who you'd rather have? Someone who plays aggressive on the field or someone who beat up their girlfriend?"

In addition to taking aim at Marshall’s personal life, Meriweather openly discussed ending careers to avoid discipline from the league for helmet-to-helmet hits, which have gotten him fined on multiple occasions.

“I guess I just got to take people’s knees out,” Meriweather said. “That’s the only way. I would hate to end a guy’s career over a rule, but I guess it’s better other people than me getting suspended for longer. You just have to go low now, man. You've got to end people's careers. You got to tear people's ACLS and mess up people's knees. You can't hit them high anymore."

Obviously, Marshall’s past is significant here. But in this situation, Meriweather shouldn’t be attacking Marshall personally, because one thing (the illegal hits) has absolutely nothing to do with the other (the receiver’s past).

Marshall has been arrested multiple times for alleged domestic violence, and I certainly don’t condone a man putting his hands on a woman in that fashion. But in every instance, either no charges were filed, or they were subsequently dropped.

Back in 2012, a judge dismissed a civil suit filed by a former girlfriend accusing Marshall of abuse. Three years prior, a jury found Marshall not guilty of misdemeanor battery charges stemming from incidents involving that same woman.

On Monday, Marshall -- apparently informed of Meriweather’s remarks -- posted on Twitter:

But by saying nothing in response to someone openly discussing ending careers on one hand, while making personal attacks on the other, was the right thing to do. Besides, Marshall has more important things to worry about at this point like how to help the Bears find a way to beat the Green Bay Packers on Monday night without Jay Cutler under center.

QB Watch: Bears’ Josh McCown

October, 23, 2013
A weekly analysis of the Bears’ quarterback play.

Rewind: McCown entered the game for an injured Jay Cutler at the 9:47 mark of the second quarter and scrambled for an 11-yard gain on first down before throwing incomplete to Matt Forte the next play to end the drive. With Cutler running the show, the Bears missed on four third-down conversions in the first half. In the second half, Chicago converted 50 percent of third downs and racked up 313 yards. McCown hit on 70 percent of his throws for a passer rating of 119.6, as the quarterback scrambled four times for 33 yards in the fourth quarter in addition to leading three scoring drives.

Fast-forward: McCown admits he doesn’t possess as big of an arm as Cutler, but he can make up for that deficiency with solid anticipation, which for the most part is the backup’s game. McCown’s athleticism is on par with Cutler’s, and he’s probably more willing to tuck the ball and run than the starter if the targets don’t come open downfield. So McCown’s athleticism should be an asset when the Bears play Green Bay on Nov. 4. In the meantime, McCown will spend the week off immersing himself in the intricacies of the scheme as he prepares to make his first start since the 2011 season.

Run the offense through Forte: Establishing Forte early on is the best way to help McCown settle in and find a groove. The team should’ve done that in the loss last week to the Redskins but instead handed off to the running back just four times in the first half. That’s clearly not enough. By putting the ball into Forte’s hands often, the Bears can set up the play-action passing game and put the Packers on their heels. McCown will struggle if Green Bay gets into pin-your-ears-back-and-rush mode. So Chicago needs to feature the running back early.

Prediction: Fresh off the street from coaching high school football in 2011, McCown -- with a dreadful supporting cast -- put up 21 points in his first start against the Packers in December 2011. This time around, Chicago’s scheme and personnel are better, while Green Bay doesn’t appear to be as strong a team now as in 2011. So look for McCown to put together an efficient game with a passer rating in the high 80s to low 90s.
Here are a few Bears Essentials to get you going this morning.

--’s John “Moon” Mullin expects some players on defense to be competing for their jobs when the Bears return next week to Halas Hall to begin preparations for the Green Bay Packers.

--'s Jeff Dickerson puts together his weekly Stock Watch here, and obviously backup quarterback Josh McCown is on the rise.

Here's what Dickerson writes about McCown: "Losing Jay Cutler for a minimum of four weeks because of a torn groin muscle is a tough pill to swallow, but McCown at least gives the Bears a chance on offense. McCown gave the Bears all they could ask for against the Washington Redskins with completing 14-of-20 passes for 204 yards and one touchdown. Can he do it again? That remains to be seen. But McCown is an intelligent player with 33 career NFL starts under his belt. We should all know by now that starting experience is a big factor when it comes to a No. 2 quarterback. McCown can still throw the ball reasonably well and has plenty of skill-position talent, plus a decent offensive line surrounding him. To steal a phrase from ex-Bears general manager Jerry Angelo: The Bears aren't likely to fall off the cliff with McCown at quarterback."

