Bears showing very little, even before preseason opener vs. Dolphins


Bears showing very little, even before preseason opener vs. Dolphins

The veil over the 2015 Chicago Bears will be pulled back a little – a VERY little – when they face the Miami Dolphins on Thursday in the first preseason game. And it isn’t being pulled back just yet, either.

John Fox’s coach’s penchant for secrecy through the offseason remained in force Tuesday when the Bears put out their pre-game release of information without even an unofficial depth chart. That’ll be coming on Wednesday and will likely have a number of co-starters at positions still in at issue.

Not that it would be in any way binding anyway; games are “tests” more weighted in personnel evaluation, so whomever goes into the game as the starter at a particular position may not be the starter after coaches grade performances.

Far more important than who lines up with the first or second units on offense or defense will be what individual players do in de facto one-on-one matchups against the Dolphins.

[SHOP: Buy a Jay Cutler jersey]

“I don’t really like evaluating the team in the media but I think this will be… . It carries a little more weight, kind of like a mid-term or final,” Fox said. “Maybe more weight than maybe some of the pop quizzes, which will be practice, so I’m really excited to see them play, anxious to see how they do it under pressure.”

The Bears have another new offensive coordinator and system besides a handful of players who’ve never taken the field in a helmet with the trademark “C” on the side. The plan is to put the No. 1 unit on a play count, along the lines of the dozen or so run at Saturday’s practice in Soldier Field.

Tempo and precision are the objectives.

“We want to get in and out of the huddle,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “We want to limit our mistakes, our mental errors. We want to get some first downs and move the ball and just kind of attack just like we have been trying to do throughout camp.”

[MORE: Still no picks in camp for Cutler]

Fox likes the 3-4 defensive scheme because of its flexibility and options. Don’t expect to see too many of those on Thursday.

“Obviously you’re trying to put your guys in position to have some success,” Fox said. “But we’re not in full-blown game mode right now. We’re still in training camp, still installing, be it a new staff, putting in new offense, new defense, as well as special teams.

“We just want to be able to let them line up with things that they can execute and we can evaluate and pick our best 53.”

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

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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.