Bears

Mike Ditka praises Bears' offseason, calls Nagy a 'very good coach'

Mike Ditka praises Bears' offseason, calls Nagy a 'very good coach'

Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka spoke with NBC Sports on Monday and offered praise for Matt Nagy and the process GM Ryan Pace put in place this offseason.

“The Bears are trying to win and Matt’s [Nagy] a good coach, a very good coach," Ditka said. "I think they got to put the pieces together, they know what they want to do. They’re in the process of trying to draft the right people, put the right people in, work with the people they already have."

There's no relationship in football more important than the bond between a head coach and his quarterback, and according to Ditka, the Bears are trending in the right direction.

“I think they got a great quarterback and I really think there are a lot of good positions there. It’s good to have a great quarterback and a running game and all those things are important, but I think you win in this league by understanding you got to control the football, play great defense, you got to match up well on special teams. I think they’ll do that.

"They weren’t going to become a football club, not just throw the pass here, we’re going to throw the ball 50 times, it’s not that. You play the game to win the game. It doesn’t matter if you run the ball 100 times or you pass it 100 times. Whatever way you can win, you win.”

The Bears should be a lot more aggressive on offense this season with Nagy calling plays. The first-year coach has said he plans to test defenses with the vertical passing game and Chicago has the skill players to do it. Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel both have third-level speed.

The combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will also be a huge part of Nagy's system. Howard, who's coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons to start his career (the first player in Bears history to accomplish such feat) is chomping at the bit to take on the role Kareem Hunt starred in for Kansas City last season, the same one that resulted in the rookie back leading the NFL in rushing yards.

Still, before the Bears can have visions of a playoff berth, they have to get through the NFC North.

“In the National Football League you have to look at your division, that’s where it all starts," Ditka said. "You got Green Bay, you got Detroit, you got Minnesota, you got Chicago. Now Chicago has to understand they got to come out of the six games with Minnesota, Detroit and Green Bay with at least four wins. At least four. If you come out 5-1 or 6-0, fantastic, but that’s going to determine how you play the rest of the league.

“You must control your division to win your division. You might get lucky and win it, but you have to really control it. I think that’s the big thing they have to do, really concentrate on those three teams in their division. Everything else will work out. You’re going to play some good teams, we know that, but take care of your division and let the other chips fall where they may. I think they got a very good chance, I like what they’re doing.”

(Too) Bold Predictions:

(Too) Bold Predictions:

You've stumbled into (Too) Bold Predictions, a weekly column that is exactly what it sounds like! Here, we'll take nuanced, well-researched information and use to make wildly improbable predictions. Analysis! 

 

J.J. Stankevitz 

 

1. Leonard Floyd has a breakout game.

A year ago, Floyd had a monster game against Sam Bradford, dropping the then-Minnesota Vikings quarterback twice, one of which went for a safety. Floyd does the same on Sunday, recording his first two sacks of the season in his first game not playing with a club on his right hand. A reason for that optimism: Cardinals left tackle D.J. Humphries allowed 10 pressures in 70 pass blocking snaps in Weeks 1 and 2. This should be a good matchup for Floyd, and without the club on his hand, he takes advantage of it. We'll say the "breakout" game is at least two sacks and five total pressures.

 

2. Mitch Trubisky will hit multiple shots downfield.

Trubisky missed Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson on Monday night on throws that could've backed the Seahawks' defense off the line of scrimmage. Connecting on those deep shots is critical for freeing up more room for Jordan Howard, especially against a Cardinals defense that's had success stopping the run (3.6 yards/carry, sixth in the NFL). But the Cardinals' defense has been gouged through the air, allowing 9.8 yards per attempt (31st). Trubisky will complete two deep throws in the Bears' first two drives, which will lead to a much easier path for offensive success on Sunday.

 

Cam Ellis

 

1. Tarik Cohen will take one to the house.

 Cohen hasn't contributed too heavily to the offense yet, though you could make that argument for just about anyone not named Allen Robinson. That's less the case on special teams: after averaging 9.38 yards per return last season, Cohen's  jumped up to 17.17 this year (though it's still a bit early to be taking averages seriously). It's part of why the Bears have the 5th-best special teams according to Football Outsiders' S.T. DVOA. In honor of Devin Hester and the Bears' 2006 comeback in Arizona, my bet is that Cohen, who landed on the NFL All-Pro team last year for punt returns, breaks the game open with a  touchdown of 50+ yards. 

 

2. Kevin White will tie his career high in catches 

After playing 12 snaps in Week 1 (12%), White only played two snaps (3%) against the Seahawks in Week 2. Arizona has the 30th-ranked pass defense, per Football Outsiders, so there's going to be plenty of eating to go around. With all eyes on Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, Kevin White -- should he play -- is going to get a lot of one-on-one matchups. White snagged six catches in games against Dallas and Detroit in 2016, and he'll resurface for at least one game against one of the league's worst pass defenses. 

 

The Way We Hear It: Mike Glennon plays Mitch Trubisky

The Way We Hear It: Mike Glennon plays Mitch Trubisky

With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Cardinals matchup: