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Bears Insider's Hub Arkush answers subscribers Bears/NFL/Life questions in every newsletter:
If we recognize the premise that no single player on the Bears has gotten better this year, and also recognize that many players have regressed, can't we deduce that the biggest problem with this team is coaching? Submitted by Matt Conway
You know, Matt, that is an interesting and reasonable way to approach the issue.
I would argue that Allen Robinson, Cody Whitehair, Bobby Massie and Danny Trevathan have gotten better this year and that Khalil Mack and Kyle Fuller are having All-Pro-worthy seasons again, but six out of 53 still certainly makes your point.
Ultimately, the coaches will take the fall if this continues, but the question is, are they not doing a good job of coaching, or are they failing to motivate and prepare — which is a bit of a different issue.
What I’m getting at is the buzz, vibe, culture – whatever you want to call it – has been different around this year’s group has been different from last year’s since the first OTA this past offseason, and that’s on the players, not the coaches.
Last year, these guys wanted to win and worked their asses off to do it, but this year it feels like they expect to win as much as wanting it and the mood around them is clearly different.
I’m not suggesting they’re not trying or working hard enough; it’s a fine line between selling out with all you have to win and thinking you are when you really aren’t.
That’s not on the coaches, it’s on the players themselves, but it is up to the coaches to recognize it and get the effort and results back to where they need to be, and so far Matt Nagy and his staff haven’t figured that one out.
The coaching can be much better than it’s been the first half of the season, but the players attitudes can be, too, and until those attitudes get right, the rest of the coaching being done isn’t going to matter enough.
How much do you think overconfidence is playing into Mitch’s failures thus far? Submitted by Mike P.
Mike, I’m no shrink, but if anything I’d say it’s a lack of confidence that we see in Trubisky right now, and the confidence and bravado he expresses is just a shield for the fact that he’s probably a little lost right now.
Consider all the crap about Mitch saying he’d like the TVs turned off around Halas Hall. I was sitting in the front row, no more than 15 feet from him, and I am positive Mitch was trying to sound focused, brave and leader-like, but that he was also speaking tongue-in-cheek and totally meant it as kind of a joke.
Instead he’s gotten hammered with it — I think totally unfairly — and imagine if that was your daily existence, because it is pretty much his with almost everything he says at this point.
I see a young man pretending to be confident because that’s what’s expected of him, but who in reality probably badly needs a hug.
Then again, I’m not a shrink so ...
Why does Nagy think Tarik can run up the middle? It was proven last game that Montgomery is guy that should run up the middle. Submitted by Fergie
Fergie, there’s nothing wrong with giving Cohen the ball between the tackles on occasion, as he showed last year every once in a while he might do something special with it.
But it is crazy when it hasn’t been set up properly first, and that’s one of my big objections to what the Bears have done so far this season with the ground game overall and all their backs.
They’ve now proven they can be effective out of the I formation, and while that doesn’t mean it’s the only personnel package you can or should run out of, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to why and when the Bears switch from the shotgun to the I and then back again.
It is also crazy to be inside the five, line up in the shotgun with Cohen the only back and then send him off tackle to try and leap the line. That play last Sunday in Philly was dead before they called it, although fortunately they did then send in Montgomery and get the score.
When the ground game has worked early in the game but defenses are still afraid to stack eight or nine in the box because the Bears also are threatening with the pass, that’s when letting Cohen take a handoff inside, preferably on second down, just might pop for something big.
What’s more disappointing.....Matt Nagy's offense or the Mueller Report? Submitted by Matthew LaMantia
Obviously, I’d be wise to pass on this one, Matt, but I guess I did say you could ask me about politics, so ...
Clearly, the Mueller Report is more disappointing, No. 1, because it deals with the ongoing destruction of our democracy and trashing of our constitution, while football is just a game.
No. 2 is the Muller Report not because of what was in it, but because if you’ve actually read it you know it documented massive wrong-doing by Donald Trump and his sycophants and yet no one is willing to do anything about it.
I expect Nagy’s offense will eventually be fixed — and possibly even flourish. I have no such confidence in our current government.
