The Bears are making their assistant coaches available monthly this season, with our first chance to visit with them Tuesday, five days after the loss to the Green Bay Packers. We already shared Tuesday evening a bit of QB coach
Dave Ragone trying to find the positives from QB Mitch Trubisky's debut
. Here are four more interesting takeaways from those sessions:
WR coach Mike Furrey on Allen Robinson being in his best place right now with the Bears: “I saw what you saw on Thursday night: He was out there the entire game. He felt great. We never had that eye contact of he needs a break. Obviously he was very productive. I think he had an offseason, which allowed him to prepare for training camp, and he worked his tail off in training camp, [and] that’s allowed him to be productive how he was Thursday night. It was fun watching him. He looked real comfortable.”
PFW's interpretation: A-Rob has obviously been the Bears' best offensive player on the field in their two most recent games, and over his past three dating back to last season he's averaging 7.7 catches for 110 yards — exceeding his career averages by more than three catches and 45 yards. Small sample size? No doubt. But the six-year veteran is still only 26, as healthy as he's been in his career and, barring QB play, there's every reason to believe this is the type of stat line he's capable of producing on a weekly basis. Those would be obvious indicators of Robinson's continued ascent.
What we found interesting, though, from Furrey's quote was the nugget about playtime. To wit: Robinson's 96 prcent snap share on offense Thursday was his highest as a Bear, followed by the 94 percent he logged in the playoff loss. That
true WR1 dude first began to appear in January — and it's a look he's wearing increasingly well with the new season underway.
DB coach Deshea Townsend, a former 13-year NFL vet and two-time Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steeler, thinks he knows the genesis of Ha Ha Clinton Dix's poor tackling rap — the ones pushing that narrative have never been met by Clinton-Dix in an alley: "The one thing I’ll say about the contact stuff is, you always wonder who wrote it and did they have a chance to run into him and tackle him? That’s always the thing you think about. He is … glad to have him here. I’m sure no DB nowadays is a killer. Your job is to get the man down, no matter how you do it. That issue hasn’t shown. How he’s come here and been a pro is what we expected. We all have things that we need to work on. And I guess those things people are saying, he has. He’s come in in the preseason and training camp and he’s done everything we’ve asked."
PFW's interpretation: Lost in our first viewing of the NFC North safety shuffle, punctuated by Adrian Amos' game-sealing interception, was the fact that Clinton-Dix also played a heck of a game. He nearly generated the first Bears takeaway of the season, punching the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands from behind. He forced the run with urgency, trailing only secondary mate Kyle Fuller with five total tackles. And, as Townsend explained, Clinton-Dix has kept his head down and worked following a delayed start to camp with a hamstring injury. What better way to assimilate in a star-laden secondary after the most humbling year of his career?
OL coach Harry Hiestand says there's a lot more than first meets the eye in reviewing James Daniels' first NFL start at center, most notably the second-year player getting blown up by Packers shooting star anchor Kenny Clark, and how the play call did Daniels no favors: "In the third-and-one, he was almost stung, so James had little chance on that one the way we approach it and I didn’t prepare him for that pressure in that front. And so he was playing it like a normal two-gap and then they brought the safety, so that one looked really, really bad on him. But overall he didn’t look like that the rest of the night and we had things we have to do better. But he didn’t do that too … that was kind of a product on that play.
"Yeah, definitely [Daniels' improved play strength showed up Thursday]. You could see him battle in there. There’s times when he was one-on-one in pass pro because they had all five guys rushing and he’s zero head up on him and he was pushing him. But he was hanging in there and giving Mitch enough and just totally one-on-one. There’s some things to take from that."
PFW's interpretation: Daniels had at least two high-profile losses — the run stuff by Clark and a holding penalty — but Hiestand is as straight a shooter as there is on the Bears coaching staff, not to mention among the knowledgable O-line coaches in the game, so we take him at his word on Daniels' debut. It's also worth noting he won't draw a lot of tougher assignments than Clark, and this one came in only his 12th career start, much less first pivoting. On our list of concerns from Thursday, Daniels, and the O-line on whole, isn't near the top.
OLB coach Ted Monachino's Week 1 take on the 'Mack Effect,' which in many ways is immeasurable but not always — even in a game where the former NFL Defensive MVP uncharacteristically didn't pile up pressures and sacks: "We look at it in every different way you can look at it, and I have a tendency to look at how a player impacts the plays that he has the opportunity to. And Khalil played as well as I’ve ever had a guy play in a game. I know he would’ve preferred to impact the game more, but from a down-to-down basis he impacted 31 out of the 34 plays he was in, in our favor. And that’s 88 percent, that’s a really high percentage. So thrilled with the way he played. He’s an eyelash away from making five plays in that game, and those five plays eventually got finished by another player on our team. So I think that he played really, really well. I know that as people are watching tape they’re seeing the same thing."
PFW's interpretation: The Packers beat the Bears, plain and simple. But some of the coverage coming out of Green Bay after the game we found to be a bit cute, namely detailing the great lengths to which the Packers went to neutralize Mack. But we saw it similarly to Monachino in that Mack was constantly creating chances for others despite the double- and triple-teams. The neat part: Leonard Floyd, Roy Robertson-Harris and others seizing those opportunities signals back to Bears opponents that defensive poison spans well beyond Mack on this unit. Take your pick.