Bears

Bears Grades: Another OK first half, dismal second for struggling defense

Bears Grades: Another OK first half, dismal second for struggling defense

For the second week in a row, what was supposed to be a revamped and beefed-up Bears defense failed to stifle a generally mediocre offense, getting no help from a moribund offense but in the end doing itself in with inept tackling and a lack of impact plays at pivotal times in a 29-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I feel like we started good,” said defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, as the Bears forced Philadelphia to settle for three field goals on deep drives in the first 30 minutes. “We had a great first half. Similar to last week [vs. Houston], we didn’t play to our capability in the second half.”

The Philadelphia offense was able to move the football with relative ease on those three scoring drives in the first half, all of which ended in field goals but each revealing vulnerability and a continuing inability to deliver stops in critical situations early in drives. To wit: The Eagles completed second-down passes for 14 and 18 yards in the final minute to ease into position for a go-ahead field goal at the end of the half.

The Eagles set something of a tone when Wentz and the offense methodically rolled off an opening drive that lasted 13 plays and 7 minutes 26 seconds, ending in a field goal because of a diving pass deflection by nickel back Bryce Callahan and a coverage sack by Sam Acho.

[RELATED: Check out the grades for the Bears offense]

Defensive line: D+

Willie Young, forced into playing primarily as an end as the Eagles schemed to keep the Bears in nickel, was a force, getting a sack early in the third quarter to force a third-and-long that the Eagles could not convert. The sack came off pressure from nose tackle Eddie Goldman. Young finished with seven tackles, two for losses.

Akiem Hicks broke up a pass to force a third-and-long that the Eagles could not convert in the third quarter. The Bears limited the Eagles to 3.1 yards per rush but could not get sufficient pressure on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz to make any impact.

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

Linebacker: D

Sam Acho worked his way into more playing time last week against the Texans and was involved in impact plays Monday. He pursued Carson Wentz for a sack in the first quarter and combined with Willie Young for a key third-down stop in the second.

Jerrell Freeman delivered a massive hit on Carson Wentz off a blitz, then drew a facemask flag on the Eagles on the next play while forcing an incompletion with an open-field hit against a screen pass. Freeman was initially credited with five tackles, three for losses.

Lamarr Houston suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and was out for the game.

But Danny Trevathan struggled badly in pass coverage, allowing completions for first-down conversions and not able to get home with blitzes on Wentz.

Secondary: C-

Bryce Callahan’s diving deflection of a Wentz pass in the end zone saved the Bears from a first-possession touchdown. Deiondre Hall broke up a second-quarter toss in the end zone with a textbook break on the ball.

Cornerback Jacoby Glenn was beaten deep by wideout Nelson Agholor but recovered to break up a potential TD catch. Glenn was credited with seven solo tackles and two passes deflected.

Special teams: C

The touchdown punt return by Eddie Royal was a major positive, but the overall performance of the unit otherwise was poor.

Kickoff coverage allowed the Eagles a 30-yard return after the Bears first score while the Bears saw Deonte Thompson field a kickoff five yards deep in the end zone and bring it out only to the 14. The Bears returned four kickoffs and brought none of them as far out as the 25-yard line.

Connor Barth’s first kick as a Bear was a disaster, clanking off the left upright from 31 yards to net nothing from a positive answering Bears drive after Philadelphia was stopped and forced to settle for a field goal the possession before.

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

6-8trubiskyqbs.jpg
USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.