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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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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Ten Days Out From Camp

| July 17th, 2017

BIGGS ON BURTON

You know it’s the dead zone of the NFL calendar when Brad Biggs is doing deep dives into the fullback position. In his Trib piece he dissects what’s at stake for Michael Burton in Bourbonnais. A selection:

Burton enjoyed a productive rookie season for the Lions in 2015 before the position was phased out of the offense midway through last season. The Bears also have Freddie Stevenson, an undrafted rookie from Florida State, on the 90-man roster.

In order for a fullback to make sense on the 53-man roster, and more importantly the 46-man gameday roster, the Bears will have to make better use of the position than they did in 2016. Lasike was active for 10 games, on the practice squad for four weeks and inactive for the final two games. More importantly, he was on the field for only 76 offensive snaps and 34 plays on special teams. Lasike was a developmental player, and a broken wrist in the preseason led to a reduced role at the outset.

Sun-Times Survives?

Honestly, I don’t know what the work is like in the Sun-Times off the sports pages. Honestly, I don’t know even know the non-Bears sports pages. But the Bears writing in the Sun-Times is simply better than the Trib’s army these days. Am I biased? Of course I am. My friend is there. But my friend is also really, really good at his job.

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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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Gronk Comp is Crazy, but Expect Shaheen To Be Productive

| June 28th, 2017

If you’re expecting Adam Shaheen to be Rob Gronkowski you’re going to be disappointed. But the 2017 second round pick should be able to produce for the Bears as a rookie.

No player has drawn more rave reviews than Shaheen simply because his combination of size and athleticism have been so incredibly difficult for the Bears defenders to match up with. That is an advantage he’s going to maintain throughout the early part of his NFL career.

The reports from beat writers and others is that Shaheen has been borderline dominant and hasn’t dropped a single pass. His teammates have also gone on record as being impressed by the second rounder from Ashland.

Shaheen enters the league with the nickname “Baby Gronk”. That’s not really an accurate comparison — Gronk is significantly faster —  but that label and early camp play have some fans going crazy with their expectations for him. I don’t expect him to be Gronk, but history suggests he has a good chance at being productive early with bigger things on the horizon.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Lots of Trubisky, Little Bit of Toub

| June 26th, 2017

This is truly the NFL’s off-season and I’m digging it. As you’ve seen, I’m not forcing any content on you. Whatever I find interesting, I’ll share. Once camp starts, the grind starts.

Breer on Trubisky

Albert Breer, writing for The MMQB, breaks down the progress of young quarterbacks across the league in his recent column. Here’s the piece on Trubisky:

The Bears rookie’s strides through May and June came in learning a lot of the basics. Through no fault of his own, Trubisky arrived with relatively little knowledge of defense in general or coverage in particular, and so he’s gotten a crash course in those areas and has made strides there. The other area of improvement came in the basics. At North Carolina, Trubisky got play calls from the sideline, didn’t take a single snap from center and never huddled. Early in OTAs, that was apparent. By the end, he was getting the hang of calling plays in the huddle and taking snaps. And he’s impressed with his accuracy and his movement skills—he doesn’t just run 4.6, he plays at 4.6, which should ease his growth once he gets on the field.

I’m still not convinced Trubisky won’t be the starting quarterback in September.

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