Meaningful takeaways from Bears' 'meaningless' final preseason game

Meaningful takeaways from Bears' 'meaningless' final preseason game

The 2016 preseason had not been anything close to satisfactory for Brian Hoyer, signed this offseason as part of a clear win-now mindset; that is why teams sign veteran No. 2 quarterbacks with winning records as starters rather than pipeline a young prospect.

Veteran No. 2 quarterbacks routinely glisten in preseasons going against backups. But Hoyer had played himself into a spot of roster vulnerability by throwing the only two interceptions in 98 passes by Bears quarterbacks through the first three preseason games. Through those games, Hoyer had the lowest passer rating (44.5) of the four Bears quarterbacks.

Fortunately for the Bears, Hoyer played like an experienced veteran and picked on the Browns to the tune of 12-of-16 passing for 112 yards and a rating of 93.8 in the Bears’ 21-7 win to avoid a winless preseason.

Hoyer had completed less than 50 percent of his passes (46.3), surprising from a quarterback with a 58.1-percent career completion rate. Hoyer viewed the results as part of a process.

“I think you’re just going out, trying to play and get better,” Hoyer said. “There’s really no excuse; it’s just football. I remember one year in Cleveland I was 22-for-27, and other games. ... You’re always striving for perfection and sometimes things happen, you’ve got to react, whether it’s moving on to another guy who’s open or throwing a better ball.”

Hoyer got the start Thursday at Cleveland and directed the offense to a field goal on its second possession, though he appeared to miss opportunities with Cam Meredith and Kevin White for potential red-zone touchdown throws on consecutive passes in the first quarter.

But he then led a touchdown drive with 4-for-4 passing, giving him nine completions in his first 10 attempts — what the Bears needed to see from the player who will be Jay Cutler’s backup.

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Kevin White produces

Not sure how often first-round draft choices and projected starters in the regular season start the final preseason game, but wide receiver Kevin White clearly was a not-ready-for-prime-time player after his missed 2015 season and was meandering through a lackluster preseason.

White was the only player listed on the depth chart as a starter (other than fullback Paul Lasike, the only fullback on the roster) to start in an otherwise throwaway game at the end of preseason. White put the playing time to some use, catching the first two throws to him and fighting for yards after the catch for a 15-yard completion. For the game he caught all four of the passes thrown to him, for 57 total yards — both totals more than his combined production through the first three preseason games.

“Just want to go out here, focus, do my job, don’t have any mental errors, run routes I’m supposed to run and just have fun,” White said.

Leonard Floyd with a good showing

White was not the only Bears top-10 draft pick getting in work against the Browns. Leonard Floyd opened at outside right linebacker and delivered one of the best plays of his presesason by stringing out a tight-end zone sweep by standing up Cleveland No. 2 left tackle Dan France. The Browns scored on the next play when the Bears flipped Floyd over to the defensive left and Cleveland ran a draw to what had been Floyd’s side.

Floyd was able to generate some pressure to the blind side of Cleveland quarterback Robert Griffin III, and coaches used him rushing from both outside and left and as an end in nickel packages when the Bears favor a 4-3 base.

Floyd took a finger to his left eye late in the half but finished with three tackles and a hit on Griffin.

Trouble on special teams

Special teams were a general disaster in an otherwise encouraging outing. Kicker Robbie Gould missed one extra point and had a second one blocked, rookie Daniel Braverman allowed a Cleveland punt to hit and roll some 30 yards for a 75-yard kick, and returner B.J. Daniels allowed a punt to hit his foot, a fumble that the Browns turned into their one touchdown.

Bears announce plans for centennial season celebrations


Bears announce plans for centennial season celebrations

The Bears will wear a special commemorative patch and unveil a classic uniform for their centennial celebration season in 2019, chairman George McCaskey announced Thursday. 
The Bears’ 100th anniversary coincides with the NFL’s 100th season, but the Bears will wear their own patch while the other 31 teams will wear a patch commemorating the league’s centennial. 

