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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Camp Opens, McPhee Hurt, Vikings Thoughts & More!

| July 28th, 2017

Camp!

Pernell McPheeling The Pain

From Patrick Finley in the Sun-Times:

By 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, the team had announced that linebacker Pernell McPhee would start the season on the physically unable to perform list. By noon Thursday, coach John Fox was back in familiar waters, trying to explain an injury — and its consequences — on the first day of training camp.

McPhee hadn’t made it through his physical on Wednesday, complaining of knee pain. Fox said team doctors “found a little irregularity” in his right knee, which is not the same knee that caused McPhee to start last year’s training camp on the PUP list.

A few thoughts:

  • The link to the full Finley article is provided above but don’t click it. The Sun-Times Bears coverage is, in my estimation, superior to what’s being produced at the Trib. But their website, especially on mobile devices, is unusable.
  • It’s starting to feel like whatever the Bears get out of the rest of this McPhee contract will be a bonus. It’s only a “little” irregularity when it’s not your knee. Do I think McPhee can still put together a productive 2017 campaign? Sure. But that productivity is more likely to come over an 8-10 game stretch than a full 16.

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Why This Summer is Different From All Other Summers

| July 26th, 2017

For those who have frequented this site over the last decade plus, you understand a few things about how I treat training camp and the preseason. The basics:

  • Nothing reported from camp practice is important because no team is going to show their fans / media anything relevant. The NFL has become the most secretive league in sports. Teams aren’t going display even an ounce of actual strategy while some rival scout sits with the public in the stands (which happens often).
  • Preseason game reps are the most overrated thing in football. Whether fans want to believe it or not, most franchises know about 45 of their final 53-man roster before the first preseason game is kicked off. The guys who can make an impact and grab those final 8 slots are going to make that impact on the practice field, not in preseason games. (The practice field fans and media DON’T see, where the actual playbook is used.)

This training camp is different. This preseason is different. Because all eyes will be on one player: Mitch Trubisky.

An argument could be made that the Bears fan has never, not one time in the team’s history, been through this process. Since 1951 the Bears have selected four quarterbacks in the first round. The Jims (McMahon and Harbaugh) were of a different time; the level of scrutiny they faced before playing actual games was minimal. Cade McNown was handed the starting quarterback job as a rookie. Rex Grossman was never going to play as a rookie, with that message stated by the organization repeatedly post-draft.

Mitch Trubisky is better than Mike Glennon. Right now. Today. He is the better quarterback. The Bears know this. And while you will hear all the normal platitudes about patience and development and bringing the kid up to the speed of the professional game (including Trubisky pledging allegiance to the backup role) there isn’t a person associated with the Chicago Bears who isn’t rooting for Trubisky to blow them away this summer and make it impossible to keep him on the bench come September.

That would go for any rookie quarterback. But it goes double for a guy drafted in such a bold, unpredictable manner. If reports start emanating from Bourbonnais that Trubisky is the superior performer and if he looks the part once the fake games start, a tsunami of fan support will overwhelm Halas Hall. Bears fans are an impatient lot but they see the right pieces forming up and down the roster under Ryan Pace. The calls to Waddle & Silvy and The Score will be relentless and passionate.

Just ask yourself this: are you willing to sit and watch the Bears slog their way to 6 or 7 wins under Glennon while the better player holds a clipboard?

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Ranking The Bears: The Long & Longish Shots

| July 19th, 2017

Training camp is just around the corner and the Bears have a number of young players with whom fans should become familiar. They also have a number of players who you won’t remember existed this time next year.

This is my second year doing a ranking of the roster and long gone are the likes of Kieran Duncan, Ben LeCompte and Joe Sommers. Last year’s list was topped with quarterback Jay Cutler — an argument I’d still make — but looking back it’s easy to see why the Bears didn’t win many games. This year, the bottom of their roster is much better and their top 10 is legitimately good.

At the time of this writing, the Bears have a full roster with 90 guys ready to head to camp. You don’t need to know all of them, but you probably want to. To save you some time, I ranked them all again.

You’re welcome.

90. Mitchell Kirsch, OL. UDFA from James Madison. Really hard to judge what he’ll be. Good size, average athleticism.

89. Hendrick Ekpe, Edge. UDFA who didn’t produce much at Minnesota or test very well at his pro day.

88. William Poehls, OT. Huge guy (6’7″, 334 pounds), Was a UDFA from Montana who has spent time on a couple of practice squads.

87. Titus Davis, WR. Third-year pro who has had trouble sticking with a team. Put up decent numbers at Central Michigan, but it’s hard to see him making the team. His brother Corey was the fifth pick in the draft last April.

86. Rashaad Reynolds, CB. A bit small (5’10”, 189) but jumped well at the combine in 2014. Hasn’t been able to stick after spending time with the Jaguars and Lions.


85. Daniel Braverman, WR. The next Wes Welker, right? Not quite. After what many thought was a strong training camp, Braverman didn’t make the final roster last year and nobody claimed him. When he finally got on the field, he had a tough time getting open and didn’t make anywhere near the impact many thought he would. Easily the winner of the 2016 Joe Anderson Boner Award. Could he repeat in 2017?

Jeff’s Note: Hahah.


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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Lots of Trubisky, Little Bit of Toub

| June 26th, 2017

This is truly the NFL’s off-season and I’m digging it. As you’ve seen, I’m not forcing any content on you. Whatever I find interesting, I’ll share. Once camp starts, the grind starts.

