Bears O-line struggles continue with penalties, breakdowns


Bears O-line struggles continue with penalties, breakdowns

One initial overarching specific issue is that the 2015 Bears have not solved their issues at right tackle, and Saturday’s performances only appeared to amplify rather than clarify the situation. And it wasn't just at right tackle.

The unit had holding penalties called on three of the five starters, effectively stopping drives with long-yardage situations the Bears could not convert. Costly penalties remain a concern on top of poor play at right tackle after three preseason games for an offense with nearly zero margin for error without its projected top four wide receivers.

“We made it hard on Adam [Gase, offensive coordinator],” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “We’ve got a lot of stuff to clean up inside. I know the offensive line’s not happy with their performance. Anytime we seemed to get a little rhythm going, seemed like we pushed ourselves back, so it makes it hard.”

[MORE: The good (and bad) standouts from the Bears' loss to the Bengals]

Charles Leno Jr. was beaten badly on an inside counter move by defensive end Carlos Dunlap for a 10-yard sack in the second quarter. Leno was flagged for holding in the second quarter, effectively ending the offense’s chances for something productive out of that possession as well. Jordan Mills was inserted in the third quarter with the No. 2 offense and was beaten easily for a sack of Jimmy Clausen on an outside rush by linebacker Chris Carter. Adding to the problems, Mills was called for holding in the fourth quarter. Michael Ola, who started at four different positions along the line in 2014, moved in at left tackle with the No. 2 and managed to get out in front of a sweep-left with an efficient cut block. It would not be a long stretch to envision Ola getting a sustained look at right tackle when the Bears conclude the preseason next Thursday at home against the Browns.

The offense was on something of a drive late in the first quarter but a holding penalty on left tackle Jermon Bushrod stalled the possession. Bushrod, bothered by a back problem this week, did not appear to be completely over whatever the condition was, being overrun on bull-rushes on both a run play and pass protection that blew up plays… Kyle Long added to the hold-fest with one of his own in the third quarter.

The line broke down in multiple spots to allow a seven-yard sack of Jay Cutler in the second quarter, a loss that ultimately led to the Bears settling for a field goal in the closing seconds of the half, their only offensive points for the game.

“We gave Leno a good shot with the 1’s tonight,” said coach John Fox. “So we’ll evaluate it and make whatever decisions we deem best moving forward.”

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.