This is one way to make an impression ahead of the NFL Draft:
Play of the game at today’s Shrine Game is hauled in by Houston WR Steven Dunbar. Most impressive. pic.twitter.com/R1l1TujzmE
— The Ten-Yard Line (@TheTenYardLine) January 20, 2018
With the West trailing 10-7 with 1:38 to go, University of Houston wide receiver Steven Dunbar put his stamp on the game with a 34-yard touchdown grab that turned out to be a game-winner. A precisely run route and the agility to stay in bounds and secure the touchdown sandwiched a perfectly thrown pass from Nic Shimonek.
Listed at 6-3, 202 pounds, Dunbar started 37 of the 51 games he appeared in during his college career. He racked up 1,070 receiving yards on 76 catches as a senior.
As you well know, the Bears are in the market for receiver help. And while Dunbar doesn’t appear to have elite speed, he has shown to have reliable hands and the necessary skills to haul in contested throws. Those things could be assets for him at the next level.
- When you think about the Bears offense, a clear idea of what it looks like pops in your head. What if I told you that was going to get turned on its ear? Oh. And what if I told you we don’t quite know what it will look like? The Bears’ offensive identity is relatively unknown, according to John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago. Instead of one singular identity, the Bears’ offense looks to be a blending of multiple schemes and concepts that could keep opposing defenses on their heels. The play calling (and results) became predictable, so perhaps not having a clear identity is a good thing.
- JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago writes the “adapt or die” motto is a perfect one for Matt Nagy’s coaching staff. It’s a sharp change of direction from the previous regime, which seemed to stubbornly chip away at their problems with the same tools and methods. It’s worth noting that Nagy and each of his assistants are well versed in making the most of their respective situations. Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich spliced his spread concepts with the Air Coryell things he was schooled in. Chris Tabor took what he learned under Dave Toub to successfully coach Cleveland’s special teams unit. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio lost six defensive starters in 2017 and still engineered a top-10 defense. Maybe it’s not a coincidence these three will be working together under Nagy.
- On Bears All Access, Nagy gushes over the staff he has put together. “We brought a lot of good guys in here who are going to have a lot of good ideas,” Nagy said. “We just need to hone it all together.” Between the concept of “adapt or die” and having a bunch of new voices expressing good ideas, it’s understandable why Nagy is excited about this group. Especially offensively, where there will be plenty of hands available to mold Mitch Trubisky into the quarterback he needs to be for the Bears to be a winning team once again.
- While the focus will (understandably) be on fixing the offense, the Bears have some patchwork to do on the defensive side of the ball too. Bryan Perez of Bears wire offers up Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah as a possible free agent target. Ansah bounced back from a down year in 2016 with 12 sacks in 14 games in 2017. Back in 2015, Ansah was a terror with 14.5 sacks and a trip to the Pro Bowl. Putting Ansah in the front seven with Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Leonard Floyd, and Danny Trevathan would make the Bears defense a tough group to solve for opposing offenses.
- Of course, there is the matter of the secondary and the two free agents who could leave town. Steve Letizia of Da Bears Bros blog weighs the possibilities for Kyle Fuller’s future. There are cases to extend him, let him walk in free agency, and even hand him the franchise tag. Poor self scouting is among the reasons the Bears have been this bad for a while. With Fuller, the Bears are at a crossroads and can’t afford to miss again on a player they drafted and developed.
- As we prepare for Sunday’s championship games, Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal examines how the Vikings built a high-functioning offense with bit pieces that were tossed aside by other teams. It’s a lesson GM Ryan Pace should take note of as he goes on to rebuild the Bears’ offense this offseason. If the John Fox era taught us anything, it’s that there is no one way win a game … and that kind of thinking should be applied to the Bears’ offseason rebuild. The proof is in the Vikings’ appearance in the NFC title game.
- Now, this is how you get hyped for a conference championship game:
The NFL’s David vs. the NFL’s Goliath, for the right to play in the Super Bowl.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 21, 2018