10 thoughts after the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants 17-13 on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field to improve to 2-0.
1. On a scramble drill, rookie wide receiver Darnell Mooney scored his first NFL touchdown, popping open in the corner of the end zone in time for Mitch Trubisky to find him for a 15-yard score that gave the Bears a 17-0 halftime lead.
Darnell Mooney scrambled after the play to get the ball back because he tossed it to an official before realizing that ball would be an important keepsake. It’s a good thing there wasn’t a crowd at Soldier Field. Imagine if he had tossed the ball to a clamoring fan. Yes, Mooney quickly retrieved the ball, so he has something to put in a trophy case and enjoy for a long time.
More impressive to me than the touchdown was Mooney’s 16-yard reception earlier in the second quarter, a play that flashed the gifted speedster’s immense physical traits. The Bears had second-and-7 on their 37-yard line and had Mooney in the game with heavy run personnel on the field. David Montgomery was in the backfield with Ryan Nall, who was playing fullback. Tight ends Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris also were in. The Bears used Mooney similarly last week in Detroit, putting him on the field with heavier personnel to show run tendencies.
Trubisky faked a handoff to Montgomery as Mooney, from a tight split on the back side of the formation, raced upfield. This is what speed can do to a defense. The Giants were in a Cover-2 shell. They dropped to Cover-2 and spun the safeties, and the safety to the play side, Julian Love, saw Mooney racing up the field and immediately opened his hips.
The Bears set this up to look like a run with two tight ends and two running backs in the game. They went downhill play action to the open side, and the linebacker jumped down. That created a huge window to throw to, and Mooney’s speed made the window bigger because he pushed Love way out of there. It’s a combination of scheme plus player traits. The result? An easy 16-yard completion on a deep post/stop route.
It’s an easy way to create a play in which you have a good chance to take advantage of Mooney’s speed and create an easy throw for Trubisky. Nall ran a wheel route to take out the cornerback and create even more space for Mooney.
What’s next for the rookie, who caught three passes for 36 yards and was on the field for 40 snaps by my count (he got 21 snaps last week in Detroit)? There is a lot Matt Nagy can do. He can create shot plays off of this designed for Mooney, who’s not in there to block — although he has shown a willingness to do so and he competes.
Flash back to the Titans-Ravens playoff game in January. The Titans hit a 46-yard touchdown to Kalif Raymond, a similar speedster to Mooney. The Titans had three tight ends on the field and schemed up a deep post to Raymond that changed the game, giving them a 14-0 lead en route to a 28-12 upset. You bring in a speedster for some run sets, give him a wide split just to clear out. You don’t want him blocking. Then you bring him in tight, and a defensive player’s antenna should go up. Everything is telling you pre-snap that it’s a run, but you have to ask yourself, “Why is this fast guy in there?”
The Bears can bring Mooney in wide receiver reverse motion or in jet sweep motion — anything to grab the defense’s attention and eyes. Now that he has made a couple of plays, he’s going to be in the scouting report, and the first thing in that scouting report will be the fact he runs a 4.3-second 40-yard dash.
It’s a really nice start for the fifth-round pick from Tulane. Generally, if fifth-round picks are playing at the start of their rookie season, they are covering kicks on special teams. If things go well, they develop and by Year 3 maybe carve out a role. Mooney is ahead of the curve.
On that deep post/stop, he got up to top gear quickly and showed the ability to downshift to a lower gear to come quickly out of his breaks. That’s something you don’t know about with all burners. Some are just straight-line speed guys, but the Bears lauded Mooney’s quality route-running ability, and he lasted until the fifth round because he played at a non-Power Five school. The same was true of former Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox, who went to a non-Power Five school (Abilene Christian), was drafted in the fifth round in 2009 and had a nice career until he was injured.
Nagy is clearly interested in the speed dimension Mooney adds, using him in place of veteran Ted Ginn Jr., who was a healthy inactive a week after getting 28 snaps against the Lions.
“I would say there’s a little bit of that,” Nagy said in tying Ginn’s inactive status to Mooney’s performance last week and in practice. “Mooney, he’s playing well, but with Ted, he’s been in this league for a little while and I just think numbers-wise right now for us with where we were, it was something that we didn’t have to do. We felt like with some of the packages that we were doing in regards to him not playing as much special teams. So that’s probably the biggest thing.
“I just want to say that Ted Ginn has been really, really good for us in a lot of different ways and he’s going to become an important part of this team as we go, and it’s nothing other than just probably numbers and where we were at personnel-wise today.”
