Prelude to a Preseason Game: Things to Watch Saturday Night

| August 26th, 2022

Last one!

Last practice game of the 2022 off-season!

And with the starters expected to play a majority of the first half (supposedly), might there by more to watch in this practice game than in previous ones? Not really. But here’s what I’ll be watching.

  • INJURIES. This season is not going to be a fun one if the young talent isn’t on the field and that includes the quarterback, the three defensive backs, the left tackle, the right side of the line, etc. It would be devastating to not have this full complement when the scores actually count.
  • SPECIALS. The Bears seems to have decided upon Velus Jones Jr. as their primary kickoff and punt return man, with Dante Pettis the reliable alternative for the latter when they require a fair catch guy. It will be interesting to see if they deviate from that plan Saturday night. (Also, pay attention to which players are being used on the coverage units. It’ll be a strong clue as to who will be on this roster for the regular season.)
  • ROQUAN’S RETURN. Is this interesting to watch? No. Roquan Smith is a great player. He’ll be a great player against San Francisco in a few weeks. But it’ll be nice to see him again, I guess.
  • THE ACTUAL OFFENSE. David Montgomery hasn’t played in a preseason game. Byron Pringle hasn’t played in a preseason game. Equanimeous St. Brown doesn’t have a preseason catch. Velus hasn’t run a go route. Is there any chance we’ll see the actual offense tomorrow night? Doubtful. But maybe with the extended playing time, we get a hint of what’s to come?

It is a practice game. And there are still two weeks until the regular season. But hey, it’s something to do on a Saturday night that doesn’t involve drinking too much. (Spoiler alert: I will watch the game and also drink too much.)

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In Praise of Virginia McCaskey

| August 25th, 2022

Virginia McCaskey is 99 years old. Let’s put that number in perspective.

– When Virginia was born, sound was still four years away from being introduced to motion pictures.

– Virginia was born two months before the first ever publication of Time Magazine, in March 1923.

– Across the country, other icons were born that year. The Hollywood Sign (reading “Hollywoodland”) was erected in LA. Yankee Stadium and the boardwalk at Coney Island opened in NYC. The Walt Disney Company was founded.

Virginia is not in good health. In the last few days, word has trickled to DBB that her condition has become more serious. At her age, the word “good” is relative. (I just turned 40 and now my neck always hurts. If I live another 59 years, which is highly unlikely, will I even have a neck?) She’s on the precipice of living a century so one could argue that being alive, in any state, is playing with house money. But this seemed the appropriate moment to thank her for what she’s meant to the Chicago Bears franchise.

And where does one start?

Virginia is football’s link between then and now, heir to a founding fortune and keeper of one of this country’s most sacred sporting entities. Even while the family she married into has often caused consternation amongst the fan base, she has maintained her position, often symbolic, with dignity and passion. Virginia understands what the Chicago Bears mean to Chicago, what the Bears mean to their fans around the world, and always encouraged those leading the franchise to do whatever necessary to bring home another Super Bowl trophy. While they have failed, she has not.

It has become commonplace to see female owners in the NFL, in Detroit and Tennessee and Seattle. Virginia has been an NFL owner for 40 years. Not the wife of an owner. The owner. How many other women were running major American businesses in the early 1980s? And how many have not only maintained that role but earned the respect of the alpha male tycoon yahoos that surround her? “She’s remarkable woman,” Jim Irsay told The Score. Remarkable barely does her justice.

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Dannehy: Aaron Rodgers Doesn’t Like Bears Scheme & Other Preseason Thoughts

| August 24th, 2022

While fans have celebrated the offensive scheme change the Chicago Bears have implemented, count Aaron Rodgers as one who thinks it is a downgrade. In a somewhat recent interview with Pardon My Take, Rodgers went on a tangent about how the West Coast offense — which the Bears ran under Matt Nagy — is better than the scheme Luke Getsy is bringing from Green Bay.

“This scheme has flaws,” Rodgers said. “I grew up in the West Coast offense, which I think is the most beautiful offense ever created. It’s about timing and rhythm and balance and everything makes sense protection wise. You know where your hots are, you know where your eyes are going every single time, you know how the concepts fit together.”

