It’s About the Turnovers. And Other Points of View.

  • Perhaps the best feature that Mike Glennon demonstrates and has demonstrated throughout his career is that be protects the football. That perhaps, was the biggest reason why his game on Sunday was so disappointing.

    Glennon could be ineffective in a lot of ways but two picks, one a pick six, and a fumble aren’t going to cut it on a team run by a defensive coach like John Fox. That’s why Jay Cutler isn’t here any more. It will be why Glennon loses his job sooner than expected no matter how many excuse you make for him and no matter much pressure he faces from a defensive front seven like Tampa Bay’s.

    It doesn’t matter if the Bears resort to recruiting high school players for their offensive line or to play wide receiver. Glennon can’t have many more games like this with Mitch Trubisky waiting in the wings.

  • There are a lot of reasons not to start Trubisky over Glennon right now. Probably the biggest is that Glennon is already playing in an offense with one arm tied behind its back with no wide receivers to speak of. Dooming Trubisky to trying to learn to play quarterback in this environment seems less than ideal.

    Having said that, there is one good reason to consider starting Trubisky. All training camp we heard that the major difference between Trubisky and Glennon was that the deep ball was part of the offense when Trubisky was on the field.

    It’s possible that Trubisky could get more out of these miserable receivers in that area. I’m not saying it would happen – there’s only so much you can do with the talent you are given – but its possible.

    In any case I wouldn’t look for the Bears to start Trubisky before Week 5. After having a good game against Atlanta, Glennon will get at least another game. After that, its Thursday Night football against the Packers on a short week and it’s doubtful that the Bears would start Trubisky under those conditions.

    I’d look for Monday Night football on October 9 as the earliest date we’d see him.

  • One thing that should be legitimately questioned after the Bears loss Sunday is the disappearance of the tight ends from the offense. Dion Simms got one target and it was intercepted. On a team with no depth at wide receiver, that’s something that seems to have “failure” written all over it.
  • Brad Biggs 10 Thoughts column on Monday afternoon is almost always the best thing I read all week. This week I will mildly disagree with one point:

    I thought the defense, by and large, was OK. They didn’t give up the big play. It’s not like the Bucs ran all over them on the ground. They did face some tough spots with short fields. Another thing the Bears did was allowed long drives. Tampa had drives of 13, nine, eight, 11 and 16 plays. Good defenses find a way to get off the field.

    The defense didn’t play badly. But it most certainly was not OK.

    Those long drives were a result fo the Tampa Bay offense picking apart a Bears zone defense, one that they were forced to play because defensive coordinator Vic Fangio doesn’t trust his corner backs to cover one-on-one.

    When they did cover one-on-one, Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston’s eyes lit up as he threw deep to wide open receivers who were on out matched cover men. Had Winston not consistently over thrown those receivers, the Bucs may have put up a fifty burger, something that may well happen with Aaron Rogers on the agenda in two weeks if something doesn’t change soon.

Game Comments: Bears at Buccaneers 9/17/17

Defense

  1. The Bucs were spreading the Bears out and attacking the middle of the field, especially the linebackers, in coverage in the passing game.
  2. They spent a lot of time picking apart the Bears zone coverage and moved the ball well. Whenever the Bears dared to put a corner into single coverage, the Bucs attacked the Bears corners. This was an excellent game plan by the Buccaneers in taking advantage of the weak Bears defensive backfield.
  3. The good news is that, like last week, the Bears did a good job of stopping the run again despite being in a lot of zone coverage.
  4. The first drive was stopped on a bad 3rd and 13 pass that looked like a TB miscommunication. This made me wonder if the Bucs were going to suffer from some first game-type problems that the Bears would avoid. Unfortunately we had no opportunity to find out as the game got out of hand early.
  5. Surprisingly, the Bears were occasionally putting an eighth guy into the box to stop the run and dared the Bucs to pass. It seemed they were often right and the Bucs often ran into the teeth of it. I wonder if there was a tell that the Bears picked up on film.
  6. Jameis Winston struggled with the deep ball, today, over throwing several oen receivers.

Offense

  1. The Bears started the game with two runningbacks, 2 tight ends and a full back. Ran the ball for a loss of two. Not a good start.
  2. Bears were once again using the runningbacks as receivers. No surprise with little depth at wide receiver on the team.
  3. The Bears were using play action more than they did the first game. That’s something they need to do as the running game is all they have to threaten with right now.
  4. No surprise, the Bears threw lots of little short routes over the middle. The Buccaneers began sitting on the short routes as you might expect. they crowded the line of scrmmage and dared the Bears to throw deep which, of course, they are incapable of doing. Game over even without the turnovers.
  5. Not a great game for many members of the offensvie line. For instance, there was a total miss by Charles Leno on Levante David early in the game on a run that lost yardage. Leno looked practically helpless on the play. Bobby Massie didn’t have a great game.
  6. I wouldn’t lay this loss entirely at Mike Glennon’s feet but he certainly didn’t help. He wasn’t very accurate at times and it led to at least one interception that was entirely on him. Some might say that he was under pressure and the line didn’t have a great game. But truth be told the offensive line wasn’t that bad in protection for most of the game, especially considering that both Josh Sitton and Tom Compton went down to injury. Glennon really has no excuses.

