The Bears Gab Chicago Bears Mid-Season Offensive Grades

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears have hit the midpoint of the 2017 season and are at it with a 3-5 record. There have been some good things and some bad things that have come out of the first eight games.

But one thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that the Bears’ arrow is pointing up.

The Mike Glennon experiment may be over, and it looks like it’s going to be Mitchell Trubisky’s team now. Glennon lasted all of four games and had a 1-3 record. Trubisky has fared better than Glennon with a 2-2 record, but he’s had a lot of help from his defense.

But one group he hasn’t gotten a lot of help from is his wide receivers. Hopefully, that will change when Dontrelle Inman is available. But even with Inman, the Bears still have a way to go in the passing game.

The offensive line has been both good and bad. There are some things to be happy and frustrated about with that group.

But overall, things are looking up for the offense. At least for their future.

Without further delay, here are the Bearsgab mid-season grades for each positional unit on the offense. We will assign individual grades to some of the players and then unit grades. The grading system for the players is based on a points system which on a 1-5 number system and goes like this:

5.0-Elite/All-Pro

4.0-Solid/Pro-Bowl

3.0-Average

2.0-Below Average

1.0-Poor

0.0-Incomplete

And the grading system I will use for the units is by letter grade, and that should be self-explanatory.

So, without further delay, here are my unit and individual grades for the Bears offense.

Quarterbacks

The Bears have suffered a lot at the quarterback position. They thought that Glennon was going to be the short-term answer while Trubisky learned and grew in the offense but that did not happen. Glennon was so bad; the Bears had to put Trubisky in and start moving forward. While Trubisky has shown some promise, his growth has been stunted by the lack of talent at the wide receiver position.

Glennon is probably going to be gone next season unless the Bears want to keep him as a backup. The “out” clause in his contract doesn’t tie the Bears to him beyond this year. That would make it a clean break. Letting him go might make sense but then who will back up Trubisky?

Worrying about that is a long way away.

Trubisky will get better when the players around him get better and for now, he will learn and grow and eventually be the player the Bears hoped he would be.

Mike Glennon-1.75

Mitchell Trubisky-2.5

Mark Sanchez-0.0

Unit Grade-C- There is a lot of potential here and hopefully this grade will improve by the end of the season.

Running Backs

The Bears have gotten some good production out of their running backs this year although they might have been able to do more at times. Jordan Howard has played well but has suffered from two problems. The first is that he has fought through some shoulder problems and has struggled to stay healthy consistent. Second, Howard has dropped some critical passes and needs to work on his pass-catching skills. He must improve in that area.

Tarik Cohen was great to start but hasn’t done a lot since the first four games. Teams figured him out and he has been taken out by double coverage. Benny Cunningham does ok in relief and Michael Burton has been blocking well. We might see more of Cunningham if he can stay healthy, as the season goes on.

Jordan Howard-4.1

Tarik Cohen-3.5

Benny Cunningham-3.0

Michael Burton-3.0

Taquan Mizell-0.0

Unit Grade-B+ Mix in Howard’s pass-catching woes and Cohen being a non-factor recently and this group drops down to a B+. They are close to being an “A” group though.

Wide Receivers

All I can say here is yikes! This group has been called the worst in the NFL by some experts and they aren’t doing the Bears’ quarterbacks any favors. They have no star power here, no one to stretch the defense or even a true number one receiver. They need help and they got some with Dontrelle Inman, but we don’t know what we have with him just yet. Everyone else is poor to mediocre and hasn’t helped the Bears’ cause.

There are rumblings that Kevin White could come back off injured reserve. How can he help? We aren’t sure because he hasn’t played but at this point, anything or anyone is better than the current crop of wide receivers the Bears have.

Let’s see what the Bears do.

Joshua Bellamy-2.0

Tanner Gentry-2.2

Dontrelle Inman-0.0

Tre McBride-2.7

Markus Wheaton-1.0

Kendall Wright-2.6

Unit Grade-D- This group needs some new blood. Let’s see what Inman can do.

Tight Ends

This group isn’t going to be the same without Zach Miller. Dion Sims needs to pick up where Miller left off and be the guy that they thought he would be when they signed him as a free agent. So far, he has shown flashes but hasn’t lived up his lofty payday.

He needs to step up now.

Adam Shaheen needs to step up as well. Shaheen, a second-round draft pick, is nowhere near where the Bears need him to be right now. He needs to grow up and get things right.

With the injury to Miller, guys like Brown and Braunecker, if they call him up from the practice squad, are going to have to help as well. This group needs to step in and help give Trubisky someone to throw the ball too.