Trubisky is developing an appreciation for Mooney in a short period of time.
“His approach as a rookie is impressive,” Trubisky said, “and it’s good to see how he’s seeing the game, how he’s doing his job, how he approaches practice, how he’s working hard, how he’s asking questions, how he’s trying to be on the same page with me, how he’s detailed in his routes. You can tell he’s making an effort to get on the same page, being in his depth, being in the right place at the right time, and as a quarterback, you just trust that.
“It’s really cool to see in a young guy that he’s getting it right away and that he wants to learn because he wants to catch the football and he wants to make plays for this offense. That’s huge. The more reps I get with him, the more trust I’ll get, and just making a play. When I saw the DB’s back was turned, I had a lot of faith that he was going to come down with that football (on the touchdown), so I just put it up in his area and he attacked it and made a huge play.”
2. Akiem Hicks described a 2-0 start as ‘delicious,’ and no matter how you get there, it’s a very good place to be.
It’s an even better position to be in this season with the NFL expanding the playoffs to add an extra wild-card team in each conference, meaning 14 of the league’s 32 teams (43.75%) will make the postseason, assuming COVID-19 doesn’t derail things. (Kudos to the league and its players for doing such a nice job of navigating the pandemic thus far.)
According to Pro Football Reference, 244 teams started 2-0 between 1990 and 2019. I use 1990 because that’s the season in which the previous playoff format (six teams from each conference) was adopted. Of those 244 teams, 151 (61.9%) went on to reach the postseason. Of the nine teams to start 2-0 a year ago, seven reached the playoffs with the Cowboys (8-8) and Rams (9-7) falling short.
The Bears began the season 2-0 six times between 1990 and 2019 and reached the playoffs in four of those years. They fizzled in the second half of 2013 to go 8-8, and the 2002 season in Champaign turned into a bit of a nightmare as injuries contributed to a total collapse at 4-12.
I vividly remember that Week 3 game in 2002, when the Bears hosted the Saints at Memorial Stadium. They jumped out to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Saints got on the board with a touchdown, and the ensuing kickoff went off the face mask of returner Leon Johnson. The Saints recovered, scored another quick touchdown and the game completely shifted. Aaron Brooks threw a touchdown pass with a little more than a minute to play, and with two seconds remaining, a Jim Miller pass for Dez White was picked off at the goal line as the Bears fell 29-23. It was the first of eight consecutive losses.
These Bears need to clean some stuff up across the board: They need to be more efficient on offense, score more points, get a more consistent pass rush and get off the field when there is a chance (the Giants were 3-for-3 on fourth down). They also have to be better on special teams. But as coach Matt Nagy said a week ago, there’s an entirely different vibe around the building when the coaches are able to push their players to improve while coming off a win — and now two wins. They can coach their players hard and at the same time reinforce the positives that the team was able to do enough to post back-to-back wins.
The offensive line certainly has shown improvement under Juan Castillo, and that’s a building block. No one knew how that unit, which would have benefited tremendously from preseason games, was going to look at the start. Nagy clearly has made some philosophical changes to his playbook, at least in terms of what he wants to utilize, and it seems to be playing to his players’ strengths. No one expected the Bears to look like Super Bowl contenders after two weeks, and after a terribly inconsistent 2019 season, these are positive developments.
Looking ahead to Week 3 in Atlanta against the Falcons (0-2), the numbers for teams that begin 3-0 are even more encouraging. PFR shows that 148 teams started 3-0 between 1990 and 2019, and 109 (73.6%) went on to the postseason. So if the Bears can defeat the Falcons, they probably have better than a three-in-four chance of being in the playoffs based on the expanded field. Since 1990, the Bears were 3-0 five times: in 1990, 1991, 2006, 2010 and 2013.
3. In Robert Quinn’s first snap as a Bear, you saw the difference between No. 94 this season and No. 94 the previous four seasons.
That is not meant as a knock on former first-round draft pick Leonard Floyd but as an appreciation for what Robert Quinn still can bring in his 10th NFL season. On the Giants’ third snap, they faced third-and-6 from their 25-yard line when Quinn came in to replace starter Barkevious Mingo. Lined up on the right edge, Quinn got a fast start upfield out of a three-point stance against rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 pick in the draft.