Miscellaneous

  1. This kind of blow out is a tough game to do as an announcer. Dick Stockton and Mark Schlereth weren’t awful.
  2. I wouldn’t say that the special teams were really awful this game on either side. Once again, Bears kicker Connor Barth got a kickoff into the endzone for a touchback.
  3. Jordan Howard had another drop in the second quarter as did Josh Bellamy, Tanner Gentry and Kendall Wright (twice) in the fourth. Awful.
  4. An unbelievable number of defensive holding calls hurt the Bears continually. For instance, a holding on Danny Trevathan extended the ver first Tampa drive. The drive ended in a field goal. Another one extended a second quarter touch down drive by the Bucs giving the a fresh set of downs at the one yard line.The Bears ended the game with 8 penalties for 59 yards.
  5. Leonard Floyd picked up a Pernell McPhee strip fumble in the third quarter. Of course, it was way too little way too late.The Glennon interception in the first quarter was thrown behind the receiver. Fortunately the defense hold the Bucs on their own side of the 50 and forced a punt. Unfortunately Tarik Cohen stupidly tried to pick up the ball inside the 15 yard line and turned it right back over. Touch down.Mike Glennon fumbled a ball on a blitz up the middle right into the hands of Lavonte David.Robert McClain intercepted Glennon late in the second quarter for a pick six.Tough to win that way.
  6. Probably a lot of people will argue that Mike Evans was out of bounds on the Tampa touch down in the first quarter. It was close but I think right foot way down when he caught the ball and that the referees probably got it right.
  7. Just a quick reminder from twitter in the first half to those who will spend this week calling for Mitch Trubisky:


Amen. I wouldn’t want to doom anyone to being the quarterback of this team right now. And I really wonder how much anyone could learn under these circumstances.

8.  This was one of the toughest game I can remember having to watch. My only comfort is that it wasn’t the Packers. Yet.I can go on and on about penalties, turnovers and the fact that the Bears are going to have a very hard time competing with no wide receivers and no cornerbacks. But let’s just bottom line this.This miserable franchise is a national laughing stock. Again.

Bears Fans, Media and Team Get Another Dose of Reality But Simply Can’t Accept It

The first thing that I heard after the Bears loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday was the thing I expected. That was because, if nothing else, it was the same thing I heard last year and the year before that.

“We could have won if not for two dropped passes,” one fan said. “We didn’t have Kyle Long.”

One media member said, “Had Bears right tackle Bobby Massie held his block against Falcons defensive end Brooks Reed instead of weakly opening the turnstile, perhaps quarterback Mike Glennon would have found a mismatch in man coverage to complete the game-winning pass.”

And, of course, Bears head coach John Fox got into the act. “I think right now we’re a pretty good football team.”

[eye roll]

Let’s be honest, here. What we heard Sunday, what we’ve heard for a long time, the “What if…’s” and the “If only…’s”, can be characterized as one thing: the mating call of the loser.

These are the words that every losing organization says to itself. But they don’t change the fact. You lost.

The truth is that there isn’t that much difference in talent, top to bottom, in the NFL between teams. Yes, the Bears have a miserable wide receiver corp, the worst in the NFL – before injuries to Cam Meredith and Kevin White. But they also have budding star running backs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. Yes, they have a below average defensive backfield. But the front seven is pretty good and showed that yesterday.

No, though the Falcons were the more complete team, that wasn’t the difference yesterday. The difference was in the little things that went wrong at key moments during the game – little things that always bite bad teams.

You think the Bears are a “pretty good football team”? Good football teams don’t allow 88 yard touchdowns to mediocre tight ends like Austin Hooper.

After taking a day to digest that play, it seems evident now that the team completely blew the coverage. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman played zone when everyone else matched up. Danny Trevathan was spying quarterback Matt Ryan. Freeman didn’t carry Hooper up the seam. Free safety Quintin Demps, left the middle of the field to double Julio Jones. Hooper was left completely uncovered.

You think that the Bears win “if only Massie had held his block” on the last play? What about the two dropped touchdown passes, one by Jordan Howard and the other by Josh Bellamy, just two plays before? If it looked familiar, its because the Bears managed to drop passes in close home losses to the Titans and Packers last year. “If only” Bellamy had caught one of those, Matt Barkley would be a local hero.

Believe me, if it hadn’t been dropped passes and critical missed blocks, it would have been something else. That’s because these are plays that bad teams don’t make. They are plays that the Bears haven’t made for some years now. And that’s the difference between a “pretty good football team” and what they really are. A team that flat out doesn’t come through when it counts, that let’s injuries affect their play, that always makes just enough mistakes to lose.

“If only” the Bears could win the close ones “If only” had that little something, that intangible winning combination that allows them to do what it takes and make plays when the game is on the line. But they don’t. And people are going to have to be realistic and face that as we enter what could be another long year.

Quick Game Comments: Falcons at Bears 9/10/17

Defense

  1. Atlanta came out executing well. They spread the ball out, balanced the run and the pass. They looked sharp.
  2. The Bears played a lot of zone defense hoping to get pressure on Ryan with the front seven. I think we’ll see a lot of this during the year, given the state of the defensive backfield (i.e. not good). I’d say it was occasionally successful but inconsistent depending upon how successful the pass rush was. Atlanta spent a good part of the second quarter picking that zone apart with Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Truthfully the Bears defensive backs were out classed.
  3. The Bears did a reasonable job of stopping the run and did a pretty good job at the line of scrimmage. But Atlanta is pretty good with the play action pass and they occasionally got burned with it.
  4. Akiem Hicks was the best Bears defensive player on the field. Great game both rushing the passer and penetrating against the run.
  5. Was Pernell McPhee on the field at all?
  6. I know Leonard Floyd was out there most of the time but… let’s just say you wouldn’t know it from the stat sheet. They need more from him.
  7. Hard to figure out what happened on the 88 yard Austin Hooper touchdown in the fourth quarter but it looked like Quintin Demps blew the deep coverage.
  8. I didn’t think this was Matt Ryan’s best game. He wasn’t real accurate.
  9. There was some awful tackling out there.