Zach Miller-3.0

Dion Sims-2.6

Daniel Brown-2.0

Adam Shaheen-2.2

Unit Grade-C+ -When it comes to blocking, this group does a good job against the run. They need to become Trubisky’s pass-catching outlet and do more to help him out. Hopefully, they can do that in the second half of the season.

Offensive Tackles

The Bears signed Charles Leno, Jr., to a big brand-new contract but he has not lived up to that lofty contract’s status. He struggles at times but he’s the best of what the Bears have at the offensive tackle position. He won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Bobby Massie has had his troubles but is all the Bears have at right tackle right now. Chicago must do something about that position during the offseason.

Bobby Massie-2.1

Charles Leno, Jr.-3.0

Tom Compton-2.3

Bradley Sowell-2.5

Unit Grade-C -There isn’t much to write home about with these guys. They have been average and will remain so.

Offensive Guards

Things have been a bit of a struggle for the guards this season. Both Kyle Long and Josh Sitton have been hurt and have missed time. The fill-in players, mostly tackles playing guard, have helped but they couldn’t be long-term solutions if needed.

Right now, Kyle Long has a hand injury and it’s not known whether he will miss any time. Josh Sitton is getting older by the game and may not be around after the season is over. There were even rumors that the Bears were taking trade offers for him before the trade deadline last week.

Still, they are the best the Bears have and hopefully they can step it up in the second half of the season.

Kyle Long-3.5

Josh Sitton-3.6

Unit Grade-B- -If it weren’t for all the injuries here this would be a better grade, but this unit has struggled with health. Hopefully, they can play the remaining eight games together.

Centers

I am torn with what I see in Cody Whitehair. How could he be so good last year as a rookie but struggle so much this season? The Bears may want to move the undersized Hroniss Grasu in at center and possibly keep Whitehair as a reserve and let him learn, again. Is that a viable option?

Maybe neither Whitehair or Grasu are any good.

One thing is for sure though; the Bears must do something to help improve the center position because it’s almost cost them this season.

Hroniss Grasu-2.6

Cody Whitehair-1.9

Unit Grade-D -Whitehair has regressed and Grasu has struggled to stay healthy. The Bears need some help here but it’s not coming this year. Let’s hope they can turn things around here.

The Chicago Bears versus the New Orleans Saints Game Notes

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears, with a two-game winning streak, came into New Orleans to take on the Saints who had been having a good season through the first part of the year. The Bears were searching for the first three-game winning streak since 2013, and their fans hoped that they could keep their momentum going.

The Saints had a winning streak of their own going and were playing very well.

Could the Bears earn their third win in a row and keep their hopes of getting to the playoffs alive? Or would they lose big to one of the fastest teams in the NFL?

The Bears would neither do that good or that bad in Sunday’s game.

Perhaps you could call this game “meh”?

The defense, which had been one of the best units in the league over the last few weeks suffered some breakdowns while the offense did a little more than it has the previous two weeks. Chicago’s offense showed that there are some great things coming. But still, the lack of talent on that side of the ball is evident and there is a lot of help that’s needed to make the offense better.

That is their weak spot right now.

After watching and re-watching the game, this writer has come up with several key points that came out of the game relating to how it was played and some of the things that happened in it.

So, sit back and take a little time to re-discover some of the things that happened to see if there was anything that was missed or that warrants further discussion.

Zach Miller

Reports Monday morning stated that tight end Zach Miller had to have emergency surgery to repair the arteries in his knee after dislocating it on the no-call touchdown catch. Some of the reports even stated that they were trying to save his leg. We hope that Miller is ok and that he will be able to lead a normal life. I will keep an eye on this and have updates on Miller later.

Perhaps the biggest thing to happen in the game was the call made on Miller’s touchdown. He clearly caught the ball and came up with it and the explanation that was provided by the officials (which can be found all over the internet) doesn’t seem to make sense. But whether it was a catch or not won’t be debated here. What’s more important is Miller’s health.

Adrian Amos

The strip that safety Adrian Amos had (that he eventually recovered) was a key moment for the Bears. After suffering through several games without creating any turnovers, Amos has had two in three weeks. He is starting to look like the kind of player that the Bears need at the safety position.

Amos is tough, opportunistic and reliable. The Bears haven’t had that at the strong safety position in quite some time.

It’s just too bad that the Bears couldn’t capitalize on Amos’ turnover and turn it into some points.

Christian Jones

One of the unsung heroes of the Bears’ defense is linebacker Christian Jones. Jones has been bounced around the linebacker position going from the outside to the inside. He stepped in to play for Nick Kwiatkoski who was injured but has since been cleared to play. Kwiatkoski has not played, however.

Jones has been playing very well in Kwiatkoski’s place and may not allow the second-year linebacker to reclaim his starting role.

For now, Jones is playing very well, and you don’t want to upset what is happening there. Let Jones play and see what happens.

