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.”

[MORE BEARS: Adam Gase has these Bears on the run, in more ways than one]

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.

[MORE BEARS: Preseason about just seeing what you want to see]

“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.

[MORE BEARS: Fox Era begins for Bears with preseason win over Dolphins

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.

[MORE BEARS: No. 1 'D' wobbles in shakedown cruise]

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.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the season, Bears fans]

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.”

The amount of money you'll need to get into Bears-Patriots will make your head hurt

The amount of money you'll need to get into Bears-Patriots will make your head hurt

It costs a lot of money to see the GOAT, apparently. 

According to TickPick, a secondary-market ticket site, the get-in price for Sunday's Bears-Patriots matchup is currently sitting at a nice, plump $356. 

That price is, according to this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, more expensive than a ticket to No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 16 North Carolina State ($161) and No. 5 LSU vs. No. 22 Mississippi State (39$??) combined. It's also over 100 percent (116, to be precise) higher than the Bears' following game against the New York Jets. 

This is on top of what is, according to CNBC, already the most expensive gameday experience in the NFL. Soldier's average beer costs $9.50, coming in as the 2nd-most expensive cup of Bud Light Foam, behind only San Fransisco. 

Honestly though, it's not even that cold yet. Who needs heat/electricity when you can have nosebleed seats and *one* beer instead! 

Putting Bill Belichick’s complimentary comments about the Bears in context

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USA TODAY

Putting Bill Belichick’s complimentary comments about the Bears in context

Bill Belichick had plenty of good things to say about Matt Nagy and the 2018 Bears during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. Some of the highlights:

 

On the Bears’ season as a whole:

 

“The Bears have lost two games, one on a game when they were in control of the game and another one they lost in overtime. This really looks like a 5-0 team to me, if you change one or two plays. You can say that about a lot of teams, but that’s the league we’re in.”

 

On Mitch Trubisky:

 

“I think he’s done a good job of getting ball to the players that are open or in space and letting them be playmakers. He has a lot of them. That’s the quarterback’s job is to deliver the ball to the playmakers and let them go. I think he’s done a good job of that. He’s a tough kid, which I respect. That’s what we would ask our quarterbacks to do, to make plays to help our team win, to get the ball to the players that are open and in space. It’s not about stats. It’s about doing what you need to do to win.”

 

On Tarik Cohen’s usage:

 

“He plays about a little bit less than 50 percent of the time and he’s in a lot of different places, he’s hard to find. He’s a dynamic player that can run, catch, really threaten every yard of the field from sideline to sideline, up the middle, deep. You can throw it to him, you can hand it to him and he’s elusive with the ball and he’s elusive to be able to get open so the quarterback can get him the ball. Those are great skills to have. Any one of those is good and he’s got several of them.

 

“He’s very hard to tackle. But they do a great job mixing him, not just putting him in the game but who he’s in the game with, what the combinations are and then where they locate him and so forth. There are a lot of multiples. It’s hard. Coach Nagy does a good job with that and he’s a special player that you gotta know where he is at all times.”

 

On Trubisky’s 54-yard bomb to Taylor Gabriel on Sunday:

 

“That’s about as good a throw and catch as I’ve seen all year. The execution on that was like 99 out of 100. It was a great, great throw, great route, great catch. There was like a few inches to get the ball in there 50 yards downfield and that’s where it was.”

 

On Akiem Hicks’ impact, who played for the Patriots in 2015:

 

“He’s hard to block. It doesn’t make any difference what the play is, you can run to him and he’s hard to block. You can run away from him, and he makes tackles for loss on the back side. He’s quick and can get around those blocks when there’s more space back there because everybody is going to the front side. He can power rush. He can rush the edges with his quickness. He’s a very, very disruptive player. He’s hard to block on everything.

 

“I appreciate all of the plays he makes. He makes plays on all three downs, against all types of plays, whether it’s reading screen passes or power rushing the pocket to help the ends, to help (Leonard) Floyd and Mack and (Aaron) Lynch rush on the edge. He’s a powerful, disruptive guy. (Eddie) Goldman has done a good job of that. (Bilal) Nichols has done a good job of that too. They have some really powerful guys inside that are hard to block, and they change the line of scrimmage in the running game and the passing game. It really creates a problem, frees up the linebackers in the running game and helps the ends because the quarterback can’t step up in the pocket in the passing game.”

 

On Matt Nagy:

 

“Obviously he's done a great job, as has Ryan with building the team. They have a lot of good players. They have a really experienced staff and they do a great job in all three areas of the game. They're good in the kicking game, they're good on defense they're good on offense. They have highly-skilled players in all three areas.

 

“It's a well-balanced football team that does a lot of things well. Run the ball. Stop the run. Throw the ball. Rush the passer. Intercept passes. Return kicks. Cover kicks. Cover punts. They're at the top of the league in all those categories. Turnovers. Points off turnovers. It doesn't really matter what area you want to talk about, they're pretty good at all of them. That's why they're a good football team.

 

“Coach Nagy and his staff certainly deserve a lot of credit. It's not a one-man band. They're all doing a good job. It's a good football team. I'm sure there will be a lot of energy in the stadium this week. It will be a great test for us to go into Chicago and be competitive against them.”

 

While listening to Belichick rave about the Bears, this missive from former Patriots general manager Michael Lombardi stands out:

 

“Whenever Belichick tells the media on Mondays or Tuesdays that he has already moved on to the next game, trust me, he’s not lying. I worked with Bill for five years in Cleveland, and then during the 2014 and 2015 seasons in New England. Belichick treats every game like a Super Bowl; no detail is too small, no possible scenario or situation goes overlooked. I have heard Belichick break down a bumbling Jaguars team as if it was the reigning two-time Super Bowl winner and treat Blake Bortles like he’s the second coming of Aaron Rodgers. Belichick does it with tape to back up his claims, only showing his team the opponent’s greatest strengths. (With Bortles, I swear, he must have used George Lucas to doctor the video.) No Patriots opponent is underestimated or taken lightly — EVER.”

 

One of the myriad things that make Belichick the best coach in the NFL — and maybe the best coach in NFL history — is how he never takes an opponent lightly, and then how he’s so successful at scheming against what an opponent does best.

 

The Bears are undoubtedly better in 2018 than they were in the John Fox era, or when these two teams last met in 2014 (when New England waxed a moribund Marc Trestman side, 51-23). And a lot of Belichick’s points are valid – that throw Trubisky made to Gabriel was outstanding, for example.

 

But Belichick talks this way about every team he faces. And that, again, is part of what makes him the best at what he does.