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A Preseason Star is (San)Born: Rapid Fire Recap of the First Practice Game

| August 14th, 2022


Let’s start in the only appropriate place: the disgrace that was the Soldier Field pitch. It is unacceptable. It is an embarrassment. And both coaches were crazy to put their players out there. But they did. So, I watched. Now, you read.

Quarter One.

  • Trestan Ebner is a solid kickoff return man; north to south runner who will not make mental errors. Ebner back on both early kickoffs seems to signal it’ll be his job.
  • Braxton Jones had a very strong first few drives, holding up in protecting and sealing the outside on a nice Khalil Herbert run. Jones has a chance to be a real bright spot in a potentially dark season.
  • Defensively, it’s difficult to know what this team will look like with that many starters not on the field. But Al-Quadin Muhammad paid off what’s been a very strong start to camp, getting to the QB multiple times.
  • Dazz Newsome got the first punt return opportunity and capitalized by fumbling it and then losing thirteen yards. Probably not the start he was looking for.

Quarter Two.

  • Trenton Gill’s punt off the opening drive of the quarter was a beauty. Gill was one of the players I was interested in seeing in game action and he didn’t disappoint. (He had another punt later that deserved a better outcome.)
  • Dante Pettis is given the second punt return. Have to believe the plan wasn’t for Dazz to only get one attempt. Not good for the kid.
  • Jaquan Brisker bossed the game a bit against the second (third?) string Chiefs. That’s exactly what he should do.
  • Tajae Sharpe is going to be that guy, isn’t he? Follow social media. Fans will be calling for him to start by the end of the day today.

Read More …

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Prelude to a Preseason Game: Things to Watch on Saturday

| August 12th, 2022


The official DBB talking points when it comes to the preseason are well established. These games are glorified practice sessions. The “schemes” are vanilla. The intensity is non-existent. The value is nil. But the 2022 Chicago Bears find themselves in an interesting place as they begin their preseason calendar tomorrow. Here are a few things worth looking at as the Chiefs come to Soldier Field.

  • Braxton Jones. The new regime is not repeating the mistakes of the previous one. They have spent the early days of camp trying to firmly establish a starting five across the offensive line. That line looks to be Jones-Whitehair-Patrick (Mustipher backing up)-Schofield-Reiff. But with young tackles waiting in the wings (Borom, Jenkins) Jones can ill afford to lose the confidence of his coaches, or quarterback, in the weeks leading up to the regular season. The job is his to win. A few stable efforts in these practice games should achieve that.
  • Darnell Mooney’s Reps. Calling the Bears thin at wide receiver would be a massive understatement. They have Mooney, a rookie with significant potential (and speed) and a bunch of fourth options. Oh, and most of the fourth options are dealing with injuries. Any significant injury to Mooney would relegate this position group to worst in the league status. And not just worst WR group. Worst position group, period. Flus and Getsy are playing with fire if Mooney has pads on tomorrow.
  • The Opening Drive on Offense. Doesn’t it just feel like this group could use some points to start things off? They don’t need a touchdown, even, just a nice 30/40-yard drive and an easy field goal. Get some first downs. Develop some rhythm. Don’t get the quarterback hit. Something. A start.

Coach Flus has said the starters will receive substantial playing time tomorrow. So, as always, the most important part of this ball game is the Bears coming out of it as healthy as they go into it. With the season still a month away, it would be difficult to argue for the importance of much else.

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Training Camp Thoughts, Volume VI: Lynx Edition

| August 9th, 2022


No practice for the Bears on Monday. So here are some things I wasted time reading on Monday.

