Bears

Mistakes doom Bears 'O' early but run game settles in without Matt Forte

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Mistakes doom Bears 'O' early but run game settles in without Matt Forte

Bears head coach John Fox said this week that his idea of a good offensive performance would be a nice 12-play touchdown drive. He didn’t get quite what he’d hoped for.

Penalties and miscommunications between quarterback and receivers thwarted the No. 1 offense, which managed a total of three points and four penalties over its two possessions. The second of those at least covered 61 yards in 12 plays and resulted in a Robbie Gould field goal of 48 yards, but that was necessitated by a false-start penalty when the Bears were attempting a conversion on fourth-and-2.

“For the first game, the first time they’ve ever executed the offense in a game, not bad,” Fox said. “Too many penalties. It took us a minute to get rolling. I think we had one good drive in there with the first group.”

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Quarterback

Jay Cutler completed four of seven passes for 42 yards and finished with a passer rating (74.7) nearly identical with what he generated in the Bears’ dismal home loss last season to the Dolphins (74.4). Since Cutler lost a fumble and an interception the last time he faced Miami, Thursday could be taken as at least some incremental improvement, particularly as he continued an interception-free run since the start of training camp.

Cutler was on the field for 15 snaps on two first-half possessions. The results were so-so against a Miami defense that ranked 12th in yardage allowed last season and added Ndamukong Suh to its front.

Somewhat concerning was Cutler seemed to be out of phase with receivers that he has had solid connections. He and Eddie Royal miscommunicated on what might have been a huge gain, with Royal running a square-out and Cutler throwing a deep ball down the left sideline in the second quarter. Cutler then overthrew Martellus Bennett.

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“We had to bump Eddie outside with Alshon [Jeffery] being down,” Cutler said. “He’s had a lot of work inside where he’s probably more effective. I wanted to go high, but he broke it off left tight. Just some things for us to work on and get better at.”

Jimmy Clausen played most of the game, beginning with 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter and made a solid showing playing with an assortment of backs, receivers and linemen. Clausen finished 17-for-27 passing, with 151 yards and generated 17 points in his time on the field.

“It’s been a hard time at different times, learning [the new offense],” Clausen said. “But I think we’re starting to get the hang of it and starting to roll with it.”

Running back

With Matt Forte held out of the game, the run game was about seeing what lies behind him on the depth chart. Jacquizz Rodgers provided the offense with some pop in the run game, netting 26 yards on six first-quarter carries.

Rookie Jeremy Langfordtook a screen pass for six yards on his first snap and followed that with a five-yard run on the second.

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Ka’Deem Carey, in a stiff roster battle with Langford, helped himself when he was stacked up on a fourth-and-goal play from the one, then bounced the play around right end for a touchdown, matching his rookie total of last preseason.

Running backs averaged 5.0 yards per carry and got touchdowns from Carey and Senorise Perry (54-yard run) and totaled 166 in a game plan that balanced run and pass nearly 50-50.

“I liked them in practice," Fox said. “I think as a coach you control practice, you make it as physical as you can and try to keep your guys healthy. So this is the first time for us as a coaching staff and them as players with us.”

Offensive line

The line struggled initially but then settled into a rhythm as offensive coordinator Adam Gase continued to run the football throughout.

Penalties were an unseemly part of the offense. Center Will Montgomery committed a false start on a fourth-and-2. Jordan Mills did himself and the offense no favors with a false start on the first trip to the line of scrimmage. Mills was beaten on an inside counter move by Cameron Wake that would have resulted in a crushing sack of Cutler. The play was nullified by offsetting holding penalties, one on left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

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Credit Kyle Long for alertly coming out of his stance when a Dolphin lineman stepped into the neutral zone. Long and Mills combined for a double-team of Wake that sprung Rodgers for a 15-yard sprint. Rookie center Hroniss Grasu was driven into the backfield by massive Dolphins rookie defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, stuffing Langford for a three-yard loss. But Grasu, who drew a holding penalty in the fourth quarter, was steady in his first NFL moments and directed pass protection well around Clausen.

Receiver

The position group has an in-limbo feel with Alshon Jeffery sustaining a calf strain that had him in a walking boot and on crutches. This on top of Kevin White still out with a shin injury, and it is unclear whether either of the intended top two receivers will play this preseason.

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Cameron Meredith, the rookie undrafted free agent from Illinois State, caught four of the six passes thrown to him. With the injuries to Jeffery and White, the need may be to keep an extra receiver for insurance and Meredith, at 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, could be a fit.

“All the receivers looked good tonight,” Clausen said. “I was just trying to spread the ball around to different guys. In this offense, anybody can get the ball at any time, and I thought they did a great job of making plays when plays were there.”

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.