Bears notes: Willie Young reportedly asks for trade


Bears notes: Willie Young reportedly asks for trade

NBC Sports cousin Mike Florio over Pro Football Talk reported Sunday night that defensive end Willie Young wants to be traded, and a mild surprise will be if the Bears don’t accommodate him in some form.

Jared Allen didn’t agitate for a trade so much as have a candid talk with the organization that he didn’t feel like his play at rush linebacker was really working, and the Bears dealt him to Carolina. Young has acknowledged that he still doesn’t “feel” like a linebacker, and he hasn’t played like one, at least not the kind that coach John Fox and coordinator Vic Fangio need. Young played 18 snaps on Sunday and did not register on the initial stat sheet with a quarterback hit, assisted tackle, anything.

[MORE: Explaining Jay Cutler's Week 4 grade vs. Raiders]

Young was a healthy inactive for the Seattle game. He played 19 snaps vs. Arizona and netted one tackle, no quarterback hits or pressures. Same against Green Bay. Young doesn’t contribute on special teams and hasn’t in pass rush, so...

Keeping it close at the break

Games are not won with first-half stats or scores but they can be lost in first halves, and the Bears for the fourth time this season went in at halftime within one score of an opponent: leading Green Bay by three and Oakland by two, and trailing Arizona by eight and Seattle by six.

By way of context: The Bears led at halftime just four times all last season and went in trailing 10 times.

(Some) clarity upfront

The play of the Bears’ offensive line on Sunday merits another huge attaboy, all across the front five, which was more than just “five.”

Oakland got sacks from their elite three pass rushers – Khalil Mack, Justin Tuck, Aldon Smith – but the Raiders had just four quarterback hits in a game that saw the Bears call 47 pass plays.

Kyle Long was dominant at right tackle (for now: as John Fox said last week, “I can’t predict what’s going to happen down the road”); Vladimir Ducasse had one false start (a holding penalty on third-and-10 was declined); Matt Slauson moving over to center after Will Montgomery suffered the broken leg and was excellent, the mishandled snap notwithstanding; Patrick Omameh was strong stepping in at left guard; and Charles Leno, who was in no way overwhelmed by the moment of his first start at tackle, had one holding penalty but won against Mack and Smith.

How the Bears move forward at center – Slauson or rookie Hroniss Grasu – may not be clear until next Sunday in Kansas City. But base on Sunday, their starting points at multiple positions are as good as any in recent seasons.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”