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Pace Wins Training Camp, Glennon is Glennon & Jaye Howard’s Poor Debut

| August 16th, 2017

Remember when people were calling for Ryan Pace to be fired?

Sure you do, it wasn’t that long ago.

He was stupid for taking a quarterback with just 13 collegiate starts, a D-II tight end, a safety with a rod in his leg and a tiny and a small running back from a small school. Guys like Matt Miller and Jason La Canfora quoted made-up sources saying Pace was SURELY going to be fired.

It’s early, of course, but two weeks into preseason, Pace is the unquestioned winner of Bears training camp.

Adam Hoge and Adam Jahns brought the topic up on their podcast last week. Who is the winner of training camp? Jahns named UDFA and 2017 Joe Anderson Boner Award winner Tanner Gentry. Hoge raved about rookies such as Adam Shaheen, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson and, of course, Mitch Trubisky. Neither Hoge nor Jahns was wrong. Those guys all look legitimate. But one guy is responsible for all those individuals being in camp, in Bears uniforms. That’s Pace.

It’s funny how much a narrative can change once football players, you know, play football.

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The Wright Stuff: Veteran Receiver Could Have Big Impact

| August 9th, 2017

It was only one day at camp, but Kendall Wright was running circles around the Bears’ defensive backs.

Admittedly, this is not a great group of corners and safeties, but still one could see the talent that made Wright the 20th pick in the 2012 draft. And it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Bears use him a lot more than Tennessee did in recent seasons.

Part of the reason why Wright is with the Bears is because of his history with Dowell Loggains. Loggains was promoted to offensive coordinator in Tennessee late in the 2012 season. In his first game, Wright had 10 targets, then 9 the following week. The next season, the Titans made an active attempt to get Wright the ball and he racked up 140 targets, catching 94 for 1,079 yards.

(Mike Munchak’s staff — including Loggains — was fired after the 2013 season. Wright had 93 targets with Ken Whisenhunt in 2014, but that total dropped by 32 in 2015 and by 18 more in 2016.)

But there’s reason to believe Loggains will get him back on the right track.

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Trubisky And Other Impressions From A Day At Practice

| August 2nd, 2017

“Wow! Who threw that?” Is the question my wife asked in our first real exposure to Mitch Trubisky at Saturday’s training camp practice.

It was a day in which everyone wanted to talk about the fumbled snaps but even a football novice like my wife could see that there was a definite difference in what Trubisky had to offer versus that of Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez.

I don’t mean to minimize the snap issue. If a team can’t complete the snap, they can’t run a play. But there hasn’t been a quarterback in the history of the league who hasn’t figured out how to take a snap from the center. Let’s repeat that. There hasn’t been a quarterback in the history of the league who hasn’t figured out how to take a snap from the center.

The rest of that practice should have Bears fans excited.

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Ranking the Bears: The Best They Have to Offer

| July 27th, 2017

Every list has to have an end. For the Bears, this is a pretty good ending because the top of their roster is actually pretty good.

Last year I ranked Jay Cutler as the best player on the team largely because there weren’t many options. Who was their franchise player? A guard who just struggled at tackle? A wide receiver who couldn’t stay on the field? A pass rusher who began the year on the PUP list? No. No. And No. They didn’t have a player to build around. They didn’t have anyone who ranked among the truly elite at their position.

That isn’t the case anymore. I finished the list by ranking the top 10 players on the team and I think it can be argued that the top four are among the very best at what they do.

10. Cam Meredith, WR. There may not have been a more underrated player on the team last year. A superb athlete who keeps improving. Statistics may not be as great next year because the team likely won’t throw as often, but he’s shown the ability to consistently get open and make plays with the ball in his hands. Also threw a touchdown pass. So there’s that.

(Jeff’s Note: Watching Cam Meredith develop in 2017 is one of the things I’m most excited about. I think the kid has star potential.)

9. Eddie Goldman, DL. Missed most of last season because of injuries, but still had 2.5 sacks and 12 tackles in just 198 snaps. Not bad for a guy who many thought was just a lane clogger. Powerful and athletic, Goldman allows the Bears to play small with just two down linemen. Really could be a cornerstone of their defense going forward.

8. Cody Whitehair, C. A key to the team’s future as the anchor of their line. He isn’t the top-ranked offensive lineman but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up being their best this year. Struggled with consistency early last year, especially with his run blocking, but improved as the season went along and was downright dominant at times. Leader.

