Chicago Bears

Moon: Carimi is a case of attitude

459196.jpg

Moon: Carimi is a case of attitude

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Posted: 10:27 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The first thing that strikes you about Gabe Carimi, after his sheer mass at 6-7, 315 pounds, is the attitude.

Not the ever-popular, ever-clichd mean streak." If you dont have at least a level of mean streak, youre not in the NFL; if you have too much mean streak, youre getting too many 15-yard penalties and youre headed for MMA.

But with Carimi its the attitude that actually matters and one that not every player has. And if they dont, they will only be so good.

There are only two options, Carimi said Saturday. You never can stay consistent. Improvement is the only way to go. I have a hunger to try to succeed at whatever I do. Thats the objective: to be the best Bear offensive lineman I can be.

Not everyone walks into Halas Hall with that attitude. For some, being a high draft choice is the accomplishment. For Carimi, its a dare.
WATCH: Bears' Carimi gets first look at Halas Hall

And he put that on himself when he declared at the NFL Scouting Combine that he was the best of a good tackle crop in this draft. Indeed, he doesnt quite get why someone wouldnt feel that way.

What am I going to say? That I dont think Im the best tackle or going to be the best tackle? Carimi wondered. But I am more than happy. This is exactly where I wanted to be, to be honest with you. If you ask any of my close friends, I told them, when they asked me, Where do you fit best in, or where do you think you want to go, I told them that I wanted to be a Bear.

The right guy

Every personnel executive after every draft pick declares that the particular pick was precisely the guy they wanted. In the case of the Bears and Carimi, that in fact was the case.

The Bears wouldve been delighted with Tyron Smith from USC (to Dallas No. 9), Nate Solder from Colorado (to New England No. 17), Anthony Castonzo from Boston College (to Indianapolis No. 22) and Carimi. What they got with Carimi was a four-starter with a top Big Ten program with a history of producing solid linemen.

Hes been an outstanding player at Wisconsin for four years, said offensive line coach Mike Tice. Hes gotten better every year. Hes gotten tougher every year too.

Were trying to get bigger. Film doesnt lie. Hell bring everything that were looking to bring to the offensive line room: toughness, intelligence, size. Hes a solid athlete, maybe not a great athlete, but a solid athlete.
Creatively keeping the faith

Carimi is Jewish, which raises the question of whether he can or will play on the Jewish holidays. Sandy Koufax did not pitch a World Series game because it fell on the high holy days.

Carimi played last season against Arizona State after fasting based on observing Yom Kippur on Israeli time. He fasted and then received an IV to speed up recovery of nourishment.

And just to be sure, Carimi checked calendars and found Yom Kippur falling on no projected game day for more than a decade.

Yeah, thats what I did this year, Carimi said. It was Yom Yippur this year. Basically what I did was go off Israeli time. Fast at 12 oclock and then had like three hours to IV-up and eat.

I didnt feel any different. Ive already looked out 15 years from now and it doesnt happen on Sunday.

To his credit, Carimi also has adjusted a core belief system as far as his fan allegiance, which was to the Green Bay Packers because of his Wisconsin roots.

I was a Packers fan growing up, but Ive had my errors in my way, Carimi deadpanned. Ive sinned and repented, so Im good now. Ive seen the light.

Now, if he can see the 30-some pass protections of Tice and the Bears offense just as clearly, the Bears will have something.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright draws a line between Marcus Mariota and Mitch Trubisky: They 'can do it all'

Kendall Wright saw two years ago what the transition for a quarterback, picked second overall and coming from a college spread offense, can look like. Marcus Mariota made that move smoothly and now looks poised to join the ranks of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this year with the Tennessee Titans. 

Can Mitch Trubisky make a similarly successful transition? Wright, so far, has liked what he’s seen.

“His overall progression from OTAs to training camp to now, his overall everything he’s done in every area has gotten better,” Wright said. “The work he puts in, it helps him.” 