-- The injury to Cutler won’t scare the Bears into carrying more than two quarterbacks on the active roster, writes Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune

-- Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times isn’t buying the positive vibes being tossed around at Halas Hall in the midst of the team losing its third game in four outings while Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs are each expected to miss at least a month.

Upon Further Review: Bears Week 7

October, 21, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Chicago Bears' 45-41 loss to the Washington Redskins:

Run defense: The Redskins kept the Bears off balance all game with their ability to run the football. Alfred Morris averaged 5 yards per carry, while Robert Griffin III averaged 7.6. By establishing the run, the Redskins kept the Bears on their heels, thus opening up other facets of the game. Typically, the Bears shut down the run, making opponents one dimensional. But Chicago hasn’t been able to accomplish that objective consistently this season. Certainly, injuries along the front four contribute to the problem, but until the Bears solve the issue, teams will continue to gash them on the ground before taking chunks through the air via play action.

[+] EnlargeChicago's Matt Forte
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsMatt Forte rushed for 82 yards and two scores after halftime against the Redskins.
Inconsistency against the pass: Jordan Reed became the third Bears opponent to catch at least nine passes for 134 yards or more. An anemic pass rush from the injury-riddled front plays a role, but up-and-down play at safety between Chris Conte and Major Wright seems to be Chicago’s most pronounced deficiency against the pass. Coming into the season, Conte and Wright seemed destined to become a productive duo at safety for the Bears. Wright has graded out higher than Conte for the majority of the season because of his takeaways and run support, but together, they’ve been more of a liability on the back end than the playmakers the club envisioned. The Bears yielded five completions for gains of 26 yards or more, including 30-, 38- and 45-yarders.

Feeding Forte: They don’t seem to be involving Matt Forte enough early on, and that’s diminished Chicago’s ability to find a rhythm. In six first-half drives, the Bears handed off to Forte just four times, including only once in each of the first two possession. Forte didn’t receive back-to-back attempts until the team’s second drive of the second quarter. By then, Washington held a 17-10 lead. Forte carried four times for nine yards and a score in the first half, yet finished the game with 91 yards and three TDs on 16 attempts. The offense should run through Forte from the onset.

Veterans on the front four: Given the injuries, inexperience and inconsistency on the defensive line, veterans Julius Peppers, Stephen Paea and Corey Wootton need to step up and start carrying the group. Peppers finally showed up on the stat sheet with seven tackles, while Paea and Wootton contributed two tackles apiece. Still, that’s not enough. The team needs even more, especial in the pass-rushing department. One of the best to play the game at his position, Peppers hasn’t contributed a sack since September.
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Chicago Bears lost cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs to injuries Sunday during a 45-41 loss to the Washington Redskins.

They’ll likely be back soon.

But the same couldn’t be said with confidence about Chicago’s once-dominating defense. An already injury-riddled team, the Bears entered Sunday having already lost four starters on defense to season-ending injuries, and struggled on nearly every level -- especially in the clutch -- as the Redskins, led by quarterback Robert Griffin III, shredded the Bears for 499 yards, including 209 on the ground.

“We’re not used to it,” said cornerback Tim Jennings. “But Washington played a great game. They had a great game plan. They get paid over there, too, and they have some guys that just made more plays than we did. Of course we’re not used to it, but it’s the NFL level. Somebody on defense has to make a play.”

Too many times on Sunday, nobody did; even with the game seemingly placed into Chicago’s hands.

With 4:02 left to play, backup quarterback Josh McCown capped a four-play drive spanning 67 yards, with a 7-yard touchdown pass to put the Bears ahead 41-38. Robbie Gould forced Washington to start the ensuing drive from the 20 by booting the ball into the end zone for a touchback.

The Redskins took possession with 3:52 left and 80 yards to go for the tying field goal.

“It was on us and we didn’t come through,” defensive end Corey Wootton said. “It’s frustrating when we let them drive on us like that. I know it’s been a theme, but we have to do better. This is the one that’s really frustrating. The game is in our hands. They had to drive the whole field (to score), and they drove it on us.”

