Leadership? I Don’t See It. And Other Points of View.

Bears

  • Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Jay Cutler when asked about his 86 rating on Madden 15:

    “You guys are bored.”

    Amen.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com asks some timely and relevant special teams questions:

    “The Bears are clearly planning on potential starters Chris Conte, Ryan Mundy, Danny McCray, Kyle Fuller, Shea McClellin and Jon Bostic to answer the bell in coverage.

    “While it’s not unusual to have a couple starters covering kicks, that many would be almost unheard of.

    “There are two questions here that beg answers from either Phil Emery, Marc Trestman or both. The first is what really was the plan and why it is so unsettled so late in the game.

    “The second is, is it possible the problem is that the bottom third of this roster, where your core special teams folks should come from, isn’t as talented as it was one, two or three years ago?

    “We don’t have the answers yet, but you certainly have to ask.”

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune ranks the Bears 10th in the debut of his NFL Power Rankings. It sounds a tad high to me as I see a tough schedule and 8-8 or 9-7 written all over this team. But I can’t hardly blame anyone for being a tad optimistic this early and its not an unreasonable ranking. And if you are strong at the line of scrimmage, anything can happen. That’s where it all starts.

    He doesn’t have much respect for the potentially improved Vikings and Lions, ranking both in the 20s. We’ll have to wait and see on them but I’d be willing to bet at least one of those teams exceeds expectations. The Vikings might not have enough talent to be really good but there’s a whole lot to like about what’s going on up there.

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times says that Lance Briggs skipping practice to open a restaurant isn’t a big problem. But that didn’t stop him from telling it like it is:

    “While teammates like Corey Wootton and Tim Jennings have sacrificed their comfort zone for the team — Wootton playing inside last season in a contract year; Jennings, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, playing nickel this season to ease rookie Kyle Fuller into the NFL — Briggs refused to move to the middle whenever Brian Urlacher was injured. He preferred the comfort of a position tailor-made for his skills in a defense tailor-made for his skills.

    “Lance is very much into Lance.”

    You have to take Briggs for who he is and this excerpt pretty much nails it. The problem is that the Bears lack leadership on the defensive side of the ball and it looked to me like the team was looking to Briggs to fill the void both last year and this year. This episode shows how misguided that notion is. Briggs will be ready to play on Sunday but setting an example for others to make sure that they are ready to play takes a backseat to his own issues or, more probably, simply never crosses his mind as being his responsibility.

  • Potash continues:

    “The Bears haven’t announced starting safeties for Sunday’s opener against the Bills, but at this point, does it really matter? Ryan Mundy, Danny McCray, Chris Conte and rookie Brock Vereen are all in the same boat at this point – competent players who will make plays in a good defense and not make plays in a bad one.”

    My read on this is that the competition at safety isn’t over. The Bears know what Conte can do but didn’t get a good look at him in the preseason. So the bet here is that both McCray and Conte see time at free safety early in the season until someone grabs the job by the testicles and takes it. Its hard to say what Vereen’s status is at this point but it seems evident that the team thinks he needs development.

Elsewhere

“[Bills head coach Doug] Marrone can’t be too thrilled about the situation. Tension seems to be rising within the operation. On Tuesday, Marrone had an animated discussion at practice with Russ Brandon and [general manager Doug] Whaley. According to media on the scene, some harsh words were uttered and Marrone threw his arms in the air.

“Someone should be angry. The Bills had a chance to address the backup QB situation. Chad Henne, Matt Cassel and Shaun Hill were available, not to mention [Ryan Fitz[patrick]. So was Tarvaris Jackson, who is good enough to be No. 2 for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks but couldn’t get on the field in Buffalo.”

Sounds like Palmer landed in a happy place. I suppose its not a surprise that he has since been released.

  • I couldn’t care less about Michael Sam‘s personal life one way or another as long as he stays on the field and I have paid little attention to the story surrounding him. But Dallas is perfect for him. Its a defense that requires quick, penetrating linemen and Rod Marinelli will get everything possible out of him. He couldn’t have landed in a better spot.

One Final Thought

Drew Magary at Deadspin tells us why the Bears suck (Don’t worry. All the other teams suck, too.)

