Let’s be frank there’s not a lot that can be learned by the players running around in T-shirts and underwear. Until the pads are put on we won’t know what we have from Josh Bullocks on defense or Frank Omiyale on offense. The same questions exist right now that existed at the beginning of mini-camp there wasn’t a lot of 11-on-11 action that happened that you can point to and say this guy is going to be good moving forward or this guy is a question mark. I can sit here and blow smoke about Kyle Orton going 33-40 for 367-yards and four touchdowns with one INT over the course of the entire mini-camp in three days. I could say that Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanaez completed passes and looked good, that Hanie is a head of Basanaez etc etc.
None of what went on in drills that remotely looked like game simulations will matter. What does matter is the team building, teaching and coaching aspects of what happened at mini-camp these last three days. What we know is that every player has the utmost respect in Rod Marinelli, Tommie Harris said “it’s a privilege to be coached by Rod Marinelli”. Every where you go in the league people talk about the type of D-Line coach Rod Marinelli is. He is the best free agent acquisition the Bears made this season whether the fans agree with it or not or care or not. Marinelli gave up a defensive coordinator job offer from the Seahawks to come coach D-Line for the Chicago Bears.
That bit of information should tell you all you need to know about Rod Marinelli’s respect for Lovie Smith and the fact that hall of famer Warren Sapp credits his development let’s you know exactly that the Bears will improve on the D-Line. Mark Anderson can develop into a better player and if he doesn’t he’ll be gone (12 sacks his rookie year was not a fluke), Adawale Ogunleye can be taught new tricks to help improve his pass-rush if not he’ll be gone too. Alex Brown’s combined tackles behind the line of scrimmage including sacks and tackles for a loss rated in the top-five in the league with other defensive ends. So there is still hope that exists along the defensive front. Marinelli was able to hammer home the basics, the fundamentals and coach and teach better in three days than he likely will be able to during week 14 preparation for whomever the Bears’ opponent is.
The purpose and most important aspect of this mini-camp isn’t the flash of the stats by QBs who threw the ball to receivers running at 3/4 speed. It’s the coaching and team building and developing of confidence in each other. Josh Bullocks and Nathan Vasher both had an interception on Thursday, but does that mean both of them are better off now than they were last year? Will they be able to work in tandem if Calvin Johnson is flying down the field and Mathew Stafford is set to launch a ball his way?
Mini-Camp can’t answer many questions, you can’t even truly say that the players are getting into a rhythm after three practices. But what we do know is that the Bears evaluated the talent on hand at a small level and they can see what exactly they need to focus on for the draft. The way this team responded to such an early start, the way they practiced and the way they learned in three days can be measured against what the Bears can do in the draft. Doing what is necessary to prepare for the draft and the minor evaluations from this mini-camp gives the front office a better idea what do do going forward.