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Velus Jones Jr. year one breakout

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Today we are breaking down Mr. Velus Jones Jr. The 6-foot 205 pounds wide receiver spent 4 years at USC (redshirted his freshman year) and 3 years at Tennessee. He was able to get another year of eligibility due to the covid exemption rules. With his extra year of college, he worked on route running, football IQ, and getting stronger and faster. 

During the combine I fell in love with him. He looked so jacked and so fast and did pretty well in all the drills. The combine likes to post unofficial 40 times to increase viewers. For example, Chris Olave clocked an unofficial 4.26 WHAT? Velus posted an official time of 4.39.

Velus is also a yards-after-catch machine. He led all of college football a season ago in yards after the catch. He reminds me of Deebo Samuel, but faster. Deebo ran a 4.8 40-yard dash, and Velus ran a 4.31. He will be used a lot like Deebo has been used, a swiss army knife type. He will run the ball, he will catch the ball, and he might even throw the ball on a trick play. The possibilities are endless!

I think Velus is going to break the Bears rookie reception record. That record happens to be 63 receptions and is still held by Matt Forte in 2008. I am expecting Velus to haul in around 75 receptions and 850 yards. I don’t think he is going to be able to break Harlon Hills 1,124 rookie receiving record. 1,100 yards is a lot for a rookie, especially one in a Bears uniform.

For a rookie receiver, you look for a few things. Is he making plays in practice? He has so far. Is he getting mentioned by coaches in interviews? Yes, he has. Is he getting mentioned by his peers in interviews? Yes, he has. Darnell Mooney said in an interview during OTAs ” Velus, man, when he gets the ball, y ‘all are gonna see he can fly. He’s going to be a playmaker for sure for us”. Justin Fields himself had this to say ” Yeah he’s fast, he can make plays, he can catch for sure, he’s a good player”. That’s the type of compliment you want as a rookie heading into your first training camp. 

Velus Jones Jr. 2022 stat projection:

Receptions: 75

Receiving yards: 850

Receiving TDs: 6

Rushing yards: 105

Rushing TDs: 2 

Punt return yards: 275

Punt return TDs: 1 

Kickoff yards: 400

Kickoff TDs: 2

PODCAST: Lori Lightfoot’s Dome/ Position Previews: OL & DL

On this week’s episode of Bear Force One, Marty and Brian discuss the arrest of (soon-to-be former) Chicago Bears WR David Moore. From there, the gang breaks down Lori Lightfoot’s master plan to dome in Soldier Field and gives their thoughts on the Arlington Heights project. Lastly, the boys bring it home with the first installment of the “Position Previews” series, breaking down the Bears’ offensive and defensive lines.

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Three Things To Keep An Eye On In Training Camp

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Training camp under new Chicago Bears head coach, Matt Eberflus is just around the corner. Before you know it there will be pads popping and whistles will be blaring in Lake Forest. The Bears have a lot of question marks going into training camp and I give you three things the Bears need to do before the season starts.

To have a successful offense, it starts up front with the offensive line. Yes, the play calling was garbage last year but so was the offensive line. It was like a hockey line change at the right and left tackle spots all season. The Bears could not find a consistent player for those two spots to save their lives. Chicago also lost left guard James Daniels as he signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers this past offseason. The remaining players that accumulated playing time last season are Larry Borom, Tevin Jenkins, Cody Whitehair, and Sam Mustipher. The Bears signed former Packer, Lucas Patrick to slot in at center. The organization is also hoping for their two draft picks from last year, Borom and Jenkins to take major steps to make an impact this season. A name to watch is Braxton Jones, the rookie from Southern Utah. He may be one that is a dark horse to steal some playing time. Chicago has pieces but they need to come together as a unit and protect Justin Fields.

The Bears offense was a bottom feeder in the NFL last season. They could not get anything going at times and as I said earlier, the playcalling was not great. Former Bears coach Matt Nagy did quarterback Justin Fields no favors by seemingly avoiding his strengths and avoiding anything that fields was good at. Bears head coach Matt Eberflus brought in former Green Bay Packers coach, Luke Getsy to run the offense. Getsy was the quarterback coach and passing game coordinator with the Packers. I believe it will be key to have a coach for Justin that is strictly for Fields and the offense. Getsy and Fields have to be in lock step if this offense wants to take steps forward from a season ago. How will this relationship mold over camp? We shall see.

Time to head over to the defensive side of the ball and the secondary. The Bears drafted a cornerback and safety in this year’s draft. Cornerback Kyler Gordon of Washington, and safety Jaquan Brisker from Penn State. These two more than likely will be starters heading into the season. Paired with Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson the Bears back end remains pretty thin for depth. How the Bears mesh the young talented players with Jackson and Johnson all while maintaining a high level of play will be intriguing.

These three things will have a heavy impact on the success of the Chicago Bears in 2022. Should be a very interesting training camp in Lake Forrest under a new regime.

Favorite Chicago Bear: Matt Eberflus

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It’s been a tough last three years for Chicago Bears fans as the Matt Nagy era came to a crashing halt, and that is with a playoff appearance and a 22-27 record, something some NFL teams (cough, cough, the Lions) would kill for. So perhaps this comes across as complaining. But thank goodness we’ve moved past that. Without a doubt my favorite Chicago Bear of 2022 is the new head coach, Matt Eberflus.

Coach Flus(?) – we’re still workshopping a nickname – comes to us from the Indianapolis Colts after running their defense for the last four seasons. The Colts consistently finished around the top 10 of the NFL in total defense over that time period, including 7th in defensive DVOA in 2020 and 8th in 2021. The name that everyone thinks of with the Colts on defense is LB Darius Leonard. He came in as a rookie and became a superstar. The Bears’ best defensive player is a superstar LB Roquan Smith. Can he perhaps take his game to an even greater level with a defensive head coach? On the offensive side of the ball, we’ve seen some hopeful signs with Luke Getsy coming over from the evil empire to lead the way. Matt Nagy constantly intervened and took on the role of OC and HC at the same time. That doesn’t quite work in the NFL these days. Sign me up for moving on from that.

Coach seems like an old school football coach. He’s going to be more of a disciplinarian. He’ll put an emphasis on holding guys accountable. We already saw it with the reports of CB Jaylon Johnson working with the 2nd team after showing up a couple of days late to minicamp.

A lot of Bears fans, myself included, were looking for a head coach with an offensive background to guide QB Justin Fields. However, I think we’ve seen just how badly that can go, and how that is no guarantee. Eberflus was regarded as a future head coach while in Indianapolis. His Colts teams always seemed to maximize the talent they had available. And perhaps most importantly, everything we’ve heard out of Halas Hall is how professional he is and how he intends to establish a winning culture.

The Bears might not be good in 2022. The offense could struggle yet again. Justin Fields might not turn into a superstar this season. And yet, I’ll take that 100 times over compared to the back and forth of who is calling plays, the 3 yard hitch routes on 3rd & 5, the inconsistent 4th down decisions, and constantly breaking a great defense’s will to win. The Double Doink halted all momentum for this franchise for years. Now is the time to reset and look forward to a future with a dynamic leader on the field, and a solid presence on the sidelines.

My Favorite Chicago Bear: Justin Fields

In light of the new NFL season, Monsters of the Midwest has asked us to pick our Favorite Bear and explain why they will succeed in 2022. Although there are many great options on both sides of the ball.

I had to go with my guy, Justin Fields. Aka Future Super Bowl MVP Justin Fields. Flashing back to the moment Fields was drafted, the excitement that filled the city will never be forgotten. In my lifetime, I have never seen a Bears quarterback with the potential and physical traits Fields possesses. I truly believe he will lead the Bears to wherever he desires. 

The moment that made me a believer was the Week 9 game against the Steelers. In the final 2 minutes of that game, Fields showed everything you could ask for and more from a first year QB in the NFL. While the throws were big time it was his poise, confidence, and determination to win that stood out to me. Even though the Bears lost this game, Fields showed glimpses of what the Bears hope he will become.

As for 2022, I see Fields taking a much-needed year 2 jump. While I expect the Bears to be a run-heavy team, I only expect that to help Justin in creating opportunities for him down the field. Also, expect tons of play-action and rollout passes. In 2021, Fields had the highest passer rating on designed rollouts with a 138.5 rating.

This should allow Justin to keep the turnovers down and play smart football, hopefully leading to more wins for our Chicago Bears!

To wrap it up, I’ll throw out a WAY too early 2022 stats prediction for Justin Fields. 3,635 yards, 27 passing TDs, and 9 interceptions. We’ll also say he adds 500 rushing yards and 4 TDs in that department.

Can’t wait for the 2022 season!

Favorite Chicago Bear: Cole Kmet

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Let me tell you about Cole Kmet. The 23-year-old from Barrington, IL grew up a Bears fan. His favorite players growing up were Brian Urlacher and Greg Olsen. He went on to start all four years at Notre Dame. CBS Sports ranked him as the top Tight End for the 2020 draft class and many others agreed. Our beloved Bears would go on to select Kmet in the second round.

Tight Ends were essential for Matt Nagy’s west coast office, Nagy envisioned Kmet as a Travis Kelce type(as you could imagine, he was never used in that way). During his rookie season, Kmet played in all 16 games, with 9 games as the starter. He finished that season with 44 targets and 28 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns. While it’s not uncommon for it to take 2-3 seasons for tight ends to get acclimated to the NFL. Kmet would up his production in 2021 getting 93 targets, 60 receptions, and 612 receiving yards, with zero touchdowns. Before you complain about the touchdown production, let’s remember who was calling plays the last two years. Nagy just didn’t get him involved in the red zone. 

Why is Kmet going to breakout in 2022. He had a 1.71 target separation via player profiler, listed as the 14th best among tight ends. It seemed like Kmet had a lot of drops, but he only had 3 during the 2021 season. His contested catch rate was 46.4%, which could be better, but pretty good for a second-year tight end. In the outside zone scheme, tight ends are also essential whether it be blocking or running routes. If you look at Robert Tonyan who had a breakout year in 2020 with 59 targets for 52 receptions and 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. The touchdown numbers and the lesser more efficient targets pop out. When watching the film, it seems like Tonyan is always running a seam route, and Kmet is running drag routes and corner routes. Tonyan was used heavily in the red zone while Kmet was not used in the red zone.

Luckily Nagy is gone and the torture seems to be over. Luke Getsy is now in charge of the offense, running the same scheme as Matt LaFleur. This is why I have referenced Robert Tonyan so frequently. We can expect Getsy to use the large frame of Cole Kmet in the red zone more, and have him run better route combinations. Going back to what I said earlier, it takes tight ends 2-3 years to break out in the NFL. They have to block like a tackle and run routes like a receiver. The jump from the college game to NFL is a big one for the tight end position. Look at Kyle Pitts, the best tight end prospect in years, it seemed like he was a good rookie tight end right? Well, he was, but he played a majority of his snaps in the slot, where Kmet is traditional on the line tight end. 

Kmet does everything right to prepare himself. Whether it be getting absolutely jacked in the offseason, or training with Fields and Mooney, the guy does it the right way. He pointed out in interviews that his connection with Fields has grown. He also pointed out how Fields is more on the move in this offense. Can you imagine how this offense would look if Fields was on the move and Kmet was squiggling around going to the spot Fields wants and hooking up for a big gain? I sure can. The time is now for Mr. Kmet to take that final jump, he is going into year 3 with a new regime that is not committed to him. 

Projected stats for Cole Kmet:

Targets: 98

Receptions: 72

Yards: 875

Touchdowns: 9

Favorite Chicago Bear: Darnell Mooney

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Monsters of the Midwest has tasked its writers with finding one of the favorite Chicago Bears for the 2022 season. Why are they a favorite Bear and why they may find some success in the 2022 season. First up is Cole Gross with Darnell Mooney.

The Chicago Bears have many likable players within the organization, like Justin Fields, Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson, and more. But for me, there has been one player that I have been a fan of from day one. That would be number 11, Darnell Mooney.

Mooney was drafted in the 5th round in the 2020 NFL draft. Played his college ball at Tulane University. You could tell early on that he was going to be one of the steals of the draft with his productivity in practice. Mooney’s numbers from year one to year two vastly improved and now he will be the top target for the Bears in 2021.

Darnell has become my favorite player because I love his style of playing wide receiver and one of those guys that were overlooked but has not wavered on the big stage.

I do see him having a bigger season this year with the possibility of becoming Justin Fields go-to target. The two of them have been working out together most of the offseason. Something they both said at the end of the season last year. I am very excited for Mooney and to see what he can do in the new-look offense that the Bears are working on with Fields at the helm.

Is Justin Fields Poised For A Breakout Year in 2022?

This has been an article long into the making mainly because it required a lot of film which dated back to his days at Georgia. This leads me to the question, is Justin Fields poised to have a breakout season in his second year with the Bears? First, we need to dive into what happened during his rookie season. By now it is no secret that Justin Fields struggled in his rookie year but is that the end result of having a head coach that ran an offense into the ground consistently or just the growing pains that comes with having a young quarterback. Both can be the correct answer.

Justin Fields did have a lot of rookie pains but that is to be expected. For example, it can be seen that he held onto the ball too long or when given a clean pocket he did not step up in it which turned into very avoidable sacks. He also only looked down one of his reads during passing plays instead of letting other routes develop. Which may have been a coaching problem that can easily be fixed over time.