Offense

  1. Not surprising to anyone who watched the preseason, the Bears came out in a lot of double tight end. Also not surprising, the Falcons responded by stacking the line of scrimmage with a lot of guys in the box. They were keying on the running backs.
  2. The Bears played for the first quarter and a half taking what the defense gave them – i.e. the pass. Just one problem. They have the worst wide receiver group in the league. And that was before losing Cam Meredith. The Bears really struggled with short passes that went nowhere.
  3. Those passes went nowhere because of the speed on the Atlanta defense. No sooner did a receiver get the ball then he would get hammered. Yards after the catch were at a premium. they got decent pressure on Mike Glennon.
  4. The Bears tried to counter the Atlanta speed and aggressiveness with some misdirection plays. I’d say that they had limited success.
  5. Here’s the good news. Late in the second quarter the Bears threw up their hands and said, “The hell with this.” They just ran despite the defense. and it worked to give them a touchdown late in the half.
  6. Tarik Cohen tore it up with some spectacular runs. Not only is he athletic with excellent vision, he’s short, tough to get a hold of and tough to find behind the line of scrimmage. He and Jordan Howard are a potent one-two punch in the backfield.
  7. Give the Bears offensive line some love for some good blocking up front and everyone else, including those miserable wide receivers, credit for doing a good job of contributing as well.
  8. Glennon didn’t look good out there but I really can’t fault him. He had some “where was that going?” passes but he’s surrounded by nothing to pass to, was under a fair bit of pressure much of the time and was playing a very good defense.
  9. I guess you can’t run the ball on every down but I really thought that they should have done it more, in the second half. I literally cringed in the second half every time I saw a shot gun formation because I knew it was a disaster waiting to happen. I can’t remember ever seeing a team That was less of a threat to throw a ball more than 8 yards. The Falcons just sat o the short routes and caused havoc. It would help if they put Glennon under center more so they could play off of their success running the ball and run a realistic play action pass.
  10. Brook Reed had a great game attacking the line of scrimmage for the Falcons.
  11. As bad as the receivers are I do wonder if the Bears shouldn’t be getting more out of Kendall Wright. Tight end Dion Sims occasionally looked good, too.

Miscellaneous

  1. This was originally the announcing team that was supposed to include Jay Cutler. Without him, there wasn’t much special to pay attention to.Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver were professional and Davis, in particular, did a reasonable job of hitting all of the important points as far as I was concerned. In fact, for what its worth, he literally said a lot of things as I was thinking them.We certainly could have done worse.
  2. The game started with a short kick to the 10 almost put the Bears in the hole right away. A penalty brought the 60 yard return back. Connor Barth kind of redeemed himself a bit later with 54 yd field goal followed be a kick off into the end zone for a touchback.
  3. I’d say penalties weren’t outrageously bad on the part of either team. Hicks had a bad roughing the passer penalty in the third quarter. That extended a long drive that ended in a field goal.Not a great game for Cody Whitehair. He had a hands to the face penalty and a holding penalty. He also had a low shotgun snap.
  4. There weren’t many drops until the last Bears drive. Kevin White had one on the first play of second half. But the ones that really hurt were the two by Josh Bellamy and Jordan Howard in the waning seconds of the game. Both may have been game winning touchdowns.
  5. The Bears didn’t turn the ball over. Perhaps more telling, they didn’t get any, either.
  6. It won’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet as being as bad as it was but the Falcons had some really long drives that tired the Bears defense out in the second half.
  7. I think the best team won this game. I give the Bears credit for hanging in there with inferior personnel but in the end I think the cream rose to the top.

McPhee Weight Loss Has Less to Do with Being in Shape Than With Reducing Stress on HIs Knees. And Other Points of View.

  • With the promotion of quarterback Mitch Trubisky to the back up role, a legitimate question arises – why keep quarterback Mark Sanchez if all he’s going to be in a third stringer?

    There are a couple answers to this. First, the third quarterback on the roster is usually your developmental quarterback. The Bears have one of those – he the second stringer. So you don’t need another one in that spot.

    Second, Sanchez can still play a role as a mentor to both Trubisky and Mike Glennon.

    “This has all been well thought out. We were honest and up front with Mark about the reasons we value him. It starts with he’s a good player,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “But it also goes into all the intangibles he brings, what he brings to our locker room and the quarterback room. Mike can lean on his experience, and Mitch can lean on that too. He’s valuable for us. He’s the kind of guy that just exudes positive energy wherever he is, and he has seen a lot in his career.”

    But perhaps more to the point, Sanchez is a good insurance policy. There’s no guarantee that Trubisky is going to be ready to step in and replace  Glennon should that be necessary. He still lacks experience.

    Trubisky will now get the first shot should it come to that. But with a poor wide receiver group and an offensive line that is already showing cracks due to injury, Trubisky may not perform well. In fact, it would be fair to say that playing him could do more harm than good. In that case, you want Sanchez available to stop in and take the heat.