What Quinn did is something we rarely saw from Floyd. It’s a move used by high-end pass rushers such as the Minnesota Vikings’ Yannick Ngakoue. It’s like a jump-club, a really smooth counter move. Quinn used his speed up the field, and Thomas prepared for speed to power, like a bull rush. Instead Quinn jumped outside on the edge and swatted down on the outside hand, Thomas’ left hand, and then ripped through. It was a combination of speed off the ball, which forced Thomas back on his heels a little bit, and then all counter moves — swat down, rip through and bend to get home. Quinn can bend really well, and the great thing here is he didn’t worry about the sack, he was just going to get the ball from Daniel Jones. Khalil Mack recovered the fumble, and the Bears quickly turned the takeaway into a Cairo Santos field goal for a 10-0 lead.
Quinn can beat offensive tackles with speed, power and counter moves, and most important, he’s still very fluid in his hips at age 30 and can bend off the edge. Floyd could bend but didn’t have any counter moves in his tool box, despite all the work and time the Bears invested in him. Floyd, who did have a sack last week in his debut with the Rams, tried to beat everyone with speed and bend, maybe a little bit of speed to power, but you have to have more than that if you’re going to win off the edge with consistency.
In my unofficial tally from the press box, I had Quinn for 26 total snaps (including plays nullified by penalty) as the Bears picked their spots with him. He had 12 snaps until the final Giants possession, when he was on the field for all 14. Surely he will be more involved as he works his way back from the left ankle injury that kept him out of the Week 1 game in Detroit.
“Blazing good,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “I mean, he took off the line and got a sack on the first third down, the first series of the game. A talent like his isn’t to be taken lightly in this league. He’s somebody that can come off the edge with such ferocity and speed that he changes the math for the offense. They’ve got to figure out a way to stop him, then Bilal (Nichols), then Roy (Robertson-Harris), then Mack, you know what I mean? He was a great addition to our team, and we look forward to letting him loose more often.
“He’s had experiences throughout the league. He has played at a high level, one of the best to ever be on that edge. I don’t know if you guys remember the days when he was in St. Louis and him and (Chris Long) were just rippin’. I got to experience that firsthand. I’ll say this: He brings a wisdom to the team, a wisdom to the defense. He’s seen some things, and so he’s able to prepare not only his younger guys and his group but help to mature our entire defense. So thankful to have him.”
4. Following up on the offense’s shift to using more tight ends a week ago, there wasn’t as much against the Giants — perhaps with an idea to attack the secondary or run out of more three-receiver personnel — but the Bears continued to operate from under center way more than they did in the first two seasons under Matt Nagy.
By my math, there were 37 plays from under center and 27 out of the shotgun. Before last week, you never saw anything close to that with Nagy. Here’s a breakdown of the personnel groupings for the 64 plays:
11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers): 29 snaps
12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers): 13
13 personnel (one running back, three tight ends, one wide receiver): 8
21 personnel (two running backs, one tight ends, two wide receivers): 8
22 personnel (two running backs, two tight ends, one wide receiver): 4
01 personnel (one tight end, four wide receivers): 2
“There’s no question more under-center action is a great benefit to the offensive linemen,” said SiriusXM analyst David Diehl, a Brother Rice and Illinois alumnus and a left tackle for 11 seasons with the Giants, including two Super Bowl-winning teams. “When you run things under center, it just allows more opportunities for the linemen and their offense to be on the offensive. I used to hate shotgun runs because there is no constriction of view for the linebackers and the D-linemen can essentially play the run on the way to the quarterback.
“With that said, when you are running out of the shotgun, it doesn’t matter if that linebacker takes that split step up because he has time to react and meet it at the line of scrimmage. When you run everything from under center and when you do it out of a two-tight-end set, it forces the linebackers to maintain gap discipline in a constricted way where they can’t see the football as opposed to the clear lanes and clear view when it’s out of shotgun. So it has a tremendous effect for the offensive linemen, and that was one of the things that the Bears did so much differently starting out this season compared to last season. For one, they stuck to the run. That is something they didn’t do at all. I can’t tell you the last time they did that. How many times was it last year, maybe four or five (actually seven), that they had over 25 rushing attempts? So they actually maintained a ground game, which let the offense ease in.
“At the same time, all of the pre-snap motion by utilizing two or three tight ends, not only does that help on the outside zone scheme to set that edge and to really stretch and loosen up (the defense), if it’s a wide nine or a Sam linebacker based on what kind of defense it is, but then it allows them to utilize Mitch Trubisky in the play-action passing game. Whether he’s rolling out to get a quick front-side completion or if he’s bootlegging naked and off of the back side, you can use those plays as almost an extension of the run game. That was one of the biggest things I noticed immediately watching the Bears against the Lions — running under center, utilizing two and three tight ends, the motions and the stems before so that they are keeping the defense on its heels.
