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Jahns. Justin. Twitter.

| August 4th, 2022

The Drills.






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Dannehy: Don’t Judge Bears Offense Yet

| August 3rd, 2022


After one week of training camp, the reports regarding the offense were all pretty much the same: They had some big plays, but no consistency. That, very likely, is what the team should reasonably expect from the passing game this year, but we’re all still a long way from finding out exactly what this offense will be.

Based on the talent on the roster and the scheme being implemented, we can assume the Bears will have a run-based offense. It wasn’t until Tuesday of this week that the team practiced in pads and, therefore, impossible to accurately gauge how effective they will be in the ground game. Even with the pads, it will be difficult to tell as most teams don’t do full contact tackling in camp and the Bears won’t be able to incorporate the quarterback in their running game during practice.

The quarterback’s ability to run is something we won’t see at all until the real games begin.

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Training Camp Thoughts, Volume IV: Graham Banged Up, Fields Update, Blasingame.

| August 2nd, 2022


  • Injuries, injuries, injuries. Coach Flus today confirmed that Thomas Graham will miss time. If it’s a hamstring issue, that’s usually 3-4 weeks conservatively. Again, this is an injury that is manageable on August 1 and less so on August 21. Hamstrings can nag all season if the player is rushed back too quickly. If Graham doesn’t play the opener, it isn’t the biggest deal in the world.
  • Early Justin Fields Update:
    • Leadership qualities off the charts. Even ownership feels he’s taken control of the team.
    • Mechanics/fundamentals are coming along. Delivery looks far more compact. Decision to deliver still needs to quicken. (Offensive coaches thought a few of the practice “sacks” on Monday could have been avoided.)
  • Al-Quadin Muhammad is having a very strong early camp. Does that mean anything? Not really. But the Bears need multiple guys to complement Robert Quinn in the pass rush department.
  • From Courtney Cronin’s Twitter: “…Khari Blasingame came away with a highlight play for the offense, roughly a 35-yard leaping catch down the sideline during the team period. Impressive play.” Don’t be surprised to see Blasingame utilized a ton in the passing game.
  • An excellent piece detailing the coaching foundation of Eberflus, by Colleen Kane in the Tribune.

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Yes, 2022 Comes with Low Expectations. But Low Expectations End There.

| July 25th, 2022


The Chicago Bears don’t think they are going to be good in 2022. Teams that think they’re going to be good don’t sell off Khalil Mack for (essentially) future cap space. Teams that think they’re going to be good don’t enter a season with 3/5 of their offensive line unsettled. Teams that think they’re going to be good don’t balk at just about every available free agent, including several at positions of extreme need. The Bears don’t think they’re going to be good in 2022 because being good in 2022 is not essential to this new leadership.

Rebuilds are a weird discussion in the NFL. In baseball, a rebuild requires selling off every viable commodity and losing for a decade while stockpiling draft picks and minor league assets. In the NBA, there are teams with multiple superstars and teams without them; everyone else is irrelevant. In hockey…I don’t know anything about hockey. There’s something with a forecheck I think?

In the NFL, rebuilds don’t exist. There are teams with top-level quarterbacks and teams without them. The teams with them are relevant each and every season and the Bears believe Justin Fields will get there. They do not believe, however, that he’s there right now. (And no one watching the 2021 tape would objectively disagree.)

When it comes to the roster around the quarterback, and when there is turnover at the head coach/GM positions, it takes no more than a single off-season to dump men and money and start the whole program over. Poles and Flus have followed a repeatable template, specifically one engaged by the regime running things in Buffalo currently.

But next season will be Fields’ third in the league and second in the system. No more excuses.

Next off-season the Bears will be loaded with cap space, chock full of draft picks and operating with endless roster flexibility. No more excuses.

The Bears are not going to be good in 2022 and that will be understandable. But the excuses end entirely in 2023. The new leadership will have had two drafts. They will have had two full off-seasons with the quarterback. They will have had the economic flexibility to craft the roster in their image. And while they took over a franchise that hadn’t won a playoff game in many-a-moon, the cupboard was not entirely bare when they arrived.

If the 2023 Bears aren’t competing for January football, questions can again be seriously asked about the men in charge of football operations in Chicago, including the quarterback. But in the meantime, we will all try and find minor joys in a season replete with minor expectations. This team needs to play hard. They need to play fast. They need to display, on Sundays and not Thursdays, they are a well-coached group. They need to show fight, even when they are undermanned talent-wise. And perhaps most importantly, they need to provide entertainment to a fan base tired of being bored to death when they turn on their televisions to watch Chicago Bears football.

After all the mediocrity, that’s not too much to ask from 2022. In 2023, we’ll all expect much, much more.

