Bears

Bears receivers making impact moves on and off the field

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Bears receivers making impact moves on and off the field

BOURBONNAIS — The offense struggled at times to run the football consistently but did manage to irritate the defense a little with enthusiastic celebrations after a number of scores in the tight red zone. That’s a “problem” coaches won’t mind.

Receivers

Kevin White gets the nod for Play of the Day. The rookie wide receiver, still on the PUP list with a shin injury, saw a young boy on the sideline, wearing a “13 White” jersey. White went over and gave the youngster a pair of receivers gloves. Guess what the lad probably goes as next Halloween.

Coaches are making even simple drills physical. Part of the tight end drills consists of a player ready to make a catch, but with two other tight ends using hand-shields to block his vision of coach Frank Smith until the instant before Smith fires a pass from about four yards away. Once the catch happens, a third tight end whacks the pass catcher with another shield and if the ball isn’t secured, it’s on the ground. Not a good thing.

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Wide receivers are run through a drill requiring them to hit and use moves to get around two standup blocking dummies. As they come out of the hits, coach Mike Groh delivers the ball, intentionally behind them or poorly thrown, and after the catch, they get a smack from an assistant trying to dislodge the football.

Not surprisingly for a Pro Bowl wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery is proving an extremely difficult cover for Bears defensive backs. Jeffery use a double move off the line to beat strong press coverage by safety Antrel Rolle, then caught a touch pass from Jay Cutler in the corner of the end zone. Jeffery shook free of tight coverage by cornerback Sherrick McManis but had the Cutler pass go through his hands.

Quarterback

The offense went through another turnover-free practice as Cutler and Jimmy Clausen kept the football fumble-free and out of the wrong hands even when a handful of passes were off their mark or broken up.

Cutler’s developing confidence with wideout Eddie Royal is readily apparent. Royal has won a number of battles for the football, something that endears receivers to quarterbacks. Perhaps as a result of no more Brandon Marshall, Cutler is clearly comfortable and familiar with the speed and cuts of both Royal and Jeffery.

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“I think when we throw Eddie in the mix, you’ve got a real viable guy that you can move around a lot,” Cutler said. “He’s got experience in the slot. He’s got experience outside. With Alshon, I think he’s had a great spring, a great summer. Kevin White, Marquess [Wilson]. We’ve got some guys that can make some plays in some different spots for us.”

Cutler passes produced a number of touchdowns in the short red zone, including touchdown tosses to Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.

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

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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

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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.