Shaking Up the Secondary, Leadership Needs From the O-Line, Executive Head Coaching, and Other Bears Bullets

The 6:40 p.m. CT start times for Cubs home games should stick around for a while. They won’t, because first pitch times will soon revert to the traditional 7:05 p.m. CT starts when June rolls around. But getting out of a ballgame at a decent hour opens up so many opportunities.

•   The defensive position group that I’m most looking forward to seeing develop this summer. Not because I have an interest in who is wearing what numbers (although, Dane Cruikshank wearing 29 has our attention) or because of Jaylon Johnson’s dancing (more on that in a moment) either. But instead, Chicago’s secondary being one of the league’s most-improved position groups has the potential to be a silver lining in a year where laying the groundwork for something bigger feels like a franchise priority.

•   It’s hard not to be better than what last year was, but I imagine signing or drafting five new players — including three who could be in immediate starting roles — could have quite an impact. It’ll be as fun to see rookies like Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon fly around at training camp as it is to watch a veteran such as Tavon Young try to make a strong first impression as a free agent signing in his first year. This isn’t to say someone like Duke Shelley, Kindle Vildor, or Thomas Graham Jr. can’t step up and show out. But that those guys have legit competition to deal with makes the incoming battle that much more interesting.

•   Also, I’m gonna need Jaylon to bust this out after a Kirk Cousins pick-six:

•   Maybe it’s just my gut talking, but someone is going to get popped after hitting the Griddy in too close proximity of someone who doesn’t appreciate a play being made against them. Just like when Terrell Owens did his thing with the Cowboys star. I don’t know when or where it’ll happen. And I don’t know who will be the unlucky recipient. But it feels inevitable … right?

•   The Bash Bros look different than I remember them:

•   If you’re old enough to remember the Jose Canseco-Mark McGwire days where they were Oakland’s Bash Brothers, then you’re nodding and smiling while reading this. And if you’re not old enough to remember the O.G. Bash Bros., then I’m sure YouTube has clips. And I promisee they’re worth your time.

•   Even though the Bears drafted four offensive linemen on Day 3 of the NFL Draft and added a starter via free agency, the changes along the offensive line haven’t felt as sweeping as they seem to be. Even still … the re-shaping of that unit won’t look complete until we start seeing those guys in pads. Add that to the list of things worth watching when training camp rolls out this summer. First-year Offensive Line Coach Chris Morgan has quite the task at hand in building these guys up and molding them into a productive unit. Leadership from both Cody Whitehair (as a veteran returning on the line) and Lucas Patrick (who has playoff experience and an extensive history with this new offensive system) feels like a must.

•   While the Bears search for leadership from their most experienced players on offense, Packers QBs Coach Tom Clements believes Aaron Rodgers doesn’t need practice reps this time of year (via PFT):

“I know it’s a little bit different than it was previously when I was here. But Aaron doesn’t need reps at this time of the year. So, obviously, it would be nice to have him here. But he’s seen these things 1,000 times. He’ll be ready to go when training camp starts.”

•   In fairness, I guess Rodgers was able to prove that last year after spending the summer playing mind games and still putting up an MVP-winning season. And if it’s anyone who needs the reps, it’s Jordan Love. The Packers probably want to showcase as trade bait before his rookie contract becomes un-tradable. Right?

•   Kevin O’Connell, the latest wonderkid coach from the Sean McVay offensive tree, is attempting to branch out to Minnesota’s defensive players early in his tenure with the Vikings (via Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com):

“[I want to] be visible to the defense, let them know that I’m learning their side of the ball just as much as they are. I can complement them on detailed things they can do within our coverages, within a pressure, how we stop the run, and they can look at me as not just an offensive head coach.”

•   Matt Nagy did wonders with this early in his Bears career. And it probably was helpful in him building up enough goodwill to keep that thing floating for as long as it did. But O’Connell better be ready to win. Otherwise, extending the olive branch do’t be enough.

•   A reminder that Matt Eberfuls (a defensive-leaning head coach) plans on going about his new gig with a CEO type of mindset. Delegation is key. Eberflus plans on letting his offensive coordinator be the lead dog in that department. And even though it is Eberflus’ defense at the core, his defensive coordinator will be calling the shots. It is a throwback way of doing things. But refreshing nonetheless.

•   The annual Bears Care Gala is coming on June 4:

•   Can’t say I blame him for feeling this way:

•   Some Hawks division rivals have pressing needs:

•   Gotta get your money’s worth, Rizz:

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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