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Two Exciting Tweets For a Monday Morning

| August 20th, 2018


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Notes on the Broncos Practice Game

| August 19th, 2018

Photo by Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports


  • This entire game comes down to the medical status of Adam Shaheen (pictured above) and Leonard Floyd. If Shaheen is significantly hurt, the Bears will be devastated. For weeks I’ve been writing and Tweeting about the big tight end because I’ve been told no player has more excited the coaching staff with his potential. If Floyd is significantly hurt, well, that Kahlil Mack stuff is about to get serious because the Bears are lightest on the edge.
  • Back when I used to play fantasy football (my running backs were Marshall Faulk and Shaun Alexander) a game like this would have changed my entire draft approach. Why? Because it’s clear Mitch Trubisky and Trey Burton have a thing going and last night’s practice game was an opportunity for them to play pitch-and-catch against an actual opponent.
  • Why give Jordan Howard nine carries in a practice game? The numbers are definitive. These star running backs have a limited number of carries/years in their bodies. They hit a career wall at thirty years old. I’d put Howard in an ice bath until after Labor Day.
  • The interior of the Bears offensive line got pushed around a bit. But these guys are impossible to evaluate without scheme being involved. (And I don’t think this is their best five but that’s another issue entirely.)
  • Both Isaac Yiadom & Kyle Fuller were called for the “lowering the head” penalty. In neither case was the call accurate. It was obvious during the Hall of Fame Game and it’s becoming more obvious as days go by. If the NFL doesn’t suspend this rule before the season opens and revisit it, they’re making a terrible mistake. The product has suffered terribly over the last few seasons because of decisions by the front office. This will continue that trend.

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Audibles: Players to Watch Tomorrow Night, Tweet of the Week, Song of the Summer & More!

| August 17th, 2018

Players to Watch Tomorrow Night

  • Mitch Trubisky. Don’t get hurt, Mitch. The rest of tomorrow night has no meaning for you. Don’t. Get. Hurt. Because every shot you took against Cincinnati – several to the head – made me scream.
  • Daniel Brown. Yes, Brown is fighting for a roster spot. And I think he deserves one. I’ll take it a step further and say I think Brown could be a productive, starting tight end on 2/3 of the teams in the league. Even if he doesn’t contribute for the Bears in 2018 I hope he puts together a preseason tape worthy of a roster spot somewhere else.
  • John Timu. Honestly, Timu is a fine option as a fourth inside linebacker. But I’m not sure he’s put a worse product on tape than he did in the practice game vs. Cincinnati. He looked slow at both the point of attack and in space. Quite frankly he didn’t look like be belonged on an NFL field and he’s not shown that in his previous, actual game action. Think he could use a decent outing. (Also don’t think it matters much. He’s a special teamer in 2018.)

Tweet of the Week


Dannehy Recall

Something Andrew wrote Wednesday cracked me up in editing:

A bigger issue is that they can’t sell the first few weeks of camp as actually being important if a guy who has never played in the NFL doesn’t need them to be ready to face Rodgers.

Dannehy’s point is astute. You’d think this situation would create, well, a situation. But here’s the truth. Roquan is going to start on opening night. And the Bears won’t try to sell anything. But even without the sales pitch, the fans will buy, buy, BUY the importance of training camp. And I’ll be having the same debates next summer I had this one.

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Expect the Bears to Protect Their Biggest Offensive Asset – Mystery – in the Coming Weeks

| August 16th, 2018

When the Bears kick off their 2018 campaign in Green Bay on September 9th, Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine won’t have a clue what Matt Nagy intends to do with Jordan Howard. He won’t have a clue what Nagy intends to do with Tarik Cohen. He won’t a clue what Nagy truly intends to do with any of the newly-assembled Bears weapons on offense. Sure, Pettine and his staff can scavenge old tape of Andy Reid’s offenses but different personnel bring an entirely different set of skills and Reid never hired an outside-the-box offensive coordinator like Mark Helfrich.

