Many front office members of the Bears will utilize the next six weeks to recharge the batteries for training camp and the 2012 season.Most players take advantage of the down time as well, but as Ive stated in a previous blog, it could be valuable time for Jay Cutler and the receiving corps to really pick up their game.Training Camp PreparationA tremendous base has been built during OTAs for Cutler to build upon.Arm strength is crucial for any NFL quarterback and, realistically, Cutler will throw close to 500 passes per practice during training camp. The throwing totals have slowly increased as OTAs have moved along, similar to how routes run by receivers have also increased. I would hope Cutler has a set schedule to throw four-to-five days per week with his receivers. It really doesnt matter if it isaccomplished at Halas Hall or back in Nashville.Why it's importantWe have already mentioned a couple important benefits such as arm strength and conditioning.Even if Cutler experienced a period of dead arm during camp, his arm would remain pretty lively because he's just naturally strong. But you have to prepare your arm for a staggering amount of throws. Throwing sessions prior to campare also a great time to discuss route execution with receivers against different coverages. Cutler and his receivers will have a good understanding of each other by practicing various scenarios and attacking different defensive coverages.Cutler most likely has a good understanding of Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett, but this could be a good opportunity to really get to know the mannerisms of young Alshon Jeffery. Mannerisms such asrange, flexibility, ability to track football to either side, quickness in and out of breaks, hands, etc...If Cutler can get answers to questions like: Can Jeffery go get the football if it's overthrown? Is there a sweet spot where Jeffery just never seems to drop the football? Can he adjust to an underthrown football as well as an overthrow?Whats his flexibility if I throw a football behind him on a crossing route?It would be another opportunity re-emphasizing learning the new Bears' passing game principles four-to-five days per week prior to training camp.After our final mini-camp in 2001, Marty Booker and I worked every day at Halas Hall, all the way up to the training camp reporting date.Marty had a Pro Bowl season with 107 receptions. It's safe to say we were on the same page and knew exactly what each other was capable of doing.
Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.
Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski is “highly unlikely” to play Sunday vs. Bears as he didn't travel with the team to Chicago, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 20, 2018
Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.
Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.
Patriots refuse to rule out Rob Gronkowski, depending on how he feels Sunday. But the signs are not good for Sunday. https://t.co/bWt1PfIleu— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 20, 2018
Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.
There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do.
The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game.
But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow.
For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran.
“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”
Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age.
“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”
That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey.
“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.”
Age is just a number
Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins.
Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired.
Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000.
They said it
A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…
Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?”
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”