(Jeff’s Note: When Andrew makes this list next year, I’ll be surprised if Cody Whitehair isn’t 1 or 2. I think he’s that talented and that important.)

7. Leonard Floyd, Edge. Two concussions in one year are certainly concerning, but there were times when Floyd was just ruining game plans. Watch what he did against the Packers. Or the Lions. They just couldn’t keep up with him. He did it using mostly athleticism, if he can learn a few more moves he could be unstoppable.

6. Pernell McPhee, Edge. Despite playing just 25 percent of the team’s snaps last year, McPhee was fourth on the team with four sacks and first with eight other QB hits. Given his knee issues, I’m not sure he’s ever going to be the every down dominant force we saw early in his first year with the team, but he might be even more dangerous in spot duty. I’d like to see the team use him the way Baltimore did. Regardless, once he got right last year, he got after quarterbacks.

(Jeff’s Note: Pernell McPhee is, in my mind, no longer expected to produce at a high level for this organization. Starting camp on PUP has solidified that for me.)

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Ranking the Bears: Key Players Across the Roster

| July 26th, 2017

As we continue down the list, we get to the heart of the roster and an area where I really see the Bears lacking. While there are a number of really good players on this list, I just don’t know how many the team can really rely upon. Injuries issues. Age. Low Ceilings.

But here they are, ranked with short bios. Once again, you’re welcome.

40. Mark Sanchez, QB. Maybe this is a bit high but just two years ago he completed 64% of his passes with an average of 7.8 yards per attempt. That’s pretty good. Now in his 30s, he has to be the veteran presence for Trubisky.

39. Tarik Cohen, RB/KR. Everyone who has seen the Bears practice over the offseason has noted how much Cohen has been used in team drills. I need to see him with the pads on before I’l be sold he can be an impact player but the Bears seem ready to throw a lot at him.

38. Deon Bush, S. Took Bush awhile to get on the field last year and he didn’t really do much when he did. Only got his hands on the ball once in six starts. That was a dropped interception in the end zone.

37.  Jon Bullard, DL. No rookie was more disappointing last year. The word throughout camp was that Bullard was ready to make an impact, but once the season started it was clear that wasn’t true. He just didn’t know how to play the way the Bears wanted him too. Can he adjust? We’ll find out this year.

36. Eddie Jackson, S/PR. If not for a leg injury last year, Jackson could’ve been a first round pick. He’s a ball hawk who makes big plays once he gets his hands on the ball with five interceptions the past two years. My concern is that he isn’t the Vic Fangio prototype. Jackson is a natural center fielder. Fangio typically prefers to have his safeties be interchangeable.

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Steve McMichael: Long Year for the Bears, Hall of Fame will Call

| July 23rd, 2017

A former Bears great thinks it’s going to be a long year for the team.

“They’re going to be young, baby, so there’s going to be some suffering,” McMichael said with his thick Texas drawl. “There’s going to be mistakes all over the goddamn field, that’s what playing a young guy costs you. The ball is snapped, the play has started and they’re just standing there.”

McMichael knows what it takes to go from a young team to a great team. The Bears weren’t any good early in his career before they became one of the biggest icons of the ’80s.

McMichael, of course, remembers his time with the Bears fondly saying “Chicago and Mike Ditka is where Mongo was supposed to play, yes baby.”

During an interview to promote a charity wrestling event he is attending to help raise funds for the Gilbert Brown Foundation, McMichael spoke at length about his life in football. He noted his success in high school as a middle linebacker, tight end and kicker, earning all-state honors at all three positions.

After a brief stint in New England, in which McMichael said he “whopped” John Hannah’s ass in practice, he came to the Bears and the rest is history.

After 13 years with the Bears, the team released him, hoping to sign him for less money but, feeling insulted, McMichael went to Green Bay instead. He finished out his career, meeting Gilbert Brown and on Aug. 4 will be meeting fans as a fundraiser for the Gilbert Brown Foundation in Galesville, Wis.

McMichael finished his career with 95 sacks, behind only John Randle and Warren Sapp in terms of sacks by an interior player. Yet, McMichael hasn’t sniffed the Hall of Fame.

“One of these days they’re going to wake up and realize somebody who made that many plays should be in,” McMichael said before noting it took him 30 years to make the College Football Hall of Fame.

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Ranking the Bears: Guys Fighting At The Bottom of the 53

| July 21st, 2017

As the Bears move closer to training camp, we move closer to the top of the list. Most of the names here should be familiar, even though you may not remember they’re on the team. None, I don’t think, are guaranteed a roster spot.

