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Training Camp Diary: Montgomery Gains Speed, Mooney Gains Confidence, Ogletree Gains.

| August 9th, 2021


The Bears practiced Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here are a collection of thoughts and ruminations.

  • David Montgomery has been a good running back. But what’s kept him from being a great running back is his lack of breakaway speed. Too often Montgomery gains 15-20 yards on runs that should be 70-yard touchdowns. Adam Jahns (in The Athletic, of course) discusses Montgomery’s clear speed gains this summer: “It was also a run where Montgomery’s speed training from the offseason appeared to factor in. The surprising thing wasn’t that Montgomery broke tackles; it continues to be how fast he’s eating up yardage when he is in the open field.”
  • The NFL will not allow us to embed their YouTube content on our websites – a decision that literally makes zero digital sense. So if you want to see Jimbo Covert’s Hall of Fame speech, go over there and see it.
  • Cairo Santos saved his NFL career in 2020 with the Chicago Bears. Adam Hoge profiled that season quite nicely for NBC Sports.
  • Take everything you hear in training camp with a grain of salt, but the praise being poured out for Darnell Mooney is coming from everywhere. One reason for the excitement is Mooney actually fits what Nagy wants to do offensively better than a player like Allen Robinson. (Another reason the Bears are reluctant to throw top five money at Robinson.) Won’t surprise me if Mooney’s numbers exceed ARob’s this season.
    • From Wikipedia: “Hypotheses of the phrase’s origin include Pliny the Elder‘s Naturalis Historia, regarding the discovery of a recipe for an antidote to a poison.[2] In the antidote, one of the ingredients was a grain of salt. Threats involving the poison were thus to be taken “with a grain of salt”, and therefore less seriously. The phrase cum grano salis (“with a grain of salt”) is not what Pliny wrote. It is constructed according to the grammar of modern European languages rather than Classical Latin. Pliny’s actual words were addito salis grano (“after having added a grain of salt”).”
  • Matt Nagy said he “feels better than worse” about Roquan’s injury. Here’s my question: why speak like this? The whole league does it and it makes no sense. Here’s how coaches should talk about injuries. Player X has a problem with his Y and we expect him to return in around Z days. What other details are required? Why do we need a non-medical professional’s feel for the situation?

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Training Camp Diary: Notes, Reflections, Thoughts from Friday and Saturday’s Practices

| August 2nd, 2021


The following are thoughts on the practices Friday and Saturday, and just generally about the Bears to this point.

  • There have been multiple reports about the defense playing with a renewed sense of energy and that’s essential for this group. They certainly lost their swagger in the Chuck Pagano years. Sean Desai’s primary task is restoring it.
    • In the swagger department, Kevin Fishbain, in The Athletic, can tell you about “the takeaway bucket — a blue laundry bin that gets wheeled onto the field for a defensive player to dunk the ball in after he takes it away from the offense.” These things are goofy but players rally around them.
  • Bilal Nichols was arguably the breakout star of the 2020 Chicago Bears but he might be the actual star of this group of the end of 2021. The best part of this for Desai is Nichols’ emergence should allow them to keep Akiem Hicks on a pitch count for most of the season. (His recent foot issues are just another in a series of injuries common for a declining superstar.)
  • Sam Mustipher was asked what he did to put on weight this off-season. His answer? Lou Malnati’s. Sam Mustipher is a smart, smart man. (After the debacle of the last 18 months, Malnati’s will be rejoining DBB as a crucial partner this coming season. More details – and pizza giveaways – to come.)
  • From inside Halas Hall there is serious optimism regarding Kindle Vildor. When I asked what that optimism means I was simply told (via text): “They’re not going to get too excited until they see it on the field. But they’re seeing it in practice.” Corner is going to be a weakness for this group. But if their pass rush delivers as it should, this group may be competent enough to hold up.
  • The quarterback position has been a real strength in these early days. Andy Dalton has been the stable, veteran presence the Bears expected but he’s also had a ton of zip on the fastball. He’s smart enough to know that the only way he remains the starting quarterback is by playing Justin Fields onto the bench. Fields has all the talent in the world – everybody at these practices sees that – and his ascension is only a matter of time.
    • One Tweet from Brad Biggs stood out to me. Justin Fields to Jesse James is a thing that’s starting to happen more often for the #Bears.” In this offense, the tight ends are the QB’s best friends. Fields seems to be learning that quickly.
    • I would have been shocked if Fields out-performed Dalton as this early stage. None of Fields’ athleticism is displayed in these practice sessions. When the pads go on, and Fields is on the move, that’s when Dalton will have to up his game.
  • Cairo Santos has finally solidified the kicker position post-Robbie Gould. I don’t miss writing about kickers in July and August.

