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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Training Camp Begins Edition

| July 26th, 2019

It’s starting to get real.


Finley: Focus on Running Backs

The Sun-Times scribe wrote an excellent “five questions” preview for Bears camp. It was so good I scrapped the idea of writing of my own. (I shouldn’t have been alone.) Finley takes on the big, obvious questions (Trubisky improvement, health, kicker…etc.) but it was his focus on the backfield that caught my attention. I urge you to go and read the entire piece HERE.

4. How much did they upgrade at RB?

In his three NFL seasons, Jordan Howard posted more rushing yards than all but two players: Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley. Still, he wasn’t a fit in Nagy’s offense.

The Bears got little back when they dealt him to the Eagles in March: a sixth-round 2020 pick that could improve to a fifth-rounder. They believe their two new running backs — third-round pick David Montgomery and signee Mike Davis — can fare better than Howard.

The Bears will search for the right timeshare in the preseason. Tarik Cohen will continue to be the Bears’ dynamic, do-everything weapon. Nagy and Pace praised Davis’ offseason work, but the well-rounded Montgomery is the likely favorite to lead the team in rushes.

“It’s hard to always predict the number of carries in this offense by a running back,” Nagy said. “Who knows? Maybe one guy is hot and he gets 20 carries in this offense. It really hasn’t happened yet, but it can happen.”

My theory: Montgomery is going to be the horse running back in this offense by October.


Bannon: Halas Should Never Have Been

One of the most surprising developments in my Bears news consumption over the years has been how little time I spend with anything coming out of the Tribune. But this excellent piece from Tim Bannon deserves your attention. It’s just…amazing. Here’s the first few paragraphs of the article.

George Halas was late.

The 20-year-old had a summer job with Western Electric, and on Saturday, July 24, 1915, he planned to join his coworkers aboard the SS Eastland to cross Lake Michigan for the telephone company’s picnic in Michigan City, Ind.

But by the time Halas reached the Chicago River dock, the Eastland was overturned.

Roughly 2,500 employees and their families had boarded the ship, and at 7:25 a.m. it began listing and swaying from side to side.

A large crowd of horrified spectators watched as the Eastland — a few feet from the bank of the Chicago River between LaSalle Drive and Clark Street — turned on its side. It was in 20 feet of water, deep enough to drown 844 people trapped or trampled below decks.

It is the deadliest day ever in Chicago and the greatest peacetime inland waterways disaster in American history.


Fishbain Tweets


Eddy Pineiro Highlights (I’m Trying…)


LINKS!

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Your Yearly Reminder: It’s Just Practice

| July 30th, 2018

It happens every year.

Fans obsessively follow every training camp practice and get overly excited when they hear that guys from their team look really good. Or conversely get worried upon hearing somebody is struggling.

This is your friendly, annual reminder to calm down. The first few days of training camp ultimately don’t mean a ton, especially when it comes to rumors about how particular players are performing. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why hearing about a single practice, taking place over a month before the season starts, is not really going to tell you much about the season.


Single Examples

How often do you hear somebody say “This player looked great today,” using one big play he made as proof? Unfortunately, this blatantly ignores the consistency required from players to truly perform at a high level.

To go along with this is the problem of contrasting reports. One person will say a player looks great based on one or two flashy plays, while another person claims that same player is doing terrible because he had one bad miscue. Fans will naturally want to gravitate towards the positive reports, but balance is key.

Recent example: New kicker Cody Parkey made some long field goals, but also had a few misses. One reporter explained that all the misses came with the 2nd team holder, while another decided Parkey had a “shaky day.”


Looking Good or Looking Bad?

Another thing to keep in mind is that players are going up against their teammates in training camp, so somebody “looking good” could mean more that their teammate is bad. For example, hearing that the offensive line is consistently dominating their defensive counterparts in practice can be viewed two ways.  On the one hand, the offensive line is looking really good.  On the other hand, the defensive line is being outclassed. Does that say more good things about the offensive line or bad things about the defensive line?

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: Key Contributors (11-39)

| July 25th, 2018

Here are players I expect to play quite a bit on offense, defense and/or special teams:

39. Kylie Fitts, Edge

Very athletic player who the Bears think can help them off the edge immediately. Needs to develop pass rush moves, but sky is the limit.

38. Marcus Cooper, CB

Okay early last season, but showed a complete lack of focus when forced to play off bench.

37. Bilal Nichols, DT

Rookie from Delaware who should fill in as a backup immediately. Can play all three positions along the defensive line.

36. Benny Cunningham, RB

Cunningham is great on screens and is a really good special teams player. I’d like to see him get more kick returns this year so Tarik Cohen can be more involved in the offense.

35. Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB

Should be a starter in a year or two. Special teams standout right away. (I’m pretty sure I spelled his last name right.)

34. Roy Robertson-Harris, DL

A make-or-break year for RRH. Has great length and showed flashes last year. Didn’t hold up well against the run, but could be a decent pass rusher.

33. Deon Bush, S

Showed flashes as a rookie, but was MIA last year. Drew praise in offseason workouts and has reportedly had a good camp so far. (Four days.)

32. Nick Kwiatkoski, LB

Had made some big plays as a blitzer and has good instincts against the run. Seems to get lost in coverage, which is why the Bears spent a top 10 pick on his replacement.

31. Aaron Lynch, Edge

Got lost in San Francisco, but has decent potential as a second edge rusher, opposite Lenny Floyd.

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Welcome to Bourbonnais!

| July 21st, 2018

Here’s the deal. We’re not going to have a “camp notes” post up on the site every day.  Every paid beat writer on the gig – and there are plenty – will be doing that. But I’ll be running a commentary from the Twitter feed, @DaBearsBlog (also available on the right rail). The official beat writers of DBB – and must follows on Twitter – are Adam Jahns (@AdamJahns) and Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge). Let those gents be your guides.

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Ranking The Entire Bears Roster: The Long and Longish Shots (60-90)

| July 18th, 2018

The Bears report to training camp this week with a large number of guys you probably don’t need to know.

This is my third year ranking the entire roster and the bottom of the roster is as much of a guess as it’s ever been. There are very few known names, as the team brings in a great many high-upside UDFAs to replace roster spots formerly used for vets like Rueben Randle and Taylor Boggs. What that tells me is that the Bears are more confident in who their final 53 is going to be so they’re more willing to take risks.

It’s entirely possible that one of the guys listed below becomes a player at some point, even if it isn’t this year. It’s also possible — and far more likely — they’ll be out of the league by this time next year.

Because I know you don’t want to research every player, I went ahead and did it for you. You’re welcome.

90. Colin Thompson, TE

Second-year player from Temple couldn’t break five seconds in the 40 coming out. How many tight ends who are that slow succeed?

89. Josh Woods, LB

Listed as a linebacker, Woods weighed just 211 pounds at his Maryland Pro Day and ran the 40 in 4.66. He earned a trip to camp after trying out after the draft, but this is likely as far as he’ll get.

88. Jeremi Hall, OG

Kind of an interesting signing for an offensive line that values athleticism. The Bears list Hall at 340 pounds, but he weighed in at 307 in March and really isn’t a good athlete.

87. Brandon Greene, OG

Second-year player from Alabama. Lengthy (6’5″, 295 pounds) and not very athletic. How’s that for a breakdown?

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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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