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NFL Combine: Bears, Pack shouldn't look past Lions

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NFL Combine: Bears, Pack shouldn't look past Lions

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011
10:51 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com
Nicely done
Kudos to NBC colleague Peggy Kusinski for her excellent job following up on some of the torment in the Dave Duerson tragedy. Sometimes the splash of a news event can overshadow the sad realities of the people involved and Peggy does a her usual tremendous job talking with Alicia Duerson about some of the difficulties swirling around DD. Its good to always remember that we dont cover or read about sports; we cover and read about people.

Doin well

These events are excellent for catching up with old friends and it was very good to see Randy Brown, former Bears kicking coach who was a factor with Jeff Jaeger back in the day and was the calming influence on Todd Sauerbrun (such as it could be).

Randy, the kicking coach for the Baltimore Ravens the last four years, still has a nice trace of a tan from his trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, courtesy of Billy Cundiff. The Ravens signed Cundiff, an undrafted free agent out of Drake whod been with eight different teams over the years, including four seasons with Dallas before flaming out there. With Randys help, Cundiff tied a record for touchbacks (40) and responded by taking Randy and his wife with him to the Pro Bowl.

But the funny part of running into Randy and having some time to visit: He gives me his business card (the non-football one). And turns out hes mayor (no, really, he is) of Evesham Township in New Joisy, when hes from. We hung out a while before he had to run off to finish some Combine interviews and also get some work done on his township budget, due Tuesday.
FootstepsThe Bears and Green Bay Packers may be looking hard at each other as the team to beat in 11 but they probably dont want to look too far past a one-time doormat in the NFC North.

The Detroit Lions increased their win total from zero in 2008 to two in 2009 to six in 2010. The jump last season came with No. 1s Ndamukong Suh at defensive tackle and Jahvid Best at running back and significant signings in free agency, which wont be available to the Lions this year.

So the question was put to coach Jim Schwartz as to whether he thought the Lions could close the gap between themselves and the Bears and Green Bay Packers, the former being the division winners and the latter being the Super Bowl champions.

Schwartz bristled, appropriately, then provided a bit of Rex Ryan Lite in declaring that he and the Lions arent in business to close gaps with anybody. Theyre about the business of winning the NFC North.

For anyone just tuning in, Schwartz was kind enough to provide some 10 play-by-replay:

Split with the Pack and lost by four both times against the Bears. Obviously the opener, the way that ended, and then Drew Stanton had a three-point lead with I guess it was a few minutes left when Cutler was able to lead them to that last touchdown.

We need to win more games and we really dont take a whole lot of pride in having six wins or even having the last four. There werent many teams in the NFL that won four in a row. That stuff sort of makes you feel good, but you cant expect that to carry over. It is what it is, it happened in the past and how we do next year wont be because of what happened in last years game against the

Packers or last years game against the Bears, it will be how we do in training camp and how we do in everything else as we move forward.

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.

Why Bears don't see need for 'voluntary bubble' amid COVID-19 pandemic right now

Why Bears don't see need for 'voluntary bubble' amid COVID-19 pandemic right now

The Bears will not follow the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in creating a voluntary bubble, coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday, although it’s possible the team’s stance on one could change.

The idea of a “voluntary bubble” was first floated by the Saints, which have one set up during training camp. Players and staff can choose to sequester themselves in a hotel, only going to and from the team’s facility, allowing for something much closer to the true bubbles that’ve worked so well in the NBA, NHL, MLS and NWSL. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said this week the team has a hotel set up where players/staff can stay during the season, too.

Because they’re voluntary, these team-sanctioned bubbles do not run afoul of the NFL-NFLPA’s agreement on the 2020 season. Although if one were set up, it's likely most (if not all) Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals would opt into it. 

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If the Bears wanted to set up a bubble, it wouldn’t seem to be difficult – there are plenty of hotels close to Halas Hall in Lake Forest (anyone up for an extended stay at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort?). But for now, the Bears remain confident in two pillars of their COVID-19 protocols: Their setup at Halas Hall, and their continued education of players, staff and their families about how to pull of a football season in the midst of a pandemic.

“I think for us, we feel really good right now with our quote-unquote ‘bubble’ that we have here,” Nagy said. “It feels very safe. There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get this set-up that we have. But also, we’re growing, too. I mean, if you came in here five days ago and looked at this complex at Halas Hall and the Water Payton Center, it’s totally different than five days ago. We keep adding to make it better.

