By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – One would be hard-pressed to find a team that has dealt with injuries quite like the Bears have in recent years.
A year removed from placing 19 players on injured reserve, the injuries are piling up again. The Bears entered Sunday’s game with the Buccaneers with seven players on injured reserve and a handful more released with injury settlements. Then, more injuries came in a 29-7 loss at Raymond James Stadium.
Nick Kwiatkoski became the second Bears inside linebacker in as many weeks to suffer a pectoral injury, joining the company of Jerrell Freeman. He, too, could be placed on injured reserve. Guards Josh Sitton and Tom Compton both suffered apparent injuries, and guard Kyle Long is still working his way back from an offseason ankle rehab. Eric Kush, the reserve option at guard, is already on IR. Come practice Wednesday, the Bears’ only guard may be their center, Cody Whitehair.
The Bears’ two top receivers, Cameron Meredith and Kevin White, are both on IR, and Markus Wheaton has yet to play a snap because of a fractured pinkie finger suffered in camp. Running back Jordan Howard rushed for just seven yards on nine carries Sunday while limited with a shoulder injury that he claims is OK, though the lack of production would suggest otherwise.
Even long snapper Patrick Scales suffered a torn ACL during the preseason. It has been that kind of season so far for the Bears, and just two games have been played. After going 3-13 in an injury-riddled 2016 season, the Bears have encountered the same injury trend here in 2017.
Coach John Fox doesn’t have answers why, and general manager Ryan Pace has been searching for himself. The Bears have committed to getting this issue fixed, and yet here they are again with players sidelined all over.
“This is the game of football,” linebacker Willie Young said.” So much for (an injury) bug. It’s going on throughout the league. It’s just football, and nothing you can do to prevent it. It has nothing to do with being in shape. It has nothing to do with awareness. It’s early in the year, guys are busting their tails right now.
“Right now, we’re at our strongest. It’s very unfortunate, very unfortunate, but once again, this is the NFL and it can’t be taken lightly.”
Fox has often said that the only way to avoid injuries is by simply not playing football. He also is fond of saying that it’s “next man up” after each injury. But these Bears simply aren’t good enough to work down their depth chart and find success. This team signed Danny Trevathan and Freeman a year ago and drafted Kwiatkoski but now finds itself again with Christian Jones or Jonathan Anderson set to start at inside linebacker. Who knows what happens at guard with four injured players there.
The receiver position was already a mess entering training camp, and then Meredith suffered a torn ACL in the third preseason game and White fractured his scapula in the first game of the regular season. Kendall Wright and Deonte Thompson are the current starters at receiver.
To what can the Bears attribute these injuries? Perhaps there are answers inside Halas Hall, where defensive coordinator Vic Fangio recently admitted his skepticism in the word of the training staff that told him linebacker Pernell McPhee was in top shape. For the record, McPhee is still working on a snap count.
While some injuries can’t be avoided at full speed and contact, the cause is likely more than just awful luck for the Bears.
And if the Bears continue their recent run of poor fortunes with the injury bug, this season will be a lot like 2016.
“After two games, it’s really hard to evaluate somebody,” Fox said. “In two articles, I don’t know if you should be fired or kept off of two things. But the truth of the matter is that right now, that’s the case. We’re playing arguably one of the better teams we’re going to play this year at home. We’re going to do everything in our power to look a little bit like we did in Week 1 than in Week 2. It gives us a chance.
“I wish we could play two quarterbacks at once, but I don’t know if that would be our best option.”Glennon finished 31-of-45 for 301 yards, a touchdown and the two interceptions against the Bucs, though most of that production came late in a game already lost. He was 26-of-40 for 213 yards in the Bears’ 23-17 loss to the Falcons in their season opener at Soldier Field, to which Fox alluded in his hope of how Glennon responds for Week 3. As the Bears’ deficit grew in Sunday’s loss, Fox didn’t consider a move to Trubisky. Glennon finished out the game, connecting with receiver Deonte Thompson for a score in the final minutes to avoid the shutout. Trubisky entered the preseason as the Bears’ third-string quarterback, earning his way to the backup role as the regular season began. Veteran Mark Sanchez is the team’s No. 3 and has been inactive for the first two games of the season. The Bears’ initial plan was to have Sanchez work as the backup so Trubisky wouldn’t be forced into action too soon. But Trubisky has ascended on a fast pace and was deemed ready to be the backup.
