Bears

For Bears' receivers and Mike Glennon, dropping the ball misses the point

9-19mikeglennon.jpg
USA TODAY

For Bears' receivers and Mike Glennon, dropping the ball misses the point

The Bears classified six of Mike Glennon’s incompletions against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as drops, something coach John Fox used to bolster his argument that the entire offense needs to be better, not just the quarterback. Had those six passes been caught, Glennon would’ve finished with 37 completions on 45 attempts for probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 330-350 yards with at best a touchdown or two more than the one he threw.  

But that misses the point: Glennon still threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Whether he completed 69 or 82 percent of his passes wouldn’t have really changed anything. And it leaves out when those incompletions happened, too.

Only one pass that could possibly be classified as a drop happened in the first half — that when Glennon threw behind running back Jordan Howard, who couldn’t contort his body and hands to make a catch in the second quarter. But that was an inaccurate throw from Glennon. Could it have been caught? Possibly, but the ball placement could’ve been better. 

Other than that, the rest of the drops came in the second half — when the game was well out of reach. Wright, Bellamy and Deonte Thompson didn’t drop anything in the first half, and each made some solid catches in traffic. 

That doesn’t absolve anyone here, though, and that most of those drops came late in the game reflects poorly on the team’s effort level, even if that wasn’t necessarily a problem. 

“You could make a number of excuses,” tight end Zach Miller said. “You get late in the game, it’s playing down in a different environment, heat — it doesn’t really matter. You’ve just got to catch the ball.”

Four of those six drops were egregious, with accurate passes hitting receivers Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy and Tanner Gentry in the hands only to have the ball wind up on the ground. All of those came in the fourth quarter. 

Fox did bring up the two passes the Bears dropped from inside the five-yard line in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, which are more relevant for evaluating Glennon. Had Bellamy or Howard caught passes that hit them in the hands — Bellamy in the end zone, Howard at the one-yard line — the Bears likely would’ve been 1-0 heading to Tampa. But had any of those six balls been caught on Sunday, it only would've served to pad Glennon's already-flawed stat line. 
 

Here's what NFL media thinks about this year's Bears team

Here's what NFL media thinks about this year's Bears team

Prediction szn is upon us all. 

It's about now -- Week 3 of the preseason for most teams -- when the shine of exhibition football starts to wear off. With Week 1 in sight, media outlets are starting to unveil their season predictions. Sheild your eyes, Bears fans.

Sports Illustrated: 7-9, Last in the NFC North

"The offensive line took a big hit losing guard Josh Sitton and the defense, while improved with Roquan Smith at linebacker, still needs to find a pass rush. It may take one more year for this group to gel."

CBS Sports: 4-12 (oof), Last in the NFC North

Yahoo Sports: 7-9, Last in the NFC North

ESPN: 7-9, Last in NFC North

"The NFL did the Bears no favors with early games against Green Bay and Seattle, but the schedule lightens up considerably beginning in Week 3."

Bleacher Report: 7-9, Last in NFC North

"Chicago is well-positioned to rapidly improve even though its home schedule is difficult, with the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, Jets and Buccaneers coming to town beyond its regular rivalries." 

Pro Football Focus: O/U 6.5 wins - Over

"Among optimistic plays on win totals, the Bears OVER 6.5 wins (even at -130) offers the best value, especially given the aforementioned environment surrounding second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky."

Newsday: O/U 6.5 wins - Over

"If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that the Bears are my breakout team for the 2018 season. They had such a great offseason that they can be this year’s 2017 Rams."

USA Today: 7-9, 3rd in NFC North

"Let's not expect them to fully replicate the Rams' model of success in 2017. But if Mitchell Trubisky is the real deal, he and new coach Matt Nagy should finally get this proud franchise pointed in a direction that could reasonably mean playoffs ... in 2019."

For The Win: 6-10, 3rd in the NFC North

Postcard from Camp: Adam Shaheen's ankle injury puts a halt on the solid growth he's made this preseason

camp_postcard.jpg
.

Postcard from Camp: Adam Shaheen's ankle injury puts a halt on the solid growth he's made this preseason

Bears coach Matt Nagy wasn’t sure on Monday if Adam Shaheen’s right ankle sprain would keep him from playing Week 1 in Green Bay. If it does, though, it would represent the fourth consecutive regular season game the second-year tight end would miss dating back to last year. 

In a coincidental connection, too, it would mark the second straight year Shaheen wouldn’t be able to immediately build off a strong showing against the Cincinnati Bengals. Last December, Shaheen caught four of five targets for 44 yards with a touchdown in the Bears’ 33-7 win in Cincinnati; he caught all three of his targets for 53 yards against the Bengals in Aug. 9’s preseason game. 

Shaheen suffered a chest injury during that Bengals game last December and was inactive for the Bears’ final three games of the season. Coincidences aside, Shaheen’s ankle injury represents another speed bump in his developmental path, depending on the severity of it. 

But the good news, perhaps, is that Shaheen has made strides this training camp and preseason. We’ll look at one specific play against the Bengals that stands out below. 

To set it up: Earlier this month, Shaheen talked about how he’s improved at reading coverages and how that’s helped him improve as a route runner. That’s something that has come with experience as he enters Year 2 in the NFL. 

“It’s a big part of this offense as a receiver, recognize the coverage and where you need to be,” Shaheen said. “How you get there is everything.

“… There’s a little more not-so-much focus on, like, a perfect square cut. It’s more, like I said earlier, against this coverage you need to be in that hole at the right time. You might just be in that hole just pulling a defender another way to open up your teammate. That’s a big part.”

That growing savviness was on display in Cincinnati on Aug. 9. Specifically, this play:

Shaheen runs a drag over the middle on third-and-four but encounters linebacker Hardy Nickerson (red circle) standing in his way.

Instead of keeping strictly to the route and trying to run through or beneath Nickerson (yellow arrow), Shaheen faced up to the Bengals’ linebacker, did an inside-out juke move and goes to Nickerson's outside shoulder (blue arrow).

Shaheen is then able to use his strength and athleticism to gain leverage on Nickerson and work his way into the open field. 

The whole play took all of two seconds to develop, and by the time Chase Daniel releases the ball, Shaheen has a step on Nickerson. The result is not just a first down, but a 29-yard completion. 

“Some routes are locked in, and other ones we’ve got a little wiggle room to work,” Shaheen said. “Those ones are obviously very good to see a linebacker over there because you know you can really have an opportunity to get the ball and work him.”

Those little things will continue to grow Shaheen’s game with more experience. The potential is there for Shaheen to play a significant role in the Bears’ offense in 2018 — provided he’s healthy for the start of it.