Column: Coach Matt Eberflus sends 2 clear messages — he wants to keep the Chicago Bears roster healthy, and practice matters

0
46
Ravens Q&A: OLB Daelin Hayes on learning from a frustrating rookie season, reuniting with Kyle Hamilton, the importance of community service and more
google news

Sitting through news conferences with NFL coaches and trying to find something that isn’t filled with clichés or basically repeating principles can be challenging.

It’s called coach-speak, and often the coach’s goal is to make it through 15 minutes by saying very little.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is legendary for his ability to say nothing of interest, although he occasionally can be incredibly insightful when it comes to minutiae involving an aspect of special teams or the history of the game.

For a good stretch, former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith would talk about “getting off the bus running,” and Matt Eberflus often references his HITS principle, although he gets a good number of questions about it.

Two things Eberflus said this week stood out, though. The first was an announcement Wednesday that the Bears decided to shorten practice for the next two weeks. You can link it back to his belief in HITS. The Bears have been practicing for about 1 hour, 40 minutes on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and that was trimmed by about 15 minutes, perhaps a reaction to injuries during practice last week to cornerback Jaylon Johnson (quad) and strong-side linebacker Matt Adams (hamstring).

Johnson will miss his second straight game Sunday against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, and Adams is doubtful. Johnson played exceptionally well in the first two games, and if you were to hand-pick two games for him to miss, they probably would be the Houston Texans and Giants, who have a thin cast of wide receivers. The good news for the Bears is rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. appears ready to make his NFL debut after a lingering hamstring issue that popped up in mid-August.

“We shortened it because we want to stay fresh,” said Eberflus as his team embarks on a stretch beginning Sunday that has them playing three games in a 12-day span with a trip to the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 9 and a home game against the Washington Commandars on Oct. 13.

The Bears, like all teams, use GPS tracking devices on players in practice that provide useful data to show how fast they move, and Eberflus said coaches review the information. By shortening practice, the first-year head coach can continue to preach his mantra that you can’t “play hard and live soft,” hopefully protecting his players by taking some reps and running away.

The other interesting nugget came Monday. Eberflus was asked why the team flip-flopped the rotation at right guard, starting Lucas Patrick and then bringing in Teven Jenkins, who started the first two games. The cycle remained the same — the linemen rotated every two series — but Patrick got first crack. The offense sustained more drives when he was in as he logged 41 snaps to Jenkins’ 22.

“It’s about practice,” Eberflus said. “We evaluate practice. Wednesday is a big day for us, Thursday and Friday. We thought Lucas did a good job of practicing. Teven did a nice job on Thursday and Friday but needs to have a better Wednesday for him to step into that role.”

The frank assessment was interesting from the standpoint that Eberflus was critical of Jenkins’ performance. You can classify that as real talk from the coach, an interesting way of handling the situation. Maybe the Bears feel as if Jenkins will respond when prodded. Maybe it’s a message Eberflus wanted the entire team to hear. Whatever the case, players talked about it afterward.

“They did express it to me,” Jenkins said. “I was not feeling my best last week, overall health-wise, some illness. I just ended up carrying that over to practice. Ultimately that practice, as you heard from coach, wasn’t that good, and that is what led to it.

“I never want to bother people, especially my coaches. I don’t want to be taken out for anything. So I’m trying to push through it, and sadly my play was affected by it. (Walking off the field that day), you start questioning — did you give it your all today? It’s one of those situations.”

How did Jenkins feel about the coach sharing the assessment publicly?

“It’s him just trying to hold me accountable to a better standard,” Jenkins said. “That’s all.”

The Bears have an interesting dynamic with Patrick and Jenkins rotating, and it certainly sends the message that the linemen, at least, need to be pushing to improve daily. What happens in the middle of the week is considered essential to what will happen on Sundays.

Everyone can understand and accept that, and it circles back to the HITS principle. Perhaps Eberflus will continue to share key details that are driving some of the decisions, especially when they support his overarching message.

Scouting report

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Giants edge rusher

Information for this report was obtained from NFL scouts.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, was the No. 5 pick in the draft out of Oregon this year, the second edge rusher to come off the board after the Detroit Lions selected Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 pick. Thibodeuax made his debut Monday in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys after missing the first two games with a right knee injury suffered in the preseason. He had one tackle and tipped one pass but didn’t get any heat on quarterback Cooper Rush in 37 snaps.

“He’s a real interesting rusher,” the scout said. “He’s at his best using his strength. His lower body is a little rigid. He’s not a super flexible, bendy edge rusher like Von Miller or even a Robert Quinn. He is more of a power rusher. Based on his college tape, he does have pretty good hand usage. He’s got high-end closing speed, so he has the short-area burst to close on the quarterback. He probably needs to improve his hand usage and technique even more. There will be situations where he can overpower an offensive tackle, set him up, get him on his heels and top him over at the point of attack.

“Because he is a little limited in his hip movement, his hand usage is so important to really developing as a rookie and a pro. Braxton Jones will have to get depth off the snap to be able to anchor and set his base earlier versus a power rusher like Thibodeaux. The best comp for Thibodeaux is Jadeveon Clowney. That lower body tightness is noticeable on tape. So how does Clowney win? With an elite first step off the ball and the ability to get offensive linemen to set earlier and then run through them. His physical profile is different from Thibodeaux, but they are similar pass rushers.”

()

google news
Previous articleKylie Jenner was filmed looking ‘awkward and uncomfortable’ at Paris Fashion Week and it reminds fans of her longtime aversion to fame
Next articlePatrick Williams — after a summer of ‘hell’ workouts with DeMar DeRozan — is ready to prove himself in his 3rd Chicago Bulls season