2023 was a landmark year for DaBearsBlog, with the introduction of our second editor-in-chief, Robert K. Schmitz. The result has been traffic reaching new in-season heights as Robert modernized our content with the incorporation of video, podcasts and more film study in six months than this site had provided in the previous sixteen years combined.
But we can only do this work because of our annual pledge drives. We will NEVER put our content behind a paywall, instead channeling the NPR model of soliciting support from our readers and followers for one week every year. This is that week. We ask for seven days and then we don’t ask again for a year.
So give what you can. A dollar. A fiver. A hundo. Nothing. Your readership is the only support we’ve ever truly wanted. This drive simply ensures you’ll continue to have unique work to read.
The link to support is right here!
This is a special piece from DBB contributor Chris Marrs. Marrs doesn’t cover the Bears professionally. He’s just a fan who spends too much time thinking about this team. Longtime reader, first time caller, he looks forward to contributing to DaBearsBlog, which he considers the ’85 Bears of blogs.
There is something magical about that navy backdrop in the press room at Halas Hall – you know, the one behind the podium, featuring the iconic logo that stands unmistakably for pride, tradition, and the excellence we’ve come to expect from Hyundai (the Bears’ logo is on there too). When otherwise bright, accomplished men sit in front of it, they magically transform into clumsy, tone deaf, empty suits in orange ties, barfing so many corporate clichés that you’d swear they were doing shots of them backstage.
It has been a few weeks now since the Bears latest autopsy press conference on January 10th. This one was bigger, though, serving as an introduction of sorts to Bears fans’ most recent knight in shining armor: new Team President Kevin Warren. This moment would be his first true time-of-crisis Q & A as the boss.
There was such hope for Warren. First new president in 25 years. Accomplished. Connected. Dynamic. Ted Phillips was The Penguin. This was Batman.
We all saw Warren’s comments days earlier at Lurie Children’s Hospital – by the way, cheers to Warren and his family for their support of Lurie. Good people. Wonderful gesture. Makes these next several paragraphs tougher, but such is life. Because five days later, sitting in front of that navy backdrop, Warren’s ideas weren’t fresh or new or encouraging. To put it as elegantly as I can, Warren swung a two-by-four into the nuts of Bears fandom.
Final Senior Bowl practices just wrapped up for both the National & American Team. I spent the day watching DBs and Wide Receivers, and here’s what I saw:
Did Not Practice: Florida WR Ricky Pearsall, Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell, Michigan WR Roman Wilson
Very Good: Notre Dame CB Cam Hart, Western Kentucky WR Malachi Corley, Rutgers CB Max Melton, Oregon State SAF Kitan Oladapo, Oregon SAF Evan Williams, USC WR Brenden Rice, Ohio State Safety Josh Proctor
Redeemed Himself: Washington State CB Chau Smith-Wade
I Wanted More: WR Devontez Walker, Penn State CB Kalen King, Oregon CB Khyree Jackson, Rice WR Luke McCaffrey, UCF WR Javon Baker
Notes: This isn’t a Copy/Paste list from yesterday — on the American squad, the cream has simply risen to the top. Cam Hart had another strong day, Max Melton took advantage of the extra reps, Kitan Oladapo flashed athleticism all day, and Brenden Rice separated with his feet on a day where he needed to do exactly that.
Once again, Senior Bowl practices just wrapped up for both the National & American Team only hours ago. I spent the day watching DBs and Wide Receivers, and here’s what I saw:
Dominant: Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell
Good: Florida WR Ricky Pearsall, North Carolina WR Devontez Walker, Michigan WR Roman Wilson, Western Kentucky WR Malachi Corley, Notre Dame CB Cam Hart, Rutgers CB Max Melton, Oregon State SAF Kitan Oladapo, Oregon SAF Evan Williams, UCF WR Javon Baker
I Wanted More: Penn State CB Kalen King, Oregon CB Khyree Jackson, Rice WR Luke McCaffrey
Notes: Quinyon continues to stand out, no two ways about it… Pearsall looks like a fun option in the 3rd or 4th round — he’s big enough to handle a jam, fast enough to separate after initial contact, and competitive at the catch point… Roman Wilson stayed fast.. Tez Walker looked much faster today than yesterday but he couldn’t seem to catch the ball. He did the hard part, but I’d love to see him finish tomorrow…
Senior Bowl practices just wrapped up for both the National & American Team only hours ago — I spent the day watching DBs and Wide Receivers, and here’s what I saw:
Bear With Me on these columns — time is short in Mobile, Alabama, so I’m stuffing as much as I can into this article. Organization will ebb and flow.