  • The Jahns and Fishbain practice report at The Athletic seems to suggest an order is forming along the offensive line and that order has Braxton Jones at left tackle and Riley Reiff at right tackle. If Braxton ultimately wins the job, and is on the blindside come opening day, he immediately becomes one of the two or three most interesting players on this roster in 2022.
  • It feels like the drama surrounding Teven Jenkins has come to an end and the focus will now be back on the field. (Courtney Cronin details the whole ordeal here.) If Braxton is one of the most interesting players heading into this regular season, Teven is THE most interesting of the preseason. When will get into these games? Where will Getsy and Morgan play him? How will he respond?
  • Unsung Tweet from Brad Biggs: “#Bears DC Alan Williams praises LB Joe Thomas – saying he is leading that group in takeaways. He has a shot to compete for strong side job and has been a previous core special teams player in the league.”
  • With N’Keal Harry’s comeback derailed by what looks like a serious injury, I wanted to read more about the kid. Sometimes we fixate on the football player without paying any respect to the human being. Harry seems a very, very good young man. From a blog post by Bernd Buchmasser in 2019: “[I want to] give back in any way that I can,” Harry said during the photo op and Q&A session inside Gillette Stadium yesterday. “Definitely help my family, help some people on the island. I feel like with this platform I’ve been given, it’s my duty to do something good with it. God has blessed me to be in this position. So it would be a disservice if I didn’t give back and if I didn’t show appreciation, so that’s my biggest goal.”
  • Somehow, I missed the report that Nicholas Morrow, and not Roquan Smith, would be the signal caller in the new defense, as that duty is exclusively handled by the middle linebacker. (Somehow = I didn’t look.) Patrick Finley in the Sun-Times wrote about this about a week ago. From the piece: “That’s a pretty standard thing, I think,’’ Morrow said. ‘‘I think the biggest thing is making sure we’re all on the same page and we’re over-communicating. Sometimes you get those young guys in there, and there are certain calls where it’s gotta be communicated consistently. Just getting that together is probably bigger than the calls, I think.’’
  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS: “Danvers residents are being asked to take precautions after a bear was spotted in the Massachusetts town on Sunday. A Danvers resident shared video from her Ring video camera that showed a black bear roaming across her driveway Sunday morning. The bear ended up scaling a short stone wall before moseying along.”
  • Per Alex Shapiro at NBC Sports, the Bears coaching staff thought they’d get pushback for their H.I.T.S. program. But that hasn’t happened. “…the team’s response to Eberflus’ demanding philosophy got its challenge over the weekend, when the team was put through two long padded practices, with plenty of running around, in the hot sun. Cole Kmet said it was the toughest practice of his life. Khalil Herbert said players were “laid out” in the locker room afterwards. Yet, by all accounts, the players gritted through it.”

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Training Camp Thoughts, Volume V: OL Shuffle, WR Injuries & a Diatribe on “Man Caves”

| August 8th, 2022


I wish people would go back and look at what the “camp stories” were in years past and notice how none of them correlate to anything that subsequently happens in the regular season.

  • Teven Jenkins said, “I want to be here in Chicago, so I’m playing wherever they want me to play.” This is absolutely the best-case scenario for the team. Jenkins is talented and the Bears don’t have a ton of talent along their offensive line.
  • Liked this Tweet from Kevin Fishbain: “Bears OC Luke Getsy on rookie LT Braxton Jones: “You get into the pads and there was zero intimidation. Going against Robert Quinn your very first one-on-one pass rush, right? It’s an intimidating thing. He stepped up and did a great job. He’s answered the bell.” If the Bears are going with their best five up front, Braxton will be in that group.
  • Injuries to N’Keal Harry and Byron Pringle. Not good. The Harry injury sounds somewhat serious. (I think it was unlikely Harry was going to play a significant role in 2022 anyway but he at least provided something to watch in the practice games upcoming.)

Thoughts on “Man Caves”

I don’t get ’em. Never have.

The way I understand the man cave is you take a room of your house, usually in the basement, put a bunch of televisions in there, cover the walls with your memorabilia, and that’s where you go watch sports.

My first question is, why is this necessary? Why can’t you just watch sports on the same television you watch Turner Classic Movies? And what happens to the room when sports are not on? Is it the room empty? Isn’t that a massive waste of space?

But my other problem might be that I don’t have any memorabilia. I find memorabilia, quite honestly, stupid. Other than the original Super Bowl Shuffle album and my childhood Jim McMahon shirt, every other thing I have with Chicago Bears on it was given to me. I couldn’t fill the shelf in a linen closet with memorabilia, let alone a cave.

If you have to create a space in your house to get away from other people and just watch sports, why not just go to a sports bar? At least then you have someone else serving you the beer and food and there’s no clean up. Hell, you might even meet another likeminded human being and strike up one of those friendships people keep talking about.