Chicago started the drive with a 5-yard holding penalty on defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Griffin then commenced to complete 5 of 7 during a drive for 58 yards, while he helped the Redskins convert three third-down conversions.

When Roy Helu scored the game winner on a 3-yard run with 49 seconds left, he capped a 12-play drive by the Redskins.

“We didn’t make the plays today that we needed,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said.

For the most part, the group hasn’t done that all season; at least consistently. The Bears have given up 21 points or more in all seven games this season and 30 or more now in three outings. Prior to the loss Sunday, the Bears hadn’t allowed a team to finish with 200 yards or more since Oct. 25, 2009 (Cincinnati, 215 yards).

The Redskins converted 50 percent of their third downs and gashed the Bears for four runs for gains of 15 yards or more (including two 20-yard gains), while Griffin completed five passes for gains of 20 yards or more, including completions of 30, 38 and 45 yards. Washington also gained 28 first downs for the game, and dominated first half time of possession 22:01 to 7:59.

That helped Washington build at 24-17 lead at the half against a gassed Bears defense.

“It’s on us defensively,” Paea said. “No matter what type of offense they bring, we’ve still got to stop them.”

Chicago has proven successful when it can actually stop opponents, but the problem is that hasn’t happened yet in 2013. Coming into the season, the Bears had rolled up a record of 50-13 over the last nine years when they’ve limited opponents to 17 points or fewer in a game.

But we don’t know Chicago’s record under such conditions in 2013. The Bears haven’t yet held a team to fewer than 18.

“We’re just going to get back to work,” Trestman said. “When you don’t play as well as you like, you go back to work. Getting healthy over the next couple of weeks will be a big part of that. You can’t make excuses, but we’re going to be a fresher team certainly when we come out of this break.”

Tillman, Paea to face Redskins

October, 20, 2013
LANDOVER, Md. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) and defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe) will be active for Sunday’s matchup against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.

The team released its list of inactives for the game with neither of the starters on it. Both missed the team’s Oct. 10 victory over the New York Giants due to injuries.

Chicago’s inactives include cornerback C.J. Wilson, running back Michael Ford, defensive tackle Christian Tupou, offensive lineman James Brown, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott, tight end Steve Maneri and defensive end Cornelius Washington.

Linebacker Jerry Franklin is among the team’s actives and will fill in for Jon Bostic on special teams. Bostic makes his regular-season debut as a starter at middle linebacker for the Bears, replacing veteran D.J. Williams, who was placed on the injured reserve earlier in the week. The club promoted Franklin on Friday to the active roster off the practice squad.

Washington’s inactives include quarterback Rex Grossman, safety Bacarri Rambo, running back Chris Thompson, linebacker Brandon Jenkins, guard Josh LeRibeus, tight end Fred Davis and nose tackle Chris Neild.

Logan Paulsen is expected to start at tight end in place of Fred Davis while Leonard Hankerson will start at receiver in place of Joshua Morgan.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears plan to activate practice squad linebacker Jerry Franklin to the active roster in advance of Sunday's matchup against the Washington Redskins.

Bears coach Marc Trestman expects Franklin to be active as a replacement on special teams for Jonathan Bostic, who will make his first start at middle linebacker.

"We're moving some people around," Trestman said. "Jonathan Bostic certainly won't get the special-teams work that he [normally] would. Jerry Franklin will have to step up and the young guys have to step up and do their jobs."

Franklin, who played his college ball at Arkansas, played in three games for the Bears last season and contributed two tackles on special teams. The Bears claimed Franklin off the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad in Week 15 of last season.

"We've seen him since the OTAs," Trestman said. "He's working and active, and he'll get some playing time."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jay Cutler expressed encouragement with how the Chicago Bears are trending toward no longer depending on the defense to carry the team, but understands that while it’s shown signs, the offense hasn’t exactly arrived.

“We didn’t do enough on our part to help win games [in the past],” Cutler said. “We put the defense in a lot of bad spots.”

The majority of the time now, it’s the offense bailing out an injured Chicago defense, which hasn’t surrendered fewer than 21 points in a game all season. The Bears rank No. 3 in scoring, and 11th in total offense, with Cutler sitting in the top 10 in five passing categories (passer rating, touchdown passes, completion percentage, completions, and passing yards).

