Bears

Bears-Eagles grades: What the F was that?

Bears-Eagles grades: What the F was that?

QUARTERBACKS: F

The Bears’ offensive struggles are not only Mitch Trubisky’s fault, and he had three passes blatantly dropped. But still: 10 completions on 21 attempts for 125 yards with no touchdowns and a devilish passer rating of 66.6 does not completely lie. Trubisky looked lost in the first half, taking a sack on an early play on which he had multiple receivers open for a layup completion. 

Trubisky also missed Allen Robinson on third and nine on the Bears’ first drive, throwing off his back foot and sailing a throw wide and not giving his receiver a chance to make a play. That helped set the tone for a first half in which the Bears managed to gain just nine yards. 

Trubisky did have a handful of good completions, like his 53-yard strike to Taylor Gabriel and a tough 13-yarder to the diminutive receiver on third and eight that extended the Bears’ second scoring drive. He hit a wide open David Montgomery for 30 yards the play after that third down throw to Gabriel, too. 

But those are three completions, and they stand out in part because he didn’t make many other impressive throws throughout the game. 

RUNNING BACKS: D

Montgomery and Cohen were the culprits of those aforementioned three drops, with Montgomery’s a backbreaker — it was on a well-designed and well-executed screen, with James Daniels clearing plenty of green grass ahead of the rookie running back. Had he caught it, the Bears would’ve got a first down in Eagles territory with just under nine minutes left, and could’ve reasonably rode momentum into a go-ahead touchdown. 

After the game, Montgomery did not entertain an excuse for his mistake — “I dropped it,” he flatly repeated. Cohen’s drops were concerning, too: Both happened in the first half and dumped more gasoline onto the blazing tire fire that was the Bears’ offense in the first 30 minutes.

Cohen gained just 16 yards on his four touches.  

WIDE RECEIVERS: C-

Gabriel had a good enough day, running a savvy route to get behind the Eagles’ defense and snag that 53-yard bomb in the third quarter while making a gritty catch on third and eight to keep a drive alive that wound up getting the Bears in the end zone. But that was the only bright spot, production-wise, for this group.

Robinson felt he should’ve come down with a one-on-one deep ball down the far sideline in the third quarter, and it was jarring to see him only have six yards on one catch against a secondary that’s been as porous as the Eagles’ this year. Miller was a non-factor, though there were a handful of players where Trubisky could’ve tried to get him the ball and didn’t. 

Cordarrelle Patterson was flagged for holding on the first play of the Bears’ third drive, immediately putting an out of sync offense behind the sticks on what was another three-and-out. 

TIGHT ENDS: F

Trey Burton was targeted once, with Trubisky badly overthrowing him. Adam Shaheen was targeted once, too, with Trubisky making a panicked decision to throw him the ball when he was barely beyond the line of scrimmage on third and nine. Neither player recorded a catch. 

This unit is an absolute mess. Burton may not be healthy until 2020, and Shaheen hasn’t shown anything to gain the trust of his coaching staff. When J.P. Holtz, who mostly plays fullback, is consistently the best player from this group — and that’s not saying much — it’s a big, big problem. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: D-

Harry Hiestand’s unit continued its inconsistent play on Sunday, failing to pick up a handful of stunts while allowing pressure in Trubiskiy’s face too frequently. The run blocking was not reliable, with Montgomery gaining 40 yards on 14 carries — take out his 17-yarder, and that’s a paltry 23 yards on 13 carries  (1.8 yards/attempt). 

