216 Comments

Jeffrey on Jeffery: Alshon Returns From Suspension

| December 13th, 2016

Alshon Jeffery is a terrific wide receiver. He is a true number one option on the outside. But he’s not Odell Beckham. He’s not Julio Jones. He’s not a game-changing talent. And that makes his future with the Bears difficult to discern. More thoughts:

  • The ability to use the tag a second time is why I believe Alshon will return to Chicago next year. It allows the Bears, with their copious cap space, to keep a talented a player in the mix while not committing long term financially. It also gives Jeffery another opportunity to prove to the NFL he’s worthy of A.J. Green money. (His attempt to do so in 2016 failed miserably.)
  • PED suspension will have no negative impact on the front office. If anything, Alshon’s absence proved Cam Meredith – while an intriguing talent – is not ready for primetime.
  • If the Bears move on from Jeffery – a mistake in my opinion – wide receiver becomes a focal point of the offseason. Without Jeffery the Bears would be far more reliant on a healthy and productive Kevin White than they want to be. I wouldn’t rule out the team looking at Clemson’s Mike Williams in the first round.
  • Jeffery also has the opportunity to make the case for #barkleytime this week. Barkley’s had one viable excuse for not being 3-0 as Bears starter: his wide receivers don’t belong on a pro football field. Jeffery is such a massive upgrade I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barkley throw a few jump balls to him Cutler-style to take adavtange of his size and hands.
  • But let’s not pretend this is an easy decision for Ryan Pace. I get the sense Pace recognizes Jeffery’s ability but is not enamored with him as a player. GM’s hate spending money out of positional necessity but with the state of the Bears receiving corps, Pace simply may not have a choice.
  • One has to believe Pace has already made the decision on Jeffery’s future and these final three games will have little impact.

One thing is certain. If Jeffery returns in 2017 he needs to be more available. With the power run game in place, Jeffery’s ability to win over the top on play action could provide him the stage for his most productive season. Of course, it depends on who is playing quarterback.

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363 Comments

Bears Dominate Vikings in Jay’s Return

| November 1st, 2016

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Jay Cutler was great. The defense was great. And the Bears dominated a team someone (me) told you was a great match-up for them. Rapid fire.

  • The pass rush did exactly what it should against that Vikings offensive line. Minnesota had no answer for McPhee, Floyd or Hicks.
  • Jordan Howard is the real deal and it seemed John Fox came to that realization at some point Monday night. This is not a player who should be rotating at the running back position. He is their best runner at the position, their best pass catcher at the position and a solid pass blocker. Spell him, of course, but he should be getting twenty-five touches every week.
  • Two plays stood out to Jon Gruden Monday night when it came to Cutler. One, obviously, was the step up in the pocket shuffle pass to Howard for a big gain. The other was far more subtle. Later in the game. First down. The pocket collapsed on Cutler and he scrambled to his left and ran for a gain of one or two. Was it a big play? No. Does Brian Hoyer lose seven or eight yards on it? Absolutely. That’s the difference.

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54 Comments

Three Reasons the Bears Can Win Tonight

| October 31st, 2016

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You may think it’s odd but the Vikings are a decent match-up for the Bears. Even with the RapSheet report of turmoil inside the Bears organization, this team has a chance to give their fans a nice moment in what will be their last nationally televised ballgame.

Three reasons they may win.

  • Vikings can’t block the edge and the Bears pass rush is emerging. With McPhee back on the field, Floyd coming off his breakout performance and Young delivering steady performances each week, the Bears edge rushers have an opportunity to wreck the game and force Sam Bradford into some horrible mistakes.
  • With injuries on the offensive line, Jay Cutler’s return is massive.  Brian Hoyer would have been a sitting duck for this Vikings’ rush but Cutler’s ability to extend plays with his legs and actually run for available first downs should allow the Bears offense to stay on the field. (And he’s fresh!)
  • Alshon. It would be shocking if Jay doesn’t float at least 2-3 balls deep to Jeffery tonight. Both men have a point to prove – to this organization and the 31 others – and both will be eager to prove it together. Every time the Vikings isolate Alshon in man, expect Jay to look his way.

