Chicago Bears Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor made an astute observation while addressing the assembled media at Halas Hall on Thursday, noting there were more people in attendance than usual.
And while Tabor appreciates the extra attention, he would prefer to go back to keeping a low profile because it would mean his unit is holding up its end of the bargain.
“I always say I don’t want you guys talking about us. If you’re not talking about us, we’ve done our job,” Tabor explained. “We gotta play better, and that’s on me to get them coached up. But I like where we’re trending still. We’re a good football team and we’ve got a great challenge this weekend.”
Tabor’s special teams unit not playing to its potential has been a point of discussion the last two weeks (not unlike the defense) with the group performing less than admirably in back-to-back losses. And because the Bears are trying to avoid a third straight loss (and third consecutive week with a special teams gaffe), Tabor’s words took on extra importance. We’ve grabbed some highlights and added additional context and commentary of our own. Enjoy.
Let The Kids Play, No Excuses
If you blinked, you missed it. But you’ll have to believe me when I tell you the Bears had a double-digit lead on the Patriots at one point in Week 7. It was just short-lived because of a 95-yard kick return touchdown by Cordarrelle Patterson. Perhaps that score should have never been, as the referees clearly missed a block in the back on Sherrick McManis, who has long been Chicago’s special teams ace.
Check it out for yourself:
Did you catch the block in the back on McManis? Ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/F2UjswIWjO
— SS (@SunaySali) October 21, 2018
It’s a clear miss, but it happens.
The most encouraging thing to come from this was Tabor’s response as he refused to blame officials for the miscue: “We got to cover better. And when you don’t cover well, I don’t start looking for would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. I’ll be honest with you, I’d rather have the officials let us play a little more aggressive as opposed to calling everything. So I didn’t have a problem with it.”
That’s a refreshing perspective when it would have been easy to go the other way and put it on an official’s mistake. That’s good coaching in my book.
What’s the Deal With the Bears’ Return Game?
The big play potential that Chicago’s kick return game possesses has yet to show itself. What’s worse, there have been a growing number of questionable decisions in which Benny Cunningham has taken the ball out of the end zone and come up with a short return when simply taking a knee would result in the ball being placed at the 25-yard-line.
When presented a question about when Cunningham should be taking the ball out, Tabor opened a window to his way of thinking when it comes to coaching this aspect of the special teams.
“It’s really still based on hang time and those types of things, so it fluctuates each and every week and how you think that you match up. I thought all those decisions he made in the game, I was fine with him. I will say this, if you don’t bring the ball out, then you have zero percent chance of scoring.”
I was told there would be no math. What gives?
Keeping the Faith
Two games ago, it was Cody Parkey missing what would have been a game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime that crushed the Bears’ spirits. Last week, it was a kick return touchdown and blocked punt that was returned for a score that broke them yet again. So I can understand where some Bears fans aren’t feeling so good about their special teams squad. But hey, it’s a group led by a Dave Toub disciple (everybody still loves Toub!) and a unit that was performing well.
There is still time for the Bears’ special teams to turn it around, so don’t think their coordinator is giving up on them just yet.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence. For five weeks, this unit has been playing good football and what I explained to them is we can’t have catastrophic plays. There’s gonna be some plays every once in a while that you give up, but they can’t be points. The thing we’re learning is just like anything. We were in an accident, we got a cut, it hurts right now, and when we go through practice it’s going to heal. We’re gonna have a scar there to remember that we can’t do those things again and just stay on point.”