Who provided the most in-depth look at Mitch Trubisky’s competition preparation? Unsurprisingly, it’s a guy I used to drink with in bars when that kind of thing was allowed: Adam Jahns. And in his piece for The Athletic he gives plenty of reason for Mitch loyalists to believe the young signal caller is capable of finally turning a corner. My two cents? I just don’t understand what he’s done to earn another shot. If I’m the Bears, I tell Mitch that Nick Foles is starting the opener but to keep his arm warm in the bullpen.
Kelly Stafford went a bit ballistic when it turned out Matt Stafford’s Covid-19 test was a false positive. “I have been losing my mind because of how my Family has been treated since my husband was put on the Covid-IR list,” Kelly, who has four children with Matt, said. “Even after we knew it was a false positive, I was approached in a grocery store told I was ‘endangering others,’ my kids were harassed and kicked off a playground, I was told I needed to wait in my car when trying to pick up food, and people closest to us had to get tested just so they could go back to work… and that’s just to name a few things.” Kelly has battled significant health issues and I understand her frustration. But all the things she suggests here are the PROPER PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE with a positive test. If it’s false positive, great. But before that is known, you can’t just pretend it’s life as usual.
Is Kevin Toliver vs. Jaylon Johnson the most important training camp battle for the Bears? (You know, outside the quarterback one.) Mark Potash of the Sun-Times breaks it down. My two cents: if this is a true battle, it’s a great thing for the Bears. They need as many professional corners as they can muster.
This is the quietest time on the football calendar, the lull between the the NFL Draft and the start of training camps. So here’s some stuff worth reading. Read it, don’t, I don’t care.
Dan Pompei’s excellent piece detailing the battle scars of Kyle Long is a painful NFL read. One of the things that has often surprised me is the general obliviousness many fans have when it comes to the physical toll football takes on the bodies of these young, strong men. None of those fans will look at the game the same way after reading this staggering work.
Jared Porter of The Joplin Globe (Missouri) looks at one of Hambright’s coaches, Jeff Sims. “In life and specifically in football, the common thing you’ll hear someone say is that they’re a hard worker and they’re willing to do everything in their power to succeed for their family, their mother or whatever it may be,” Sims said. “I would say Arlington is one of the best at truly believing and living up to that.”
From Mark Potash’s piece on Roquan Smith in the Sun-Times: “Despite the issues he has had in his first two seasons, Smith has been as good as advertised. His sideline-to-sideline speed, his instincts and his versatility — the ability to rush the quarterback, be a tackling machine and defend in coverage — give him a dangerous skill set for an inside linebacker. So far, he’s clearly general manager Ryan Pace’s best first-round pick. But by the eye test and Smith’s own testimony, he has a lot more to give.”
“I didn’t want to blow the opportunity,” the intensively private McCaskey told the Sun-Times last week in a rare sitdown interview commemorating the team’s upcoming 100th season. “I didn’t want them to think of me as some little old lady that’s just hanging around. And, ‘What’s she really doing here?’
“I wanted to let them know how much I cared about the team, and all of them.”
J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports on expectations for David Montgomery in year one: “There are some clips that you can go back and forth and watch and say man, (Montgomery) kind of reminds me of Kareem,” Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning said. “And you go back to cuts from (Hunt) too and you’re like man, that’s kind of strange, it looks a little like David there in that sense. They’re different, but I do think there are some similarities.”
I hate it. The opening Sunday of NFL football is my favorite day of the entire year and if the Bears are not playing in that early window it is ruined for me. (Hopefully the Bills are home that weekend so I can make something of the whole experience. I’ll just go up there and eat the world’s best wings and drink Blue Light.)
I hate it. Bears/Packers – and all important divisional games – should be scheduled for later in the season. None of these teams are playing their best football in September. I’ll continue fighting for the NFL to move all out of conference games to the first month of the calendar.
I hate it. Because it means the NFL is all-in on the 2019 Chicago Bears and that means the club will be all over primetime television next season.
