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The Wright Stuff: Veteran Receiver Could Have Big Impact

| August 9th, 2017

It was only one day at camp, but Kendall Wright was running circles around the Bears’ defensive backs.

Admittedly, this is not a great group of corners and safeties, but still one could see the talent that made Wright the 20th pick in the 2012 draft. And it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Bears use him a lot more than Tennessee did in recent seasons.

Part of the reason why Wright is with the Bears is because of his history with Dowell Loggains. Loggains was promoted to offensive coordinator in Tennessee late in the 2012 season. In his first game, Wright had 10 targets, then 9 the following week. The next season, the Titans made an active attempt to get Wright the ball and he racked up 140 targets, catching 94 for 1,079 yards.

(Mike Munchak’s staff — including Loggains — was fired after the 2013 season. Wright had 93 targets with Ken Whisenhunt in 2014, but that total dropped by 32 in 2015 and by 18 more in 2016.)

But there’s reason to believe Loggains will get him back on the right track.

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Match-Ups That Matter: Bears at Colts

| October 6th, 2016

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I have Tweeted incessantly for the last three years about the disaster that is the Indianapolis Colts. They were given football’s greatest gift, a franchise quarterback directly on the heels of a franchise quarterback. And what have they done to support him? Nothing. Under the regime of Jim Irsay (who is as much to blame as anyone), Ryan Grigson (who might be the league’s worst GM) and Chuck Pagano, the Colts have failed to build Andrew Luck either an offensive line or a defense. They’ve signed fading veterans in free agency, drafted speedsters they don’t need and let supremely talented players – *cough* Jerell Freeman *cough* – walk out the door for no reason. This last item came to head in London where Freeman’s replacement, Sio Moore, was so bad he was thrown out of the team plane over the Atlantic Ocean.

On to the game…

BRIAN HOYER VS. THE HYPE

Yep, it’s a thing.

  • Hoyer is well-aware that his performances over the last two weeks are not just those a back-up quarterback filling in while the starter’s thumb is in a sling. Hoyer doesn’t have a lot more time left in this league and if he continues to deliver 300-yard, no interception efforts, and more importantly win, it will make the decision to pull him off the field a very difficult one for John Fox.
  • The Colts defense is one of the worst in the league and Hoyer is going to be tempted to throw the ball down the field with more frequency than he did last Sunday. But not succumbing to those desires is exactly what’s enabled him to play efficient football. Not having Kevin White running go routes down the field may make this a bit easier.

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Bears Get on the Board, Beat Lions in a Snoozer: Rapid Fire Reaction

| October 3rd, 2016

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 02: Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears tries to break away from Devin Taylor #98 of the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on October 2, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The argument I made all offseason as to why the Bears would be more competitive in 2016, especially within the division, was because they were already competitive within the division LAST season. Yes, they went 1-5. But both Detroit games and the home Vikings game were complete coin flips. The only time a division opponent clearly outclassed them was in Minnesota, a game the Vikings needed and Bears didn’t.

Yesterday the depleted Bears weren’t just better than Detroit. They dominated them. If their special teams show up, the game is never close. Other thoughts…

  • Brian Hoyer is going to be the story this week. Nobody thinks less of Hoyer than I do but that kind of efficiency will excite John Fox in the tape study sessions. He dinks and dunks, sure, but the offense looked like a real offense for the first time this season.
  • So why so few points? Well, Hoyer is why. Alshon Jeffery will be reduced to basically the third option as long as Hoyer is playing quarterback. Hoyer is a timing/crossing route quarterback. Jeffery is a downfield home run hitter. There were a few moments yesterday where Jeffery was isolated in man coverage and Cutler would have unquestionably tossed a jump ball for him. Hoyer (a) doesn’t think that way and (b) can’t physically do it.
  • And so begins the Jordan Howard era? 23 for 111. 4.8 average. He’s big. He’s quick. He’s tough to bring down. And against Detroit he showed his versatility in the passing attack. Jeremy Langford’s role changed yesterday.
  • The offensive line is improving every single week.

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Match-ups That Matter: Eagles at Bears

| September 15th, 2016

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It’s hard to read too much into what the Eagles did to the Browns last week. The Browns are a triple-A franchise right now. But there was enough to digest in those sixty minutes. Which match-ups matter most Monday night?

VIC FANGIO V. CARSON WENTZ

It is the single biggest mismatch in the game.

  • In 2015, Carr got to 20, Osweiler got to 17 and Winston got to 21. Fox and Fangio’s defense managed to keep rookie/new starting quarterbacks in check, especially at Soldier Field.
  • The Bears have a lot of potential looks to show Wentz and many of those looks will be ones he’s never seen before. They can blitz from five different positions. Their outside linebackers are all capable of dropping into coverages. This is the kind of night where the Bears need Fox and Fangio to play chess and make the kid uncomfortable. Just lining up and playing ball, which is a lot of what they did in Houston, won’t work.
  • The Bears run defense found something in the second half against Houston. If the Eagles don’t make the down/distance easy for Wentz, he’ll struggle.