“Your coach: Marc Trestman, who has turned out to be pretty good! Sure, the defense is abominable, but look at all those deep passes that are actually completed! NICE. Trestman’s emergence as a sound football mind means we can now move on to the part where the Bears nickel-and-dime him at every turn, until he finally gives up and walks away.

Drew’s living about 20 years in the past. But it’s still pretty funny.

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A Guess at the Final Cuts

With the final preseason game upon us, I thought it might be interesting to take a look and see if I could come up with a list of 22 final cuts to get the roster down to 53. Here’s a possibility:

  1. Taylor Boggs
  2. Robert Turner
  3. Demontre Hurst
  4. Al Louis-Jean
  5. C.J. Wilson
  6. Marcus Trice
  7. Tracy Robertson
  8. Brandon Dunn
  9. Lee Pegues
  10. M.D. Jennings
  11. Ryan Groy
  12. DeDe Lattimore
  13. Jerry Franklin
  14. Cornelius Washington
  15. Dennis Roland
  16. Jeron Mastrud
  17. Dale Moss
  18. Armanti Edwards
  19. Michael Sprulock
  20. Josh Bellamy
  21. Jordan Lynch
  22. Senorise Perry or Chris Williams

A few things to note:

  • The list assumes that Perry or Williams will win the kick return job. A big assumption. Both could be cut in favor of one of the other guys on the list.
  • This would keep quarterback David Fales on the roster. The Bears may well opt to expose him to waivers and try to put him on the practice squad.
  • Christian Jones makes the roster here. I’m assuming that this decision was made when Jordan Senn was released.
  • The Bears could very well opt to put Marquess Wilson on IR and try to bring him back at mid-season. That would open up a spot for one of the above guys, maybe Bellamy depending upon how special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis feels about him.
  • On a related note, we still don’t have a good idea who the core special teams guys are going to be. It’s possible that one of these guys is high on DeCamillis’s list and will make it on that basis.
  • If you are feeling queasy about losing one of the above, bear in mind that 10 of these guys will probably make the practice squad. That would include the local favorite Lynch.
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Cutting the Defense Some Slack and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Defensive end Willie Young explains the catch 22 when it comes to generating a disciplined pass rush to keep a quarterback like Russell Wilson in the pocket while generating sufficient pressure. Via Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

    “‘It’s like, what am I supposed to do?’ Young said. ‘Just sit here and pitty-pat with this tackle and get hung up on the block and let him just sit there in the pocket? Then I’ll come back to the sideline and hear that we’re not getting pressure on the quarterback.'”

    There’s no doubt that its a delicate balance. But teams do it all over the league. In Wilson’s case, its fairly obvious that the priority was to keep him in there and generate what pressure you can. Most of us understand the issue.

  • It was good to see some Bears return to practice this week. Ebon Britton needed to get back on the field. Although Kelvin Hayden didn’t exactly look great Friday night it might be too little too late for Isaiah Frey. I’ve got to believe that he’s on the bubble. Time is running out on Chris Williams, too. From Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune.
  • Brandon Marshall gets a little love from ESPN as he becomes a major part of their Monday Night Football promotion.
  • Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times makes a good point:

    “[Quarterback David] Fales’ odds of making the final roster might have increased. If the Bears had hoped for him to join their practice squad, they likely wouldn’t provide other interested teams with four quarters of game film.”

    Of course that still depends upon how well he plays. Probably the Bears aren’t going to let what other teams might think stand in the way of their own evaluation. So I would say that the fact that Fales will play the whole game is more of an indication of the Bears willingness to keep him on the roster by allowing him the opportunity to play his way on to it.

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times comments on the Bears special teams:

    “Thanks to the luxury of having [Devin] Hester in his prime, longtime coordinator Dave Toub usually had the Bears’ special teams ranked among the best in the NFL. Even when Hester wasn’t at his best, the Bears still found a way to return kicks and to cover them.”

    No doubt Hester was nice to have, especially at his peak. But let’s not overestimate his importance. Those units were a lot more than Hester. I don’t care how many guys you were shuffling in and out to take a look at, there’s no excuse for the Bears special teams to be as bad as they’ve been. For all of the hand-wringing over the defense, this is where the real point of greatest concern lies.

