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Running Out of Time, Wilson Has A Golden Opportunity

| May 25th, 2016

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Entering his fourth year, Marquess WIlson is running out of time. He might also be looking at the best opportunity he has had in his career.

While Alshon Jeffery still doesn’t want to be a part of the team, Wilson is the person who benefits the most, getting all of the first-team reps. OTAs are where a finesse player like Wilson can thrive and, while he won’t be able to win a job until they put the pads on, the fact that he’s there getting reps in front of the new offensive coordinator (with a quarterback who already likes him) can only help him.

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OTAs Begin Today

| May 24th, 2016

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 27: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears scores a first quarter touchdown in front of DeAndre Levy #54 of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 27 , 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Here are three questions in the early stages of the offseason program.

(1) Is there light at the end of the Alshon Jeffery / Bears organization tunnel? I’ve argued many times that if the Bears valued Jeffery as a top receiver his contract would take about thirteen minutes to complete. There are literally a dozen templates out there. The truth is they don’t – at least right now – and Ryan Pace seems not only content with Jeffery playing 2016 on the tag but that seems to be his preference. So…when does Jeffery show up?

(2) Who is lining up next to Adrian Amos at safety come September? If you look at this roster it might be the only position that is truly up for grabs.

(3) Can they stay healthy? No other question really matters until the Bears kick off in Houston on September 11th.

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Bears Building Team That Could Take Control of NFC North

| May 18th, 2016

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked and hit by Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) in second half action. The Colts defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-27 on Sunday, October 7, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Sam Riche/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1129744

Since taking over before last offseason, Ryan Pace and John Fox have completely rebuilt the Bears defense and it should result in a team that contends for the NFC North in both the near and long term.

I don’t care what happened last year. The Packers are still the team to beat in the NFC North. They have the best coach, the best quarterback and – while they’re certainly declining – I’m not ready to proclaim the Vikings or any other team the new King of the North. But what the Bears did to the Packers on Thanksgiving wasn’t a fluke and now they’re building up their talent level to do it consistently. At the very least, with a good defense, they’ll give themselves a consistent chance.

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I Have Nothing of Note to Say About the Chicago Bears…

| May 16th, 2016

…so here are some thoughts of non-note.

  • Can people stop writing about Leonard Floyd’s weight? Who gives a shit about Leonard Floyd’s weight? He weighs what he weighs. I’ll start being interested in Floyd when he starts playing football.
  • I like how John Fox answers questions from media. When they asked him about Adam Gase’s new approach to rookie minicamp he basically said, “Yea whatever. We do our thing.” Fox doesn’t overthink football.
  • Dowell Loggains said Jeremy Langford needs to improve in the passing game. This is a fancy way of saying Langford needs to stop dropping the ball in pivotal moments or he’s gonna be off the field in pivotal moments.
  • Bears can say anything they want but Soldier Field’s surface is never going to improve. It’s been awful for more than a decade.
  • I can’t remember a Bears training camp that will have this much intrigue. The one hallmark of Ryan Pace thus far is he’s not afraid of roster turnover.

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Pace Wisely Using Draft to Invest in Offense

| May 11th, 2016

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With just two drafts under his belt, Ryan Pace is doing something neither of his predecessors did. He is using the draft to build an offense and support the quarterback.

One of the first things I wrote for DBB came at a time when we didn’t know if Jay Cutler was going to be the quarterback. It was clear the Bears had failed to provide the quarterback with necessary weapons and I argued Pace needed to do better.

Through two drafts, he has.

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Around the Beat: Samplings from the Papers

| May 9th, 2016

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BIGGS ON GRASU

If Hroniss Grasu develops into a frontline center, the Bears may have a terrific offensive line in 2016. But Grasu would have to make a significant leap if that’s going to be the case. From Biggs in the Trib:

The statistics in the eight games Grasu started last season and the other eight games that were split between Slauson and Will Montgomery are similar with one glaring difference. I tallied the stats for Jay Cutler’s 15 starts, (excluding the dud of a performance in Seattle in Week 3 when Jimmy Clausen was at quarterback) and what jumps out is the Bears averaged 4.22 yards per carry with Slauson and Montgomery at center. With Grasu, they averaged 3.77, nearly a half-yard less.

If the Bears had a high level of confidence in Grasu, they wouldn’t have made three additions even while removing Slauson from the equation. When the season opens Sept. 11 in Houston, left tackle Charles Leno could be the only starter in a position he played for the team last season.

My favorite line in the piece? “One front-office guy said his team nearly drafted Whitehair about 20 picks before the Bears.” I maintain a firm belief that Whitehair is going to be a ten-year star at guard for the Bears.

JAHNS ON THE UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS

Adam’s piece in the Sun-Times is a solidly comprehensive breakdown of all the UFAs but I’m sampling the one position they may have had been most focused on: tight end.

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Why I’ve Got Questions About the Bears Offensive Line

| May 6th, 2016

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Forget about Matt Slauson being thrown into the dumpster behind A&P well-before his expiration date. That’s old news and I’ve promised those in the Twitterverse I’ll refrain from using the words “Matt” and “Slauson” in succession any longer. To play offensive football the way John Fox wishes it to be played, the Bears don’t need a mediocre offensive line. They need a good offensive line to be a playoff team and a great line to be a championship contender. Right now? They have more questions than answers.

Question 1. Is Charles Leno going to get better?

Leno was fine in 2015. Not good. Fine. The organization believes he can be the answer at left tackle but by no means is he a certainty to even finish the season protecting Jay Cutler’s blindside. Many of Leno’s struggles in 2015 were masked by Cutler’s ability to make things happen under duress. But how long will Cutler stay on the field if he’s constantly under duress?

Question 2. Is Cody Whitehair as good as I think he is?

If he is, the Bears have a two contract starter at guard. But he’s a rookie. And rookies, regardless of my opinion, are crap shoots.

Question 3. Who is playing center?

Is it Hroniss Grasu? Does Manny “Being Manny” Ramirez win the job from him in camp? Neither is going to be challenging for an All Pro spot anytime soon.

Also, if Ramirez wins the center job, is Grasu valuable anywhere else along the line? Can he sub in at guard?

Question 4. Can the right side of the line stay healthy?

The Bears right guard and tackle are one of the team’s strengths, especially in the run game. But what happens if one of them misses substantial time? The Bears have little depth to cover Long and Massie. (Don’t mention Ted Larsen to me with a straight face.)

It might be the team’s most important unit. And right now it contains the most unknowns.

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Quick Thoughts on NFL Draft, Bears, NFC North

| May 4th, 2016

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Right after the NFL draft is always a dangerous time to be optimistic because everybody is (except Browns fans). But there is reason to feel positive about the Bears right now and that is because they have guys who have done this before.

I didn’t like the Leonard Floyd pick. In general, I don’t like skinny football players. I didn’t have him in my Bears Big Board because I didn’t think he fit the physical profile for either John Fox or Vic Fangio, both previously preferring bulkier pass-rushers. But Fox has been around for “a minute,” as he says, and he knows what good pass rushers look like. If he signs off on Floyd, who am I to argue?

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