Despite all that, I feel like Fields is poised for a breakout season this year due to the following reasons. With the Bears implementing an offensive system that on paper may be similar to that of the Green Bay Packers. Meaning we should see a lot more play-action which is one of Fields’ strengths from his college game. For example, the first game against the Lions last season. Fields was able to thread the ball to his receivers deep down the field especially his go to guy Darnell Mooney consistently on play actions passes.

Fields had some others positives to note in the play actions game last season. Fields averaged 13.3 (1st overall) yards of average depth per pass as opposed to his 9.3 yards (3rd overall) while running other dropbacks. He also only had a 1% turnover worthy play percentage (3rd overall) when running play action compared to his 5% (34th overall) on other types of dropbacks. Play action was something Matt Nagy himself completely overlooked after he took back the play calling duties from Bill Lazor.

The next factor is the offense will be for Justin Fields only. In 2021, the offense was formed around Andy Dalton and limited the flexibility needed for Fields’ skillset of being able to get out of the pocket and use his legs. I’m fully expecting new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy to implement a lot more bootleg passes and more RPO’s (run/pass option) to help Justin play a similar role he had at Ohio State. Allowing Fields to use his legs opens up a whole different part of the play book. Look at players like Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson who force defenses to game plan against both their running and passing abilities which ends up open the playbook more and getting other players involved also.

Fields has also been working on his throwing motion throughout the off-season. If you recall, Fields had a more elongated throwing motion. Recently videos have been surfacing of him throwing in OTA’s and minicamp and his motion appears a lot shorter which in turn allows him to get the ball out faster and may help limit some turnover worthy plays.

Finally, Fields has been working on his chemistry with third year wide receiver Darnell Mooney. It seems that those two have been adjoined twins and have spent a ton of time together this off-season. There is no doubt that the Bears view Mooney as their number one guy and both Fields and Mooney are embracing that. Shortly after the Bears season ended Mooney and Fields were seen in Georgia working together and building that chemistry. Mooney is coming off his first 1,000 yard season while seeing an increase of 42 targets as well as having 20 more receptions than a season ago. Just how much will this help Justin in 2022? No one knows, but having that type of chemistry with your number one will drastically improve your ability because you will now know the exact time to throw the ball on the break of his route and hit him in stride.

All in all, I expect to see Justin Fields make significant strides in 2022. If he does that, they Bears will be better off for it.

First Game-By-Game Predictions For The Bears Season

After weeks of build up after the announcement of the announcement of when the NFL was announcing the 2022 schedule, we’ve finally made it. The league finally revealed the schedule, and by virtue of last year’s struggles, the Bears will be in a position to play a softer schedule in Year 1 of the Matt Eberflus era. QB Justin Fields will be targeted for a breakout and the defense should hopefully take a step forward with the new staff. Now is a great time for an objective look at what to expect and make some early predictions!

Week 1: vs 49ers

Who even knows who the Niners will be starting at QB? Trey Lance? Jimmy G? Brock Purdy? Will Deebo Samuel be there? So many unknowns with the defending NFC runners up that I feel like the Bears should have the upper hand here. We already know what Justin Fields can do to this defense. Win #1. RECORD: 1-0

Week 2: @ Packers (SNF)

This isn’t a playoff game, so winning at Lambeau won’t be easy. Aaron Rodgers should have a tough time playing this game from prison where he belongs. I’d chalk this up as another win. RECORD: 2-0

Week 3: vs Texans

This one should be fun with Lovie Smith returning to Soldier Field. There are plenty of good memories of the ’06 defense on the TV broadcast as the Bears beat a team early in a bigger rebuild than ours. RECORD: 3-0

Week 4: @ Giants

This is where the Bears defense takes off against Daniel Jones. Rookie Kyler Gordon has his first career interception as the Bears scratch out a low scoring win. RECORD: 4-0

Week 5: @ Vikings

Justin Fields rips apart the team that supposedly wanted to draft him before sticking with Kirk Cousins at the reasonable price of $500M per year. Justin Jefferson quits on Kirk at halftime. RECORD: 5-0

Week 6: vs Washington Semi-Professional Football Team/Commanders (TNF)

Easy winner. The Bears win by so much that Dan Snyder is forced to sell the team. RECORD: 6-0

Week 7: @ Patriots (MNF)

It’s Mac Jones against Justin Fields in a battle of the best QBs in the 2021 draft class. Neither team blows you away with skill position talent but the Bears pull away behind 100+ yards and a TD from David Montgomery. RECORD: 7-0

Week 8: @ Cowboys

By now our confidence is growing. Justin Fields passes for 300+ and runs for 100+ against a weak Dallas defense and the Bears win again. RECORD: 8-0

