BOURBONNAIS — The Chicago Bears have officially been at Olivet Nazarene University for a grand total of four practices.
Although it’s a very small sample size, there are a lot of takeaways about the team thus far.
Yes, there are a ton of reasons to be very excited about the team, not just this year but for the next three to four years. But there’s also reasons to keep one foot off the bandwagon.
Here are three positives and three negatives through the first four practices of training camp:
Deep receiving core
This might be the deepest receiving core the Bears have had at their disposal in the past decade. Let’s run down the names: Allen Robinson II, Kevin White, Josh Bellamy, Taylor Gabriel, Bennie Fowler III, Tanner Gentry, Anthony Miller and more.
Every receiver on the roster is younger than 30, with Bellamy being the oldest at 29 years old. I understand the trepidation about some of those players (Robinson and White) coming off injuries, but if they stay healthy, Mitch Trubisky will be one happy quarterback.
Top 10 defense
Even though the Bears’ front office let go of some aging, yet capable veterans, the most important person on the defense is still there — defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
The 59-year old is the brains behind one of the most complex defenses in the league and despite the pile of injuries to the team last season, the defense stayed afloat. It resulted in the 10th best defense in the league. Injuries happen, but if the Bears manage to stay 85 percent healthy, they can be a top five defense, easily.
Excitement and energy
Usually when a team gets a new coach, it means it's starting completely from scratch. However, this situation is kind of different.
The Bears were already at the bottom, considering the team hasn’t won 10 games in a season since 2012 nor been to the playoffs since 2010.
Matt Nagy is the breath of fresh air the Bears and the city of Chicago needs. The offense will be reinvigorated by his genius. Remember, he was Kansas City's offensive coordinator, and everyone saw how explosive the Chiefs' offense became. The proof is in the pudding.
No experienced veterans
The Bears undoubtedly are looking toward the future. But only four guys on the team are older than 30, and there aren’t any veterans they can rely on in crunch time.
Maybe their strategy is doing trial and error once they reach those late-game situations when they need a defensive stop or a key catch from a receiver. Big moments create big stars, and there aren’t any established stars on the roster.
No Roquan Smith
Yes, he will be signed at some point. But the fact that camp is moving rapidly and Smith isn’t here should be concerning. The Bears have normally been able to sign their draft picks fairly quickly in years past. But they've run into a bump in the road with Smith.
Smith is represented by CAA, the same agency that represents Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, who missed all of last year's training camp because of his contract dispute. At what point does Smith say to his representation, “Can you guys get it together? I want to play.”
Chase Daniel has looked really good through camp so far. He’s connected with Anthony Miller and Tanner Gentry on a couple of passes resulting in touchdowns. His only problem is he’s made two NFL starts in his 10-year career.
But Tyler Bray? He’s looked worse than Jay Cutler. And that’s putting it nicely. The 6-foot-6 Tennessee product has looked awful. He can’t hit receivers in stride, throws into triple coverage and overthrows at times. If Bray is inserted into a game in a big situation, just turn the channel.