91 Comments

DBB Q & A with Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel

| November 12th, 2013

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Matt Vensel of Baltimore Sun reached out to me this week with some Bears questions in anticipation of the Bears v. Ravens contest at Soldier Field Sunday. Here are his questions and my answers.

MV: The Bears are nine games into the Marc Trestman era and are a game out of first place in the NFC North despite key injuries. How have the Bears changed under Trestman and how does the hire look today?

It was a transformative hire for the organization and Trestman has modernized the Bears offense in his first year. But the building of new offensive talent and hiring of Trestman was step one in a multiyear process in Chicago. Now GM Phil Emery is tasked with doing the same on the defensive side of the ball while these players become more comfortable in the offense. Look at the great offenses in the league and you’ll notice, with the exception of Peyton Manning, the QBs have come of age in the system they are currently running. Bears need to give Cutler that opportunity and I expect they will.

MV: Trestman’s handling of injured quarterback Jay Cutler, who will not play Sunday, is being scrutinized in Chicago. Do you think he erred by sticking with Cutler last weekend?

I certainly did in the immediate aftermath of the game but the tape really didn’t show Cutler struggling down-for-down until the final five minutes. (He struggled more getting off the field post-drives than stepping up in the pocket and delivering passes.) Trestman admitted he would have pulled Cutler a drive earlier if he had a do over and I think that’s fair. Nobody would question Trestman at all if McCown hadn’t played so well.

MV: What happened to the Bears defense this year? They had been one of the NFL’s best in recent years. Is it old age, the coaching change or something else?

First and foremost it is injuries. The defense started the year by losing their two best defensive tackles. They’ve followed that by losing their two best run-stopping linebackers. Of the eleven intended defensive starters when the season began, the Bears will most likely be without six this Sunday. Couple that with rookie linebackers learning the game on the fly, a pair of safeties who’ve regressed terribly and an aging-before-our-eyes Julius Peppers and you have the makings a poor unit.

On the coaching, I’m inclined not to blame Mel Tucker. He was brought into Chicago and essentially told to maintain status quo. They kept the players, scheme, calls. Tucker can’t be blamed if that strategy – a gamble to be sure – didn’t pay off.

MV: It will be a matchup of weakness versus weakness Sunday when the Ravens try to run the ball against the Bears. The Ravens are last in the NFL in yards per carry and former Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has not looked like himself. Meanwhile, the Bears are 31st in rushing defense. Why have the Bears struggled to stop the run?

Same reasons I previously mentioned. They are terribly banged up at both defensive tackle and linebacker. But Major Wright and Chris Conte have also been dreadful against the run, allowing too many seven yards gains to go for thirty-seven. And while Corey Wootton has been developing wonderful at the three-technique he is somewhat easy to push off the ball in the run game.

MV: Is there anything specifically about the Ravens coming to Soldier Field that makes you nervous, and what needs to happen for the Bears to win this weekend?

For me the game comes down to Josh McCown and the turnovers. I think the Ravens will have some success running it and Flacco will make some plays in the passing game to Dallas Clark in the seam and Torrey Smith on whichever corner the Bears use. But if McCown can continue to execute this offense (he’s been flawless to this point) and refrain from turnovers, I think the Bears should be able to win this one at home. 

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  • DaMurph

    http://mmqb.si.com/2013/11/07/richie-incognito-jonathan-martin-dolphins-lydon-murtha/
    Heres a good take on the Incognito story. I’d say this is probably pretty much spot on about the whole thing. It gives good insight into a locker room/ animal house mentality. I’d venture to say MB agrees 100% with this player’s assessment of the situation.

    • Trac

      Telling article but I think from a players stand point, because Martin broke the code he will always be in the wrong from their point of view. Reminds me of a dirty cop that nobody else on the force will turn in.

      • DaMurph

        He’s not playing anymore, locker rooms have a culture of their own. Urlacher was on today and basically saying the OL on the Bears has their own thing. No one on that whole team has come down on Incognito, and not sure what martin intended with this whole angle. One thing for sure, no other player on any other team will ever “trust” him as a teammate, not ever!