“I love where he is” Fox said. “I love his growth. I think the guy works at it very hard. He’s into it on gameday. He’s into it because you’re one play away from being a starter, like any backup. It doesn’t matter the position. You have to prepare like you’re one play away. I like where he is and I like his development.”Trubisky’s time could be coming sooner rather than later if Glennon continues to put the Bears in a poor position. For now, there will be no change at the quarterback position. “He makes good decisions,” Fox said of Glennon. “He works tirelessly in preparation. He works super hard. It’s evident to his teammates — what you’d expect from a starting quarterback. Like I said before, it’s his second game, preparing now for our third game.”
(CBS) Up until Sunday, my feeling was these Bears could be much improved from 2016, even if it wouldn’t reflect much in the team’s record. Well, I was wrong. This team is worse. It has shown and will show in its record. Entering Sunday’s contest in Tampa Bay, it was hard to know what to expect from the Buccaneers, whose starters hadn’t played real football in almost three weeks due to a combination of not playing in the final preseason game and the disruption caused by Hurricane Irma last week. Well, the Bucs were ready to play in a dominating 29-7 win, and the Bears took a step backward. Chicago’s defense gave up only 311 total yards, but statistics can be deceiving. They don’t show that the Bears helped the Bucs offense three times by getting called for defensive holding, giving Tampa Bay first downs after Chicago appeared to have a stop. That’s unacceptable and inexcusable. The Bears defense also couldn’t stop the Bucs when they needed to, and they didn’t generate consistent pressure on quarterback Jameis Winston. The Bears special teams blundered when rookie Tarik Cohen decided to try and pick up a short rolling punt between two Bucs defenders only to fumble and give the ball back to Tampa Bay in the red zone. This was a bonehead rookie mistake by Cohen that never should’ve happened, and the result basically took the Bears out of the game.The Bucs scored on the next play. Until that play, Cohen had been looked at as one of the bright spots on the Bears’ roster. But then he tried to make a play that he could probably pull off at FCS-level North Carolina A&T but not in the NFL. It was a learning experience but a costly one. Offensively, Bears quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 301 yards, but that was the most deceiving statistic of the game. The majority of those yards came in the last one-third of the game when Tampa Bay was playing loose defense and giving up the underneath routes. Glennon also threw two interceptions on balls that never should’ve been thrown and fumbled while being sacked. All of these plays happened in the first half and took away any chance of the Bears winning. In short, Glennon was terrible. Since joining the Bears, Glennon has shown he’s not a quick processor, and he struggles to find receivers and get the ball to them downfield. The bulk of the Bears passing game comes with short crossing routes and check-downs that the opposing defense will give away every play. Defenses across the league now know that Glennon can’t make quick decisions and throw the ball downfield. This will allow them to concentrate on stopping the run and force the Bears offense in disarray. All offseason, the Bears told us that they would be a running team and control the clock. On Sunday, the Bears attempted to run the ball just 16 times. Jordan Howard, who was second in the NFL in rushing as a rookie last season, carried the ball only nine times for seven yards. The Bears have gone out of their way to give the 5-foot-6 Cohen the majority of touches, but you just can’t win that way. The reason the Bears can’t run is because they have a passing game that wouldn’t scare a junior high team, let alone an NFL club. That brings up the question of why Glennon is still the starter. Bears coach John Fox went out of his way after the game Sunday to state that rookie Mitchell Trubisky wouldn’t play and that Glennon will continue to be the starter. Again, why? I understand the Bears have a plan to develop Trubisky, and that plan doesn’t include Trubisky playing much in 2017. In theory, that’s a good plan and in the best interest of Trubisky. The problem is Glennon is horrible, and he won’t improve. Trubisky clearly outplayed Glennon in the preseason by showing he can make quicker decisions, can get the ball out of his hand faster, complete passes downfield and move the ball. Unless Fox has a guarantee from management that he won’t get fired with Glennon playing quarterback, why is he sticking with him? Regardless of whether Trubisky is ready, he gives the Bears a better chance to win in every game. Play him. Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.