  • Much has been made of the fact that linebacker Pernell McPhee is practicing and looks to be in position to play on Sunday.

    Head coach John Fox said that McPhee is “probably in the best shape he’s ever been in” and “We felt confident just watching him move around today.”

    GM Ryan Pace echoed that thought:

    “Monday’s practice, you felt him out there. He only knows one speed. We’re mindful of that, how we’re going to manage him. But it’s exciting to see. I think you’ll see today with his pads on, the way his body looks, the way he’s moving around. He’s a very disruptive player that provides a lot of pass rush for us. So it’s just exciting to have him back. But we’ll have a plan in place. And fortunately we have enough guys there where we can rotate and be smart about how we utilize him.”

    Much has been made of the fact that McPhee is moving better after losing pounds in the offseason. But McPhee was pretty quick even at his heavier playing weight and what people aren’t saying is the real reason for the weight loss. It because it has a dramatic effect upon a player’s knees.

    Studies show that for each pound of body weight lost, there is a four pound reduction in knee joint stress. For the average person, the accumulated reduction in knee load for a 1-pound loss in weight would be more than 4,800 pounds per mile walked. You can imagine how much that increases in an athlete that runs up and down a football field for a living.

    The hope obviously is that having McPhee play below his normal playing weight will extend his career.

  • One of the more surprising weekend cuts for the Bears was defensive lineman John Jenkins.

    Jenkins is a 6’3″, 327 lb defensive lineman that the Bears signed in the offseason, presumably to be the primary backup for nose guard Eddie Goldman.

    The defense wasn’t the same last year when Goldman was out injured and they had little behind him in terms of depth. So it was surprising that the Bears risked exposing him to waivers before resigning him after putting safety Deiondre’ Hall on injured reserve.

    It all worked out in the end but it makes me wonder what the Bears were planning to do at the position if someone had claimed Jenkins.

  • With no Dolphins game on television what’s left of the Miami viewing audience after the evacuation is complete will get the Bears game. Won’t those poor people have suffered enough?
  • The best news all week for Bears fans? Every single writer for the Chicago Tribune picked the Falcons to win Sunday.

    Chalk this one up as a slam dunk win for the Bears.

We Forgot What a Good Running Back Looks Like and Other Points of View

  • Hub Arkush at Pro Football Weekly on the current state of the Bears roster:

    “For all the early excitement brought by the arrivals of rookies Mitch Trubisky and Tarik Cohen, it’s hard not to feel a bit letdown after the Bears’ final cuts of the preseason Saturday.”

    “With only five wide receivers – realistically only three you’d want on the field – and five tight ends plus a fullback currently, it’s clear there will be a few more changes to the team’s 53-man roster, most likely prior to the opener against Atlanta.

    “That’s a good thing. Because for the moment, this group leaves you feeling a little flat at best.”

    I have to agree. Way too much of this roster looks exactly like it did last year. Even at positions where there were changes like cornerback I question whether the team is actually any better than last year.

    The Bears are essentially relying on better health and better play from their previous draft picks for improvement. I’m not sure that’s going to be enough to provide significant improvement.

  • Brad Biggs, Rich Campbell and Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune all bemoan the Bears lack of talent as they examine the 53 man roster after the cut downs over the weekend. From Campbell:

    “Defensively, the lack of star power puts a ceiling on what to expect. The Bears remain the only NFL team without a defensive player who has been to a Pro Bowl. The other 31 have a least one defensive Pro Bowler from the last two seasons. In other words, the Bears are trailing in the personnel department, which showed last season in their NFL-record-low 11 takeaways.”

    Of course, I agree. But if you are looking for a bright side I’d say that the Bears do have potential Pro Bowl talent in some of their recent draft picks, namely Leonard Floyd and Eddie Goldman.

    By far the biggest problem that the Bears have is the fact that wide receiver Kevin White hasn’t developed. It’s left them totally bereft of a passing game and, though the running game looks strong, there’s a only so much that you can do against good teams without a legitimate passing threat to go with it.

    You can’t hit on every draft pick. But if anything has doomed the Bears to an – at best – mediocre season, that’s it.

  • Many reports are pointing out the fall that running back Jeremy Langford took over the course of one year. The Bears were looking to him to be their starter this time last year. This year he was cut.The truth is that this isn’t a fall for Langford. The talent at running back is simply so much better that it leaves the average observer wondering, “What were we thinking?”

    Langford is just a guy. We just didn’t recognize it because we forgot what a good running back looks like.

  • Kevin Seifert at ESPN wonders why there have been so many trades this offseason:

    “What’s going on here? Has the NFL embarked on a new era of next-level wheeling and dealing? Or are we overreacting to what history will judge as a bunch of relatively inconsequential moves?”

    “As the ESPN Stats & Information chart shows, NFL teams have made 30 trades since Aug. 1 through late Sunday afternoon. That’s already more trades than we saw between Aug. 1 and the first game of the regular season in each of the previous nine years. The average during that period was 13.3 trades.”

    “Of course, teams have always tried to trade players before releasing or waiving them. So the biggest question to ask here is this: Why are teams giving up draft choices, albeit low-round picks in most cases, for players they could probably have acquired on the open market if they were patient?

    “In some cases, a general manager might feel that the available player is either better or better in his system than the profile of a player he might draft if he holds on to the pick. He might also consider the pick a small price to avoid a bidding war or even a free-agent courtship should he wait for an eventual release.”

    It’s just a guess but the way the salary cap is handled nowadays may have a lot to do with this.

