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By Brad Biggs
10:33 a.m. CDT, October 2, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas — Ten thoughts after the Chicago Bears' 34-18 romp over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night that keeps them atop the NFC North with the Minnesota Vikings at 3-1.
1. Offensive line issues don't get resolved in one game and work still will need to be done in the offseason. But in a dominating victory over a defense that entered ranked No. 1 in the NFL, allowing just 250 yards per game, the Bears put up 360 yards of offense and bolstered what was a suffocating defensive effort that produced five interceptions and two returns for touchdowns.
Quarterback Jay Cutler was sharp in completing 18 of 24 passes for 275 yards and quick to compliment his line. He was sacked twice, but Cutler likely would admit that he held the ball too long on the first one by DeMarcus Ware and the play looked like it broke down on the second one when he went down after a rollout. Left tackle J’Marcus Webb got plenty of help with Ware but held his own. It was the kind of even effort the Bears got in the middle of last season when the offense was performing well before Cutler’s thumb injury.
The running game was far from great, but the offense ran the ball well enough to stick with it and keep the Cowboys off balance, opening some nice holes in the first half. Matt Forte returned to the lineup and had 52 yards on 13 carries, including a nice 14-yard gain in the second quarter when center Roberto Garza made a key block on inside linebacker Sean Lee.
Running the football made the Bears worlds better on first down. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice stated that his primary goal for the week was to improve on first down, which had been a disaster. The offense entered the game having gained 77 yards on 40 first-and-10 runs and 152 yards on 35 first-and-10 passes. Both statistics ranked 29th in the NFL and it meant the Bears had been producing just 3.05 yards on first down.
Against the Cowboys, the Bears had 169 yards on first down when you subtract one kneel down at the end of each half by Cutler. They had 14 runs totaling 63 yards and nine passes totaling 106 yards. That came out to 7.34 yards per snap on first down. In turn, that made the offense effective on third down, where it converted 7 of 12. It all started up front.
“Offensive line played extremely well start to finish,” Cutler said. “I thought our offensive line played with some intensity.”
There was ample help for Webb with tight ends and backs but any offense in the NFL is going to provide that against Ware, one of the most talented pass rushers in the league. It showed the Bears still can give help on the edge -- and the Bears did benefit from Ware’s counterpart Anthony Spencer being sidelined with a pectoral injury -- and still throw the ball downfield.
“It felt pretty good out there,” right tackle Gabe Carimi said. “We just tried to come off the ball and just play instead of trying to play perfectly. Whatever happens, happens when you are doing that and you are firing off the ball.”
Staying committed to the run even though it was rough sledding at times was the key and allowed Cutler to hurt the defense over the top later on when wide receivers got matched up one-on-one. The Cowboys and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan didn’t have an answer at that point.
“It was a good day,” Garza said. “We have a lot of stuff to clean up still. We can always get better and definitely it’s a process. We improved from last week but there is still a long way to go.”
Two weeks after the bump in Green Bay, Cutler gave Webb a hug.
“I’ve got to go see my family guys,” Webb said laughing when he was asked about it. “I want to go hug my mom. Jay hugged me, but I want to go hug my mom right now. You guys are out of control.”
2. Somewhere in Cowboys Stadium, Henry Melton’s agent Jordan Woy was probably watching the game. But Woy wasn’t sitting with Bears management negotiating a contract for the defensive tackle. Melton played like a man who is paving the way toward a big payday and he has played consistently through the first quarter of the season. Melton was credited with the only sack of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, his fourth of the season, and then forced what for now is being called an interception for Lance Briggs that the linebacker returned 74 yards for a touchdown.
The NFL could review the play and make an official scoring change that would credit Melton with another sack on the play and in turn give Briggs credit for a fumble recovery, not a pick.
“I thought it was a sack,” Melton said. “Those things are hard to come by. I’ll take them when I can get them. Honestly, I thought I hit his arm and the ball came out. I just saw Lance running the other way and I didn’t care at the time if it was a sack or an interception. I was happy we were going the other way.”
Melton, who went to Grapevine High School, about 15 miles north of Cowboys Stadium, got “30-some tickets” for friends and family.
