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Five Reasons to be Excited about the 2017 Bears

| September 6th, 2017

The official start of the season should be an exciting time for NFL fans all over the country, but Bears fans are almost unanimously unexcited.

The reason for this is pretty clear. With their present quarterbacking situation, the starting of Mike Glennon, they’ll need perfection from pretty much everyone else on the roster. Have teams done it? Sure. But most teams in this situation end up picking in the top 10 of the draft.

That said, the Bears do have more going for them than a standard three-win team and there are a few reasons to be excited.

Here are five:

5. Return of Dominant Defense

It’s been a minute since the Bears have had even an adequate defense. Under Lovie Smith, they ranked in the top half of the league in scoring defense eight times in nine seasons and in the top five four times.

Since Smith was fired, they haven’t cracked the top twenty and finished in the bottom ten three times.

This year should be different.

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Trubisky And Other Impressions From A Day At Practice

| August 2nd, 2017

“Wow! Who threw that?” Is the question my wife asked in our first real exposure to Mitch Trubisky at Saturday’s training camp practice.

It was a day in which everyone wanted to talk about the fumbled snaps but even a football novice like my wife could see that there was a definite difference in what Trubisky had to offer versus that of Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez.

I don’t mean to minimize the snap issue. If a team can’t complete the snap, they can’t run a play. But there hasn’t been a quarterback in the history of the league who hasn’t figured out how to take a snap from the center. Let’s repeat that. There hasn’t been a quarterback in the history of the league who hasn’t figured out how to take a snap from the center.

The rest of that practice should have Bears fans excited.

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Across The Middle — Week 15

| December 14th, 2016

If you follow a losing team long enough, the crappy seasons tend to all blend together. But if the 2016 Chicago Bears want to be remembered, they can make it happen this week by beating the Packers.

The Bears have been a losing team for most of my life, but there are a few teams I remember fondly. I remember the 2003 team because Charles Tillman ripped a pass out of Randy Moss’ hands and cost the Vikings a playoff berth. I remember Brian Urlacher running all alone down the field after intercepting Brett Favre in a 35-7 Bears win in 2007. I remember the 2015 Bears beating all odds by beating the Packers on Thanksgiving when Favre was being honored at halftime.

Those are the bad teams I remember positively and this year’s team has a chance to join them.

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Bears Thump Niners & There’s Plenty To Feel Good About

| December 5th, 2016

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You will hear it across Chicago today: “…but the Niners suck.” And there’s no denying that fact. The Niners do, in fact, suck. They are probably the league’s worst team. (I don’t consider Cleveland a team.) But good teams beat sucky teams convincingly. Good teams play meaningless fourth quarters against sucky teams. And the Bears, with their third or fourth-string quarterback, looked an awful lot like a good team yesterday.

Rapid fire…

  • I’ve been using #barkleytime as something of a joke but, you know, I’m starting to think it might not be. As impressive as Barkley was against the Titans a week ago, he was ten times more impressive in the conditions at Soldier Field yesterday. And if het got a little more help from his receivers, he might have been staring down a gaudy stat line. Nevertheless, a near-100 quarterback rating in the slush when the opposing quarterbacks looked like Abbot & Costello Meet the Snow, is exemplary. (More on Barkley coming later today/tomorrow.)
  • I can’t remember seeing a two-win team play with the emotion the Bears played with yesterday. Defensively, offensively, everything. They were fired up from the opening whistle. Seeing that makes me want to slap all the “they should lose” people across their faces.
  • Jordan Howard. That is all. No, that’s not all. His five-yard touchdown run may be my favorite play of the season. The Niners weren’t keeping him out of the end zone with 18 defenders.
  • Say this about Josh Bellamy: he gets open! And I give the Bears coaching staff/QB credit for sticking with him after the second big drop. I would have sat him on the bench and left him there. They didn’t and they were handsomely rewarded for it.
  • Noah Spence is having a terrific year in Tampa and Joey Bosa is terrific but Leonard Floyd may now be the front-runner (as predicted here) for defensive rookie of the year. If Floyd can get his sack total into double digits, I’m not sure they can keep the award away from him.

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Seven Thoughts for Seven Games (Thoughts 3-4)

| October 23rd, 2016

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Thought 3. On the Run Defense

The Colts ran it for 98 yards. The Jaguars ran it for 54 yards. The Packers had one 30-yard run and otherwise quit on that element of the game altogether.  Even without their best run stuffer on the line (Eddie Goldman) out the Bears are building a run defense that is going to be formidable moving forward.

Why is this important? Because teams only have so many resources.

If the 2017 Bears are able to defend the run stoutly it will keeps downs and distances manageable on that side of the ball. And this will allow them to do in Chicago what Fangio did in San Francisco: save money at the cornerback spot. You saw how consistent and precise Aaron Rodgers had to be to move the ball against the Bears secondary and that secondary was LeBlanc, Bausby and Glenn. That’s what happens when an offense is faced with third-and-eight as opposed to third-and-two. Put three professional corners on the field and a few of those drives are ending far earlier.

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Turn the Beat Around: Lots of Leonard Floyd Talk & Other Stuff Too!

| September 13th, 2016

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ADAM2ADAM ON LEONARD FLOYD

Leonard Floyd didn’t have a great day Sunday, expectedly for a raw rookie. But he almost never left the field. Jahns broke down his debut after film study:

“We got a fast, relentless team, guys that can do multiple things in any situations,” linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. “We got [outside linebackers] that can go out there and play seam/flat on some receivers.