    First, the cap has been rising and many teams probably have more space than usual to work with.

    But, probably more importantly, many of the NFL deals in recent years have been front loaded with guaranteed money to make sure that there’s minimal dead space if the player doesn’t work out.

    That means that there’s less dead guaranteed money accelerating onto the cap when many of the players are being traded. This was, of course, the biggest reason why trades haven’t been that common in the past.

  • I was amused by this prediction from Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Mitch Trubisky’s first start will come … against the Browns in Week 16. The Bears will stubbornly cling to [Mike] Glennon as their starter throughout the season. Not until they finally are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs will they turn to the future and give Trubisky a shot in a comfortable spot: a home game against the wretched Browns.”

    If the Bears aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs until week 16, I think we’re all going to be reasonably satisfied regardless of when Trubisky finally plays.

  • Kickers have way too much time on their hands:

Shaheen Has Yet to Impress and Other Points of View

  • Hyped rookie tight end Adam Shaheen has had his struggles during the preseason. Via Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune:

    Eye on the ball: Tight end Adam Shaheen was at fault for one of Trubisky’s three incompletions, a pass over the middle that the rookie flat-out dropped. Shaheen had minimal production in exhibition games before Thursday, entering the night with three catches for 18 yards. He bounced back from his early drop to record three catches in the second quarter from Shaw, resulting in 19 yards.

    Shaheen is a prime example of why training camp reports should always be digested with a grain of salt.

    All Spring into early training camp all we heard was about Shaheen’s athleticism was allowing him to dominate in camp and how fans could expect an immediate contribution from him come September. But the eye test has told us a different story.

    Shaheen very evidently has had a hard time adjusting to the speed of the game and he’s having a hard time just catching the ball.

    He’s a small school prospect and its way too early to call him a bust, of course. But his early performances have not impressed me and playing tight end isn’t like playing quarterback. We should expect to see better from the second round pick sooner rather than later.

  • Wiederer also reported the Bears injuries from Thursday night. Lamar Houston, Victor Cruz, Deiondre’ Hall, Harold Jones Quartey and Connor Shaw top the list.I would never say a guy who claims to be injured isn’t. But if you are a veteran who thinks he might be released (I’m thinking Cruz and Houston, in particular), there’s no reason to under play injuries at this point. You want the team to negotiate an injury settlement or, better yet, be on the hook for your entire salary, before releasing you.
  • David Haugh, also at the Tribune, castigates the Bears for risking a Trubisky injury late in the fourth quarter of a lost preseason game:

    “Inexplicably, the Bears chose to play the last minute as if it mattered. On three of the last five plays from scrimmage in the final 64 seconds, Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains called passes for Trubisky in an irrelevant game they trailed by 25. The future franchise quarterback they protected by calling nine straight handoffs early now was the guy asked to drop back behind the third-team offensive line with nothing to gain from a touchdown pass.”

    “[T]hey chose the most precarious path out of the preseason. They put Trubisky in harm’s way behind an offensive line not equipped to protect a player that valuable. As Trubisky lay at the bottom of a pile of Browns after a sack, general manager Ryan Pace must have been apoplectic watching helplessly. Asked about the decision after the game, Fox justified the negligence with familiar coach-speak about the inherent dangers of football.

    “How do you excuse taking a timeout with 11 seconds left to run one more play?”

    I think Haugh needs to switch to decaf. To be fair, he’s far from the only one. Head coach John Fox has been roundly criticized nationally. Not that he shouldn’t be used to it by now.

    The Bears and Trubisky himself have repeatedly emphasized that he needs experience in playing situational football. So the Bears put him in in to what will be a common situation once he becomes a starting quarterback and asked him to play it like it mattered.

    I admit it. My opinion on this might have been different if Trubisky was injured. I don’t think so but it admit it might. In any case, he wasn’t and, looking back on it, the risk of dropping back for only a few passes wasn’t really that great compared to the high impact experience gained with the bonus that it came at a time when his mistakes didn’t do any damage that counts for anything.

  • Some might legitimately wonder why the Bears bothered to start Trubisky if all he was going to do is hand the ball off 9 straight times. But yet another Trubisky weakness is making correct presnap reads (not to mention just managing the play clock). This was a safe way to give him practice at doing that.
  • One of the more interesting decisions that the Bears have to make on the back end of their roster is at wide receiver. Via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune:

    “It’s a tough call between [Titus Davis] and Tanner Gentry, the undrafted rookie free agent from Wyoming. It looked like Davis got a little more run with the backups early in the game. Neither one should feel too safe if they make it through initial cuts because there is often additional roster movement.”

    Davis must be doing things in practice that the average blogger can’t see on a consistent basis. Because based upon what’s actually happened in the games, I’d say that Gentry has done far more to earn a roster spot than Davis. In fact, in contrast to Biggs, my interpretation would have been that he got more playing time in the last game because the coaching staff was giving him a last chance to show them something. And yet we continually hear Davis’s name as a player to be accounted for.

    I’ll be interested to see how this shakes out but, as Biggs points out, I think the Bears will be scanning the waiver wire looking for help at this position. It would surprise no one if one or both of these players ends up sneaking through to the practice squad.