        • bearsfantillend

          i never played football not even in high school(because we did not have a team), so i truly don’t know anything about the culture of a football locker room. With that being said, I question that no player on any other team will ever “trust” him as a teammate. There have been a lot of players that have done a lot of bad things, criminally, racially, and otherwise, there have been players labeled as locker room destroyers, and they have been re-accepted into a locker room. It seems, just from hearing former players and locker room leaders that it should have been handled within the locker room, but does this not say more about the locker room of the Dolphins than it says about all locker rooms in the NFL. Is it possible, when you have someone like Incognito as a leader in the locker room, that the Dolphins locker room was so dysfunctional that the only way to handle the situation was to handle it outside of the locker room? Until we know all the details of how the Dolphins locker room functioned, can we say that it is just the normal culture of the locker room? From the sounds of it the culture of a locker room can be tough to adjust to. So would it not be more difficult to adjust and be accepted to a locker room that was dysfunctional compared to other locker rooms, especially if your personality is more introverted or so different from everyone else in the room? Would it not be like a gay guy trying to join the Westboro Baptist Church?

          • MB30SD

            honestly, if you haven’t ever played, you won’t ever understand. Period.

            I can promise you Murph is 100% right.

            ALL of this is coming from the gen pop and the pop media. NONE of it is coming from within the PLAYER’S circles… and what is coming from them is that incognito is getting railroaded by the populace fucking PC police and martin is a cunt.

            And I don’t mean a cunt cause he got picked on, I mean it because he is basically a mole, a snitch, a patsy… dude is blowing up the inner circle cause he couldn’t hang. He has mental issues and should just have stepped away like the olinmen who did it with us last year (can’t remember his name) instead of being a pussy whistle-blower about something that IS culture in the NFL.

            Bottom line, it’s no appropriate in the world, but it IS how it works in the lockerroom. What’s happening now is silly.

            (again, this is VERY different to schoolyard bullying to me.)

          • bearsfantillend

            well i hope the NFL sticks with its plan on releasing the report to the public because i would love to see what Martin thought was so bad, since the little of what we heard so far did not seem like very serious.

          • MB30SD

            did you watch the incognito interview?

            I didn’t see the evidence, but he said that martin had sent him a text two days before he sent his saying something like, “…I’ll kill your family”

            I mean, I gotta believe theirs a record of the entire relationship, not just the one piece the PC Gestapo used.

          • bearsfantillend

            yep i so that. did you actually see the text according to Martins lawyers. it was a meme he sent.
            http://larrybrownsports.com/football/jonathan-martins-murder-family-text-message-richie-incognito-meme/210239

            ive gotten the same one b4. I am hoping that the report if released will contain a lot more than what we heard so far.

  • EnderWiggin

    I like this post Blogfather. But where are the Jeff questions and MV answers regarding Baltimore?

  • TheBigCheesy

    So basically what you’re saying is:

    “Turning [7 yarders] into [37 yarders], making [tailbacks] disappear; [they] juke the [second level] and… Major(s) becomes [roadkill]“

  • Cormonster

    Did anyone read the article about the big bad drug dealer Sam Hurd that bearsfan posted at the end of last thread? What a crock of shit.

    It turns out that he’s never been busted for selling even one ounce of weed (for profit) or one gram of coke. The only drug dealer regarding the coke charges was the Federal Government. Classic case of enticement.

    Now the Feds want to give him life in prison for a conspiracy that they helped encourage. It’s a complete miscarriage of justice.

    • tobijohn

      Sam Hurd was a dope (no pun intended) but he’s getting one of the rawest deals around, most likely because he’s high profile. It will look good on someone’s resume but there’s no fairness to it.
      Years ago, I knew a couple of brothers who were into bodybuilding and steroids. One of them was actually dealing them, the other only using them. The Feds busted them and charged both with the dealing. The brother who was actually dealing copped a plea and got a year. The other brother wasn’t going to admit to something he hadn’t done, fought it, lost and got five years…

      • Cormonster

        If a person gets a Federal indictment against them on a drug charge, they are fucked. The Feds seize your assets and make it impossible to properly defend yourself. It’s a no win situation for the defendant. The same agents going after Hurd were probably involved in the Fast and Furious gun running scandal. If not, it’s the same type of people and mentality.

        People getting prosecuted for attempted murder usually get 5-20 years. Hurd, who never sold a speck of coke, is up for life. Based on that logic Clinton, Bush, and Obama should all have to spend some time in jail.

        • Sactowns#1

          My buddy bounces at my local dive bar. A couple years ago a fight broke out. He and I broke it up, as we were doing so one of the guys stabs my buddy once, and comes at me with the knife. Turns out the he stabbed the guy he was fighting and the guy died right there on the sidewalk. The perp pleaded it down and got 8 years.

  • Trac

    Did anyone read that SI article on Sam Hurd? Pretty sad deal. The guy ruined his life over stupidity, it’s a crying shame.

  • Trac

    I was looking at tobi’s picture and for some reason it reminded me of the trippy postal worker that used to post here. What ever happened to him?

