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Five Questions as the Bears Begin Training Camp Practices This Weekend

| July 20th, 2018

In this clandestine modern NFL, there’s something to remember: very little NFL teams show the fans or the media, prior to the start of the regular season, is all that valuable. “Open” training camp practices and preseason games exist to drain every possible nickel out of loyal fanbases. Might you catch a glimpse of a gimmick play or two? Sure. But that’s it.

What is valuable is that which is done in the Cone of Silence, behind a shroud of secrecy, in the shadows even Adam Jahns dare not show up with his 4″ x 8″ notebook. And I have questions about what the Bears will be up to in the darkness.


Question #1: Who is where on the interior of the offensive line?

For years, ever since the arrival of Kyle Long, this space has argued against the organization’s lack of consistency when it came to aligning the offensive line. This team, this summer, needs to select positions for Long, Cody Whitehair and rookie James Daniels and leave them there. Daniels will inevitably struggle early no matter where he starts because Daniels is a rookie and rookies struggle. Put em. Leave em.


Question #2: What’s the answer opposite Leonard Floyd?

If you go to the Chicago Bears’ roster page, you’ll get confused when it comes to the linebacker position. Danny Trevathan is correctedly listed at ILB. Roquan Smith is listed at just LB. Nick Kwiatkoski, rumored to be getting run on the outside, is listed at ILB. Aaron Lynch, expected to be a pass rushing option, just LB.

The Bears don’t need a star to emerge opposite Floyd. And based on their current roster, they don’t really have to worry about it. But with opposing offensive coordinators certain to game plan for Floyd’s potential impact, the team must find pass rush production on the other side from a combination of Kwik, Lynch, Sam Acho, Kylie Fitts…etc. Fans should get a good sense in the coming weeks as to where Vic Fangio and his staff are leaning from a personnel perspective.


Question #3: Are there any sneaky positional battles?

Yes, I’m looking at you, Pat O’Donnell. Pitt’s Ryan Winslow is not an elite punting prospect but one hopes the Bears are not going to give P.O.D. the free pass he’s been given in previous summers.

Where else might one’s eyes drift?

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The Positional Quick 3: Offensive Line

| June 13th, 2018

I’m traveling in Dingle, Ireland years ago and I’m exhausted. This was my first day ever in Europe and I couldn’t keep my eyes open at 4:30 in the afternoon. My uncle turns to me and says, “Have a quick three. You’ll be fine.” I drank three Guinness in the span of a half hour. Seven hours later I’m dancing to a shitty Irish house DJ with Jenny Pye, a local lass who dreamed of being an EMT in New York City.

I’m very tired of this 2018 off-season. And incredibly eager for the season to begin. So I’m taking the quick three approach to each position group as we head into the summer. Not grading the groups or anything. Just making some points.


Offensive Line

  • Perhaps the most important positional decision in the coming days will be how Nagy and Harry Hiestand situate the middle of their offensive line. (Both Cody Whitehair and James Daniels are listed as simply OL on the team’s roster page.) Whitehair is 25. Daniels is 20. This should be the team’s line leadership for the next five years plus. Getting them in the correct position is essential to that cause.
  • The chances of Bobby Massie being on the Bears roster in 2019 are not particularly good. So this becomes a contract year for the right tackle. Does that mean anything? Not really. But I have to fill three bullet points here.
  • Is this a flawless unit? No. But there are very few, if any, flawless offensive lines in the modern NFL. Is this an offensive line capable of playing into the postseason? Absolutely. Especially if the middle of the line is sorted correctly. This is an offensive line that can protect the quarterback long enough to make plays down the field and an offensive line capable of pushing a defense around 25 times a game to create some space for Jordan Howard. They are a good, not great unit.

