3 things we learned from the Chicago Bears | Football | thesouthern.com – The Southern

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Matt Nagy said the Chicago Bears face a possible decision on  whether to rest outside linebacker Khalil Mack for a game, and an NFL Network report says he could go on injured reserve .
The Chicago Bears continued with only virtual availability for coaches and players Thursday after an assistant coach tested positive for COVID-19, another setback for a teamforced to deal with the virus in the last two weeks.
It is believed a strength coach became the second member of the staff sidelined, along with Matt Nagy, but rookie inside linebacker Caleb Johnson was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list before practice.
Here are three things we learned as the Bears prepare for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field.
The Bears have remained successful running the ball even after pivoting from injured starter David Montgomery to rookie Khalil Herbert and handling moving parts on the offensive line. But the passing game remains the worst in the league. The Bears are the only team in the league with more rushing yards than net passing yards, which subtracts yardage lost on sacks. Their 871 net passing yards are the fewest for a team through seven games since the Oakland Raiders in 2006.
“The ability to run the ball statistically has almost zero to do with the effectiveness of play-action pass,” Lazor said. “Teams that don’t run the ball still (can be) effective in play-action pass. Running the ball effectively helps us get first downs more than maybe it has at times in the past, which helps keep us on the field, so it gives us more opportunities. But we’ve got to be better in almost every single aspect of the passing game — our details in pass protection, our details in route running, our details in the decision making and the throwing at quarterback and then putting it all together. It’s hard.
“And there are good individual performances. I’m not saying no one is playing well. But to be honest … to stand up and say there’s a bright spot would be pretty ridiculous, I’d think.”
Lazor is correct. The Bears rank last in passing yards, yards per attempt and sack rate and are 31st in interception rate.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with the run game,” he said. “I think it has to do with we have to be better with the details of the pass game, fitting it together, making the plays when they’re available. And when I say making the plays, I don’t just mean jumping up and catching the ball, I mean blocking the person we’re supposed to block, being together with how we’re going to block it, the timing of the quarterback matching the timing of the firmness of protection, matching the timing of the routes. When you’re 32nd, we could spend a lot of time talking about this.”
Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley, the former Bears outside linebackers coach, would agree with Lazor that a good running game isn’t a requirement for a high-caliber play-action passing game. That element is sorely lacking for the Bears.
“You don’t need a good running game to be a good play-action team,” Staley said earlier this season. “But what you need the running game for is the physical element of the game. There’s a physicality to the game that’s real, right? If you’re just a passing team, there’s a physical element to the game that the defense doesn’t have to respect. And that’s the truth. Because the data will tell you that you don’t need a run game to play pass. … But what the running game does for you, it brings a physical dimension to the football game.
“And what the running game does that the passing game does not is the running forces the defense to play block and to tackle. That happens on a run play. You must play blocks and you must tackle. In the passing game, those things don’t need to happen, right? You don’t have to play as many blocks. And you may not have to tackle based on incomplete or not. So what the running game does is it really challenges your physicality, and that’s why I think the run game is important to a quarterback. It’s literally going to allow him to have more space to operate when you do throw the football.”
The Bears are challenging the physicality of their opponents with the profits they are generating in the ground game. They need to iron out the kinks they’re experiencing across the board when they try to throw the ball.
It wouldn’t be the first time Tabor has been a head coach. He served in that role for one season at Culver-Stockton, an NAIA program, in 2001 and led the Wildcats to a 6-5 record, their first winning season in 15 years. Culver-Stockton has had only one winning season since Tabor departed, although the Wildcats are 6-2 this season.
“That was a long time ago,” Tabor said. “We got let go at the University of Missouri as a staff, and I went to be a small-college head coach. I worked for a great head coach at Missouri, Larry Smith, a legend, and he told me, ‘Go be a head coach, you’ll learn things I can’t ever teach you,’ and he was exactly right.
“From learning how to line the field to ordering the equipment to leading a team and handling different situations, it was a great experience. So I got a little taste of that, and you know if something ever happens down the road you always feel like you’ve been prepared by what’s happened in the past.”
Will Tabor be aggressive when it comes to the decisions head coaches can be faced with in terms if challenges, fourth-down calls and possibly fakes on special teams?
“I guess if I gave you my whole how I really feel about everything, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise for you,” he said. “We’ll just have to pull off on that one.”
Mack has missed only two games in 3½ seasons with the Bears, both in 2018. He fought through a variety of issues, the most troubling a shoulder injury, to make it on the field for all 16 games last year. But he might need some time to heal after he had only one tackle Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, snapping a streak of having at least one sack in five games.
