Football

Sons Of Wilber Marshall – First Week Of Camp Roundtable

We’ve gathered the kids again to discuss the first full week of Bears training camp. Sadly, adult life called Brian Schmitz away this time, but Wes French (@WFrenchman) and Tony Martin (@MrMartinBruh were happy to pick up the slack. 

After the first full week of camp, is there anything coming out of there that has you excited or worried? Or is it the usual training camp argle bargle?

Wes: My feelings from earlier in the week haven’t really changed – it’s been sort of boring so far, but that’s okay. The injuries to Ha Ha and Shaheen proved to be short lived as both are back as of Thursday morning. Mack and Eddie Jackson look like monsters, tossing around the poor random conditioning coaches that have to hold foam pads in front of them. It’s been fine.

I’m interested to start seeing some position battles emerge, especially in the backfield on the offensive side. Every position returns the starter, while that includes Cohen here, but there are more quality options around him and no one is sure how they all fit. David Montgomery has garnered high praise since his selection, but as a rookie with plenty of veteran competition I’d guess the usage will start low and slowly build. Mike Davis was Pace/Nagy’s pick among a pretty strong secondary Running Back market in free agency, so there is clearly a plan for him. Early reports I’ve seen have him as highly rated in the passing game, especially as a blocker. Struggling on passing downs is what got Jordan Howard shipped out of town, so this isn’t really news but it’ll be interesting to see if certain guys are in to run routes, certain guys to block, or if they get to a level where everyone is trusted to do it all.  And I’m still anxious to see what the hell they have planned for Cordarrelle Patterson.
Tony: The local beat reporters are killing me with the kicker talk still, to be honest. I get the pressure element of it, but there are almost a hundred other players that can get the team in positions where they don’t need field goals to win. I’m not dismissing the importance of the position, but if the Bears break camp with a league average kicker, I’ll still sleep soundly at night if the other 52 are crushing it. 
Wes: The kicking competition is definitely dominating the early camp reports to the detriment of the rest of the team. It’s really early, but we’ve heard hardly anything about the rest of the team. Maybe no news is good news, but it’s a little concerning.

I’ll concede it’s probably too difficult to analyze if Mitch has progressed much from three padded practices, or individual standouts from the small amount of drills they’ve had. I’d still like to hear what looks new/different on a defensive unit with a brand new coordinator and how the group of newly signed/drafted DBs are doing thus far.
I feel like outside of kicking all I’ve heard is Allen Robinson is having a great camp since he’s a year plus removed from the knee surgery. Which is great! But what the hell else is going on?
Tony: You nailed it. This team will live and die with Mitch’s development, but I guess it’s realistic to assume we won’t know exactly how far he’s come until opening night, maybe even later. How will he play when Von Miller, Joey Bosa, or Aaron Donald are lining up to rush the passer? How will he hold up in a shootout? 

I’m no Jon Gruden (mainly because I’d never trade Khalil Mack), so I’m not an expert QB analyst, but what I do know is I’ve watched so many Bears teams that were skilled in all other phases fall short due to incompetent quarterback play. I’m cautiously optimistic, but still guarded.  The one thing I can say for sure, however, is that his weapons are unlike anything I can ever remember a Bears QB having. 
Wes: The world doesn’t need any more Jon Grudens. We don’t even need the one we have. He just said he likes what he’s seen of Nathan Peterman….

You bring up a good point that this has to be about as loaded a Bears team as I can ever remember in my lifetime, both sides of the ball. Kahlil Mack, Eddie Jackson and Akiem Hicks are arguably the best current players at their positions in the league. The offense boasts above average or better players across the entire line and wide receiver positions, they have a good mix of options in the back field and a very progressive offensive mind running everything.
This is the NFL and wild, random things happen all the time, but the feeling is this team has the juice to be a serious contender, but they can’t really be mentioned in that top tier of teams to dethrone the Patriots without improved accuracy and post-snap reads from Trubisky.

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