No, Nagy’s Bears, at least on offense, will be a mystery in Week One. And that, to start this season, is their biggest strength.

That’s why over these next two preseason contests fans shouldn’t be surprised if very few of this team’s core offensive weapons – Howard, Cohen, Trey Burton, Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel – are featured in any kind of prominent way. They’ll get snaps, I suppose, but those snaps will be more about getting them into the rhythm of an actual game and maybe taking a few hits so the first contact in Green Bay doesn’t jar their livers loose.

Contributors will still be out there. Anthony Miller and Adam Shaheen are young talents who’ll be expected to make an impact but not relied upon like highly-paid starters.

We’re less than a month from the start of the season and some folks have opined Kevin White won’t be on the roster in Green Bay. Others believe he’s going to be given every chance possible to play on game days. Either way, expect him to be out there for these practice games.

The depth wide receivers and backs are all jockeying for the placement at the bottom of the depth chart. Can a good performance in a practice game make a significant difference for an Ayers or Wims or Fowler or Knile Davis? Not likely. But when they are used in these games should let fans know how they’re valued by the organization.

But the guys who’ll be shouldering a bulk of the offensive responsibility will remain shrouded in mystery. It’s what makes the opener one of the most exciting Bears games in recent memory. It’s also what makes this offense impossible to game plan against early in the season.

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ATM: Bears Need Roquan Smith On the Field Right Now

| August 15th, 2018

The Bears will need Roquan Smith against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Finally the camp-long nightmare has come to an end. The eighth overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft has signed his contract with the Bears after a nearly 30-day holdout. Missing nearly all of training camp would typically be enough to rule out a rookie from making an impact in Week One, but don’t be surprised if that’s not the case on the evening of September 9th. While the situation has been far from ideal, a player of Smith’s caliber and skill set should still figure into the Bears’ immediate plans.

Rodgers’ ability to move and make pinpoint throws in the middle of the field make having an athletic inside linebacker a must. It’s why Rodgers calls Brian Urlacher the best defender he ever faced, it’s why Smith was the pick and it’s why they double-dipped taking Joel Iyiegubuniwe in the fourth round.

The plan was for Smith to start Week One. That should still be in play but it’s hard to see the team giving the rookie the nod over Nick Kwiatkoski after the third-year linebacker has, by most accounts, played well in camp. It was to the point that the Bears didn’t even play Kwiatkoski in the first preseason game and he saw very limited action in the second. A bigger issue is that they can’t sell the first few weeks of camp as actually being important if a guy who has never played in the NFL doesn’t need them to be ready to face Rodgers.

Regardless of how well he has played in practice, Kwiatkoski has significant flaws. While many have pointed to his training camp interceptions, anyone who has spent too much time watching camp clips on Twitter has also seen several times in which the Bears got the better of Kwiatkoski. They’ve attacked him in practice, just as opposing teams did in games last year. The Bears actually took him off the field on passing downs in favor of Christian Jones late in the season. Maybe Kwiatkoski has improved in coverage, but it’s unlikely he’s going to cease being a liability there and Roquan figures to be among the elite coverage backers in the entire league.

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Adam Shaheen’s Playing Time/Role Will Be Determined By His Performance as a Blocker

| August 14th, 2018

Adam Shaheen has gotten a lot of buzz around the Bears since catching 3 passes for 53 yards in his brief action during last Thursday’s preseason game. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times wrote nearly identical pieces praising his growth as a pass catcher, both quoting Matt Nagy to say Shaheen is “going be a big part of this offense.”

Racking up yards through the air is what generates attention, but astute fans would be wise to focus on a different aspect of Shaheen’s game if they want to figure out just what his role is going to be in 2018. We already knew from watching him last year that Shaheen can run and catch, but his playing time will be determined more by how well he can block.

The Andy Reid offense Nagy has brought with him from Kansas City heavily utilizes two tight end sets, but the tight ends play different roles.