Wide Receivers or Lack Thereof

You can see that the lack of talent at the wide receiver position has hurt the offense. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has a lot of potential and with better wide receivers he could have had an even better season. But when your receivers lack the talent needed to do some great things catching the ball, you can’t have any kind of positive impact in the passing game.

The Bears’ receivers don’t have the knowledge or skills to get away from opposing cornerbacks, run crisp and clean routes or have the speed to be a threat to the defense. They are just mediocre and that’s why the Bears’ passing game doesn’t have the kind of potency that it should have.

Trubisky is a solid quarterback and will get better when the help around him gets better. Until then, he will not have the success he could have if he had the receivers he needs to be successful. The Bears won’t win many games until they get some better receivers so Trubisky and the offense will continue to be stuck in the mud.

Not So Special Teams

Special teams have been tough for the Bears this year. Their worst game was against the Ravens when they allowed two returns for touchdowns but there have been breakdowns in other points in games. The Bears should have also considered doing something about Connor Barth who seems to have an issue with consistency. The only two real bright spots the Bears have had on special teams this season have been with some of their return players and their punter.

If the coaching staff somehow gets retained this offseason, then head coach John Fox needs to consider getting rid of special teams coach Jeff Rodgers. Sure, he’s a colorful interview and will tell you most anything that you want to hear but much more is needed out of their special teams.

They need consistency and they need to have some additional stand-out performers.

They just aren’t getting any of that.

Rodgers needs to be let go and someone else needs to take his place. Chicago’s special teams must get better.

Penalties

Once again, the Bears had penalties at critical times on Sunday, but no penalty was more critical than the one against cornerback Kyle Fuller. I am sure you will remember that one well. Fuller lined up in the neutral zone on a field goal and the five-yard penalty gave the Saints a first down. They turned those three points into six.

There were other instances where penalties came at the wrong time including a holding an unsportsmanlike penalty call on Josh Sitton.

The Bears must clean up their penalties. They are costing them points and ultimately, games.

Injury Update

Aside from the injury to Miller, the Bears had a couple more injuries that there might be some concern about. Guard Kyle Long injured his hand and was on the sideline with a cast. Center Cody Whitehair sat down with an elbow injury. This hurt because Hroniss Grasu was on inactive with a hand injury.

Nickle back Bryce Callahan has a knee injury. The severity of it is not yet known.

We will look at the injury report a little later after it comes out. Remember, the Bears have a bye week, so they will have some time to rest and get healed up.

Jerrell Freeman Suspended

Speaking of resting, linebacker Jerrell Freeman is going to have some unpaid time off to go on top of the time he is spending on injured reserve. As this story was being written, it was reported that Freeman was suspended for PED use, again. This time for ten games. Remember that last year he was suspended four games for the same thing.

Freeman will start serving the suspension immediately.

The suspension may signal the end of Freeman in a Bears’ uniform. He has become unreliable. Even though he’s not active, he would still have to serve some of the suspension next season. It would be two games because he will serve eight games of it on injured reserve. Do the Bears want to keep a guy who can’t seem to learn his lesson?

Probably not.

Next Up

The Bears will be on bye next weekend so they will rest and recover. They will host the Green Bay Packers, at Soldier Field, on November 12th.

There will be a full preview of that game coming up on Bearsgab.

Please follow me on Twitter @bdietzler.

The Chicago Bears vs. The New Orleans Saints Game Injury Review

By Bryan Dietzler

The 3-4 Chicago Bears, what are coming off a 17-3 win against the Carolina Panthers, will travel to the Big Easy to take on the 4-2 New Orleans Saints this Sunday. The Saints beat the Bears’ division rival, the Green Bay Packers, 26-17 and are looking to continue their winning ways.

The Bears’ defense was solid last week, but the offense had its problems. They need to pick it up on offense and help the defense keep the game under control and not let it slip away. Luckily for the Bears, the defense dominated versus the Panthers, but it could be a much different story against the high-flying Saints’ offense Sunday.

The following is a detailed look at how the injury report looks for both teams. Who is hurt? How will these injuries affect the game? Let’s find out.

 

The Bears had 11 players listed on the injury report during the week. Those players that practiced fully or weren’t on the injury report on Friday include nickel back Bryce Callahan (Neck), guard Kyle Long (Ankle), wide receiver Dontrelle Inman (Non-injury), quarterback Mark Sanchez (Illness) and defensive tackle Mitch Unrein.

It looks like none of those guys are going to miss Sunday’s game, so we won’t concentrate on them that much.
We want to worry more about who won’t be there. Right now, it appears as if special team’s ace Sherrick McMannis will be out with an injury. This hurts the Bears because McMannis is a reliable special teams player who can make a difference. Hopefully, he will be healed up soon.