“It was definitely a fun game, man,” he said. “We just came out and wanted to be physical, play hard. That is what we hang our hat on.”
Defensive end Julius Peppers called Melton the “engine” of the defense, something players used to call Tommie Harris when he played the under tackle position at a Pro Bowl level.
“It’s impressive,” Peppers said. “He is continuing to get better, he’s growing, maturing a little bit as a player so that’s a good thing. He’s going to be the engine to the D. We’re going to need him to continue to play like this.”
Peppers knows what it is like to have a monster season in a contract year. He did it twice with the Carolina Panthers with 14 1/2 sacks in 2008 when the club then chose to place the franchise tag on him and 10 1/2 sacks, two interceptions and five forced fumbles in 2009 before he exited via free agency.
“I know what you are saying,” Peppers said. “But I can’t say he is playing for that. He’s playing well and it just happens to be at this time.”
It sure is a beneficial time for things to click for Melton.
“This is his fourth year,” Peppers said. “This is the time that he should be turning over, getting to that level where he’s starting to perform.”
The franchise tag number for defensive tackles this year was $7.9 million, a healthy dip from the $12.5 million it was at in 2011. There is no question the tag will at least be a bargaining chip for the Bears when the time comes to talk contract with Melton. That is reality.
“I don’t know,” Melton said when I asked him if he’s considered the franchise tag. “I’m just gonna take it day-by day. That is all I can do.”
3. Jay Cutler wasn’t ready to call it a statement victory for the Bears but the resounding defensive effort certainly will serve as a warning to future opponents on the schedule. Tony Romo threw five interceptions for the second time in his career and although the Bears are only credited with one sack right now, Romo was under constant duress before being yanked for ex-Bears quarterback Kyle Orton after No. 5.
“Give them credit,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “They’re a good defense, they rally to the ball, and they stop the run. We knew coming in they were No. 1 in the league with sacks. They get pressure with four-man rushes and they don’t blitz a whole lot. But when they do get leads, they’re the kings of the Tampa Two. For us, we gave them opportunities and obviously they made plays.”
Dallas coach Jason Garrett praised the defense that gets criticized in these parts when its weaknesses are exposed. That typically happens when the Bears are gashed in the running game or cannot generate a base pass rush. Neither has been a real issue to this point this season.
“Their style of defense has been pretty consistent,” Garrett said. “We have a pretty good feel for what their fronts were going to do, what their pressures were and what their coverages were throughout the game. They’re no different. They’re just very good at it. It’s not real exotic and in my experience the best defenses sometimes can be the simplest ones because they’re good at what they do. They do a good job defending the run and putting you in some harder down and distance situations on third down. That’s been their style for a long, long time.”
The defense has an NFL-high 11 interceptions – three more than the St. Louis Rams, who are the next closest team. The defense had 20 all last season. It is what happens when a consistent pass rush combines with aggressive, confident players in the secondary.
Maybe the easiest one of the game was nearly dropped by Charles Tillman. A mixup between Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant resulted in an uncontested pick for Tillman that he turned into a 25-yard touchdown return, the sixth interception return for a score of his career, the most in franchise history.
“I think when quarterbacks throw the ball like that, that’s probably one of the hardest plays in football because it takes so long and you are thinking like, ‘Alright, alright, oh, oh, don’t drop it! Don’t! OK, I got it. Just run,’” Tillman said.
By no means are the Bears saying they have arrived and they should not. The Cowboys have been in a funk offensively. They’ve basically stunk since upsetting the New York Giants in the first game of the season.
“It is still a work in progress,” defensive end Julius Peppers said. “We still have things to learn on this side too. We just have to get both sides going at the same time. And that kind of happened tonight. You can kind of see where we are going. Tonight was a little bit of sign where we are headed.
“We have to forget about this and get back to work. It is good for everybody to see (in prime time), I guess. Maybe not. We want to stay under the radar as long as possible. But when you do something like this on national TV, it puts the spotlight on you.”
That spotlight will stay on this defense for some time and the Bears are going to Jacksonville to face the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense.
4. Devin Hester had been one of the odd men out in the first three weeks for the Bears on offense, difficult to locate while the unit went through some bumpy patches. He touched the ball just four times on offense through the first three games and let it be known he wanted a more significant role. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice listened. Hester was targeted with two passes on the opening possession and then made a 34-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter when he shook loose from Cowboys rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne on a nice double move.
