Bears OL working to establish necessary run-blocking performance level


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.

[SHOP: Buy Bears Training Camp gear

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.”

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”

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.