“Ryan (Pace) and I joked, it’s like one of those whiffle balls that has all the holes in it everywhere. We keep finding holes and patching them up. That’s probably going to continue for the whole year. 

“So if there’s something that players bring to us or that we feel we can keep ourselves safe in one way or another, we’re gonna do that.”

The Bears, like every other NFL team, may need to be flexible, especially as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise in Illinois. What sounds farfetched now may not be so crazy in a month.

But Nagy believes the Bears can avoid an outbreak inside Halas Hall by following strict mask-wearing guidelines, social distancing whenever possible and preaching the importance of responsible behavior away from the facility.

“It always comes back to when you’re outside of this bubble of Halas Hall, you need to be able to be smart and be selfless, not selfish,” Nagy said.

MORE: Should the Bears quarantine a quarterback in 2020?

The Cubs can be viewed as a prime example of how to navigate a season without a bubble, having not had a member of their traveling party test positive for COVID-19 since returning to Wrigley Field in early July. It’s not impossible to pull this off so long as everyone buys in to an extreme level of personal responsibility – and, too, gets lucky in dodging such an infectious, insidious virus.

That kind of commitment (and luck) might just mean the Bears wouldn’t need to create a voluntary bubble somewhere in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

What also can help the Bears here too is their coach’s persistent messaging about and policing of mask-wearing inside Halas Hall, which hopefully will carry over into interactions away from the building. 

“The mask deal is real,” Nagy said. “This is my opinion, and just from what we see and what we hear. You hear a lot of people say, 'Well, you've gotta treat it like everybody has (COVID-19).' In my opinion, you've gotta treat it like you have it, right?

“If you treat it like you have it, you wear your mask and the percentages of spreading it can be a lot lower. When you treat it like you have it, that means everybody has their mask on in this building and that's what you're seeing with a lot of the teams having low test rates with positive tests, and that's how we're going about it.”

 

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Bears' Matt Nagy 'really proud' of players' commitment to stay in shape

Bears' Matt Nagy 'really proud' of players' commitment to stay in shape

When the Bears ended their weekly spring Zoom sessions early, Matt Nagy explained that it was because the team felt that time was better spent in other ways. 

“This will allow the players to focus on training,” the Bears' head coach said in early June. “It’s going to be very important. That’s the one part that’s been more difficult (because) we’re not altogether. So now they really don’t have to worry about meetings so much -- Monday through Thursday -- but they can really focus on their bodies and come into training camp really prepared.”

RELATED: Matt Nagy Gives First Insight Into Right Guard Competition

Turns out, even working out in summer heat is preferable to sitting through another Zoom meeting. Though training camp hasn't gotten started in full yet – Wednesday was the first day of 'Phase 2' – Nagy's first impression of the players he's seen is a good one. Showing up in shape sounds like a cliche because it basically is at this point, but as Nagy pointed out, that's still not always the case. 

"You kind of hold your breath when you haven't seen these guys this whole time," he said on Wednesday. "I know what I was doing and there's others too, and there's a lot more eating than there is working out over that quarantine. And so you never really know where these guys are at. But I think our guys -- and I know our guys, just from seeing them now -- they made an executive decision as a whole that they're going to work their tails off and get in good shape." 

What's most impressive, according to Nagy, is that the vast majority of these workouts happened in a garage, or in a basement, or out in a local field somewhere, etc. With Halas Hall essentially unavailable this summer, the coach was quick to credit strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo and his team for spearheading and overseeing all the individual workouts. 

"We weren't sure how that was going to happen, just not knowing where they were and what they had to be able to work out in during the quarantine," he added. "But I'm just really proud of the players for the way that they came into shape." 

RELATED: Why Quarantining Tyler Bray Might Make Sense

Specifically, Nagy named Akiem Hicks and Cordarrelle Patterson as two guys who looked especially good. He even went as far as claiming it's the "best" he's ever seen Hicks look.

"I mean, he showed up in great shape and I'm really proud of him. I know it's not easy," Nagy added. "And then Cordarrelle Patterson ... He's the one that I walked by as well, and he was ready for me to ask him how he's doing, because he looks good too."