Bears

Bears need to pressure Colts QB Andrew Luck, but exactly who’s going to do it?

Bears need to pressure Colts QB Andrew Luck, but exactly who’s going to do it?

Pressure the quarterback. One of the “keys” to just about every NFL game and obviously the case for the Bears going against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

But as of the close of practice Friday, of the seven Bears credited with all or part of a sack in 2016 — and the Bears have just six total sacks, only five teams have fewer — four of them were unable to go through a full practice:  Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan, Willie Young. Floyd (calf) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and Goldman is down with a high-ankle sprain, and neither are expected to play. Trevathan is listed as questionable but is playing with a hard plastic guard on his surgically repaired thumb and his effectiveness remains to be seen.

With Goldman and Trevathan out against the Lions and Floyd down for most of the second half, coordinator Vic Fangio used a veritable swarm of defensive backs against Matthew Stafford rather than weaken his back-seven trying to force a pass rush. 

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The Colts have lost the three games this season in which Luck was forced to throw 40 or more times. The Lions, Broncos and Jaguars defeated the Colts in part by sacking Luck a combined 13 times — he’s been sacked a league-high 15 times through four games —  although the Lions pulled out their win by virtue of an Indianapolis defensive collapse that allowed Stafford to move the Lions into winning-field-goal range in three plays in the closing seconds.

The question for the Bears is how much their game planning is affected by simply not having enough healthy pass rushers to pursue a big quarterback.

“It does a little bit,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “You have to be ready for a lot of different things as far as other positions being ready, whether you need to pressure a little bit more if it’s not coming home with your typical four-man rush. So this game is about adjusting. It’s no different this week than any week prior.”

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 ChicagoBears.com. "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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USA Today Sports Images

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.”