The Chicago Bears lost an all-time great on Thursday with the passing of linebacker Joe Fortunato:
George H. McCaskey on the passing of former Bear Joe Fortunato. pic.twitter.com/wTQ383gfz8
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 10, 2017
Fortunato was on the Bears’ 1963 NFL Championship team and was one of the many great linebackers in team history. He played alongside Dick Butkus and Bill George, while also serving as a veteran mentor for a young Doug Buffone when their careers crossed paths.
Fortunato earned five Pro-Bowl nominations and was a three-time All-Pro who played 155 games for Chicago from 1955 to 1966. After retirement, he was a linebackers coach in 1967 and the team’s defensive coordinator in 1968. Fortunato, who passed at age 87 on Thursday, is a member of National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
- Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the Bears’ depth at tight end could be tested if Sims can’t make it to the field on Sunday. With Zach Miller out of action, Sims was expected to see an up-tick in playing time. Of course, he’ll need to be healthy first. Sims missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, putting his status for Sunday’s game in question.
- If Sims can’t go, that would leave Adam Shaheen, Daniel Brown, and newly promoted Ben Braunecker as the Bears’ active tight ends. Not quite what your offense needs with Mitch Trubisky desperately searching for capable pass-catching targets. Shaheen has been snubbed from the passing game for most of the year, and that could be the case again if Brown gets an extended look from the coaches again. It’s worth pointing out that Brown’s 13 passing snaps in Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints were more than Shaheen’s (9) even though Brown received fewer overall snaps.
- Even though Aaron Rodgers won’t be under center for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Larry Mayer of the Chicago Bears’ official website writes the Bears aren’t taking Brett Hundley lightly. Nor should they. It’s been five weeks since Case Keenum stepped in for an injured Sam Bradford on Monday Night Football, pulled the rug from under the Bears defense, and led the Minnesota Vikings to a Week 5 victory.
- I would make the case that Hundley is more dangerous than Bradford or Keenum because of the weapons around him. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams are all capable receivers who would step into the Bears’ locker room and take over No. 1 receiver responsibilities immediately upon arrival. Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones are serviceable running backs who have the ability to make big plays. Yes, the Bears are favored and have a stout defense that has forced eight turnovers in the team’s last three games. But if that group isn’t forcing turnovers, Hundley is a threat to be a not-so-pleasant surprise.
- On the other side of the ball, the Bears’ offense could stand to be a little more aggressive. Over at CBS Chicago, Chris Emma writes the team could be in a position to step on the gas with Trubisky under center. Drops and throwaways have conspired to cut into Trubisky’s completion percentage, but it’s not as if the rookie isn’t at fault. Some misses and forced throws have led to the two costly interceptions on his record, and those types of throws simply can’t happen if the Bears are going to pull through and beat the Packers at Soldier Field for the first time since 2010.
- Meanwhile, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune explains how some new-look formations and the addition of motion to some plays could help move the Bears’ passing offense in the right direction. Trubisky might be limited at receiver, but it’s up to Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains to make the most out of the situation and put his quarterback (and his receivers) in the best possible spot to be successful. After a bye week, Loggains could stand to be a bit more creative and loosen things up for an offense that needs a spark. Perhaps something simple as a receiver or tight end in motion could aid in Trubisky’s progress in his fifth start.
- At least Trubisky will have some new targets, starting with receiver Dontrelle Inman expected to make his Bears debut and Markus Wheaton, who was a full go at practice for the first time since suffering a groin injury four weeks ago.
- It’s been a wild week for Martellus Bennett, who was cut by the Packers for failing to disclose an injury. Bennett has since been claimed by the New England Patriots, where he thrived working with Tom Brady and a Super Bowl winning offense. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports Bennett had a torn rotator cuff, but that hasn’t kept the tight end from hat Bennett reported to Patriots camp and passed his physical — despite having a torn rotator cuff.
- Over at PackersWire, Zach Kruse tries to connect the dots in what looks like Bennett orchestrating his departure from Green Bay. Even though the story is far from complete, and truly nothing short of a mystery, it’s quite strange how this played out for Bennett only after Rodgers went down with an injury putting a serious dent in the Packers’ playoff hopes and after the trade deadline passed without movement.
- After watching Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman go down with a ruptured Achilles that will cost him the rest of the season, you can understand why Doug Baldwin isn’t a fan of Thursday Night Football:
Full Doug Baldwin on Thursday-after-Sunday games: "This shit should be illegal. It is not OK. It’s not OK. You can quote me on that," Baldwin said of Thursday-after-Sunday games. This is not OK.” #Seahawks
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) November 10, 2017