Bears

Let's get physical: Bears OL liking new physical style

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Let's get physical: Bears OL liking new physical style

BOURBONNAIS — The Bears offense of the past couple seasons, by its own admission, lacked identity and any ability to be consistently physical. It started with a failed commitment to a running game and trickled ultimately into every area of all three phases of the team.

Collective-bargaining rules put a governor on not only the numbers of practices but also how much hitting and such can be folded in. The current coaching staff is countering that with balance in the offense and also with going with goal-line sessions and run-blocking drills that have ramped up the energy — and physicality — levels.

“The guys enjoy it,” head coach John Fox said. “It’s a hard thing to practice unless you walk it through, short yardage or goal line, because it’s such a tight play. Just over experience, you learn that you’re better off just going ‘live’ and you can see how guys execute and you can do a little bit of that in practice because we don’t practice that way all the time.

“A little bit toughness, how guys are at the point of attack. It’s pretty much a grunt play. So we enjoy watching it.”

[MORE BEARS: Bears offense answers with big plays over scheming defense]

The offensive line has four of its 16-game starters from 2013 — tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills, guards Kyle Long and Matt Slauson — back together. Veteran center Roberto Garza retired, but the Bears signed Will Montgomery, who played for Fox in Carolina and Denver.

“Just the people we have here right now are willing to go hard every day, I think that's a testament to the coaching staff,” Long said. “The things that they've said and the things that they've put in place for us to have success on the field, they put us in situations where we have no other option than to be physical with one another, and I feel like it's hardening are group as a whole, that's all encompassing.”

It wasn’t all pure smash mouth. Perhaps as a reaction to some of the foul-ups in protections Wednesday, coaches spent much of the pass-protection session working with combination rushes and blockings, several with three defensive linemen working stunts and offensive linemen responsible for pick-ups, which went better than they had the day before.

[MORE BEARS: Bears hope to have WR Kevin White running next Monday]

Running back

Jacquizz Rodgers and Matt Forte took turns driving at the defense running the football, with Forte popping loose with a long gainer off his right side. Rodgers was stuffed twice on successive run attempts, one with a superb gap fill by linebacker Shea McClellin, but then showed quick acceleration turning the corner for a big pickup, then picking his way through an inside run.

Ka’Deem Carey had one of his strongest efforts in tight red-zone work but was stopped inches short of the end zone by a squad of tacklers. “That ruined my day,” Carey said, laughing. Jeremy Langford had the door slammed on a promising run by a strong close-down by linebacker Jonathan Bostic.

“I’ve been impressed with (Langford’s) intelligence, how quick he picked it up,” offensive coordinator Adam Gase said. “Not surprised, him being from Michigan State. He’s really come along. His route-running ability is rare. You see a guy like that, and then you’ve got Matt in front of him and he’s kind of seeing how he’s doing things. He’s got a long ways to go, but I like where he’s at right now.”

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

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USA Today

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams. 

Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs? 

The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD. 

Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week? 

You can take a look here and see where they landed.