As the Chicago Bears start training camp, general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus discuss the state of the team.
Well, training camp is here. The Chicago Bears start camp today. That means the regular season is around the corner. The fans get to see how the team progresses and give their opinions on who is doing well or struggling. They no longer have to depend on media reports to tell them.
At their press conference ahead of the start of training camp, general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus discussed the state of the team.
Of course, at this point of the year, every team has a positive outlook for the season. Poles and Eberflus are no different. Poles mentioned how good OTAs went and wants the team to continue their momentum before they went on break.
I am really pleased in the direction we’re headed. I thought this offseason we made a lot of strides forward. I thought the standards were lifted from Day 1 until we broke and I am excited to see us build off of that and continue to get better.
The two new leaders are charged with trying to change the atmosphere around the team. All the seasons of losing took a toll and people are used to seeing the losses pile up. The new regime wants to change that.
One way to change that is how they practice. Eberflus emphasizes the need to finish at practice. He also wants the players to practice better than the day before.
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Lots of changes abound
The first thing one notices when looking at this roster is the number of new players there are. Almost 58 percent of the roster are new faces.
Poles didn’t stop looking once minicamps and OTAs started. Poles continued to look to bolster the roster. A couple of weeks ago he traded for wide receiver N’Keal Harry. The wide receiver group still looked a little shaky. Besides Darnell Mooney and possibly Byron Pringle there wasn’t too much to be hopeful about. After struggling with the New England Patriots, the former first-round pick could benefit from a change of scenery.
Another unit that needed a boost was the offensive line. The line incurred the fans’ wrath with their struggles. Many fans weren’t impressed with some of Poles’ pickups.
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He changed that feeling just a day ago when he signed two linemen, Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff. That elicited a lot of excitement from the fans. Sure, these guys aren’t elite. However, they are big upgrades from what the team had competing for starting jobs. Now the line looks stronger than it had been all offseason.
Additionally, the team has the players’ last names on the back of their jerseys. It may be something small, but it is significant by improving the communication between the coaches and the players. It sounds better when a coach calls a player by his name rather than his number.
Expectations are high
Eberflus expects a lot from the team. No, this isn’t a roster that will compete for a Super Bowl but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t practice like they are. Eberflus feels competition will make the players better. He wants to see different combinations to see what works best. The more battles he sees, the better he feels the players become.
We want to see guys compete. We have a lot of spots on the roster that are in flux right now and we’re just trying to find the best combination of players.
During the offseason camps, Eberflus has gotten his players accustomed to his HITS principle. HITS stands for hustle, intensity, taking care of/taking away the football, and smart play.
Eberflus feels his principle elevates the players’ play. If they follow his principle, they’ll succeed. There might not be many victories right away, but eventually their play improves and the wins will come.
Quinn and Smith situations
The team is dealing with two top-notch players with questions. Defensive end Robert Quinn skipped all the mandatory camps during the offseason. There are reports that he wants a trade.
Quinn broke the single-season franchise record for sacks last year by recording 18.5 sacks. He is near the end of his illustrious career. What he needs now is a ring. His value is high right now. The Chicago Bears could receive a few much-needed draft picks in a trade.
Also, the team has a contract situation with linebacker Roquan Smith. Smith is in the final year of his rookie contract and wants a new one before the start of the season.
There were reports that Smith wouldn’t report to training camp without a new deal. However, he did, though it appears he won’t practice.
Poles addressed both situations. On Quinn, he said he hadn’t had a discussion with him about a trade.
While trading him could bring in some valuable assets, keeping him could help the team. He is the most experienced player on the team and could be of big help to the younger players.
The Bears could save $12.9 million if they trade Quinn. That would make up for the $12.5 million they’re paying Reiff. If they keep him, though, and wait until next season, they save $14 million. Perhaps a salary cap savings next season could be better than this one.
On Smith, Poles would only reiterate that he really likes him. He wouldn’t get into contract talks. He previously said Smith was a priority and that won’t change.
My feelings for Roquan don’t change at all. I love the player and the person and that won’t change. I don’t know what his intentions are. I know he checked in and we’re going to take it from there.
As mentioned earlier, all hopes are high right now. We’ll see what happens once the practices begin and we see how they play in preseason games. Wins and losses might not be of great importance for the Chicago Bears in 2022. How the young players develop is.
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