- Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns at The Athletic give their report from the first padded practice.
- Fishbain and Jahns also shared some observations from Friday’s practice.
Running back David Montgomery has embraced the potential of playing on special teams this season.
“Funny thing about David the other day, he was taking a couple reps on the special teams and his reps were over and he said, ‘Hey, can I get on the scout team since my reps are over? Can I get on the scout team and give these guys a look?’” special teams coordinator Richard Hightower Said. “That just speaks to (GM) Ryan Poles and (coach) Matt Eberflus about the culture that these guys are creating.”
But it probably says more about Montgomery, who remains the Bears’ lead back but also is in the final year of his contract. The special teams work is new for him. He has to learn it. Montgomery said it was as simple as seeing his name on the depth chart and going to the special teams drills.
“Wherever they need me, I’m going to be ready to be there,” he said. “I’ve never played special teams before. But I’m always down and excited to learn so I can be better.”
I liked hearing this. I’ve always wondered why they don’t put more starting players from offense and defense on special teams. They are, supposedly, generally speaking your best players.
Coaches constantly claim that special teams are as important as the offence and the defense on the team. But if that were true, I always thought that you would see more starting players on the third phase. I understand that it increases the possibility that these players will get hurt. But, if your words are good and special teams are as important as the two other phases, that shouldn’t really be a factor.
Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown proved a reliable target for Fields on Friday in the red zone, high-pointing a couple of passes for touchdowns.
Usually I read these short blurbs about some play in camp and just pass them over. Observations like this early in camp with guys not playing in pads don’t really mean much to me.
But I have high hopes about St. Brown. He’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s got everything that you need. He wasn’t the best of receivers with the Packers but quarterback Aaron Rodgers knew St. Brown as a rookie. That’s a little bit like being 50 years old but having your mother look at you and still see you like you’re 16.
Offense coordinator Luke Getsy seems to agree that there might be something there. Via Dan Wiederer and Colleen Kane at the Chicago Tribune.
Getsy said St. Brown’s best football is ahead of him after watching him mature last season after initially not making the Packers roster out of training camp.
“I saw a transformation of a guy turn into a pro, and his mentality, the toughness and the way he attacked every day, I was just super impressed with how he handled that,” Getsy said. “I always liked EQ and thought he was good player and then I saw him go through that adversity and the way he handled all that stuff, that’s what these guys are all leaning on. That leadership and that experience that he went through, that’s super for us.”
St. Brown might be capable of doing more than he showed with the Packers. The Bears might be catching him on the rise where if they give him an opportunity to show what he can do, he could be a very good player for them. As far as I can tell he certainly has the tools.
Coming from the Packers, Getsy is an extension of the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay coaching tree and offense. One scout suggested that the Bears could run a version of the Titans offense.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur was Tennessee’s offensive coordinator in 2018. Since that season, the Titans have ranked ninth, 10th, second and first in rushing attempts. And with it could come a heavy dose of play-action passes. According to data from Pro Football Reference, Tennessee ranked first, second and 12th in play-action passing yards over the past three seasons.
“All of the new coaches, they’ve been great,” [QB Justin] Fields said. “They’re great teachers. So (I’m) just learning something new every day. Building on what we have already as our foundation is just going to make us better as a team.”
I would be extremely happy to see the Bears run the kind of offense that the Titans have run. It’s an offense that seemed to get the most out of the players on the team year after year.
Play action pass is and has always been the heart of most NFL offenses for decades and decades now. The Bears to me seem to be set up to effectively run a system where the run game is the base and you pass off of it. The Chicago weather and the quality of their running backs and many other factors seem to point in that direction.
Former head coach Matt Nagy seemed to come to that conclusion last year. It’s seemed that he tried to make the adjustment to run more of a play action offense in response to suggestions from the players and perhaps some of his coaches. However neither he nor his staff really knew what they were doing or how to teach the system. Nagys background was in Kansas City which is more of an open, pass first offense.
The coaching staff this year seems to be cut from a different cloth. Their experience and ability to teach a play action based offense bodes well for the transition to that kind of a scheme. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.
Kramer, who is 6-foot-2 and 300 pounds, noted he has been labeled as undersized for his position for years but still made 48 starts at center over five seasons at Illinois. He said having that much experience gives him confidence but also noted the huge amount of work he has to do — starting with the mental side — to catch up to NFL veterans.
I’m worried about the fact that Kramer is undersized. Whenever I hear the words “learn leverage“ that’s usually what that means.
It looks to me like the Bears are not going to rely much on power football. That will help Kramer here. But nevertheless, even as they execute an outside zone blocking scheme, Kramer will be someone to keep an eye on if he continues to be the starter at the position.
“This is a golden opportunity for all of us,” Harry said. “It’s just who’s going to grab it? For me to capitalize off this … I just have to show how dominant I am, and I just need to be that big, strong wide receiver.”
Word is that Harry came out of Arizona State after having physically dominated the defensive backs in the Pac-10. However he was unable to do the same with the defense of backs on the pro level and was unable to learn the subtleties involved in the position that would have allowed him to use the traits that he has to beat them in the pro game.
It’s hard to imagine that the Bears will get more out of Harry than the Patriots did. But perhaps the change in scenery will allow Henry to get more out of his physical traits in the NFL. The Patriots run a really complex technical system. Some good wide receivers have failed to pick it up. Chad Johnson, for instance, seemed to have trouble simply learning the playbook.
It’s possible that Harry just needs a fresh start in a new system where things are a little bit simpler and where he can just play in lack and asthma points out and let his physical traits come through more while thinking less.
Reiff’s one-year contract calls for a base salary of $3 million, and he will earn an additional $4.5 million if he plays only 10% of snaps and the offense improves in any one of six key offensive categories. Details of the categories are unknown, but the offense was so bad last season, the Bears obviously are planning to pay the additional money and aren’t going to make $7.5 million a layup for a player they expect to be a backup. Reiff can earn another $2.5 million tied to playing time and has a $2 million playoff bonus as well, so it’s easy to envision him as the starting left tackle.
Biggs has a point and usually you can’t go wrong following the money. And it’s worth noting that Fishbain agrees with him. In fact Fishbain also thinks that Kevin Schofield will be the new starting right guard.
But I have my doubts. Reiff has never been a very good tackle in the league. The Lions teams and Vikings teams that he played on were generally considered to be among the worst in the league and Reiff’s position was always targeted as on eneeding an upgrade, primarily because of his run blocking. I would’ve never put him anywhere above the bottom third of the week and I don’t even think it’s a borderline call. It’s not like he can’t be beaten out.
The Bears invested resources in the draft to try to find younger players to take these positions. They weren’t high draft picks but it was an investment. I still believe that the Bears will be disappointed if both Reiff and Schofield are starting in September. Certainly in November. There can be a little doubt whether you think the odds are decent or not but the best possible scenario for the Bears would be for the younger players to work out and beat out these veterans.