It’s not a perfect comparison, of course, given the offense Mariota so effectively operated at Oregon didn't resemble the look and feel of the one Trubisky ran at North Carolina. Mariota started far more games than Trubisky, too. They’re two different quarterbacks with different skillsets. And Mariota was given the opportunity to be a Week 1 starter from the moment he was drafted, while Trubisky — for now — remains behind Mike Glennon. 

“Marcus was in a different position where he came in and he was the quarterback,” Wright said. “I think it’s different. Once Mitch starts playing, whenever he starts playing, he’ll start progressing a lot more because he’ll actually be out there in game-like situations.”

But consider why the Titans were so confident Mariota could start immediately and make a successful transition to the NFL from that flashy Oregon offense:

“I don’t think the system he had in Oregon, I don’t think that held him back when he came into the league,” Wright said. “I think he was good at making his progressions, decisive. He’s like one of those players, it doesn’t matter what system he’s in, you put him out there and he’s a guy that’s a difference-maker.”

After espousing Trubisky’s accuracy back in April, Bears general manager Ryan Pace quickly pointed out this trait: “His ability to process and see the whole field jumps out right away. 

“… All these top quarterbacks, it’s just their ability to quickly process defenses, process coverage, find open targets, not panic under pressure, deliver accurate throws when there’s a noisy pocket – things are collapsing – those guys all have those traits. And Mitch has those traits, Drew (Brees) has those traits and those are things we value.”

The point being: No matter the system, both Mariota and Trubisky have good football intelligence, and are more than what Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians once bemoaned about college spread quarterbacks. 

“They hold up a card on the sideline and he kicks his foot and throws the ball,” Arians said in 2015. “That ain’t playing quarterback.”

Trubisky, of course, still has to improve with his pre-snaps reads, calling out protections, identifying coverages, learning the playbook, etc. But he seems to have the football intelligence to make those strides and marry them with his impressive physical skillset. 

And as was the case with Mariota, Wright doesn’t see a reason why Trubisky can’t succeed in the NFL. 

“(Trubisky) can do it all too,” Wright said. “He’s still learning, he’s still getting better, he’s never complacent. He has the ability to get better and he’s willing to get better. He’s a young guy that listens. He’s just a baller. You put him out there and he makes plays.” 

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

8-21kendallwright.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

With return to Tennessee looming, football is fun again for Kendall Wright

Sunday will mark Kendall Wright’s first trip back to Nashville since he not-so-amicably split with the Tennessee Titans after the 2016 season. 

Wright has said he doesn’t want to talk about his time in Tennessee, where injuries and clashes with coaches led to a steady decline in targets and production after a standout 2013 season (139 targets, 94 receptions, 1,079 yards). But it’s easy to compare how he feels practicing with the Bears to how he felt toward the end of his days with the Titans. 

“A fresh start is good,” Wright said. “Football is fun again. 

“If you don’t have fun playing the game, what the use of you playing? And I didn’t really have too much fun the past few years. But when you’re out here playing and doing what you love to do, it’s fun. So you just gotta keep the game fun.”

Wright was a little more forceful earlier this year. 

“What motivates me the most is I probably was the best receiver on the Titans roster last year and I was playing, like, 10 plays a game,” Wright said during OTAs in June. 

But while this weekend’s game against the Titans could seem to be an opportunity for revenge, Wright is more approaching it for what it is — another preseason game to continue to improve with the rest of the first team offense. 

Wright caught a touchdown from  Glennon Saturday night in Arizona (he also was the target on Glennon’s interception, though that looked to be more on the quarterback than the receiver). And he seems to be clearly ahead of Victor Cruz to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver — Cruz wasn’t targeted against Arizona, while Wright received three targets. 

If the Glennon-led first-team offense is going to have success in the regular season, it needs improvements from every unit — quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line — based on what we’ve seen during the preseason. Perhaps a motivated, fun-having Wright, playing for the same offensive coordinator under which he had his best season, can be a part of that. 

“The game of football is supposed to be fun,” Wright said. “Don’t take the fun out of it. You just gotta go out there and have fun and make plays. When you’re making plays, it’s even more fun.”