The weather today was absolutely perfect. It reminded me of the wonderfully temperate climate of places like San Diego or Albuquerque. We just aren’t used to being able to enjoy a mostly sunny, 80-degree day at the end of July. Despite the rosy forecast, the outcome of the day wasn’t quite sunshine and rainbows.
But first things first. Let me just say that camp has a much different feel than it did under John Fox. The team is always on the move, always hustling, the coaches are loud and animated, it’s just much more...footbally (is that a word?). It just looks, feels, and sounds different from last year. This coaching staff seems to be getting more efficient with what is being accomplished on the field.
No practice is perfect, and today was no exception. Seriously, both side of the ball can’t be dominating on each day, or we would have no idea what was really going on. I would say that overall, the defense got the better of the offense, but the offense still had its fair share of wins. Now let’s get on to my observations from today’s camp:
- Much has been made of Mitch Trubisky’s “poor day.” Let me say this, he was not particularly sharp today. That said, the offense as a whole was out of sorts and it makes me wonder if they had a ton thrown at them today. Another thing has been obvious to me in the 2 practices that I have been to, Trubisky is working on getting through his reads and the accompanying footwork during the live portions. Another thing I have noticed is that all of the skill position players are being rotated in with the 1’s, not just the top guys. This affects timing as well and should clear itself up as we move through the preseason.
- Chase Daniel is a fine backup quarterback, Tyler Bray...not so much.
- There wasn’t much to report about the running backs. Jordan Howard continues to look improved catching passes. His hands are naturally accepting the ball in the correct position. This sounds odd for anyone who played baseball, but clearly this wasn’t natural for him.
- Tarik Cohen caught a deep pass after blowing past Nick Kwiatkoski.
- Taquan Mizzell still hasn’t shown me any reason why he should be kept on this roster.
- Ryan Nall on the other hand, was outstanding today. He had 2 long plays and seems to have natural hands. He could be a nice weapon if they keep 4 backs.
- Allen Robinson II was active early in camp and has looked smooth. The Bears are being cautious as he did not participate in the team drills, which were much more physical than in the past.
- Taylor Gabriel and Cohen are going to drive defensive coordinators nuts with their quickness. The Oregon influence—offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich’s previous position—is rearing its head in the form of the jet sweep.
- Anthony Miller has been, hands down, the best player on the offense so far. I am not sure I know what it looks like to watch a great wide receiver practice, but if it’s better than this, then consider my mind blown. Miller just doesn’t care who’s covering him or how physical you are with him, he is going to get you.
- Kevin White has continued to look good on short routes. His short-area quickness has been on display daily. Make no mistake, he looks much better than last year, but that’s not saying much. There are still too many drops like the deep corner route that Trubsiky dropped in the bucket but White simply dropped. Or the second of Prince Amukamara’s interceptions, which was a high throw, but White just tipped it to Amukamara. He needs to get this under control or he will be nothing more than an outlet receiver and deep threat.
- The battle for special teams ace likely comes down to Joshua Bellamy and Bennie Fowler. So far, I have to tip the cap to Fowler. He simply makes more catches. Bellamy dropped at least 3 passes today. If this continues into preseason games, they are going to have to think long and hard about this decision.
- The 3 best catches of the day from the wide receivers came from the aforementioned Miller, Javon Wims, and Tanner Gentry. Wims was probably the most impressive as he split two defenders and brought the ball down in the end zone during red zone drills. I could see him being a heck of a red zone weapon for this team.
I spoke too soon, Daniel to Wims for a TD on a 50/50 ball was beautiful #Bears— Andrew Link (@BearsLink82) July 26, 2018
Anthony Miller goes up and gets it! pic.twitter.com/PhWmiHu0x6— The Loop Sports (@TheLoop_Sports) July 26, 2018
- The tight ends were very quiet today. I think this was due to play calling as they were very active last Saturday when I was at camp. One thing to note is how much different Adam Shaheen looks. He has shed that “baby fat” he was carrying around last year and seems to have greatly improved his balance. The best catch of the day for me came from Shaheen. He caught a corner route that was perfectly thrown by Trubisky. With his height and improved athleticism, he is going to be a matchup nightmare in the red zone this season.
- Some quick notes on the offensive line. First off, Hroniss Grasu was nowhere to be found, I haven’t heard anything else on that, so not sure what happened there. Bobby Massie did not look great today, although may just have been Kylie Fitts looking good. Kyle Long was back at right guard. Rookie James Daniels played center with both the 2nd and 3rd teams today while also getting some time with the 1’s at left guard. Jordan Morgan had the pancake of the day when he put Eddie Goldman on his back in goal line drills.
- The defensive line was tough to run against. The starting trio of Akiem Hicks, Goldman, and Jonathan Bullard was excellent today. Roy Robertson-Harris was rotated in with the 1’s quite a bit as well. There was some solid push but it’s hard to judge at camp since they can’t hit the quarterback.
- Leonard Floyd was limited today just as Robinson was. They were purposely holding out players who are coming back from injury. It makes sense especially given how physical it was out there today.
- Aaron Lynch is still out. Sam Acho and Isiah Irving looked fine, wouldn’t say that either were particularly impressive, nor did they look bad either.
- The standout up-front today was rookie 6th-round pick Kylie Fitts. He was constantly getting in the backfield, or at least collapsing the pocket. I am hoping that he keeps this up, it would be a HUGE boon for this defense.
- Other than Kwiatkoski getting wasted by Cohen on that long pass, there was nothing to report on the inside linebackers. With 3/5’s of the expected linebacking corps missing, they were just kind of ‘there’ for the most part.
- Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan were pretty quiet today as the ball didn’t come their way a lot. Amukamara on the other hand had himself a day!
DBs are owning the WRs right now. Prince pulled a ball from Fowler. #Bears— Andrew Link (@BearsLink82) July 26, 2018
- The undrafted rookie cornerback from Dubuque—Michael Joseph—made some plays today as well. With the camp that he and Kevin Toliver II are having, guys like Cre’Von LeBlanc and Marcus Cooper Sr. are being put on notice.
- The safeties were much like the inside linebackers. There weren’t really any plays made by them other than Adrian Amos blowing up Mizzell in run support.
- DeAndre Houston-Carson was running out as the dime back when the defense showed that look. I am not sure if this is something to monitor or just giving him an opportunity to show more than on special teams.
- There was a miscommunication between Deon Bush and Nick Orr during drills that led to an easy touchdown to Marlon Brown.
- It should be noted that both Dieondre’ Hall and Jeremy Mincy are lining up at safety and not cornerback. So for those who were worried about the number of safeties on the roster, it appears that this has been rectified internally.
- There wasn’t much to report here either except for kicker Cody Parkey “pushing” 3 kicks to the right side. It should be noticed that 2 of these came on back-to-back kicks when rookie punter Ryan Winslow was holding.
So there you have it. Camp was eventful, as it always is, but I would have liked to see a little more juice from the offense. They often looked confused and out-of-sorts. This is to be expected from a first year offense, in their first week of training camp, but it gives them something to build off of.
Until next time, happy camping and Bear down!