One Final Thought

Speaking of hand-wringing over the defense, I’ve read and listened to a number of media members who have repeatedly referred to this defense as “old and slow” and most have said the defense looks like last year’s disaster. This column from Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times is typical.

Let’s get one thing straight. What we saw on Friday did not look like last year’s defense. We saw all kinds of penetration and all kinds of pressure from the defensive line. That alone is a huge difference.

The Bears were victimized by a good, talented offense that was playing at their best. They hit them on a good night. Even given that, I’m disappointed that they didn’t show better but I understand what they were up against and I’ve a feeling it would have been a different story with a little more development, a little more game planning and with a little more time together as a unit later in the season. They wouldn’t have won. But it would have gone better.

I’m not saying the current version of the Bears defense is going to remind us of the ’85 Bears. But lets cut them a little slack. They’re definitively better than last year. It not going to be great. But its not going to be bad, either, and I think if we just relax and keep things in perspective that we’re all going to enjoy watching them.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Points of View | 3 Comments

Overcoming Injuries Is a Major Factor and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Probably a lot of people were surprised at some of the cuts from Saturday thinking that players like Adrian Wilson and Nate Collins would stick until the final round. But the Bears were doing these guys a favor by letting them go early. They’ll now have plenty of time to seek out another team. Likely that’s part of the reason they were chosen.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune wonders if defensive end Austin Lane didn’t make the team with his performance against Seattle. He’s got a point. It’s something to keep an eye on.

  • Biggs also had this note:

    “One of the first players the Bears added to revamp special teams this offseason was linebacker Jordan Senn, who signed a one-year deal on March 13. The move came right out of the gates in free agency and came as a surprise to his former team the Panthers. But Senn has been getting little work with the first team and that would be a sign right now that he is a longshot for the roster.”

    I had Senn down as a core special teamer based upon the assumption that this was why the Bears signed him. But the depth chart at linebacker is crowded and obviously I was wrong as Senn was finally cut on Sunday. The Bears special teams are a mess and who those core players are going to be and whether special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis is the guy to get them to perform are real issues.

  • John Mullin at csnchicago.com predicts that the Bears will keep six wide receivers: Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Santoio Holmes, Josh Morgan, Chris Williams and Marquess Wilson.

    He might be right but I’ve got my doubts about that group. Holmes hasn’t shown much yet and a lot will depend on the last preseason game for him. I think the Bears have serious doubts about Williams’s hands (both receiving and returning) and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wilson end up on IR with the idea that the Bears will bring him back at midseason. There are some interesting decisions that need to be made here.

  • Mullin makes a good point in relation to the now settled backup quarterback competition. He believes that one factor was that the Bears could be confident that Jordan Palmer would be available if needed in an emergency but that Jimmy Clausen might well have been picked up by another team.

Elsewhere

One Final Thought

Another season, another pack of injured Packers. This year they are already fighting the loss of nose tackle B.J. Raji and center JC Tretter. The Packers seem to be particularly adept at gathering themselves to overcome these setbacks, needing to lose Aaron Rogers last year before bowing under the weight. It’s already looking another banner year for major injuries up there and its likely they’re going to have to deal with the storm again.

We can only hope the Bears do as well as they are unlikely to be as healthy on offense as they were last year. This is where you find out what your coaching staff and the men under them are made of. Here’s hoping its of sterner stuff than last year where the defense totally collapsed under the pressure.

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Some Teams Are Just Better and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune nails perhaps the biggest problem with the defense Friday night right on the head:

    “On the Seahawks’ final touchdown of the first half Friday night, quarterback Russell Wilson might as well have been playing against a Pop Warner team in walk-through mode.

    “After faking a handoff to running back Christine Michael, Wilson pivoted to his right and came right back to Michael with a dump pass on the right side of the field that went for an effortless 7-yard touchdown on third-and-1.

    “Michael was never covered out of the backfield and never touched on his way to the end zone. And for the Bears, that was the defense’s night in a nutshell.

    “Another third down, another blown play.”