A small positive, though: Only one of the Bears’ 10 penalties were assessed to the offensive line, and that one (a holding flag on Charles Leno Jr.) was declined. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: C-

Jordan Howard’s 82 yards on 19 carries (4.3 yards per attempt) were largely the product of the Eagles’ offensive line winning matchups with the Bears’ defensive line, allowing Howard to make one cut and chew up north-and-south yards. Nick Williams’ roughing the passer penalty may have felt weak, but in today’s NFL, you can’t hit a quarterback after he releases a pass. Eddie Goldman had a sack but was flagged for a neutral zone infraction in the red zone (more on that in the next subhead). 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: C-

Khalil Mack called Eagles center Jason Kelce’s tactic of slightly moving the ball, but not snapping it, “bulls—t,” which led to the Bears being flagged for four neutral zone infraction/offside penalties (Goldman had one, Mack had one, Aaron Lynch had two). Carson Wentz’s hard counts, though, may have had something to do with it too. 

Mack did some good things despite not recording a sack, including a well-read pass breakup in the red zone. Leonard Floyd had his first sack since Week 1 but was pushed around by tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert a little too much against the run. 

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: C

Danny Trevathan admitted he lost Sanders on a backbreaking 15-yard completion in the fourth quarter. The Bears had the Eagles backed into a third-and-12 with about five minutes left, and getting a stop would’ve given the ball back to the Bears’ offense with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Instead, Trevathan got too close to the line and was not able to catch up to Sanders when he leaked out of the backfield to catch a pass from Wentz. 

The Bears had three other chances to get off the field on that last Eagles’ drive only to fail to get a stop. That one, though, felt like a killer. 

Trevathan and Roquan Smith otherwise were solid on Sunday. Smith has now looked much better over the last two weeks than he did after returning from his mysterious one-game absence back in Week 4. 

CORNERBACKS: B

Kyle Fuller might feel aggrieved for the dodgy pass interference flag thrown against him, and then for the non-call when Ertz shoved his helmet before catching Philadelphia’s first touchdown of the game. Prince Amukamara blew up a goal-to-go third down screen in the first half that forced the Eagles to take a chip-shot field goal, and Philadelphia’s receivers combined for only eight catches and 62 yards. 

SAFETIES: C+

Eddie Jackson tallied a team-high 10 tackles, but was guilty of an unnecessary roughness penalty when he hit Ertz late — a penalty that looked like the product of a player’s frustrations boiling over. Both he and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played reasonably well in coverage, and Sherrick McManis was fine when he was on the field, too. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: B+

The Pat O’Donnell game! Given eight opportunities to punt, O’Donnell boomed a 72-yarder and had three drop inside the Eagles’ 20-yard line. Tarik Cohen had a nifty 24-yard punt return in the seance half, too, though Cordarrelle Patterson only mustered 34 yards on two kickoff returns. Eddy Pineiro was not given the chance to redeem himself after his game-ending miss last week. 

COACHING: F

Plenty of issues here. First: Why not go for two after the Bears’ first touchdown? Converting it would’ve dropped the Eagles’ lead to 11, and had the Bears converted another two-point try after their second touchdown, they would’ve been within a field goal of tying the game. It didn’t matter, but the difference between a 12- and 13-point lead is negligible in the second half. 

Matt Nagy's playcalling still felt disjointed with a lack of rhythm, like when he called for a run to Cohen on the goal line (he got the ball to Montgomery for a touchdown one play later). 

Nagy also called for a punt on fourth and six at the Eagles’ 44-yard line with Philadelphia leading 19-7 late in the third quarter. Nagy shouldn’t be wholly blamed for not trusting his offense, but it still was an example of him not coaching aggressively: 

While some of the Bears’ issues with penalties were the product of some gamesmanship from Kelce, that the Bears gained nine yards in the first half and had eight penalties was an atrocious look for this entire team, coaches included. 

Bears rookie watch: 5 early thoughts about 2020 draft class, and Ledarius Mack

Bears rookie watch: 5 early thoughts about 2020 draft class, and Ledarius Mack

Bears coaches, over the last few weeks, got a better sense of what kind of players and people they have in 2020’s crop of rookies. While practices don’t begin until the week of Aug. 17, rookies have been able to participate in on-field walkthroughs at Halas Hall, allowing the Bears to get their first look at these guys since April’s draft.