“Quarters (coverage), he ran a great route, killed the guy,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “We got a little leaky upfront and I had to let it go a little sooner than I would have liked to, Devin did a great job of tracking it and he’s got some of the best hands on the team.”
Hester’s catch withstood a replay review and now he’s feeling better about his place in the system.
“I asked for a little more opportunities,” Hester said. “Mike Tice came to me and said I was going to be one of the stars of the game. That pretty much told me that he was going to give me opportunities to make plays. How I handle it, you know, was on me.
“I felt if I could get more opportunities to make plays that I could make them. That’s the most important thing about making plays is getting the opportunity to make them. Once you get the opportunities, you’ve got to take advantage of them. The more opportunities you get, the more plays you can make.”
Hester credited Tice with being easy to approach.
“We understand each other,” Hester said. “That’s the great thing about Coach Tice. He’s willing to drop his ego and communicate more with the players. When you got a coach like that, the players will do whatever it takes. The way he’s going by communicating with players. He’s going to get a lot of guys to fight for him.”
5. The production of tight end Kellen Davis cannot be overlooked either. Davis had a bad drop late in the first quarter that would have resulted in a nice gain but came back to catch three balls for 62 yards, which is a career-high. All three grabs came on third downs. Davis gained 16 yards on third-and-10 to help set up the first score of the game, a 43-yard Robbie Gould field goal. He then picked up 21 yards on a third-and-four and 25 yards on third-and-three.
Davis entered with only three catches for 41 yards.
“You can’t be (hesitant to go back to him after the drop),” Cutler said. “With our reads and stuff you just go 1, 2, 3 and whoever the guy is, that’s the guy. I was proud of him bouncing back. He hasn’t probably gotten as many balls as he wanted. He went up for that second one and went over the guy and ripped it out of his hands. He’s playing good football.”
Davis said it was important for him to remain involved in the passing game.
“I really appreciate Jay,” Davis said. “He had faith in me and he came back and let me make some plays. It felt good to make some plays.”
It’s a situation where Davis has been hoping to find a bigger role in the passing game but things were not clicking across the board and he’s been forced to do more pass blocking than he would like because of the issues on the line.
“I try to do what I am asked to do in the offense,” he said. “I would like more opportunities down the field, just like tonight, but if I am asked to block, that is what I am going to do. It’s all about winning games.
“I gotta make plays when I can, especially if I am getting single coverage or zone drops, I’ve got to be in there making plays for Jay.”
6. You don’t need a decoder ring to see what is going on with former first-round draft pick Chris Williams. He can play any spot on the line with the exception of center but that versatility didn’t mean much as he was made inactive as a healthy scratch for the game. The coaching staff opted to have newcomer Jonathan Scott in place as the swing tackle and use reserve guard/center Chris Spencer as the sixth offensive lineman in the goalline/short yardage package.
“I was surprised,” said Williams, who went from going into the third preseason game battling for the left tackle position to not getting a uniform on game day.
Williams is in the final year of his contract and needs a fresh start elsewhere. It’s pretty clear he’s not in the mix here and won’t be, not after a move like this. He declined to share what he was told about the decision.
“That’s between me and the coaches,” he said.
Williams said he didn’t know if it would be for the remainder of the season or not.
“You can take it whichever way you want,” he said. “We got a big win tonight. That is what is important. And getting ready for Jacksonville.”
I fielded a handful of Twitter questions inquiring about the possibility the Bears could trade Williams, the 14th pick overall in the 2008 draft. When he’s not even in uniform for the Bears, he’s not going to hold much value on the open market. But he’s a young player and new scenery and a real opportunity elsewhere next season could change his fortune. Credit him with handling the situation professionally following the game.
7. At the quarter mark of the regular season it is early to start looking ahead to the draft but figured it was worth asking a national scout for another NFC team how offensive line prospects are stacking up for April. General manager Phil Emery did not select a lineman in his first draft. There is an awful lot of football remaining to be played with the linemen the Bears have and it’s impossible to tell what could be available in free agency. Plenty of have already suggested the Bears should make a full-court press for Jake Long, who is scheduled to become a free agent. That would be a stunner because reports surfaced back early in the summer that the Miami Dolphins will use the franchise tag to secure the left tackle if a long-term contract cannot be reached. So, go ahead and file Long-to-the-Bears in the not likely category. There is no compelling reason the Dolphins would let Long walk away in free agency.