Linebacker John Timu will miss the game because of injuries to his knee and ankle. The Bears will rely on Christian Jones and Nick Kwiatkoski for depth but, because Timu was a backup up player, they will miss just his depth at the linebacker position. Let’s hope that they don’t need it.

Defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris hurt his hamstring last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers and it looks like he won’t be able to play. He has been a valuable special teams player and helps provide some depth at defensive end. His value there will be missed.

Wide receiver Markus Wheaton is the last player listed as doubtful on the Bears’ injury report. Wheaton has a torn groin and will not play on Sunday.

There are two players listed as questionable that might sit out the game on Sunday depending on the severity of their injuries. Center Hroniss Grasu is still nursing a hand injury and may be inactive for the game depending on where the team thinks he is with his hand. He is needed because Cody Whitehair is struggling at center, but would he be better than Whitehair?

Finally, Benny Cunningham has a hamstring injury and could sit out one more week depending on where he is at in the healing process. He was listed as questionable on Friday and was limited in practice each day last week. It might be advisable that the sit this Sunday and take a couple more weeks off (because the Bears have a bye week next week).

The New Orleans Saints have four players listed on the injury report. Three practiced fully on Friday including offensive tackle Terron Armstead and wide receiver Willie Snead and Michael Thomas.

All three should be available Sunday.

New Orleans has one player who will be out, and this might have an impact on the game, especially in being able to get to Drew Brees. Guard Larry Warford has an abdomen injury and will be out. The Bears could see some success getting to Brees because of this. Keep an eye on Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman getting past his replacement and getting to the quarterback.

Inactive Players for this Game for the Bears

WR Dontrelle Inman

LB John Timu

C Hroniss Grasu

DE Roy Robertson-Harris

WR Markus Wheaton

CB Sherrick McMannis

QB Mark Sanchez

Bears at Saints Wednesday Injury Report

CHICAGO BEARS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
CHICAGO BEARS
Practice Report
  DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
Wednesday G Kyle Long (ankle), CB Sherrick McManis (hamstring), DE Roy Robertson-Harris (hamstring), LB John Timu (ankle, knee), WR Markus Wheaton (groin)
  LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
Wednesday CB Bryce Callahan (neck), RB Benny Cunningham (hamstring), C Hroniss Grasu (hand), DE Mitch Unrein (quadricep)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Practice Report
  DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE
Wednesday T Terron Armstead (shoulder), WR Michael Thomas (knee), G Larry Warford (abdomen)
  FULL PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
Wednesday WR Willie Snead (hamstring)

A Look Ahead at the Chicago Bears versus the New Orleans Saints

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears, fresh off a 17-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers will travel to New Orleans to take on the 4-2 New Orleans Saints this coming Sunday. The Saints are coming off a 26-17 win over the Green Bay Packers.  With the Bears on a winning streak, finally, and the Saints playing some great offense, this promises to be a strong matchup between two good units, the Bears’ defense and the Saints’ offense.

Before we look ahead at the game in detail, here are five key matchups that could affect the outcome.

Mitchell Trubisky vs. the Saint’s Pass Defense

The New Orleans Saints’ pass defense is ranked 21st in the league which isn’t too great, but they have had some success against the likes of Matthew Stafford and are an opportunistic defense. Mitchell Trubisky must be careful not to make mistakes against this defense.

However, the Bears don’t let him make too many mistakes thanks to the “handcuffs” they put on him.

Maybe they can take those “handcuffs” off for this game?

Fans would love that.

Chicago’s Cornerbacks vs. Drew Brees

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees can tear up an NFL defense, so this will be a huge test for the Bears. Chicago uses a three-man rotation at cornerback with Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, and Kyle Fuller. Fuller has had the hot hand lately and has done well against receivers. Amukamara has been solid while Cooper has been hurt.

They will face a tough test going up against the likes of Michael Thomas and Brandon Coleman.

To help their cornerbacks, Chicago needs to get the kind of pass pressure they got on Cam Newton going against Brees. We will look at this possibility later in the week.

Jordan Howard vs. the Saint’s Rush Defense

The Bears were a little slow with the rushing attack on Sunday against Carolina, but hopefully, they can get the ground game going again. New Orleans’ run defense is ranked 20th in the league. Chicago will need to take advantage of that and have their rushing attack to keep Brees and company off the field. If they let the Saints’ offense stay out there for too long and too often, the game will get out of hand. The Bears don’t have the offense to come back from a huge deficit, so they must keep it close.

Running Jordan Howard early and often will be a big key towards keeping this game close and possibly even giving the Bears their third win in a row.

