Bears

Would you believe J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted are keys to resurgent Bears' O?

Would you believe J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted are keys to resurgent Bears' O?

One obvious question hovering in the afterglow of the Bears’ breakout offensive performance against the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday is: Where has THIS been? Quarterback Mitch Trubisky and coach Matt Nagy looked more in sync than at any other time in recent memory.

So here’s a deeper question: How did that happen? The answer may be as simple as finally getting impact play from the tight end position, something the Bears haven’t had all season.

The impact plays by J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted (7 combined targets, 7 combined catches, 92 combined yards) represented the runaway best 2019 day for Bears tight ends. Against the Cowboys, Holtz actually led the team in receiving yards with 56. He and Horsted figured in the run game and screen game, bringing something to the offense that filled an enormous void.

While tight ends Trey Burton (calf) and Adam Shaheen (foot) are now on injured reserve, even when they were on the field they were largely ineffective, contributing only a combined 23 catches for 158 yards.

That left the Bears digging deep to find some production at the position. Holtz, who’s spent time on the Browns’ and Redskins’ practice squads, was claimed off waivers in September. Horsted, an undrafted free agent from Princeton, spent much of the season on the Bears’ practice squad.

“It’s a little bit of rhythm,” Nagy said. “[Holtz and Horsted] are so new to us as coaches and not knowing exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. The other thing is that you had two other guys in Trey and Adam that were a little bit beat up and hurt physically. They weren’t 100 percent.

“You have two other guys that come in and are 100 percent and they have different types of talent. So we’re trying to figure out the best way to use them. I want to credit them, especially J.P. Holtz. Here’s a kid that’s come in here and done everything we’ve asked. He’s helped us out at that ‘Y’ [blocking tight end] position.”

Consider what’s been missing at the position for most of this season. Last year Burton was the fourth most-targeted Bear by Trubisky and caught 75 percent of the balls thrown to him. Shaheen did little with his playing time (he was inactive until game 10), but he did catch 83 percent of the balls Trubisky threw to him, and the Bears were 5-1 when he played.

Trubisky hasn’t had that security receiver this season. Burton slumped to a 58 percent catch-percentage before going on IR, Shaheen pulled in 9 of his 13 targets (69 percent), and Ben Braunecker 6 of 11 (55 percent).

So far Horsted and Holtz have caught 11 of the 12 passes directed to them. The one incompletion was to Holtz, from backup QB Chase Daniel vs. Oakland. That means that every pass Trubisky has thrown to the new TE duo has been caught.

“Tight ends are big in any offense,” Nagy said. “They help out in the run game. And then they help out in the pass game in certain areas. It’s just a benefit when you don’t always have to throw to wide receivers.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Jay Culter and Kristin Cavallari to host private event this Valentine’s Day in West Loop

jaycutler.jpg
USA Today

Jay Culter and Kristin Cavallari to host private event this Valentine’s Day in West Loop

Former Bears QB and current reality TV husband Jay Cutler will be coming back to Chicago this Valentine’s Day. Cutler’s wife, long-time reality TV star Kristin Cavallari, will be hosting a private event at Uncommon James in West Loop and Cutler is coming along for the festivities. A must event for any fans of mid 2000’s football and MTV.

For $200 per guest, attendees will enjoy food and drink, a private shopping experience and a selfie station. The 3-hour event will also include a question and answer session with Cavallari and Cutler. There’s something for everyone!

Cavallarri is on the third season of her E! show “Very Cavallari” which follows her life and growing business. Uncommon James is a fashion, lifestyle and jewelry brand who opened their Chicago location last October. The flagship store is in Nashville, where Cavallari and Cutler reside with their children.

Cutler is seemingly less-interested in the spotlight than his wife. He isn’t particularly active on social media, with Cavallari posting pictures to an Instagram account for him, so any chance to hang out with the former Bears QB is a rare opportunity. According to Instagram, it looks like Cutler is becoming more involved with Cavallari’s business, designing and modelling a bracelet that doubles as a bottle opener. How very Cutler.

View this post on Instagram

Add jewelry designer to the resume @uncommonjames

A post shared by Jay Cutler (@ifjayhadinstagram) on

If you’re looking to convince skeptics to shell out for the event, here’s some incentive. According to statista.com, the average Bears ticket in 2014 during the middle of Cutler’s tenure on the team was $108 per person, not even including food and drink and access to whatever a selfie station is. So, you’re paying twice as much for a much closer look at Cutler (assuming the store is smaller than Soldier Field) and a chance to ask him and his wife a question! And food! Seems fair when you put it like that.

If you and the K-Cav to your J-Cut are looking for something to do together this Valentine’s Day, the event will be held at Uncommon James in the West Loop, 849 W Randolph St., from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on February 14th. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Mark Sanchez knows Mitch Trubisky and John DeFilippo, and he knows it's a great pairing

8-29marksanchezmitchtrubisky.jpg
USA Today

Mark Sanchez knows Mitch Trubisky and John DeFilippo, and he knows it's a great pairing

New Bears' QB coach John DeFilippo knows a thing or two about coaching highly-drafted QBs. 

Back in 2009, DeFilippo got his first taste of life as a QB coach when his employer, the Jets, drafted Mark Sanchez with the 5th overall pick in that year's draft. 

What followed was Sanchez's best season. During a rookie campaign in which Sanchez became only the 2nd QB in NFL history to win multiple playoff games, DeFillipo coached the QB to career-bests in touchdowns (20) and yards per completion (12.5). 

Now at Halas Hall, the Bears are hoping he can work the same magic on their own highly-drafted QB. For what it's worth, Sanchez is buying in. 

"He’s a great offensive mind," Sanchez said. "Coach Nagy knows exactly what he’s doing with these hires. He understands what Mitch needs, how he needs to progress, how he needs to grow as a quarterback, and continue to make good decisions, continue to understand what defenses to make it difficult on him, and I know that John DeFilippo can help with that. He was a great resource for us as one of our assistants my rookie year in New York, had a ton of success in this league. He’s been around to plenty of places, lots of great experience, and all that experience is going to lend well in helping Mitch grow." 

Since his time in New York, DeFilippo has made stops in Oakland, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota, and most recently, Jacksonville. He was hired by the Bears back on January 16th, and will take over for Dave Ragone who was promoted to Passing Game Coordinator. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.