    This sort of thing happened far too frequently. Fortunately its almost certainly all stuff that’s easily fixed. Let’s just hope that the situation isn’t too much like last year where you’d fix one problem only to have another one pop up in its place. This can’t be the first of an endless string of leaks in the dam or the team isn’t going to be making much progress this year.

  • It’s understandable that over 80% of you thought the defense looked the worst of the three phases in the Seattle game. But I think you’re giving the special teams a pass. At least the defense came close to making some plays. From the Tribune.
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Bears safety Chris Conte:

    “‘I have to get back to playing at a high level,’ he said. ‘There are a lot of people that don’t believe in me and probably are not sure whether I can do it.

    “‘I want people to look at me and respect me and when they see me on the field, they say, ‘That guy is a good player.’ And when my peers play against me, I want them to think about me and respect me.'”

  • Many people have been wondering why wide receiver Chris Williams has been given a better shot at being the kick returner. The word has apparently been given to the reporters that ball security problems early in camp may be the issue. Darius Reynaud has also had his share of problems with this. From Biggs.

    “‘Every returner has them,’ Reynaud said. ‘Even the great ones. That is the past. My reason for that was not judging the ball right and trying to watch those gunners out there. By the time I got my hands up, it was falling right in my hands and dropping it. It wasn’t me running and fumbling, it was me keeping my eye on the ball. That is something fixable. That’s the past. We’re here now.'”

  • Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune doesn’t think Bears head coach Marc Trestman was too thrilled with the signing of Santonio Holmes
  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes defensive coordinator Mel Tucker on learning to tackle without actually being allowed to tackle in practice:

    “…oftentimes in practice when you’re allowed to go and form up and fit up a runner without leaving your feet, sometimes that’s even more difficult than making a live tackle. Because you have to gather yourself. You have to have great contact balance. You have to be in excellent body-in-football position to be able to deliver the blow and keep the runner on his feet and you stay on your feet and stay off the ground. We’ve done a lot of that.”

  • Adam L. Jahns at the chicagofootball.com quotes Stephen Paea on the way defensive linemen are expected to play this year compared to last year:

    “‘We still have our gaps and responsibilities,’ Paea said. ‘But we help the other guys with the other gaps. Everybody has their own gap, but the way we design our defense now, if the running back doesn’t challenge your gap and goes to the other gap, you go to the other one.’

    “The goal is to make the linebackers Pro Bowl players by providing them with the freedom to move.

    “‘I put my hands on the center, and with the guard trying to block me, the linebacker is going to make the play versus last year where we would just go [penetrate] and the center would have a clean shot at the linebackers,’ Paea said.”

One Final Thought

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune at the end of his Seahawks game story:

“In their last action before the games do count, the Bears’ first-stringers found out they didn’t measure up to the champions, and any talk of them possibly making a Super Bowl run of their own this season can stop until further notice.”

Look, I’m sorry to be a downer but anyone who thought this team was going to the Super Bowl before this game needs to get a grip. I’m a little disappointed that the Bears didn’t do better but I’m not surprised that they were out performed. Bears fans better get used to the idea that this group is going to be beaten this season by at least a few teams that are just plain better than they are.

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Quick Comments: Bears at Seahawks 8/22/14

