BEARS (2-2) AT LIONS (4-0)
8:30 p.m., ESPN
Line: Lions by 5
Lost in the excitement over the Detroit Lions’ 4-0 start is this shocking news item out of Chicago: the Bears have a fullback.
That’s right, Mike Martz finally broke down and got himself a player who can protect the quarterback and help with run blocking.
The new fullback, Tyler Clutts, is a 26-year-old rookie who played in the Canadian Football League, the only place on earth where a fullback is more irrelevant than in Martz’s playbook. Clutts has somehow earned playing time, and he responded with a big block on Matt Forte’s 46-yard run and some other quiet-but-significant contributions last week against the Carolina Panthers.
Clutts is part of Martz’s latest effort to not lapse into complete self-parody: the Bears ran the ball, frequently and effectively, against the Panthers. Emphasizing the run and keeping Clutts at Jay Cutler’s side against the Lions’ defensive line on Monday will also be a wise move: the first-round pick Nick Fairley is expected to play, meaning the Lions now have two defensive tackles (along with Ndamukong Suh) who are hard to block and treat roughing-the-passer penalties as something of a dare.