 WHITE & ROYAL V. EAGLES SECONDARY

Four thoughts:

  • I can’t imagine the Eagles coaching staff watching the Bears/Texans tape and having any thought other than, “we can’t let Alshon Jeffery beat us”. Expect Jim Schwartz to try and take Jeffery away all afternoon by pushing safeties in his direction.

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Postseason Positional Analysis Part III: Wide Receivers

| January 12th, 2016

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If the Bears can ever get — and stay — healthy at the wide receiver position, their offense should really take off. Their top four receivers missed a combined 36 games, with the only one playing over half their snaps being Marquess Wilson. Youngers players stepped up and made plays but the position, expected to be a strength, ended up being a weakness.

ALSHON

If you took the numbers Alshon Jeffery put up in 8 1/2 games this season and calculated them out to a 16-game total, you see a star. The numbers are roughly 102 catches, 1,520 yards and eight touchdowns. Looks great, but you can’t give him credit for 16 games when he doesn’t play 16 games. Injuries are his biggest problem and there’s no reason to think they will go away. So how do the Bears assign him a value?

By not signing Jeffery before the season, the Bears made it clear they didn’t view him as an elite receiver. As good as he was at times, it’s hard to say he did anything to increase his value. The Bears can’t let Jeffery hit the open market, however, because someone else will offer him top-tier receiver money and Chicago doesn’t have a replacement. Whether it be with the Franchise Tag or a long-term contract, the Bears need to bring Jeffery back.

WHITE

We don’t know what Kevin White is. We think he’s a stud and when we hear Ryan Pace say he can’t wait to “unleash” him, it makes us believe that even more. Still, he’s going to be raw and nobody has a clue what kind of long-term effects the leg injury might have on him.

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Vikings Hand Bears Third Straight Loss (Rapid Fire)

| December 21st, 2015

The Bears have hit a wall. They overachieved for the better part of this season and there seems to be very little left in the tank. Injuries and lack of talent have finally caught up with them. When a game is this lopsided there’s little reason to dissect the minutiae but here comes rapid fire nevertheless…

  • How Ryan Pace handles Alshon Jeffery will be interesting. He’s a difference maker on the field but he just never seems to be on the field. Can you really pay a receiver elite money when he is only out there ten games a season?
  • Offensive line is climbing the ladder of concern every week. Too many penalties and three of the five positions have been legitimately poor for several weeks. All the skill talent in the world won’t make a difference in 2016 if Bears can’t block em up front.
  • Jay Cutler’s season has stalled with the declining line play. But even when he’s had time to throw, there’s nowhere to go with the ball. No, the receivers are not getting open. But can’t Adam Gase create some easy non-bubble screen throws to move the ball? I keep hearing how effective Gase’s system has been. I haven’t a clue what that system entails.

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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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The Free Agency Notebook: Day 2

| March 12th, 2015

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COUGHLIN ON ROLLE

I sat next to Tom Coughlin on a flight once from New York to Jacksonville. The most amazing thing about him? He was as interested in me as I was in him. And it was genuine. He also knows quite a bit more about football and football players than I do. His thoughts on Antrel Rolle from the NY Daily News:

“I have never come across a player that was more interested in his team and trying to help his team get better in any way he could,” Coughlin said. “I think countless Tuesdays, Antrel was in my office with (questions about) how we can get better, what we can do to get better. Just thoughts going back and forth between coach and player in terms of how our team could improve. I don’t think I have ever been involved with a player who was more sincerely interested in how his team could improve.”

While I have issues about Rolle’s performance last season it is impossible to argue the Bears don’t need the man described above in their locker room.

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The Free Agency Notebook: Day 1

| March 11th, 2015

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IN BEARS LAND…

  • Antrel Rolle is not a great player anymore…and I’m not sure he ever was a great player. He was an alarming liability in coverage last year for the Giants. But the second he signs with the Bears he’ll improve the safety position and he is also one of the most accountable leaders in the league. (He also does a weekly radio show in NYC and delivers brutally honest assessments of his defense’s play.) The Bears shouldn’t be relying on his services two or three years down the road but he is someone who can make a few plays short-term.
  • Eddie Royal excites me. Royal is a perfect complementary receiver for Alshon Jeffery and his history with Jay Cutler will lead to an immediate comfort zone. Royal has been one of my favorites for years.
  • J.T. Thomas received a nice contract from the New York Giants. I wrote this about Thomas in August of 2013: “JT Thomas is one of those players who jumps off the preseason screen. But the numbers game does not work in his favor. Williams, Anderson, Briggs, Costanzo, Bostic and Greene are on this roster. Thomas is a long shot but if I’m the Bears I find him a role on specials and let him make plays.”

THE THREE BLOCKBUSTER TRADES

  • My first thought when Jay Glazer reported the Seahawks had acquired Jimmy Graham from the Saints was if they had him a few months ago they don’t throw that moronic slant route and lose the Super Bowl. I have issues with Russell Wilson’s accuracy from the pocket but guess what, it doesn’t matter now. If he puts the ball within three yards of Graham’s head it’ll be caught. Can’t imagine a scenario wherein the Seahawks don’t open the season as favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

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