The Chicago Bears capped off their second week of camp with their annual "Family Fest," celebrating what has been a great set of practices.
After adding talent on the offensive side of the ball and retaining their most important players on the defense, the Bears look to prove that they have closed the gap significantly on the Lions and Packers—especially the Packers.
Webb to LT?
Of course it’s too early to say for sure, but J’Marcus Webb seems to have gained the upper hand at left tackle. I talked about this the other day so we won’t dwell on it too much, but with Webb at left tackle and Carimi at right, one would assume Williams ends up at left guard.
The sooner, the better. With a new offense and a new blocking scheme, the sooner the line is solidified, the more reps they can get.
The more reps, the surer the protection.
Mike Tice expects a lot from these guys—since the team has said they feel like the talent is there, it’s their rear ends on the line if it falters.
So yeah, he expects them to perform.
He and head coach Lovie Smith sort of have to.
After the debacle of Caleb Hanie (who may not even make the cut in Denver), the Bears decided that having a less-than-adequate quarterback as their No. 2 was unacceptable.
I like Campbell—I’m not sure whether he has the chops to start long term for a team, but I’m willing to entertain it given the carousel of coordinators and coaching changes he’s endured.
He’s more than adequate as a backup, there’s no question. He’s got the arm and decent accuracy, though that falters under pressure at times.
I know we like to talk about acquiring Brandon Marshall as the biggest offseason move. Some people might add Mike Bush.
However, making sure Jay Cutler has a competent backup could prove to be the biggest thing if something goes awry on the offensive line.
Campbell has looked good in camp, and while he doesn’t get tremendous reps, he does a lot with what he has.
If Cutler goes down (crosses self, knocks on wood and throws salt over shoulder at a black cat under a ladder), Campbell will make sure that the season doesn’t follow Cutler down the toilet.
Shea McClellin gains ground
We’ve talked about McClellin’s slow start and how some of it is adjusting to the game, some of it is the transition to the three-point stance and some might be general rookie overthinking.
He has started to make progress, though, including a nice interception on a Jason Campbell screen pass. The rookie is starting to win some one-on-one battles as well, and while other NFC North fans might joke that it was against the Bears crappy offensive line, given that the line has actually been good in camp, it means something.
Again, it’s hard to say anything definitive about a player in camp at this point, but McClellin is starting to "get it."
Once he does, he’ll start to "get" opposing quarterbacks as well.
Offensive Explosion Imminent
Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler are doing very well, but let’s not forget to mention that Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Kellen Davis have played well also.
Not to mention Alshon Jeffery.
The rookie is a big, long receiver with great hands. Once he sharpens his route running and gets used to playing off press coverage, he could be a big part of this offense.
Even without Jeffery, this offense looks poised to explode in production.
It’s not going to be the Lions/Packers type of explosion. No, the Bears will run the ball a lot more and utilize their backs differently.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be deadly. With the pieces in place, and the production in camp so far, this is a group who could really do some damage.
For years the defense has held them in games. Now the defense can hold down the opposition and know that their offense can score from anywhere.
That gives the defense security and confidence that they’ll get a breather.
Say what you will about Tim Tebow and Denver but the defense knew they were getting time to rest and that he wasn’t pulling an Orton—in other words no three-and-outs.
They knew their defensive efforts were not wasted.
Now, picture the same defense (wearing Chicago blue) with a quarterback who can throw a spiral and suddenly this becomes a team with a real shot at shaking things up.