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5 Reasons to Be Overly Excited About the 5-1 Start

| October 22nd, 2020

We’ve spent the last two days focused on where the Bears need to improve. Today, I come to celebrate these first six weeks.


The Pass Rush

Defensive success in 2020 is predicated upon rushing the passer with the front four and Football Outsiders ranks the Bears as the second best pass defense in the league, predominantly because of the success they’re finding in the pressure department. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks have been as expected, and the Bears are getting pass rush contribution from unlikely sources like Mario Edwards Jr, James Vaughters and even Brent Urban.

What’s the most exciting thing about the pass rush? Robert Quinn is still being worked into the lineup and every time he gets on the field he makes an impact. When Quinn reaches 100% health, and sees his snap count tick up, the Bears will be the most feared front in the league.


The New Kyle Fuller

No one is surprised that Fuller is the team’s best cover corner, and one of the best cover corners in the league.

But did anyone see Fuller becoming the reincarnation of Ronnie Lott, delivering a crushing hit almost every week. Did anyone see Fuller making the kind of tackle he made on Teddy Bridgewater Sunday, keeping the Panthers’ quarterback out of the end zone and changing the course of the game?

Fuller, through six weeks, is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. (I’m just not sure Aaron Donald will ever lose that award again.)


The Quarterback Change

Has Nick Foles been great since taking over at quarterback? No.

Has there been a discernible change when it comes to leadership? Absolutely.

Let’s take a look at what Foles has done since taking over.

  • He led the comeback against Atlanta, throwing three touchdown passes.
  • He made the crucial read on the crucial drive – highlighted here by Emmanuel Acho – to beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs. (The kind of read his predecessor never made.)
  • He delivered a stirring press conference following the victory over Carolina that firmly established him as the team’s most vocal leader in years. This is what you expect from the quarterback position.

Foles will always be limited physically. He’s frequently going to take the quick, efficient option over the “shot”. But as the season progresses, and he becomes more comfortable with his receivers, the passing game should improve.

A tweet from Allen Robinson’s agent seems to sum up how important it was for the Bears to make this move WHILE ALSO winning.

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The NFL Season Begins in Two Weeks. (What Don’t We Know About the Chicago Bears?)

| August 28th, 2020


It’s remarkable to think the NFL is going to kickoff the 2020 season in Kansas City two weeks from yesterday. But barring a Covid tsunami or another testing lab debacle in New Jersey or the players mounting an NBA-style walkout, the show will seemingly go on. So with so little time remaining before they start keeping score, what don’t we know about the 2020 Chicago Bears?


How Will the Backfield Look?

In the wake of David Montgomery’s injury, the Bears could use Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen to piece together their backfield. Or they could elevate the status of undrafted free agent Artavis Pierce. And why not? We see “scrap heap” type backs emerge around the league every year. If Juan Castillo gets them blocking up front, Pierce could become as a key component of the offense. Why not give the kid a shot to carry the load? He’s got talent.


Who is the Quarterback?

A tale of two tweets.

Tweet 1.

Tweet 2.

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