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The Signature Quality Bears Seek

Bears coach Matt Eberflus and his assistants are trying to produce a team full of closers, and basic things like blocking, hard running and finishing plays can go a long way as last week showed.

When the preseason opener ended and the Bears came away with seven different wide receivers contributing receptions in a 19-14 victory over Kansas City, receivers coach Tyke Tolbert needed more to deem it a success.

The same was true for running backs coach David Walker after the stat sheet showed the Bears ran for 137 yards on 32 carries.

In Walker's case, it was game film so he could confirm the finish on runs. In Tolbert's it was film so he could see how effectively his receivers blocked.

The Bears plan to be a tough team, as coach Matt Eberflus has said, and on offense this means wide receivers who block when they're not catching passes, and running backs who keep driving forward as they're going to the ground. They plan to physically punish opponents.

"I've always been a big believer in blocking," Tolbert said. "I've always said if you play 65 plays in a game and you have five catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns, that's great. Buit what are you doing the other 60 plays of the game?"

So after Tolbert saw game film, he was elated over a push/crack block by Equanimeous St. Brown on a safety. Darnell Mooney threw a strong block on St. Brown's end-around and Isaiah Coulter wiped out two defenders on a St. Brown end around.

"They kind of ran into each other," Tolbert said. "He was like (hollering) 'I got two of them!' Yeah, you got two of them."

Even 5-foot-10, 180-pound Nsimba Webster took pride in a push/crack block on a safety.

"Generally speaking, bigger guys are better blockers because they have more mass to go and block, and smaller guys are not as good, but they all have the fight," Tolbert said. "They all have the fight. That's what we want.

"If you go in there and you scrap with a guy, I tell guys all the time, if the DB is on the block, he can't make the tackle. So go and block, stay on the block, he won't make the tackle."

Tolbert is conditioning them.

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"They'll get a lot of 'atta-boys' for good blocks," he said. "They'll get one 'atta-boy' for a good catch. But they'll get about four or five 'atta-boys' for good blocks. They want the 'atta-boys.' "

Running backs already are known as physical players generally speaking, but Walker wants his backs letting opponents know this. In the win over Kansas City, he saw Khalil Herbert, Darrynton Evans and Trestan Ebner all making like David Montgomery and refusing to simply lay down.

"Trestan had a big run and had a couple nice finishes on runs," Walker said. "I thought Khalil and Darrynton did the same, so overall it was good to see us be productive without David (out injured) in the game, from my vantage point."

The way backs end their run means a great deal.

"Just in general, everybody on the field, we've got to be able to finish plays," Walker said. "Whether you fall forward when you've got the ball in your hand or whether you're trying to chase a block until the whistle blows, that's just going to be who we are as our identity as a football team, not just individual positions.

"We're hoping when you watch film or you watch a game, you can feel us finishing plays on every snap."

The bottom line is coach Matt Eberflus and staff are hoping this first year to overcome lack of talent with effort, and lay a foundation as a team willing to play until the echo of the whistle.

"That's what we talked about with the guys: how we finish runs, how we finish tackles," Eberflus said. "Those matter because that's hidden yards for us in the game."

From Day 1, Eberflus has made it apparent effort needs to reach beyond opponents if the Bears are going to succeed. They're looking for the same thing Thursday night in Seattle.

"We want an athletic, fast, tough football team," Eberflus said. "And that's what we're striving to get every day."

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