Bears

Bears Week 7 Injury Report: Mitch Trubisky, Taylor Gabriel and Bilal Nichols all full participants in Wednesday's practice

Bears Week 7 Injury Report: Mitch Trubisky, Taylor Gabriel and Bilal Nichols all full participants in Wednesday's practice

It’s safe to say the Bears’ bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. Coming off a harrowing Week 5 loss to the Raiders, and a generally tumultuous opening to the season, the off-week represented a chance to reset both physically and mentally. 

This week’s matchup with the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints will be a barometer of the Bears’ ability to put the past behind them entering an exceedingly difficult stretch of their schedule. The news earlier this week that Akiem Hicks likely won’t return until Week 15 was obviously a blow to the team’s hope of a second-half surge, but Wednesday’s injury report offered a couple reasons for optimism:

Most notably, quarterback Mitch Trubisky was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, which is a good sign after head coach Matt Nagy said today he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ that Trubsiky would be able to go on Sunday. 

Also of note were Bilal Nichols (hand) and Taylor Gabriel (concussion) being full participants. Nichols has been sidelined for the past month with a broken hand, while Gabirel hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in Week 3 against Washington. 

The Saints’ report also contained a few notable names, including superstar RB Alvin Kamara, who didn’t practice Wednesday (knee, ankle). Kamara had an ankle issue flare up in practice two weeks ago, but was able to suit up for last week’s win against the Jaguars. He wasn’t his usual self in that game, though, registering only 11 carries for 31 yards and seven catches for 35 yards in the contest. Coach Sean Payton said afterwards that he tweaked his knee during the game. 

It’s probably not far enough into the week to read too much into this just yet, but stay tuned on Kamara’s status. If he’s unable to go, or continues to be hampered by these injuries, it could mean trouble for the Saints’ offense.

Saints tight end Jared Cook and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith were both unable to practice Wednesday, as well.

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Tarik Cohen was Bears' best offensive player vs. Rams

Tarik Cohen was Bears' best offensive player vs. Rams

The Chicago Bears offense was uninspiring once again Sunday night in the team's 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. While they could've had another six points had kicker Eddy Pineiro connected on two early-game field goals, it still wouldn't have been enough to win the most important game of the season.

After 11 weeks (10 games), the Bears rank 28th in points per game with 16.9. To put their brutal season in perspective, the New York Jets, who've been atrocious this year, are averaging 16.4 points per game.

Essentially, Matt Nagy has coached Chicago's offense as effectively as Adam Gase has coached the Jets'. 

Still, it's worth acknowledging strong individual performances in the midst of an overall letdown, and in Week 11's loss to the Rams, it was running back Tarik Cohen who stood tallest among his Bears' offensive teammates.

Cohen posted Chicago's highest Pro Football Focus grade on offense with a 74.3. He logged 45 snaps, 10 more than David Montgomery, and was effective when he touched the ball. He totaled 74 yards and a touchdown on 14 touches en route to being the Bears' most effective running back against a tough Rams defensive front. Montgomery managed just 31 yards on 14 carries.

Cohen hasn't had the kind of season that was expected from his role as a do-it-all offensive weapon; he's way behind his normal pace of production as both a runner and receiver. Cohen had 99 carries for 444 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 71 catches for 725 yards and five scores in 2018. He's on pace for just 186 rushing yards and 402 receiving yards this season.

Still, Sunday night's effort was a step in the right direction for him and a sign that he may continue to get more touches as the season comes to a close.

Nagy took hard look at his duties as Bears offensive play-caller, opts to retain that role

Nagy took hard look at his duties as Bears offensive play-caller, opts to retain that role

During the Bears’ 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, quarterback Mitch Trubisky suffered a hip pointer, an injury that involved monitoring by the coaching and medical staffs from halftime on. Kicker Eddy Pineiro was missing field goals to the point of appearing to affect his coach’s decision-making. The offense was sputtering – again – and the defense, after some early takeaway success, appeared to be sagging emotionally. There were issues at tight end. Aaron Donald had to be accounted for and blocked.

All of which and more was on the head of Matt Nagy, now all of 27 games into being an NFL head coach, and who late in the game needed to stop and have a heart-to-heart, heads-together talk with his quarterback about how he was feeling.

The “and more” on Nagy’s head continues to include calling the individual plays for his bad-and-getting-worse offense.

So Nagy spent a chunk of his morning taking a hard look at whether defenses are on to him, presumably personally as well as schematically. And some of that hard look was whether he indeed should continue being the play-caller in the wake of the offense running 74 plays, netting 7 points and failing to gain 300 total yards for the ninth time in 10 games.

For now, after that look in the mirror, Nagy will remain in control of the play sheet.

“What I would say is this,” he said, acknowledging that if he felt he was the problem, “I’ll be the first to tell you, then we need to be better or if there’s a rhythm to something.

“I have zero ego and I have zero care of giving play-call duties to somebody else. I really do not care about that, and if that’s what we feel like from going through it that that’s what we need to do, then I would do that, I really would.

“But when you go through the tape and you look at things and you know schematically where we’re at and what we’re calling and when we’re calling it…. There’s without a doubt a few plays in that game that I would go back and say, ‘You know what, that’s our fault. We didn’t scheme it right,’ and that starts with me. And I need to be able to accept that and know how do I fix that. But we’ll do everything we can … we’re turning over every stone to get this thing right.”

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