Adam Shaheen

Bears Week 2 grades: The loss to Tampa Bay was as bad as you thought

Bears Week 2 grades: The loss to Tampa Bay was as bad as you thought

QUARTERBACK: F

The two interceptions and lost fumble charged to Glennon are impossible to get past. The first interception came on a quick gain play when Glennon locked into the stick route ran by tight end Dion Sims and failed to see linebacker Kwon Alexander, who jumped the route to pick the pass off (tight end Adam Shaheen was open on the play, too). Glennon said he could’ve got the ball out sooner or moved better in the pocket on the fumble he lost when his arm was hit. And on his final interception — a pick six — Glennon thought he saw Josh Bellamy beat cornerback Robert McClain, but the throw was still dangerous and he admitted he should've gone to another progression. Glennon’s decision-making simply has to be better. 

RUNNING BACK: D-

Tarik Cohen (seven carries, 13 yards) and Jordan Howard (nine carries, seven yards) were ineffective on the ground, though Cohen caught eight passes for 55 yards and continues to be a factor in the passing game. Neither Howard — who declined to speak to reporters for the second consecutive game — nor Cohen got much help from the Bears’ offensive line, for what it’s worth, and credit should be given to a disruptive Tampa Bay front seven. But for the Bears’ offense to be at its best, it has to get more than 20 yards on 16 carries from its running backs. 

WIDE RECEIVER: C+

While this was still a game, the Bears’ receivers did what was asked of them, consistently getting open and catching the ball over the middle. Kendall Wright in particular was involved early and often, which was a good sign after a quiet first half last week against Atlanta. Still, there will be a ceiling on how good this unit can be so long as they don’t have someone who can stretch the field — in other words, until Markus Wheaton plays. And for as solid as this unit was in the first half, it combined for four drops in the in the fourth quarter. That can’t happen even if a game is out of reach. 

TIGHT END: C-

Some of the Bears’ ineffectiveness running the football falls on the tight ends, too. Zach Miller had six catches for 42 yards and was a reliable target for Glennon, though the only time Sims was targeted was on that pass Alexander picked off. Shaheen only played a handful of plays and wasn’t a factor, though it might've been nice to see him get an opportunity to catch some passes in the second half. 

OL: D-

Gerald McCoy and the Buccaneers’ front seven gave the Bears’ offensive line fits, and even before Tom Compton’s game-ending hip injury, this unit was struggling to get a consistent push for Howard and Cohen. The Bears will have to hope Kyle Long — who didn’t travel to Tampa — can return to the lineup in Week 3 against Pittsburgh. But if there are concerns about playing Mitchell Trubisky behind this offensive line, it’s worth noting Glennon was only sacked once on Sunday. 

DL: C-

Eddie Goldman recorded a sack, a hurry and a tackle for a loss while Akiem Hicks stuffed Charles Sims on third-and-one to force the punt Cohen fumbled. Mitch Unrein had a tackle for a loss and a hurry, too. This unit made the fewest mistakes of any on the Bears’ defense, but also didn’t get enough pressure on Jameis Winston, who was largely unbothered in the pocket. 

LB: C-

Danny Trevathan was whistled for two holding penalties and Willie Young was flagged for another, all of which allowed the Buccaneers to convert third downs and keep scoring drives alive. Losing Nick Kwiatkoski to a pec injury hurt. Positives here: Willie Young recording his first sack of the year and Pernell McPhee forcing a fumble, which was recovered by Leonard Floyd for the Bears’ first takeaway of 2017. 

DB: C-

Mike Evans got his against the secondary, catching seven passes for 93 yards with a touchdown (that touchdown came on a perfectly-placed back-shoulder throw, which gave Marcus Cooper no chance to make a play on it). The most egregious of those catches was a 17-yard gain on third-and-5 late in the second quarter that led to a Nick Folk field goal. The Bears were able to bottle up DeSean Jackson, who only caught three passes for 39 yards, while tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard combined for three catches and 41 yards. 

For the defense as a whole, they were dealt sudden-change short fields and extended drives, which was made worse by the sweltering heat of Tampa. A C- grade across the board seems right. 

“Just because the ball was in their hands doesn’t mean they have to score,” Hicks said. “I think collectively we can do a little bit better.” 

SPECIAL TEAMS - F

Cohen’s ill-fated attempt to field a punt led to a predictable fumble and Buccaneers touchdown. It was the major rookie mistake, one he admitted was “dumb” after the game: “If I had to do it again I would just stay away from the ball,” Cohen said. Tanner Gentry committed an unnecessary roughness penalty on a kick return that backed the Bears up to their own 12-yard line at the end of the first quarter. 

