Bears

Bears Grades: Jones-Quartey makes presence known with DBs

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Bears Grades: Jones-Quartey makes presence known with DBs

Among the unannounced position changes was Harold Jones-Quartey opening at safety in place of struggling Chris Prosinski. The switch may have seemed of only minor significance, but Jones-Quartey, who started the Kansas City and Detroit games when Antrel Rolle was injured, responded by forcing a fumble after Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin had gathered in a screen pass in the second quarter.

“I saw him run, I saw him cutting back,” said Jones-Quartey. ”You know he’s a tough runner, he’s very strong. [Sam Garnes, safeties coach] has been preaching on it all day, just to come out there and put it on the line for your brothers and your teammates and that’s what I tried to do out there.”

Quartey-Jones later saved a touchdown with a leaping interception of a Jameis Winston pass toward Sims in the end zone, returning it to the Chicago 24 to give the Bears a reset while trying to re-take the lead in the third quarter.

“I think there’s a big difference when you throw [a pass] like Cameron Brate’s [a 46-yard jump-ball completion] – when you throw it up,” said coach Lovie Smith. “That’s a good punt. It’s a little different when you are in the red zone and you have at least a field goal right there. Circumstances will allow you to be a little more aggressive. That wasn’t one of them.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Tracy Porter was late reacting on a broken play on which running back Charles Sims got past hobbled linebacker Pernell McPhee. Porter arrived too late to break up Jameis Winston’s pass and, more significantly, failed to at least make a tackle, allowing the catch-and-run to cover 50 yards for a go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter.

That was followed a possession later by safety Adrian Amos mistiming a jump on a Winston heave toward third-string tight end Brate, who turned a broken play into a 46-yard conversion on a third down in the quarter.

Kyle Fuller was able to break up a 60-yard launch from Winston to wideout Donteea Dye in the fourth quarter, avoiding pass interference and preventing a pivotal third-down conversion with the Bears holding a six-point lead.

If there was a shortcoming it was in DB’s failures in run support, too slow reading run plays by Doug Martin and Charles Sims. Amos and Quartey-Jones took poor angles and were flat-footed on a fourth-quarter run by Sims that initially was stacked up but went for 34 yards when Sims found untended gaps with defensive backs nowhere in the area.

But the overall saw the defense shut down Martin overall, with Amos finishing with 5 tackles and pass breakup and Jones-Quartey break up two passes in addition to the interception and forced fumble.

“[Jones-Quartey] had zip. He was fresh,” said coach John Fox. “This part of the season, you get worn down a little bit. It’s a long season. But he had a great week of preparation. I saw him improve. He got better just in practice. We get to watch him every day. So I was proud of the young man and the way he performed. I know it was a great pick. He played the ball well on that one. He’ll just continue to get better.”

Moon's Grade: A-

Under Center Podcast: Is Matt Nagy right to rest his starters in preseason games?

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USA Today

Under Center Podcast: Is Matt Nagy right to rest his starters in preseason games?

J.J. Stankevitz is joined by John "Moon" Mullin and Cam Ellis to debate whether or not Mitchell Trubisky, and the rest of the Bears starters, need preseason reps to fully prepare for Week 1. Plus, the guys share their latest thoughts on Eddy Pineiro and the kicking situation.

00:40 - Moon doesn't think everything adds up with Matt Nagy holding Trubisky out of preseason games

03:20 - Highlights from Matt Nagy's Wednesday press conference on the growing trend of coaches sitting starters in the preseason

05:45 - Cam understands why coaches don't want to risk injury in the preseason, but also thinks something else may be afoot with Nagy sitting Trubisky

08:10 - Is joint practice the future of preseason football?

14:00 - Can teams really get the same quality of work done in practice as they can in a preseason game?

19:50 - Talking about Kalyn Kahler's Sports Illustrated article that gave an inside look to the Bears' kicking competition from rookie minicamp

21:20 - Moon says that the Bears are actually in a worse position now, than they were last year with Cody Parkey

23:15 - Did the Bears do future kickers a disservice by fixating on 43-yard kicks?

24:50 - All the guys are excited for Olin Kreutz to join Football Aftershow this season

Listen here on in the embedded player below. 

Under Center Podcast

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Bears sitting QB Mitch Trubisky through preseason doesn’t make complete sense. At all.

Bears sitting QB Mitch Trubisky through preseason doesn’t make complete sense. At all.