“You see the young fella out there playing great.”

But sacks still matter most for Floyd. His takedown of Osweiler in the third quarter was his best play. He didn’t have a quick jump off the snap, but he fought through left tackle Chris Clark, reached the edge and quickly closed on Osweiler.

As Fangio predicted, there were moments when Floyd was overmatched. On Hopkins’ 23-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, Floyd was stood up by Newton.

Play fakes negated Floyd’s speed at times, but he handled his run assignments well, which included squaring up with tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. Floyd also was involved in six tackles, but he wasn’t on the field for Fuller’s 18-yard score on a tunnel screen.

“I feel good,” Floyd said. “But I’ve got some improvements to make.”

Adam Hoge had an interesting take on the Bears decision to play Floyd about 80% of the defensive snaps.

This, of course, does not mean that Floyd was the best option to play the most snaps at outside linebacker in Week 1. In fact, I would argue that the Bears coaching staff did not give its team the best chance to win by only playing Houston on 36 percent of the defensive snaps.

But I guess it depends on how you look at it. Which is more important: beating the Texans in Week 1 or getting your raw first round draft pick the most experience possible?

I guess we now know where the Bears stand on that question.

The Bears are committed to developing Floyd. And they are willing to sacrifice early success to do so.

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Notes from Day Three of Bears Camp

| August 1st, 2016

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• Context is the most important thing when it comes to evaluating training camp, but it often gets lost in the shuffle.

That was my biggest takeaway from Bears training camp Saturday morning as I watched the team run through routine drills before a few sessions of 11-on-11 scrimmaging. Daniel Braverman is too crafty for the Jacoby Glenns of the world to stand a chance, but does that mean he’s really standing out? He has stood out in the way that he’s caught more passes than any other player in camp, that he’s clearly better than Kieran Duncan and Derek Keaton, but the constant reports about him excelling are misleading because of who he is competing with and against.

There is an inherent problem with moving Braverman up the depth chart: Is he better than Marc Mariani? I don’t think he is and Mariani towers over Braverman (you don’t understand the size difference until you see them standing side-by-side. Mariani is significantly bigger). I expect Braverman to continue to stand out against the bottom of the depth chart guys and that should earn him a roster spot. I’d warn against anyone suggesting he’s going to earn actual playing time this season, however.

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2016 Bears Defense Could Make Buddy Proud

| July 1st, 2016

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 1: Pernell McPhee #92 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after a sack during a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on November 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

“QB’s are over-paid, over-rated, pompous bastards and must be punished.”-Buddy Ryan.

For the first time in a number of years, the Bears have a chance to have the kind of defense that would make Buddy Ryan proud. They finally have a number of players who can, and should, get to the quarterback.

The Bears’ sack totals since they stopped running Ryan’s defense are a bit depressing. They’ve finished last in the league in sacks more than they’ve finished first and haven’t topped 50 sacks in a season since 1987. This year, however, they have a legitimate chance to top that mark and punish opposing quarterbacks.

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I Have Nothing of Note to Say About the Chicago Bears…

| May 16th, 2016

…so here are some thoughts of non-note.

  • Can people stop writing about Leonard Floyd’s weight? Who gives a shit about Leonard Floyd’s weight? He weighs what he weighs. I’ll start being interested in Floyd when he starts playing football.
  • I like how John Fox answers questions from media. When they asked him about Adam Gase’s new approach to rookie minicamp he basically said, “Yea whatever. We do our thing.” Fox doesn’t overthink football.
  • Dowell Loggains said Jeremy Langford needs to improve in the passing game. This is a fancy way of saying Langford needs to stop dropping the ball in pivotal moments or he’s gonna be off the field in pivotal moments.
  • Bears can say anything they want but Soldier Field’s surface is never going to improve. It’s been awful for more than a decade.
  • I can’t remember a Bears training camp that will have this much intrigue. The one hallmark of Ryan Pace thus far is he’s not afraid of roster turnover.

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Around the Beat: Samplings from the Papers

| May 9th, 2016

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BIGGS ON GRASU

If Hroniss Grasu develops into a frontline center, the Bears may have a terrific offensive line in 2016. But Grasu would have to make a significant leap if that’s going to be the case. From Biggs in the Trib:

The statistics in the eight games Grasu started last season and the other eight games that were split between Slauson and Will Montgomery are similar with one glaring difference. I tallied the stats for Jay Cutler’s 15 starts, (excluding the dud of a performance in Seattle in Week 3 when Jimmy Clausen was at quarterback) and what jumps out is the Bears averaged 4.22 yards per carry with Slauson and Montgomery at center. With Grasu, they averaged 3.77, nearly a half-yard less.

If the Bears had a high level of confidence in Grasu, they wouldn’t have made three additions even while removing Slauson from the equation. When the season opens Sept. 11 in Houston, left tackle Charles Leno could be the only starter in a position he played for the team last season.

My favorite line in the piece? “One front-office guy said his team nearly drafted Whitehair about 20 picks before the Bears.” I maintain a firm belief that Whitehair is going to be a ten-year star at guard for the Bears.

JAHNS ON THE UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS

Adam’s piece in the Sun-Times is a solidly comprehensive breakdown of all the UFAs but I’m sampling the one position they may have had been most focused on: tight end.

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