Bears

Lovie: Business as usual for veteran Bears

Lovie: Business as usual for veteran Bears

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted: 3:45 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Right now the NFL players are locked out of their football homes. For the Bears, nothing is really all that different.

And yet everything feels different. The NFL may ultimately be a business but on another level its very, very personal, including relationships with coaches.

Theyre like family, said defensive tackle Anthony Adams. Its separating your family... Its a shame that we have to go through something like this, something that couldve been resolved two, two-and-a-half years ago.

Offseason workouts would only have begun last week, and one player told CSNChicago.com that one start date for the offseason program actually was to have been April 11. Regardless, the first two weeks are devoted to lifting weights and running, which is what players are doing anyway at myriad facilities around Chicago and elsewhere on the States.

READ: Re-signing Adams a high priority for Bears

But while its fun, Adams said Tuesday before receiving the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, its just not the same.

Professional athletes are creatures of routine and its awkward for us because were used to being on a set structure, Adams said. Its different but were all professionals and have to handle ourselves as such.

Unlike a number of teams, the Bears have a coaching staff virtually intact and players vested in its systems, for the most part. The Bears do not have the difficulties that will beset Carolina, Denver, San Francisco and other teams with new head coaches waiting to install new systems with a roster that is in a molten state because of a vast group of free agents and a prohibition against signing and bringing in draft choices and other rookies.

The lockout is hurting some of the teams that are just getting started but we have a veteran staff, a veteran team, and its not like we have to be out telling the guys what they need to be doing, said coach Lovie Smith. They know that we eventually have a season and you have to be ready to go once were told to go back to work.

The lawsuit to end the lockout and its expected appeal by the losing side is expected to take weeks to play out. Veteran players who have put in the work to stay in the NFL to this point arent waiting for any court decisions.

Ive been in the league for a while and I understand how hard I have to work, what I need to do, what works for me and what doesnt, Adams said. By me being a veteran, being 30 years young, I understand the rigorous amount of work youve got to do.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Before Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey met with the media on Wednesday, Allen Robinson was curious what his position coach would say about him in public. 

“I just told him, I don’t know you,” Furrey quipped. “Who’s Allen Robinson?”

Furrey, of course, knows who Robinson is. But the point behind that joke is that Furrey, the Bears’ court wide receivers coach in four years, is still getting to know all of his receivers — let alone the one who hasn’t participated in a practice yet. For all the positivity that's easy to find around Halas Hall these days, the Bears' biggest offseason acquisition hasn't taken a rep yet. 

The good news for the Bears, of course, is that Robinson’s past play speaks for itself. He combined for 153 catches, 2,883 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016, and has been adamant he’ll return to that high level of play when he’s cleared to practice. The Bears were confident enough in Robinson’s medicals to guarantee him a little over $25 million in March, per Spotrac, about a month before they let Cameron Meredith sign with the New Orleans Saints largely over medical concerns (Meredith’s torn ACL was viewed as more serious than Robinson’s, in short). 

So the getting-to-know-you phase for Furrey and Robinson is largely taking place off the field in the meeting rooms of Halas Hall. 

“What a great young man,” Furrey said. “He’s come in here, obviously, rehabbing and doing all those things. But he’s alert, he comes to meetings, he’s ready to go. Really, really smart, you can tell that from the beginning and he’s a professional.”

What Furrey, in particular, likes about Robinson is that he’s an “alpha,” but is far more than all talk and no action. 

“And a lot of times that alpha talks a lot and they don’t really put it out there,” Furrey said. “He kind of has that alpha quietness to him. He understands what’s going on, you can look at him and you just kind of get that feel of he has a great understanding of how to approach this game at this level. Obviously he’s been highly successful for a couple years with some big numbers, but he doesn’t act like that. He’s still hungry, he wants to learn, and I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder, which is a good trait to have too. So we’re excited about that.”

The expectation all along has been for Robinson to be cleared to fully participate in training camp practices. So while coach Matt Nagy said last week Robinson is “ahead of the game,” that may not mean he takes part in the final round of OTAs next week or veteran minicamp the first week of June. 

But while Robinson can’t prove himself to his new coaches on the field yet, he’s doing the right things off the field to make a positive first impression. 

“He knows you gotta come in early, he knows you gotta be the last one to leave, he knows you gotta study,” Furrey said. “It doesn’t matter five years in, six years in, you gotta take notes. It doesn’t matter if you hear it 10 times, you just gotta keep taking notes. He’s been really good at that, and I’ve been really impressed with that. I’ve been able to get on the field with him a little bit, just kind of throwing some balls to him, and I didn’t know he was that big. But obviously we’re excited for it to happen out there.” 

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Mitch Trubisky has been set up for a huge season in 2018 with all the firepower the Chicago Bears added on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton will give the second-year quarterback a variety of explosive targets to generate points in bunches.

None of the headline-grabbing moves will matter, however, if the offensive line doesn't do its job. 

According to Numberfire.com, the Bears' starting five could be the offense's Achilles heel. They were ranked 21st in the NFL and described as poor in pass protection.

Last year, the Bears ranked 26th in Sack NEP per drop back and 23rd in sack rate. These issues were especially apparent after Trubisky took over. In the games that [Kyle] Long played, their sack rate was 8.2%. It was actually 7.2% in the games that he missed. They struggled even when Long was healthy.

The Bears added Iowa's James Daniels in the second round of April's draft and he's expected to start at guard alongside Long. Cody Whitehair will resume his role as the starting center, with Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie at offensive tackle.

If Long comes back healthy and Daniels lives up to his draft cost, they should be a good run-blocking team from the jump. But Long has played just 18 games the past two years and is entering his age-30 season, so that's far from a lock. On top of that, the pass blocking was suspect last year and remains a mystery entering 2018.

The biggest addition to the offensive line is Harry Hiestand, the accomplished position coach who returns to Chicago after once serving in the same role under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. He most recently coached at Notre Dame and helped develop multiple first-round picks. He's going to have a huge impact.

The good news for the Bears is they weren't the lowest-ranked offensive line in the NFC North. The Vikings came in at No. 25. The Packers checked-in at No. 13, while the Lions were 16th.