  • Biggs also highlighted another position battle that has surprised us both:

    “If I had done a mock 53-man roster at the outset of training camp, I would have had Daniel Brown making the team and [Zach] Miller getting cut. Brown didn’t flash a lot in training camp and preseason and I’ve switched my thinking on this one. Miller’s vast injury history is concerning. The Bears surely don’t believe they can get 16 games out him. Not the way his body has betrayed him throughout his career. But Miller can make plays in the passing game and for an offense that doesn’t have a lot of players that can get in the end zone, he stands out as one of them.

    I, too, was reasonably certain that the Bears had given up on depending on MIller and that his days were numbered. But it was evident from the first preseason game onward with MiIler consistently appearing in the double tight end sets with Dion Sims and the other starters that the Bears had plans to ride Miller for as long as his body would allow this year, allowing Shaheen to learn behind him.

  • One more tough call comes on the offensive line where what to do with fifth round pick Jordan Morgan has become an issue.Red flags went up in my mind when I took a look at the Bears first depth chart and Morgan was far down the list at guard. It hasn’t gotten better from there. While looking for alternatives with left guard Kyle Long out, it was disturbing that the Bears found that either moving a natural tackle in Tom Compton or a natural center in Hronis Grasu or Cody Whitehair to be better options than giving Morgan a shot at the job. Morgan has continued to work with the third offensive line all the way through the preseason.If the Bears still feel Morgan was worth a fifth round pick – and that is by no means a given, then putting him on waivers in the hopes of sneaking him onto the practice squad is a risky business. Other teams had to have valued him in the draft and some team with a healthy offensive line and good depth might decide to try to stash him onto the backend of the 53 man roster. In this case, I think that the Bears might simply keep Morgan on the roster and keep him inactive on game days.

    On the other hand, it might be that the Bears are preparing to give up already on Morgan. That’s a fifth round pick down the drain to go with the likely loss of at least two 2016 picks with cuts at the safety position.

Everyone Thinks Playing Trubisky in the 4th Preseason Game Is a Good Idea. Until It’s Not. And Other Points of View.

[Mitch] Trubisky’s time is coming. I firmly believe it will arrive this season. But [Mike] Glennon showed enough for the Bears to continue with the plan they set forth back when they bucked up for the veteran and then traded up to draft Trubisky. How long Glennon remains the starter is going to depend on three variables: how well he performs, how the team performs and how Trubisky shows growth during practice. The latter might be the most significant.”

My guess is that how well Glennon performs will be the most significant. Trubisky is a head of where I thought he’d be but he’s still not ready and as Biggs points out in the same article, he’ll probably be getting fewer reps in practice as they ramp up towards the first game of the season.

Unlike Biggs, I think the Bears would like to give Glennon a genuine shot to show what he can do this year. If they get the version we saw in the third preseason game, they could win quite a few games with him.

They paid Glennon $18 million guaranteed this year to keep Trubisky on the bench and to let him learn to do things like not let the play clock run out. Twice.

Trubisky shows a lot of promise and I couldn’t be more pleased right now. But he’s got a lot to learn.

As an added bonus, probably best case scenario Glennon’s got some trade value at the end of the year if he plays well and lasts the season. Assuming they don’t want to pay the money to keep him.

  • According to Biggs The Falcons, Packers and the Raiders have been at all of the Bears preseaon games. It will be interesting to see if either team picks up a players that is expected to be released in final cuts.
  • The Bears defense is getting a lot of love after a solid preseason performance and with some justification. I think most fans always knew that the front seven had a great deal of potential if it could stay healthy. That looks like it might be the case.

Having said that, let’s not pretend that all is well with the unit as a whole. For instance, the team tied an all time NFL record for fewest takeaways last year and the defense has shown no signs through two preseason games that this year will be any better.

Like they have with the offensive line and the running game on offense, the Bears have built a good nucleus at the line of scrimmage this year. I think that’s always what you want to do.

But, also like the offense at wide receiver, the defensive backfield is barely mediocre. The Bears went with second tier talent in free agency to shore up the cornerbacks with only one draft pick – albeit an apparently solid one – at safety. And one of those cornerbacks is already looking ike he might be on the shelf for a while. Via Biggs:

Cornerback Prince Amukamara acknowledged when training camp opened that he needs remain healthy and that has been a knock against him. But he left Nissan Stadium with a walking boot on his right ankle. He also missed time previously with a hamstring issue. Hopefully he’s good to go when the Falcons come in.

Hopefully.

But even with him, the unit has a long way to go before it ranks among the NFL elite.

  • I don’t know any Bears fans that are really upset by the new contract extension that the Bears put together for left tackle Charles Leno but for what its worth, the contract is actually only a 2 year deal for $12 million. That’s the guaranteed money. There is $8 million guaranteed for injury only in the 3rd year but that doesn’t become fully guaranteed until the 3rd day of the new league year (effectively making it 3 years for $20 million).

The national perspective on Leno has not been very positive, partly due to some lackluster Pro Football Focus ratings, but the Bears are high on him and they backed it up with this deal. Left tackles don’t grow on trees nor are they cheap if they’re any good.

My own eyes on game day tell me to agree with the Bears on this though I’ve had a hard time convincing other people in other cities nationally. If Leno can become a bit more consistent he’ll be a pretty good player at a valuable position.

  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune continues to write what has been a consistent theme with the media since the offseason, albeit with a bit of a twist:

“Eventually, [head coach John] Fox might realize the chances to keep his job beyond 2017 improve if Trubisky beats out Glennon and becomes the starter.”