  • The primary tight end plays the “U” position, which is more of a pass-catching role that lines up largely in the slot. Think Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz if you want to make the Philadelphia comparison.
  • The second tight end plays the “Y” position, which is more of a traditional in-line tight end that mostly blocks. In Reid’s 5 years with the Chiefs, the 2nd tight end has played an average of around 48% of the offensive snaps, but sees less than 30 targets per year, or less than 2 per game.

The Bears signed Trey Burton to be the U tight end this offseason. His value is defined by his ability to catch passes. The current starting Y – again, valued more for his ability to block than catch – is Dion Sims. Shaheen has been working at both spots and is currently the top backup to both Burton and Sims, but the third tight end won’t have a huge role. A best-case scenario for Shaheen if he can’t establish himself as the starting U or Y would be looking at Burton in Philadelphia the last two years, when he played about 28% of snaps and averaged 45 targets.

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Why Are We So Hard on Kevin White?

| August 13th, 2018

Kevin White did nothing to you. He didn’t beat up your mother. He didn’t steal your birthright. He didn’t tape over your Warren Zevon: Live at the Capitol Theater bootleg. All he did was get selected seventh overall by the Chicago Bears because he was one of the most supremely gifted athletes in the 2015 NFL Draft.

And yet his failure to stay healthy during his short Bears tenure seems to have personally offended many of this team’s faithful fans. The one question I have been trying to wrap my head around is…why? Why do fans fixate on White in ways they don’t fixate on other players? Why do I receive unsolicited texts from folks inside Halas Hall with White status updates, like I’m waiting on news of a baby’s birth? Why is so much attention paid to a player at a position the Bears just invested millions of dollars and a high draft pick to upgrade?


White’s not that important. The Bears know that. Why don’t their fans?


A lot of this circles back to the insane attention paid to the draft itself, specifically the first round. We know so much about these kids by the time their names are called it’s borderline absurd. Months upon months of college tape study, classroom breakdowns, pro days, three-cones, four-cones, eleven-cones…etc. Every fan has an opinion of every selection. And every fan believes their opinion is correct. (This goes for basically everything in life, by the way.) Many will go to absurd lengths over a player’s career to support that initial opinion.

Kevin White was taken seventh. Eddie Goldman was taken 39th that same year. If those picks were reversed, nobody would give White a second thought because Goldman has had a first-rounder’s career. I understood fixating on first-round selections before the rookie wage scale because those picks could cripple a team financially for years if they busted. But now? Of course you want the first-round picks to be successful since that’s where a high percentage of the league’s best players are found. But outside of quarterback, which requires a multi-year commitment from the entire franchise, missing on a pick or two in this round just isn’t a big deal anymore. Especially if you have success later in the draft.

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Five Bears Thoughts for Your Weekend Pleasure

| August 11th, 2018

As we get deeper into August, here’s what is happening in and around the Bears.