    • SC Dave

      Huntin has not been around for a while. As I recall, he mentioned he’d gotten some bad vibes from certain people here and that was it for him.

      • Trac

        Ha. I can dig it.

      • NewBearInTown

        That was a very abrupt departure. I’ve seen a few feathers get ruffled. I’ve seen certain regulars be absolutely brutal to new guys. But I never figured out what happened to get him so riled up.
        His posts were extremely creative, albeit really hard to follow.

        • Trac

          Yeah, those bullies. You know who you are.

          • gpldan

            Ha!

          • MB30SD

            rather, I like to think of myself as the house mom.

          • Sactowns#1

            Oh Oh can I be the house Grandpa? I would get to say offense and sometime illogical things and occasionally soil myself but everyone has to love me just the same.

          • MB30SD

            yes

    • tobijohn

      I believe his handle was Huntin Bare. He also went by The Void. IIRC, he had some problems signing up for one of the DBB fantasy leagues last year and took it as a sign that he wasn’t wanted around here. He posted a few times after that but I’ve seen nothing fro him in the last several months, certainly nothing this season. Another regular I haven’t seen in a while is my old nemesis (in good fun though) Crunch Buttsteak..

  • johnnywad

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/11/12/silverman-common-sense-missing-from-trestmans-coaching/

    You can’t “re-injure” a muscle that’s completely torn loose. If this guy can’t get the basic facts of the situation right, he shouldn’t write the piece. His general point has some merit, but the whole thing becomes rubbish when his ignorance of the nature of the original injury is on full display.

    • SC Dave

      If it was completely torn loose, then why was Cutler playing on it?

      • johnnywad

        Apparently there are many adductor muscles in this group. The others can compensate for the torn one.

        • Scharfinator

          Yup, I’ve seen guys run around on torn ACL’s. The knee works fine until they try to pivot a certain direction and they just fall over… The guy I knew was pretty upset when he realized that *was* what was broken when he flopped trying to catch a frisbee.

  • SC Dave

    Feels like a ‘must win’ week to me. A lot of them are going to feel that way I imagine. Realistically, two more losses and the Bears are likely done for this year as we’ve lost too many tiebreakers.

    Imagine the field day the media will have if the Bears finish 10-6 and fail to make the playoffs again this season.

    Of course, 10 wins is still a loooong way off.

    • tobijohn

      It’s not constructive but I can’t help wondering what the Bears’ record would be if not for all the major D players out. Pretty sure the Redskins and this past one would have been in the Win column. And a few of the close wins wouldn’t have been so close…

      • NewBearInTown

        If we had last year’s defense, and as much injury luck on D as we do on O this year, we would finish something like 14-2 this year. Here or there a team like the Saints or Broncos might beat us in a shootout, or a team like the Chiefs or Seahawks mights outmuscle in a defensive battle, but we would be rolling over good teams on a regular basis.

        • bearsFanatic

          I’d like to think that, but our D seemed suspect even before all the injuries piled up. Melton was getting doubled a lot, and no one else did anything on the line. I think we would’ve still been giving up a lot more points this year than last year, but at least there would’ve been hope for it to all come together late in the season.

          • MB30SD

            you got this from a couple preseason games and one or two real games… the first games as bears for a couple of these guys?

            Come on maings, If we had a totally healthy melt, peanut, collins, paea, DJ, and briggsy you think our D wouldn’t have at least been average this year. That’s silly

            Yes, on your last sentence, but who cares, this isn’t last year… especially the o. With everyone healthy this year I think we win the washington, at LEAST one detroit game, and we’re 7-2. Maybe even both lions games.

          • johnnywad

            Robbie doesn’t miss in Washington and Trestman opts to kick it instead of go for it against the Lions and we’re looking at 7-2. Even with the D beat all to hell.

        • Shady

          If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts your uncle would be the queen.

  • Trac

    Congrats Jeff. Kinda slipped my mind, I guess I’m starting to take you for granted. Ha, The ultimate compliment!

  • Doc Nitty

    Glad to hear you admit you were wrong, Jefe. Big man indeed.

  • 4ever85 (AKA Butch Deadlift)

    Well, on the bright side, I’m undefeated in my under-dog locks of the week as the Bucs took down the MIA bullies.

  • 4ever85 (AKA Butch Deadlift)

    The Raven’s run vs the Bears run D is truly going to be a stopple force colliding with a movable object.

    • MB30SD

      hahahaha… nice.

