15 on 6: Forget Sunday, Bears Have Short Week

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15 on 6: Forget Sunday, Bears Have Short Week

Sunday, November 8th

You practice hard all week perfecting a game plan only to have it canned the first three drives against the Cardinals. Playing catchup is never the ideal position to be in the NFL, especially 31-6 at halftime with only 30 minutes to play. The Bears put up big numbers, but clearly have a lot to correct, which is difficult during a short work week. Here are three easy fixes Jay and the offense will emphasize before they face the 49ers on Thursday night:

1. Scramble drill: Today when Jay scrambled, the receivers did not work to get open. It does not happen through osmosis and the coaches do not teach what they displayed today. All 32 teams work the scramble drill. The deepest WR works back to the QB, shortest routed WR goes deep, and the intermediate WR works sideline to sideline with the QB in order to uncover. The coaches and Jay need to work this drill a couple times in practice. Even if the Bears are in 7-on-7 with no pass rush, just to get reactions from all positions to execute it properly.

2. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said last week that he "wanted to scale back the offense." This is the week to do it. The Bears have a short week of work before they fly out to San Francisco for Thursday's game. The game plan will be as basic as it gets with the Bears only working one day to prepare. They will be given the game plan tomorrow with at most a walk thru of first and second down plays. Tuesday will consist of third down, red zone, and goal line installation. Hopefully, players' bodies are not too banged up on Tuesday that you can go at a good pace in practice to get the timing down. Wednesday they will travel.

3. Players must work on the mental approach to the game. Tomorrow they must be accountable. They will not watch the debacle against Arizona, there is no time. They must dive into the 49ers film and get to know their next opponent. They must also dive into the game plan mentally. During a short week, you cannot practice every play you are going to call in the game. Again, there is no time and bodies will not be fully recovered from today's game. You must make the most of your time. Study at night, on the plane, or in the training room. Whatever you have to do to get it down. It has never been more critical for this football team.

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”