Bears need to turn personnel gaps into positives vs. Bengals


Bears need to turn personnel gaps into positives vs. Bengals

The Bears offense will be without any or perhaps all of their top wide receivers when it goes against the No. 1 defense of the Cincinnati Bengals. That won’t affect either the game planning or the player usage plan for coach John Fox, who is still more interested in evaluations that even outcomes, despite a stated desire to win preseason games as a way to continue changing the culture at Halas Hall.

“I think it [the third preseason game] is a little bit unique when you're a new staff,” Fox said. “I think, truth be told, I've only seen these guys play in two preseason games. I'm talking about feeling the emotion, feel the energy, see their eyes. You know, things that are all important when you sit in my seat."

The third preseason game is always the most important by virtue of the playing time accorded to starters. It also precedes the first round of cuts by Tuesday, so it also is extremely important to several players on the cutdown bubble.

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And not just the offense and fringe players are dealing with squeeze situations. 

Because the Bears are also going to be without defensive lineman Jeremiah Ratliff for the first three games of the season because of a suspension, the defense is also in the process of getting a correct mindset as those first three games – Green Bay, Arizona, Seattle – loom closer.

“It's going to be key for me to set the mindset with these guys,” said defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins, “because we're kind of taking a step back, but that doesn't mean we won't come out and play like we're down a man. We have to step up and play football.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

In fact, the short stack of receivers may be a positive for quarterback Jay Cutler, who is settling into yet another offensive system but with less-experienced players who need more from the quarterback.

“Yeah, it just makes me have to work a little bit harder,” Cutler said. “It makes me have to communicate with them and make sure they know exactly what they're supposed to do, so I've got to be on it on my end as well. It's a challenge for us. Like I said, it's a really good group of guys, so I enjoy working with them.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20. 

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 from 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."