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler leads a Bears offense that ranks No. 3 is scoring.
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhTBD
Still, Cutler admits the offense hasn’t put together a complete game, but has found ways this season to put together some of the best showings of the quarterback’s tenure in Chicago.

“We’re getting there. We’re getting better and better,” Cutler said. “We’ve got a lot of good guys on the outside. The way the offensive line’s playing, we just got to keep it simple and get the ball to those guys efficiently because the way we’re blocking it’s making things easy for me.”

What might be easiest for the team, however, is a consistently complete effort from the offense, defense and special teams. Defensively, the Bears are allowing 395 yards per game, which ties for 26th in the league, and the unit is surrendering 28.6 points per game (27th).

But the defense has found a way to continuously force turnovers, which have been beneficial in helping the offense. The Bears are tied for second in takeaways (17), and rank No. 2 in points scored off takeaways (62).

“The most empowering thing is that turnovers are most of the game. If you play smart and create turnovers and take care of the ball, that’s the No. 1 factor in final scores,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “It’s not time of possession. It’s not yards gained. It’s turnovers. Turnovers are the most relevant stat, and up to this point we’ve been very good at it, which has enabled us to be in every game and have opportunities to win in the fourth quarter.”

The special-teams unit, meanwhile, has allowed a punt return for 57 yards, and a 105-yard kickoff return touchdown by Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson, in addition to a 46-yard return by Jerrel Jernigan in the win over the New York Giants.

In recent years, defense and special teams carried the Chicago Bears, and picked up the slack left by the team’s anemic offense.

Now, offense is arguably the strongest facet of the team.

“It’s a team deal, like we say,” said Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “The receivers have been doing a good job of getting open. We’ve been protecting. [Cutler] has been getting the ball off quickly. And so that’s when everybody looks good. When guys aren’t getting open or guys aren’t getting picked up in a blitz, that’s when [Cutler] doesn’t look good.”

Cutler calls what’s transpired over the first six games as “give and take” between the offense and defense, but looks forward to the time when his side of the ball can consistently carry the load.

“It takes the whole team,” Cutler said. “We haven’t put together four quarters yet. We’ve made some plays when we had to. We leaned on the defense in the fourth quarter in the Giants game, and they came through for us. I think we can be happy with the progress we’ve made offensively and the strides that we’re [making].”

Cutler eighth on MVP Watch list

October, 16, 2013
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- New York Giants reporter Dan Graziano released his MVP Watch list on Wednesday, and Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler checks in at No. 8, just behind Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy.

Here are Graziano’s thoughts on Cutler: “The TV show "House" was about a brilliant, misanthropic surgeon whom no one could stand because he thought he was superior to everyone else, but he was perfectly situated in a place and a job that allowed him to do what he did best and succeed wildly. Marc Trestman's arrival in Chicago as head coach and the quick-strike offense he brought with him have turned Jay Cutler into the football equivalent of Gregory House. And Cutler is loving it.”

The quarterback definitely seems to embrace Trestman’s system more than any he’s played in as a Chicago Bear. Interestingly, Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday there’s no difference in the Cutler everyone sees now compared to the one he had as head coach of the Denver Broncos.

Bears coach Marc Trestman spoke with Shanahan in Feb. at the NFL combine about the quarterback he had just inherited upon taking the Chicago head coaching job the month prior.

“We talked in generalities and basically Mike said you're really going to enjoy working with Jay. He's a smart guy. He wants to work. He wants to learn. He's coachable. It wasn't a long conversation, but it was reassuring to hear it from him,” Trestman said. “And I didn't have any reason to think that he wasn't going to tell me exactly what he thought, because I've never known him to do anything other than that.”

Shanahan drafted Cutler with the No. 11 overall pick in 2006, and helped guide the quarterback to a Pro Bowl selection in 2008. Shortly after becoming Chicago’s head coach, Trestman pulled all of Cutler’s Denver film from 2007-08 and dissected it with quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.

“I talked to Mike (Shanahan), and thought they had done a great job and elevated his game early in his career,” Trestman said. “He was playing at a high level there with a supporting cast. He had three very good receivers, a good line. They were protecting him, giving him a chance to make some plays. So we did. We spent a lot of time on those games and what he did well then.”

Perhaps that played a part of some of the moves the Bears made going into this season. In 2012, the club added receiver Brandon Marshall. Then, in the offseason, the Bears bolstered the offensive line with free-agent tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson, in addition to drafting guard Kyle Long and tackle Jordan Mills.