COACHING - F

The Bears were sloppy not only with those four turnovers, but with the eight penalties the team committed, and mental mistakes don't reflect well on a coaching staff. John Fox is now 0-8 in September as coach of the Bears, with those eight defeats coming by an average of 15.6 points. And too, this loss didn’t show any improvement from 2016’s 36-10 defeat in Tampa, a notable concern in Fox’s third year in Chicago. 

Evaluating the Bears’ pass-catching options with Kevin White going on IR

Evaluating the Bears’ pass-catching options with Kevin White going on IR

The Bears aren’t sure if Kevin White will return in 2017, with the star-crossed former seventh overall pick going on injured reserve with a fractured scapula.

Whether he does or doesn’t, though, won’t affect the question facing the Bears’ passing offense: Now what?

When training camp opened in late July, the Bears’ top three wide receivers were lined up to be Cameron Meredith (who’s out for the year), White (who may be out for the year) and Markus Wheaton (who didn’t play Sunday due to a fractured pinkie suffered in August). So where can the help come from, if it materializes at all?

Currently on the 53-man roster:

Kendall Wright didn’t catch his first pass Sunday until the fourth quarter. He’s a savvy route-runner who’s adept at getting open in space, but is primarily a slot receiver, which limits his opportunities to get on the field if…

— The Bears use more two- and three-tight end sets. Zach Miller was Mike Glennon’s second-most targeted player on Sunday (six times, with four catches for 39 yards), and coach John Fox made the point last week that when Miller was injured in 2016, he was the team’s best pass-catcher. Dion Sims caught two passes and could be utilized more as a big body up the seam. Rookie Adam Shaheen didn’t show much during preseason but played a handful of snaps, but he and his 6-foot-6, 270 pound frame could be molded into a useful weapon in certain situations.

“He’s getting better every day, every week,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last week. “We’ll just keep practicing. He’s going to fill a role for us right now and it’s a deep position for us so we’re fortunate that we can develop a talented player and he’ll have a role and that role will continue to grow as he’s ready to take on more.”

Deonte Thompson and Josh Bellamy haven’t been more than 20-catch, 300-yard receivers with special teams value in their respective careers, but may be counted on to do more going forward. Bellamy in particular played well late against the Falcons, and while a possible game-winning touchdown hit him in the hands, it looked like he was held and had his timing disrupted on that play.

— Ryan Pace said last week the Bears “we’re excited about adding” Tre McBride, a waiver claim from the Baltimore Ravens. McBride was inactive last week and only has two career receptions for eight yards. “He spent last week getting kind of oriented in our offense, he's a possibility,” coach John Fox said.

Markus Wheaton is “improving,” Fox said Monday, but has yet to practice without a club on his hand to protect his healing pinkie. He has the established speed to at least be a deep threat for opposing secondaries, but only played in three games last year with the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a shoulder issue that required surgery in January. If he can return to the field soon, he could add an important dimension to the Bears’ offense, so long as he’s able to stay healthy.

“I haven’t played a lot of football yet,” Wheaton said last week. “I’m sure it’ll come quick once I start playing again.” 

Tarik Cohen was outstanding on Sunday, catching eight passes for 47 yards and plowing through cornerback Desmond Trufant for a 19-yard touchdown. But can the 5-foot-6, 181 pound Cohen hold up over a full 16-game season taking the kind of shots he did from the Falcons’ defense? He’s shown impressive toughness, but given his early status as the best playmaker in this offense, may need to be calculated about the risks he takes (i.e., going down/out of bounds against zone coverage to avoid the biggest of hits).

Jordan Howard wanted to improve his all-around game in 2017, but the drop he had near the end zone late Sunday hurt. He only had 13 carries, though, and if the Bears’ offense can find a way to be effective while making sure he’s fresh throughout games and the entire season, it’ll benefit this group as a whole.

Benny Cunningham has pass-catching ability as a third-down back, but suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday. That may lead to waiver claim Taquan Mizzell, who caught 195 passes in college at Virginia, being active against Tampa Bay to fill Cunningham’s role.

Not on the roster, for now:

— Training camp star Tanner Gentry could be an option if the Bears elevate him off the practice squad. He has a better understanding of the offense than anyone the Bears could acquire from outside the organization, which could help him step in faster. But the Bears decided against keeping him on their initial roster, and he wasn’t claimed on waivers by any of the other 31 teams in the league. Perhaps Gentry develops into a solid player, but it’s worth remembering the last undrafted rookie receiver to make it with the Bears (Meredith) only had 11 catches for 120 yards in his first year.

— The free agent pool at this time of the year, obviously, is limited. Could someone like a Dorial Green-Beckham, who caught 36 passes for 392 yards and two touchdowns last year, be an option? Possibly, though teams have had two and a half months to sign the former second-round pick and haven’t, likely due to off-the-field questions. Former Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson is out there, but tore his ACL last year and, at the age of 34, has seen his production sharply decline over the last three years. The Bears’ front office will continue to scour the free agent, and possibly trade, markets, but finding an impact guy in mid-September will be difficult.

