Bears

Bears see Allen Robinson picking up where he left off

Bears see Allen Robinson picking up where he left off

Down the list of things that would’ve happened had Cody Parkey made his game-winning attempt as time expired against the Philadelphia Eagles in January — below the Bears advancing to face the Los Angeles Rams and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, perhaps, not getting the head coaching gig in Denver — is a major narrative: Mitch Trubisky would’ve stood as a playoff hero, with Allen Robinson as his trusty sidekick. 

Robinson started to take over the Bears’ first playoff game in eight years in late in the third quarter, with consecutive receptions totaling 57 yards that drove the Bears to the doorstep of the red zone (that drive ended in a field goal). A 22-yard bullying of Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox — who committed pass interference on the play — led to a go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. 

And then, with little hope left, Robinson caught passes for 25 and eight yards, miraculously getting the Bears into position to win with time expiring. We all know what happened next. 

The point of re-hashing Robinson’s play-by-play here, though, is this: The Bears believe what Robinson showed in those critical situations in January is what he can do for the entire 2019 season. 

“Now he can go back and kind of go off that Philly game thinking wow, I did some stuff that I was used to doing, I (previously) wasn’t comfortable doing and now it’s there,” Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said. “Now he’s had a whole offseason to recover physically, he’s come back in shape, he gets to go out there now and throw the ball with Mitch, which he didn’t get to do until training camp last year. I think from a mental standpoint, that’s where he’s going to grow the most. 

“(Physically), it’s all there now, it’s all back, he’ll be able to come to camp now physically ready. Mentally, I think this is where it’s going to be fun to watch him to see how far he takes it with his mental aspect of the game.”

Robinson didn’t participate in OTAs a year ago while he was recovering from a torn ACL that prematurely ended his final season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That robbed him of his first chance to not only take a crash course in Matt Nagy’s offense, but develop timing and chemistry with Trubisky. 

Robinson missed three games last season due to groin and ribs injuries, though, which does leave his health as a question mark entering Year 2 of his three-year contract. But during OTAs this spring, Robinson is healthy and said he feels “light years ahead” of where he was a year ago. 

“I wasn’t participating, so being able to go out here, be at different positions, see different looks and things like that, it’s got me better,” Robinson said. 

That Robinson put up the production he did — 55 catches on 94 targets for 754 yards with four touchdowns — is viewed positively by those around Halas Hall. As Furrey said, Robinson wasn’t completely comfortable in the offense until late in the season, and still managed to have a pair of 100-yard games and then set a franchise receiving record in the playoffs with those 10 catches for 143 yards. 

Now?

"He knows exactly what he’s doing on every single play," Trubisky said. "Me and him are just able to build that timing — the routes and adjustments and what we want to get done in the offseason. It’s been great having him out here, throwing to him and I think it’s just gonna help our dynamic duo and help push the other guys to get even better all offseason long." 

The Bears are the only team in the NFL to not have a 1,000-yard receiver since 2015, with that mark last broke in Chicago by Alshon Jeffery in 2014. If Robinson can build off his record-setting playoff game, as the Bears expect, he could be the one to snap that cold streak. 

“I’m pretty familiar with this offense, spending last year in it, being able to have an offseason to kind of look through it and look at things, for me, it’s definitely an advantage,” Robinson said. “…  I’m trying to create big plays, I’m trying to make this offense as explosive as possible.”

Age before beauty when it comes to Bears, elite NFL defensive coaching

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USA Today

Age before beauty when it comes to Bears, elite NFL defensive coaching

It doesn’t necessarily qualify as age discrimination, maybe just more of a sorta “age-typing” around the NFL. Because the image of what makes a top offensive mind in the NFL is radically different from what’s become almost a standard for defensive-coaching pedigree.

Looking for a hot offensive coach? The cliche’d expectation has become that it’ll be someone young.

Putting together a ring of honor for the elite defensive minds in the NFL? Think “veteran"... VERY veteran.

Consider:

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer this week remarked during preparations for his Vikings hosting the Denver Broncos that he was pleased that Denver coach and former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio finally got a head-coaching berth at a time when so many top jobs have been going to the presumed hot, young offensive minds that vaulted to the top after “one-year sabbaticals.”

The one-year thing refers to the fast-tracking that has happened with increased frequency in recent years — the ascensions to head coach of Adam Gase (41) with the Jets, Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury (40), Matt LaFleur (40) in Green Bay, the Bears’ Matt Nagy (41), or Zac Taylor (36) in Cincinnati — after a year or two, sometimes less, as offensive coordinators. Sean McVay was 31 when the Rams hired him. Kyle Shanahan took over in San Francisco at 38.

Andy Reid at 61 looks perhaps like an outlier out there in Kansas City. But Reid was 41 when he became Donovan McNabb’s head coach in Philadelphia back in 1999.

Meanwhile, for whatever reason, the image bar on defense, between head coaches or defensive coordinators, lies in the other direction — the savvy, cagy, crusty old lion: Bill Belichick (67) in New England with the NFL’s No. 1 defense; Dallas ranked No. 6 on defense with coordinator Rod Marinelli (70); the Bears fourth in scoring defense under Chuck Pagano (59), who succeeded Fangio. Denver No. 7 with Fangio as head coach and Ed Donatell (62) as his defensive coordinator.

Preparing for the Los Angeles Rams’ 11th-ranked defense on Sunday, Nagy this week brought up Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (72) for recognition: “How do you not appreciate what he’s done over his career? He’s done some amazing things. He’s been in the league forever. When he was in Denver and I was in Kansas City we’ve seen him. When he was in Houston and I was in Kansas City we’ve seen him.”

Defensive legend Dick LeBeau finished his NFL coaching career with Tennessee at age 80.

So how is it that youth has come to be served on offense, while on defense, the prevailing philosophy has been age before beauty?

"I don't know,” Nagy reflected. “Maybe it's just a phase that we're in right now?

“It's probably a little bit of a trend involved there. the other part of it, too, is that you get some of these older coaches that are in it, they've seen it all, right? You go back to Tom Brady when he talked about that he's seen every defense; these [defensive seniors] have seen every offense and so they have ways to adjust and experiences.”

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Injury Report: Trey Burton, David Montgomery, Adam Shaheen all non-participants in practice Thursday

Injury Report: Trey Burton, David Montgomery, Adam Shaheen all non-participants in practice Thursday

As the Bears prepare for a pivotal Week 11 matchup with the Rams, the team's injury report is trending in the wrong direction.

Take a look at the report from Thursday:

David Montgomery (ankle) was a non-participant in Thursday's practice after being limited Wednesday. Trey Burton (calf), Isaiah Irving (quad), Adam Shaheen (foot) and Danny Trevathan (elbow) also didn't practice.

Last Saturday, the Bears signed RB Ryan Nall and LB James Vaughters off their practice squad — potential candidates to see more run with Trevathan likely to miss time and Montgomery's status up in the air.

The Rams reported earlier this week that RT Rob Havenstein, WR Brandin Cooks and DB Darious Williams are all already ruled out for Sunday.

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