Reviewing Pass Interference
The league had a pass interference problem, more than any other piece of officiating. Bad pass interference calls were destroying the flow of the viewing experience and in many cases deciding game outcomes. That issue reached its peak in the NFC title game on the other side, with a no-calling putting the Rams in the Super Bowl.
Will this rule change – allowing PI to be challenged – extend games? Who cares? I can handle football games being 5 minutes longer if the calls are right. (And the networks could cut down commercials with ease and nobody would notice.) Will this rule change open the floodgates to challenging all penalties? No. Challenging a hold or a shift or something menial will be as difficult to overturn as challenging a spot. And if they allowing roughing the passer to be challenged, they’d be smart.
Just check out how video replay is working in the Premiere League. They’re getting calls right. It’s wonky, yes. Nobody is quite sure how to deal with the change in flow. But they’re getting calls right. That’s all that matters.
As Pace explained the positives — from Mack’s age to him playing a “need” position to his lack of baggage — Phillips said that trading for him started to make too much sense.
“I don’t need to have four committee meetings and let’s discuss it all,” Phillips said. “That’s why you have to have the right people in place.
“You have to be decisive. It wasn’t a long, drawn-out, lengthy discussion. Once I understood it all — because [Pace] never leaves a stone unturned, he’s very thorough — and when I hear it all, it’s, ‘Go get him.’ ”
And Pace did.
Jahns will be joining me for an extended conversation (podcast) in the coming week.
Many folks around the Bears blogosphere (and beyond) like to DM me when players are negotiating (or thought-to-be negotiating) contracts. There are two reasons for this: (1) They know I have friends inside the building and (2) I’m rarely, if ever, going to publish the information myself before it becomes public. That is why I’m still able to acquire the information I do. But I’m usually happy to confirm stuff.
Here’s what I know about the Massie deal:
During the season, several people inside the the Bears commented to me that Massie was playing at an outstanding level. Offensive linemen are very difficult for the average fan (and folks like PFF) to evaluate because it’s all about assignment football. When the Bears sat down and did their post-season roster evaluation they determined Massie was going to be impossible to bring back should he hit the open market, especially with tackle-needy teams like Buffalo and the New York Jets having buckets of money to spend.
The money isn’t a big deal but it values Massie as one of the best right tackles in the sport. I have news for you. He was every bit that in 2018.
The organization’s attention has now moved to their other in-house free agents: Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan.
Amos’ agents are pains in the ass and they passed on an extension last off-season, citing the PFF grades as reason the Bears were low-balling their client. Bears don’t view Amos as a top safety. And they won’t pay him like one.
Two things on Callahan: (1) He’s switched to Roquan Smith’s agents. (2) He’s got a chronic hip issue that he’s learned to manage over the last few years but that many inside the organization believe leads to his frequent injuries. The Bears want him back. The locker room loves him. But his health history and position make the deal tricky.
Adam Shaheen. He’s not getting a ton of attention from those circling the barren wasteland of Bourbonnais but I’m told by highly reliable folks Matt Nagy is as enamored with the potential of Shaheen as any other offensive player on the roster. The young TE had an almost-impossible transition from Nowheresville, Ohio to the NFL last season and it made harder by an offensive coaching staff uninterested in aiding that transition for a raw rookie. This staff sees big play potential from their big tight end. Immediately.
Mitch Trubisky. His early camp results? Up and down. Throwing too many picks but displaying all the explosiveness and ability that made him the second pick. It’ll be very interesting to see how much of this new offense Nagy rolls out in the preseason, especially with Green Bay in primetime to open the campaign. But the most important thing happening to Tru this summer is simply being allowed to BE the damn quarterback and make the important mistakes.
Kevin Toliver & Kylie Fitts. The Bears are a very strange roster right now, with a ton of potential up and down it. But these two players, both off to impressive starts, have the ability to elevate an already good to elite level if they make a significant impact in 2018.