With that in mind, here are five things we learned this week from talking to those Bears coaches about everyone from Cole Kmet to Ledarius Mack:

Jaylon Johnson is in a stiffer competition than we might’ve thought.

Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said Johnson has been “a little bit limited” because of his shoulder (Johnson underwent a procedure on his shoulder in March). I wouldn’t be too concerned about Johnson’s shoulder right now, although it’s something to monitor when practices are expected to begin in about 10 days.

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But even if he’s full go in a week and a half, Johnson is not a lock to win the competition to start at corner opposite Kyle Fuller. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he isn’t on the field Sept. 13 in Detroit, with Kevin Toliver II or Artie Burns getting the nod over him.

This is where 2020’s pandemic-altered offseason hurts Johnson. He didn’t have rookie minicamp and OTAs to get his feet under him with his assignments, and he won’t have the benefit of a few preseason games to adjust to the physicality and speed of the NFL. And guys with experience in the league might be first in line come September. 

Johnson, no doubt, will be a starter for the Bears soon enough – probably early in the 2020 season – but I continue to get the sense he might not be one immediately. Although that sense could always change once practice actually starts up at Halas Hall this month.

“The good thing is it’s not like he has to come in and he has to be the No. 2 or No. 3 guy right now,” Pagano said. “Now, once we get going and we start practicing if he beats those guys out and he wins that third spot, second spot, whatever that is, then great. … We missed the whole offseason. They’ve got a lot of catching up to do and make up, but again, we’ve got a lot of time with him so we can be patient at that position.”

The early returns on Cole Kmet are encouraging.

The first words tight end coach Clancy Barone used to describe Kmet were “quick study.” And everything that showed up when the Bears scouted him coming out of Notre Dame has shown up in meetings and walkthroughs.

“He certainly looks the part,” Barone said. “He’s as big as advertised, he’s in tremendous condition, very lean, he’s a big, thick bodied guy and extremely athletic.”

More than any other rookie, the Bears need Kmet to contribute immediately given his upside and potential impact in allowing Matt Nagy use more 12 personnel – a largely untapped resource in his playbook. So it’s certainly good news that Kmet is quickly picking things up and stayed in great shape over the summer.

MORE: Fragility of 2020 season constantly on Bears' players minds

Rookie tight ends, though, rarely make major impacts. It’s not easy to transition from college to the speed and physicality of the NFL at that position. It'll be even more difficult without OTAs and minicamps, let alone preseason games. 

So the Bears will do what they can at Halas Hall to get Kmet prepared for Sept. 13, but how the No. 43 pick handles an NFL game will be an unknown until his first snap at Ford Field that day. 

“Usually there’s a mode of tempo and such that happens in practice and then it ramps up in preseason and then it doubles when you get to regular season and even more in postseason,” Barone said. “That’s going to be the thing as a staff and a team that we replicate in practice. So those young players who are going to be called upon early in their career so they can get an idea of what opening day is going to be like.”

The Bears are playing the long game with Trevis Gipson.

Outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said Barkevious Mingo, Isaiah Irving and James Vaughters will compete to be the Bears’ No. 3 OLB – the first guy off the sidelines when Khalil Mack or Robert Quinn needs a breather. It was notable that he didn’t mention Gipson, a fifth-round pick, among that group.

Again, there’s a theme here: The lack of spring workouts and practices is negatively impacting the ability of almost every rookie across the league to get on the field early in the 2020 season. The Bears like Gipson’s pass-rushing upside, and that hasn’t changed. But he’s transitioning not only from college to the pros, but from being a 4-3 end to a 3-4 edge rusher. 

The good news on Gipson is Monachino has no concerns about his work ethic and ability to learn. Gipson is constantly asking questions and looking for extra time to spend with coaches, Monachino said, which will help him catch up faster.

