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Three Players to Watch Saturday Afternoon

| August 26th, 2016

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I haven’t had to spend as much of the summer arguing about the meaningless of preseason football as I usually do. Partly, I think, because teams are starting to embrace the lack of meaning themselves. All one needs to do is listen to the words coming from players in post-game pressers to understand they really couldn’t give two shits about the performances and outcomes. They just want to be healthy after Labor Day.

Here’s three players worth keeping an eye on tomorrow.

Cornelius Edison, Center

From Patrick Finley in the Sun-Times:

Saturday, fully healed but aching for experience, Edison figures to start the Bears’ all-important third exhibition game. He does so with only 12 games of center experience to his name — his senior year at the Div. I-AA school, though he did win the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s best at the position, for his efforts.

“I was always confident in my abilities,” the 6-3, 309 pounder said Wednesday after practice at Halas Hall. “It just took me a longer way to get here and just made me appreciate, when I’m here, that this is meant for me. And I just gotta keep working hard no matter what my situation is.”

Ted Larsen is a backup. Nothing more. Edison should start. Is he going to make everyone forget about the summer developments of Hroniss Grasu? No. But he could be capable. And the Bears sorely need it at the position.

 Daniel Braverman, Wide Receiver

Here’s my issue with Braverman. Where does he fit?

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Bears Questions From Twitter

| August 25th, 2016

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I had nothing to write. I asked Twitter what I should write. They gave me stuff.

 

I have watched every snap of Kyle Fuller’s young career and I really believe he’s at his best with his eyes on the ball, squared up to the QB. His corner skills are decent but it’s his ability to close on the football that sets him apart from young players. I see the move as possible. 

 

I think the secondary and offensive line are the team’s weaknesses. But the Bears front 7 is so strong I think they’ll be able to compensate for a lack of talent at the back.

 

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Across The Middle: Preseason Week Three

| August 24th, 2016

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Dennis Green: “Who the hell takes the third game in the preseason like it’s bullshit?”

Me: Raises hand.

I used to believe we could get something meaningful from the third preseason game. There are dozens of reasons why that’s wrong, but the strongest was one I realized just a month ago. It doesn’t mean anything to the players who aren’t fighting for jobs or coaches.

I challenge anyone to watch a regular season game, follow it with the third preseason game and try to tell me there isn’t a significant difference in the product. I did just that a month ago, choosing to re-watch the Bears’ third preseason game against the Bengals last year. It’s just a different game.

This is true for many of the same reasons why none of the preseason games matter. Maybe there’s more game-planning in the third preseason game. Maybe teams do a bit more schematically. Maybe. But it isn’t a lot and whatever it is they do isn’t done with the same urgency as the regular season simply because it doesn’t have to be.

The Bears have most of their starters figured out already. They know what they’re doing schematically. The practice and simulation of a game-like atmosphere should help them. But this is preseason. The coach won’t lose his job, neither will the starters. It’s a practice and should be treated as such.

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In Langford’s Absence, Bears Should Give Howard a Run With the Starters

| August 23rd, 2016

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The third preseason game, the What We Thought They Were game as it’s affectionately known in these parts, is a solid opportunity to try some things out. John Fox and company know who is going to be on their final 53 (with possibly 1 or 2 exceptions due to nagging injuries) and know who their starters and starting rotation will be.

One of the things they know is that Jeremy Langford is going to be the starter and if he stays healthy will be given every opportunity to be an every down back. But Langford has a foot knock and there’s no godly reason he should see the practice or game field again until after Labor Day.

Jacquizz Rodgers and Ka’Deem Carey? We know what they are. John Fox knows what they are. Both can be valuable offensive pieces but neither is going to set the league on fire.

Jordan Howard runs differently. He runs tougher. Hits the hole quicker. Looks more difficult to bring down. But he’s been looking that way against guys who will never play an important down in the NFL.

What if the Bears dropped him in with the ones Thursday night and he ran through the Kansas City Chiefs?

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Turn the Beat Around: Burkett, Bears & Beyond (to Houston)

| August 22nd, 2016

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BIRKETT ON PRESEASON FOOTBALL

Dave Birkett of the Free Press wrote a perfect column outlining the meaninglessness of preseason football. Here’s the first few paragraphs

Between forced season ticket buys, unwatchable second halves and pointless season-altering injuries, there are few redeeming qualities to preseason football.

But the worst part about the exhibition exercise that the NFL puts its 32 teams through four or, in some cases, five times a year is the overreaction that comes with every game.

Sure, that happens in the regular season, too. That’s the nature of our instant-gratification society.

But you don’t need to be the 2008 Preseason Champion Detroit Lions to know which games matter and which games don’t.

KEVIN WHITE’S MINDSET

Adam Jahns with quotes from Cutler:

As for White’s drop, Cutler sounded almost happy it happened. Such plays lead to more dialogue between him and the second-year receiver.

‘‘He handles it well,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘He’s always the first guy to blame himself, no matter what the situation is, so I just try to keep him positive and keep him going. There’s no point or real time for us to dwell on it. We have to move on, and he does that well.’’

