Bears

Moon: Bears touched by 911 tribute

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Moon: Bears touched by 911 tribute

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011Posted: 11:30 a.m. Updated: 8:00 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin

Roy Williams caught all four of the passes thrown to him Sunday as a Chicago Bear. Something also caught him, on the inside.

It was his own emotion choking him up during the singing of the National Anthem. Players and coaches joined with police officers, firefighters, soldiers and others to unfurl and hold a giant American flag that covered the playing field as Cornelison sang.

Williams had heard Cornelison sing the Star Spangeled Banner in his time as a Detroit Lion, but when youre holding that flag, the land of the free, thats the part that hit me, Williams said.

I didnt want to be the only one in tears but it was very, very tough when you think of the people who died on 911 and their families. You hear so many stories of people that day and it was a touching moment.

Jay gaming

Jay Cutlers passer rating was 107.8 for Sundays game. The Bears are now 23-0, including the Seattle divisional playoff win, when Cutler has a 100 rating. Cutler has had 100 ratings in six of the last nine games.

Why this is more than just an interesting stat is that the Bears lost all three of the games when he was a sub-100 passer (New England, Green Bay twice and the NFC Championship).

But as far as feeling all warm and furry about a 312-yard passing game with 2 TD passes and 23 points tallied by the offense against an Atlanta defense that was fifth-best in points allowed in 2010, nope.

"We left some points out there, Cutler said, referring to two missed TD opportunities in three red-zone trips. We started off pretty good but we just have to get better in the red zone. We just have to hammer out some of these details because we left points on the board.

Duly noted
Right guard Lance Louis was in a plastic walking cast for his injured right ankle, which forced him out of the game in the first half. Chris Spencer took over at right guard, but that leaves questions:

Will Louis be ready in time for New Orleans? If not, would Spencer stay at right guard or flip-flop with Roberto Garza, since Spencer is a natural center and Garza a veteran at right guard?

Defensive end Julius Peppers and tackle Henry Melton switch positions on occasion and have going back into last season. Whats notable is that the two players make the decision themselveswell, sort of. Peppers was asked if Melton tells him to go on the inside and he, Meltonll play end? Peppers smiled the oh-I-dont-think-so smile.
Matt Toeaina found out Sunday morning that he was starting at nose tackle instead of Anthony Adams. A preseason calf injury kept Adams out of full practice until late in the week and a final decision was not made until Adams was put through drills Sunday morning. The decision was made to use him only in spot duty, taking less risk of re-injuring his calf.

The Atlanta Falcons surprised the Bears with a no-huddle offense but Bears defensive linemen felt that their conditioning and speed ironically gave them an edge over the bigger, slower Atlanta offensive linemen.

Hurry up, Devin

Devin Hester may be one of the fastest Bears and receiver-mate Williams, downfield blocking on Hesters 53-yard catch-and-run that saw him chipped out of bounds at the Atlanta 1-yard line. I thought he was gone, Williams said, then deapanned, I wouldve scored.

QB Hits

The game featured a pair of crushing hits on quarterbacks by defensive ends wearing No. 90.

Cutler was blasted by Lawrence Sidbury, coming around a missed block by tight end Kellen Davis, in the third quarter and was slow to get up after the hit.

Peppers, who had three sacks and other hits on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, pursued Ryan out of the pocket along the right sideline. He caught the Atlanta quarterback and delivered a sweeping hit that sent Ryans helmet rolling away on the ground.

Nice guy

After Matt Spaeth caught his one-yard TD pass in the third quarter, his first as a Bear, the tight end bee-lined for the first row of the north end-zone stands to hand the ball to his mother and aunt. Head equipment manager Tony Medlin traditionally takes the balls from significant plays and cleans them up.

New guy

Brandon Meriweather, signed last weekend from the New England Patriots, saw his first work at free safety in the third quarter, stepping in for Major Wright.

Peppers slid down inside to defensive tackle in some nickel alignments, with tackle Melton moving outside to end. The two combined for that kind of flip-flop last season, with good effect.
Ouch

Spencers better position is center but he was needed at right guard in the second quarter after Louis limped off with an ankle injury. When Louis suffered an injury in Game 4 last year, that ended his starts at right guard.

Remember him?

Hester -- rather than Johnny Knox -- was back as the kickoff returner for the Bears. Knox took the first snap at wide receiver on the first possession but Hester was back at his No. 1 spot on the start of the second series.

Knox was a Pro Bowl alternate as a returner in 2009 but slumped to less than 23 yards per return last season.
our flag was still there

With the words of the National Anthem sung by Jim Cornelison echoing across Soldier Field, players on both teams joined with police, fire fighters and others unfurling a United States flag that covered the entire playing surface.

When Cornelison pointed to the flag atop the stadium as he sang that our flag was still there enough said.

Lockout? What lockout?

So much for the lockout making it significantly more difficult for newcomers to break onto NFL rosters. Not only have the Bears built this years roster with 18 new players out of 53, but the active roster the Bears fielded for Game 1 included six rookies and one first-year player, fullback Tyler Clutts, playing his first NFL football after stints in the UFL.

Rookie Bears playing Sunday: Gabe Carimi, Chris Conte, Dane Sanzenbacher, Dom DeCicco, Winston Venable, Kyle Adams.

Rostering

Adams was active after missing most of the preseason with a calf injury but Toeaina was inserted as the starting nose tackle.