  1. I thought I saw some good penetration from the defensive line. They just weren’t getting the results they needed from it.
  2. Russell Wilson had a lot to do with that. The key is a disciplined pass rush that traps him in the pocket. The Seahawks know that so the first think they have him do a lot of the time is drift left or right to get him outside. Its not exactly a roll out but he’s not sitting in the pocket either. It makes it tough to get a handle on him.
  3. Also on a related note, the Bears are going to be have to be able to penetrate against teams like Seattle. They aren’t physical enough up front otherwise. The Seahawk’s success in the running game pretty much demonstrated that. There were stretches where it looked like they could have run it all day.
  4. The Bears lined up Willie Young in what looked like a “wide 9″ position once or twice. That’s a formation commonly played by the Lions when Jim Schwartz was the head coach there where he was way outside of the offensive tackle. So Young’s played it quite a bit in the past. Interesting.
  5. You can pretty much chalk up the first Seahawk touchdown to Shea McClellin. He got sucked inside and Marshawn Lynch went right through the spot McClellin was occupying. Color man Jim Miller attributed the mistake to defensive end Lamarr Houston but Houston was occupying the lineman and McClellin was left free to make the play. I thought he was the one out of position. I won’t say he played badly McClellin didn’t do much with the starters in this game.
  6. Chris Conte showed up. Hopefully he’s not concussed.
  7. There were definitely some problems with defensive assignments, tonight. I don’t know enough to be able to say exactly what was wrong but way too often guys were making catches with no defensive player within 3 or 4 yards of them. That really shouldn’t ever happen.
  8. The offense was pretty much all Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. I sure would have liked to have seen Josh Morgan and the tight ends more involved. The running game looked better and they were making some positive yards but they didn’t do it much. I think keeping Matt Forte healthy is a major priority right now.
  9. Having said that, its worth noting that Cutler was trying to get the ball to Morgan on the interception at the end of the half. He obviously thought Morgan was going to come back to get the ball on the back shoulder. I suppose those sorts of miscues are the reason he might be hesitant to keep going away from Marshall, Jeffery and Bennett.
  10. Special teams continues to be a concern. The coverage units were especially bad. I’m looking at you, Joe DeCamillis.
  11. I thought I saw some good, aggressive play from Lance Briggs tonight. He was around the ball a lot. Good to see.
  12. I thought Cutler wasn’t maybe as accurate as I’d typically like to see him. The receivers were working mighty hard to make those catches.
  13. Jordan Palmer’s accuracy and ball placement was pretty awful. Jimmy Clausen’s was better but that’s not saying much. Neither was anything to write home about.
  14. I’m starting to like what I see from Ka’Deem Carey. I noted that he came in before Shaun Draughn and played with the starters some in the first half, perhaps indicating that he’s moved ahead of him on the depth chart. He can block, he can catch and he always falls forward for a couple extra yards. Not much elusiveness there but otherwise he might be a really good one.
  15. Demontre Hurst keeps showing up in these games and making tackles. Its worth noting.
  16. Terrell Pryor has a long way to go. Tossing that ball up for grabs under pressure for an interception in the fourth quarter wasn’t a good look.
  17. Preseason game or not the Seattle crowd was still loud enough to make it a challenge.
  18. The Bears were close to making plays all over the field this game. They were missing by inches. They’re close but I guess that’s the difference right now.
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We’ll Forget It If You Let Us and Other Points of View

Bears

  • I wasn’t the only one who raised his eyebrows when the Bears cut wide receiver Eric Weems on Saturday. Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune reports:

    “His release comes as a bit of a surprise because he played on all four special teams units and was the Bears’ fourth-leading special teams tackler in 2013. The club is searching for core special teamers in light of their struggles this preseason.”

    I always thought Weems gave good effort on special teams and he stood out on a number of occasions last year. He wasn’t the answer as a kick returner, though, and its obvious that he wasn’t going to give them much as a receiver.

  • Teams are apparently making some adjustments to the new points of emphasis on the rules this season. Making less contact with the receivers down field seems to be the one getting them most attention. From Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

    “To adapt to the new emphases, the Browns have spent part of the preseason with their defensive backs wearing kick-boxing gloves at practice, accessories that restrict players’ attempts to grab or use their hands in coverage.

    “Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has had his defensive backs holding tennis balls as a restraint.”

    The video which the NFL has put out to demonstrate the new rules and points of emphasis to the players can be found here. It does a good job of clarifying a number of issues.

  • Campbell and Wiederer discuss the Beas back up quarterback competition. Campbell makes the point that Jordan Palmer may have an advantage in that he’s made a particular effort to stay after practice and get comfortable with many of the receivers. Even though to most eyes Jimmy Clausen has been the better quarterback, this sounds like the kind of thing that might make the difference with a guy like Bears head coach Marc Trestman. Palmer will be first up after Cutler on Friday night.

  • This criticism of Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall seems to be uncalled for. The columnist either hasn’t done his homework or seems determined to overemphasize behavior that we all think is well behind him now.

  • Bears tickets offer the worst value in the NFL. Via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times.

One Final Thought

Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times writes yet another article about how safety Chris Conte needs to put 2013 behind him.