“When injuries happen in the league is, how thick your roster is at that position and how fast you can get a guy schooled up?” Fox said. “We dealt with that more than our share last year and it's not unusual but we'll adjust.”

Emptying the Week 1 notebook: An edge for Glennon and a snap count for McPhee?

Emptying the Week 1 notebook: An edge for Glennon and a snap count for McPhee?

Mike Glennon went through four game weeks preparing for the Atlanta Falcons’ defense while backing up Jameis Winston with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the last two years, and threw 11 passes against the eventual NFC champions last November. He’s prepared for the Falcons eight times, total, in his career. 

Can that give Glennon somewhat of an edge heading into Sunday’s game?

“I came in with already some knowledge of them,” Glennon said, “better than I would opponents in the NFC North because I’ve game-planned them and studied them multiple times over the past couple years.”

The Falcons have a new defensive coordinator — Marquand Manuel — but promoted him from within the coaching staff to replace Richard Smith. The concepts of the defense likely will remain similar to what was on tape the last few years.

This may or may not matter, but the Bears will need Glennon — who Pro Football Focus had 30th in its starting quarterback rankings — to have any edge he can get on Sunday. 

Is Pernell McPhee in the best shape of his life?

That’s what strength and conditioning coach Jason George said about McPhee, according to coach John Fox. But defensive coordinator Vic Fangio wasn’t buying it. 

“I heard from our medical training staff that he’s in the best shape of his life, then I hear that he can only play so-and-so many snaps,” Fangio said. “Take everything with a grain of salt that you hear from those people.”

McPhee was listed as questionable on the Bears’ final injury report released Friday and was a limited participant in practice this week. In talking with the media Thursday, McPhee wouldn’t guarantee he’ll play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons (“it’s in God’s hands,” he said). 

But it’s seemed increasingly likely that McPhee will play Week 1, despite missing the entire preseason after being placed on the PUP list before training camp began. If he does play, though, he’ll likely be on a snap count — as Fangio alluded to — while rotating with Willie Young and Leonard Floyd. 

Having McPhee back would be a boost to an outside linebacker group needing depth. But would it be fair for the Bears to expect McPhee to immediately be the guy who had five sacks in his first seven games with the Bears in 2015?

“Probably not,” Fangio said. 

Off the bubble and onto the field

With Prince Amukamara doubtful for Sunday, expect Kyle Fuller to start at cornerback against the Falcons’ high-powered passing attack. It’ll be a major test for Fuller, who will be a free agent after the season following the Bears’ decision in the spring to not pick up his fifth-year option. 

Fuller entered camp squarely on the Bears’ roster bubble, but played relatively well when given opportunities to fill in for a banged-up Amukamara. 

“I think we’re aware of his ability, but getting him back healthy’s been a real plus for our defense,” coach John Fox said. “I think I’m excited to watch him play Sunday.”

The Bears’ secondary as a whole is a question mark heading into the season with new starters at every position — Fuller, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps and Eddie Jackson. For all the optimism about what the front seven can do, this unit will have to hold up on Sunday for the Bears to contain an Atlanta offense that led the NFL in scoring last year. 

Somebody hit somebody

Danny Trevathan hasn’t been listed on the Bears’ injury report this week and, nine and a half months after rupturing the patellar tendon in his (left?) knee, is likely to start at inside linebacker on Sunday. He didn't appear in a preseason game but traveled to Tennessee and dressed for the Bears' third preseason game, which was a good indicator of where he stood in his recovery process. 

Trevathan’s return to the Bears’ lineup adds some speed to a front seven that looked impressive without him during the preseason. But personally for Trevathan, getting back on the field and making a play after such a serious injury will be meaningful. 

“That first tackle come Sunday is going to be very special,” Trevathan said. “It’s going to be good. I’m just looking forward and I thank God for the opportunity to come back out here.”

Could Adam Shaheen be among the inactives?

While Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson all impressed over the last few weeks, Adam Shaheen faded into the background. He looked great during OTAs and minicamp — without pads on — but struggled to make an impact during games and live-contact portions of practice. 

Fox framed Shaheen’s quiet preseason as normal for a rookie tight end, and he’s not wrong about that. But with Zach Miller and Dion Sims atop the tight end depth chart, and Daniel Brown contributing on plenty of special teams units (so has Shaheen, to be fair) it wouldn’t be too surprising if the second-round pick were among the inactive players on Sunday. 

“I think the transition to the pro game for tight ends, particularly in the blocking part of it, I think is an adjustment for all tight ends,” Fox said. “I’ve seen a lot of them come through and that’s usually kind of the last thing that kind of comes. But I like his progress and I think things have slowed down for him. Obviously, going from Ashland to the NFL is a little bit of a jump. And then in games I think it does take time to adjust like it does with all rookies.”