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Dannehy: Five Bears on Hot Seat in 2022

| July 7th, 2022


A new year, scheme and regime could have several players could leave some formerly key contributors looking for new jobs in 2023.

The new coach and general manager have nothing invested in the current players; surely a scary thought to some of the youngsters on the team. There are no certainties. Nothing is guaranteed. We thought John Fox and Ryan Pace were inheriting young talent like Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. Both were gone before Fox’s third season. Matt Nagy was greeted by Jordan Howard and Adam Shaheen was supposed to be his Travis Kelce — neither made it to his third season.

In some of these cases, the players may be one-and-done if they don’t produce in 2022. In others, they might get a second year to prove themselves simply because their contracts make it difficult to move on. In any case, these players will have pressure to perform in 2022.


David Montgomery

Entering a contract year, Montgomery is an obvious candidate for this list.

The previous regime loved Montgomery because of the leadership he provides off the field and his versatility on it. (Eberflus has already praised Montgomery’s character.)

However, there have been some questions as to whether Montgomery fits this new scheme. He isn’t Aaron Jones-like, nor is he A.J. Dillon — the two running backs new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy worked with in Green Bay.

There is also some question about Montgomery’s talent level. His career 3.9 yards per attempt certainly doesn’t look worthy of a second contract and advanced statistics are somewhat mixed on his performance.

With the lack of playmakers available, Montgomery figures to have plenty of opportunities to make plays. The team needs him to be more efficient than he has been.


Cole Kmet

There’s no real reason to think Kmet won’t continue to improve, but that isn’t always how it works.

Kmet had rather exceptional production for a 22-year-old tight end, but there’s still questions regarding his receiving ability. He certainly looks the part physically, but his hands aren’t always reliable, and his routes aren’t always smooth.

The third-year Notre Dame product is a solid blocker and possesses good straight-line speed, but the Bears need him to create more big plays and find the end zone. (Throwing him the ball down there should help.)


Eddie Jackson

Jackson is finally returning to a scheme that keeps two safeties back and he needs to show that he can still attack the ball.

Once Vic Fangio left, Jackson’s position changed. He still played safety, but Chuck Pagano wanted to move him around more. That didn’t really work. Sean Desai liked to keep him back, but in a single-high approach with man coverage all around him. That didn’t work.

There’s truth to the thought that opponents have been avoiding Jackson, but we’ve also seen him fail to make plays that have been available.

The Bears might be tied to Jackson contractually through the 2023 season — it depends on how much dead cap space they’d be willing to eat. In any case, he turns 29 during the 2022 season and needs to show he can still play.


Trevis Gipson

Is Gipson a starter or a solid backup? That’s what the Bears need to find out in 2022.

Regardless of what happens with Robert Quinn in 2022, it’s a safe bet that the veteran won’t be on the team in 2024 and probably not in 2023. Do the Bears need to find one new starting defensive end before then or two? Al-Quadin Muhammad signed just a two-year deal and really should be a backup.

This Cover-2 scheme relies on the front four being able to get to the passer; the Bears need to know if they have defensive ends who can do that. Gipson flashed with seven sacks and five forced fumbles in 2021 after barely playing as a rookie. Can he build on that?


Justin Fields

Regardless of what anyone thinks the Bears think of Fields, nobody outside of Halas Hall actually knows.

Hell, they might not even know inside Halas Hall.

The hard truth is that, while he showed flashes, his rookie season did nothing to guarantee that he is going to be a franchise quarterback. The Bears certainly didn’t bet on him becoming one this offseason, unlike the last regime did with Mitch Trubisky.

Whether the Bears 2022 season is a success or failure is going to depend largely on Fields. If he can build off success of late last season, the team might be OK. If he can’t, they’ll have a very high draft pick and, very likely, will be looking at another talented quarterback prospect.

It’s fair to say the Bears haven’t given Fields the necessary tools to succeed.

It’s also fair to say that really good quarterbacks make the players around them better.

The worst thing that can happen — which is perhaps what the Bears have set themselves up for — is that they still don’t know what kind of player Fields is following this season. In that case, they’d probably jump on the opportunity to draft another top quarterback prospect and trade Fields.

But, make no mistake, the current long-term plan has to be for Fields to be the guy and he has the opportunity to make sure that is the case. We know he can make big plays; we need to see more consistency on the routine concepts.  His performance in 2022 doesn’t have to be judged by statistics; he needs to show leadership and the ability to come through for his team when it needs him the most. We need to see more performances like the one he had in Pittsburgh.

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Arlington Heights, Braxton Jones, Etc. – Five Thoughts for a Thursday in June

| June 16th, 2022


Because I only use Twitter for golf-related stuff this time of year, here are some quick hit thoughts about what’s happening around the Chicago Bears as teams prepare for their only “vacation time” of the season.

