Preps Talk

Miller on the Bears' schedule

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Miller on the Bears' schedule

The day the NFL releases its regular-season schedule could easily be the greatest day other than the Draft, season opener, the start of playoffs and of course the Super Bowl. Anyway, there is no way NFL fans can plan for a Super Bowl and fall weekends until the schedule has been released.

Bears fans, your prayers have been answered as it looks pretty favorable for the Chicago Bears.

Week 1: Sept. 9 vs. Colts -- The Bears' defense gets ready to exploit rookie first-round QB Andrew Luck

Week 2: Sept. 13 at Packers -- Division games are always good early to get your mind right for season; none better than facing rival Packers on Thursday night in primetime.

Week 3: Sept. 23 vs. Rams -- Facing a Rams team at home that does not yet have an identity or enough playmakers.

Week 4 Oct. 1 at Cowboys -- If Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan does not fix the defense, Brian Urlacher and the boys can keep key Dallas offensive playmakers in check on another Monday nighter.

Week 5: Oct. 7 at Jaguars -- It's always good to face one-dimensional teams. Maurice Jones-Drew must be stopped while Jags quarterback Blaine Gabbert is trying to get comfortable in a new offense under Mike Mularkey.

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Oct. 22 vs. Lions -- The Bears should be well rested for a divisional Monday nighter that could be huge in the standings. The Bears must win this home game.

Week 8: Oct. 28 vs. Panthers -- There cannot be a letdown here. Carolina pushed around the Bears last year in Soldier Field. The Panthers are a dangerous team entering 2012 and are getting better.

Week 9: Nov. 4 at Titans -- The Titans are another dangerous team. They were nearly a playoff team last year, finishing 9-7. One plus is the Bears may be facing second-year QB Jake Locker at this point.
Week 10: Nov. 11 vs. Texans -- Buckle up for this one. This will be the Bears' fourth primetime game. Houston is a complete team. They finally busted through the AFC South to the playoffs. The Texans defense is legit.

Week 11: Nov. 19 at 49ers -- Another Monday nighter completes five primetime games for the Bears, which is the most any team can have in a season. It should be another dandy against the NFC Division runner-up.

Week 12: Nov. 25 vs. Vikings -- The Bears cannot coast in this one, but this is a nice breather from the previous five weeks.

Week 13: Dec. 2 vs. Seahawks -- The Seahawks are still one-dimensional. Stop Marshawn Lynch.
Week 14: Dec. 9 at Vikings -- The Vikings will not be much improved from facing them two weeks prior.
Week 15: Dec. 16 vs. Packers -- The Bears have to split with the Packers. This is their chance at home.

Week 16: Dec. 23 at Cardinals -- Look at all of these NFC games to finish the season. These matter for playoff seeding. The Cards won seven of their last nine games last season, finishing strong.
Week 17: Dec. 30 at Lions -- What better way to end the season than with a division game? The Lions believe last year was not a fluke. The Bears may have an opportunity to knock the Lions out.

Early thoughts just looking at the schedule: The Bears could go 12-4 again with a new sheriff in town like general manager Phil Emery and a couple of breaks. The pressure is on with the new GM, but Weeks 7-11 provide a brutal five-week stretch along with Weeks 15-17.

91 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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NBC

91 Days to Kickoff: Warren

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture. 

Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

As the Bears set their foundation for training camp during OTAs this month, one part of that is beginning to identify each player’s strengths and weaknesses on which to build in Bourbonnais. 

Designing an offense to Mitch Trubisky’s strengths was one of the reasons why Ryan Pace hired Matt Nagy, who then hired Mark Helfrich to be his offensive coordinator. Easy is the wrong word — but it wouldn’t have made sense for the Bears to not build an offense around their second-picked quarterback. 

But as Nagy and Helfrich are installing that offense during OTAs and, next month, veteran minicamp, they’re also learning what Trubisky’s weaknesses are. And the one Helfrich pointed to, in a way, is a positive. 

“Experience,” Helfrich said. “I think it’s 100 percent experience and just reps, and that’s kind of what I was talking about was knowing why something happened. As a quarterback, he might take the perfect drop and be looking at the right guy in your progression, and that guy runs the wrong route or the left guard busts or something. The defense does something different or wrong, even. And trusting that is just a matter of putting rep on top of rep on top of rep and being confident.”

It'd be a concern if the Bears thought Trubisky lacked the necessary talent to be great, or had a lacking work ethic or bad attitude. Experience isn't something he can control, in a way. 

This isn’t anything new for Trubisky. His lack of experience at North Carolina — he only started 13 games there — was the biggest ding to his draft stock a year ago; while he started a dozen games for the Bears in 2017, the offense was simple and conservative, designed to minimize risk for Trubisky (and, to be fair, a sub-optimal group of weapons around him). 

But even if Trubisky started all 16 games in an innovative, aggressive offense last year, he’d still be experiencing plenty of things for the first time. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made this point back in September that still resonates now with regard to Trubisky:

“I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks,” Roethlisberger said. “In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

So the challenge for Nagy and Helfrich is to build an offense that accentuates Trubisky’s strengths while managing his lack of experience. For what it’s worth, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles succeeded in those efforts last year with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, respectively. 

For Helfrich, though, one of Trubisky’s strengths — his leadership qualities — are already helping mitigate his need for more experience. 

“He’s still in the mode of learning and doing things out here,” Helfrich said. “We might have run one play 10 times against 10 different defenses, you know? And so his response to every one of those 10 things is brand new. And so, you see his reaction to some of those is good. Some of those things you want to improve upon and then keep your chest up and lead because we need that.”