Here they are, ranked with short bios. Once again, you’re welcome.

59. Jordan Morgan, OG. The Bears have big plans for Morgan but it’s going to take him time. He’s a powerful blocker that could replace Josh Sitton in 2018. He just isn’t ready yet.


58. Patrick Scales, LS. He’s no Patrick Mannelly but he’s fine.

(Jeff’s Note: Comparing long snappers to Pat Mannelly is like comparing a pop artist to Roy Lichtenstein. Just because you’re not the greatest ever, doesn’t mean you can’t be great.)


57. Michael Burton, FB. Considered to be a true blocking back and should be an upgrade over last year’s dead weight, Paul Lasike. But can they really justify keeping a fullback who hasn’t shown he can do anything but block?


56. Hroniss Grasu, C. There was some optimism about Grasu last year but he never appeared in a game after tearing his ACL in August. He’s probably better than he was as a rookie, but what does that mean? The team brought back Eric Kush, another center who can also play both guard spots, so they’re certainly not banking on the former third-round pick. If Kush plays as well as he did last year, I’m not sure Grasu has a spot on the roster.

(Jeff’s Note: I’d be surprised if Ryan Pace was willing to call it quits on Grasu’s career, barring another significant injury this summer. But if the Bears are actually considering moving Cody Whitehair from center in favor of Grasu, I’d rather they cut the Oregon product now.)


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Ranking The Bears: The Long & Longish Shots

| July 19th, 2017

Training camp is just around the corner and the Bears have a number of young players with whom fans should become familiar. They also have a number of players who you won’t remember existed this time next year.

This is my second year doing a ranking of the roster and long gone are the likes of Kieran Duncan, Ben LeCompte and Joe Sommers. Last year’s list was topped with quarterback Jay Cutler — an argument I’d still make — but looking back it’s easy to see why the Bears didn’t win many games. This year, the bottom of their roster is much better and their top 10 is legitimately good.

At the time of this writing, the Bears have a full roster with 90 guys ready to head to camp. You don’t need to know all of them, but you probably want to. To save you some time, I ranked them all again.

You’re welcome.

90. Mitchell Kirsch, OL. UDFA from James Madison. Really hard to judge what he’ll be. Good size, average athleticism.

89. Hendrick Ekpe, Edge. UDFA who didn’t produce much at Minnesota or test very well at his pro day.

88. William Poehls, OT. Huge guy (6’7″, 334 pounds), Was a UDFA from Montana who has spent time on a couple of practice squads.

87. Titus Davis, WR. Third-year pro who has had trouble sticking with a team. Put up decent numbers at Central Michigan, but it’s hard to see him making the team. His brother Corey was the fifth pick in the draft last April.

86. Rashaad Reynolds, CB. A bit small (5’10”, 189) but jumped well at the combine in 2014. Hasn’t been able to stick after spending time with the Jaguars and Lions.


85. Daniel Braverman, WR. The next Wes Welker, right? Not quite. After what many thought was a strong training camp, Braverman didn’t make the final roster last year and nobody claimed him. When he finally got on the field, he had a tough time getting open and didn’t make anywhere near the impact many thought he would. Easily the winner of the 2016 Joe Anderson Boner Award. Could he repeat in 2017?

Jeff’s Note: Hahah.


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Camp Battle to Watch: Carey v. Langford

| July 12th, 2017

Forgotten since the emergence of Jordan Howard, Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey could be battling for an important roster spot.

As great as Jordan Howard was last year, he had to leave a number of games with various bumps and bruises. He also missed a lot of time in his one season at Indiana. Neither of these things are surprising when you consider his violent running style. The Bears need a backup who can fill in for a series. They need a backup who can fill in for a game. I’m not sure they have one who can do both.

That’s where this dilemma begins.

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Cam Meredith Can Make Kevin White’s Development Irrelevant

| July 5th, 2017

Ryan Pace exited the 2015 NFL Draft process with a really good wide receiver. Does it really matter if that player is an undrafted free agent or the seventh overall pick?

I’m not giving up on Kevin White – it is impossible to reach any conclusion on the first rounder – but Cam Meredith’s play last year has me wondering how much White’s health and development will actually play into the Bears plans and how much flak we should give Pace if he missed on the pick.

Meredith was the Bears leading receiver with 66 catches, 888 yards and four touchdowns, but the numbers are more impressive when you add context.

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