  • 4ever85 (AKA Butch Deadlift)
    • BerwynBomber

      Rather stupid. For all his faults, I can’t question Romo’s heart. Dude played with a punctured lung for a couple weeks a couple of years ago. Mad. Respect.

  • AlbertInTucson

    How DARE you admit you were wrong, Blogfather.
    What are you, HONEST or something?

    Yeah, I’ve been wrong too. I think it was…July of 1986.

    OK, OK. More times than I care to (or am able to) remember.

    In other news…

    Oh goody! Lions at Bears is this week’s NFL Replay!

    Which moves me to, once again, lambaste the NFL Network for what I can only describe as “Lazy, Inept and downright IGNORANT programming”.

    They’ve gone from FOUR, 2-hour NFL REPLAY games a week, to then THREE last season, and now to just ONE, measly 90 minute version.

    Why? Because they have MORE INTERESTING shows to air?

    Shows like

    THE TOP 10 NFL BRUSHES WITH THE SUPERNATURAL.

    Think I made that up? Guess again! No, I DID NOT make that up and for sure, I did NOT watch it. They could have/should have just titled it “Watch Something Else”, so I did.

    NFL Network: Feel free to treat the brand with some respect with regards to your programming.

    PS: If you TIVO’d that show, you have no business on this blog.

    • Shady

      I must have missed it, what did Jeff say he wrong about?

    • gpldan

      In 1988, Randall Cunningham thought he saw a ghost. Turned out it was Maurice Douglas.

  • gpldan

    I killed Trestman/Cutler Sunday night. Then I rewatched game TWICE. Now I am admitting I was wrong. This is what grown-ups do.

    If you said Trestman made a giant mistake allowing Cutler to play in the 2nd half, you weren’t wrong. So you shouldn’t apologize. You’re wrong now for thinking you were wrong then.

  • gpldan

    One World Trade counts the antenna, is now taller than Willis Tower.

    Also, this just in – Tom Cruise is playing Jack Reacher.

    • TheBigCheesy

      1776 feet

    • AlbertInTucson

      And they always count the antennas. In the past, buildings have added them just to claim the titles.

      Where was it recently they revised the design and added a bunch of floors to a building during the construction phase but neglected to include lengthening the elevator shafts? Now THAT is funny.

  • gpldan

    Jeff – there’s a story here – one that journalists are actually going after (and you should too):

    http://www.hubarkush.com/2013/11/12/take-2-cutler-decision-doesnt-add-up/ad4j1s/

    Is Trestman, in his kickoff season in the NFL, weak? Is the locker room run by Cutler or Trestman? Was there pressure from Emery or others that Trestman caved into? Something don’t smell right in Bears land.

    • AlbertInTucson

      Pressure from whom?

      Emery ?
      He hires Trestman, who promptly moves the offense into the 21st Century, only to undercut HIS own pick for coach after 8 weeks?

      The McCaskeys?
      They let Emery send a coach they admired and respected packing so Phil could bring in his guy.

      What ain’t right in Bears Land is more than 1/2 of the starting defense on the shelf, which is also basically the story of much of the NFL this season.

      I respect Hub. I think the Bears screwed him when they fired him from the radio broadcasts but he DOES a grudge to, um, Bear.

      • gpldan

        David Haugh is also looking at the angle, and – I need to find this – but another Pro Football mag is going to press with an article that says the Lions game showed that Cutler is Emery and Trestman’s “Guy”.

        That – because he felt he could play – he was allowed to choose.

        Trestman has certainly fixed the offense the way Mad Martz was supposed to, by employing a team that runs a playbook straight out of the Walsh Niners era. And it works. And Jeffery is opening up a playbook when both the 1 and 2 slots need a double team. No doubt.

        But – for the long term play – the QB should not be stronger the Head Coach. A late-in-life Head Coach should not be deferring to his QB – but this team is clearly in Cutler’s pocket right now – which suggests that they might not even TAG him – they may just PAY him – and I think as fans that is a decision and a management worth discussing. I like Cutler, but I no longer know if he’s the guy the team needs going forward, and if he’s allowed to decide things that ultimately cost the team a win – then it’s very much worth considering.

        • johnnywad

          Cutty rehabbed, look okay in practice and was cleared by the docs to play. Not sure why there has to be a power struggle in play. No player with multiple injuries in a contract year is in the driver’s seat.

  • Viva

    The story is that cutty is remarkably talented and treatsy knows it. He stuck with him a little too long.If cutty doesn’t own the locker room he is a marked man…if he does he is a marked man.

    Regardless, Alshon still needs to catch the ball (s)…and we need a pair of safeties.