Rodgers was drafted by Mike Sherman, who ran a variation of the West Coast he learned from Mike Holmgren. Mike McCarthy then took over, bringing a version that he learned from one of the scheme’s originators, Paul Hackett. Rodgers offered many complaints about the Shanahan-style outside zone scheme implemented by Matt LaFluer, when he was hired in 2019.

“This is a schematic offense. That (West Coast) was not a schematic offense. That was built on timing and precision and rhythm and guys being in the right spot at the right time and putting the ball on the proper number,” Rodgers said. “(It is) predicated on winning one-on-one matchups and being accurate throwing the football.”

Roughly translated, it sounds like Rodgers prefers the West Coast because it’s more about Jimmy’s and Joe’s than X’s and O’s. He probably has a point.

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With Camp Over, What Did We Learn?

| August 23rd, 2022

Training camp is an interesting part of the NFL calendar. It is part fan excitement. Part organizational misinformation. Part media scrambling to find stories where stories do not exist. Part me arguing on social media about the complete lack of value in preseason game reps. But it’s all…interesting? It gives us something to do. And sometimes we learn things.

So, what did we learn about the Chicago Bears during this 2022 camp?


Item #1. The H.I.T.S. Concept Works

It drew a lot of laughter at the introductory press conference of the coach/GM, but Eberflus’ H.I.T.S. concept has been remarkably visible on both the practice field and preseason pitch. These players run. They flock to the football. They gang tackle. This is not going to be the most talented roster in the NFL, by any means, but it looks to be a roster that will rarely be outworked on game day. And those types of teams are very easy to get behind.


Item #2. Cole Kmet Might Take “The Leap”

I texted someone inside the building and asked one question. “What player is having a killer summer that no one is talking about?”

Text back, one word. “Kmet.”

Here are my thoughts when it comes to Kmet:

  • He doubled his production from year one to year two.
  • His touchdown numbers were heinous in 2021 because Matt Nagy was obsessed with Jimmy Graham in the red zone.
  • Justin Fields has a definitive rapport with Kmet.
  • Getsy’s offense is going to incorporate the tight end screen far more and Kmet is uniquely built to be productive on those calls.
  • Darnell Mooney is a very good receiver but isn’t every defensive coordinator going to try to take him away? The Bears don’t really have a second receiver. Kmet will fill that void.

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Three Tweets to Close Camp

| August 22nd, 2022

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Borom Starting a Sign: Bears Know Who They Are

| August 21st, 2022

The Bears know who they are. And that is refreshingly unlike them.

It would have been easy for Eberflus, Poles, Chris Morgan, etc. to plop their recently-signed veteran offensive linemen into the starting lineup and lean on their experience to stabilize the position group. Riley Reiff and Michael Schofield would not have elevated the 2022 OL to the status of good (or even almost good) but it would have elevated the floor of that room’s potential to not terrible.

But that is not what this leadership did. In the last week or so they slid Teven Jenkins inside, a projected move that caused consternation from the player earlier in the year. To say Jenkins has thrived would be an overstatement, but the Bears are excited by what they’ve seen thus far and Jenkins has wholly bought in to the project.

And, while most of us believed Larry Borom was just place holding for a resting Reiff, Eberflus announced publicly that the former is actually now the starter. (See Courtney’s above tweet.) Is there still competition for the job? Of course. But it’s Borom’s to lose and that is no small thing.

This is a franchise operating with a plan; making roster decisions with the future squarely in mind. The Bears don’t gain anything for 2023 and beyond if Reiff and Schofield play meaningful snaps in 2022, outside of perhaps giving Justin Fields a bit more reliability up front. Playing Jenkins and Borom on the right side gives the Bears a full season to evaluate two potential starters.

Will that come with some growing pains? Of course. But the end result of growing pains is growth. And the potential upside of playing these two on the right side is having the right side solidified for the foreseeable future with two players under 25 years old.

