Joniak's Journal: Different Vibe With These Bears

Sitting in first place in the NFC North, the Bears feel something significant is brewing.

Jeff Joniak
October 09, 2018 - 4:13 pm
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LAKE FOREST (WBBM Newsradio) -- The Bears (3-1) were off Tuesday but will continue their preparations Wednesday for a game at the Miami Dolphins (3-2) on Sunday. Here are the notes and observations from Halas Hall.

First impression

It almost feels like the season starts over for the NFC North-leading Bears at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. A Week 5 break after an eye-opening thrashing of the Buccaneers on Sept. 30 killed the vibe, did it not? 

We'll see. Fans and players alike are excited for what comes next, as they know something significant is brewing. What it is exactly, what form it takes and how far it carries the Bears is the great unknown, but something good is happening in that locker room.

"We want to put ourselves in position week to week to prepare and game plan and execute like we’ve never executed, game planned and prepared before," guard Kyle Long said.

When pressed, Long responded with a simple "yes" that what's happening this season feels different than any of his first five years with the Bears.

Second thought

Bears coach Matt Nagy is planning to deliver a simple message to his team all week as it resides in first place. That message is all about beating the Dolphins, and he'll repeat it every day. 

He doesn't much care what fashion a win comes in.

"Who cares about numbers, right?" Nagy said. "We want those letters."

That's a reference to Roman numerals, which would mark a Super Bowl trip.

"As long as we’re winning, no matter how we do it, as long as we have one more point than that other team, I don’t care how we did it," Nagy said.

On the Bears Coaches Show on WBBM, Nagy again emphasized that the Bears are still sorting out who they are and defining their identity.  For now, the Bears' hallmark is a dominant defense with an offense in a growth phase. This is a hungry team, a healthy team and a team trying to remain humble about what it has accomplished in a 3-1 start.

Third degree

In four games, only 22 of Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s 130 pass attempts have gone to Bears tight ends -- 19 to Trey Burton and three to Dion Sims. It adds up to about a 17 percent target rate for the tight ends. During the offseason program and training camp, tight ends were a featured target.  

"Those tight ends did such a great job in the preseason, and it was good work for them," Nagy said. "They’re continuing to work hard in practice. They’re learning about this system and how we do things. For us, it gives us an advantage to be able to scheme different players, different personnel groupings, formations, etc. They don’t really care. They know that whatever we ask them to do, they’ll do it, whether it’s one play or 50 plays, they’re there and we believe in those guys."

Second-year tight end Adam Shaheen should be able to return to the roster sometime in the next few weeks, expanding the target game plan to include specific down-and-distance matchups. Shaheen is recovering from a preseason foot injury.

Fourth-and-short

Linebacker Danny Trevathan is a player to watch for the Bears right now.

"He is the quarterback of the defense, and I think he’s really enjoying himself playing," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "He’s caught the fever from everybody else, and he’s giving the fever to others. He’s playing his best football. If he can continue it, you know, I think he should be considered for a lot of post-season honors."

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