“That’s the big question. Can they stick with it? It’s easy to do it Week 1 when you’re sitting here saying, ‘Well, we’ve had no preseason, we didn’t have any OTAs or minicamp, what’s the best way to get our offensive line cohesive in the first week out?’ It’s by running the football and sticking to it. I hope for their style and for Trubisky, you hope this is the style of offense they run. We all know Mitch is a 10 times better quarterback when they’re running out of under center, when they’re running play action off of it and he has half-field reads where he’s not playing football in shotgun and overthinking. It’s reactionary football and they’re easy completions to get the ball out of your hands quick. Those are ways you can manipulate the offense where you’re letting your offensive line be on the offensive and you’re letting your quarterback play free and not with restrictions and so much of the stuff that can bog down your mind sitting in shotgun with so many different defenses and coverages you have to read. When you run things off of play action, it just speeds up the mentality of not only the offense but the quarterback.”
5. I would imagine no one will be tougher on Anthony Miller than Anthony Miller.
He’ll probably be pushed hard by his position coach, Mike Furrey, but Anthony Miller absolutely has to haul in that shot from Mitch Trubisky in the end zone in the first quarter. He got a free release off the line of scrimmage and had a step on cornerback Isaac Yiadom, and the throw from Trubisky was a dime. It hit off Miller and fell incomplete on third down, leading to a field goal.
Those are the kind of plays Miller has to make on a week-in, week-out basis to maintain the trust of Trubisky, Furrey and Matt Nagy. He’s in his third season and the Bears are counting on him for big things, especially after some highlight-reel grabs last week in Detroit. This catch would have been nice but not nearly as impressive as two he made against the Lions.
Miller has been hot and cold in his first two seasons, and the Bears are waiting for him to break through and remain warm.
“It’s been a really awesome journey with him,” Furrey said last week. "Like we’ve always talked about, a young man coming from college, a lot of accolades, a lot of statistics coming into the league, a lot of playground routes that we’ve talked about over the last couple of years and really watched him not just develop as a football player — an NFL football player — but a person off the field. How he handles himself.
“I think the injuries to him over the last couple of years have kind of set him back a little bit from a mentality standpoint of saying, ‘Hey, I need to start taking care of my body now and doing things right and handling my things when I get in there.’ And all that stuff has progressed now to ... when we got into this camp, you can see a huge difference in him, paying attention in meetings.
“He just has that confidence now he can go into games and be very productive. And he can do it the right way and not just go out there and play playground. But he can do what he’s asked. He can be on time. He knows the timed throws now. He knows the routes where he can spend a little bit more time and get open. He’s really evolving into that all-around player, that possession speed guy, can-flip-the-field type of guy, guy that you can trust.”
The Bears will maintain that trust in Miller, but he can’t go through too many games with no stats, even if Darnell Mooney emerges and Allen Robinson remains a consistent target for Trubisky.
6. The second installment of ‘The Questions We Didn’t Get To’ included four questions that went unasked before time was up on Matt Nagy’s Zoom interview Sunday night.
If you were watching the game, you probably had some of your own questions you were wondering about.
Danny Trevathan was rotated off the field during a lot of the sub packages, replaced by a defensive back. Is this a strategic move related to the opponent, a result of his performance in Week 1 or a combination of both? The Bears re-signed Trevathan to a three-year contract in the offseason that guarantees him $10 million — $7 million this year and $3 million in 2021 — and he was generally a three-down linebacker during his first four seasons with the team. Trevathan’s range and quickness haven’t been at his normal standard through the first two weeks. If he’s working way into shape after no preseason games, that’s one thing. If this is the new normal for Trevathan, that’s concerning for a team that has invested in him. We’ll see what the snap counts look like when they’re released Monday morning, but he was coming off the field regularly and that’s not how the Bears have deployed him previously. Consider he was on the field for 52% of the snaps last season and missed seven games because of injury. That means he was on the field for the vast majority of plays when he was healthy. When Trevathan started 16 games in 2018, he played 94% of the snaps.
Was thought given to running the ball on third-and-9 from the Giants 31-yard line with 2:56 remaining? Mitch Trubisky made a smart play by sliding to take a sack and stay in bounds to keep the clock running, but David Montgomery had ripped off some nice gains earlier in the 12-play drive that took nearly six minutes off the clock, and a 4- or 5-yard run there gives Cairo Santos a shorter field goal. Plus, an incomplete pass would have stopped the clock. While Montgomery had gains of 10, 11 and 23 yards earlier in the drive, he also was stacked up for no gain on two rushes and had one 1-yard run. A pass for a first down essentially puts the game away, but the sack and missed field goal put the Giants in a position where they could have won at the end.