The Bears also added tight end Martellus Bennett.

“You’re trying to get the best supporting cast to give your quarterback a chance to be successful, and that’s what I see that they’ve done to give him a chance to utilize his talents,” Shanahan said.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jonathan Bostic assumes the starting role at middle linebacker in the aftermath of news D.J. Williams is out for the season with a torn pectoral tendon, and the Chicago Bears expect the rookie to build on the excitement he generated throughout the preseason.

Subbing for Williams as the starter in the middle for most of training camp, Bostic collected 13 tackles in the preseason, and returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown in the exhibition opener at Carolina to create anticipation for the linebacker’s debut as a full-time starter among observers.

“Of course we’re going to miss D.J. (Williams) a lot,” cornerback Tim Jennings said. “But I’m excited about Bostic. I know he put on a show this preseason. I know a lot of guys are excited about Bostic to see what he’s going to be doing. Of course, you don’t want D.J. to go down like that and miss the rest of the year, but this is just an opportunity for Bostic to let everybody know he’s here for a reason.”

Drafted in the second round out of Florida, Bostic filled in for Williams late in the third quarter of the team’s win last Thursday over the New York Giants and played the final 21 snaps. Bostic received credit for one assisted tackle in the victory, but for the most part struggled, grading among the worst of the team’s defenders.

[+] EnlargeChicago's Jonathan Bostic
David Banks/USA TODAY SportsJonathan Bostic proved to be a playmaker in the preseason and will now help fill the spot vacated by an injured D.J. Williams.
But that was to be expected with Bostic coming into the game cold.

“You always hear ‘next man up, anything can happen,’ but the situation that happened like that, it’s kind of like, ‘Man, these things really do happen,’” Bostic said. "I wasn’t too surprised about it. Now I’ve got to kind of step up now. I don’t want any drop offs to me from D.J. Really, (I’ve) just got to go out there and just prepare the best I can and go out there and do my best. I did alright (against the Giants); a lot of stuff still to clean up. Especially getting thrown in there kind of like that, I really wasn’t expecting it. But you’ve got to be expecting it. (I’m) just learning from those mistakes I made in the game and cleaning those things up and trying not to make the same mistakes twice.”

Bostic spent time during Monday’s practice working at his customary spot in the middle, but also took repetitions at strongside linebacker as a contingency plan for if James Anderson suffered an injury that would force him to miss time. When Anderson sustained a back injury that forced him out last Thursday, the Bears plugged in veteran Blake Costanzo and kept Bostic in the middle.

If that situation takes place again, there’s a chance the Bears would move Costanzo to the middle and Bostic to the strongside.

“He’s ready,” defensive tackle Stephen Paea said of Bostic. “In the preseason, he showed some flash. Everybody’s got to step up.”

But Bears coach Marc Trestman knows that won’t be easy for a rookie, no matter how promising a future he has in the defense.

“He hasn’t spent a lot of time out there, but he has played,” Trestman said. “He doesn’t have the experience that D.J. has, but he has speed and he’s an explosive young man. It’s just about working together with the guys and getting acclimated to the calls, and fits and things like that. I think we’ll do fine.”

To ensure that happens, Bostic said that in addition to taking copious notes during meetings, he’s picked the brains of Lance Briggs, Anderson and Williams. Naturally, Bostic’s grasp of the system is better now than it was during the preseason.

Still, Bostic says there’s a long way to go before he’s exactly where he wants to be.

“I feel more ready each and every day,” Bostic said. “I’m understanding it more, reacting faster. Guys are helping me out. Lance, even D.J., James, they’re watching me, making sure I’m making the calls as well because anything can happen. I’ve got three great linebackers in that meeting room. To learn from them each and every day, like I said before when I first got here, not too many people can walk into a linebacker room, and have the number of years that (fellow rookie linebacker) Khaseem (Greene) and I both were able to walk into. So we’ve been taking full advantage of that.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Two consecutive Chicago Bears losses left the team unflustered in their preparation to face the winless New York Giants on Thursday night at Soldier Field.

In the aftermath of a 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the club took it upon itself to review tape from the game and put together a critical self-analysis. That approach leaves Bears coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer optimistic about the team’s prospects, especially on offense.

