Joniak's Journal: Bears' Mistakes Are Correctable
By Jeff Joniak-
(CBS) The Bears face the 49ers in San Francisco on Sunday night after a rough season-opening loss to the Bills. Here are a few thoughts on the mind heading into the game.
You may tire of hearing it, but the fact is the six plays that made the difference in Chicago's loss to Buffalo -- highlighted decisions or mistakes --are correctable. That term "correctable" seems to agitate the masses, as opposed to calming the sudden fears of a calamitous season ahead. However, after coaches watch the tape, the instruction begins. A list of preaching points set the tone for the week, and the idea is those mistakes are then corrected. The Bears beat the Bears in Week 1. Mental errors can be fixed. Physical error by players who are unable to execute an assignment to a successful conclusion aren't. New "correctable" errors will come every week this season in victory as well as defeat. It's a way of life in every meeting room in the NFL.
When Marquess Wilson fractured his right collarbone in early August, there was a collective disappointment in the organization. Only 21, Wilson flashed big-play potential in training camp after building up his body with a good 10 pounds of muscle and refining his speed. Wilson is a deep threat with build-up speed, but he's still learning the game. After watching Brandon Marshall limp off the field Sunday against Buffalo and Alshon Jeffrey be limited to 37 snaps with a hamstring injury, it made me think that having a healthy Wilson would be an excellent safety net given his size/speed ratio.
"Very upset," Wilson said. "I miss playing. I miss playing with these guys."
Wilson is able to do squats and one-arm weight-lifting with his left arm. He catches passes with his left hand but isn't cleared to start catching passes with his right hand. Currently on the injured reserve list with a designation to return, Wilson could be available to play in the Bears' ninth game, which comes against the Packers. It all depends on how the fracture heals. We don't know exactly what Wilson is as a receiver, but the glimpse from camp gives me optimism that he's a player to watch.
"Time will tell when I'm able to step back on the field and do what I love to do," Wilson said. "Hopefully, that's the plan -- to come back like I never left."
Veteran Pro Bowlers earned the recognition because they've been playmakers. It's how Lance Briggs was named to seven Pro Bowl games. Among 4-3 linebackers, few over the last decade have made more tackles for loss in the run game than Briggs, who relies on his ability to get small in the hole, slip blockers and set a new line of scrimmage with instinctual quickness and suddenness reserved for only a handful of players. In coverage, Briggs has been steady. One more pick-six and he ties Hall of Famers Bobby Bell and Derrick Brooks for the most by a linebacker in NFL history.
Grilled on gap integrity his entire career, Briggs has still freelanced a time or two to make the big play. He's been durable, playing fewer than 13 games in a season only once. That happened in 2013, when he fractured his shoulder on Oct. 20 in Washington. If Briggs isn't 100 percent, he's close to it by now. With his 34th birthday approaching Nov. 12, he's winding down a great career. What the Bears need from Briggs now is to continue relying on his instincts but also avoid the gravitational pull of offensive deception in the age of the read-option.
Fourth and short
After one week, the Bears are second in the NFL in first down efficiency offensively. They collected 23 four-plus yard gains on 36 first-down plays, which is 63.9 percent of the time, trailing only Indianapolis. A year ago, the Bears were 17th at 45.6 percent. Additionally, the Bears had the second most first downs in the league with 29, one behind New Orleans.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.
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