What is the balance in calling plays like a quarterback sweep for Mitch Trubisky and simply relying on him to pick up yardage on the ground on unscripted plays when he scrambles? He has had shoulder injuries each of the last two seasons, so is there a fine line when designing running plays for him and wanting him not to take hits and to stay healthy? Trubisky accounted for 16 yards on four carries, a week after running for 26 yards in three attempts in Detroit. He had a 12-yard gain on second-and-11. It looked like an RPO, and he did a nice job picking up the first down along the Giants sideline.
Nice to have Robert Quinn out there, huh? No explanation is really needed.
7. One play that caught my eye was the Giants’ fourth-and-1 snap with 21 seconds remaining.
They were on the Bears 17-yard line, and quarterback Daniel Jones managed to connect with Darius Slayton for a 3-yard gain to keep the drive alive. On the back side of the play, running back Dion Lewis came open on a wheel route and might have scored a go-ahead touchdown had Jones looked that way.
Lewis was offset with tight end Evan Engram in a tight split. The Giants surely anticipated man coverage on fourth-and-1. Engram picked defensive back Deon Bush, who went under the pick — probably not what the Bears wanted him to do in that situation. Bush tried to play for a possible flat route to make a tackle and win the game. By going under the pick, he was immediately in a trail position and Lewis was open. Safety Tashaun Gipson was on the hash mark and maybe could have overlapped the play. But Jones never looked there. He looked front side the whole way, and they had pick plays to that side as well. It might have been a touchdown if Jones put the ball in the right spot for Lewis.
What’s the adjustment? You have to know as a defensive player with a tight split on the back side and Lewis offset that something is going on. The only way the Bears could play it better is if Bush goes over the pick or they pass it off and Bush takes Engram and cornerback Kyle Fuller comes off to play Lewis on the wheel route. That’s something the Bears might talk in film review this week about passing off coverage when this look comes up again.
8. The college football season is rolling.
The SEC will begin play this weekend, and the Big Ten reversed field and will be in action starting in late October. NFL scouts are on the road and traveling to select college games. I spoke with scouts from two teams who shared their perspective on the challenges they face in the COVID-19 pandemic. The spoke anonymously as they don’t have permission from their teams to speak publicly. It’s another twist in what is a very unscientific process as teams grind toward the 2021 draft.
“I’m going to be on the road at games but no campus visits, no midweek visits where you typically get a lot more information,” Scout 1 said. “I’m not going to be that guy that walks in with an infection and screws up some school.
“When I’m scouting a game in person, I’m just looking for body types, how they bounce around in pregame and that type of thing because you never get to see them and who knows if we will have some semblance of a combine in February. I don’t know. It might be pictures and videos. Who knows how that is going to work now. So traveling to games is just an opportunity to see the guys in person. I’ll be in the stands or if they have space in the press box, I will be there using my binoculars. This year is going to be really hard.
“In person, I’m looking for quarterbacks and cornerbacks. I want to see how they react. That’s always my big deal. I want to see how they react. If they get their ass cooked, do they go in the tank? Does it seem to bother them? You’re looking to see how they relate to other players. If he’s a team guy, normally that happens naturally.
“It’s going to be another deal where personnel people that are real scouts that don’t have to resort to conglomerate scouting, they might end up being pretty good.”
The second scout said he’s also keeping a close eye on the sideline to see how composed players are during the action.
“The stuff on the sidelines, you can see interactions,” Scout 2 said. “If you’re doing a quarterback, it’s good to see how he is with the teammates and even with the coaches. But really beyond that, there isn’t a ton you can take away from the game that you can’t get on tape. The tape is extremely more valuable because it’s a more comprehensive evaluation. It’s a lot more efficient. When you’re there in person, you can be watching the running back on one play and they pass the ball. You can be watching a receiver on the next play and they run the ball. You can say, ‘I’m going to watch this guy on this series,’ and they go three-and-out. You can only watch one player at a time unless you’re a lot better than me. There’s really not that much value in going to a game.