“It was a short week. We weren’t able to show the entire tape like we normally do. They watched it all on their own, gave us the reports of: ‘This is what should’ve happened. This is what we should’ve done. We see this here. This is what we did well,’” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “So, obviously, when you have a team that driven to get something solved or to continue to have success, there should be success in the future.”

According to Trestman, the team’s approach in the midst of its three-game winning streak has remained the same on the heels of back-to-back losses.

“Our response the last five weeks has been exactly the same by our team, in every way. If it wasn’t, I would tell you,” Trestman said. “From the way they came back in, the way they handled themselves in the locker room after the game. The disappointment, yet the camaraderie and the way they came together early Monday to get ready for this game and move forward. They’re doing all the right things. They’re working at it. It doesn’t guarantee us a win [Thursday] night. But it gives us a chance, when your mind’s in the right place, your energy’s in the right place, and you’re willing to be a good teammate.”
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett characterized his former team Wednesday as "a sleeping giant" and expects the winless New York Giants to "come out playing their hearts out" Thursday night at Soldier Field.

"It's just like a sleeping giant. You never know," Bennett said. "Sometimes you get to step over him, and you don't wake him up. Sometimes, you step over him and he grabs your leg. So we don't want him to grab our legs."

Bennett played for the Giants last season and produced career highs in receptions (55), receiving yards (626) and touchdowns (five) before signing a four-year contract in March with the Bears. Bennett is currently on pace (25 catches, 281 yards and three touchdowns) to better those numbers in his first season in Chicago.

Bennett ranks sixth in receptions this season among tight ends, and seventh in receiving yards.

Bennett said his former teammates in New York miss him, but not for what he does on the football field.

"It doesn't have anything to do with football; [they miss] just having me around," Bennett said. "A lot of guys say they want me to come out early so at least they have a chance to laugh before the game. They say, 'Hey, make sure you come out a couple of minutes early so we can talk, and I want to laugh.' I have a lot of good friends on that team. I look forward to seeing them. I hope all of them have bad games this week."

Asked how Giants coach Tom Coughlin might be handling the current situation, Bennett said, "I have no idea."

"He's been in situations where he brought teams that ... (the) Jacksonville Jaguars, when they first got in the league, he did a great job with them. I'm pretty sure they'll be fired up," Bennett said. "I don't think they're trying to lose games. These guys will come out playing their hearts out. They're a team that doesn't quit. We have to come out and play."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer took exception Wednesday to the perception that the club has struggled in the running game and at adequately protecting quarterback Jay Cutler.

The Bears gave up three sacks in their first 12 plays from scrimmage Sunday in a loss to the New Orleans Saints, and the ground game churned out 94 yards with the offense in pass mode due to the club falling behind 20-7 at the break.

"Right now, if you look at statistically where we are -- and that's what a lot of people do; we're seventh in the league in rushing yards per carry, and we're sixth in the league in sacks given up," Kromer said. "So we have had one [bad] quarter and everyone panics that we can't play football in Chicago anymore. I say they're wrong."

Kromer's partially correct in his assessment.

The Bears rank 11th in the NFL in total offense (368.6 yards per game), are tied for sixth in rushing average (4.6 yards per carry) and are tied for fifth in sacks allowed as just one of seven teams in the league to surrender fewer than 10 through the first five games.

Chicago's offense is also No. 3 in the NFL in scoring (29 points per game).

Perhaps the offense's two most pronounced areas of deficiency are third-down conversion percentage (36) and average time of possession (29:10), two areas in which the team is 21st in the NFL. Last week's game skews Chicago's overall time of possession stat somewhat, given the offense possessed the ball for just 24 minutes while the Saints maintained possession for 36.

So despite the Bears losing two in a row, the club knows the season hasn't gotten away; that they're still trending upward offensively in terms of development.

"I think the key is you keep doing the things you know are right. You keep working on the things to make the corrections. You stay even-keeled," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "You don't lose your mind. You try to have common sense about it. You know it's a long road. It's a long journey and anything can happen, and you try not to reach and do things that others think you maybe should be doing. You try to be real pragmatic about it. We continue to grade ourselves, critique ourselves and try to find ways that we can detail our work and get better."

At this point, that's all the team should be doing to ensure they've developed sufficiently enough that during the playoff push in November and December they're able to deliver.