Eye on the Enemy: Broncos Miller thinks Carimi is a beast

787894.png

Eye on the Enemy: Broncos Miller thinks Carimi is a beast

There are more questions than answers to take away from the Bears 31-3 loss to the Broncos in Thursdays preseason opener, but Denver linebacker Von Miller is certain of one thing.

Gabe Carimi looks like he did in college and he was a beast in college, Miller said.

Miller, a member of the same 2011 draft class as Carimi, was impressed with the Bears front five, even though the offense was only able to accumulate 41 total yards and went 0-for-5 on third downs in the first half.

I think they can be successful, Miller said. Its the NFL, there arent any geeks on any team. I know Gabe Carimi personally and he looked pretty well. He had a lot of injuries last year, but this season Im expecting him to do big things and to give other defensive lines problems.

The Wolfman Howls

Another Denver defender, rookie defensive end Derek Wolfe, was also beast-like during the first half, registering a pair of sacks working against the Bears offensive line.

I dont want to let my secrets out, Wolfe said. I think we did a good job of staying after them and not just relying on the first move. Our second effort stuff was getting us there.

The six-feet-five-inch, 300 pounder out of Cincinnati got to Jason Campbell on Chicagos second series of the game and then put Josh McCown on the ground in the closing minutes of the first half.

Miller, who was handing out nicknamesleft and right, envisions great things in the near future for his new teammate.

Hopefully we can hear the Wolfman howl at Mile High Stadium coming up this season, Miller said.

Manning Learns from Hanie?

All eyes were on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in his first action in almost a year. After the game he was very reflective on his journey back to the playing field.

I sure have come a long way in a year, Manning said. I know how much hard work Ive put in and how much help Ive gotten along the way. Its been a long haul for me.

Manning orchestrated an impressive opening drive, going 4-for-6 and throwing for 44 yards before an interception at the Bears two-yard line.

I heard Caleb Hanie talking about the key is how you evaluate yourself and how you improve throughout the preseason, Manning said.

Hanie, who fell out of favor in the Windy City after being thrown into the fire last season, went 7-for-14, passing for 79 yards in his return to Soldier Field.

It doesnt matter what year you are in the NFL, the key is trying to get better through the preseason, Manning said. Thats what we hope to do. Thats what I hope to do.

Funny how a former Bears backup quarterback, who was booed on his first snap of the game, can teach a future Hall-of-Famer a thing or two.

King of Comedy

Although things were pretty cut and dry from the four-time MVP, Manning did offer a brief moment of humor for the media.

Maybe in some ways Ive even gotten better. Manning said. Now I have the ability to throw the ball in a linebackers hands and tip it to my own player. Thats a positive.

Miller Respects Mr. Manning

It was great to see Mr. Manning go out there complete some passes and move the ball, Miller said following the victory.

The second-year linebacker registered 11.5 sacks, 51 tackles and forced three fumbles on his way to being named second-team All-Pro in 2011 insisted that Manning was someone he looked up to.

I dont have to call him that, but I feel like its a respect factor involved. The type of guy he is, he commands respect the way he comes to work every day. The way he competes, the way he displays leadership, I feel like I have to call him Mr. Manning.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.