Tomorrow: Offensive Coaches

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Lions Beat Boring Bears, Sealing Fox’s Fate

| December 17th, 2017

Matt Marton – USA TODAY Sports (Edited)

Any hope John Fox had of remaining the Chicago Bears head coach faded Saturday afternoon in Detroit with another lackluster performance. The Fox Bears did what they’ve done every time a bit of optimism has crept into this franchise during his tenure: flopped. And flopped with gusto. Rapid fire!

  • Trubisky’s interceptions will certainly be the story because this quarterback is always going to be the story. But there was far more positive than negative from Tru Saturday. With this coaching staff and these receivers, the Bears are never going to erase a three-score deficit on the road. But if that’s what it takes for the Fox and Loggains to finally let their rookie QB throw the ball around and make the mistakes he has to make, so be it. Trubisky gets better on games like Saturday’s. He doesn’t get better when he’s throwing 14 passes on third-and-long.
  • The pick in the end zone is the throw Trubisky can’t make. Wanna bet he doesn’t do it again?
  • One thing that should excite fans re: Tru is the number of times Lions CBs thought they’d get their hands on his passes and didn’t come close. The kid throws a fastball and the Lions couldn’t catch up with it. (Sadly, neither could several Bears receivers.)
  • Sacks are sacks. They’re going to happen. But I don’t like the hits Trubisky is taking on scrambles and broken down plays. Those are the ones that end seasons prematurely and the Bears need a healthy Trubisky working with his new coach in January.
  • Something that maybe interests only me. Mark Sanchez, in civvies, headset on, staring at the play sheet, completely engaged. Mike Glennon, dressed as the backup, staring into space. Sanchez is going to end up being a coach in the league.
  • Some of the Bears penalties are inexcusable. Eddie Goldman’s personal foul on opening drive. Prince holding on third-and-long. But they’re not even remotely surprising because Fox’s Bears have been undisciplined since day one. Fox and his media minions can bitch about talent all they want but under Fox, good players do stupid things.

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Bears Beat Steelers Without The Use of A Quarterback: Rapid Fire

| September 25th, 2017

The Bears won a game they had no business winning without the use of a quarterback. Their defense and rushing attack were so good they could have beaten any team in the league yesterday. Their quarterback? Non-existent. More thoughts:

  • There’s never been a play in league history like Marcus Cooper’s failure to complete a return touchdown at the end of the half. He wasn’t showing off. He wasn’t celebrating. He just…stopped. Cooper claiming he thought he was in the end zone is insane. Just keep running. Why would a player EVER stop until he’s through the back of the end zone? This had the potential to join Marion Barber running out of bounds and staring at a Rodgers fumbled football as one of the worst modern Bears moments. But they won…
  • I can’t remember a game where the Bears ran the ball like they did yesterday. The Steelers knew the run was coming and the Bears didn’t care. Right down their throat over and over, including an overtime win without a pass thrown. That’s historic stuff. 6 yards a carry for Howard. 6.5 yards a carry for Cohen.
  • And if this ends up being a memorable Bears season, we should all remember Jordan Howard leaving everything on the field yesterday. With his shoulder deteriorating by the second, Howard refused to be sidelines. It was movie plot stuff.
  • Mike Glennon is a terrible football player. What’s most frustrating is that he occasionally shows he’s capable of throwing the ball down the field. He just refuses, unabashedly, to do so. Take that back. What’s most frustrating is his complete inability to process what’s happening on the football field.

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Five Things I Wish the 2016 Bears Had (#3)

| September 1st, 2016

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#3 – A Sure Thing Offensive Tackle (For Protection)

Charles Leno Jr. is the left tackle and I believe was the most underrated player on the 2015 Chicago Bears. Is he a great player currently? No. Can he be great? Unless you come to that question with an agenda, there’s no way to answer it.

Bobby Massie is the right tackle and, well, he’s okay. Good run blocker. Slightly below average pass protector. Massie’s signing doesn’t prohibit the Bears from addressing the position next spring but the Bears believe pairing Massie with friend and workout partner Kyle Long will give them the power run game they desire.