Outside Pass Rushers vs. the Saints Offensive Tackles

We will look into this later this week, but the Saints have allowed just five sacks so far, this season. That’s impressive. On the other hand, the Bears are starting to become a team that gets good pass pressure, and they are doing it with linebackers and defensive linemen. They have had a lot of success getting to the quarterback over the last three weeks.

But they will face two tough offensive tackles Sunday. The Saints have rookie right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and left tackle Terron Armstead. Can the speed of Leonard Floyd and the power of Pernell McPhee work against Ramczyk and Armstead? Will Danny Trevathan be able to get some pressure on the quarterback?

It will have to be all-hands-on-deck for the Bears to get to Brees and take some pressure off their secondary.

Connor Barth vs. Wil Lutz

Kickers don’t go up against one another but if this game should come down to a field goal, which team has the better kicker? Can the Bears count on the shaky Connor Barth to deliver? Orr can Wil Lutz, kicking in his home stadium, come through in the clutch?

Most people’s money would be on Lutz.

Let’s hope, as Bears’ fans, it doesn’t come down to a field goal Sunday.

There will be more on this game later in the week.

Follow me on Twitter @bdietzler.

The Chicago Bears Week Six and Seven News and Notes

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears earned their second win in a row with a crazy overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. The following is some insight into the game and a few observations from it. Also included are some updates from the start of the week.

Giving it Away

I have been a Bears fan for 34 years and have never seen so many chances to seal a victory lost as I did on Sunday. The inability to close out the game and win is a direct reflection on the coaching staff and not the players. The coaching staff puts the players in the positions they are in, and they did not do a good job of putting the Bears into positions to win Sunday.

A perfect example of this is the punt return for a touchdown the Ravens had against the Bears. Ronde Barber talked about this on the broadcast, and I am not sure if everyone caught it. The punter, Pat O’Donnell, did not kick the ball out of bounds against a punt block formation. Instead, he kicked it to the return specialist who took it up one sideline and had smooth sailing all the way to the end zone. With their gunners in closer, there was no one out on the edges to get the punt returner.

The Ravens planned that perfectly and the Bears fell for it.

I can go into further detail why this didn’t work out well for the Bears if you want me to. Just send me a message.

Penalties can also be a reflection of the coaching staff’s influence on players and I have brought this up before. The penalty issues that the Bears have been struggling with stem directly from how this team is coached.

Perhaps it’s time for a new coaching staff?

Adrian Amos

Adrian Amos has been with the Bears for three years and has played in 37 games and he has started a majority of those games. Amos lost his starting job this year but got it back when Quintin Demps was sent to injured reserve with a broken forearm. Up until Sunday, Amos didn’t have a single interception in the three seasons with Bears.

He was often criticized for his lack of turnovers and not being opportunistic. And sure, it’s just one game but Amos has a lot of promise. If he can continue to produce turnovers as well as keep providing big hits (have you ever seen how good of a hitter he is?) he could easily keep his starting job. He may even get a second contract with the Bears. Yes, it’s too early to predict what will happen with him after just one very good game but he should stick with the Bears for a while.

He might even get a second contract.

Turnovers

The Bears had success getting turnovers Sunday but also turned the ball over themselves and they have done it often. The Bears have a -8 turnover ratio right now and that’s serious. The turnovers that their offense have had have led directly to all of their losses of course. Just think of the Minnesota game where they probably could have won had they not turned the ball over twice especially at the end with that interception.

Chicago needs to tighten things up with the turnovers. They need to hold onto the ball and not make poor decisions. They need to teach quarterback Mitchell Trubisky how to protect the ball better when he goes back to pass. The Bears also need to ratchet up their pass protection more to help provide Trubisky with some comfort and the knowledge that when he drops back to pass, he isn’t going to get strip sacked.

Maybe he needs to hold onto the ball better?

If the Bears can get their turnovers under control, they can and will win more games. These mistakes are killing the Bears and we would be talking about a lot better team if they didn’t have them.

Eddie Goldman

Did anyone else notice that Eddie Goldman had a big game? After spending some time injured off and on during his first two seasons in the NFL, Eddie Goldman had a small resurgence against the Ravens on Sunday. Goldman registered six total tackles in the game against Baltimore giving him 16 for the year. Six solo tackles for a nose tackle is great.

He played like a man possessed and made a lot of important plays.

We will hope that Goldman can continue his stellar play and play like this throughout the remaining games this season. But, the most important thing is that he remains healthy. Goldman has had a hard time doing that since coming to Bears. At least for now, it looks like he’s well on his way to having a solid season. If he can play like he did on Sunday in every game, he could be a guaranteed Pro Bowl.

Let’s hope he can do that.

Kyle Fuller

What more can you say about Kyle Fuller? He had a game that was worthy of some “player of the week honor” if they had an honor for the kind of performance he put up. He was often targeted by quarterback Joe Flacco and beat back the attempts to pick on him. Fuller ended up with five tackles and one assist but more importantly, he had three passes defended.

