Bears-Dolphins preseason preview: Is Adam Gase as good as his word?


Bears-Dolphins preseason preview: Is Adam Gase as good as his word? takes a look at three preview points going into the Bears first preseason game.

Offensive coordinator Adam Gase won’t be showing any more of his playbook than defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will be of his when preseason moves into game phase. But Gase has committed to two major, and related, objectives – running the football and reducing the turnover proclivities of one Jay Cutler.

During the Bears’ Saturday scrimmage, Gase‘s play selection approached a 50-50 balance of run-pass. The Bears in fact ran the ball more effectively than they threw it. It was only practice, but… .

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Gase has two outstanding guards (Kyle Long, Matt Slauson) with size, mobility and attitude. He has given every indication of being more than wanting to use them and the entire line to set a tone for his offense. He can’t do that with just talk about the run.

“I feel really good about our line,” Gase said. “I think that stable of backs we have is very impressive. Right now I’m feeling pretty good about it.”

For a point of reference: In Peyton Manning’s last several years in Indianapolis, the Colts’ use of the run trended downward into the mid-30-percent range. In Denver, with Gase working under coordinator Mike McCoy and then taking over as O.C. when McCoy was hired to coach San Diego, the run percentage moved back up into the 40’s (42 last season).

[MORE: How stout will defensive front be]

The Bears are not expected to give much if any work to Matt Forte on Thursday against the Miami Dolphins. No need, both from a risk and other standpoints. The play of Jacquizz Rodgers has been outstanding through camp and he has to this point played his way into the No. 2 tailback job.

The Bears are unlikely to keep four running backs, putting a squeeze on fourth-rounder’s Ka’Deem Carey (2014) and Jeremy Langford (2015), the latter with an edge on special teams.

Being able to run the football and staying with that commitment takes some of the offensive burden off Cutler, which is part of the overall. Cutler uncharacteristically has not thrown an interception through 11 practices, and while the operative word there is “practices,” it is perhaps an early hint that something is working with a quarterback whose carelessness with the football has been his and his teams’ undoing.

“Right now, time will tell,” Gase said. “We’re taking it one day at a time right now. If I knew what was going to happen, I’d play the lottery. Right now I don’t know. Every day we’re getting a little bit better. He’s doing a good job of staying with it and getting better.”

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”