Bears' Matt Slauson: Eddie Goldman is 'playing beyond his years'


Bears' Matt Slauson: Eddie Goldman is 'playing beyond his years'

Matt Slauson is not easily impressed. The Bears left guard, rated by many as every bit the equal of two-time Pro Bowl’er Kyle Long on the opposite side, has seen the elites among interior defensive linemen over his six NFL seasons. Within the early days of training camp, when the pads came on and practices took on real significance to linemen, Slauson recognized he was seeing something special in Eddie Goldman.

“As a veteran offensive lineman, you get a rookie across from you and you can think, ‘This is going to be great,’” Slauson said, laughing, then shaking his head. “But not with him, and I learned that really fast. He’s got really good tools and I think he’s going to be really, really good.

“Every time I’ve got to face him, whether it’s in one-on-one’s or in ‘team,’ the guy is just playing beyond his years.”

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The Bears, who invested their 2015 second-round choice in Goldman, need precisely that now from the former Florida State All-American and All-ACC lineman. They are preparing to begin the season against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who will be without All-Pro wideout Jordy Nelson and fully expected to pound a fledgling Bears 3-4 scheme with running back Eddie Lacy. Two games later the Bears go to Seattle and Seahawks power back Marshawn Lynch, and the Bears will be without current starting nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, suspended for the first three games by the NFL.

Goldman was a central figure in the defense even before the Ratliff suspension. Coincidentally perhaps, as far back as the NFL Scouting Combine, Goldman singled out Ratliff as the one NFL player who’d influenced him the most.

The rookie has rebounded for a less-than-auspicious start to his Bears career, forced out of practice in minicamp and training camp due to dehydration. No down-lineman has played more snaps than Goldman through the first two preseason games – 30 of 71 snaps against the Miami Dolphins, and 29 of 58 over the weekend in Indianapolis.

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But his chief accomplishment may be surviving and starting to prosper against Slauson, Long and center Will Montgomery. Against the offense’s interior three, Goldman has learned one crucial survival skill.

“When you put your hand down and the ball's about to snap, you have to have a plan going up against these guys,” Goldman said. “Because, I mean Slauson's been in the league about eight years and Kyle's a Pro Bowler. Will, he's been in the league for like 11 so you definitely have to have a plan and you have to be detailed with your technique as well.”

Was it a bit of a humbling learning process?

“Yeah, yeah, it was,” Goldman said. “I knew it was going to be tough coming in, but yeah, it was.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Goldman was not an immediate starter at Florida State, which had national-championship talent on defense ahead of him; defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan was a second-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2014, defensive end Tank Carradine was a second-round selection by the San Francisco 49ers and Vic Fangio in 2013.

The result was that Goldman played end, tackle and nose tackle, netting six sacks and 12 tackles for a loss in 37 career games.

“He’s a very young [21 last January] player,” said coach John Fox. “He’s young even for his class. But I think he’s mature enough in what we’re asking to be flexible with the things he does. I don’t know that we’ll be lining him up at outside linebacker or anything. He’s a big body that’s willing to work. He’s kind of mature for as young as he is. He’s a very young man.”

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Allen Robinson was signed in free agency to become the alpha dog of the Chicago Bears' wide receiver corps. The three-year, $42 million contract that general manager Ryan Pace signed him to is proof of how high expectations are for the fifth-year pro.

Robinson isn't coming to Chicago with a flawless resume, however. His massive breakout year in 2015 (1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns) was followed by a pedestrian 883 yards in 2016 and a torn ACL in Week 1 last year. That begs the question: Is the forecast for Robinson's impact in 2018 too high right now?

According to Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar, the answer is yes. Robinson was named as the Bear most likely to disappoint this season.

Robinson practiced for the first time since the injury during the Bears' May minicamp, but it's safe to say Chicago isn't sure what it has in Robinson. If he gets back to his 2015 numbers, that would be huge for the Bears' passing offense, but given his 2016 regression and the specter of the 2017 injury, that's a tough bet.

Robinson will have an impact that goes beyond the traditional box score, and it will happen this season. Is he a lock to reach 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns? No, but his presence on the field will be enough to see a return on investment. The Bears haven't had the kind of threat he poses to defenses in several seasons, and his ability to pull a defensive coordinator's attention away from the running game will do wonders for Chicago's offensive output.

Determining whether Robinson is a disappointment in 2018 will depend on who's evaluating his season. Sure, he may disappoint in fantasy football circles if he doesn't re-emerge as a game-changing stat monster. But if he makes the Bears offense a more well-rounded and productive group, he'll live up to the expectations set by Pace and coach Matt Nagy.

As long as Robinson is pleasing Pace and Nagy, nothing else really matters.

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.