Bears

Bears OL working to establish necessary run-blocking performance level

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Bears OL working to establish necessary run-blocking performance level

The Bears are committed to running the football but even with four-fifths of a good 2013 offensive line back together after an injury riddled 2014, the offense has not been able to consistently pop running plays against a defensive front that has been surprisingly strong in its early camp days as a 3-4.

“[The linemen are] competing and we try and stress that when we get into pads,” said coach John Fox. “It’s only our second day but I like the way they are going about it. We’ve got a lot of work ahead but they’ve taken advantage of the two opportunities they’ve had… . We’ve had them all offseason and they’ve had plenty of chances to digest what we are doing, how we do it and who they are doing it next to. We just have to build on that now that we are in full uniform.”

[MORE: Determining leadership on the ’15 Bears isn’t all that complicated]

Kyle Long delivered one of the blocks of the day by locking onto and driving linebacker Shea McClellin completely out of an inside-run play… . Jordan Mills struggled with two outstanding pass rushes from linebacker/end David Bass but turned in some solid pass protection in “team” sessions deep in the red zone… .

Matt Slauson continues to be one of the camp standouts, taking on a bull rush by Ego Ferguson and bringing the second-year tackle to a complete stop.

Running back

Behind starter Matt Forte the competition is intriguing and projects to involve special teams before final decisions come down. Senorise Perry has not made many noteworthy plays with the football but is on kick coverage, while Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford, the latter with some good special teams in his college background, are still figuring it all out.

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Carey, who couldn’t get on the field much last year in part because of shortcomings in pass protection, had a solid blitz pickup on Sunday after what appeared to be a missed assignment earlier.

Langford has grasped the importance of pass protection and “I feel like when you’ve been in the league for three or four years that’s something you’ve always got to improve on because linebackers are getting better,” Langford said. “That’s something I’ve got to improve on and that’s something that every day you’ve got to improve on.”

Is Bears “D” in “football shape?” Lacking ability to finish? Fourth-quarter fades raise questions

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USA Today

Is Bears “D” in “football shape?” Lacking ability to finish? Fourth-quarter fades raise questions

During the critical fourth-quarter Oakland Raiders drive for a game-winning touchdown, one former Pro Bowl’er and NFL observer remarked to this writer that he was surprised to see a lot of hands on hips and mouth-breathing by members of the Bears defense – two common signs of being gassed.

Critiquing conditioning – or lack of – is problematic the way judging pain tolerance is. And if the Raiders score were an isolated incident, the question likely doesn’t come up.

But something is amiss. While the Bears defense remains among the NFL’s best, at least statistically, a shadow of concern is falling over the defense and its ability to close out games that it has within its reach.

The Bears held fourth-quarter leads over Denver and Oakland and allowed go-ahead touchdowns. They were rescued by Eddy Piñeiro’s 53-yard field goal in the final second. No such rescue in London.

Fully half of the eight touchdowns scored by Bears opponents in 2019 have come in fourth quarters. (The Bears themselves have not scored a single TD in any fourth quarter this season, but that’s a separate discussion.) By contrast, last season the defense did not allow a fourth-quarter touchdown in any of the final five regular-season games.

The temptation is to look only at the numbers, which are in fact positive. Even with the 24 points the Raiders scored against them in London, the Bears ranked second only to New England in scoring stinginess (13.8 ppg.) and fifth in yardage allowed (312 ypg.).

But the Bears have 17 sacks as a team; only three of those have come in fourth quarters.

Opposing quarterbacks have passed at an 81.3 rating in first halves; they are throwing at a 91.4 clip in second halves.

The defense has allowed 16 first downs in first quarters; 21 in seconds; 20 in thirds.

In 2019 fourth quarters, 34 first downs allowed.

Pulling the camera back for a wider view, extending back to include the disturbing 2018 playoff loss:

Vs. Philadelphia
Eagles drive 60 yards in 12 plays and nearly 4 minutes to score game-winning TD with :56 remaining. Cody Parkey’s double-doink overshadows fact that Bears defense forces Eagles into only two third downs and allows winning score on a fourth down.

Vs. Green Bay
With the Chicago offense sputtering all game and in need of a short field, Packers go on a 10-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 6:33 to set up a field goal to go up 10-3 deep in the fourth quarter.

At Denver
Inept Broncos offense scores 11 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 13-3 Bears lead, driving 62 yards in 12 plays, converting two fourth downs and a two-point conversion. Denver’s second-half drives: 41 yards, 56 yards, 84 yards, 62 yards.

Vs. Washington
Bears build 28-0 lead before one of NFL’s worst offenses scores a pair of largely meaningless second-half TD’s.

Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Drive 92 yards in 13 plays for TD before Bears stiffen to stop two-point PAT and next Minnesota possession.

Vs. Oakland (London)
Raiders win game with 92-yard drive that includes fourth-down conversion on punt fake run despite Bears leaving No. 1 defensive unit in, anticipating fake.

Guess which highly-paid NFL kicker is only making 58% of his field goals?

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USA Today

Guess which highly-paid NFL kicker is only making 58% of his field goals?

Remember that time when the Bears tried out like 47 kickers and put them through a wide variety of arbitrary tests all while fan favorite Robby Gould was using the team's desperation as leverage to become the NFL's highest-paid kicker? Classic! 

It's been like three months since those totally-sane summer days, and reader, things have not gone so hot for Gould: 

Meanwhile, Eddy P is not only 8/9 on the season, but is already well on his way to becomming a fan favorite. We're already calling him Eddy P! After 5 games! 

That said, we won't truly know if the Bears made the right decision until Piñeiro beats out several Hall of Famers -- including someone credited for literally starting the NFL -- on the path to winning an offseason bracket-style fan vote.