In a bit of a carryover from last week, the Chicago Bears continued to mix and match various parts throughout practice. The results were as one might expect, some sloppiness mixed in with a pop play or two. But, in general, the defense remained firmly ahead of the offense. That is often the case at this point of the offseason program.
There were again several notable absences among the players. But we did see some names flash on Monday that had been relatively quiet the week prior.
Bears Begin Second Week of Training Camp Just as They Ended the First
Asked to assess his starting quarterback, Justin Fields, head coach Matt Eberflus told reporters that the second-year passer is still “working through the offense” and getting things such as footwork and timing down. Fields and his receivers have connected on some plays. But they have been too few and far between.
During the opening week, third-year wideout Darnell Mooney stood out the most, perhaps due to his preexisting relationship with Fields. We also saw flashes from tight end Cole Kmet, who also has the same experience with Fields as Mooney, and rookie Velus Jones.
There were some signs that Equanimeous St. Brown would be able to flex his institutional knowledge of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s system, too.
But the second week brought with it more of the same from last week when the defense ruled. If the defense could have made contact with Fields, they would have plenty of times with the Bears’ patchwork offensive line.
I would consider today a win for the Bears defense. If they were allowed to hit him, I think that Al-Quadin Muhammad, Trevis Gipson, Dominque Robinson and Khyiris Tonga all would have had sacks or shared them on Justin Fields.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) August 1, 2022
Offensive lineman Sam Mustipher — who started at center last season but is competing at guard this season — told me that all of the swapping bodies along the offensive line is not too much of a challenge.
“It’s kind of our job.”
That doesn’t mean the results haven’t been tough to take in.
When practice began, players and coaches spoke of how in command and confident Fields was. He is surely mentally tough enough to handle a few bad throws in the still-early going of training camp.
But confidence and command fade quickly when the pocket is constantly collapsing around him every dropback.
The Bears as a whole would undoubtedly like to see some of the little things pay off.
Devil is in the Details
Veteran tight end Ryan Griffin was asked about Getsy and he said, “It’s the details that separate him.” Griffin also noted how fast the Bears practice and switch between drills. He said it is noticeable and that Eberflus is getting them conditioned for the fourth quarter. As the head coach says, “you can’t live soft and play hard.”
If Luke Getsy was pissed off about the offense the other day, I can't imagine he's happy with today's 2-minute drill. #Bears
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) August 1, 2022
It was not just the two-minute drill, either, as the Bears were having difficulty getting plays blocked up properly throughout most of the day.
Players are concerned with getting their assignments right. Coaches focus on executions. No one is all that worried about the results at this point. But this is exactly the key to the lack of concern: at this point.
The Bears are navigating several injuries up front while also having to deal with Roquan Smith’s hold-in.
While the former has contributed to the porous “blocking” (they put on pads for the first time on Tuesday), the defense has not seemed to miss a beat without Smith. Nicholas Morrow, who called the defense in OTAs, is doing so again making for less of a disruption.
Still, this team figures to be led by its defense and running game and there are some questions around both.
Dazz Newsome made a nice catch on a pass that was intended for St. Brown but got broken up by cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Byron Pringle, who followed general manager Ryan Pace from Kansas City, also got wide open for a dart from Fields during team drills. This has been a theme for the offense.
They have sprinkled in enough plays that it isn’t hard to envision what they want to be: run-heavy with play-action passing. But the ebbs and flows of the early portion of Bears camp have not been the most encouraging to the naked eye.
Still, Eberflus and the rest of the coaches and players insist that the offense is coming along.
That will be more believable when the defense is spending less time around the quarterback and the offense is moving the chains consistently.
Embed from Getty Images