Quinyon Mitchell is a corner I haven’t personally had an easy time getting film on, but his play in Mobile stood out to the point that he was probably the best player on the field across both practices. He has beautiful, efficient footwork, physical during his route stem, and natural when tracking his man down the field. Made plays in both man and zone coverage. He’s assuredly out of the Bears’ league, but he’s fun nevertheless.
Nobody’s gotten much going against Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell today — he’s physical, plays with clean footwork, and manages space really well.
Here’s a great rep with an early jam and late contest. Pretty work. pic.twitter.com/VpTwYhCXWS
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) January 30, 2024
I’m sitting in an airport watching Jaheim Bell, TE out of Florida State, and he’s got me cackling to myself.
He’s SO fast. Solid hands too. Not much of a blocker, but might just be a weapon nevertheless. Could see a big week from him in Mobile. pic.twitter.com/9lWiz7Xjz8
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) January 30, 2024
Not much from me today, as I’m rushing to finish as much Senior Bowl prep as possible. More on that starting tomorrow.
But my biggest takeaway from yesterday’s games? The NFL is still a Quarterback league, and it’s becoming nearly impossible for anyone to shine brighter than the league’s best Quarterback when playing under the brightest lights.
Kudos to Purdy — I thought he played a very nice game yesterday, especially after a tough first half — but the young man has his work cut out for him in Las Vegas. Can the NFL’s modern ‘SuperTeam’ fell the game’s biggest giant? We’ll find out in two weeks.
But in watching the Chiefs, one other observation jumps out at me — the Chiefs’ Cornerbacks, namely L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, and Jaylen Watson — have played great football over the last few weeks, providing Kansas City’s defense with a punch that many units in the NFL can’t even attempt. After all, could frustrate an offense more than what we saw in Baltimore today? Todd Monken called pass play after pass play, but Odell Beckham Jr, Rashod Bateman, and Zay Flowers couldn’t separate against Kansas City’s corners, leading to tight throws that got batted away, sacks, and turnovers.
Baltimore’s frustration felt oddly familiar to me — it looked like Detroit’s frustration in their games against the Bears. And after all, how did the Bears fluster a Lions offense that seemingly no one else in the league could stop? The answer, I think, lies in Chicago’s corners. By investing in quality pass defenders, the Bears were able to turn their opponents’ rhythm throws into middle-percentage gambles that couldn’t be counted on when marching down the field.
When combined with Eberflus’ bend-don’t-break attitude, the stout run defense of Andrew Billings, and the pass-rush presence that Montez Sweat provided, I think Chicago’s corners became a force-multiplier that hasn’t been discussed enough — Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, and Kyler Gordon all gave WRs minimal room to breathe, minimizing layups and forcing offenses to play perfectly over long drives if they wanted to score. This clearly affected a pair of playoff offenses, namely Detroit and Cleveland, and throughout the Chiefs’ big win yesterday I found myself wondering if Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles might be onto something here.
I hope they are — frankly, I hope they continue investing in DB this year with a new Safety and maybe more depth at Corner. But, for now, it’s nothing if not a different perspective on the drivers of a modern defense.
Pass rush will always be king, but as Corner turns into a land of “Haves” and “Have-Nots” it seems as if Ryan Poles has found a way to get ahead of the NFL’s curve — with another likely add coming to Chicago’s Defensive Line in the 2024 offseason, I hope his approach bears further fruit next year. Regardless of who’s playing QB, a stingy corps of DBs will go a long way towards frustrating future opponents and finding wins where others can’t.
All times ET. Home team in CAPS.
Sunday 3:00 PM – Chiefs at RAVENS (-3)
Those audible cheers
come from the Inner Harbor.
Sunday 6:30 PM – Lions at 49ERS (-6.5)
They call him “Deebo.”
But his real name is Tyshun.
The Niners need him.
2-2 last weekend, getting shut out on Sunday. This week I’m on the Ravens -3 and the 49ers -6.5. Why? I just think these were clearly the two best teams in the sport and have been destined to meet in Vegas.