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Many, many fallacies flowed from the Bears game Friday evening and even more so from the local coverage of said team and game over the weekend. Here are my favorites.
It is all J'Marcus's fault. Offensive tackle Webb did make one really bad play early on which enabled an opposing lineman to beat him to the outside and then to come back and beat him to the inside for a sack during the Bears' 24-17 loss to the Panthers.
This does not mean he should immediately report to the bench. For now he's been demoted to the second string in favor of rookie Jordan Mills, and some pundits have even suggested replacing him with Eben Britton. Small problem: Britton, a former Jacksonville Jaguar second-round pick in 2009 whom the Bears picked up off the scrap heap in the off-season, was blasted backwards at least twice that I saw during his stint at the position. And he was facing the second- and third-team ends from Carolina rather than a No. 1.
"Jonathan Scott remained out with a sore knee and Eben Britton, who was having a good camp, was not impressive against the Panthers," notes Hub Arkush - who has no patience for Webb.
"Jordan Mills showed why he belongs on the practice squad this year, leaving the Bears with a real problem at right tackle."
In other words, Webb has to get better but he's not the only lineman giving the Bears heartburn - as usual.
Jonathon Bostic is ready to step right in and replace Brian Urlacher at middle linebacker and continue the Bears tradition of generating big takeaways and then taking those takeaways to the house. And then maybe enjoying some take-out food.
Bostic made a great play on his pick-six, luring Panther quarterback Cam Newton into thinking he had a clear passing lane underneath on a crossing route and then jumping up, reaching back and intercepting a pass thrown with some velocity. He then took advantage of a clear lane to the end zone.
Otherwise, he struggled.
The rookie from Florida has a long way to go before he is ready to be not only a starting linebacker in the League but a starting middle linebacker for a team that has been defined by its middle linebackers for decades. Get well soon, D.J. Williams!
Shea McClellin once again failed to impress and is clearly on the verge of being a bust. It is a team game people. So frequently linemen who pile up sacks make some good individual plays but mostly benefit from having strong teammates up front who at least occupy blockers and give the original lineman the best chance to make plays with minimal resistance. McClellin, the second-year player from Boise State who was the Bears' first-round pick in 2012, was essentially going solo on Friday.
McClellin will have a chance to make a name for himself at defensive end this year but he won't do it in games in which fellow ends Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton sit out. Also on the sideline after the first Panther offensive play of the game was defensive tackle Henry Melton (concussion). You remember Henry right? He's the guy the Bears will pay $8.45 million this year to get the sort of interior pass-rush penetration that forces quarterbacks to retreat right into the loving arms of . . . defensive ends.
Then again, I always was most fond of the McClellin pick because I thought the Bears would transition him from defensive end back to linebacker (where he spent most of his time in college) when Urlacher bowed out. The new Bear defensive regime led by coordinator Mel Tucker has apparently decided to stick with McClellin at end for now but I'm not closing the door on an eventual position switch.
And the great thing about McClellin is that if the Bears decide he isn't good enough, it shouldn't be too hard to generate a narrative that he is a potentially great linebacker, especially in a 3-4 set (the Bears still seem totally committed to a 4-3), if he can just find the right team. Such are the narratives that result in at least partially face-saving trades for decent draft picks.
Jay Cutler's early interception and inability to lead a scoring drive in three tries made it obvious the Bears are still a long way from mastering Marc Trestman's complex schemes. This one is probably closest to truth. But on the play that resulted in a million bitter little laughs from Bears fans (an interception on Cutler's first pass!), a mistake was made that should be easy to correct.
Either second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery should have continued on his slant pattern no matter what the defensive back did (and if not then make the catch at least make an interception far less likely), or he should have made a sight adjustment. When quarterbacks and receivers achieve complete comfort with one another, the receivers sometimes have the option of breaking off their route in that sort of situation.
And if Cutler (who after the game said "My fault, wrong shoulder, bad ball") sensed that might be coming, he might have thought along with Jeffrey and thrown a pass to his back shoulder, setting up what probably would have been a sizable gain back out toward the sideline.
At least we can dream that sort of scenario would have been possible . . . especially during the preseason.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.
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Posted on Feb 15, 2019