Some have already suggested the 2013 draft could be solid for offensive linemen, so I asked the national scout that exact question.
“Within the first two rounds,” he said. “There are some big-time guards and some good tackles but not premier tackles. There are not premier lefts out there right now unless I have missed out on some juniors. Now, there are some big-time guards and some really good right tackles out there.
“There could be two to maybe three guards go in the first round, which is pretty out of the norm because usually it is just one. Usually those are back-end first-round guys if they are at that good. There are some good right tackles and there are a couple juniors out there that could be overdrafted (if they forego their senior season) but are there any Joe Thomases out there? Heck no. There is not. Numbers-wise on the offensive line, maybe the first two, two-and-a-half rounds might be strong. After that, it kind of falls off.”
Two guards were drafted in the first round in 2012 – Stanford’s David DeCastro No. 24 overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler No. 27 to the Cincinnati Bengals. But only one guard was selected in the first round of the 2011 and 2010 drafts and none went in round one in 2009 and 2008. In the last 10 drafts, only seven guards have been selected in the first round.
Top offensive line upperclassmen prospects right now include Boston College right tackle John Wetzel, Alabama center/guard Barrett Jones, North Carolina offensive tackle Brennan Williams and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.
The scout said once again the draft will be dominated by underclass talent. A record 68 underclassmen declared for the last draft and 44 were selected (second most ever after 46 in 2010), according to Ourlads Scouting Service. In each of the last two drafts, eight of the top 10 picks have been underclassmen.
“You’ve got to remember now this senior class is not very good,” the scout said. “That is not going to change. That is going to keep happening. I’ll bet you it is going to be 65 to 70 guys every single year now entering the draft early.”
You don’t have to crunch the numbers to realize how big of an impact that is. Sixty-four players represents two rounds of the draft.
8. One of the good debates before Shea McClellin was selected in the first round was whether or not he would be a better fit for a 4-3 defense like the Bears utilize or a 3-4 scheme. The Bears have been playing him at left end primarily while he would be an outside linebacker for a 3-4 team, likely on the strong side. There were similar questions two years ago when Corey Wootton came out of Northwestern but he wasn’t an option as an outside linebacker. Teams running 3-4 defenses viewed him as an end (or five technique).
The Cowboys were one of the clubs looking closely at Wootton when he surprisingly dropped. But Dallas had the 27th pick in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and the Bears selected Wootton at No. 11 that round before he could reach them. The 270-pounder would have had to bulk up to play end in a 30 front, probably to 290 pounds or more.
“I was never sure he was going to be that 295-pound, 300-pound guy you would need to play end in a 30 front,” said one college scout for another NFC club that liked Wootton coming out. “He is probably where he should be. He is a better 4-3 fit than he is a 3-4 fit on body type. It’s not that he is not athletic. He was just kind of thin in the waist.”
Wootton certainly feels at home.
“I think (playing for a 3-4 defense) is something I could have done but I feel definitely more comfortable in a 4-3 front,” Wootton said. “I definitely could have done it if the situation presented it.”
The Bears are benefitting from Wootton finally being completely healthy. It’s shown in his play as entering the Dallas game he had 1 ½ sacks and was tied for second on defense with four quarterback hits. He’s playing regularly in the rotation after getting only 149 snaps in his first two seasons – 65 a year ago and 84 as a rookie.
“My first two years here were not the way I wanted to really start it but now I feel healthy and really good,” Wootton said. “That was the biggest thing just really getting myself healthy.”
He had a strong offseason program and followed that up with an impressive training camp and preseason. Now, he’s just got to stay on the field.
“I feel I’ve been able to get better every week,” Wootton said.
9. Fullback Evan Rodriguez was held out of the game with a minor MCL sprain in his left knee and there is a possibility he will also be out this coming Sunday at Jacksonville. But with a bye week on the other side of the Jaguars game, Rodriguez could get three weeks to rest and rehabilitate and miss only two games.
