The 2021 Chicago Bears are nothing but optimistic for the coming season as the Veterans’ Minicamp wraps up. After an 8-8 season followed by a playoff loss a lot of questions surround the Bears. How is Justin Fields progressing? How will Allen Robinson fare after yet another quarterback change? How does Jimmy Graham feel about returning after heading straight to the locker room at the end of last season?
Although Andy Dalton is the listed starter for week one, a lot of Bears fans are anxious to see Justin Fields play sometime this season. Matt Nagy had nothing but praise for their first-round pick. “There will be zero getting away from football,” He said. This kid is completely locked in. There’s going to be football going on every day in some way, shape or form. Whether it’s studying, or footwork, or talking into your phone and calling a play to know what you sound like. Some guys boondoggle through things, and they just act like they do it. There’s none of that going on. There’s going to be a purpose.”
What we told Andy is he’s our starter and he knows that. And Justin knows that. And Nick [Foles] knows that. So that’s where we’re at.”-Matt Nagy on Andy Dalton starting week one.
Allen Robinson, whose contract has expired, showed up to the voluntary minicamp. This is a good sign for Bears fans hoping to see the athletic wide receiver be the primary target in this new offense.
“It wasn’t difficult, at the end of the day, those things are optional things, at the same time I’ve got a pretty good routine I’ve been working through,” Robinson said. “Being able to progress in certain areas at the pace that I want, and being able to specifically dedicate my off season to improving certain parts of my game.”
“Going into this year, even though we have a new set of faces at the quarterback position, having some of the same philosophy always helps.” Robinson went on to say. It can be argued that Robinson has never had a consistent philosophy. In seven NFL seasons with the Jaguars and Bears, he’s had five offensive coordinators to work with. And Matt Nagy gave up offensive play-calling duties halfway through the 2020 season. His presence at camp while he’s not under contract is an optimistic insight into his feelings about spending the 2021 season in Chicago.
The One Sneaky Thing about A-Rob that I think is pretty cool is, number one, when he’s not here, you know he’s working his tail off. And number two, he’s always in great shape.-Matt Nagy on Allen Robinson
Robinson isn’t the only target the Bears quarterbacks have to work with. Jimmy Graham is returning for his second year with the Bears. This being his eleventh season overall, he’s reflected on his career. “Where I’m different than when I was younger, I know a lot more about the game,” Graham said.
I mean this. This guy cares about one thing and one thing only. And that’s that trophy. He wants to win the super bowl. He’s not doing it for records. He’s not doing it to get one more year in. He’s doing it because he believes that we have the ability to be really good. And he is a valuable piece of this offense.-Matt Nagy on Jimmy Graham
“When I first got in the league, I was fresh off the basketball court. I knew basically nothing. I was just out there trying to survive. Trying not to mess things up for Drew Brees, trying not to make him disappointed in me. Now, definitely, just my communication role, with my younger guys, my O-line, my teammates, you know just understanding the game so much more. Understanding concepts and defenses. All those things have helped me to continue to play this game. And that’s the biggest difference.” Graham continued.
The offense isn’t the only side of the ball with lingering questions. With the retirement of Chuck Pagano, 38-year-old Sean Desai has taken control of the defense. “I like Desai a lot,” said Roquan Smith. “I think it’s going to be very good and he’s going to put us in a lot of good positions, so I’m looking forward to that.”
I think it [minicamp] always benefits. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. I feel like there was a lot of things I learned out there bonding with some of the new guys that are here. some of the rookies as well. And also just learning little new things into the defense. So I thought it was great.Roquan Smith
Smith is entering his fourth season as a starter, and he’s as excited as ever to start the season. “I would say I’m even more motivated than last year,” he said. “In my honest opinion, I’m not too focused about last year, you know that was last year and my thing is I don’t care about all that; post-season accolades and different things like that. That’s for others to decide on. My job is to go out there and show them that I’m the best at doing what I’m doing, so that’s my thing.”
Smith isn’t the only defensive veteran excited about the season. Danny Trevathan is entering his tenth NFL season, and age isn’t a concern for him. “I’m just gonna do the best I can. Age is nothing but a number,” Trevathan said. You can try to factor that in as much as you want, but come Sunday, Monday or Thursday, we’ll be prepared.”
You can see it. You can feel the energy. You can feel the juice. You can feel the swag coming back. That’s what I’m big on is having that swag and that attitude out there.-Danny Trevathan
“You got a bunch of different personalities and leaders and I’m excited to see what happens as we get into training camp and into the season.” Matt Nagy said.