Bears

Eye on the Enemy: Broncos Miller thinks Carimi is a beast

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Eye on the Enemy: Broncos Miller thinks Carimi is a beast

There are more questions than answers to take away from the Bears 31-3 loss to the Broncos in Thursdays preseason opener, but Denver linebacker Von Miller is certain of one thing.

Gabe Carimi looks like he did in college and he was a beast in college, Miller said.

Miller, a member of the same 2011 draft class as Carimi, was impressed with the Bears front five, even though the offense was only able to accumulate 41 total yards and went 0-for-5 on third downs in the first half.

I think they can be successful, Miller said. Its the NFL, there arent any geeks on any team. I know Gabe Carimi personally and he looked pretty well. He had a lot of injuries last year, but this season Im expecting him to do big things and to give other defensive lines problems.

The Wolfman Howls

Another Denver defender, rookie defensive end Derek Wolfe, was also beast-like during the first half, registering a pair of sacks working against the Bears offensive line.

I dont want to let my secrets out, Wolfe said. I think we did a good job of staying after them and not just relying on the first move. Our second effort stuff was getting us there.

The six-feet-five-inch, 300 pounder out of Cincinnati got to Jason Campbell on Chicagos second series of the game and then put Josh McCown on the ground in the closing minutes of the first half.

Miller, who was handing out nicknamesleft and right, envisions great things in the near future for his new teammate.

Hopefully we can hear the Wolfman howl at Mile High Stadium coming up this season, Miller said.

Manning Learns from Hanie?

All eyes were on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in his first action in almost a year. After the game he was very reflective on his journey back to the playing field.

I sure have come a long way in a year, Manning said. I know how much hard work Ive put in and how much help Ive gotten along the way. Its been a long haul for me.

Manning orchestrated an impressive opening drive, going 4-for-6 and throwing for 44 yards before an interception at the Bears two-yard line.

I heard Caleb Hanie talking about the key is how you evaluate yourself and how you improve throughout the preseason, Manning said.

Hanie, who fell out of favor in the Windy City after being thrown into the fire last season, went 7-for-14, passing for 79 yards in his return to Soldier Field.

It doesnt matter what year you are in the NFL, the key is trying to get better through the preseason, Manning said. Thats what we hope to do. Thats what I hope to do.

Funny how a former Bears backup quarterback, who was booed on his first snap of the game, can teach a future Hall-of-Famer a thing or two.

King of Comedy

Although things were pretty cut and dry from the four-time MVP, Manning did offer a brief moment of humor for the media.

Maybe in some ways Ive even gotten better. Manning said. Now I have the ability to throw the ball in a linebackers hands and tip it to my own player. Thats a positive.

Miller Respects Mr. Manning

It was great to see Mr. Manning go out there complete some passes and move the ball, Miller said following the victory.

The second-year linebacker registered 11.5 sacks, 51 tackles and forced three fumbles on his way to being named second-team All-Pro in 2011 insisted that Manning was someone he looked up to.

I dont have to call him that, but I feel like its a respect factor involved. The type of guy he is, he commands respect the way he comes to work every day. The way he competes, the way he displays leadership, I feel like I have to call him Mr. Manning.

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Everything changed for the Bears after going up 17-3 last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims was immediately followed by Bobby Rainey running a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, then the offense was bogged down with three fumbles (two lost) on three consecutive possessions. 

But Adrian Amos seemed to seal the game with his 90-yard pick six — that is, until Michael Campanaro ran Pat O’Donnell’s punt back 77 yards for what wound up being a game-tying touchdown after a two-point conversion.

The point is the Bears should’ve cruised to a comfortable win last week; a few critical mistakes didn’t allow that to happen. The Bears haven’t led at the end of the fourth quarter this year, a pretty strong indicator they haven’t played a complete game yet despite having two wins. 

The Carolina Panthers have road wins over the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots this year, and only lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by five points last week (despite Cam Newton throwing three interceptions). The bet here is the Bears keep things close on the backs of a strong defense, but either can’t make enough plays or make too many mistakes to win. 

