Bears

At last: Something newsworthy re. Bears coach search?

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At last: Something newsworthy re. Bears coach search?

For much of the past week the flood of local news regarding individuals in the Bears coach-search process has been self-serving. The predictably glowing testimonials about each candidate and GM Phil Emery may be accurate insights but this sort of thing is not uncommonly motivated by media members eager to curry favor with the possible new coach or with Emery.

But ESPNs Adam Schefter put out something with a touch of objectivity Saturday when he spoke with two of the interviewed candidates, who told him they have never interviewed with anyone as prepared and detailed as Emery. Dane Noble over at SB Nation gives a good account of the situation.

Anonymous sources can be suspect, but in this case, because Adam doesnt name the candidates (which could be Tampa Bays Mike Sullivan, Atlantas Keith Armstrong, even Dave Toub or Marc Trestman), I give it more cred rather than less. No one is using the platform to make nice-nice with Emery.

Being thorough, detailed and prepared doesnt assure a winning result. Anybody whos gone into an exam stone-cold ready and come out with a C is nodding here. But unprepared and un-detailed could all but assure a whiff.

As I noted previously, Emerys 13-candidate (for now) guest list is in the tradition of Mark Hatleys preliminary search for Dave Wannstedts replacement in 1999.

More important, the process has not yet cost the Bears one of their prime candidates; they werent after Doug Marrone (Buffalo), Rob Chudzinski (Cleveland) or Andy Reid (Kansas City) and the other four teams coach-questing are on a pace not appreciably faster than the Bears.

The speed of their offensive-coordinator search in 2010 cost the Bears several top college coaches because the search was dragging within range of recruiting. The Bears settled on Mike Martz.

So far the Bears are not settling for anything.

For the Bears' tight ends, there remains an adamant belief that a turnaround is coming soon

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USA Today

For the Bears' tight ends, there remains an adamant belief that a turnaround is coming soon

Matt Nagy has never been shy about the role tight ends play in his offense. The evidence is plain to see: Trey Burton is one of the team’s ‘adjusters,’ a label used for the handful of players that the Bears’ offense relies most-heavily on. Drafting Adam Shaheen with the 45th overall pick in the 2017 Draft is another example. 

Complimenting one with the other was supposed to open up the offense, with Burton operating as the “U” and Shaheen playing more of the traditional “Y” role. Instead, through the first quarter of the season, the pair has combined for 18 catches and 107 yards. Neither have found the end zone yet, and the longest reception from either of them has been 11 yards. 

“I wouldn’t say they’re playing poorly,” Bears’ tight end coach Kevin Gillbride said on Tuesday. “... but I don’t think we’re playing great. I think that we do have improvements to make. But again, I do like where their heads are at. They understand exactly where they need to improve, and how it’s going to help our team win.” 

The production needs to improve, but with the additions of Cordarrelle Patterson, Mike Davis, and David Montgomery, there are a few more mouths to feed this season. 

“We’ve added a lot of weapons as well,” he said. “You’ve got to find that groove as an offense as well. I think as an offense we’re still figuring that out. But there are a lot of people to deliver the football to. And that’s never a bad thing, you know.” 

Some of Burton’s issues are still health-related, as he’s working to feel normal again after dealing with groin issues all offseason. Coaches have been pleased in recent weeks with how Burton’s looked in practice, and feel the unit as a whole isn’t far from the production that’s been expected from them. 

“It’s hard to really put into quantitative terms,” he said. “But it might just be the speed with which we’re running our routes, the way that we’re getting in and out of breaks, the way we’re finishing on the backside of a zone scheme. The better footwork and pad level on a front side of a play. There’s a number of different things that have improved.” 

One byproduct from the unit’s lack of production has been gameday opportunities for J.P. Holtz, who has seen his snap count go (modestly) up in each of the last two games. For a group that’s looking for any type of spark, Holtz’s contributions in both the pass and run game haven’t gone unnoticed. His 16-yard reception against the Raiders was a season-high from a Bears’ tight end. 

“Adding JP to that mix has helped,” Gillbride said. “He’s shown up as far as having catches and things of that nature, because of toughness he’s shown in the running game that have now led to open completions. I mean, that’s the reality of it. It really is all interwoven.” 

It’s been an undoubtedly disappointing start to the season, and Gillbride has had to spend time in meetings making sure that his guys know how close to breaking through the group is. They’ve addressed their shortcomings as a whole, and through the last couple weeks have spent time focusing on the little moments that could have, as he said, turned a “two-yard run into a 40-yard run.”

“It’s not as far off as everyone’s making this out to be,” he added. “It’s really not.”  

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Khalil Mack is PFF's No. 1 pass rusher through Week 6

Khalil Mack is PFF's No. 1 pass rusher through Week 6

The Bears will be without one of their most important players on the team for the foreseeable future with the news that Akiem Hicks is headed to injured reserve, but fortunately for Chicago, this roster has enough talent on defense to survive the loss.

Khalil Mack, of course, leads the way. If the Bears can string together a bunch of wins over their final 11 games, Mack is having the kind of season that ill garner a few MVP votes. Pass rushers on Super Bowl contenders are at least worthy of the MVP discussion, and according to Pro Football Focus, no pass rusher is having a better year than Mack through six weeks of the 2019 season.

1. Khalil Mack, EDGE, Chicago Bears

Mack has been a force off the edge for the Bears in his second season in Chicago and leads all edge defenders with a 91.5 PFF pass-rushing grade through six weeks. From 191 pass-rushing snaps, he has racked up five sacks, two hits and 21 hurries.

There's more pressure than ever on Mack to perform now that Hicks is expected to be out until at least Week 15. Hicks has been Chicago's second-best sack artist since Mack's addition in 2018, and with little reason to believe OLB Leonard Floyd is capable of filling the pass-rush void, it's on Mack to continue playing like Superman. 

Mack, more than any player in the NFL, is capable of answering that challenge.

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