“He’s doing what he has to do to get ready for us to play on Sunday,” inside linebacker Alec Ogletree said. “Guys like to see him out there. He obviously is a big presence on this defense. He’s who he is for a reason, and guys respect him throughout the league. His presence helps, especially a lot of the young guys to have the confidence in themselves to go out there and play, and he’s encouraged them. He’s obviously doing his rehab and trying to get as healthy as possible. It’s just this game, man. You get injuries and you have to do what you can to try to fight through them, but also you want to make sure you’re as healthy as you can to go out there and play the way you want to play.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us because we don’t have certain guys there. They’re going out there to whup you just as bad as they were going to try to do the person in front of you. It’s the next man up. You just rally around those guys, keep them encouraged and hope they get going.”
Before Khalil Mack (46) became an NFL star with the Oakland Raiders and now the Chicago Bears, he played at the University of Buffalo.
Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack (46) pressures the Stony Brook quarterback, in this Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 photo. Mack is the winner of the 2013 Jack Lambert Award presented annually by the Touchdown Club of Columbus to the nation’s premier linebacker. (AP Photo/The Buffalo News, Harry Scull Jr,)
Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack is the first player in the history of the Associated Press All-Pro team to be selected at two positions.
Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) celebrates after one of his five sacks on the day against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)
Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) rushes against the Colts during an NFL game in Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 24, 2016. The Bears acquired Mack from the Raiders on Saturday in a trade that sends two first-round draft picks to Oakland.
Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) sacks Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half of an NFL game in Tampa, Fla., on Oct. 30, 2016. The Bears acquired Mack from the Raiders on Saturday in a trade that sends two first-round draft picks to Oakland.
In this Oct. 29, 2017, file photo, Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack smiles before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Chicago Bears have acquired Mack from the Raiders in a massive trade that sends two first-round draft picks to Oakland.
Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack celebrates his interception and touchdown against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 27, 2016, at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. On Sunday, Mack signed a six-year, $141 million deal with the Bears.
Newly acquired Chicago Bear Khalil Mack speaks with the media during during an introductory news conference Sunday at Halas Hall in Lake Forest. Mack, a two-time All-Pro defensive end, was acquired Saturday in a trade with Oakland.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace, left, and head coach Matt Nagy, right, flank newly acquired player Khalil Mack, who displays his jersey after speaking with the media during a news conference Sunday at Halas Hall in Lake Forest.
FILE – In this Sept. 2, 2018, file photo, newly acquired Chicago Bears player Khalil Mack displays his jersey after speaking to the media during an NFL football news conference, in Lake Forest, Ill. The Bears visit Lambeau Field on Sunday night, just in time for star pass-rusher Khalil Mack to potentially make his debut in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers.(Tim Boyle/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)
Mack
Newly acquired Bears linebcker Khalil Mack intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown against the Packers during the first half of Sunday night’s season opener at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb scores past Chicago’s Khalil Mack on a 75-yard pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, not pictured, late in the fourth quarter of Green Bay’s 24-23 win over Chicago on Sunday night at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
Chicago Bears’ Khalil Mack intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers. If Mack performs against Seattle the way he did last week, Chicago will certainly take it.
New Bears rush linebacker Khalil Mack (52) reacts after recovering a fumble during last week’s season opener against the Packers in Green Bay, Wis. If Mack performs against Seattle on Monday night the way he did last week, Chicago will certainly take it.
FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2018, file photo, Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) is shown in action in the first half during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, in Glendale, Ariz. Last week the Miami Dolphins tried assigning eight players to help with pass protection, and even that didn’t prevent Ryan Tannehill from getting hit. And now the Dolphins have to block Khalil Mack. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) tackles Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber as Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) approaches them during the first half of Sunday’s game in Chicago. The defense not only enjoyed harassing Tampa Bay, but also watching the offense come to life in a 48-10 romp. 
Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, left, forces fumble on Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford during the second half of Sunday’s game in Glendale, Ariz. The Bears recovered the fumble and defeated the Cardinals, 16-14. 
Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack walks off the field after Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. Mack injured an ankle and finished with no sacks, raising concern about his health for Sunday’s home game against the Patriots. 
Bill Belichick admits rush linebacker Khalil Mack has had a huge impact on the Bears’ defense since joining the team this season. But the Patriots coach isn’t ready yet to put him in Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor’s class. Mack and the Bears host Belichick and New England on Sunday.
Bears linebacker Khalil Mack high-fives fans after Sunday’s 34-22 win over the Lions at Soldier Field in Chicago. 
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked by Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) as outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (94) assists during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) celebrates with Bears fans after beating the Green Bay Packers last Sunday.
San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens (4) is hit by Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks, left, and outside linebacker Khalil Mack during the second half of Sunday’s game in Santa Clara, Calif.
Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack gives chase to Raiders quarterback and former teammate Derek Carr before sacking him in the second half of Sunday’s game in London. Oakland won 24-21. 
Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) forces a fumble by Giants quarterback Daniel Jones during the second half of Sunday’s game in Chicago. The Bears recovered the fumble at the Giants’ 3-yard line and scored on a 2-yard run by Mitchell Trubisky in their 19-14 victory.
Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) celebrates with defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) after intercepting a pass by Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on Sunday. 
Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) and teammates warm up during training camp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest on July 28, 2021.

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