With Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill questionable, will the Bears face a backup QB?
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Four questions as the Bears prepare to play the Dolphins for only the 13th time in franchise history:
Which quarterback will the Bears chase Sunday?
Not listed on the Dolphins’ injury report all week, starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was limited in practice Friday — and listed as questionable for the game Sunday — because of a problem with his throwing shoulder.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase didn’t address Tannehill in his comments to local reporters earlier Friday. It remains to be seen how serious the injury is for Tannehill, who has a ghastly passer rating of 53.9 over his last two games, or whether the Dolphins are being cautious. A whopping 10 Dolphins are questionable, including offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who was officially taken out of concussion protocol Friday. Defensive end Cameron Wake is doubtful.
Earlier in the week, Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack praised Tannehill’s athleticism, saying he “makes a lot of plays for that offense.”
If Tannehill can’t go, Brock Osweiler, who went 0-4 as the Broncos’ starter last year, would get the nod.
What do Matt Nagy and Adam Gase have in common?
When Gase took over as Miami’s coach and play-caller in 2016, he had to find ways to divide his time. That crunch was one reason he hired old friend Dowell Loggains, the former Bears offensive coordinator, in the offseason.
Matt Nagy can sympathize.
“I’m going through it right now,” he said. “The days are a little bit longer than it would be in a normal year, but first year, that comes with the territory.”
Nagy and his staff used the bye week to make tweaks to practice and to try to streamline his week.
“Going through it the first time as a head coach in this position, you want to make sure that all your I’s are dotted, your T’s are crossed and you’re doing everything, you’re covering everything,” Nagy said. “And you’ve gotta make sure that if you’re doing that, that’s OK — but don’t overdo it.”
Halftime hot tip
The Bears will wear orange jerseys for the first time since 2011. Dating to 1933, the Bears are 18-7 when they wear orange.
Is Jakeem Grant the NFL’s best return man?
For Bears special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor, return season starts next week. When the weather turns cold and the wind picks up around the league, he figures touchbacks will drop.
Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant, though, is already there. Only one NFL player has returned more kickoffs than Grant. No one has done it better. Grant leads the league, averaging 34.4 yards per kick return, and ranks second with 17.9 yards per punt return. He has returned a punt and a kick for touchdowns.
“He’ll bring it out,” Tabor said. “So no matter how deep it is, we’re expecting that ball to come out because he’s a dynamic player.”
Grant reached 21.58 mph on his 71-yard punt-return touchdown last week, the fourth-fastest time for any ballcarrier this year. The coverage-team guys have to be careful to keep him inside and in front of them.
“You want to be able to buy some time for your other guys to get there,” Tabor said.
Was Bilal Nichols a steal in the fifth round?
Nagy was praising general manager Ryan Pace’s skill in adding depth when he mentioned one player by name: nose tackle Bilal Nichols.
On a per-play basis, few Bears rookies have been more impressive.
Nichols has played only 50 snaps — the fewest of any healthy rotation player other than dime cornerback Sherrick McManis — yet boasts a sack and a game-changing run stuff against the Cardinals. Nichols credits his improved technique, from staying low to having better hand placement.
“Just continuing to polish up my pass rush,” said Nichols, who, like Nagy, attended Delaware. “You’ve got a lot of studs on this team. It gives me an opportunity to go out there and play ball and not worry about anything else.”