We’d all like to do that.

We’ve heard ad nauseum about how much abuse Conte took, particularly after the last play of the last game against the Packers. Enough. It’s a painful episode in the history of the franchise that Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers called “the most satisfying of his career”. I don’t like thinking about it and I don’t like reading about it. It’s done.

If the members of the media will stop bringing it up and rubbing salt in the wound, I think we can all safely promise to forget it. Believe me, there’s nothing I’d like more.

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Who Will Be the Core?

The Tribune writers put their heads together to assess the state of the Bears roster and review the state of each position. Since the eight core special teamers who are going to play on each unit are going to be a huge part of determining who makes the team, its worth looking at who they might be. Here are my guys:

  1. Jordan Senn
  2. Dante Rosario
  3. Khaseem Greene
  4. Sherrick McMannus
  5. Danny McCray
  6. Matthew Mulligan
  7. Tony Fiammetta
  8. Trevor Scott

It’s worth noting that this leaves perennial special teamer, Craig Steltz, off of the list. Steltz missed a lot of camp with an injury. If he stays on, one of these players will come off. In my mind it came down to him, Mulligan or Scott and I think the other two offer more in terms of depth and the ability to help every week on game day at their respective positions. Mulligan can serve as an extra blocker in obvious running situations the way that Eben Britton did last year but can also serve as a receiving threat. Scott will likely make the team regardless and will rotate in occasionally as the fourth defensive end. By putting him on all of the special teams units they save a roster spot. McCray is undoubtedly far ahead of Steltz in all areas and has played before under special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis

The absence of a wide receiver in this group is also notable. One of the bubble candidates will likely have to make it as the punt and kick returner. This was why Weems would have been valuable in this position. He would have contributed on the other units. But that wasn’t meant to be. There was a point where I wondered if Josh Bellamy might make the team as part of this group. He still might but he’ll have to be what Weems basically was last year if he does. It looks like he’ll contribute little to the passing game as a wide receiver.

I also left the running backs off but both Shaun Draughn and, especially, Ka’Deem Carey are candidates. Michael Ford‘s prospects are looking dim. Reading between the lines, he probably doesn’t offer a lot in pass protection as a running back. If he makes it, it will likely be as a kick returner and the Bears probably don’t want to use a roster spot for that kind of specialist who can’t contribute elsewhere. If they did, Devin Hester would still be here.

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Concern About the Running Game and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Bears head coach Marc Trestman:

    “‘We’ve got to work on our running game,’ Trestman said a day after [Matt] Forte lost two yards on four carries against the Jaguars. ‘We’re not concerned about it. It’s more one guy here, one guy there. We’ve just got to clean it up.’”

    Well, he might not be concerned about it but I certainly am. I’ll feel better if the Bears show us something against a physical Seattle front seven on Friday.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com apprently shares my concern about the running game. He is worried about the back up options at runningback.

    “For my last general impression, I have to tell you I think the Bears have been trying to give the job to [Ka'Deem] Carey since the moment they drafted him. How else do you explain his 23 carries in two games compared to 25 carries for [Shaun] Draughn (4), [Senorise] Perry (9), [Michael] Ford (5) and [Jordan] Lynch (7) combined?”

    The guess here is that its because Carey and, especially, Draughn have shown that they can pass protect whereas the other competitors haven’t. This seems to be a major issue with the staff when it comes to selecting runningbacks.

  • Tony Andracki at CSNChicago.com highlights the play of Josh Morgan. Eric Weems has been a fine core special teamer but I think we’ve seen enough of him as the third wide reciever (and kick returner). It might be time to gve Morgan his shot.

Elsewhere

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune makes a point about Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles that also occured to me during the game:

    “The Jaguars have been pretty consistent talking about Chad Henne being their starting quarterback this season and allowing Blake Bortles, the third overall pick, to sit and learn. But if Bortles keeps performing well, they’re not going to be able to keep him on the sideline for too long. I understand wanting to bring him along the right way and not rushing it…. Bortles (11 for 17, 160 yards) looked smooth, threw the ball well and moved the second offense. He’s going to have to get significant starting time this season. There’s nothing wrong with learning on the fly.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Henne didn’t perform badly Thursday night but I frankly thought Bortles looked every bit as good. If its a tie, its got to go to Bortles. Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com passes on the fact that Bortles will get time with the first team next week. He might be on his way.

