Drama missing from Bears receiver corps...for a change


Drama missing from Bears receiver corps...for a change

For so many recent Bears training camps, there was some drama to play out at the receiver positions, some position competition, something to resolve, usually something significant and pressing.

Not this year.

The training camp “issues,” such as they are, are not really issues at all. There is no "Devin Hester as No. 1 receiver." No "How will they use Brandon Manumaleuna?" Not even "Who will win the No. 3 slot?"

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Drama around the tight end position dissipated when Martellus Bennett attended the mandatory minicamp and said he intended to be there for training camp. What the Bears are able to get from oft-injured Zach Miller or Dante Rosario are not front-burner concerns.

Brandon Marshall is gone, which by definition reduces the “drama” quotient by somewhere between half and two-thirds. The only drama now is performance-related, whether or how quickly rookie Kevin White reaches the level of excellence set by Marshall and expected of a No. 7-overall draft choice. White missed a number of offseason sessions, some for an unknown reason, but no indication of worrisome drama there.

“It'll happen, slowly but surely,” White said. “It'll all come together.”

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His bosses agree: “It’s always tough [for] rookie receivers,” said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. “It’s completely different than anything you’ve done, and just getting used to the tempo and the speed of practice and being able to maintain it. Coach Fox said it best: ‘You’re getting ready for a 20-plus game season, where the most you’ve ever gone is 13.’ And so for [White] to get ready, it’s going to be a mental challenge, but I think he’s up for it.”

Alshon Jeffery is a known NFL quantity. The only “drama” there is whether the Bears go to him before season’s end with a new contract to pre-empt his reaching free agency. The assumption is that the early stages of talks have begun and that the Bears will not stint on keeping an impact receiver of Jeffery’s stature in place.

Replacing Marshall with White has obvious payroll effects, even with the money spent to add Eddie Royal this offseason.

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Royal effectively removes any of the drama around the No. 3 receiver spot. Marquess Wilson displayed promise in the early days of camp 2014 before suffering a broken clavicle. But the anticipation of Wilson’s return from injury seemed inflated; Wilson caught 17 passes over the final six games but averaged a very modest 8.2 yards per catch and scored just once, doing nothing to lead the new coaching regime to do anything but upgrade the No. 3 position with Royal, who is on a mild mission of his own.

“I’m trying to show that I’m more than a slot, that I can play outside and I can play everywhere,” Royal said. “As a receiver, you don’t want to be defined in just one role. You want to try to expand that, and that’s what I’m trying to do now.”

Wilson projects as depth at, ideally, more than one position. Josh Morgan caught 10 passes in spot duty last season (seven starts) but signed with the New Orleans Saints in May. Josh Bellamy returns but is in roster competition with rookie free agents Ify Umodu and Cameron Meredith, Rashad Lawrence and possibly Marc Mariani, whose chief value lies in return abilities.

Bears in must-win game vs. Redskins after NFC North dominates Week 3

Bears in must-win game vs. Redskins after NFC North dominates Week 3

Rarely is a Week 3 game described as a must-win, but in the case of the Chicago Bears' Monday night contest against the Washington Redskins, it may just be. 

Chicago's win last Sunday over the Broncos was a critical victory that evened their record at 1-1, and while a .500 start after two games suggests a playoff berth is still a very realistic possibility, the early-season returns from the rest of the NFC North have turned up the heat.

Week 3 was dominated by the division. The Packers, Vikings and Lions all won their games in impressive fashion. Detroit was especially terrific in their win over the Eagles, who were favored entering the week. 

Green Bay's victory over Denver moves them to a perfect 3-0 to start the year, while the Lions also remain undefeated at 2-0-1. The Vikings improved to 2-1 with their win over the Raiders and will be Chicago's next opponent in Week 4.

If the Bears lose Monday night, they'll fall to 1-2 and last place in the NFC North. That, coupled with a divisional game next Sunday, is a potential doomsday scenario if Chicago goes 0-2 over that span. They'll be 1-3 and left clawing for a wildcard over the final 12 games, especially if the Packers upend a banged-up Eagles squad Thursday night.

Obviously, a win over the Redskins changes that outlook. They'll return to Soldier Field with confidence and momentum against the Vikings; a sweep improves their record 3-1 and still very much neck-and-neck with the Packers.

As crazy as it may seem, Chicago needs a win Monday night in the worst way. If they come up short, the season could quickly come apart at the seams. 

Former GM says winning a Super Bowl with Mitch Trubisky isn't feasible

Former GM says winning a Super Bowl with Mitch Trubisky isn't feasible

Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky has been bruised and battered by the media and even some fans after a sluggish start to the 2019 season. But the Bears are 1-1 and have a winnable game on deck Monday night against the Washington Redskins, so things could be worse.

The pressing question Bears fans should be asking themselves, however, is how much better can this team actually be? Is Chicago a legitimate Super Bowl contender? Do they have a Super Bowl quarterback under center?

According to former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi, the answer is no.

Lombardi penned an article for The Athletic that outlined several reasons why he isn't a believer in Trubisky or the Bears' chances to win a Super Bowl despite having what he described as a great defense.

Trubisky is not fluent in playing quarterback, he lacks overall instincts for the position, accuracy, and when the game speeds up, he slows way down. He is a great athlete with a strong arm playing the position, not a great quarterback with high-level instinctive skills. Pace fell in love with the the athlete, the arm, the movement, and he forgot about the traits that are essential to play the position. Instincts matter more than anything; being quick-minded is way more important than being quick-footed. If you watched Trubisky and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady work out, without knowing their history, you would pick Trubisky every time. But Brady knows how to play the position, Trubisky doesn’t.

This may be the most damning criticism of Trubisky so far, but it shouldn't be all that surprising. Lombardi has long been a Trubisky-doubter and was one of his biggest haters last season, too.

The problem this time around is Trubisky hasn't provided many reasons to suggest Lombardi is wrong.

Now, the suggestion that Trubisky doesn't know how to play quarterback is obvious hyperbole. He was a decorated high school recruit, had a very successful senior season at North Carolina and flashed top-tier potential in 2018, his first season in Matt Nagy's offense. But his pedestrian first two games this season have added fuel to Lombardi's bonfire and the only way to extinguish it is with a breakout performance in front of a national television audience Monday night.

Through two games this season, Trubisky's completed 58.3% of his passes for 348 yards, 0 TDs and one INT.