Bears

Bears could use virtual reality to coach Jay Cutler, others

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Bears could use virtual reality to coach Jay Cutler, others

INDIANAPOLIS – Bears coaches once grew frustrated trying to understand what Jay Cutler was seeing when he’d thrown a particular interception. It was, one coach said privately, as if the quarterback was looking at some sort of alternate reality.

Now the coaches will be able to see what their quarterbacks and even some other players were seeing, not in actual games but at least in practices and a form of virtual reality.

The path to that information is in new technology coming available from California-based STRIVR Labs, creators of a virtual reality system that has attracted the interest of the Bears and various other teams, with applications in the NFL Scouting Combine and elsewhere.

A player looks out at a field through a pair of oversized goggles that project his view-field onto a nearby monitor. Within the goggles is a video of an actual play without being in that play.

“It’s pretty cool,” Bears GM Ryan Pace told CSNChicago.com. “Some people think it just applies to the quarterbacks but safeties can wear them, linebackers can wear them.

“Where I think value would be is also with backup quarterbacks, who don’t get a lot of reps and that you’re trying to develop. The first-team quarterback usually gets all the reps but we’re trying to develop that younger quarterback. We can replicate and simulate even better.”

[RELATED: Bears 'aggressively' pursuing long-term contract with Alshon Jeffery]

STRIVR reportedly has agreements in place with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints. Pace himself hasn’t tried the system but at the Senior Bowl, player personnel director Josh Lucas tried the apparatus on.

“You can turn around and see the whole field and know where somebody’s looking,” Pace said. “Some of the kinks still need to get worked out, like some of the player-tracking devices, but it’s just normal growing pains. It’s good.”

Bears not on initial list of teams attending Colin Kaepernick workout

Bears not on initial list of teams attending Colin Kaepernick workout

The Bears are considered one of the NFL's most quarterback-needy teams after Mitch Trubisky's uninspiring play through the first half of the 2019 season, but that doesn't mean they're searching for his replacement just yet. 

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will conduct a workout on Saturday in Atlanta and the Bears were considered to be one of the most likely landing spots for the one-time dual-threat. But according to Thursday's announcement by the league, Chicago isn't one of the 11 teams who have confirmed their attendance.

The clubs who will have a representative on-site are Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New England, NY Giants, NY Jets, Tampa Bay and Washington.

It's possible the Bears could confirm their attendance over the next few days, but at this point, it doesn't appear like there's much interest.

We'll continue to update the Kaepernick story as news breaks.

The Bears' issues with run defense start with Akiem Hicks, but that's not where it ends

The Bears' issues with run defense start with Akiem Hicks, but that's not where it ends

The Bears' defense didn't allow a rushing touchdown through the first three games of 2019. Over that stretch, teams (Green Bay, Denver, Washington) averaged 3.06 yards per carry against them, and the Bears held all three under 100 yards rushing. It looked like this: 


Sharp Stats

Those numbers represent how much success Green Bay, Denver, and Washington had running the ball in certain directions. That's a lot of red (and one weird green?) on the interior, where Akiem Hicks was lined up for 147 snaps. It's a small sample size, but the Pro Bowl defensive tackles influence is noticeable. It's even more noticeable, though, in the same chart for the following seven weeks: 

Teams were averaging 3.4 yards per carry (YPC) in Hicks' direction through the first three games. After that, Hicks played eight more snaps before being put on IR, and that YPC has shot up to 4.1. Since then, the Bears have also allowed eight rushing touchdowns, with at least one in every game except for last week's Detroit win. Over the last six weeks, they've given up 169 yards (OAK), 151 (Saints) and 146 (Eagles) on the ground. So is that just because Hicks isn't there?

"We’ve kind of opened up a can of worms, and until you put that fire out, you’re going to continue to get the same type of schemes," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. 

"So it’s just a matter of being consistent. I thought our guys did a nice job for the most part, except for a few of those. It’s really those scramble yards that get you."

Pagano mentioned that, somewhat ironically, the Rams' offense wasn't the only historically-great unit that got exposed during that Sunday night game last December. It falls on him, he said, to put players in better schemes – especially now that teams can afford to throw more attention at Khalil Mack in Hicks' absence. Much of that falls in the hands of Nick Williams and Nick Kwiatkoski, who both have been unexpected bright spots this season. Pagano praised 'Kwik' using all the normal buzzwords (grit! toughness!) and mentioned how pleased he was with Williams' steady, incremental performance. 

"[Williams] is a big talented guy," he said. "He’s learning on the run and he’s getting some more burn like you said. I think he played his best game to date this last one. He’s really disruptive and he did get the one sack. He’s doing a nice job and he’s playing better against the run.”

Based on when he was put on IR, Hicks would be elligble to return for the final three games of the Bears season, starting Dec. 15 in Green Bay. Until then, he's taken on a bit of a de facto assistant coach role. 

"He’s a guy who’s in our meeting room," said defensive line coach Jay Rodgers. "He can speak the same language as me. We’ve been around together for 4 seasons now. He has great insight in terms of understand what offensive lines are trying to do to particular defensive setups.

"He’s an alpha personality and people gravitate towards him. When he speaks, he’s not just blowing hot air. What he says, he means it. And that’s valuable to the team."

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