Something jus don’ feel right about this Bears not playing Mitchell Trubisky in preseason… . Jus’ don’ feel right.

 

It’s not so much the starters; coaches Matt Nagy and Frank Reich texted this week and agreed that they weren’t playing their starters, although it was apparently more a case of Reich following Nagy’s no-starters lead. Whatever.

 

No, it’s about Trubisky. Because so much of the 2019 Bears and beyond is absolutely still about Trubisky, for whom his coach has been a public cheerleader but who said before training camp that the focus was on ball security, then has had practices speckled with anything but. Whether Nagy is in fact entirely pleased with his young quarterback is between them – not every tick of information says that Nagy is – and the coach is protecting his quarterback at least verbally, again, that’s between them. But it’s preseason and practice, so leave it at that for the time being.

 

But the situation is difficult to understand, for more than a few reasons.

 

Nagy’s NFL roots are of the Andy Reid tree. While Nagy was a member of Reid’s staff in Philadelphia, the Eagles in third preseason games started Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick – all on their ways to starting game one’s. In his five years with Kansas City, Nagy was part of the Reid offensive staff that started Alex Smith in every game three, on through 2017 when Smith played 44 (63 percent) of the Chiefs’ 68 snaps in a game three vs. Minnesota.

 

Nagy isn’t Reid and he doesn’t do or remotely need to do everything Reid did/does, including playing starters, particularly his quarterback, “just because that’s where our team’s at,” Nagy said after the New York Giants game. “Coach [Reid] has his way and I think coach Reid would be the first to tell you that if I’m not being me and if I’m not trying to do what I think is right for our team, then I’m not coach Reid. I’ve learned from him and I’ve learned so much from him, but for our team and our situation, I need to do what’s best for us and just feel like that’s where it’s at. September 5th is an important day for us.”

 

Ok. Seems to make sense philosophically. Seems to… .

 

But NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes needs to play (game three last preseason, game two already this year), mentored by Reid, and Trubisky doesn’t? Houston’s Deshaun Watson needed to play the ’18 game three/’19 game two combo, and Trubisky doesn’t? Six-time Pro Bowl’er Russell Wilson and his Seattle Super Bowl ring needed to, but Trubisky didn’t?

 

Preseason as it is currently constituted needs to go away and probably will at some point. Joint practices are exponentially more preferred both for quality of work starters-vs.-starters and managing player utilization. But right now, preseason is the hand the NFL has dealt its players and coaches.

 

One vein of thinking is that teams that don’t expend starters in preseason leave more in their tanks at year end, and there may be something to that. Not much, however: Nagy holding his 1’s out virtually of the 2018 preseason doesn’t support that argument.

 

The Bears finished anything but strong last season. The two playoff teams that the Bears faced over their final 11 games held the Nagy offense to 15 points, including the Eagles and close coaching friend Doug Pederson. It doesn’t necessarily foreshadow or suggest that good teams were beginning to figure Nagy and Trubisky out as the season wound down, but it’s been hinted at in this space previously. In any case, the Bears weren’t in demonstrably, meaningfully better shape down the stretch.

 

The health thing is a very valid concern; it is with every player, starter or No. 90. Linebacker Leonard Floyd played a chunk of ’18 in a hand cast and then a brace because of a preseason injury, and tight end Adam Shaheen went on IR for much of the year with a lower-leg injury in preseason game two (although Shaheen ended his rookie/2017 season on IR with a chest injury, too).

 

But tracing the Bears’ exceptional collective good health of 2018 to keeping most of the starters out of preseason will take more than one season to trust as cause-effect.

 

The fact is that the Bears lost three of their first six games, only two of which (Seattle, New England) were against teams that eventually reached the postseason. The Los Angeles Rams, whose coach Sean McVay held quarterback Jason Goff out of preseason altogether, were the only other playoff team the Bears faced in Nagy’s first season as a head coach, before meeting Philadelphia in those playoffs.

 

Nagy may indeed be pleased with Trubisky’s practice work and progress. I don’t believe that. I believe there is a lot of coach-speak in play. I also don’t believe that Nagy is going no-starters to match any “trend” that McVay and some younger coaches represent; Nagy isn’t smarter than Reid, Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll and others, but he also is not a follower.

 

But something about sitting a still-forming Trubisky, who needs to prove to his coach and more that he can in fact throw into tight places without interceptions in an actual game setting, for example, even a “practice” game…that just doesn’t make complete sense.

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