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Position-by-Position at the Bye: Special Teams

| October 31st, 2014

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The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Special teams must be taken element for element…

  • Robbie Gould has been steady.
  • Pat O’Donnell has shown flashes of being a superior punter. He’s a rookie so growing pains are expected and he needs to develop his short-punting game. But that leg, especially late in the year at Soldier Field, will be a weapon for this organization.
  • Mistakes have been rampant and mistakes, like it or not, get pinned on the coaching staff. In the case of the Bears, mistakes are far more the product of a constantly, in-flux bottom of the roster. No play summarized the error-prone ways of these Joe D units more than the brilliant P.O.D. punt covered about three seconds too early and subsequently returned for a touchdown in Carolina. It was a flash of brilliance, a terrible mistake and ultimately a lack of attention to detail causing the club six points.
  • At some point is the coaching staff going to convince the kick returners to stop taking the ball out of the end zone? I would hazard a guess this season’s collection of useless kick return men have cost the Bears upwards of a 100 yards of field position.
  • Santonio Holmes’ greatest contribution to the season has been not fumbling punts.
  • Strangely enough the Bears kickoff return against average is top ten in the league. Their punt return against average is bottom ten.

Grade: C

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Thoughts Entering the supposedly important Third Preseason Game

| August 22nd, 2014

I’ve already written about the importance — or lack of importance — of tonight’s game in the grand scheme of things, but there are a few things that are worth watching:

  •  If, when and how long does Santonio Holmes play? Are they going to throw him in with the starters as the third receiver right away? Does he still have to beat Josh Morgan out? Then, of course, how does he look? Will we see some of the explosiveness he showed early last season or in his days with the Steelers? Holmes has a chance to be a big part of what the Bears do this season. The Bears need to find out if he’s up to the challenge as soon as possible.

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Five Things I’d Like To See as the Bears Progress Towards the Regular Season

| August 10th, 2014

(1) I’d like to see the Bears interchange Eric Weems and Josh Morgan on the first team offense this week. (I had forgotten about Morgan’s most boneheaded moment in Washington until I did a bit of searching.)

(2) I’d like to see Chris Williams rebound quickly from his hamstring pull but I fear that won’t be the case. Hamstring injuries and speed receivers can be a dicey proposition but his skill set is a perfect complement to Bears star receivers.

(3) I’d like to see Jordan Palmer and Jimmy Clausen given a shot with the first-team talent. How much can we really learn from these two quarterbacks dodging defenders behind the second offensive line and throwing passes to Michael Spurlock? History tells us the Bears will need their backup quarterback at some point during the regular season. It would be good to know which is most comfortable with skill players.

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On Masters Week, Nine Holes Bears Must Fill to Succeed in 2014

| April 8th, 2014

masters

I love golf. And while most golf fans are down on their knees with their mouths in the lap of Augusta National, I am more reserved. I think Augusta is, for the most part, the most self-indulgent sports entity in creation and The Open Championship is my favorite tournament. But I still get excited for the first major championship of the season and it seems a convenient way to put a column together.

Here are nine issues, nine holes, still facing the 2014 Bears.

Hole #1 Tea Olive

The Bears don’t currently have a good safety on the roster. Is it possible Ryan Mundy will thrive at the strong safety position after showing limited flashes in both Pittsburgh and New York? Yes. But ask yourself this question: if Mundy were a budding star, why would the two best run organizations in the sport, both with proud lineages on defense, let him walk out the door?

And while Chris Conte has been the subject of ridicule, he’s a capable free safety if his run-stopping assignments are limited. His lack of availability for the bulk of training camp won’t help build his confidence heading into the 2014 season. I see his days in Chicago numbered.

Hole #2 Pink Dogwood

The Bears will have to win a game or two with Jordan Palmer playing quarterback. History says what history says and history says Jay Cutler will get banged up at some point during the season. Today, that would mean Palmer steps under center.

Side note: I could have written the same thing, with Josh McCown’s name a year ago and it turned out not to be a hole. But McCown at least has a MINOR track record in the sport. Palmer does not.

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