He wasn’t letting anyone catch anything near him on Sunday.

With Fuller’s contract up this March, he might have just earned himself a second contract with the Bears. Perhaps a one-year prove it deal that might get him into something bigger in 2019. If for some reason, the Bears let him walk, he should be able to find a home with another team.

But after his performance so far this season, let’s hope the Bears don’t let him walk.

Injuries

The following players are listed on the injury report for the Bears heading into this week:

Hroniss Grasu-Grasu was inactive on Sunday with a hand injury. The biggest question with him is, is he a better center than Cody Whitehair? The Bears may need him to play there as soon as he can.

Nick Kwiatkoski-The inside linebacker was inactive for the game Sunday due to a pectoral issue. Hopefully, he will be able to make it back this week.

Markus Wheaton-Wheaton is going to be out a while longer with a groin tear. It wouldn’t be shocking if he ended up on injured reserve.

John Timu, Mark Sanchez, John Jenkins and Taquan Mizzell were inactive on Sunday.

Also on the injury report is running back Benny Cunningham with a hamstring injury. He was limited in practice. Tanner Gentry was limited with a hip injury and Sherrick McMannis did not practice due to a hamstring injury.

Tarik Cohen

Finally, I wanted to end this post with one of the most positive things or players rather, for the Bears this season. What more can you say about Tarik Cohen? Cohen has been a bright spot for the Bears all season long despite some problems returning punts. He did have the one fumble Sunday, which hurt but his touchdown pass was a work of art and an indication of things to come.

There were a lot of skeptics when the Bears drafted the tiny running back in the 2017 NFL Draft, including this writer. Cohen’s YouTube videos soon followed showing his athleticism but in the NFL you don’t need to catch two footballs doing a backflip. You need to catch one ball with a defender bearing down on you. And Cohen proved that he can do that. He’s been impressive and should help this team win games for seasons to come.

Follow me on Twitter @bdietzler.

An Abbreviated Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens Game Preview

By Bryan Dietzler 

The 1-4 Chicago Bears will travel to the East Coast to take on the 3-2 Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at noon. As we will find out, the Ravens are one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL but are above .500 which is difficult to do in the NFL this season.

The following is an abbreviated look at the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens from a statistical perspective. How do they match up? Who has the edge and ultimately, who will win?

Let’s find out.

The Mitchell Trubisky era has begun, and it began with some promise on Monday night. Had it not been for a fumble and an interception, the Bears may have won that game. But chock the loss up to the fact that the Bears are now comfortably in rebuilding mode and are trying to look further ahead. But they need to keep in mind that to build, they need to play the games that are immediately in front of them.

This game against Baltimore is another stepping stone for Trubisky.

I won’t throw out any of the Bears’ passing numbers here because Trubisky hasn’t had enough time to develop any kind contribution to the passing game yet. I can tell you that last week he threw for 128 yards on 12 of 25 throws for a completion percentage of 48. He had one touchdown, one interception and was sacked once. He rushed three times for 22 yards and had one fumble.

Trubisky and his passing game crew will face a Ravens defense that is ranked 9th in the NFL allowing just 205.2 passing yards per game. This does not bode well for the Bears, but then again, right now, they aren’t entirely capable of putting that many yards as it is so this could be about right. But anything is possible.

The Bears pass receivers were rocked by another injury that will keep one of their own out for a while. Markus Wheaton has a groin injury and right now will miss about six to eight weeks. He never really “got off the ground” anyway and wasn’t that much of a factor. The Bears have Tanner Gentry coming up and he will play Sunday. Deonte Thompson is no longer with Chicago as Gentry has taken his place.

I often talk about the tight ends as being a factor in the passing game. Dowell Loggains needs to call some plays to get them involved more in the offense. Dion Sims and Zach Miller can be weapons but they just have to be utilized, need to be in the right place at the right time and they must catch the ball. That’s been a struggle not only for the tight ends but also for the receivers. They must get their hands on more passes and help move the ball down the field. If Trubisky needs to find a reliable receiver, and he does, he will find it in his tight end group.

It cannot be mentioned enough just how important the running backs are to the Bears. The Bears won their game against the Steelers in Week Four thanks to a powerful running game and it will be important that they try to get that going against a Ravens’ defense that is allowing 123.4 yards on the ground per game. That makes them the 23rd ranked rush defense in the NFL. Chicago rushing offense is putting up 117 yards which is ranked 12th. If they can get Jordan Howard and company going in this one, they could make it a close contest.

I wanted to reiterate that the Bears had found some success throwing to the running backs prior to Trubisky taking over as the starter. In their game against the Vikings, the Bears had just one catch by a running back (Tarik Cohen for -6 yards). They must get the ball out to their running backs early and often Sunday.

