Another day of Bears minicamp, and another practice without Robert Quinn.
No biggie. Chicago’s football team has 89 other players we can discuss. Some of whom we’ll highlight below.
Empire Offense Strikes Back
After the defense appeared to have the upper hand in Day 1 of mandatory minicamp, Justin Fields and the offense came back with some heat. NBC Sports Chicago’s Josh Schrock sets the scene:
Fields connected on several chunk plays throughout drills, including big connections to Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, and Cole Kmet.
For the second day in a row, head coach Matt Eberflus had the offense face the defense without a script. Wednesday went the way of the offense with Fields hitting Mooney for a good gain down the right sideline to move into plus territory. On the next play, Fields threw down the right sideline for Velus Jones. The ball bounced off Jones’ hands, but the defense was flagged for pass interference, moving the ball to the edge of the red zone.
Fields finished off the drill by delivering a strike to Dante Pettis for a touchdown.
So many good vibes here. Fields connecting with his favorite target (Mooney), the newest free agent (Pringle), and the tight end the Bears need a breakthrough performance from this year (Kmet). The failed attempt to link up because of a drop by Jones notwithstanding, it sounds like the Bears offense had a good day at the yard.
OK, so maybe it isn’t much. But if we’re gonna get angsty when the defense outshines the offense, then it is only fair to be happy when the offense does its thing. This is the time where we must find balance in the Force. Powerful light, powerful dark and what not.
Matt Eberflus as the Anti-Matt Nagy
My least favorite thing about the end of the Matt Nagy era was his unwillingness to play younger players. Even when the Bears were eliminated from postseason contention, Nagy leaned on veterans and stop-gap players on expiring deals down the stretch. It was as frustrating as it was annoying. And in certain cases, I’m convinced the lack of meaningful, in-game reps stalled some players’ development. At minimum, one could make a case that Nagy’s stance was helpful in disrupting the developmental arc for a handful of players.
But Nagy is gone. And so is his flawed line of thinking. Enter Matt Eberflus, who is willing to let the kids play:
Yes, Eberflus talking about the defense in this specific instance. However, this seems to be an overarching theme that is applicable to each phase of the game. Here’s to continuing down this path. Let the young fellas cook, coach!
Another New Look for the O-Line
Will you look at that? Another new alignment for the offensive line:
Before we get out of sorts here, Eberflus said Cody Whitehair was excused from today’s practice — and for “good reason.” In other words, don’t look too much into these lines. Even still … Brad Biggs (Tribune) noting that there were points in which three rookies — Braxton Jones, Zachary Thomas, and Doug Kramer — were running with that first-team has my full attention.
And if you were curiouabout the possibility of Teven Jenkins getting squeezed into the right guard position, I think we might be ready to close the book on that option. Eberflus told reporters Jenkins is focusing at right tackle, per Sean Hammond. What a fascinating situation to watch unfold. And to think, this is only where the fun begins.
Perhaps the Bears view Jenkins as a firm right tackle candidate. And maybe throwing Thomas at left guard suggests he could be the next-man-up on the depth chart. Same for Kramer at center. That Sam Mustipher is sticking at guard despite his starting experience at center speaks volumes about where his longterm future figures to be. It feels like so much is in the air, which is actually a good thing. After watching things go stagnant on the development front along the offensive line, it is nice to see an honest-to-goodness open competition where the players determine where they play.
Hard working? Check. Cold weather team? Check. Football guys? Yep. And with one quote Griffin has taken pole position to be a training camp fan favorite when festivities open next month.
Call it a hunch, but Chris Finke will end up as this year’s version of Rodney Adams, Daniel Braverman, or Tanner Gentry.
Ebner’s profile intrigues me. His tape shows flashes of him being a capable receiver out of the back field, dangerous in the open field, and is a prospect with ample special teams experience. All things being equal, there are some serious Tarik Cohen vibes here. Not to say there is a 1-for-1 comp between Ebner and Cohen. But we shouldn’t overlook those Jack-of-many-trades types.