“A 6-10 season, for example, with Glennon starting 16 games and Trubisky learning whatever backup quarterbacks learn by watching would cry out for a coaching change likely to coincide with Trubisky’s promotion in 2018. But a 6-10 season with Trubisky showing flashes under Fox and his staff might allow the coach to complete the final year of his contract when — lame-duck status or not — the continuity could benefit the young quarterback. Maybe positive signs despite a 5-11 or 4-12 record would have a similar effect.”

What is most important for Fox right now is wins and losses. And 6-10 with Glennon or Trubisky would be a significant improvement in that area. Whether that justifies keeping Fox would, as always, depend on the circumstances, but I’d say that should be good enough under most conditions.

What people have to understand is that when the Bears hired GM Ryan Pace and Fox they embarked on a long, painful process of breaking this team down and rebuilding it almost from scratch. It’s true that most people probably didn’t think that it would take three offseasons to complete just the breaking down part but, thanks to Jay Cutler, it did.

What that means is that from here on out is that the Bears and their fans need to look for improvement starting from a 3-13 base, their record in 2016. A progression from 3-13 to 6-10 to 8-8 or 9-7 to 10-6 would be slow but should be perfectly acceptable under almost any circumstances as long as its consistent and shows signs of being sustainable long-term.

Many in the media have pointed out that, thanks to pulling the plug on Marc Trestman and Phil Emery so quickly, the Bears are in danger of becoming “one of those teams” that is constantly turning over their front office, threatening consistency. They wonder why this happens even as they press to replace coaches like Fox, setting conditions that go beyond simple improvement and slow and steady progress. They demand that the Bears win immediately even as they bemoan the organization’s lack of patience.

Getting back to the point of the article, would starting Trubisky and having him perform well help the perception in terms of how the teams is progressing? No question and the point is well taken. But on the other hand, starting him and watching him fall apart before our eyes because he was rushed and wasn’t ready wouldn’t be good for morale anywhere in this city.

In any case, what needs to be appreciated is that, in terms of Fox’s job status, the point is irrelevant. Whether they start Trubisky or not, the organization needs to be patient and the bar for keeping Fox needs to be at an appropriate level. Coming off of 3-13, I think 6-10 ordinarily should be just fine.

  • As most fans know, teams can pick up a lot of useful pieces after roster cuts following the last preseason game. The Bears are third in the waiver order and figure to have a good shot at some players who can help. In this respect, Biggs makes a good point:

“The Browns and 49ers are the only teams ahead of the Bears, meaning Pace would have first shot at any player those teams pass on.

“The Browns and 49ers both have 4-3 base defenses, so players profiling a 3-4 scheme might not be attractive to either of those teams. Of course, the front seven is arguably the strongest part of the roster right now.”

The Bears need the most help at wide receiver and in the defensive backfield and its not impossible that the Bears could get some help there, too. For instance, the Brown’s release of former Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden on Wednesday will be of note. but the guess here is that they wouldn’t turn their noses up at anyone who could improve the depth in the front seven, especially on the defensive line.

  • On a related note, here’s hoping Eddie Goldman being in the concussion protocol doesn’t become a major issue. He’s the most irreplaceable part of the defense, which never looked the same after they lost him last year.
  • I think starting Mitch Trubisky in the fourth preseason game is a good idea. Unless he gets hurt. If he does, head coach John Fox will be getting death threats from fans.

That’s not a joke.

  • Perhaps more noteworthy is the fact that Mark Sanchez isn’t playing despite getting very few snaps during the pre-season to date. There are 2 possibilities:
    1. He’s already got the #2 job. He’s a veteran who doesn’t need the reps and they want him healthy going into the season.
    2. He’s already lost the #2 job to Trubisky and they want to make sure he doesnt’ get hrt before they release him, putting them on the hook for some money.

I’m guessing #1 is the most likely. But I’m not discounting #2 and it wouldn’t be totally shocking if he’s released after the game.

Trubisky’s Play Against the Titans Could Be Disappointing and Other Points of View

“I anticipate the Bears drafting at the top of the draft again next year. If an All-Pro left tackle is available in the draft, do the Bears still take one that high or do they look at other positions now that Leno is signed for the foreseeable future?”

“— Corey S., South Side”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears were to include offensive tackle among the positions they would consider with a first-round draft pick in 2018 but [Charles] Leno profiles better on the left side than the right side… The Bears have made a solid financial commitment to Leno and I’d be awful surprised if they were to go away from him after one season. They believe he can be entrenched there for several seasons to come. That being said, right tackle Bobby Massie was shaky last year, particularly in the first two months of the season. The Bears made a run at right tackle Ricky Wagner in free agency and that signaled to me they were willing to make a change at that position. Depending on how Massie performs this season, certainly tackle could be a need for the Bears once again.”

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Bears tried to replace Massie this year, yet. Pre-season cuts are coming and if the right guy is released for the right reasons, the Bears might well choose to pick up a player in the same way that they signed Josh Sitton right before the season started last year.

Continuity is an issue in those situations but the Bears obviously aren’t afraid of disrupting that. Their actions with Sitton last year and Kyle Long’s switch from right to left guard and the movement around the line we’ve seen in the preseason with players like Cody Whitehair to close the gap pretty much tell us that getting the five best players on the field supersedes everything there.

“The team clearly likes Kendall Wright better as a slot receiver right now. I don’t think Braverman has much of a shot to make the 53-man roster and he might not stick around on the practice squad.”

I blame Jay Cutler.

“Kicker Roberto Aguayo might be running out of time to earn a roster spot.