Prediction: Panthers 20, Bears 16

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

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USA TODAY

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera saw a lot of Mitchell Trubisky last year, with the North Carolina quarterback on TV quite a bit in the Charlotte area. The Panthers, set with Cam Newton, weren’t in the market for a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Trubisky nonetheless stood out to the seventh-year Carolina coach and former Super Bowl-winning Bears linebacker. 

For Rivera, more than Trubisky’s arm strength and athleticism jumped off the screen. 

“Leadership,” Rivera pointed to. “When you watch him when he was playing — I love watching guys that either get on their teammates when they’re not doing it or they take accountability when they make a mistake. And you saw that with him.

“… We think the young man has got what it takes. We like who’s he’s gonna become. We do. We think the future can be bright for him. We are big fans here.”

Trubisky took accountability for both of his turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings: The interception Harrison Smith baited him into was certainly his fault, but his sack-strip fumble was more the result of Everson Griffen jumping the snap and blowing past left tackle Charles Leno. Against the Baltimore Ravens, Trubisky also lost a fumble on a sack-strip when cornerback Lardarius Webb hit him and dislodged the ball.

Trubisky’s explanation of that fumble was that he moved off his first read too quickly, causing him to miss Webb making a beeline for him in the backfield. But according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, that fumble wasn’t the quarterback’s fault. 

“That’s because he’s a stud,” Loggains said of Trubisky taking responsibility for it. “We screwed the protection up. We should have been sliding to the guy. The guy should not have been coming free. That’s Mitch taking a bullet that he doesn’t need to take. The reality is he saw the guy coming and tried to get over to the check down quickly but we got to do a better job up front protecting him.”

But that Trubisky was willing to say he was at fault for that fumble plays into why he quickly gained the respect of the Bears’ the locker room. That’s what a quarterback should be doing when speaking to the media after the game — accepting responsibility and deflecting off his teammates, even if he’s not at fault. That kind of stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Stopping Superman

Pernell McPhee offered this goal up for his fellow defensive teammates this week: Make sure Newton stays as Clark Kent on Sunday. 

“He’s a very talented guy, but the only thing I told the defense is let's make him be Cam Newton, not Superman,” McPhee said, referring to Newton’s signature touchdown move. “We don't want him opening up the cape.”

So how does a defense stop Newton from being Superman?

“He’s a very versatile quarterback,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Obviously his running the ball, whether it be through his improvising with scrambling on called pass plays, or the called running plays they do have for him, that’s a strength for him. We can’t just focus on stopping that. We’ve gotta stop Cam Newton the passer and the runner. They’ve got good running backs they’re handing it off to and receivers and running backs he’s throwing it to, so you’ve got a total offense to stop.”

One point to note here: Newton threw three interceptions last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and had been picked off eight times this year. A Bears secondary that intercepted Joe Flacco twice last week could have some more shots at takeaways on Sunday. 

High praise

Sunday will mark Thomas Davis’ 156th game in the NFL, with the linebacker playing every one of those with the Carolina Panthers. He played for John Fox from 2005-2010. But where we’re going here is what he had to say about how the Bears run their offense with a rookie quarterback:

“I think this is probably the best running game that we’ve seen from an offense with a rookie quarterback,” Davis said. “You look at some of the other rookies that come in. Teams want to run the ball. But when you look at the physicality and the style of play that this team plays with, I think that really makes the job a lot easier for a young quarterback. So I definitely feel like that physicality in their running game is definitely going to help him out.”

The Bears ran the ball 50 times against a Baltimore Ravens defense that played a lot more Cover-2 than expected. With star linebacker Luke Kuechly out for Sunday, the Bears may try to use a similar strategy, even if Carolina loads the box more than Baltimore did (a little more than once one every three runs by Jordan Howard). 

But if the Bears’ offense is going to have success, it’s going to be behind Howard, Tarik Cohen and an improving offensive line. Maybe Davis’ comments are hyperbole, but he’s also played a lot more football than you and me.