Finally, I wanted to touch on sacks. Sacks play a huge role in any game and it’s vital that the Bears’ offensive line keep Trubisky as clean and upright as possible. The Ravens come into this game having registered 12 sacks this season while the Bears have allowed nine. Granted, that’s not terrible but two of those sacks were sack-strip-fumbles. Consider those points left on the field and points going to opponents.

Those must stop.

The Bears’ defense hasn’t been that bad at all. They looked good against Minnesota and had it not been for mistakes made by the offense; they might have held the Vikings back enough to win. But with the offense putting them in tough positions the defense hasn’t done as well as it could do.

When you look at points allowed, the Bear’s defense is allowing 24.8 points per game which is 25th. The Ravens are scoring an average of 18 points per game so the Bears can hold them. The question is, can their offense not commit the turnovers that they have before to keep their defense from having to defend the short field to try not to allow a score.

The Ravens rely on quarterback Joe Flacco to move the ball down the field through the air. Since signing a contract extension back in 2016, Flacco has stumbled with performance and injury issues. His passer rating, this year, is 71.0 and this is the lowest in his career (the season is not over yet of course). This number is being dragged down by a rare 12 percent completion percentage against the Jaguars, so his percentage is a little deceiving.

Chicago is allowing teams to pass for an average of 204.8 yards per game which is 8th in the NFL. The Ravens are 31st in the NFL with just 158.4 yards passing per game. The Bears have an opportunity here. If they can keep the Ravens from throwing the ball all over them, they could keep this game close and the may even win.

The Ravens leading wide receiver in catches is Javiours Allen with 20 but the leader in yards Mike Wallace with 209. Wallace can stretch the field turning short gains into long ones so the Bears secondary needs to keep him contained. Hopefully, they are completely healthy and ready to keep this passing attack in check. They need to be ready because the Bears have a great chance to win this game and they cannot let the normally sluggish Ravens passing explode and carry the day.

The Ravens’ rushing attack is gaining an average of 130.4 yards per game, good for sixth in the NFL. The Bears will have to watch out for Allen and Alex Collins who lead the team in rushes and yards respectively. Chicago’s defense holds opponents to 100.2 yards per game so something might give here.

Hopefully, it’s not the Bears’ defense.

Chicago needs to clamp down on the Ravens’ rushing attack and not let them control the ball and the clock. The Bears also need to possess the ball the way the Ravens’ will try to do to win this game.

The Bears increased their sack total by four last week and now have 13 sacks. The Ravens have only allowed nine through five games but the Bears have had success getting to the quarterback. The Vikings offensive line was supposed to be stout but the Bears still got four sacks. They can get to Flacco on Sunday.

They must get to him to make this a winnable game.

In looking at the Bears’ injuries, they have Marcus Cooper returning to full practice after suffering from back problems. That will help the secondary out. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is questionable with a chest injury but the Bears need him to play because John Timu is out with an ankle/knee injury.

Guard Kyle long is ready to go after resting his ankle and fellow offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu is questionable with a hand injury.

Wheaton will be out with a groin tear.

Hopefully, Kwiatkoski will be able to play. Having him out has been a burden on the defense so it would be great if he were back.

The Ravens have a long list of injuries for this game. So far, they have ruled starting right guard Matt Skura and running back Terrance West out. The Bears should be able to take advantage of Skura being out and get to Flacco through the right guard position. But will they?

Baltimore is listing two players as doubtful. Starting defensive tackle Brandon Williams may not play because of a foot injury while third-string outside linebacker Tim Williams should miss the game because of a thigh issue. Not having Brandon Williams in the lineup should help the Bears in the run and passing games should he not be able to play.

Superstar outside linebacker and pass rush specialist Terrell Suggs didn’t practice on Friday but that was due to a non-injury related issue. He will be ready for this game.

The Ravens then have seven players listed as questionable. Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman are on the report. Maclin has a shoulder issue and Perriman has a knee problem.  Starting right cornerback Jimmy Smith has been hampered with an Achilles issue while his backup, Jaylen Hill, has had thigh problems. Defensive tackle Carl Davis, a starter has a thigh issue and did not practice most of the week while backup edge rusher Anthony Levine Sr. was limited with a thigh injury.

Finally, Maxx Williams, a special teamer, is questionable with an ankle injury.

I have said this before and I will say it again, this will be a close game. If the Bears can limit their mistakes on offense and not hand the ball over to the Ravens then they have a great chance of winning. Their defense will have to play very well to keep them in the game, not let it get out of control and they can do that if the offense doesn’t make mistakes.

