The happenings before kickoff are starting to get more coverage in the wake of the President’s remarks regarding pre-game protests of racial injustice and police brutality. In that vein, teams will likely try and get ahead of the curve with an attempt at a proactive message.
First up, the Green Bay Packers, who recently released a statement asking fans to link arms in a display of unity during the national anthem prior to their Thursday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears. You can read the statement in its entirety here.
After watching things unfold Sunday, I’m curious to see how this will look through the lens of a nationally televised production in prime time.
But first, we get back to football:
- The Bears implemented an old-school kind of approach in Sunday’s win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, running the ball early, often, and effectively. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen carried the load running one stretch play after another en route to racking up 216 yards on 35 carries. Cohen sees his tag-team approach with Howard as the latest “thunder and lightning” squad, telling ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson: “I think of us as ‘Thunder and Lightning’ because he’s in there punishing linebackers and punishing defensive backs and then I can come in and break a big play — he feeds off of me and I feed off of him.”
- “Thunder and Lightning” might be the oldest nickname in the NFL book as it traditionally describes the tandem punch of a power back (thunder) and a speed back (lightning) but both Cohen and Howard have shown bursts of speeds and both have bowled through tough hits. Cohen believes he and Howard can be the best running back duo in the league. And if that turns out to be the case, this team will be worthy of a new nickname.
- You can’t play old-fashioned football without a healthy offensive line, and the Bears are getting the after Kyle Long’s return in the team’s Week 3 win. Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com writes about Long gearing up for a return trip to Lambeau Field, a place Long seems to relish playing in. “You walk out of that tunnel, you can just feel the history,” Long said. “I compare it to visiting teams coming to Soldier Field for the first time, getting an opportunity to see the rich history and tradition the NFL has to offer. … It’s always a pleasure to play up there. You can feel the rivalry when you’re up there and it’s always fun.”
- It would be fun to see the Bears come away with a victory and break the all-time tie the teams have on the record books. Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly notes the teams are tied 94-94-6, with the Bears outscoring the Packers by 14 hundredths of a point per game. It can’t get any closer … can it?
- The best compliment for an old-school running attack is a strong defense. We’ll see if the Bears can keep up their defensive prowess after losing its third defensive starter in as many weeks. Over at the Chicago Sun-Times, Patrick Finley writes about Adrian Amos returning to the starting lineup to replace the injured Quintin Demps. Amos didn’t do enough to keep rookie Eddie Jackson from snatching a starting role, so he needs to take a step forward in his development in order to give Vic Fangio’s defense a chance at hanging with what can be a high-octane Packers offense.
- Sticking with the secondary, Kyle Fuller – as expected – saw a dip in playing time with the return of Prince Amukamara to the cornerbacks rotation. Fuller entered the game having played more than 96 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps, but saw that number trimmed to 79.7 percent. Adam Jahns writes about Fuller’s re-emergence and how it could make the Bears’ defense tougher to deal with. Credit Fangio and head coach John Fox for successfully mixing-and-matching in the secondary. Until Amukamara is fully healthy, this is something the Bears’ defensive coaches should continue doing.
- For what it’s worth, Amukamara played just 37 snaps in his first game back from an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for the first two weeks of the season. That amounts to 57.8 percent of the team’s defensive plays. Still, Amukamara made the most of his playing time and earned an impressive 87.6 grade from Pro Football Focus for his efforts against the Steelers.
- In fact, two of the best five grades given to Bears players by Pro Football Focus in the Week 3 win were given to players returning from injury as Kyle Long was given an 82.3 grade for his work in leading the running game to paydirt.
- Now, if only Mike Glennon could take a step up in his development. He could start by forcing the action downfield, as no one throws a lower percentage of deep balls than Mike Glennon:
Updated chart showing relevant QBs and the percentage of their throws that have travelled 15 or more yards through the air this year. pic.twitter.com/VMAz1cs1Kp
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 26, 2017
- As a reminder that other teams struggle with injuries too, Rob Demovsky of ESPN reports the Packers have put another offensive tackle on injured reserve this season. Kyle Murphy, who started the season-opener at right tackle and moved to left tackle the last two weeks, has been placed on IR because of a foot injury. Murphy joins fellow tackles Jason Spriggs and Don Barclay on IR.
- Green Bay’s injury woes don’t stop there, as Bryan Bulaga’s status is still up in the air. Bulaga made his first start of the year in the team’s Week 3 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, but was limited in practice. He could play on a line that is dangerously thing at offensive tackle.
- And if the Packers and Bears were to put a waiver claim on the same player, it would be the Bears coming out on top. Zach Links of Pro Football Rumors notes a change in the waiver priority rules, which are now based on the team’s 2017 record. The Browns had dibs for the first three weeks of the season while sitting atop the waiver wire because of their 1-15 record, while the Bears sat in third. As of now, the Bears have the 12th waiver position.
- Someone likes the extra wiggle room that comes with 280 characters on Twitter. Or as I’d like to think of it, one character for every yard Jordan Howard will gain on the ground in Thursday’s game:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 27, 2017