Even the word “cave” denotes the neanderthal, man at his most primitive, reducing the (male) sports fan to his most base self. I must have own room to yell about football. Woman, you stay upstairs! One of the things I have cherished about my years at Josie Woods with Maciej, Reverend Dave, Steph, etc. is the conversations in the commercial breaks about soccer, politics, food, movies, whatever. If I ever had a “cave” in my apartment, I’d use the massive television to screen The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for my friends.

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Dannehy: Bears Should Kick Jenkins Inside

| June 23rd, 2022


Before officially demoting Teven Jenkins to the second team, Matt Eberflus and the offensive coaching staff should try him at right guard.

Jenkins’ demotion was a surprise because, if the Bears had any questions about his ability to play right tackle, why didn’t they do more to address the position in the offseason? As it stands, the team promoted fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones to left tackle and moved 2021 fifth-rounder Larry Borom to right tackle, with Jenkins taking snaps with the second team.

Eberflus has said it was always part of the team’s plan to move players around, but that excuse doesn’t make sense for a variety of reasons. For starters, the team didn’t even have Jones until the draft. If they planned on having a draft pick seriously compete for playing time, they would’ve spent an earlier pick on the position. Secondly, it isn’t as if Jenkins is in a rotation, he was firmly on the second team, with Borom switching positions to take Jenkins’ starting reps. Lastly, the idea that they’re getting a good look at offensive linemen at this point is flawed because they have yet to see the players do any blocking.

It’s hard to figure out how Jenkins could’ve lost the job or why they made the move at all, but — anyway you figure it — it doesn’t look good for Jenkins’ 2022 outlook, at least not at tackle.

There is so much we don’t know, but assuming Jenkins is physically capable of playing, the team would be wise to try him at guard instead of forcing a competition at tackle.

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Wednesday Lynx (and Brief Thoughts) Package [6/22/22]

| June 22nd, 2022


Again, I am pretty obviously a fan of Justin Fields. But the behavior of those defined as #BearsTwitter goes beyond fandom. They seem to have an emotional stake in his success, as if his failures on the field would have personal ramifications for them. They make bold (odd) pronouncements about him “owning” the league and winning Super Bowls. They have constant, meaningless fights with other fans. Every Bears fan wants Fields to succeed because his success means success for the franchise. But fans never behaved this way for Cade or Rex or Jay and certainly never for Mitch. What is so different about this player?

  • I reached out to John “Moon” Mullin in the early days of DBB – around 2006/7 – and was shocked at the time how generous he was with his time, with his advice, with his humor and wit. He was a truly good man, and he will be desperately missed. K.C. Johnson wrote a very nice send-off to Moon for NBC Sports.
    • Going through some old emails from Moon, I was struck by one piece of advice. He saw what the internet was doing to sports journalism and he feared one trend. “Don’t just be a fan, but don’t become a jaded old sportswriter either.” 
    • Adam Jahns had a very nice Twitter thread, paying tribute to Moon.
  • Pretty interesting piece by David Roeder in the Sun-Times regarding how money (and mainly taxpayer money) will influence the Bears plans in Arlington Heights. The truth of these NFL buildings is indisputable: they are nowhere near as valuable to the economics of their surrounding community as NFL owners want you to believe. And if you think a new building in Arlington Heights is suddenly going to become a premier concert venue, you’re out to lunch. This building will be vacant 98% of the year.
  • For those clamoring for a DK Metcalf trade, there is hope. This piece on Seattle Sports (710 AM) has a simple conclusion: “Metcalf wants a number much larger than the Seahawks are willing to pay.”
  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS: A gigantic black bear has been spotted roaming a golf course in Naples, Florida. And I’m sure he’s already a better putter than I am. (As you read this, I’m probably three-putting for the third or fourth time in my Wednesday game.)
  • Braxton Jones is likely to be the starting left tackle when the Bears gather for training camp later this summer and Brad Biggs thinks he’s ready to win the job. You can also see some highlights of Jones at the Senior Bowl by clicking here.
  • Ryan Poles would trade Robert Quinn. He’s been open to trading Robert Quinn since he took the job. But to this point, the Bears just haven’t received a worthy offer. (Fox Bet has the Cowboys as favorites to land Quinn.) If I’m Poles, I’m not just moving Quinn for a draft pick. I’m only moving Quinn is a young, offensive piece is coming back to Chicago. And that’s very rare in the league.

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