Joniak: Bears' Bilal Nichols, A Philly Native, Prepares For Eagles

Jeff Joniak
October 31, 2019 - 7:41 pm
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LAKE FOREST (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Chicago Bears (3-4) square off against the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) in Philadelphia on Sunday. Here are the latest observations from Jeff Joniak:

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--Thursday with the coordinators always reveals some fresh takes on the topics of the week. Unfortunately, it is so late in the week that it is cumbersome to belabor what happened in Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. The mindset is on to Philadelphia. It has to be.

--The coordinators should speak on Monday, Tuesday at the latest. Just my opinion.

--Special Team coordinator Chris Tabor did not detail where the placement of the spot came about on Eddy Pineiro’s wide left kick, but called the communication "spot on." I am not sure the play on words is intentional, but where the spot landed is now a five-day investigation. 

--In the final analysis, the only thing that matters is making the kick. Pineiro did not, and the Bears lost. “We played it just how we wanted to play it,” Tabor said. “We didn’t make the kick. We are developing a young kicker right now, who’s doing a really good job and I have a lot of confidence in, but we don’t dwell on the past. You learn from things.”

--To me, the more important concern about the kick at Soldier Field is the wind and how Pineiro mentally handles that tricky component. “It was a tricky wind,” Tabor said. “Maybe to the naked eye up in the box it didn’t look like a lot of wind, but there was wind down there and it was one of those tricky ones. Lines are always changing as the game goes on.”

--Bilal Nichols is ready to shed the protective cast on his right hand, which is a liberating moment for the young defensive lineman.

--Nichols grew up outside of Philadelphia as a young man before moving to Delaware for high school. He is limiting the ticket requests to immediate family, including the grandparents who raised him. Adova and Doloros Bolton remain important and impactful to Nichols. It is not a stretch to say they are the main reasons he is an NFL player.

--Nichols and the rest of the front seven will need to shut down the Eagles run. It means getting a handle on former Bears running back Jordan Howard. “Jordan does what Jordan does,” Nichols said. “He is a tough-nosed back who is not scared of contact. He is not scared to lower his shoulder. Actually, that’s all he wants to do.”

--Philadelphia rookie running back Miles Sanders was a full participant in practice Thursday.  He is an explosive complement to Howard. His big plays include runs of 30 and 65 yards and pass receptions of 40, 36, 45, and 25 this season. 

--The World Series-clinching win by the Washington Nationals developed into a power point presentation by Bears head coach Matt Nagy. “How ironic in our situation,” Nagy said. “How amazing is that? That people that stick together, people that get tighter through adversity, people that never quit, people that say, ‘So what, now what?'-- all that stuff. How do you not show that to your guys and let them pull from that?"

--Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich takes exception with the idea that Mitchell Trubisky struggled at quarterback Sunday. “I think that generality of 'Mitch struggled' is overblown,” Helfrich said. “Mitch made some phenomenal plays. He missed some easy ones. He missed some really easy wins. That’s frustrating."

--One of the keys to the game for defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano will be creating some third-and-long situations. “I think they are second in the league right now on third-down percentage. That’s because they are in a ton of third-and-manageable, because they are really, really good on first and second down.”

--One thing more on Trubisky from Matt Nagy’s perspective. “He’s a young kid that hasn’t had a whole lot of experiences of knowing how to handle certain situations. You take a 25-year-old kid that has a lot of things right now, going at him. He wants to win badly.” Nagy said it is hard. He is trying to help all of that not weigh Trubisky down. He wants him to play loose. That is the goal every week.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.