Lake Forest – It’s only been a couple of games, but Bears linebacker Rockewan Smith hasn’t made the plays of the kind of impact the team hopes to see from the featured linebacker in a 4-3 chart.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams didn’t worry. It calls for patience with Smith and the new scheme.
“In this defense and in any defense, it takes a bit to get used to,” Williams said. “…So what you’ll see is, as he gains more experience and when he gets muscle memory, he remembers, ‘Hey, I’ve had this play before, I realized, I did it in practice, I saw it on tape and now it’s coming here.'” You’ll see that men hit their vulnerabilities faster.”
The Bears implemented a new scheme under coach Matt Ebervloss, switching from a 3-4 scheme under the old coaching staff to a 4-3 scheme. Smith’s responsibilities have changed slightly, but expectations have not.
Smith leads the Bears with 20 Combined Interventions over two games. He had half a sack in Week 1, which he shared with defensive end Dominic Robinson. The bag came in third place in the third quarter, compared to 49 s. This was Smith’s biggest play of the season so far.
Now, this week, Smith is dealing with a groin injury. He did not train Wednesday or Thursday at the Lake Forest Hall of Fame. Smith, because he is currently injured, was not available for comment. His spot in this week’s game against the Houston Texans is up in the air.
Health concerns aside, expectations are too high for the quarterback who is said to be paying for a $100 million contract during training camp. Sure, Eberflus wants to see Smith make more game-changing plays — putting his hands on the football more, and putting more pressure on the quarterback.
But the bears are willing to be patient with the new plan.
“It deals fast,” Williams said. “A quick healer, meaning that when things are about to happen, he sees it beforehand. I just expect Roquan to keep getting better, better and better.”
Fourth and goal: Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said the Bears have no regrets about lining up quarterback Justin Fields in a rifle for fourth and a goal from the 1-yard line Sunday against Green Bay. Fields attempted to punch the ball in the end zone but it was disqualified a short distance from the goal line.
Getsy said the decision has more to do with the type of defensive front the opponent plays than anything else.
We evaluated what they would offer us [defensively]Jitsi said. “We thought this was our best chance to score when he gave us this defense. We evaluated it. We even looked back afterwards and still feel good about what we decided.”
The mistake was in the execution of the play that Jitsi alluded to. In the play, which would have reduced the Packers’ lead to seven points, right guard Lucas Patrick swung to the left side of the formation. Pressing inward pushed Cole’s narrow end back, right into Patrick’s path. This made Patrick late in getting into his group and he didn’t really have a clean block on anyone.
“They were able to hack,” Jitsi said. “We should have had two workers on one to stop that breakout, which deflected Lucas a little bit instead of cleaning up that gap. And then Lucas would just be 59 [linebacker De’Vondre Campbell] In the hole then Justin still has to go through some contact.
Infection updates: Smith sat in training for the second day in a row with a hip injury. It is unclear when the injury occurred. He didn’t miss any defensive shots on Sunday against the Packers.
Linebacker Matt Adams (hamstring), safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) and tight end Ryan Griffin (Achilles) also sat in practice on Thursday. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson (quad) and receiver Velus Jones Jr. (hamstrings) were limited.
In Houston quarterback David Mills started to deal with a right thumb injury but was fully involved in practice on Thursday. Texas was also without two tight ends on Thursday’s depth chart, Pharaoh Brown (shoulder) and Brevin Jordan (ankle). Next in line on the depth chart will be OJ Howard’s previous narrow end point.