A strange night of baseball at Wrigley Field (sans baseball) because of a rain delay (that didn’t have much rain) and a power outage (seriously, it happened) has led to a rare batch of weekday morning Bullets. I couldn’t make it up if I tried.
- Albert Breer’s piece at SI.com’s The MMQB has the latest on Andrew Luck’s latest attempt to bounce back from injury, but also features a look at an interesting Mike McCarthy methodology. The Packers head coach apparently eases up on veteran players (with 6+ years experience) during minicamps, which allows younger players more opportunities to show off. McCarthy’s angle is that he sees it as a chance for some of his younger players to step into leadership roles and earn the respect of the teammates around them.
- Considering how NFL rosters are constructed with loads of talent on their first contracts, it’s an interesting method that accelerates the learning curve. The Bears have only four projected starters with six or more years of NFL experience, so Chicago’s camps probably have a similar vibe. As for what’s happening in Green Bay, McCarthy says it began in 2016 – a season in which the team went 10-6, won the division, knocked off the team with the NFC’s best record, but lost in the conference title game.
- Allen Robinson is one of the younger veterans on the new-look Bears, and Chris Emma of 670 The Score writes about how the Bears’ new No. 1 receiver is geared up and ready to go. Emma caught up with Robinson on Monday at Wrigley Field, where Robinson expressed excitement about being in a sports hotbed. “Being down here for the first time, getting acclimated to the sports culture here is awesome,” Robinson said. “I’ve never played or lived in a city like this as far as from a sports town. There’s so much culture.”
- Let’s go back to the Bears (as a big picture project) for a moment, as browsing through their roster serves as a reminder of how young this team looks to be at some important positions. The Bears have 14 projected starters who will still be in their rookie contracts in 2018. If this group can help turn around the Bears, it will be a testament to what GM Ryan Pace has done in the draft.
- Of that group of 14 players, there are 11 who were drafted in the last three seasons. Step back and think who this group of players has replaced. Just think back at who those Week 1 starters in 2015 were when this rebuild started. The only players remaining on the team that suffered defeat at the hand of the Packers in Week 1 are Kyle Long, Kyle Fuller, Adrian Amos, Sherrick McManis, and Patrick O’Donnell. So much turnover. So much young talent. It’s hard to imagine the Bears will be worse despite the wide-ranging changes.
- I had some fun answering your questions during Monday’s delay and think we should do that as a group again sometime soon. Perhaps next time, I’ll have a better feel for the team’s future. Making predictions is fun, because you can always give yourself the “At least you tried” cake after you put your neck on the line … even if you’re wrong.
- I still find myself hesitant to go there at this point, though I tried to answer questions regarding the team’s record and postseason aspirations. There’s no doubt the Bears should be better. A new set of decision-makers and playmakers on offense, coupled with the return of nearly every major player from a top-10 defense should make for an improved overall product. But as we’ve discussed before, everyone else in the NFC North can also stake a claim to being improved.
- My gut feeling (on the morning of June 19) tells me there is a path to an 8-8 record. The Bears have seven games on their schedule against teams that finished below .500 last year. Of course, that includes two against a Green Bay team that finished 7-9 in 2017, but figures to be among the early favorites for Super Bowl contention with a healthy Aaron Rodgers. There are still some winnable games on the schedule.
- We’ll take a deep dive into the potential road to .500 at some point this summer. But what stands out for now is a set of five games against teams that finished below .500 last year that don’t have a perennial MVP candidate under center and two games against teams that figure to be starting rookie quarterbacks. On the surface it gives the Bears – given that they can live up to the buzz they have built this offseason – a fighting chance at .500.
- Bears fans who read this site who also happen to be fans of the Chicago Bulls basketball squadron are probably familiar with the turn of phrase “Do Your Job” that was popularized by wildly popular former coach Tom Thibodeau. It’s a mantra Thibodeau pretty much borrowed from friend/Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick from the time the two crossed paths while in Boston. Well, be prepared to do hear plenty of it with former Belichick assistant Matt Patricia coaching the Lions. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports the phrase that pays is now on a prominently featured sign in the team’s facility.
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