“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you stay there”, famously stated by Will Rogers. This was going to be the year the team decided to take the road less travelled. Somehow I was lead to believe the Bears had turned the corner and were on the right track. I have heard all the right things, serendipity had set in and began to take solace in all I had read. Can we expect Ryan Pace’s acknowledgement and his self-described action to finally expose, and in turn expel the boogey man? The front office had diagnosed, defined and declared a plan of action. Pace followed through with personnel changes, ultimately to counter the seemly avoidable roster killer that year-end year-out has plagued this team. With all new Head Athletic Trainer Andre Tucker, and Strength and Conditioning Coach Jason Loscalzo, they plan to implement modified training techniques described as benefitting each individual players’ requirements. Now with training camp in its infancy stage, results have been mixed or less than desirable, or maybe aberrations beyond control.
It always seems to start at the same time every year: Humid, downright muggy; you know guys are flying around, coaches are barking out plays, fans are cheering and then BAM ! A player pulls up! All of the sudden you can feel the tension in the air so thick you can cut it with a knife! No dialogue, not a single word spoken. Simply the body language, and everything you need to know is detailed on the players face. It’s a Hammy, A possible tweak, pull, or worse, a tear. This year I told myself, it’s 2018; this was all gonna change?
So is there hope or even anything that can be done? The good news is yes. Ok let’s start with what we know about, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. Discovery: The Mayo Clinic research team uses an advanced ultrasound technique, called Shear Wave Elastorography (SWE) to measure muscle stiffness and determine if the stiffness is predictive of future injuries. Isokinetic dynamometer is used to assess the H/Q ratio. Asymmetries/dysbalances in functional H/Q has been shown significantly to impact injury incidence. No balance or symmetry in everyday terms. Similarities : Typically one dominant factor is muscular imbalance between quads and hamstrings; overdeveloped quads as they compare to hamstrings; eccentric / concentric movements as well as degree/ angle and speed performed all have different ratio requirements for the movement. The target quad to hamstring strength ratio value should be 65% to 80% overall .
Preventative: Off season programs that target a player’s weaknesses and imbalances. These factors include hamstring muscle strength, muscle coordination, pelvic alignment while sprinting. And runners technique are evaluated. The director of P3 Applied Sports Science and former physiologist for the Patriots took a team with 22 hamstring injuries in one year to 3 the next, and 1 the following year. He said” This idea of preemptive thinking is not as common as one would think.” Marcus Elliott also concluded that “The shortened schedule, that players train with teams is a large factor, and less intense practices actually raise the risk for injury.” Overall some players will be more predisposed to re-occurring injuries, if they don’t address their movement imbalance. This program should be implemented at the end of the season and followed to the letter by the player in the off-season. And perhaps everyone should start with DDP YOGA to give their hip flexors and hamstrings more elasticity? As for the guys going through the injury right now, I’m sure a regimen of compression and Tub Of Ice is now all to common.
Now I will transition to the players who are and have been on the practice field for what has been an interesting 7 days of practices. Quickly I must audible out of daily player performances review or try to disguise the notion that somehow this can be done effectively. Each day of practices reveal variants the following day no longer corroborates, or perhaps modifies what you think you’ve seen? One thing that after Saturday’s practice became apparent like the nose on my face is Nagy’s offensive interest is solely based on installation package complexity, not driven by results based, on how he views success or defines his players growth and potential. Can Mitchell handle the verbiage, is the offense lined up properly, do receivers understand their requirements in the route or how many check downs can Mitchell digest and relay at the line of scrimmage? One day we are seeing deep passes mixed with crossing patterns, the next day its tight ends in the corner and running back screens or outlets to the fullback.
The ebb and flow daily has led to a variety of players revealing positive traits, and sometimes things that can be corrected as with any other team 8 days in. One guy on the offensive side that has continually made an impact is Anthony Miller. I’m happy to report he has really shown me and anybody half alert, that his pre-draft letter written to NFL GM’s was nothing short of the truth and the way he defines it! On defense, two guys who in their own way have punctuated and provided consistent field awareness tracking receivers daily are Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller. They have shown ball-hawkish instincts that hopefully translate to the regular season. Overall the defense gets the nod day-in and day-out; this too is to be expected, given their carryover from last season and that the offense has only been working on installing Nagy’s vision since OTAs.
Today the Bears will have a Military Appreciation Day to honor military service. The Chicago Bears have a connection with the military unlike any other team in the NFL. Simply put this connection can be traced all the way back to their founder George (PAPA BEAR) Halas. George Halas was a veteran of WWI and WW2, serving in the Navy and receiving the Bronze Star. In fact a total of six Hall Of Famers from the Bears have served in the military: Joe Stydahar (Offensive Tackle, WW2), Paddy Driscoll (Kicker/Quaterback, WW1), Danny Fortman (Offensive Lineman, WW2), Sid Luckman (Quaterback, WW2), and George McAfee (Halfback/Defensive Back, WW2) who notably at the peak of his career served from 1942 to 1945. Young Bussey played only one year for the Bears on the 1941 Championship team, leaving for the Navy in 1942 and tragically lost his life in 1945 serving in the Philipines. Ken Kavanaugh, leader in the franchise’s all-time record for touchdown receptions with 50, bravely flew 30 dangerous bombardment missions over Europe, as a pilot in the Air Force with the rank of Captain from 1942 to 1945. In total, 45 Bears served in WW2 with one notable long time Bears executive and late husband of Virginia: Ed McCaskey who served in the Army and was awarded the Bronze Star.
Another connection with the military was extended in 1971 when the Bears moved to Soldier Field. Originally named to honor WWI vets, it has since been dedicated to honor all foreign wars veterans. This team’s ability to continue to honor our MILITARY not only garners my respect but gives credence to the idea they just don’t simply adhere only to dates indicated on the calendar! Organizationally they partner year round with groups committed to maximizing ways, that benefit and improve current veterans’ lives and their families moving forward. These impactful programs include Hello To Our Heroes, Bears/Boeing Military Salute, USO Illinois, Wounded Warrior Project, Honor Flight Chicago, Pat Tillman Foundation, Teen/Tween Tuesdays and The Road Home. All information can be found on the Chicago Bears website under Military.
The Bears have decisions to make and yes, questions to answer moving forward in a bounty of ways. Will they truly tackle the dysfunctional physiological connection between muscle groups for performance and injury prevention? This team as they transition into pre-season, will have some roster positions highly contested and others more secure. That being said Coach Nagy has stated his looking at every roster spot for best player available, which has potential for more than usual positional intrigue? Honoring the Military today is really a nice way to start the 2018 season off properly! Thursday begins what seems like early Christmas for Bears fans. Football, yes I said football, brought to us courtesy of the Hall Fame Game! And why the HOF game this year? Our guy Brian Urlacher is to be inducted into Canton on Saturday! I am very proud of this honor for Brian not only as a Bears fan, but add the fact that I had the pleasure of watching him as a Lobo for the University Of New Mexico. Stay tuned as I will have an article Wednesday celebrating his dominant career in football.