  • Kevin White’s performance against Cincinnati wasn’t an isolated performance. I’m told by heavily reliable folks that White has struggled mightily in the practices not open to the public and the coaching staff is beginning to lose some patience with him. (They’ve also been very impressed with the work ethic and determination of Javon Wims.) Does that mean he won’t be on the roster come September? I still think he’ll be there. But I was far more certain in that assessment a few weeks back.
  • Interesting tidbit. A well-respected, accomplished NFL coach – who employs a friend of mine – has a collection of what he calls “preseason plays”. These are plays that don’t appear in the regular season playbook but are merely meant to provide players the opportunity to win one-on-one battles. I asked if that’s commonplace around the league and the sense I got is that yes, it is. So while you can’t evaluate any particular unit in the preseason due to a lack of game-planning,  you can evaluate performances on an individual, one-on-one level. Especially later in these games.
  • The one position I believe can be evaluated in the preseason is back-up and third-string QBs. And if this preseason has been any indication, Mitch Trubisky better stay healthy. Chase Daniel looks comfortable in the offense, specifically to his first read. But he throws about half of his passes directly to defenders. (Maybe half is unfair but it sure as shit feels like that.) As for Tyler Bray, what can you say? If Tyler Bray is playing in an NFL football game this season, the team he’s playing for is going to lose.
  • Various outlets have predicted Leonard Floyd to have a breakout season for the Bears and the talent is certainly there. But in this league, it is not difficult to scheme against an elite pass rusher when there’s no complementary weapon the other side. Lynch is never healthy. Acho ain’t the guy. Fitts hasn’t even looked like a pro football player to this point. As much as this has been an area of focus for fans, we should all come to terms with a basic fact: Ryan Pace isn’t going to be able to fix this issue until 2019.
  • The Bears have the opportunity to sport one of the deepest and most versatile collections of tight ends in the league. They’re fully expecting Trey Burton to be a star. Adam Shaheen is a match-up nightmare in the red zone. Dion Sims has been a source of consternation for fans but he’ll be far better utilized in 2018. The guy who could be a real player in this league if given that chance is Daniel Brown. Brown feels like he’s been around forever but he’s only 26 years old. He’s one of this club’s best depth pieces.

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Bears vs. Bengals Practice Game: A Running Diary

| August 10th, 2018

What follows will be a stream of consciousness blog, written in real time as I watch the the Bears and Bengals practice against each, in pads, with referees and paying fans. There will be no editing after the fact and, honestly, very little done while I’m writing. 


6:48 PM (All times presented in Eastern Standard)

One thing matters tonight: health. Here’s hoping every Bears starter that jogs onto the field, jogs off the field. The Bears starters could look terrific or look like total shit. Who cares? The season is still a full month away. Mitch Trubisky just met this entire receiving corps, with the exception of Kevin White. One would hope their chemistry would be drastically improved in September.


6:55 PM

I drink. A lot. But I also take off chunks of time, famously the first two months of every year. I haven’t had a drink in a week and it’s very funny to watch how my sweet tooth develops as a result. (There is so much damn sugar in booze.) Today I saw M&M peanuts at the grocery store and it was like the most beautiful girl in the world offered me a handy in the candy aisle. (Good name for a song – “Handy in the Candy”) I couldn’t resist. As I write this, I’m eating them like popcorn.


7:00 PM

I never knew Cincinnati was referred to “The Queen City”. Maybe in the second half I’ll google why. I’ve never been to Cincinnati. I can’t for the life of me think of a reason I would go to Cincinnati, unless Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park wanted to produce something of mine.

And the Bengals’ play-by-play guy just referred to the Bears as “the 0-1 Chicago Bears”. Do broadcasters really do that? They use win/loss record in the preseason to label the opponent?


7:07 PM

KICKOFF! Taquan Mizzell is back to return. So I see the Bears are very concerned with tonight’s game.


7:09 PM

Trubisky throws a bullet into the hands of Kevin White and he drops it. On the play, Trubisky got “roughed”. That’s what you want, your starting QB and the future of the franchise taking cheap shots from the league’s dirtiest team. In a practice game.


7:13 PM

Trubisky just took off on third down and I literally screamed “NO!”


7:15 PM

People seem to think I want them to hate the preseason too. I literally don’t care what anybody does for enjoyment, as long as its within the boundaries of the law. I watch Golf Channel 10 hours a day. I don’t expect other people to do that. I have multiple Fiddler on the Roof cast recordings in my car. I don’t care if you share my opinions. But that ain’t gonna stop me from sharing them.


7:21 PM

John Timu. Apparently got slower.

I have golf on my actual TV and they run commercials constantly for a local casino called Empire City. Here’s what I don’t get: why? The ad is just people walking out of the casino building with a pile of cash. They don’t advertise what’s special about their place. They just advertise that you can walk in without a lot of money and walk out with way more. Why does this require advertising? Everybody knows what a casino is. Just flash the address.


7:27 PM

Taquan draw on first down. Exciting shit.

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