From Allen Robinson to Marlon Brown at receiver and from Trey Burton to Colin Thompson at tight end, every skill player has gotten a chance to play with Trubisky or backup Chase Daniel. Running back Tarik Cohen has even caught passes from third-stringer Tyler Bray in camp.
At some point, the constant rotations will end. Robinson, Burton, Cohen and other starters will settle in for more advanced work with Trubisky.
But those rotations are part of the learning process for all players right now. Nagy wants it that way. Kevin White seemingly has benefitted from it. He has been targeted plenty throughout camp by Trubisky and Daniel.
“Right now, there’s zero game-planning going into this thing,” Nagy said. “It’s, ‘Everybody learn everything,’ and then what we do as evaluators and coaches is we see who does what well.
“There might be somebody that runs a route really well but can’t run another route to save his life, so we don’t do that. We put those guys in the right spots, and then we try to time it up with the quarterbacks.”
Hallelujah. Too often new coaches come to an organization with their pre-designed cargo pants and try to fit players into the pockets. They acquire a player who can do X, a player who can do Y, a player who can do Z. Matt Nagy and Mark Helfrich, along with Ryan Pace, went out this offseason and acquired a ton of offensive talent. Guys who can do a ton of different things. Now they’re allowing that talent to show them what works and what doesn’t. Rather ingenious if you ask me.
Mentioned it on KFAN in Minnesota earlier in the week but I can’t remember this much enthusiasm and excitement around the Bears heading into a season. This might be the most I’ve seen since 2005 – the Year of the Blog – and that season’s optimism seemed to dwindle with Rex Grossman’s summer injury. (I wrote and produced my first play that year so it took me a month to get sad.) The Bears don’t believe they’re going to be 8-8 this season. They believe they’ll be playing football in January.
Had drinks with an NFL GM Monday afternoon and he summed up the Bears off-season perfectly: “They did everything right. But right in the spring isn’t always right in the fall.”
This is more anecdotal than anything else but the player other fans and media covering other teams keep bringing up to me is Anthony Miller. There’s a real buzz about him in league circles. I’d still keep expectations low for any rookie wide receiver entering a new offense with this many pass-catching options but many others are not, including Miller himself.
What makes me laugh is that many of us knew Cutler’s personality was incredible. It just wasn’t a Peyton-Manning-endless-quarterback-cliches-that-talking-heads-love personality. He has no patience for morons and apparently this program is chock full of them. (I will never watch a single episode of it on TV. Ten second clips are just fine.)
For those people, myself included, who think this anthem protest stuff doesn’t matter…we’re wrong. I spent Memorial Day weekend down the Jersey Shore in a somewhat conservative area. I wore a Bears hat one day. It was enough to spark several conversations and the anthem protest decision by the NFL was all anyone wanted to discuss. This decision by Goodell and the ownership has managed to do the impossible: it’s infuriated folks on both sides. And NFL fans should be prepared for this issue to absolutely dominate the coverage come September because it will become a major political talking point in the lead-up to the midterms.
The last time I thought the Bears had a chance to make the postseason was 2014 – the most embarrassing season in the history of the franchise. Coming off an entertaining 8-8 in Marc Trestman’s first year it just felt like the team had enough on offense to sneak their way into a wildcard spot. (Unlike many others, I never believed they could compete for a title with that defense.) They completely flamed out. But there’s a good chance I’m going to pick the Bears to make the postseason again this season. There’s only two things that I can see keeping this club from double-digit victories: injuries and Mitch Trubisky struggling. Can’t predict the former. Don’t expect the latter.
Don’t sleep on Adam Shaheen. Folks I talk to around the Bears say the kid has looked dynamic in these early practice days and Nagy/Helfrich are using him in ways the Fox/Loggains regime never considered. Quote from a Bears source: “With Burton there, the Bears won’t ask Shaheen to do much more than get open and catch touchdowns. And he’s going to do both a bunch.”