Neither is a guarantee on third-and-seven. And in the NFL it is easy for offensive coordinators to cover up for one struggling tackle in pass protection. Trying to cover up for two puts the offense in a phone booth & limits any and all opportunities for explosiveness.

Remember, the 2016 Bears may not have this issue. I just wish the question wasn’t there.

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Across The Middle: Preseason Week Three

| August 24th, 2016

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Dennis Green: “Who the hell takes the third game in the preseason like it’s bullshit?”

Me: Raises hand.

I used to believe we could get something meaningful from the third preseason game. There are dozens of reasons why that’s wrong, but the strongest was one I realized just a month ago. It doesn’t mean anything to the players who aren’t fighting for jobs or coaches.

I challenge anyone to watch a regular season game, follow it with the third preseason game and try to tell me there isn’t a significant difference in the product. I did just that a month ago, choosing to re-watch the Bears’ third preseason game against the Bengals last year. It’s just a different game.

This is true for many of the same reasons why none of the preseason games matter. Maybe there’s more game-planning in the third preseason game. Maybe teams do a bit more schematically. Maybe. But it isn’t a lot and whatever it is they do isn’t done with the same urgency as the regular season simply because it doesn’t have to be.

The Bears have most of their starters figured out already. They know what they’re doing schematically. The practice and simulation of a game-like atmosphere should help them. But this is preseason. The coach won’t lose his job, neither will the starters. It’s a practice and should be treated as such.

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Bears Need Improved OL Play to Reach Potential

| July 6th, 2016

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The Bears have plenty of weapons at the skill positions and a terrific quarterback, but their offense won’t take a big step if their offensive line isn’t better than it was a year ago.

On paper, the Bears line should be significantly better. They lost Matt Slauson, but Kyle Long moving back to guard, combined with Cody Whitehair or Ted Larsen have to be better than Vlad Ducasse and whoever else they played last year. At his worst Bobby Massie was as good as Long was at tackle last year and, over the last 10 games last year, he was actually pretty good. Charles Leno Jr. and Hroniss Grasu should be better with experience.

But outside of Long, who should be expected to return to his stellar form at guard, there’s the possibility it all goes the other way.

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Pace Has Magical Opening Week of Free Agency

| March 13th, 2016

Free agency success does not often equate to the field. Frequently the team making the largest cash splash in March lands with a deadened thump come September and beyond. But what Bears GM Ryan Pace has achieved in the first week of free agency is nothing short of a miracle.

Go through the league. Every team. And find the most improved position groups. Outside of the Giants defensive line, whose makeover cost about three hundred zillion dollars, one could argue the two most significantly upgraded positions in the NFL are on the Chicago Bears roster at inside linebacker and right guard.

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Five Thoughts on Free Agency, Day One

| March 10th, 2016

It was an exciting opening of the league year for the Chicago Bears. And one thing is absolutely certain: they got better. Five thoughts…

  • The signings of Danny Trevathan and Bobby Massie mean the 2016 Bears will open the season significantly better at inside linebacker and right tackle. It also means they will see their most significant upgrade at right guard. Vlad Ducasse is horrible. Kyle Long is one of the best guards in the game.
  • There will be a lot of chatter about the money given to Tracy Porter but it won’t come from me. Porter is not a shut down corner but he had a solid 2015 and the Bears didn’t need to create another hole in a secondary full of them.

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Bears Sign Cardinals OT Bobby Massie, Move Kyle Long Back Inside

| March 9th, 2016

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Three thoughts:

  • Massie is a solid, professional tackle. He’s not elite but the Bears don’t necessarily need elite on the right edge.
  • I was excited earlier today thinking the Bears might sign Jeff Allen to play right guard. Instead they’ll start one of the best guards in the sports: Kyle Long.
  • Love that this Bears front office doesn’t run from roster deficiencies. Stubborn regimes of yesteryear would have kept Long outside and ignored a majority of the 2015 tape.

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