Rodriguez was rolled up from behind on the opening kickoff against the Rams. He tried to keep playing but was forced out at the end of the first quarter.
“I actually thank God,” Rodriguez said. “The injury should have been a lot worse but I guess God was watching out for me. It’s minor.”
The fourth-round draft pick was performing well and probably would have had a substantial role against the Cowboys with the Bears’ focus on getting the ground game going with Matt Forte. It’s not quite what Rodriguez expected when he was drafted as a tight end. He has not caught a pass yet and figured that as the F-tight end in Mike Tice’s offense that he would have opportunities. Instead, he lost his tight end number and has been used, at least in game action, almost exclusively as a blocker.
“I am used to it,” he said. “I did a little of it at Temple so it is not too difficult and obviously they brought me in here for certain reasons. I feel pretty confident back there in the backfield.”
None of the tight ends have made much of an impact in the passing game to this point. Rodriguez figures opportunities are awaiting him and the more he does well, the more playing time he will earn.
“I would say, passing game, my time will come for that,” he said. “I feel like Coach (Mike) Tice has been doing a tremendous job with the new offense and the more we settle in and more explosive as we should be, I am just trying to get used to it.”
It was Tice who proposed Rodriguez make the switch from No. 88 – which he wore in training camp and preseason – to No. 48 when the Bears made the decision to list him on the roster as a fullback. NFL rules dictate that fullbacks have numbers between 20 and 49.
“He kind of asked me if I would and told me I needed to,” Rodriguez said. “A little of both really. He told me his reasons behind it. It made sense. Being a rookie I don’t have much space. I was like, ‘OK, coach.’ I wasn’t happy about it at first because 88 is my number but I am just doing whatever I’ve got to do for the team now.”
Perhaps one day Rodriguez can get No. 88 back.
“As long as I am on that field,” he said, “that is all that matters to me.”
10. I saved some referee talk for the end but still believe this is important to consider. The NFL got regular officials back on the field three weeks too late. The owners gambled that disaster would not strike and in 48 regular-season games worked by replacement officials, it did in the well-analyzed affair last week in Seattle involving the Green Bay Packers.
No matter how you analyze anything else that happened in that game, the Seahawks got a victory they did not deserve when the NFL acknowledged Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate committed offensive pass interference on the final play. Debate the “simultaneous catch” rule all you want. There is no catch for the Seahawks if Tate is flagged for pushing off on Packers cornerback Sam Shields.
Here is the rub: There is no way the outcome of the game will not affect the NFL moving forward. It could be the difference in one team winning a division and another not. It could be the difference in one team reaching the playoffs and another not. It could impact playoff seedings. It could lead to some team not making the postseason and a coach being fired. The possibilities are endless at this point. It also will affect the draft order for 2013 and after that waiver wire ordering at the start of next season.
“We are not overly concerned,” NFL executive vice president of operations Ray Anderson told me outside a hotel in nearby Irving on Saturday morning while the officials were in a meeting. “That was the third week of the season. We have 13 more weeks to go. There are a lot of things that impact how teams do overall, including their own performances. We will let that natural laws of the NFL take care of themselves and we’ll see where we are at the end of the year.”
The regular officials can make critical mistakes that shift the outcome of a game. They are not perfect. But the NFL had to know inexperienced officials, guys regularly working low-level college games and high school games, were not ready to handle the sport at its highest level. That should be more concerning than it is.
I wonder if the experience – and the replacement refs were paid for Week 4 games even though they did not work them – was worth it for all of them. Some have been put through the ringer publicly. Those aspiring to move up to higher college ranks may have a tough time now because of the involvement of NFL officials as supervisors in some NCAA conferences.
“It was worth it for them because a lot of those guys will tell you it was a lifetime opportunity that because of their passion for the game they just couldn’t pass up,” Anderson said. “Certainly in terms of the training and the development, they got more in the eight, nine weeks they got with us than they’ve had ever in their officiating careers.
“I think you will have them by and large tell you it was a very positive experience but they will also I think admit no one was ready for the public scrutiny and criticism, some people think unfairly, that was thrown on them. Under those circumstances, I think they did a good job and I think most of them are proud of what they did.”
