Bears should be in Super Bowl discussion next year

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Bears should be in Super Bowl discussion next year

With Phil Emery officially sworn in as the fifth general manager in franchise history, the overriding question turns to how quickly he and his still-forming staff can be about the job Chairman George McCaskey set down in clear terms: winning championships.Emery received the requisite five-year contract from the Bears. It should not take him that long.Unless there are setbacks of the magnitude of the Jay Cutler and Matt Forte injuries in 2011, the Bears should be in the discussion for a Super Bowl trip in 2012. Nothing less.The reasons are simple: Emery takes over a team that was anything but a rebuilding project. The Bears were 7-3 when Cutler broke his passing hand. They had accelerated past the Detroit Lions and were being talked about as one of a small number of NFC teams capable of taking down the Green Bay Packers.Also, Emery is a draft builder, and 2011 showed convincingly that rookies can deliver impact on extremely high levels. If quarterbacks can play and play well immediately (Cam Newton, Andy Dalton), the expectations are no less from other positions on both sides of the ball.
Von Miller (Denver), Patrick Peterson (Arizona), Aldon Smith (San Francisco), J.J. Watt (Houston), all were standouts on their teams defenses. Deeper down in the first round, Danny Watkins was a starting guard for the Eagles; Gabe Carimi was the Bears right tackle before he was lost to a knee injury.Bryan Bulaga was Green Bays starting right tackle when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV a year ago. He was a rookie.Free agency comes before the draft but not surprisingly perhaps, Emery cited the draft first on how this all will be accomplished.The object is adding playmakers and if we keep doing that, and primarily through the college draft, and fill in where we see strengths in free agency, well close the talent gap, he said of rejoining the NFLs elite after one playoff appearance in five years.Emery is now on the clock. And his history says thats where hes most comfortable.

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.”