    • AlbertInTucson

      Again, he can’t win.

      Plays: Self serving, contract hunter.

      Sits: Wimp.

      • bearsfantillend

        Either playing or sitting does not matter when it comes to contract. Cutler will be the Bears’ QB next year, whether it is by Tag or by Contract he is getting 15-20 mill to play. and in the extremely rare event that he is not Tagged or given a Contract by the Bears, there are numerous QB needy teams that are already getting in line willing to give him 15-20 mill a year to play for them.

        The argument of him being a Wimp is only made by people(media included) that are still mad that he got injured in the NFC championship game 2 yrs ago.

        • EnderWiggin

          Dear Gawd! $15-20mill? Stafford just signed a $15/year deal. Surely Cutler will sign for a smidgin less – If you factor in numbers, health, and a home-town discount, eh? Lets say… $13-14/year. I think this happens, and probably soon, at least before the franchise tag, I hope.

          • bearsfantillend

            yep you are probably right the Tag value for a QB was $15 mill so probably $12-15mill/year

      • Scharfinator

        Yeah I agree, which is why Trestman needed to tell him to sit down.

        • SC Dave

          I suppose, although I thought guys were not supposed to care what the press thinks. Easier said than done, of course.

      • SC Dave

        Or
        Realizes he is not best option, sits self: Team Player

        Of course, Josh,et al, would have to win the same, else your “Wimp.” applies

        • AlbertInTucson

          Sorry Dave. For Cutler there is no 3rd choice. That’s the problem.

          • SC Dave

            Perhaps not, Al. Perhaps not.

  • MB30SD
  • BillW

    Hub is blocked here at work (strange, o rmaybe not?)
    Anyway, from the comments here I can uess his points, and other columnists too. But I think there is a danger in overthinking. Trestman simply thought a limited Jay Cuter gave them the best chance to win rather than a capable but still journeyman QB.
    He was wrong – but it doesn’t mean there was anything more to the decision than that.
    I was at the game. I always prefer watching football live versus on TV; but by being there we in my section at least had no idea that Cutler was in an real discomfort. It’s not like he was missing wide open receivers or makingbad decisions. In retrospect the fact he never rolled-out was a clue that I missed, but my point is I never thought he should have been replaced. When McCown came in, we all said things like “I guess Cutler’s hurt.”
    Where I think Trestman messed up was going for fourth and one so early in the game. To mean with the decades of football I’ve watched it seemd intuitive to go for it against GB but not here. Why? Agaisnt GB I sensed that the D wouldn’t stop GB if they punted and then we’d have no time for a comeback. Hence the right call in my mind. Punt – probably lose; Try and fail – lose; try and succeed – win.
    But there was a lot of game left against Dt so take the higher prob of the 3 than the lower prob of making the first down COUPLED with the uncertainty of wether you’d ultimately score anyway. Try and succeed – maybe only 3 points anyway; try and fail – no points and momentum to Detroit.
    This is the first game the Trestman looked like a what he is – a rookie HC in the NFL. He gets a pass from me.

    • Sactowns#1

      Bill- sorry but who are you? And do the Bears lose every game you attend?

      • MB30SD

        yikes!

        Bill’s been here in and out a few years Sac. No… just all the ones Rabbit goes to. smh.

    • SC Dave

      Thumbs up on the final sentiment for sure.

  • MB30SD
  • gpldan
  • Scharfinator
  • johnnywad

    Anybody ever hear anything about the swelling on Cutlers left hand during the first half Sunday? That thing looked broken.

    • MB30SD

      too much punetas

      • johnnywad

        I’m betting not. Plus why Lefty? What with that cannon on the other side and all

        • MB30SD

          Urban dictionary… “The Stranger”

          Look it up. It’s a variation thereof… I’ve, uh, read.

  • MB30SD
    • SC Dave

      Thanks for posting MB. The more I read about this guy the better I like him.

      • AlbertInTucson

        I LOVE early in the season when he likened Garza instructing him and Mills as “training puppies”.

      • MB30SD

        welcome dave. we def both agree on this guy. ha!

  • MB30SD
  • TheBigCheesy

    That Mark Potash column is nearly flawless.

  • MB30SD

    gotta love marketing folk… and dodgy russians… always dodgy russians.

    http://mashable.com/2013/11/12/russian-subway-squats/

  • MB30SD
  • MB30SD
    • SC Dave

      RIP Todd. Many NFL guys die young. The comment on the story itself was the first thing that went through my mind… “The liver problems make me wonder if he was another victim of “doing what it takes” to be in the NFL.”

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