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Second Preaseason (Meaningless) Game In the Books…

| August 19th, 2016

Five thoughts:

  • Jay Cutler looked terrific in his limited but not limited enough performance. He was decisive, accurate and did what he has always done: extended plays when there seemed to be nothing to extend. (What did I learn here? Nothing.)
  • Alshon Jeffery played like a star. Why? Because he is a star. Do the Bears agree with that assessment? I’m not sure. But I am starting to get the sense that Alshon is going to run up his tab for 16 + games starting in September.
  • Several players looked like they were guaranteed roster guys: Moeaki, Mariani, Thompson, Anderson (starting over Jones, Timu). As I always argue, teams know a bulk of their roster decisions well before a preseason game is ever played.
  • The Bears don’t have a center on the roster. And they are one player deep at the other four spots. Offensive line is still a year away.
  • Jeremy Langford showed what I didn’t need him to show. There won’t be a running back by committee in Chicago. Not if Langford runs like he did tonight.

UPDATE: FRIDAY AM

  • Bears announced late last night that Kyle Fuller underwent a knee scope and is out for a while. I’ve heard talk of him playing the opener but the opener is in three weeks. The likelihood is Fuller returns 2-3 weeks into the season and, really, why rush him back before that?
  • Of course 2 of the 4 roster guys I mentioned above got hurt. Both Thompson and Moeaki came out of the game dinged up. For Thompson, the injury is a brutal blow. The Bears want him to be their primary kick returner but  that means contributing across the specials landscape and possibly on offense. Missing significant time will be a massive hurdle for him to leap.
  • Today’s buzz word will be “depth”. Watch. Last night was not an indictment of the team’s depth. No team has a good second or third unit. And the Besrs played almost a quarter with their 2s against the Pats 1s.
  • But the Bears have zero depth at the two areas I’ve been pointing out all spring: secondary and OL. It’s why they are a year away from contending.

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Three Thoughts on Second Preseason Game

| August 18th, 2016

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Yes, tonight’s “game” between the Bears and Patriots is meaningless. But there’s things to watch.

  • Here’s hoping the Bears offense scores a touchdown early. To instill confidence? No. To show improvement? Absolutely not. To shut up the Sky is Falling crowd? Yep. A touchdown drive early would force all of them to admit their week of whining was silly.
  • The Daniel Braverman Boner has elevated this summer but the Bears’ quarterback is singing praise of Marc Mariani. With Eddie Royal struggling to get on the field, Marquess Wilson never on the field and the team being very cautious with Jeffery and White, don’t be surprised if Cutler looks to throw a few extra balls Mariani’s way to ensure he’s part of this offensive core in 2016.
  • The night is still only about health, especially along the thin offensive line.

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Across The Middle: Preseason Week Two

| August 17th, 2016

When the Bears were fighting with themselves, I thought it was annoying. Now that we’re seeing them get one of the most disciplined teams in the NFL to lose its cool, I think the Bears just might be developing an identity.

The Bears are going to be scrappy, just like the defenses Fox built in Carolina and Denver. They’re going to push the envelope and they’re going to frustrate their opponents.

And it just might be great.

There is a thin line to walk. The Bears certainly don’t want to be known as a “dirty” team like Jim Schwartz’s Lions were. There certainly is a point where the personal foul penalties get to be too much, but if they can continue to be aggressive and scrappy, they’re going to be the team nobody wants to play. If they keep adding talent, they’re going to be the team hardly anyone can beat.

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Cutler, the Forgotten Man

| August 16th, 2016

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Somehow, Jay Cutler has become the forgotten man.

Bourbonnais attention has centered on a revamped defense, first eyeballs on Kevin White and Leonard Floyd and the emergence of a little white fella from Western Michigan. The offensive line has become the source of concern, especially in the aftermath of Hroniss Grasu’s year-ending injury and a few ugly couple drives against the defending champs in the first meaningless game. Alshon Jeffery came to camp unfit physically and unhappy financially. The Bears are still looking for a running back that can catch the ball with regularity. If Zach Miller gets hurt, then what?

There’s no conversation around Cutler. No drama. And he’s never looked more comfortable in his own skin.

I recently did a radio appearance with my friend Trent Condon in Des Moines. It took 17 minutes of the spot until Cutler’s name was mentioned. And that mention came from me. The average time it took for a first Cutler mention over the last five years was about 1.1 minutes.

But make no mistake about it. The 2016 Bears will only go as far as their quarterback takes them. Just because there’s no drama around Cutler doesn’t mean there’s not an intense amount of pressure on him.

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Turn the Beat Around: Thoughts From Those Paid to Cover the Bears

| August 15th, 2016

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JAHNS ON DEIONDRE’ HALL

Hall was a standout in Thursday’s preseason opener and Adam breaks down the physical traits that make him a fit for this defense.

At 6-2 and 201 pounds, Hall fits Fangio’s preference for big cornerbacks. He also played on the first kickoff unit against the Broncos.

His arm length, like an offensive tackle’s, makes him special. Assistant secondary coach Sam Garnes said Hall’s rules for technique differ because of it.

“[It’s] eyes, hands and feet, and then just staying patient,” Hall said. “I’m longer than pretty much everybody else out there, so I’ll be able to get my hands on a lot quicker.”

Hall said becoming a cornerback who excels in press coverage is a process, but he already was able to show Thursday how useful his long arms can be.

CAMPBELL ON FULLER 

Kyle Fuller is dealing with a nagging knee injury and isn’t with the team in New England. Rich pries into the enigmatic Fuller, analyzing his status with a hierarchy not responsible for drafting him.

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