Practice Notebook: A Different Summer, A Different World (8/31/20)

| August 31st, 2020

Saturday would have been the third preseason game; the final opportunity for those trying to grab the 2-3 spots at the bottom of the roster. Instead Saturday was just another Saturday, and the last time any laymen would have an opportunity to look at the 2020 Chicago Bears before their season opener.

How Different This Summer Has Been

Writing about an NFL team has a seasonal rhythm to it. After the dead period of May and June, July begins a slow, deliberate crescendo to the nervously thrilling first whistle of opening day. In my case, there’s always a boozy, beachy Labor Day weekend that serves as a calm before the season’s storm. Then that Tuesday it’s all day, every day, until the season ends. Not this year, except for the boozy bit.

No fans at training camp has meant no leaked video or secretive email reports. These usually start flooding my email box on the first day of camp and don’t stop. And honestly, they’re pretty helpful. Last year, while many were excited about the prospect of Riley Ridley making a rookie impact, I was getting word early on that the kid was completely overwhelmed by the professional game. Turned out to be the truth.

The media isn’t shown anything of worth anymore and now can’t say much about what they are shown. So we’re left with scraps of reports.

No joint practices or preseason games means there’s nothing to which we can tangibly react, which has predictably taken all the dramatic steam out of the quarterback competition. This summer, for the first time since I started doing this, I was excited for the preseason because it was going to determine the starting quarterback.

Instead the season will just…start. Sunday September 13th will come. We will all wake up, have our breakfast, settle into our routines, and the game will begin. And fans across the league will be surprised by what they see.

Statement from Chicago Bears Players

Like many in the sports world, the Bears took a pause on Thursday to meet and discuss the racial issues facing our country. Their statement:

Allen Robinson: Missing the Opener?

I hadn’t read a word about ARob potentially not suiting up for the Detroit game until I came across this appearance on something called Fantasy Football Today by the legendary Madame Bombs:

The Bears have weapons on the outside. But Robinson’s ability to draw the attention of the opponent’s top corner all season will be essential to Anthony Miller’s rise and the Ginn/Mooney deep shots. The Lions drafted the insanely-talented Jeff Okudah and brought in veteran Desmond Trufant to rebuild their secondary. The challenge changes dramatically for those two if Robinson is on the sideline.

Robert Quinn: Not Missing the Opener

It was discussed in a previous notebook but Robert Quinn’s dominant performance at Saturday’s practice has squashed any sense that he might not be ready for Detroit. As someone told me, “This was the most impressive single day performance of anyone at camp.” When I asked around about that claim, no one disputed it. But I heard quite a bit of, “Yea but Jimmy Graham has been the best player overall.”

Yannick Traded to Minnesota

This means the NFC North now has Quinn/Mack/Hicks, the Smiths and Hunter/Ngakoue rushing the passer. Does the trade make the Vikings better? Yes, but better at a spot that was already a strength. The Vikings season will be defined by their passing attack: shaky tackles, a shaky QB under pressure, and a receiving corps lacking one of their best weapons from seasons past.

When Will the QB Be Announced?

Matt Nagy has now stated the decision won’t be announced before the opener. But my guess is it’ll leak out earlier that week. And I’m going to work my hardest to make sure it does.

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