Week 9: vs Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa is getting benched in this game as the Dolphins finally realize how bad he is. Robert Quinn has 3 sacks. Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon each return an INT for a touchdown. Bears cruise to a 42-0 win. RECORD: 9-0

Week 10: vs Lions

Justin Fields went 1-0 as the starter for Ohio State against Michigan and 1-0 starting against them in 2021 for the Bears. He’s not about to take an L to this team. Just make sure the kneecaps are protected. RECORD: 10-0

Week 11: @ Falcons

I don’t know. Is there anything interesting about the Falcons? Let’s call it a win and move on. RECORD: 11-0

Week 12: @ Jets

This is the toughest test to date as rookie Breece Hall proves unstoppable. He and fellow Iowa State alum David Montgomery each rush for over 200 yards but it’s Montgomery who gets the last laugh with his 5th rushing TD of the game in the final minute being the winner. RECORD: 12-0

Week 13: vs Packers

Aaron Rodgers was going to be released on parole for this game but it’s shown that he wllingly spread a new COVID variant to grandmothers in Green Bay and goes back to jail. Bears win 69-0. RECORD: 13-0

Week 15: vs Eagles

Justin Fields eclipses 4000 passing yards in this game for the 1st such season in Bears history. It’s celebration time in Chicago as the Bears officially clinch the NFC North. RECORD: 14-0

Week 16: vs Bills

Pundits agree before the game that this is a Super Bowl preview. It’s a Bear Weather kind of Christmas Eve in Chicago as Justin Fields runs for 2 scores and the Bears defense shuts down Josh Allen to win 17-10. RECORD: 15-0

Week 17: @ Lions

Detroit will put up a great fight at home, but in Lions fashion somehow lose on a triple doink FG that the Velus Jones Jr. picks up and runs back for a game winning touchdown on the last play. RECORD: 16-0

Week 18: vs Vikings

We’re resting starters here after Justin Fields essentially locks up the league MVP award, but just as the Bears did in 2018, they win on the road anyway to knock the Vikings out of the playoffs. RECORD: 17-0

Again, this is an early objective look at a rebuilding team. There’s a lot to like here. The Bears will be back.

3 Things Velus Jones Jr Will Bring To The Chicago Bears Offense.

With the 71st pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected Velus Jones Jr, WR, Tennessee. This pick surprised many, including me. After diving into what exactly Jones does on the grass, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. First, let’s rewind and recall what Matt Eberflus had to say about the type of receiver he valued. Eberflus stated at the scouting combine, “You want explosive athletes there that can produce chunk plays.” He also added, “So if you throw a screen, you want a guy that can take it and go for 15 or all the way.” Sure, does sound like Velus, doesn’t it? Now let’s take a look at what makes Velus so special.

YAC Ability

This is what makes Velus so great! His ability to take a negative play and turn it into a positive gain is truly special. In 2021, Jones averaged 8.32 yards after the catch. Now, in comparison, the next closest wide receiver from this class would be Erik Ezukanma from Texas Tech at 7.79 yards after the catch. For instance, take that 8.32 and compare it to the rest of the NFL last year, and Velus would rank 3rd in the league. Now, why does all this matter? Well, the Chicago Bears last season ranked 31st in yards after the catch with 1609 total yards.

Separation

In addition to his great abilities after the catch, Velus was sensational when it came to separating. He ran a fairly simple route tree at Tennessee but consistently showed the ability to get open. Per Football Focus, Velus was in the 99th percentile in separation percentage. Adding him to a revamped group that already includes guys like Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle will make Justin Fields’ life easier. When Velus got his shot to show his abilities at the senior bowl, he showed out. The executive director of the Senior Bowl, Jim Nagy, came away very impressed with his route-running ability.

Using his speed and creating after contact

First-time play-caller Luke Getsy had to have been jumping out of his seat when he turned out the tape and saw the athletic specimen Velus was. Last season, Velus was 3rd in the SEC in yards after contact with 286 yards. Now, add in that he runs a 4.3 40-yard dash. dangerous. I fully expect him to be used a ton in the screen game, and also in mesh concepts to get him in open space. His ability to create should only open up more downfield opportunities for guys like Mooney and Pringle.

Conclusion

Once this kid steps onto the field for his first preseason game this August, I truly believe he will instantly become a fan favorite. However, do not expect his volume this season to be huge due to the fact that the Bears are going to pound the rock. However, he should see 40-60 targets and produce as a solid wide receiver three for Justin Fields in his crucial second season.