If Jenkins flames out, you turn to Schofield. If the Borom party becomes unruly, Reiff is ready to clean up the mess. Young talent on the field. Veteran experience on the bench. This is how a team at this stage of the process should be constructed.

But that requires the organization acknowledging where they are in the championship process. The Bears – by making the moves they have along the offensive line – are showing us all they are who we think they are.

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A Desperately Useless Affair: Rapid Fire Recap of the Second Practice Game

| August 19th, 2022

As is the want of DBB, we’ll approach this practice game quarter-by-quarter. And hopefully I will be able to stay awake for all four. (That is highly doubtful. With both teams sitting 20+ players, this is a more useless preseason game than most.)

Quarter One.

  • Velus Jones looks like he’s going to be the return man. Showed a remarkable burst on the opening kickoff (before fumbling) and had a long punt return later. When you have that kind of speed on your roster, you have to use it, and the return game is a good way to start.
  • First offensive drive, the Bears surrendered a lot of pressure. But Fields was genuinely quick to recognize it and get the football out of his hands. Remember, this is all vanilla game planning. Nothing the Bears ran against Seattle had anything to do with Seattle.
  • Never overreact to the preseason. But Cole Kmet looks like he’s going to be a central part of this passing game.
  • Just an eye test thing, but I think the Bears need to move Trestan Ebner ahead of Khalil Herbert on their depth chart. He’s got a better burst and he’s tougher to bring down. Herbert is useful but Ebner looks better as a runner.
    • Ebner didn’t make it through the first half healthy. Something to monitor.
  • This game kicked off at 8:13 or so ET. By 8:43 all of the relevant Bears were out of the game. These games in August should all be early afternoon kickoffs.
  • No idea how well Teven Jenkins played inside against the better Seahawks, but he didn’t seem to make any visible errors. (When Seattle moved to the backups late in the quarter, Jenkins leveled a few guys.)

Quarter Two.

  • Trevor Siemian is having a nice summer for this team. You want a backup quarterback that can execute the offense and not be an automatic loss. Siemian is that.
  • Do the Bears intend to use Trenton Gill on kickoffs?
  • Big time whiff by Kyle Gordon on the long Homer run at the start of the second quarter. Happens. But needs to get corrected.
  • Good reason to be concerned about Trevis Gipson. For a guy expected to start on the edge, he’s had a relatively unimpressive summer and was kept in this game far too long. Bears need pass rush production aside from Robert Quinn. Gipson need to provide a significant amount of it.
  • Dante Pettis relieved Dazz on punt returns last week and relieved Velus this week. Seems like he’ll have a spot on this roster.
  • A guy slid to end the half for Seattle. And then he looked shocked by the moment. That seems about right for these awful games.

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Prelude to a Preseason Game: Things to Watch Tonight

| August 18th, 2022

Playing preseason games on short weeks is absurd, and the Bears are actually acknowledging that absurdity by intending to play their starters less in the second preseason game than in the first. (Almost like these contests have very little value to teams, outside of financial.)

Still, we shall watch tonight. And there are a few things to watch.

  • Teven Jenkins. In the last month, Jenkins has gone from potentially being traded to nursing a mysterious injury to third-string offensive tackle to starting right guard. That’s where he’ll line up tonight and it’s in the best future interest of this franchise for him to thrive at that position. A solid performance tonight likely lands him in the starting five upfront against the 49ers in a few weeks.
  • Dazz Newsome. One would hope the coaching staff haven’t completely given up on Dazz as punt returner due to a single fumble in the first preseason game; that remains to be seen. But Dazz has been really good since botching that return, both in the remainder of that game and in practice sessions this week, even taking some first team reps with Justin Fields.
  • The Jack Sanborn Show. On Saturday, Sanborn had fans on the lakefront saying, “Roquan who?” And with Roquan still sidelined due to a contract dispute, it’ll be interesting to see if Coach Flus moves Sanborn up the depth chart at all, perhaps into the realm of those first 6-10 plays? Doubtful, but it’s something.

Enjoy the second practice game!

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