- D- LINE PROFILE. The starters have been on cruise control for most of the pre-season since Denver, and other than Hicks many players rotated in and out from 1st team all the way to the 3s.
- L/DE Hicks of course is the one guy on this team that has no equal. Playing Defensive End from the left side is his spot alone. 5th RD pick Bilal Nichols out of Delaware has shown ability to hold the line at contact and provide some good penetration throughout pre-season.
- NT Eddie Goldman is next on the list with that starter role for the most part going unchallenged. John Jenkins seems to be the guy who fills up most depth charts projections and is a steady performer.
- R/DE This position has been interesting one to follow. Johnathan Bullard entered training camp as the presumed favorite, and the former 3rd Rd pick out Florida in 2016 seemed to provide moments that validated him starting. Enter Roy Robertson Harris also coming into his 3rd yr as a UDFA out of Texas El Paso, and while not playing his rookie year, seems to have closed the gap between him and Bullard if not taking the Starting role after a very active pre-season. Roy possibly shows more of a knack in getting to the QB than Bullard; either way it’s a solid rotation.
- DE Cavon Walker, NT/DE Anderson Abdullah and DE Nicholas Willams all played in spots and in rotations that allowed for overall good defensive plays. This is now up to the coaching staff on Saturday. For me, Cavon Walker showed he had a motor and gave a few flashes as a UDFA out of Maryland . Anderson Abdullah UDFA out of Bucknell is just a big son of a gun standing 6’4″ and weighing 300 lbs +; he will be a nice practice squad guy for the Bears to develop. He had 56 total tackles, 14.4 Tfl’s and 9.5 sacks his junior yr in the Patriot League showing his upside potential. Nicholas Willams has had a few opportunities in the league since being drafted in 2013. This guy, along with Abdullah, really is a very large man standing almost 6’5″ and well over 300lbs; he can possibly provide some depth? Overall pre-season gave us a view that the D-LINE has enough ability to continue Fangio’s defense moving forward. Personally I look for a move or two after final cuts are made heading into the season. Maybe a Shaq Lawson type from Buffalo; someone with upside low risk, high reward type that just did not fit elsewhere?
Special Teams 2018
Chris Tabor is the X-FACTOR. Not much more to say at this point. Chris was hired out of Cleveland as Special Teams coordinator, a former Dave Toub disciple after having a proven track record in the NFL.
I look for Pat O’Donnell to retain his position as the Punter for the Bears after a training camp battle with Ryan Winslow. Pat was asked to change his kicking style, and how he adjusts to the changes given Winslow added pressure will be determined Saturday after cuts.
Cody Parkey, the big signing out of Miami in free agency, has fared ok in Pre-Season and some reports have stated the mixture of holders has caused some inaccuracy issues. Overall, 47 yards and in seems to be his sweet spot. Starting Kicker for the Bears has been problematic since Gould’s departure. All fingers are crossed on this one given his pedigree and prior performances on the NFL level.
Those two have yet to be flushed out. My thoughts are the Bears either are still deciding or have been hiding Tarik on punt return and possibly kicks as well? I think too many punts are fair caught deep into territory and kicks returned too deep in the end zone is a Pre-Season blunder made by guys trying to make a squad or flash for coaching.
Kick off coverage and punt coverage have at times seemed like more of what we have seen before. Allowing big plays has unfortunately been an issue and this will dramatically improve once rosters are set. Special Teams coverage has the most inexperienced parts throughout Pre-Season, and I have no doubt Tabor will have some true dogs playing for him this year given the teams’ improved depth.
Bears Growler Awards go to ……?
Offense: Javon Wims for most likely to be a 50/50 ball one trick pony as per most pro-scouts pre draft
- No quick twitch or breakaway speed? Against Kansas City he took a former Tatum award winner and 2nd rd draft pick with 4.3-4.4 speed to school and he separated by almost 10 yards after the catch. Javon had catches mixed in almost all 4 games that make you glad NFL scouts get caught up in their buzz words and myopic analysis and allowed the Bears to draft him in the 7th rd. 7TH RD WHAT? I implore you to go back and read all of Javon’s pre draft breakdown by experts and even his combine film; you will scratch your head and laugh!
- Honorable mention Chase Daniels who after the HOF game proved nothing but solid with total control of the offense. Sure he has been around for 10 years with almost no starts to his credit, but against Kansas City playing almost the entire game he showed almost a doppelgänger effect for Trubisky to learn from. Chase ran, threw and commanded the line of scrimmage with the kind of play #10 can emulate playing Green Bay week one.
Defense: Vic Fangio once again showing the league scheme matters and players can make it special.
- Vic provides a bend-don’t-break concept and enough play calling trickery that keeps offenses honest. NO one player was beaten because of scheme at any time, and for any big plays made it was surely more because the guy was out of position.
- Honorable Mention Nick Kwiatkowski and John Timu: Not for some unworldly play, but for more of the fact that #58, Danny and Iggy put them in a hole, not being available to play for most, and in #58’s case all of the Pre-Season. The two Linebackers showed us all that at least their effort and toughness were never a question.
Who’s Team Is It Award? Matt Nagy: Nagy for taking the harder road in not playing his starting team at home against the Chiefs for that “Very Important tune up game”. Then having his second string offense go out a Tune Up Kansas City’s first string D!
Was There Enough Flags Award? :YES!!! and no. While we saw too many helmet or lack of helmet involved calls, one thing jumped out at me: all the eyes looking for contact missed at least 10 or more pure WWE throw downs performed against the Bears pass rushers! Kasim, that poor guy who got injured tonight against Buffalo, was the victim more than 4 times all by himself with no call? Kasim, as reported, was caught with a leg whip and he seems to be ok moving forward!
Most Worrisome Twitter Feed? :Tarik Cohen. Tarik’s late night, every night obsession about FORTNITE really has me worried if that guy is getting any sleep?! In Denver I could swear he was in a FORTNITE fog. I’m joking of course, but I can’t help but wonder with no lights-out rules in training camp if that guy can manage to shut it down?
This roster will have some interesting cuts being made come Saturday, and I for one am hoping these guys make the active roster:
- Ryan Nall: His upside has yet to be reached and I think stashing him on the practice squad will not work. Green Bay or Detroit in our division will snatch him up. Ryan was given a shot to play fullback against Buffalo and I think his special teams play was overall very solid. Ryan’s big play potential is a special trait and his versatility can provide depth on this roster.
- Kasim Edebali, Irving and Fitts: All three players deserve a shot and given lack of depth I’m sure they will make it. Fitts is the guy that needs to work on his technique the most, given he has a tendency to stand too tall and let blockers hold or push him wide. He also needs to work on shedding those blocks either with level change or hand fighting.
- Bilal Nichols: Bilal is another guy that his best football is still to come and I would love to see more. Playing behind Hicks will serve him well and Akiem needs to be spelled more this year then he was last season.
- Rasheed Coward: Man, what a transition from D-line to O-tackle he made, and if he continues to work on knee bend he is the apparent right tackle going in to next year. He is a monster; and given his size he brings the old school mean-streak ala Kyle Long, or like the one Larry Allen of the Cowboys played with.
Ok we now have all the OTA’s over, training camp is a wrap and Pre-Season is in the books. The 2018 Bears are a team with an upside on the offensive side of the ball and the defense should be in position to make improvements given the players returning. Not fully ever seeing all the bells and whistles at any one time during the Pre-Season can only give me goose bumps for things to come.
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