Chicago Bears special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is quickly finding himself on the hot seat with the struggles of the Bears’ special teams.
The Bears special teams was ranked among the bottom 10 of the NFL last season, and in the team’s first Pre-Season game this past Friday, the unit showed little signs of improvement.
The Bears special teams play on Friday was plagued with both mental and physical miscues that led to a high amount of penalties and coverage concerns.
DeCamillis spoke with reporters on Monday and indicated that the time is now for the Bears’ special teams unit to take shape for the regular season.
“We have to starting finding out the guys [who] are going to be playing for us on Sundays. There’s no question about that. It’s still an evaluation, but I think one of the things that wasn’t as good at the start of [last] year was we didn’t start out great. I think they came on after the fifth game and really started playing well. We need to see the guys that are going to play on Sundays. That’s our goal moving forward, especially in that third preseason game. We have to see those guys and they have to start playing together as a unit.” -Joe DeCamillis, ESPN Chicago
The Bears have a lot of turnover this season on special teams. Though, generally, special teams is the one unit on nearly every NFL team that has a high amount of turnover from season to season. That would be why the role of the special teams coach is important. The coach, in this case, DeCamillis, needs to mold the new players into a unit that operates with the same message.
That was not what was seen on Friday.
What was seen on Friday was a group of players playing chaotically and not as an unit. Special teams, by nature, is chaotic but the goal is for it to be organized.
In order for the team to achieve that style of play, the team needs to first fill all the positions of the unit. Specifically, the Bears need to identify their punter, long-snapper, and kick returner.
Neither Pat O’Donnell nor Tress Way have emerged in their competition against each other to be the team’s punter, in fact, both punters struggled on Friday. O’Donnell, who was sixth round draft pick, likely will have every opportunity to win the position.
Brandon Hartson and Chad Rempel continue to compete to replace Pat Mannelly as the Bears’ long-snapper and that is a battle that could come down to the fourth and final Pre-Season game.
Meanwhile, Eric Weems looks more and more like the Bears’ primary returner with each passing day.