Bears

Bears Grades: Fox and Co. do all the right things

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Bears Grades: Fox and Co. do all the right things

The offense scored 15 unanswered points over the final 19 minutes; the defense shut out the Kansas City Chiefs for the second half; and special teams shut down the Chief on punt and kickoff returns while blocking a critical second-half field goal that saved potentially game-changing points.

Starting three rookies created a built-in difficulty factor for a first-year coaching staff. Yet maybe the results should not totally surprise, particularly on defense. The Bears started rookie safeties, and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio annually sent safeties to Pro Bowls while in charge of the San Francisco 49ers defense.

[MORE GRADES: Quarterback]

Fangio also unveiled an unorthodox package with Willie Young at OLB to start the game before going to what has long been expected to be the bedrock of the 3-4: Eddie Goldman at nose tackle, and Jeremiah Ratliff and Jarvis Jenkins as ends. The defense also lost middle linebacker Shea McClellin in the second half but was able to win with Christian Jones taking over McClellin’s signal-caller duties and subbing newcomer LaRoy Reynolds into the scheme seamlessly.

“Coach Vic has done a great job of calling the right calls he know the guys that are in are going to be able to execute,” Reynolds said. “That is what he’s doing with the defense.”

Without starting receivers Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, offensive coordinator Adam Gase trotted out some “wildcat” work for Matt Forte, with limited success but at least it was forcing the Chiefs to adjust to different looks.

Gase appeared to be in a conservative mode similar to the game plan of the loss to the Seattle Seahawks, but then the offense opened up more in the second half and scored 15 unanswered points over the final 19 minutes.

“In the second half we mixed it up a bit,” said running back Matt Forte. “The passing game opened up. It worked a little bit and then our two-minute offense took over at the end. It’s just a testament to our coaches.”

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Gase said he’d called only one two-minute drive in his career before last Sunday’s win over the Oakland Raiders. He effectively called two on Sunday, with scoring drives of 88 and 67 yards for the winning two touchdowns.

Special teams continued to eliminate its disasters in kick coverage, allowing one 19-yard kickoff return and one punt return of 10 yards for the closest things to breakaways. The effort by the field-goal-block team delivered a block by Pernell McPhee, lined up to shoot the “A” gap to one side of the long snapper, of a 27-yard field goal at the end of the Chiefs' first possession of the third quarter, a turning point in the game.

Moon's Grade: A

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

 BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Dear Tolliver clan:
 
I think most of you were there at practice today in your “Toliver II 33” T-shirts, including the three little guys in their “K. T. II Cousin” T’s. That’s pretty amazing support for an undrafted rookie free agent cornerback out of LSU, so you know I just had to intercept another pass for you guys, after the two yesterday. This one was off Tyler Bray throwing a ball to Anthony Miller, a rookie wide receiver who’s playing like anything but a rookie. Miller has amazing speed and is catching balls all over the field and having fun with the crowd. He stopped short of the end zone after one long catch, fans started yelling for him to score, so he backtracked fast and broke the plane of the goal line. Fans loved it.
 
Anthony made a diving catch 45 yards downfield off a throw from Chase Daniel (I won’t say against whom) and Mitch Trubisky and I think half the offense sprinted downfield to give him high-fives. Lotta energy on that side of the football. 
 
And we had some great defensive moments, too. Prince Amukamara broke and nearly intercepted at Mitch pass to Kevin White, and Bryce Callahan broke up one to Josh Bellamy one play later.
 
Meanwhile, the fans loved just about everything, this being the first practice the public could watch. They were even cheering completions in drills, especially Tarik Cohen, who seems like everybody’s favorite. They loved it (and so did the players) when tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride was up tight on guys to simulate press coverage and got faked right off his feet by Trey Burton working his release. But it was all in good fun, and Trey is a tough cover for us DB’s, let alone a coach.
 
Speaking of “coach,” coach Nagy said some nice things about me after practice, saying I’d flashed a few times and gotten turnovers, and “we stressed takeaways on defense and having interceptions is important. [Kevin’s] done that now the last couple of days. Kevin’s a big kid. He’s a tall, rangy, lengthy corner that really almost looks like a safety. So for him to be able to move around out here, it’s about getting confidence. So any time he gets some interceptions, you’re going to build confidence.”
 
Coach Nagy said he needs to see me do it in pads, and we go in pads tomorrow for the first time. The hitting’ll really start then.
 
[signed] Your favorite family cornerback,
 
Kevin

 
Wanted: QB accuracy
 
Improving on the 59.4-percent completion rate he posted as a rookie was a prime directive for quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but Saturday’s session was not a step in the right direction. Trubisky completed less than half of his throws in two 7-on-7 sessions that normally favor the quarterback and receiver. His accuracy rate was no better in the first full-team session but in the second he completed eight of 10, two for touchdowns.
 
Whether the issues were throwing accuracy, route-running or combination of elements wasn’t easily apparent, and coach Matt Nagy did not seem concerned.
 
“There’s going to be a lot of mistakes made out here; that’s what training camp’s all about,” Nagy said.
 
*                          *                          *
Sick bay
 
Guard Kyle Long, coming back from multiple surgeries, was given the first of his scheduled days off on Saturday. Veteran Earl Watford stepped in at right guard. Linebacker Danny Trevathan remained out with a hamstring issue, as did cornerback Sherrick McManis.
 
More concerning was the absence of outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who injured a hamstring in Friday’s relatively light practice. It marked the third time this offseason that Lynch has been sidelined with injuries, following ankle and hamstring problems through OTA’s and minicamp.
 
*                          *                          *
 
It could happen….
 
Legendary NFL writer Peter King, who joined NBC Sports full time this year after nearly 30 years with Sports Illustrated, dropped by training camp as part of his annual “North American tour” and sat down for chats with this writer, which was a chance to recall some good times and stories as far back as Platteville. Peter and I did a little podcast that includes some Brian Urlacher, Mike Ditka and other tales, as well as Peter’s assessment of the Bears’ situation.
 
Interestingly, Peter does not rule out a season with as many as 10 W’s, despite being in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions with a first-year combination of coach-quarterback-system.
 
It could happen…..
 

 

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

Training camp Daily: Peter King joins the Under Center Podcast on Day 2 of practice in Bourbonnais. King and John "Moon" Mullin talk Trubisky year 2, Trubisky comparison, Bears upside this season and Urlacher's Hall of Fame Induction.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded link below: