Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Top Bears Insider Reveals Minicamp’s ‘Key Watch’

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The Chicago Bears held their voluntary three-day Veterans Minicamp April 19-21.

On the second day of practice, a top team insider noticed something pretty significant about the way the group played and reacted to new head coach Matt Eberflus. On April 20, Insiders Adam Hoege of CHGO Sports tweeted what he described as a “key” exercise watch:

“After a dropped pass, the ball was immediately picked up by the defense and the whole unit went into return mode like it was a fumble,” Hoge observed, adding, “Expect the D to go after any ball on the ground, like they did in the Lovie days.”

This, of course, is a reference to former Bears head coach Lovie Smith, now the Houston Texans coach. Smith coached the Bears from 2004 to 2012, going 81-63 in that span while also being the last head coach to lead the Bears to the Super Bowl, which he did after the team’s 13-3 season in 2006.

During Smith’s tenure, the Bears defense, led by former All-Pro linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, along with Charles Tillman in secondary school, became known for their uncanny ability to steal the ball from opposing offense. The Bears led the NFL with 310 takeaways under Smith, with his Cover 2 defense flying for the ball every game. According to Hoge, this current group reminded him of what the Bears’ D looked like under Smith — and that’s a very good thing.

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Eberflus, who served as defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts from 2018-21 before being hired as Chicago’s new head coach in January, brought his HITS principle with him, and based on Hoge’s tweet, it sounds like it makes a big difference . It’s an acronym that stands for “Hustle, Intensity, Taking the Ball away and Playing situationally smart football,” and players say they hear about it regularly.

“When I first met the coaches, they just said the HITS principle,” Trevis Gipson told media on April 19. Third week. We heard it yesterday. We hear it today. I can even hear it walking the hallways. I think it’s being bred into our defense and our offense and I think we’re going to have a fantastic year.

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“What we teach them and what we tell them is that it’s about winning football,” Eberflus said on April 19 of what he and his staff are trying to teach their new team. “Those are the basics of the game. It’s about blocking and tackling. It’s about doing the simple things better than everyone else. You were good.”

The new Bears coach also emphasizes putting players in the best possible positions to succeed. “We look at what guys do best,” he added.

It’s early and it’s only April, but Bears Nation needs to be encouraged by the early returns from Halas Hall.

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