On the inactive list were running back Marion Barber, quarterback Nathan Enderle, guard Edwin Williams and defensive linemen Mario Addison, Stephen Paea and Corey Wootton. Special teams took a hit with receiver Sam Hurd on the inactive list and still recovering from an ankle injury in preseason.

The Falcons were without center Todd McClure and defensive tackle Corey Peters in their starting lineups.

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.

Trubisky using flashcards to learn Bears offense

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USA Today

Trubisky using flashcards to learn Bears offense

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is preparing for his second season in the NFL, one in which he'll be running an entirely new offense, with a tried-and-true method of learning: flashcards.

“Quarterback play is how fast you can process,” Trubisky told the Chicago Sun-Times. “A lot of that is recollection. That’s exactly what flash cards are.

"You’re trying to learn and memorize, and to try to forget what you did in the past.”

Coach Matt Nagy is attempting to install an offense that took five years to master in Kansas City in his first offseason in Chicago. Its success or failure will circle directly back to how well Trubisky operates within its structure.

Despite its complexity, Trubisky feels more comfortable in Nagy's system than the one Dowell Loggains ran last season.

“It’s more complex, but it’s easier [to execute], as opposed to simpler but more difficult.

"That’s how I would describe it last year. Last year, there were probably less words, but they didn’t necessarily fit together. Or it was just more difficult to process. This year, it’s more complex but it’s easier to execute and memorize and remember because everything builds on something. You start with a base concept, and it gets more and more complicated.”

Trubisky's comments illustrate what makes Nagy a potentially special offensive coach. He's making a normally difficult process seem easy, and that's the kind of environment that will facilitate learning and execution.

“It’s just crazy to see. I feel like that’s how it should be done, because it’s a more advanced offense, but we were able to pick it up so quickly over the summer because of how they taught it. And how everything fits together."

Three questions for Bears ILBs: What kind of an impact will Roquan Smith make?

Three questions for Bears ILBs: What kind of an impact will Roquan Smith make?

Pre-camp depth chart

1. Danny Trevathan
2. John Timu
3. Joel Iyiegbuniwe

1. Roquan Smith
2. Nick Kwiatkoski
3. Jonathan Anderson

1. How good can Roquan Smith be?

Making sweeping observations from shorts-and-helmets practices in OTAs is often a fool’s errand, but Smith looked the part while running around the practice fields of Halas Hall after being drafted in April. His quickness and instinctiveness stood out — as they did at Georgia — and his football intelligence and work ethic were praised by coaches and teammates. 

“He’s learning well,” Trevathan said. “He’s doing a good job of learning. He’s learning the little things that you need to learn in this defense. Now it’s all about putting on a show and going out there and rocking.”

And that’s what’s going to be fun to watch in Bourbonnais: How does Smith play with the pads on? Chances are, the answer to that question will be “well,” setting the eighth overall pick on a path to being a mainstay of this defense for years to come. 

That’s not to say Smith doesn’t have plenty on which to work during training camp. But he left Georgia as a sort of “safe bet” in the draft, and nothing he’s done to this point has changed the view of him that he’s likely going to be a good one. 

2. Can Danny Trevathan stay healthy?

In terms of size and athleticism, Trevathan and Smith profile similar to NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, the inside linebacking tandem that was the spine of the San Francisco 49ers defense during Fangio’s time there. But for Trevathan and Smith to reach that lofty bar — or even to come close to it — Trevathan needs to be more available than he was his first two years with the Bears.

This isn’t questioning Trevathan’s toughness — far from it. That he returned for Week 1 of the 2017 season 10 months after rupturing his patellar tending (an injury that can be a career-ender) was impressive, and that he was immediately productive upon returning was even more extraordinary. But Trevathan missed three games in November due to a strained calf, and coupled with a one-game suspension and the seven games he missed in 2016, the 28-year-old has only played in 21 of 32 games since signing with the Bears. 

Trevathan is confident he can improve his production in 2018, given he wasn’t able to participate in last year’s offseason program practices. He’s entering his third year in Fangio’s defense and feels better prepared after going through OTAs and minicamps this year. It’s just now about him staying on the field to make sure that work pays off.

“I’m more comfortable with this defense, I’m more comfortable with the guys and the calls that we make,” Trevathan said. “I take pride in being correct and working my tail off and making the defense better. And the more that I can be out there — which I plan on being out there a lot — it’s going to help us tremendously.” 

3. How big a role will Nick Kwiatkoski have?

The Bears didn’t draft Smith because they felt like they absolutely needed to upgrade over Kwiatkoski, who’s acquitted himself well in 25 games since being picked in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. But Kwiatkoski has dealt with some injury issues, and for as solid a player as he may be, the Bears’ defense needed (and still needs) more great players. Drafting Smith gave the Bears a shot at adding a great player.

It also leaves Kwiatkoski in the same spot he was in a year ago, when the Bears entered the 2017 season with Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman as their unquestioned starting inside linebackers. Smith still has to earn that starting spot, but the safe bet is he will, relegating Kwiatkoski again to reserve duties.

And that’s a positive for the overall health of this defense, having a player good enough to start ready to play if needed. But it also raises this question: What do the Bears do with Kwiatkoski if he’s one of their four best linebackers, but isn’t one of their two best inside linebackers? 

So for the purposes of watching training camp practices, seeing if Kwiatkoski gets any reps at outside linebacker will be an interesting storyline to follow.