“Coach John Fox doesn’t often criticize players to the media yet opened Friday’s news conference by highlighting Aguayo’s practice struggles. After the second-year kicker sliced a 49-yard kick wide right against the Cardinals last weekend, he faces an uphill battle to unseat Connor Barth. Fox wasn’t sure how much the Bears could do to help Aguayo get out of his rut.

“‘It’s like working with golfers,’ Fox said. ‘It doesn’t really matter much what they do on the driving range, it matters what’s on the course. … We’re going to mess with him. We don’t have a long look but he’s been very receptive. And that’s an area where we need to improve.’”

Aguayo pretty much blew any chance he had to make the team when he missed the field goal that Wiederer mentions. Which brings us to the real question – why is he still on the roster?

There are two possibilities here.

  1. As valuable as positions on the 53 man roster are, as Fox mentions, a change in needed at kicker because Barth, as accurate as he is at short range, doesn’t have the leg to kick longer field goals or, more to the point, handle kickoffs effectively. It’s entirely possible that they’re going to keep Aguayo just for that.
  2. Aguayo could still be placed on a practice squad.

Both possibilities would allow the Bears to continue to try to correct his mechanics and make him a more accurate field goal kicker.

“This is supposed to be a pivotal season for the dynamic receiver. But through two exhibition outings, White has been invisible. Two catches, 2 yards. The Bears passing game needs a spark in a bad way. And White needs some production to build confidence heading into the regular season. On the whole, the Bears’ top receivers have been disappointing this month. In the nine possessions the first-unit offense has had, their receivers have managed only seven catches for 51 yards.”

Amen.

Mike Glennon is taking some flack for his preseason performances and rightfully so. But when we look as his putrid 4.2 yards per attempt, we have to remember that his receivers are partially responsible. Specifically, that they aren’t getting open deep. that has to change or it isn’t going to matter who is at quarterback.

I agree. To an extent.

I always thought the front seven would be a strength for the Bears if they could keep them all healthy. But I have more doubts than most about the defensive back field.

One thing that absolutely must change is the turnover ratio. The Bears tied an all-time NFL record for fewest takeaways last year with 11 and I’ve seen little evidence during the preseason that this will improve enough to keep the Bears competitive consistently when playing decent teams.

Sunday is probably their last chance to give us some hope in this area. It will be a challenge not just to get the ball away but to continue to show why Bears fans are optimistic about them.

The Titans are an old school smash mouthed run first football team. They added speed to the offense in the offseason in the form of first round wide receiver Corey Davis and they brought in Eric Decker to play the slot. Derrick Henry has also been lining up in the slot in the preseason.

All-in-all there has been a significant effort to diversify the offense and the Bears defense is going to have their toughness and skill tested at every level of the defense.

  • There’s a lot of excitement about Mitch Trubisky starting the second half against the Titans and Fox has said that he hopes the Titans keep their starters in.

I really hope that Bears fans aren’t going to be too disappointed if Trubisky doesn’t play well. Two things define Dick LeBeau’s defense: amoeba fronts and complex five-man blitzes on passing downs.

It could get ugly out there for a rookie quarterback who wasn’t even very experienced by college standards.

The Bears Are Gradually Challenging Trubisky to Transition to Pro Style And Other Points of View

“Mitch Trubisky’s second preseason outing was far less attention-grabbing than his first. His final numbers — 6-for-8, 60 yards, a TD pass and a 135.4 rating — were solid. And he once again took care of the ball, now up to 65 preseason plays and eight possessions without a turnover.

“Trubisky got away with a throw to Titus Davis that was nearly intercepted. He was also sacked for a loss of 7 in the fourth quarter when he couldn’t escape a six-man rush and held the ball a beat too long.

“It’s still hard to envision Trubisky making a rapid leap to unseat [Mike] Glennon as the starter by Week 1.”

Agreed.

Trubisky was not as good as last week for 2 reasons:

  1. The Bears asked him to do more. He didn’t roll out, cutting the field and his reads in half, nearly as much. They put him under center more.
  2. The Cardinals showed him and the third team offense more. They got him on a sack that didn’t count on a delayed blitz and on one that did on another blitz that he likely hasn’t seen before. He had one near INT.Trubisky naturally isn’t going to look as good as the Bears challenge him to leave his comfort zone and become the quarterback he needs to be in a pro style offense.  Bears fans are going to have to be patient as that happens.
  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions. Biggs does a shrewd analysis of the players on the special teams units during the Arizona game to see what can be gleaned in terms of who makes the backend of the roster and who doesn’t:

“The one thing that jumps out a little bit is the absence of Kyle Fuller. If he’s going to stick with the Bears as a reserve cornerback, you’d figure he’s got to have a hand in the action on special teams. That could be coming but we’ll have to wait and see.”

What jumped out at me was the absence of Ka’Deem Carey. Carey is in his annual battle to make this team and with the emergence of Tarik Cohen and the decent possibility that tight end Ben Braunecker becomes a core special teams player, Carey’s roster spot is in serious jeopardy. A lot may come down to what the Bears decide to do with running back Benny Cunningham. Cunningham returns kicks and was getting a look with the punt coverage teams.

I’d say that, along with Jeremy Langford, who also was absent from the list of special teams players, both Carey and Fuller may be in serious trouble.

  • Brian Urlacher was very positive in this interview. I’m much more likely to listen to him when he has negative comments now that I’ve heard some positives.

    Urlacher may not be the grumpy ex-player I thought he was.