Bears rookie Daniel Braverman sets highest NFL standard for himself

Bears rookie Daniel Braverman sets highest NFL standard for himself

Daniel Braverman has an NFL role model of sorts, and it’s an ambitious one to set as a standard.

The rookie wide receiver was the Bears’ seventh-round pick in this year’s draft, the 230th pick overall. This despite ranking No. 2 in DI with 108 receptions.

Maybe it was his size (5-foot-10). Maybe it was his school pedigree (Western Michigan). Whatever the reason, Braverman knows that Pittsburgh wideout Antonio Brown is 5-foor-10, was a sixth-round pick, played at Central Michigan, has gone to four Pro Bowls and been All-Pro the last three years — and didn’t make a splash in his first year, either.

“Even Antonio Brown, he had only [16] catches his first year,” Braverman noted. “He wasn’t ‘Antonio Brown that first year. But he was just as good the next year (69 catches, 1,108 yards) as he was that first year, just got more opportunities.”

Now Braverman, who was cut and then re-signed to the Bears’ practice squad after preseason, is getting his first opportunity on the big stage. His chance to follow fellow Floridian and fellow MAC standout Brown into becoming a lot more than people ever expected.

The Bears moved Braverman from the practice squad onto the regular roster this week after a dismal game for receivers in the loss to Tennessee, and slot receiver Eddie Royal continuing to be hampered by a toe injury.

And Braverman arrives on the roster with some built-in familiarity with his quarterback, since the two of them have worked this season on the scout team. And familiarity is a starting point in any quarterback-receiver relationship.

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“In and out of breaks he’s really quick getting separation,” said quarterback Matt Barkley. “He’s a little smaller target but I think he plays big. And how he’s able to catch the ball. He’s got solid hands. But I think especially coming from the slot, whether it’s working at nickel or even against some of the base ‘backers that we’ll get this week, he can make guys miss.”

The Bears were done in by misses by receivers against Tennessee, with 10 passes dropped. Braverman established during training camp that he has excellent hands and route-running skills, repeatedly making plays against aggressive coverage.

But when the games came, Braverman disappeared, finishing the preseason with just 6 catches for 40 total yards. “I had to learn about new coverages, coverages I hadn’t seen in college,” Braverman said. “In camp it was more just go ‘ball but in the games it was more strategy, and you have to learn.”

Nothing is assured yet for Braverman, who may be able to bring some special-teams help to the game in case Royal is out. Braverman returned kickoffs and punts at Western Michigan and punts in preseason, but did not flash in the latter opportunities. He has had to work his way back into position for the move to the game-day roster.

“We evaluated our practice squad to bring up a guy and he was the guy we thought most ready,” said coach John Fox, who cited reasons for Braverman’s improvement as, “I think familiarity with what we’re asking him to do. He primarily plays in the slot and basically his mastering of that. We were able to see when he was in practice and when he was in practice squad.”

Motivation won’t be a problem for Braverman, who was a high-school star in Florida but was passed over by the state’s bigger star programs.

“I grew up with a chip on my shoulder I think just from being from South Florida and always having to prove myself on the field,” Braverman said. “So it's just been with me and that's just who I am really as a person.”

Trubisky or not, Matt Nagy should be the lead voice on future Bears QB decisions

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Trubisky or not, Matt Nagy should be the lead voice on future Bears QB decisions

The play of Mitch Trubisky in his season-and-a-half under coach Matt Nagy is, for better or worse, an unfinished work. Whatever the final result, after this season or the next, the latter of which looming as a decision point on a long-term contract for Trubisky, the Bears may be best advised going forward to make Nagy the decision-maker on quarterback calls rather than GM Ryan Pace.

Pace owes his head coach a leading voice and vote in finding a quarterback (or two) in the Bears’ 2020 draft and/or offseason. Because a simple NFL fact is that Matt Nagy deserves a chance to develop his own quarterback, not simply have his tenure defined by a quarterback (Trubisky) that he inherited.