Breer on Trubisky

Albert Breer, writing for The MMQB, breaks down the progress of young quarterbacks across the league in his recent column. Here’s the piece on Trubisky:

The Bears rookie’s strides through May and June came in learning a lot of the basics. Through no fault of his own, Trubisky arrived with relatively little knowledge of defense in general or coverage in particular, and so he’s gotten a crash course in those areas and has made strides there. The other area of improvement came in the basics. At North Carolina, Trubisky got play calls from the sideline, didn’t take a single snap from center and never huddled. Early in OTAs, that was apparent. By the end, he was getting the hang of calling plays in the huddle and taking snaps. And he’s impressed with his accuracy and his movement skills—he doesn’t just run 4.6, he plays at 4.6, which should ease his growth once he gets on the field.

I’m still not convinced Trubisky won’t be the starting quarterback in September.

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Five Thoughts Before the First Preseason Game

| August 10th, 2016

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I’m sick of training camp updates and bold predictions that everyone will forget about a year from now. Here are a few quick thoughts before the Bears first preseason game.

Eyes In The Backfield

Forget running back by committee, Langford is the Bears starter and is going to get 70 percent of the carries as long as he’s healthy. The rest of the backfield, however, is worth watching.

Ka’Deem Carey is listed as the backup, but Jacquizz Rodgers is the only guy outside of Langford who is getting action with the starters. Carey has split second team reps with Rodgers. Jordan Howard started getting some reps there last week.

Most are assuming the Bears will keep four running backs, as they did last year, but they didn’t have a fullback last year. This year, it appears they’ll be employing and using a fullback, which could mean they keep only three running backs. The other option is keeping three tight ends, instead of four, but given the injury situation there, that might not fly. They might also keep seven wide receivers (more on that later) and will probably keep nine offensive linemen.

While keeping four running backs is still the most likely option, a lot could change between now and the final cut down day. The position is certainly worth watching throughout the rest of preseason.

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Ranking the Bears: The Top 10

| July 28th, 2016

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Here are the 10 best players on the team as they enter training camp.

10. Kevin White, WR. There’s definitely projection in this ranking but almost everyone has the same report on White: stud. While far from a finished product, most expect him to be a playmaker right away. He has the potential to be one of the best wide receivers in the league.

9. Jerrell Freeman, LB. When I watched Freeman, the one thing that really stood out to me was his ability to make blockers miss. Even in a phone booth, he’d make a little move to slip the block and make a play. Last season was by far his best, but the arrow seems to be pointing up even though he’s 30 years old.

8. Adrian Amos, S. A lot has been made of Amos not having ball skills, but I’m not too worried about that. He’s a torpedo who delivered more big hits than anyone else on the team last year. He has the potential to be one of the best safeties in the league.

7. Willie Young, LB. It was evident when Young got back to 100 percent last season. He had 18 hurries and  5 1/2 sacks in his final eight games as he recovered for a torn achilles suffered a year earlier. In two years with the Bears, he has 70 tackles and 16.5 sacks

6. Eddie Goldman, DL. A bit of projection in this one too but it seems safe. He was a good player at just 21 years old last year, showing more pass-rush than the Bears could have imagined. He struggled against the run early last year, but got better. He says he’s leaner this year, if that’s true, he could be able to dominate the middle of the line.

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Ranking the Bears: The Bottom Of The Roster

| July 26th, 2016

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Training camp is here and the Bears have a number of interesting young players coming to camp who are worth getting to know. They also have a lot of players who you probably don’t need to know anything about.

To save everyone time, I did a little research on each player and ranked all those entering camp. You’re welcome.

Here are the guys on the bottom of the roster:

59. Jonathan Anderson, LB. His performance against the Packers on Thanksgiving might have been the best the Bears got out of any of their inside linebackers last year. He’s fast, but can’t beat blocks and may not have the necessary instincts. Still someone to watch in camp as a possible special teams contributor.

58. Tony Moeaki, TE. Just seems like he’s been done for five years. Worth a camp invite, but I don’t see him being much more than that.

57. Ben Braunecker, TE. Nicknamed Bronk because everyone wants to be nicknamed after Rob Gronkowski. Went undrafted in a fairly week TE class, but he’s a good athlete and he’s from Harvard.

56. Cornelius Washington, DL. A super freak athlete who hasn’t been able to have an impact on the Bears defense. He has been a good special teams player, but is coming off a serious injury.

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Jeff & Jahns: Sun-Times Beat Discusses the First Week of Bears Training Camp [AUDIO]

| August 6th, 2015

On this episode of Jeff & Jahns, the Sun-Times beat writer tells me that…

    • Shea McClellin has been handed the reins of Vic Fangio’s defense (and I laugh)
    • He believes Jay Cutler’s lack of interceptions thus far is newsworthy
    • Marquess Wilson is still out there making too many mental errors to expect major impact
    • Pernell McPhee and Marc Mariani are the players jumping off the field (Mariani at wideout)
    • Jordan Mills still looks to be the weak link on the offensive side of the ball
    • Much, much more!

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Random Camp Thoughts: Volume I

| August 4th, 2015

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– I could care less how many interceptions Jay Cutler throws in training camp. You know why? I know the talent level of the Bears secondary. (This is not a Jay slight. Just pointing out the nonsense of some camp reporting.)

– Jimmy Clausen probably looks poor in camp practice because Jimmy Clausen isn’t any good.

– I have a feeling Cutler is going to throw the ball more to Eddie Royal than any other receiver.

– Can we give Willie Young more than a half week before writing him off on the Bears defense? If Willie Young weren’t on the 2014 Bears defense they might have allowed 60 points half a dozen times.

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