10 a. Cornerback Tim Jennings has been the member of the secondary playing with the most confidence but strong safety Major Wright had two interceptions to give him three in two games. He was also credited with five tackles in press box statistics and free safety Chris Conte had a team-high 11. It bodes well at this early point. The safeties were closely scrutinized in camp and preseason and they have delivered to this point.
10 b. It was interesting to listen to Jay Cutler talk about a message he sent to wide receiver Brandon Marshall this week. He made seven receptions for 138 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter. In eight previous seasons under Lovie Smith the Bears have had two wide receivers enjoy bigger games – Johnny Knox with 145 yards last season vs. the Lions and Devin Aromashodu with 150 yards vs. the Vikings in 2009.
“I just wanted him to play within the system and play a full game and not worry about the plays being called and not worry about balls coming to him and where they are going,” Cutler said. “Play Bears football. Play like he did in Denver with us. Let it come to him. I thought he was patient, he got a little chippy there in the first half and settled down and when his number was dialed up he made plays. That’s what he’s got to do. That’s his style of football and that’s where we are at right now offensively.
“I think I am probably a little more the level headed one, believe it or not, on the field than Brandon. He has a lot of highs and lows but when he is playing well he is hard to stop. We’ve got to keep even level and playing in the system and try to get him the ball as much as possible. That is my job.”
The most impressive thing about Marshall’s effort? He was only targeted eight times.
10 c. It probably deserved more play much higher but the complexion of the game changed for Dallas when the Bears throttled running back DeMarco Murray. He made 24 yards on 11 carries and had just 11 yards on is final 10 carries. That set the tone for the interceptions in a major way.
10 d. Quarterback Jay Cutler explained the decision by Bears coach Lovie Smith to defer after winning the coin toss and put the defense on the field first.
“You know, on the road, we like to give our defense a chance,” Cutler said. “At home, we like to go ahead and take the ball. Both ways are good with me. I have no preference.”
10 e. Lovie Smith joked that you didn’t think linebacker Lance Briggs was as fast as he ran on the 74-yard interception return for a touchdown. It will be interesting to see what he says this week.
“I haven't run that long in a long time, that far,” Briggs said.
10 f. Nickel cornerback D.J. Moore shared significant time with Kelvin Hayden, who said it was to give Moore a breather. It could have been the coaches were not thrilled with Moore’s effort. He acknowledged he was “tackling like a fool” but the interception he made certainly will help him in film evaluation.
10 g. The Bears gear up to face the Jaguars for the first time in four years and make their first trip to Jacksonville since Lovie Smith’s first season in 2004. Smith tried to hire Jaguars quarterbacks coach Greg Olson in January. Olson, who was the quarterbacks coach under Dick Jauron in 2003, was offered a job as quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator but opted to head to Jacksonville after he served as Raheem Morris’ offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears then landed Jeremy Bates to become quarterbacks coach. It was an interesting choice for Olson. Smith was probably viewed by outsiders to be in a must-win situation and the Jaguars probably looked more secure with a first-year head coach in Mike Mularkey even if general manager Gene Smith has long been rumored to be on the hot seat. But in choosing the Jaguars Olson is working with a prospect that might already be fading in Blaine Gabbert, the team’s first-round pick in 2011, and not a veteran like Jay Cutler.
10 h. The Fox crew of Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa will call the Bears-Jaguars game.
10 i. Referee Ron Winter and his crew have been assigned to work the Bears-Jaguars game.
10 j. The Bears ought to already be excited for a special teams meeting coming soon with the Lions, who visit Soldier Field for the next prime time appearance on Oct. 22 on “Monday Night Football.” In Detroit’s home loss to the Vikings Sunday, Minnesota’s Percy Harvin had a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game and Marcus Sherels added a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. The week before at Tennessee, the Titans had a kickoff return and punt return for touchdowns making the Lions the first club since 1940 to allow kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns in consecutive weeks, according to STATS LLC. Lions coach Jim Schwartz said afterward firing special teams coordinator Danny Crossman is not a consideration.
The game vs. the Lions will be the next appearance on “Monday Night Football” for the Bears. They are now 8-2 under Lovie Smith in the Monday spotlight.