“All of August we had Zooms with every school. They were actually extremely efficient. Ohio State’s call, I can’t remember if it was 3 1/4 u00bd or 4 1/4 u00bd hours. It was a marathon. But you got to talk to everyone you needed to. Michigan’s was last week. It was three hours. You hear from all different people, academics, strength coach, different coaches, different people throughout the program. You can get a pretty good idea who each player is and then you can follow up with guys independently. In a three-hour span to get all of that information from all of those different people on every player, you could never, ever do that at a school in person. Not in that time.
“By the end of August, I did my entire area. You could never do that under normal circumstances at the school. If you want to talk to the football operations guy, who is usually the pro liaison, you’re going to catch him at 8 a.m. You’re going to want to talk to the strength coach and that might end up happening on the sideline during practice. The academic person you might need to talk to is at 3 in the afternoon. So you’re there all day. I’m not getting Marriott points but I’m getting home points, which are a hell of a lot more valuable.”
9. The commitment to the running game Matt Nagy has made through two weeks cannot be understated.
The Bears had 135 yards on 32 rushes against the Giants, and David Montgomery had four runs of 10 or more yards. That is 60 rushing attempts in two games after they carried 28 times for 149 yards in the opener. The last time the Bears had 28 or more rushing attempts in consecutive games was when they did it in a five-game stretch from Weeks 12 through Week 16 in 2018. In all, the Bears have had 28 or more rushing attempts in 17 of 34 regular-season games under Matt Nagy with a 14-3 record in those games. The only losses were the 17-16 loss to the Chargers last season and two overtime road losses in 2018 — 30-27 to the Giants and 31-29 to the Dolphins.
It’s not as simple as saying if the Bears just run the ball, they’re going to win. Everyone knows that. If the run simply isn’t working, even during a consistent approach to the ground game, an offense has to adjust. Sometimes, like during the fourth quarter last week in Detroit, the score can force a play caller to go away from the run. Also, occasionally teams will see matchups in the secondary that offer a big advantage, stuff the play caller wants to attack via the passing game. But the Bears have gotten off the bus running this season, to borrow from former coach Lovie Smith, and they’ve produced the kind of results that have to please Nagy, offensive line coach/running game coordinator Juan Castillo and the linemen.
“The biggest thing this year with our identity is just focusing everybody on winning their one-on-one battle,” center Cody Whitehair said last week. “If we can do that week in and week out, whether it be the pass or the run game, we give all of that a chance.
“It all starts with us up front. Opening holes for the backs. And giving Mitch (Trubisky) or the guys back their protection. That’s what we’re really focusing on right now.”
10. There’s at least some irony that Tarik Cohen took to social media last week to promote wide receiver Allen Robinson’s push for a contract extension, and then Cohen received new paper first.
The Bears finalized a three-year extension for Tarik Cohen before kickoff Sunday, a deal that includes $17.25 million in new money ($5.75 million per year) and keeps him under contract through the 2023 season. Cohen was in the final year of his contract, due to make $2.133 million this season. He’s now signed for four years at $19.383 million ($4.85 million per season). The deal reportedly has a maximum value of $18.25 million in new money with $9.533 million fully guaranteed and a max guarantee of $12.033 million. That’s quite a haul for arguably the game’s best punt returner and a fourth-round draft pick from 2017.
I’m a little surprised this deal came together now from the standpoint that, at least offensively, Cohen was coming off a down 2019 season. I know he entered last season with the idea of having a big year and parlaying that into an extension in the offseason, but the big year, with the exception of his continued excellence as a punt returner, didn’t happen.
He can be a dangerous weapon on offense but wasn’t much of a factor Sunday as he carried five times for 12 yards and gained 15 yards on one reception.
The Bears have made a habit of rewarding homegrown players who performed well. We’ll have to see how the numbers break down when they become public, but it’s a good chunk of change for a player who, most weeks anyway, is a gadget guy on offense.
10a. It will be interesting to hear what coaches say about Mitch Trubisky’s first interception on a deflected ball across the middle intended for Allen Robinson. On the second one, Robinson has to come down with the 50-50 ball or knock it away from cornerback James Bradberry. Really, that was just a terrific play by Bradberry in that situation. Maybe if the ball is a little higher, Robinson has a greater chance, but it’s a play the Bears have run with a lot of success.
10b. Can’t overlook the fact the offense was 9 of 16 on third down. That is a positive sign.
10c. Two more pass deflections for rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson. That’s four in two games. Nice start for the second-round pick.
10d. The Fox Sports team of Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma and Shannon Spake will call the Bears-Falcons game in Week 3. It will be the Bears’ first trip to sparkling Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
10e. The Falcons opened as three-point favorites for Sunday’s game at Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
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