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Shea McClellin as Breakout Player of 2014 & Answers to Other Bears Questions

| July 31st, 2014

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I received a list of questions from Charged.fm relating to the 2014 Chicago Bears. These are my answers.

1) After an injury-riddled 2013, what should we expect from Jay Cutler this season? Will Mark Trestman’s offense help solidify him as a great starter in this league?

I think fans need to accept Jay Cutler is going to throw interceptions. Part of what makes him special is his belief he can fit the ball into spaces other quarterbacks would not even consider and the downside to that belief is turnovers.

Comfort in Trestman’s offense, the weapons around him and finally a stable, talented offensive line will all contribute to this being by far the best year in Jay Cutler’s career if he can remain on the field.

2) As we know, Cutler is one of the most injury-prone quarterbacks in the game. For this reason, having a good backup quarterback seems like a must in Chicago. How worried is the team about their backup quarterback situation now that Josh McCown is in Tampa Bay?

Well, fans were concerned about Josh McCown this time a year ago. Why wouldn’t they be? All the word since his workout is both GM Phil Emery and Trestman like Jimmy Clausen quite a bit. I was hoping to see the club bring Kyle Orton back but it doesn’t seem to be something they are interested in doing.

3) The Bears defense was among the worst in the NFL last season. The team signed Jared Allen, Jay Ratliff, and Lamarr Houston this offseason, but didn’t do much to upgrade at linebacker or in the secondary. Are the Bears in for another long season on the defensive side?

A healthy Charles Tillman is a HUGE upgrade to the secondary as both he and Tim Jennings are only a year removed from being Pro Bowl corners. They drafted Kyle Fuller and Kelvin Hayden is healthy so they are set in the nickel.

They have no safeties. It is the most glaring flaw of the roster and I wouldn’t look for it to be corrected until next spring.

People seem to forget what happened to their linebackers a year ago. They intended to start a veteran trio of Briggs, DJ Williams and James Anderson and bring along Bostic and Greene. But injuries to 2/3 of the corps forced them to start rookies who were not ready for game action. If Williams and Briggs stay healthy, providing stability in run support, look for Mel Tucker to maximize the athleticism and speed of Bostic and Shea McClellin both in space and in the pass rush.

4) Who do you think will be the two starting safeties be when the season begins?

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Why the 2014 Chicago Bears Are All About Setting the Stage for the 2015 Edition

| July 30th, 2014

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NFL fans have the patience of my orange boy cat (named Bear, pictured above) once he knows his wet food has been moved from the can to the plate. There’s a lot of walking in circles. His sweet-tempered meow morphs into a more desperate, restless MEOORRRRE. He is so hungry for a taste of what he knows is so close he is unable to control himself.

Telling an NFL fan training camp and the preseason are meaningless is the equivalent of placing Bear’s plate on the ground and then holding him ten feet away. Telling them what I’m about to tell them, that 2014 is but a stepping stone to the mountaintop, will elicit more than a MEOORRRRE. It’ll end with my blogging hands scratched until blood is drawn.

2013′s edition of the Chicago Bears established a new direction under the leadership of Marc Trestman and excommunicated the old direction (Lovie) and leadership (Urlacher). It was only an 8-8 campaign but for a fan base desperate for big league offense it left even the most pessimistic fan with a firm understanding the arrow is pointed in the correct direction.

2013, coupled with Emery’s 2012 offseason, were the first step in what Pat Riley calls  “the innocent climb.” Here is a publisher’s summary of that notion:

The innocent climb is the surge that occurs within a team as they are accomplishing more because of the synergy that occurs within a team. Innocence means understanding that the team comes first and being carried along by that; being naive means being ignorant. Innocence doesn’t mean being naive. Teamwork and all of its benefits happen when everyone puts the team first. innocence comes when the leader believes in something and puts him or herself out to accomplish that.

Climbing innocently began with the establishment of this new direction and the building of a new identity. But something funny happened on the way to Soldier Field. Trestman and Emery were successful at a more rapid rate than expected and produced a championship-caliber offense in the first year of this new program.

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A Bunch of Random Thoughts on the “Happenings” in Bourbonnais

| July 29th, 2014

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You walk into a bar. A fella says, “What do you think of the Bears this season?” You sit there in that moment, raise the cold glass of Bud to your lips and realize the fella just ordered a sandwich that don’t fit his mouth. He expected a “they’ll be pretty good”. He’s getting a lot more.

Thoughts…

  • Optimism in camp is usually a synonym for bullshit but there seems to be some legitimate optimism surrounding the linebacker position. Shea McClellin seems finally able to utilize his athleticism. Khaseem Greene and DJ Williams have been making plays. Lance Briggs has stopped bitching and moaning about the ghosts of defense past. Hell, even Christian Jones has received praise from Phil Emery.
  • If you don’t know much about Greene, he’s a sound man. CLICK HERE to read an article detailing his decision to wear number 52 as a tribute to his friend Eric LeGrand.
  • The only way Phil Emery is cutting Pat O’Donnell is the rookie having a couple nightmare performances in the preseason and Tress Way is sound. Emery can say what he wants about the best players making the squad but there would be a significant egg stain on his cheeks should he be guilty of wasting a sixth-round pick on a dud punter.
  • Side note: Tress Way is a great name.

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Audible at the Long Snapper?

| July 28th, 2014

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The Bears have one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. They drafted a booming leg out of Miami to erase the tortured memory of Shank Podlesh. But do they have someone to get the football to them under pressure?

Chad Rempel was meant to be Marc Trestman’s hand-picked-out-of-Canada successor to Pat Mannelly but things have not gone well to this point. Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago Tweeted:

I’ve seen more bad snaps in the last 3 days than I did in the last 15 years.