The Bears didn’t reveal their classic uniform on Thursday, but McCaskey hinted his excitement about the look. 

“People, they’re going to talk about it,” McCaskey said. 
Additionally, the Bears will hold a “Bears100 Celebration Weekend” June 7-9 at Rosemont Convention Center. The entire 2019 team and coaching staff, as well as Bears Hall of Famers and team alumni, are scheduled to a attend. Tickets will go on sale at noon on Friday, Nov. 16. 
The Bears will also donate $100,000 to charity per home game — two preseason games, eight regular season games — for a total donation of $1 million. Fans will have the opportunity to recommend which causes will receive the money, with information regarding how revealed at a later date. 
Each of the Bears’ 10 home games will commemorate a different decade in team history, too. And Hall of Fame sportswriters Don Pierson and Dan Pompei will author “The Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook,” which will feature stories of the history of the Bears and be published in spring 2019. 

“We’re excited about the way our 99th season is going so far, incomplete as it is, but we’re also excited about our 100th season in 2019,” McCaskey said. 

Mitchell Trubisky establishing durability standard; Bears not quite taking shots back at John Fox


Mitchell Trubisky establishing durability standard; Bears not quite taking shots back at John Fox

Probably bad luck to mention this:

Mitchell Trubisky’s start last Sunday against the Detroit Lions was his 21st in a row, passing Jay Cutler (20) on the list of most consecutive starts by a Bears quarterback in the past 40 years. Among quarterbacks since George Halas retired, Trubisky can pass Vince Evans’ 26 (1980-81) and match Jim Harbaugh’s 28 (1991-92) if he starts the remaining 2018 games, but will need next season to catch Bob Avellini’s 42 (1975-78).

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If there was an underlying frustration in the wake of John Fox being ousted as Bears coach, it might best be described as a shadow of disappointment at what might have been. Or should have been.

“This may sound weird,” said left tackle Charles Leno, “but with the guys we had last year, moving on to this year, you knew the culture was changing. We just had to click. We have got a great group of guys in here, I'm talking all across the defense, all across the special teams. Great group of guys. We just needed an extra push.

“Matt [Nagy] brought this.”

Leno is qualified to render an opinion. He has been through three head coaches in five NFL seasons, drafted under Marc Trestman, becoming a starter under Fox, and then came this year under Matt Nagy. Meaning: Leno was inside Halas Hall when the organizational culture plummeted under an offensive coach, started to improve under a defensive coach, then stalled and now has undergone a culture re-launch.

Whether the culture has changed with winning, or the winning is a reflection of the change in culture is largely academic to a team that is 6-3 after a second three-game win streak in its season. But the winning has produced – and resulted from – a buy-in that was absent on the offense under Dowell Loggains the past two seasons.

“We got the right head guy in here,” Trubisky said. “Coach Nagy is definitely leading the charge and we just have the right guys in our locker room to change the culture around.

“Just the belief and the trust in each other and coming to work every day, putting the work in and then just going and executing it on Sunday to be able to produce wins. It's a great vibe around the building now. The culture has definitely changed and there's a better vibe around the city in how people view the Bears and how they see us.

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So-what award?

How much Trubisky knows about Georgetown coaching legend John Thompson, or the poetry of Rudyard Kipling, is difficult to pick up in a press conference. But the young quarterback subscribes to some of their thinking.

Thompson placed zero stock in awards that were voted on, vs. something that was won. Kipling’s poem “If” offered a guide to some level-headed thinking, famously noting that:

“If you can keep your head when all about you
         Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
         But make allowance for their doubting too… .

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
         And treat those two impostors just the same…

…you’ll be a Man (or NFL quarterback), my son.”

Trubisky on Wednesday was awarded the honor of NFC offensive player of the week, the week after he was roundly ripped by certain national NFL writers. He wasn’t particularly fazed by the negative and he wasn’t especially interested in the positive, either.

“I don’t know, really,” Trubisky said. “You get recognized, it’s cool, but people talked so bad about me last week, so why should this week be any different?

“So I got recognized for playing well."