Is the time to move on from Jeremy Colliton of the Blackhawks? Submitted by Mark Summey
Mark, like you when it comes to the Blackhawks, I’m just a rabid fan, which means sometimes my emotions get in the way, and while I know the game, I am certainly not a hockey expert.
I thought the move was stupid from the beginning not because of Colliton but because “Q” is one of the four or five best coaches in the history of the game and replacing him with a 33-year-old with no experience at the NHL level was kind of like trading a first-round draft choice for a street free agent.
What I’m hearing from the experts I respect is that Colliton is making some of the same mistakes Matt Nagy is, stubbornly force feeding his system to players, a number of whom aren’t best suited to play it.
However, the sample size is too small, and having given the job to Colliton, the Hawks, I think, owe him the rest of this season to show whether he can do it or not.
Remember how slow they started last season when he first took over, but they did find a groove after the All Star break.
I’m not optimistic about his future, but he does deserve more time to prove me wrong.
Right now he needs to get his guys to understand that playing “Dump & Chase” means you have to chase harder than the other guys and show some toughness and serious intentions when you get there.
If I were him, I’d be focused right now on why his players aren’t responding to his system, and finding a way to either make sure they do or change it so they can.
Why is Adam Shaheen still on the roster? Submitted by Mike Barbacovi
Because Ryan Pace made a big gamble on him, you never want to write off a second-round pick until you’re absolutely sure you have to, he was always going to be a 2-3 year project based on where he was coming from and injuries have slowed him just enough to argue he needs a little more time.
All of that said, I haven’t seen anything to make me think this is going to work and I will be surprised if he’s a still a Bear a year from now.
You always say it takes 3 years to judge a draft pick. Mitch is in his 3rd year. What grade to you give Mitch as a player and Pace for drafting Mitch and the entire 2017 draft. Submitted by Brett
D+ for me. He’s not a flat-out awful QB, but it hasn’t panned out and the Bears gave up too much to get him when other better options were available. Submitted by Scott Izynski
Brett and Scott, that is one of my hard-and-fast rules and the reason I won’t give you a grade on Mitch or that Draft is because we’re still a whole half season away from the three-year mark.
Let’s remember, that draft wasn’t just Mitch, it was also Adam Shaheen at 45, Eddie Jackson at 112, Tarik Cohen at 119 and Jordan Morgan at 147.
Regardless of what Trubisky and Shaheen turn out to be, Jackson and Cohen were both first-team All Pros in just their second seasons.
Some would argue that automatically makes the Draft an A+ regardless of what Trubisky and Shaheen do.
Then again, Jackson and Cohen have both regressed in Year 3.
And by the way, Scott, in just his second year, 1st full season as a starter and first year in Matt Nagy’s allegedly graduate school-level offense, Trubisky went to the Pro Bowl and set a Chicago Bears single-season passer rating record.
Is that a D+?
I get where you’re going, guys, but if we’re going to crucify Pace for Trubisky and Shaheen, don’t we have to honor and reward him for Jackson and Cohen?
Let’s give it eight more weeks and I promise I’ll put my name on an answer.
What is your honest ceiling on the Bears this year? Submitted by Big Phil
Phil, if they beat the Lions Sunday, and I expect they will, I’d say the ceiling is probably around 9-7 or 8-8.
If they lose Sunday, my ceiling would be 6-10
What’s your favorite beer? Submitted by Timothy O’Neill
C’mon Tim, you’re really going to make me pick just one?
My go-tos are New Glarus’ SCREAM IIPA, Moon Man and Spotted Cow, Three Floyds' Alpha King and Zombie Dust, and when the crafts aren’t around, I’m most likely to go Stella Artois, Peroni or Dos Equis Amber Ale.
I feel like the Bears offense is on the verge of a breakout game, and, also feel like this is going to be the week. I am I being too optimistic? Submitted by Scott Baier
Scott, these guys haven’t done anything well enough to suggest they’re ready to break out, but the Lions defense will be by far the weakest they’ve seen since Washington in Week 3.
If ever there was a tonic for what ails the Bears offense right now, it probably is the Lions defense.
There is good cause for your optimism, not so much because the Bears are getting better — which we’ve seen no real signs of yet — but because the Lions defense is so bad.