We all know the Bears problems on the road. That will factor into this game. However, if Chicago can play inspired football, they have a shot at beating the Ravens. I am even going to go out on a limb and say that they will win this game.

As Bears fans, we hope they do.

Score Prediction: Chicago 21 Baltimore 20

Please follow me on Twitter @bdietzler

The Chicago Bears Week Six News and Notes

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears hosted their division rival, the Minnesota Vikings, this past Monday night in their only Monday night game of the 2017 season. No one gave the Bears much of a chance to win this game, but Chicago played the Vikings tough, albeit sloppy and almost won.

It came down to the final few minutes, but the Bears fell just short of winning the game thanks to a field goal in the final seconds by Minnesota

Chicago ended up with a 20-17 loss but have a lot to look forward to.

The Trubisky Factor

It was rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s first regular season game, and despite a couple of critical errors and drops by his receivers, he had an encouraging game. Sure, he looked terrified to start (you could see it on his face), but as the game went on, he started to settle in and get more comfortable in the offense. Trubisky had a fast start and then cooled off before helping to engineer the offense’s only touchdown drive of the game.

But in the end, his only interception of the game caused the Bears to lose their bid for a comeback and their chance at stealing a win fell short.

But don’t let that upset you Bears fans, better times are ahead.

You can tell that with Trubisky at the helm, the Bears are headed in the right direction. Despite the fact he had two turnovers, his upside appears to be much better than Mike Glennon’s and he represents the best hope for the Bears to turn things around and build a winning franchise. T

The future in Chicago is bright thanks to Trubisky.

If he can get some help from his wide receivers and tight ends, he will have better days and will win some games perhaps even this year. But the team has a lot to do to rally around him and help get to where he needs to be. Some of the things that they need to do, like get help at the wide receiver position, can’t be done until next year.

The Drops

I had alluded to the fact that Trubisky may have had a better game had he not had so many drops by his receivers. The drops have to be concerning and we cannot seem to find a reason for why this is happening. Is it bad mechanics? Is it the fact that the receivers are not used to the quarterback and therefore haven’t adjusted to the passes that he is throwing?

Are the receivers on the Bears just that bad?

Who knows why but one thing is for sure Trubisky is not going to develop quickly or “well” if his receivers keep dropping passes. But how do you fix something that’s been going on for two years (with the dropped passes)? That’s not that easy because it means getting rid of most of these guys and bringing in new receivers.

If that’s what it takes to win then, the Bears need to do that, desperately.

Penalties

You must admit that the penalties the other night against the Bears were concerning. If you watched the broadcast, you might have heard that the officiating crew that called the game, headed by Jerome Boger calls the most penalties in the league. It sure seemed like it didn’t it? Well, it’s not just the fact that the officials may have been calling this game a little tight. Chicago has struggled with penalties during the season as well so this was no coincidence.

The Bears have had 38 total penalties through five games including eight on Monday night. They had a season-high of ten against Pittsburgh and a low of four against Atlanta. They have an issue with discipline as well as playing clean football and it showed on the national stage Monday night.

The issue with penalties stems directly from how the players are coached. Good coaching brings discipline and discipline means fewer penalties.

Perhaps the Bears need better coaching?

Sack Attack

After having nine sacks through the first four games, the Bears got four on Monday night in impressive fashion. They even recorded a safety to go along with several tackles for a loss. They got two sacks from Leonard Floyd and another two from Akiem Hicks. Granted, they got their sacks against a less than mobile Sam Bradford but they showed that their pass rush is getting better and is moving in the right direction.

Hopefully, Floyd and Hicks can be counted on to rush the passer consistently and help keep the Bears defense from getting beat through the air.

They had their coming out party now they just need to do what they did as much as possible.

Eddie Jackson

Speaking of coming out parties, rookie safety Eddie Jackson had himself a nice game on Monday. Not only did he record four tackles but he also had a critical pass defended. The Bears even threw him in on special teams to return punts. Jackson has slowly been finding his comfort zone and may have finally found his comfort zone Monday night. The Bears need him to find it because they are hurting at safety and need all the help they can get.

Jackson just might be the best draft choice that Pace had out of this year’s draft. So far….

Other Items….

Linebacker John Timu was hurt against Minnesota. He is currently listed as out with injuries to his left leg and ankle. The good news is linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski returned to practice so he may be coming back soon. That will be huge.

Marcus Cooper continues to be out with back spasms and Hroniss Grasu is still nursing a hand injury.

The Bears released kick return specialist Deonte Thompson and brought wide receiver Tanner Gentry up from the practice squad. The move to let Thompson go should have come six weeks ago.

Next Sunday, the Bears will travel to Baltimore to talk on the Ravens. We will have a full preview of that game, on Bearsgab, later in the week.

Please follow me on Twitter @bdietzler.

 

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