Bears

Hanie's poor play drags down Bears offensive grades

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Hanie's poor play drags down Bears offensive grades

When a team loses four straight, it gets a collective F, particularly an offense that has scored just two touchdowns in the last 12 quarters. No need to say more than that. No area played well but no area was good enough to overcome what was -- or wasnt -- happening at quarterback.

QUARTERBACK F-

This will end the Caleb Hanie Era in Chicago, replaced by Josh McCown with 5 minutes to play.

Not that McCowns appearance changed much; he scrambled on his first snap, completed a screen pass on his second, and threw the Bears fourth interception of the game on his third. Bears quarterbacks were a combined 11-for-25 for 123 yards, one TD and four interceptions.

Hanie turned in another dismal performance, throwing a stupid interception into the midsection of a defensive lineman, who obligingly returned it for a touchdown, and another one too high for his receiver to kill a scoring chance with the ball inside the Seattle 30. A fourth-quarter pass was miserably overthrown and intercepted and returned 42 yards for another Seahawks touchdown.

Hanies first pass was nearly intercepted by a defensive end dropping into short zone coverage. He subsequently wildly overthrew a wide-open Kahlil Bell on a short third-down conversion in the first quarter, a play that originated at the Seattle 38 and cost the Bears a shot at a field goal.

Hanies mis-throws got worse. A poorly thrown pass was tipped and intercepted in the second quarter. That play started at the Seattle 30.

The franchise position that looked at least level after the Oakland game is now in complete freefall.

RUNNING BACK C

Bell made a statement with 65 rushing yards on 15 carries and caught a 25-yard pass for his first-ever NFL touchdown. Bell totaled five receptions to lead all players.

Marion Barber added 33 yards on 11 carries and was unable to break anything longer than six yards. The Bears may not rule out another change at tailback with Bells energy and all-around play.

RECEIVERS D

Johnny Knox made a key third-down catch for a conversion but then fumbled to give Seattle a critical turnover. Knox appeared to be injured badly when hit by DE Anthony Hargrove trying for the recovery. The turnover ended up giving the Seahawks their first TD, with help from a special-teams foul up.

Dane Sanzenbacher had two catches but no receiver was able to do much with the play at quarterback.

OFFENSIVE LINE D

JMarcus Webb was flagged for two holding penalties in the second half and was not effective against Seattles pass rushers, allowing one clear sack being beaten with a counter move to the inside that shouldnt happen. Hanie was sacked four times but it was difficult to determine exactly. He wasnt responding with quick decisions but pressure also was getting on him faster than it should. The run blocking allowed Bell and Barber to combine for 99 yards against a defense that was only allowing 103 per game and the Bears virtually had to abandon the run late.

COACHING B

Game-planning cant be easy when the quarterback in particular cannot deliver key plays and avoid devastating mistakes. The offense was good enough to net 168 yards in the first half and had the ball for 17 minutes. Not enough apparently.

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

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USA Today

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

The Bears were pleased with what they saw from their overhauled running back room during non-padded OTA and minicamp practices during the spring, but consider that an incomplete evaluation. 

David Montgomery, in particular, impressed with his quickness, athleticism and route running. Nothing Mike Davis showed dissuaded the team from believing in the free agent signing’s untapped potential. Positive things were said about seventh-round pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. and second-year undrafted free agent Ryan Nall. 

The only running back returning from 2018’s unit is Tarik Cohen. But while Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and the Bears’ talent evaluators did their homework on their new players, they won’t really get to see what they have until the pads come on in Bourbonnais (Nagy expects the first padded practice of training camp to be Sunday). 

“I know (Montgomery) kept asking coach, ‘when do we put the pads on?” Pace said. “And so we’re to that point. One of his greatest strengths is his contact balance and his ability to break tackles, and now we’re at a point where that can be showcased.”

It’s one thing for a rookie to stand out during OTAs and minicamp. Tight end Adam Shaheen did two years ago, bodying up NFL-caliber defenders to make some impressive plays in those non-padded practices. But he faded when pads came on in training camp and didn’t play a significant role in 2017’s dour offense. 

The Bears believe Montgomery’s ability to break tackles — he forced the most missed tackles among FBS running backs in 2018 with 99, per Pro Football Focus — will translate to the NFL, giving their ground game a dimension it didn’t have in 2018. Jordan Howard avoided 22 tackles on rushing attempts last year, 28th in the NFL and nearly half the total of Kareem Hunt. Hunt appeared in 11 games (five fewer than Howard) before the Kansas City Chiefs released him after video surfaced of him pushing and kicking a woman; Montgomery’s style of play has favorably been compared to Hunt’s.  

As for Davis, Pace said: “I think I feel like he’s a little bit under the radar right now. Mike’s had a great offseason and we’re fortunate to have him. That’s a strong room — we talk about the receivers, we feel the same way about the running back room. And Mike Davis is a real important part of that.”

The Bears feel like Montgomery, Davis and Cohen leading their running back room will allow them to be less predictable and more efficient on offense. Last year, Howard carried the ball two-thirds of the time he was on the field, while he was targeted with a pass on just six percent of his plays. Yet no skill position player (except Mitch Trubisky, of course) was more involved in the Bears’ offense last year — 33 percent of the Bears’ total plays involved Howard. 

All three of the Bears’ top running backs in 2019 will be expected to catch passes out of the backfield as well as running the ball with a blend of efficiency and explosiveness. We’ll begin to find out this week in Bourbonnais if Pace’s overhaul of that corner of his depth chart will produce the results the Bears’ offense needs. 

Confirmed: Vic Fangio is still grumpy as hell

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USA Today

Confirmed: Vic Fangio is still grumpy as hell

Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is starting his first (overdue) season as an NFL head coach. 

It's his first time running the show, making the rules, etc. One particularly important rule that Fangio has emphasized to start the year? Music has no place on the football field! 

Fangio won't be playing music during practice because, as noted Grump Bill Belichick can attest to, if you're having fun, you're not getting better. Here's his rationalization: 

"There's no music in games. And when it comes to the point where we need to simulate crowd noise in practice, which we will do, it will be noise. It won't be music," said Fangio, via NFL Network's James Palmer. "Noise, by definition, sounds annoying. Music sounds nice."

He's not wrong - music DOES sound nice. That's about where he stops making much sense, though. 

Vic Fangio: still kinda grumpy!