“For a player that played in a system like he did, it’s real common for a guy to see the game through a straw,” Monachino said. “But he’s trying to see it through a barn door right now. It’s a process but he’s not shying away from it at all. He’s a super kid and I think he’s fitting in well in the room and I think he’s got a bright future.”

Here’s a quote you’ll love to see.

DeShea Townsend, talking about fifth-round cornerback Kindle Vildor: “As far as the type of guy he is, he is a Bear guy.”

While these walkthroughs have been better than nothing, most of the last few weeks has been a getting-to-know-you period for Bears coaches with these rookies. The springtime Zoom calls were nice, sure, but it’s a lot more impactful to get to know someone in person – even if you’re socially distancing and wearing masks.

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And for Townsend, getting to know Vildor revealed something that’ll help the Georgia Southern product fit right in on the 2020 Bears.

“He is a true competitor — the way that he asks questions in meetings, the things that he wants to know, it just shows that he’s a competitor,” Townsend said. “So I’m excited to see him get a chance to get out there and play.”

Don’t count out Ledarius Mack.

I didn’t include Mack in my latest 53-man roster projection, though I do have him landing on the Bears’ practice squad. It’s going to be a tough for an undrafted rookie to beat out multiple players with NFL experience this year.

But if anyone can do it, it’s Mack, isn’t it? We'll end the first Rookie Watch installment with a glowing review from his position coach:

“Ledarius is not a very big player, but he walks around here like he’s 10 feet tall, which is exactly what you’d expect,” Monachino said. “He’s got plenty of juice. He’s explosive. He’s got really heavy hands. He’s done a lot of things that are really impressive, and he’s an easy learner, and so that part has been great.

“From a personality standpoint, he’s got a lot of the best traits Khalil has. He’s a little snarky every now and then, so he’s got some funny things to say. He also is very attentive in what his job is. It’s been a joy to have him. To see those two together, they have tried not to be Khalil and Khalil’s little brother or Ledarius and Ledarius’s big brother as much as they have been teammates, which has been kind of cool to watch. It’s not like a dad and a son. It’s two guys that are both fighting for the same things, and it’s awesome. It’s been fun to have.

“Talented young player. Right place, right time, got a chance.”   

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Danny Trevathan says he wants to leave a lasting legacy in Chicago

Danny Trevathan says he wants to leave a lasting legacy in Chicago

Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan is healthy again after missing seven games with an elbow injury in 2019. He's also hungry. The ninth-year pro told reporters on Friday that he wants his name to be mentioned among the list of historic inside linebackers who've donned a Bears uniform.

"I want to be remembered," Trevathan said. "Legacy lives forever. ... There's such a great tradition of linebackers the Bears have. I want to be up there."

Dick Butkus. Mike Singeltary. Brian Urlacher. 

Danny Trevathan?

The reality is Trevathan probably won't be remembered in the same way those other three are. Let's face it, they're Hall-of-Famers. And while Trevathan has yearly Pro Bowl potential, he won't be getting a bust in Canton.

But that's not the point here. Instead, it's the focus and approach Trevathan is bringing to the 2020 season that should rub off on his teammates (say, Roquan Smith?) and bring the best possible version of the 2020 Bears to the field.

The best possible version of Trevathan, according to the linebacker, was nearly on display last season.

"I was just getting started (in 2019, pre-injury). … I’m being serious. I was just touching the tip of the ‘berg," Trevathan said. "How do I get back to that? I never lost it, in my mind and how I feel. How I’m showing right now, I never lost it."

Trevathan's return to health is just one key variable favoring the Bears this fall. Akiem Hicks will make his return, too, after appearing in just five games last year. Add free-agent addition Robert Quinn to the mix, and that's three studs added to the front-seven who weren't with the defense for nearly half the season or longer (in the case of Quinn, not at all) last year. It's going to be fun to watch.

Trevathan has the right mindset. Now the rest of the team has to follow his lead.

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