  • While I’ve been a seemingly lone voice against the Bears leaving Soldier Field, it is highly likely to happen now as the city is not budging when it comes to the organization’s needs/demands. Make no mistake about it, the Bears moving to Arlington Heights is not an inevitability. Chicago could stop the move. But right now, that’s simply not happening, and the team does not expect that to change.
  • There has been discussion about the Bears being potentially sold. It’s not happening, certainly not while Virginia is alive, and certainly not before Arlington Heights is completed. Folks always think of the NFL team value in terms of the sport’s popularity, television contracts, etc. But they forget how important real estate can be. If the Jets had moved to the West Side of Manhattan, their value would be increased by $2 billion. Instead, they stayed in the Jersey swamp.
  • It has been very funny to read about the number of reps Justin Fields is getting on the practice field. The same people who are salivating over it were criticizing DBB for harping on the subject – in reverse – a year ago. These were the “they’re not building the offense around Andy Dalton” fellas. Fields is getting the reps now because he needs them. New offense. New mechanics. New players around him. A lot for a young player.
  • While the focus has been on the Bears passing game for most of this off-season, I think it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Bears were a good running team in 2021 and they’re going to be a better one in 2022. Sam Mustipher, their worst offensive lineman, has been replaced. Khari Blasingame, a battering ram at fullback, has been added. And they have implemented the most successful rushing system in the modern sport. No, it’s not a championship structure. But it is a structure that should keep the team competitive in year one of the program.
  • Who is the early talk of practice? Braxton Jones. Don’t be surprised if Jones is given a chance to be the starting left tackle when the Bears return for camp.

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Monday Lynx Package [6/13/22]

| June 13th, 2022


‘Tis the quietest part of the NFL calendar. But we’re a month away from having actual things to write about. Here are some links for your enjoyment.

  •  From state media: “His leadership has taken a step,” said veteran guard Cody Whitehair. “And that just comes with him being more comfortable from Year 1 to Year 2, [having] a little bit more experience, seeing things a second time or third time or fourth time, and he’s only going to continue to grow.” Amazing how natural leaders can ascend to the role when they’re not forced to watch Andy Dalton take first-team reps.
  • From Courtney Cronin: “At the end of the day, whether I’m going into my second year or my first year, I’ve still got to play football, and I still gotta perform,” Montgomery said in April. “I could really care less about contracts, the contract terms and things, but I’m excited to be here for another year and play with my guys too.” How the Bears handle the Montgomery contract will tell us a lot about how Ryan Poles intends to build this roster moving forward.
  • One thing I’ve heard out of OTAs – and was shared in this piece by Adam Jahns – is the staff isn’t quite sure what do with Teven Jenkins. Has he been demoted? It is a hard to make that argument, being that I’m not sure this current regime viewed him as a starter at any point. Until they make their determinations on Jenkins, it is difficult to evaluate with this OL will actually look like.
  • If you haven’t seen video of several Bears hitting home runs, follow this link and take a look. I think sometimes we take for granted how otherworldly these athletes are.
  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS: What a headline in the NY Post! “Sloth bear mauls couple to death, spends hours feasting on their flesh.” Bears, man. Don’t fuck with em.

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Dannehy: History Says Fields May Need Time to Learn This Offense

| June 3rd, 2022


Everything is on the table for the 2022 Chicago Bears, including the possibility that Justin Fields will initially struggle to learn a new offense. That is not a comment specifically about Fields, but instead based on the historical trends of this offense around the league. The Bears have spoken extensively about playing to what Fields does best and last week Cole Kmet detailed what that might entail. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, and history shows it’s unlikely to be quick.

While Matt Nagy’s offense was rightly criticized, saying the new offense fits Fields’ strengths better is mostly a projection. As Fields said himself, what the Bears did last year was familiar to him.

“I think the only different thing with our offense is that at Ohio St., we did signals from the sidelines so actually getting in the huddle and calling the play out is the only different thing,” Fields said in a press conference May 21, 2021. “Everything else is pretty much the same when it comes to concepts and stuff like that.”

It’s likely that Nagy had sound offensive concepts, and coming from the world of Andy Reid, that would be expected, but he couldn’t coach the execution. The scheme Nagy wanted to run works, he just wasn’t able to successfully teach it or call it in the framework of an actual ballgame.

This new scheme should better fit what Fields can do well at the NFL level. Getting him out of the pocket on more designed rollouts and emphasizing play action should, in theory, benefit Fields, but this scheme doesn’t always click right away. Luke Getsy comes from Green Bay, and even they, with one of best quarterbacks ever, had issues in the first year.

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