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How to Make a Molehill into a Mountain and Other Points of View

Bears

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune comments on the offensive production in Thursday’s preseason game:

    “How the offensive production correlated to line play Thursday supports the argument that the line’s collective health last season was perhaps the most under-appreciated factor in the offense’s success. All five linemen started all 16 games. Their continuity fostered cohesion and sharpness as the season progressed.”

    It also underscores a concern that has carried over from last year as well. The line’s lack of physical play was underscored by the poor job the Bears did running the ball Friday. It was one of the reasons why I was looking for changes up front, albeit minor ones. Instead, general manager Phil Emery opted to bet that the line would become more physical as the players grew together under Bears head coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer in their second year. Here’s hoping they were right. But you’ll forgive me if I have my doubts.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune doesn’t like my suggestion that Ryan Mundy might be paired with Adrian Wilson at safety:

    “Wilson and Mundy would leave the Bears without a true free safety and that is a key position for defenses against the proliferation of three-, four- and even five-wide packages. It’s also the position you want to think about when trying to cover the athletic tight ends across the league. That is why this pairing seems like a long shot to me. [Chris] Conte absolutely has a chance or he wouldn’t still be around. Let’s see how plays when he gets in preseason games.”

    His point about Conte is well taken and was pointed out to me by a commenter on Facebook after posting my blog entry. In the absence of anyone else stepping up, the job may well turn out to be Conte’s by default. Having said that, I thought Danny McCray tackled well Thursday.

  • Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes defensive end Jared Allen on all of the penalty flags that were thrown Thursday:

    “Jaguars cornerback Mike Harris’ roughing-the-passer penalty late in the game even infuriated Bears defensive end Jared Allen.

    “‘If that is, I’m hosed,’ Allen said. ‘Because I’m going to get about 20 of those this year. At some point, in my opinion, you got to look at what’s better for the game. Are all these flags on the field better for the pace of the game? Is it a better fan experience? I don’t think so.'”

    Allen has a point. I thought the call on Harris was particularly bad. I saw no contact with the quarterback’s helmet and the hit definitely wasn’t late.

    Night games always feel long and Thursday night’s game was particularly bad with all of those penalties. If this carries over into the season, we aren’t going to be sleeping much.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com on the Bears punting competition:

    “…Patrick O’Donnell appeared to lock up the punting competition with a clearly superior performance to Tress Way.”

    O’Donnell clearly has the edge as a draft pick and it’s up to Way to show that he’s definitively better. But setting that aside, I can’t say I’ve seen much difference between the two.

  • Scott Krinch at CSNChicago.com gives the Bears defense some credit for bending but not breaking in the red zone. He has a point. Many a Lovie Smith defense operated the same way, giving up a lot of yards but holding teams to field goals time after time.
  • I was a little surprised by this assessment from Michael C. Wright at ESPN.com:

    “The Bears want to remain patient with Shea McClellin as he transitions to linebacker, but his play against the Jaguars seemed just about on par with his shoddy showing last week. McClellin did stuff the run once early on but continues to struggle at shedding blocks and making tackles in space.”

    I thought McClellin and, really, all of the linebackers looked better Thursday night. McClellin read plays and attacked the line of scrimmage and was frequently blitzed. I had no problem with him.

Elsewhere

  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune makes the case that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles may be a player to keep an eye on. Bortles surprised me Thursday night. He’s much more accurate that I thought he was.

One Final Thought

Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times asks wide receiver Brandon Marshall how the team feels about him working a side job as an analyst on Inside the NFL during the season:

“‘You need to be very careful how you write this story and talk to me because this could be the last time you talk to me,’ he said.

“Um, OK …

“‘End of story,’ he said.

“‘I’m just asking …’

“‘End of story,’ he said.

“I can see it’s going to be hell writing the authorized Brandon Marshall book now.”

Holy moly.

I read several articles on this before getting to the Morrissey column and had already concluded that it was a non-story. Now I’m interested.

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