How do we make Mitchell Trubisky better. Shouldn’t the coach cater to what the kid can do good I don’t know man. Submitted by Mario Arencibia
Mario, I know you realize there’s nothing we can do to make Trubisky better, and without being allowed to sit in meetings and watch practice, I can’t really tell you what is being done and what isn’t.
What we have seen is he throws the ball better and reads the field better when the running game is posing a threat to opposing defenses.
It also seems clear he needs to run the ball more and become more of a threat to opposing defenses with his legs because it slows the rush and opens up the field even more for the passing game, but I don’t know that he’s being told not to run the ball more.
I would like to see Nagy increasingly roll him out and run naked bootlegs, again to force the defense to react more and attack less, but I don’t know if there is some concern that could create other issues or problems for him that could make the situation worse.
The one thing I will say, which I’ve been saying since about Week 12 or Week 13 last year, I really believe they need to let Mitch be Mitch, free him up to play more on instinct and less on the whiteboard. What I can’t say for sure though is whether they have a tether on him, or if he’s just not cutting it loose and playing free.
We’ll never know where this kid’s ceiling is until we see him out there playing fast and free without over-thinking everything, and he clearly isn’t doing that right now.
Since we are not getting any production out of tight end position, how about moving Cordell Patterson to TE? He's big enough and strong enough to play the position, and with his speed, he'd be tearing that position up. Submitted by Blizz Dog
Blizz Dog, I’m thinking you probably know it’s actually Cordarrelle, and I’m afraid I don’t like your suggestion.
Patterson is big for a wide receiver or running back at 6-2, 228, but that’s still really undersized for a tight end.
Regardless of his size, Patterson has no significant history of being a strong blocker at any position, so what you’re really talking about is an undersized "U" tight end, or the "move" guy.
The "U" isn’t the Bears problem right now. While Trey Burton hasn’t been as effective as he was last year, can be or we would like, defenses still have to account for him.
Ben Braunecker is also more a "U" than a "Y," and while he doesn’t scare defenses in the passing game, he is arguably the Bears best special teams coverage guy right now, so they really don’t need another "U."
Adam Shaheen is the primary problem at the moment. He’s supposed to be the "Y," equally adept blocking big men inside or running routes, and he isn’t consistently doing any of that.
The only potential answer at "Y" right now on the roster is J.P. Holtz — who at 6-3, 255 is also a little smaller than you’d like; the Bradley Sowell experiment — which obviously isn’t working out; or Dax Raymond, who is on the practice squad.
At this point, for as little as they’re getting from Shaheen, I’d like to see them try Raymond.
Hub, what do you think are the chances the Bears Drafting Fromm QB from Georgia in the Second round? I think he would be a great fit and a good QB in the NFL. He’s accurate, can read Defenses, and goes through is progressions. Submitted by John Brownlow
John, I don’t mean to cop out on you, but I’m just not that deep into our early draft scouting and research yet and I have no idea where Jake Fromm is going to rate among this crop of QBs and what round we’ll be projecting him in.
He is almost the exact same size as Trubisky, clearly more experienced coming out but not nearly the athlete Mitch is.
I’ll shout back to you on him and all the other top draft prospects once we get knee deep in that end of the job in January.
What's your go-to bourbon? Submitted by Mark Janu
Mark, I’m really a Single Malt Scotch guy, but I have been messing with Bourbon more and more the last year or two, and when I can get it, I do think Blantons and Weller are more than just names, they are incredibly smooth and a real treat. But they’re also wildly overpriced when you realize all the other good stuff that’s out there.
I’ve got a “guy” at my local Binny’s who turned me on to Very Old Barton. Apparently it can be hard to find and tends to turn up unexpectedly, but it’s less than $20 a bottle and in a blind tasting I’m not sure I could tell it from the Blantons.
I’ve never gone wrong with Knob Creek, either, although I did lose one battle to it with a buddy of mine on a fishing trip a couple years ago that landed us both on I.R. for a few days.
I also have one other suggestion for you. I never really knew what Rye was, but apparently it’s a stepbrother to Bourbon, making a comeback now and if you can get your hands on a bottle of Limousin Rye, it is really smooth and very reasonably priced.