How often do you hear a coach admit a potential starter is not on the roster as August approaches? Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis did just that. From Rich Campbell:

Sunday’s performances won’t decide the competition, of course, and DeCamillis maintained a zoomed-out view after practice. Neither snapper stood out for negative plays in field goal drills earlier in camp.

“We’ve got to work through the process and find out who our guy is going to be,” he said. “Hopefully he’s on this team right now. He may not be. We’ll have to see. I wouldn’t say concern. I’ve been in this position before with young guys. You’ve just got to work through the process.”

If the Bears eventually are compelled to look outside the organization, the talent available is expected to improve after final cuts on Aug. 30.

It is a position of concern in Chicago for the first time in a decade and a half.

 

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Ground Rules for Digesting Training Camp

| July 25th, 2014

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Kyle Fuller interception! He’s going to be great!

But Jordan Palmer THREW the interception! Get Jimmy Clausen out there!

These are meant to be written in jest but I can 100% assure you in some miserable cubicle somewhere a Bears fan is following camp updates on Twitter, sweating profusely through his free Joseph A. Bank suit shirt and having these very same thoughts.

Here would be my rules for enjoying the information as it exits Bourbonnais without committing the family savings to its relevance.

#3 Practice Field Results Don’t Matter

There is a simple fact individuals forget when it comes to camp results. For a Bears player to make a positive play, another Bears player needs to make a negative one. Someone must throw the pass on a brilliant interception. Someone must miss the block when a new defensive end gets to the quarterback unabated. When a receiver makes a great catch down the sideline, someone was tasked with covering him.

For instance, Larry Mayer of the Bears Tweeted this:

LM: QB Jordan Palmer hits WR Chris Williams deep down right sideline, beating CB Kyle Fuller.

This is presented by Mayer, who has never Tweeted or written a negative word about the Chicago Bears since a McCaskey started signing his checks. But nly one of those three individuals is going to be depended upon for success in 2014 and it ain’t the first two.

#2 Reps Matter in Total/Location

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345 Comments

Why Football Season is the Greatest Sports Thing on Earth: A Somewhat Incoherent Essay

| July 23rd, 2014

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Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”

-Former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly

The ritual of Sunday mornings is unique to each American football fan and this one is no different. Mine and the lady’s fancy coffee maker has the pot warm when I wake, usually no later than 6 AM. I accumulate my morning news - NY Times Arts section, Drudge & Huffington because I’m too lazy to not have my politics aggregated for me on both sides, Guardian soccer.  After a shower and a visit to the marble throne I’m on the 7 train from Queens to Josie Woods bar in Manhattan where I proceed with the ritual of push-pinning jerseys to the rafters and selecting which games will go where on the myriad of televisions. (Pats and Eagles fans are sent way, way, far away from us.)

Josie Woods isn’t a great bar. Hell, I’m not even sure Josie Woods is a mediocre bar. But Steph is there. Maciej is there. Reverend Dave is there when he’s not contracting insect-borne illnesses on the dark continent. Sometimes Noah shows up! Brian and Wayne and Alicia and Vinny used to be there. Josie Woods is the canvas on which the portrait of my Bears fandom has been laid these last fourteen years. The Art Institute in which that portrait has been displayed? You’re looking at it.

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DBB Broken Record: Bears Training Camp Will Be Defined By Health Not Performance

| July 17th, 2014

x There is a chance fourth-round selection Brock Vereen will earn his way into the Bears defensive starting lineup come the end of August.

There is a chance Shea McClellin will thrive in his new role as strong-side linebacker, playing against opposing twos and threes for most of the summer.

There is a chance the new additions at defensive end – Allen, Houston, Young…etc. – will wreck havoc in Bourbonnais and throughout the preseason.

There is a chance the Marquess Wilson will solidify the third wide receiver spot and complete the best receiving corps in the sport.

There is also a chance none of it will matter. A strong chance. Because if Jay Cutler turns the wrong way on his knee during 7-on-7s or Matt Forte takes an awkward shot to the ankle or Brandon Marshall pulls up running through the seam, it will be that moment and nothing else that defines this summer for the Chicago Bears. NFL training camp has become a war of attrition, survival of the fittest, Thunderdome.

It has become a month-long breath hold for every die hard in the league.

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The Joe Anderson Boner

| July 14th, 2014

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I call it The Joe Anderson Boner.

“What is The Joe Anderson Boner?” you ask. Well, I shall tell you now. The Joe Anderson Boner is the yearly occurrence in the pants of Bears fans caused by the over-hyping of meaningless performances in the summer leading up to the NFL season. It might be the result of a few Larry Mayer Tweets that resemble something like, “The player who really jumped off the field in Bourbonnais today was Joe Anderson” or a 7 catch, 110 yard receiving performance in the second half of a preseason contest wherein Joe Anderson is being covered by someone of the skill equivalent to Loni Anderson.

This is not idiosyncratic to Bears fans, mind you. Every team has their summer boners. My brother Jon, a diehard New York Jets fan, once made a tee shirt that said “Kellen is the Answer” due to the boner-inducing camp performances of Kellen Clemens.

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DaBearsBlog’s Five Favorite Songs of All-Time

| July 7th, 2014

Because this is the only down time in the football season unless your football players are getting themselves into trouble, DBB is going to have fun. After a long discussion over the holiday weekend on great music, I decided to compile a listing of my five favorite songs of all-time. If you don’t want to read it or listen to the tracks, well then, you’ll just have to do something else.

#5 Randy Newman, Louisiana 1927

#4 Sam Cooke, Bring it Home to Me

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