A fourth COVID-19 positive test at Halas Hall has moved the Bears’ Week 14 prep work into a virtual setting. It’s not ideal, but the move was done in an abundance of caution with player safety in mind. I realize this Bears season isn’t going how anyone wanted, especially over the last six weeks. But the goal should still be to get through the 2020 campaign as healthy as possible.
• Look, it wasn’t all bad last week:
— akiem hicks (@The_Dream99) December 10, 2020
• Third-year defensive lineman Bilal Nichols earned a spot on PFF’s Team of the Week for his efforts last week against the Lions. Nichols filled the stat sheet with 4 total tackles (2 solo), 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 1 tackle-for-loss, 1 pass defended, and an interception. Not listed on the stat sheet was one earth-shaking spike. That’s clearly an oversight by the stat keepers, and I hope they include that in future books.
• Sure, the Nichols at nose tackle experiment didn’t work out all too well. But returning to his role in the rotation of defensive linemen has turned out well. Before the mini-bye after the Tampa Bay win, Nichols had no sacks, 8 total tackles, three tackles-for-loss, and 3 quarterback hits in five games. But in the seven games since, Nichols has 22 tackles, 3 tackles-for-loss, and 5 quarterback hits. It’s a slight up-tick in production from Nichols as he returns to a spot he seems clearly more comfortable playing. I realize the Bears have needs on the offensive side of the ball. But if they want to reward one of their home-grown defensive draft picks, then Nichols is putting himself into the conversation to being that guy.
• Nichols’ projected full-season stats based on the last seven games: 50 tackles, 7 sacks, 11 QB Hits, 7 tackles-for-loss. He’s just 24. And while I’ll fall short of calling him a building block, Nichols is a solid defensive contributor who deserves recognition for his emergence in recent weeks.
• It’s not going to make anyone feel any better, nor will it change the outcome of the game, but here’s Allen Robinson’s explanation of what happened on that fateful play that came before the dreaded 4th-and-1:
⇒ “There’s no way that I would be able to feel that,” Robinson said in reference to Lions CB Amani Oruwariye having fallen down behind him. “My eyes were coming back to the ball to locate the ball, so I had no idea until I watched it the next day to see that he even fell. As I stepped back to the ball to catch it, the whole time I’m thinking he’s standing up or about to make a play.”
⇒ “As I’m kind of pushing up field, I kind of see the marker. But the marker was a little bit different (spot) than where the marker was on the ground,” Robinson explained. “So as I’m kind of pushing up and then I look on the ground, I try to step over the marker, but obviously I came up a yard short.”
⇒ “That’s our two-minute rule, is you turn it toward the sideline. Looking back at it, if I didn’t turn as wide, I may have been able to get up field or kind of go forward. But at the same time, I’m thinking about the clock. I’m thinking about everything. … It’s one of bang-bang things.”
• In the cruelest twist of fate, the Bears’ best, sharpest, and most reliable route-runner admits he wasn’t at his sharpest in the game’s biggest moment. That stings. But if that isn’t a microcosm of the Bears since the start of the 2019 calendar year, I don’t know what is. Because that moment exemplifies everything that Chicago football has been since January 2019 where the smallest thing goes wrong and so much more follows with it. These guys are in a bad funk.
• Even after a bad break in the toughest loss of the year, Robinson is shifting his focus to finishing strong, writes Colleen Kane of the Tribune. Robinson came into the season with lofty goals and is on pace for his first 100-catch season. Here’s hoping this strong finish in Chicago isn’t the last we’ll see of him in a Bears uniform.
• That’s good to hear near the end of Year 4 (Year 3 in the system):
QB Mitch Trubisky says the Bears are making progress on offense.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) December 9, 2020
• To be fair, the Bears offense scored 30 points last week. And Mitchell Trubisky had a passer rating north of 100. In the purest meaning of the word, yes, the Bears offense is making progress.
• Some guy named Prince snatched a GRAMMY from them:
Tell us who your NFL team is without telling us who your NFL team is
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 9, 2020
• Happy birthday to your favorite safety’s favorite ball-hawking safety:
3️⃣9️⃣ is 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 ready for the spotlight.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 10, 2020
• Not only did the Lions win their first game under interim coach Darrell Bevell, he’s out there telling wild stories featuring football legends:
Interim Lions coach Darrell Bevell telling a great story of hunting for cougars with Brett Favre in Utah years ago: "He had a bow that he was trying to use, I think he only had four arrows, and at the end he had no arrows left and the cougar was still running."
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) December 10, 2020
• Wait … am I jealous of the Detroit Lions’ process? Yuck:
This is interesting. VP of Football Administration Mike Disner is a very respected name among NFL teams and agents alike. Has earned a seat at the table. https://t.co/DMEqqQywTL
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 9, 2020
• A scheduling nugget for those of you who will be locked into Red Zone on Sunday:
earlier the NFL moved the kickoff for the Packers / Lions game from 1:00pm ET to 4:25pm ET
SEVEN early 1pm kicks
TWO late 4pm kicks
FOUR late 4:25pm kicks
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
DO THIS EVERY WEEK
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 8, 2020
• And then there’s the Texans, whose dysfunctional nature seems to not look so bad because they have a star quarterback headlining the roster. Crazy how that works:
Amid the Texans chaos, all eyes have turned to Jack Easterby. While some call the ex-team chaplain a guiding force in their lives, many in Houston say the character coach brought in to improve the culture has made it worse. W/@GregBishopSI & @GGramling_SI: https://t.co/f7RAZFHKYM
— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) December 10, 2020
• Thanks for the warning:
ᵗʰᵉ ᵇᵘˡˡˢ ᵖˡᵃʸ ᵗᵒᵐᵒʳʳᵒʷ
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 10, 2020