Plus, Nagy has arguably better credentials and experience for quarterback evaluations than Pace.

Nagy learned his craft from Andy Reid, whose head-coaching career began in Philadelphia with the 1999 drafting of Donovan McNabb. Reid also drafted four more quarterbacks during McNabb’s run, including A.J. Feeley (2001) and Nick Foles (2012), as well as bringing in Michael Vick to deepen the depth chart.

When Reid went to Kansas City (and brought Nagy with him) in 2013, the first thing he did was to trade for Alex Smith from San Francisco; Reid (and Nagy as QB coach) groomed Smith into a three-time Pro Bowler. But while Smith was being brought along, the Chiefs also drafted three more quarterbacks in the four drafts following the Smith trade. The third of those quarterbacks was Patrick Mahomes, whom Nagy had a one-year hand in developing before taking the Bears job.

Pace, who said at the outset of his GM reign that ideally the Bears would be able to draft a QB every year, has largely ignored the quarterback pipeline, as noted previously. Trubisky has been the only quarterback among Pace’s 32 picks over five drafts.

Nagy has been involved in acquisitions of Nick Foles, Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. Pace’s efforts have been toward Marcus Mariota (the Titans wanted too much for the 2015 No. 2 slot), Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon and Trubisky. Regardless of how Trubisky develops or doesn’t through the rest of 2019, Pace owes his coach a leading place in the quarterback-selection process from start to finish.

The search for depth or an upgrade from Trubisky may circle back to Mariota, who has now been benched in Tennessee and has never been the same player after suffering a broken leg in late 2016. Mariota played for Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at Oregon and obviously had high grades from Pace coming into the NFL.

Trubisky is largely the same QB he was for John Fox

Trubisky may yet prove to be the solution for the Bears quarterback situation. But results over his three – not just the two in Matt Nagy’s system – seasons say he is pretty much what he looks to be.

The cliché narrative, never particularly refuted by Trubisky, was that the young quarterback was shackled by a combination of John Fox’s conservatism and Dowell Loggains’ supposed incompetence. Two points suggest otherwise:

One, is that his first brace of coaches knew Trubisky’s limitations, both in general as well as those from simply being a uber-green rookie with only 13 college starts. Trubisky was deemed to have accuracy issues in the mid and deeper range, which has repeatedly proved to be the case, as recently as Sunday.

The second is that, in 2017 after his first three rookie games getting settled in, Trubisky in fact threw slightly more passes (31.3 per game) over his final nine starts under Fox/Loggains than he did through his 14 starts under Nagy in 2018 (31.0).

Parenthetically, in those first three in 2017, a governor was in place, with Trubisky throwing 25, 16 and 7 passes. The Bears also won the latter two. 

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Kurt Warner has no idea what the Bears are doing on offense

USA Today

Kurt Warner has no idea what the Bears are doing on offense

With the city of Chicago still reeling from the Bears recent 36-25 loss against the Saints, everyone from NFL analysts to your co-workers are offering up their hot takes on how the Bears offensive game, particularly QB Mitch Trubisky, could do better.

Kurt Warner, an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with an illustrious history, took to Twitter to give his two cents on why the Bears offense is struggling.

After twelve years in the NFL, taking both the Rams and the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, Warner might just know a thing or two about offense. However, Warner seems just as confused as the rest of us as to what’s not clicking for the Bears. Here’s what Warner had to say.

We all feel you, Kurt. It’s been a struggle to watch indeed. He later goes in to respond to comments in the thread, defending the much maligned Trubisky by saying that he is not the only thing wrong with offense this season.

It will be interesting to see how the Bears respond to this painful loss and the recent bought of criticism. Matt Nagy insists the team is drowning out all outside noise and focusing on their game, but we’ll see if this loss was the wakeup call the team needed when they face off against the Chargers in Week 8. 

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