Bears coach Matt Nagy

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Joniak: Bears Refocus, Turn Attention To Broncos

Chicago will look for its first win when it visits Denver on Sunday.

Jeff Joniak
September 09, 2019 - 5:44 pm
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LAKE FOREST (WBBM Newsradio) -- After a 10-3 loss to the Packers last Thursday, the Bears returned to work Monday. A matchup at the Denver Broncos awaits next Sunday.

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Here are the news and notes of the day.

-- Four days after the stinging loss to the Packers, coach Matt Nagy structured a non-padded 90-play practice at Halas Hall that was split between the three phases. Receiver Taylor Gabriel felt it was beneficial. "It is more of a dialed-down practice, but at the end of the day, it didn’t feel like it," he said. "People were going after balls, making plays, just flying around. It felt like a regular practice."

-- Gabriel has been quarterback Mitch Trubisky to "enjoy this moment" after the tough loss. "I have been a part of a Super Bowl team," Gabriel said, reflecting on his time with the Falcons. "We had a loss that year that was crushing and the media ... they killed us. We love you guys ... You guys are good to us, but we use you guys as fuel."

-- Nagy is still non-committal as it pertains to the potential return of tight end Trey Burton on Sunday. Burton missed the opener with a groin injury. "He looked like he was moving around pretty good," Nagy said Monday. "We want to stay optimistic with where he’s at and just kind of feel it out as the days go by -- and see as the week goes by to see exactly where he’s at."

-- The hot topic in the locker room was Broncos coach Vic Fangio. Multiple players gushed about the quiet-but-commanding demeanor of the former Bears defensive coordinator. Fangio is big on details and known for talking about "death by inches" in football. That continues to ring in their ears, but they now have a new voice in defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.

-- Roy Robertson-Harris moved from outside linebacker to the defensive line during Fangio's tenure, and he was a valuable piece to the defensive puzzle unleashed by Pagano against the Packers. "What I like about Chuck (is) he’ll tell us be where our feet are, enjoying the moment, don’t think too far ahead and don’t reminisce on the past," Robertson-Harris said. 

-- Robertson-Harris destroyed the Packers' interior offensive line. His length and strength created outstanding leverage inside, and that makes him a dangerous nickel pass rusher.

-- Nagy fielded the first of what will be a week of questions about his relationship with and professional respect for Fangio. "He has so much experience to hang his hat on," Nagy said. "He’s been successful in a lot of different places. For me coming in as a younger head coach being able to rely on him for situational football ... just kind of say, ‘Hey how would you look at this formation or this personnel grouping, how would you attack it?' Really more so than anything, I think for me was trusting and believing in any advice that he gave you knew that there was merit behind it because of all of his experience."

-- The Bears averaged more than nine yards to go on second downs against the Packers. That spoke to their first-down struggles and eventually left Nagy in unenviable third-down situations as he called plays. "We lived in that third-and-7, third-and-8, third-and-9 world," Nagy said. "That’s a difficult success percentage for an offense." Nagy is looking for the offense to land more in that third-and-medium range.

-- Tarik Cohen had one rushing attempt, which ended in a negative play nullified by a holding penalty. Trubisky targeted Cohen 10 times in the passing game, including several routes out of the inside slot. He added 36 yards on four punt returns, but as a dynamic weapon, he seemingly needs the balance of run-pass to keep defenses guessing. 

-- Cohen conceded he doesn't need a specific volume of runs or passes to get into a rhythm. "Just having the ball being able to see how defenders are playing me," Cohen said. "I’m not really looking forward to getting this many rushes in a row or this many passes in a row. I just need the ball in my hands."

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