Bears Grades: Wide receivers helped establish the run game


Bears Grades: Wide receivers helped establish the run game

The new Bears offensive scheming hasn’t downgraded the importance of receivers, just not using them so excessively as pass-catchers, so numbers aren’t likely to be as prolific as they were under the Marc Trestman philosophy.

The Bears threw 36 times and ran 33, and wideouts and tight ends were crucial in the overall effectiveness of the run game. Jay Cutler was not especially accurate and missed several open receivers.

The run blocking by Martellus Bennett and the tight end group set a tone from the outset and allowed the Bears to control the football by running. Alshon Jeffery also provided strong downfield blocking to present DB’s from coming up in run support.

[MORE GRADES: Quarterback ¦ Running back]

One overriding question over the receivers is what effectiveness there would be after Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson missed so much of the preseason and practice with injuries. A blow to the head took Royal out of the game for most of the middle two quarters. He was able to return but caught only one of five “targets” after being Cutler’s security blanket and one of the top players on any side of the ball through training camp and the offseason.

Wilson broke tackles to extend an intermediate completion into a 50-yard pickup at a crucial stage mid-fourth quarter. He netted only two catches, however, and was a non-factor otherwise.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans]

Jeffery flashed in his first game action of any kind since a calf injury Aug. 12. He tied for game-high with five receptions, although needed 11 targets to get his catches. “For being able to be out there really at all this week and missing three to four weeks of the preseason, I thought he did well,” Cutler said. “He didn’t have any assignment issues. He knew what we were playing. He knew what we were calling. Lined up and did exactly what we wanted to do.”

Bennett caught five, including one for a 24-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Moon's Grade: B

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start by new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

The Bears concluded their second round of OTAs on Thursday with the third and final set of voluntary sessions scheduled for May 29-June 1. Coach Matt Nagy is bringing a new and complicated system to Chicago, so the time spent on the practice field with the offense and quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been invaluable.

"We’ve thrown a lot at Mitch in the last 2 ½ months,” Nagy told Dog Days Sports’ Danny Kanell and Steve Torre on Friday. “He’s digested it really well.”

Nagy’s implementing the same system he operated with the Chiefs, an offense that brought the best out of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. The former first-overall pick went from potential draft bust to MVP candidate under Andy Reid and Nagy’s watch.

Nagy admitted he and his staff may have been a little too aggressive with the amount of information thrust upon Trubisky so far.  It took five years to master the offense in Kansas City, he said, but the first-year head coach sees a lot of similarities between his current and past quarterbacks.

"These guys are just wired differently,” Nagy said when comparing Trubisky to Smith. “With Mitch, the one thing that you notice each and every day is this kid is so hungry. He wants to be the best. And he’s going to do whatever he needs to do. He’s so focused.”

Smith had the best year of his career in 2017 and much of the credit belongs to Nagy, who served as Smith’s position coach in each season of his tenure in Kansas City. He threw for eight touchdowns and only two interceptions during the five regular season games that Nagy took over play-calling duties last year.

Nagy said Trubisky has a similar attention to detail that Smith brought to the Chiefs’ quarterback room.

"Each and every detail that we give him means something. It’s not just something he writes down in a book. He wants to know the why,” Nagy said of Trubisky. “He’s a good person that is in this for the right reason. His teammates absolutely love him. It was the same thing with Alex [Smith] in Kansas City.”

A locker room that believes in its quarterback is a critically important variable for success, one that Nagy already sees exists in Chicago.

"When you have that as a coach and when you have that as being a quarterback, not everybody has that, and when you have that you’re in a good spot.”