Bears Grades: Secondary shuts down Alex Smith in second half


Bears Grades: Secondary shuts down Alex Smith in second half

After a superb game in the win over Oakland, Tracy Porter was victimized by taking a poor inside angle, losing contain and allowing wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas to take a short pass 19 yards into the end zone in the first half.

But with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, Porter jumped inside receiver Jeremy Maclin, the center of the Kansas City offense with 12 targets and eight receptions, and broke up a quick third-down slant attempt when the Chiefs were endeavoring to stay high-percentage and control the ball with the Bears needing a stop and another score by the offense.

[MORE GRADES: Coaching ¦ Quarterback]

“That took the air out of them,” said defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, part of the front that created the pivotal third-down situation.

The Chiefs agreed. “Yeah, we got one-on-one over there [Maclin against Porter] and didn’t connect,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “You know, got to get it done. It’s a big play in the game, changes the game.”

Adrian Amos delivered a crucial third-down pass breakup in the second quarter against Maclin to end a drive.

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Notable overall, however, was the consistency in the secondary, which had moments of unattended receivers but recovered particularly in the second half to keep the Chiefs out of the end zone.

The secondary was beaten by Smith in the first half for 13-of-20 passing for 137 yards and the touchdown to Thomas. But Smith was held to just 3 of 10 for 44 yards in the second half and never got the Chiefs in the end zone while going three-and-out on all four fourth-quarter possessions.

Moon's Grade: A-

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”