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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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Postseason Positional Analysis Part VII: Linebackers

| January 19th, 2016

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We start on the inside.

The Bears had five inside linebackers this season but only three are worthy of discussion. LaRoy Reynolds & Jonathan Anderson are the type of bottom-roster boys an organization needs but there’s also about 125 players like them circulating across the league. Whether they return or not in 2016 won’t make the teapot whistle.

Three questions about the others.

How Much Do the Coaches Really Like Shea McClellin?

Shea is a smart player and the coaches went out of their way throughout 2015 to applaud his impact on the defense. He also, once again, struggled to remain healthy for any substantial period of time and his level of play dropped precipitously once returning to the field.

Here’s how I’d summarize McClellin. He is constantly in position to make plays but rarely makes them. Is that a lack of physical ability? Maybe. Is that a lack of instincts? Definitely. Were his struggles this season more the result of a change to ANOTHER new position? Possibly.

Unlike many who’d like to see the Bears cut the Shea line, I’d like to see him return and continue to develop at middle linebacker. He won’t be expensive or require a lengthy deal so why not? At worst he’s a third linebacker off the bench who can also call signals.

How Much Stake Do the Coaches Put Into John Timu’s Finish?

Adrian Peterson had 18 rushes for 63 yards. Doug Martin had 17 carries for 49 yards. Ameer Abdullah had a more respectable 10 carries for 44 yards. This was a poor rush defense all season long that turned into a solid unit once Timu ascended into the starting lineup. Does this mean the Bears should move forward with Timu cemented in the middle? Of course not. But barring a big splurge in free agency, Timu should come to Bourbonnais with confidence.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Packers. Thanksgiving.

| November 25th, 2015

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THE GAME POEM

“Turkey: A large bird whose flesh, when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude.”

-Ambrose Bierce

THOUGHTS ON GREEN BAY PACKERS

  • Green Bay’s defense hasn’t been great this season but they are actually ranked 8th in the league in points allowed per game. They are not in the top 20 of total yards, rushing yards or passing yards surrendered so what’s the reason for this anomaly? Turnovers. Packers are +8 on the season.
  • A defense’s touchdown-to-interception ratio is a stat I’ve begun paying attention to in recent weeks and the numbers really are quite telling. The two best ratios in the league are 8-10 (Denver) and 12-15 (Carolina). The worst ratio is New Orleans’ 28-4. Packers are 13-11, right near the top of the sport. (Bears among the worst at 19-5)
  • An interesting statistical tidbit from The Guardian (of all places):

By nearly every other quarterback’s standards Rodgers is having a brilliant season but he is not quite clicking with some of his receivers and his completion rate for the last three games stands at 52.1%, 57.4% and, on Sunday, 47.1%. Over that same same spell he has still thrown eight touchdowns and just one pick – he is Aaron Rodgers after all – but the fact that the chemistry between quarterback and receivers isn’t quite there (he has the lowest completion rate of his career in 2015) may cause trouble come the playoffs.

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Thoughts on the First Preseason Game

| August 14th, 2015

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General Note

Having not watched the game live, I was following along on Twitter and with a few friends via text message. It was absolutely astounding the level of hysteria permeating the Tweets whilst my friends were all texting me things like, “they look ok” or “not much to actually learn from this crap”. When I woke up this morning and saw some of the work by the illustrious Chicago media, I expected to be viewing a train wreck. That was not the case. My thoughts on the game last night were overall positive.

Three Thoughts on the Offense…

  • Jay Cutler to Eddie Royal is going to be this offense’s security blanket. Expect the Bears to start a lot of drives with quick outs to put them in second and six or less.
  • Will Montgomery is a HUGE upgrade at center. He attacked Suh at the line of scrimmage on several plays and frustrated arguably one of the best defenders in the sport.

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Position-by-Position at the Bye: Linebackers & Secondary

| October 30th, 2014

NFL: Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons

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

Shea McClellin had a breakout game and broke his hand in practice the following week.

Jon Bostic had a breakout game and his back decided it had enough.

Darryl Sharpton had a breakout game and has been relegated to situational defense since for some reason.

Lance Briggs can’t stay on the field. D.J. Williams is a useful if unspectacular player in the middle. Khaseem Greene struggles as the Bears can’t find a position for him and the sample size is far too small to evaluate Christian Jones.

The unit as a whole deserves credit for helping to improve last year’s porous run defense and some blame for their struggles in coverage. But when a team has found themselves starting their fourth, fifth and sixth linebackers in a game how fair an evaluation can one actually provide?

Grade: Incomplete

Note: The Bears won’t do this but they should go full youth movement at the position over the second half of the season. Sit D.J. Williams. Sit Lance Briggs. Find out what you have in a combination of Sharpton, Bostic, Jones. Move McClellin around and see where, if anywhere, he can be most productive. Bears have eight games to learn what they have at linebacker for the next several years. To misuse that time would be a terrible mistake.

Keep reading to learn how bad the secondary has been!

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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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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Rob Rang’s Draft Grades, Pompei on UFAs & Jordan Lynch

| May 13th, 2014

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 I’M NOT ONE FOR DRAFT GRADES…

…but I gathered a lot of respect for Rob Rang when he released his final mock draft and was the only analyst out there projecting four safeties to the first round. So I was interested to see what he felt of the Bears selections. He likes em. A lot.

For a team that once prided itself for its defense, the Bears were toothless in 2013. General manager Phil Emery did a nice job of patching holes throughout the draft, however, adding a pro-ready corner in Kyle Fuller at No. 14 overall, a talented 1-2 punch at defensive tackle in run-stuffer Ego Ferguson and one of the top penetrators in Will Sutton and one of the more intriguing safeties in the class in Brock Vereen in the fourth. The Bears added insurance behind star Matt Forte with Ka’Deem Carey, who plays faster than he timed and is a strong, determined runner. Watch out for Day Three developmental prospects in quarterback David Fales and offensive lineman Charles Leno, each of whom could surprise in Marc Trestman’s scheme. Fuller and Ferguson come with some medical nicks and Sutton allowed himself to get out of shape in 2013. On paper, though, this ranks as one of the year’s best groups.

Here is what needs to happen for this Bears draft to be successful. Fuller is solid. One of the two defensive tackles sticks. Vereen contributes.

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