Joe Flacco a Bear? Very, very long shot, but...

986045.png

Joe Flacco a Bear? Very, very long shot, but...

Thoughts that occur watching conference championship games

If the Ravens put their franchise tag (not the exclusive-rights one) on Joe Flacco, would you consider giving up the No. 1s for him and cutting your losses with Jay Cutler?

The Bears gave up two No. 1s for Cutler, whod never been to the playoffs, so what do you trade for a quarterback who beat Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in this postseason alone and has never not been in the playoffs?

MORE: Ravens, Niners headed to the Super Bowl

GM Phil Emery wont make that deal; hes already without a third-round pick because of the Brandon Marshall trade. And the Ravens know what theyve got with Flacco.

But neither Emery nor Marc Trestman have skin the Jay Cutler game. So

Overrating weapons

Matt Ryan did not get any further with Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones and Roddy White than Jay Cutler did with Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. When you are guilty of an interception and unforced fumble within 20 minutes of a Super Bowl, its not about weapons; its about the plays you make or dont make when it matters

Dont forget Matt Forte in 2013

Three of the final four teams ranked in the top 11 for rushing (San Francisco 2nd, New England 7th, Baltimore 11th). Atlanta had some success but could not hold a 17-0 lead and were out-rushed 148-81

Accuracy wins

Colin Kaepernik completed 76.2 percent of his passes (none to the Falcons). Matt Ryan completed 71.4 percent of his (one to the 49ers). The difference may not seem significant except that in virtually every game of the postseason, the team with the most accurate quarterback won. Add in a running game and you have the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl instead of the Atlanta Falcons.

And up in Foxboro, Joe Flacco flat out-played Tom Brady and is going to the Super Bowl he would have been to last season if Lee Evans catches a pass

Will Trestman change Cutler?

Staying with the accuracy theme and applying it to the Bears and Jay Cutler:

A major positive for Marc Trestman was the names of quarterbacks on his resume: Rich Gannon, Bernie Kosar, Steve Young in particular. But a valid question to consider is just how much Trestman improved the play of his quarterbacks, since Trestman and QB coach Matt Cavanaugh getting more from Jay Cutler is a franchise directive.

RELATED: Cavanaugh hired as quarterback coach

Teams with Trestman on staff and handling quarterbacks frequently reached playoffs. But Gannons first two Oakland seasons with Trestman were the two most accurate of his career. His two with Trestman in Minnesota were decidedly pedestrian despite having Anthony Carter and Cris Carter as his receivers.

Youngs two seasons with Trestman were very good but neither were as good as the 1994 season before Trestman or 1997 after Trestman. Bernie Kosar had a Pro Bowl 1987 with Cleveland but 1988 was right about Kosars career averages for passer rating, completion percentage, etc. as he lost some time to injuries.

A quick look at the quarterbacks at Trestmans various NFL stops:

Quarterback (Team)
YearComp.
Steve DeBerg (Tampa Bay)
198757.8Bernie Kosar (Cleveland)
198860.2198959.1
Rich Gannon (Minnesota)
199052.1199159.6Steve Young (San Francisco)
199566.9199667.7Scott Mitchell (Detroit)
199757.6Jake Plummer (Arizona)
199859.2199952.8200056.8Rich Gannon
200165.6200267.6200355.6

Conclusion:

Check back in October or November. Trestman and Cavanaugh have a seven-year NFL quarterback on their hands. How much they can alter his course likely comes down to how much Cutler buys into the ways of coaches who may not necessarily create great quarterbacks but certainly know what those look like.

MORE: Trestman's GPS has the Bears en route

Tightening up

The Bears need dramatically more at tight end over what Kellen Davis, Evan Rodriguez (as a fullback) and Matt Spaeth gave them. Baltimores Dennis Pitta is expected to be an unrestricted free agent, but the draft is an option for savvy talent evaluators.

Pitta and New Englands Aaron Gonzalez, like Rodriguez, were fourth-round draft choices.

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.”