Should the Bears win? No. Can they? Absolutely.

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217 Comments

Bears Fall Short in Indy: Rapid Fire

| October 10th, 2016

Hard game to get emotional about. But there’s things to talk about so let’s talk about them.

  • Brian Hoyer played a terrific game for a backup quarterback. But when your team racks up 500+ yards and scores only 23 points, it’s time to start asking why. Hoyer doesn’t extend plays with his legs. He doesn’t throw the ball to the Bears best player (for some bizarre reason). And…he’s just limited. Jay Cutler wins Sunday’a game. And I happen to believe he wins it by a couple of touchdowns.
  • Hoyer dinks and dunks. His drives take 10-12 plays to get into the end zone. Those drives can be derailed entirely by one mistake or penalty. Penalties told the story of the game.
  • John Fox, through five games, is having a rough season. Challenges, timeouts, personnel decisions…etc. One has to wonder if he has any feel for this roster right now. Sadly, Fox can’t be properly evaluated until the actual team is on the field.
  • Why would you bench Bryce Callahan? Let the kid learn on the field. He was playing a solid game yesterday.
  • Terrific performance from Cameron Meredith. The fumble was bad, and cost the Bears the game, but his emergence was far more significant.

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177 Comments

Analysis Adds Up: Rapid Fire Reaction to an Opening Loss in Houston

| September 12th, 2016

Thursday I wrote a column and said the game would come down to protection for Jay Cutler and Houston’s wide receivers vs. the Bears secondary. The game came down to those two things. The Bears lost both battles. They lost the second half. They lost the game.

Rapid fire…

  • Willie Young has to play better in the six-game span McPhee is sidelined. Leonard Floyd’s ability/explosiveness is obvious but the Bears need Young to be their best pass rusher.
  • If the Bears had ANY consistent pass rush they would have forced Osweiler into mistakes. He was fragile. But they made him comfortable.
  • DeAndre Hopkins is an unbelievable player. How can you get mad about the plays he was making? That was all world stuff.
  • The Will Fuller touchdown was inexcusable. But that call – in that situation – was made because Bill O’Brien saw something.
  • John Fox has to challenge that spot. It doesn’t matter if most spot challenges are unsuccessful. That was a 4 and potentially 7 point swing. The risk is a timeout. The reward is you’re still in the game.
  • Dowell Loggains. Not a sterling debut. Did the Bears not expect Romeo to start bringing pressure in the second half?

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194 Comments

Five Thoughts Before the First Preseason Game

| August 10th, 2016

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I’m sick of training camp updates and bold predictions that everyone will forget about a year from now. Here are a few quick thoughts before the Bears first preseason game.

Eyes In The Backfield

Forget running back by committee, Langford is the Bears starter and is going to get 70 percent of the carries as long as he’s healthy. The rest of the backfield, however, is worth watching.

Ka’Deem Carey is listed as the backup, but Jacquizz Rodgers is the only guy outside of Langford who is getting action with the starters. Carey has split second team reps with Rodgers. Jordan Howard started getting some reps there last week.

Most are assuming the Bears will keep four running backs, as they did last year, but they didn’t have a fullback last year. This year, it appears they’ll be employing and using a fullback, which could mean they keep only three running backs. The other option is keeping three tight ends, instead of four, but given the injury situation there, that might not fly. They might also keep seven wide receivers (more on that later) and will probably keep nine offensive linemen.

While keeping four running backs is still the most likely option, a lot could change between now and the final cut down day. The position is certainly worth watching throughout the rest of preseason.

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126 Comments

Four Thoughts on Alshon Jeffery Not Signing an Extension

| July 18th, 2016

The deadline has come and gone. Alshon Jeffery will play 2016 on the franchise tag. What does it mean?

#1. An argument simply cannot be made the Bears front office values AJ as a top tier wide receiver. If they did this contract gets done in fifteen minutes. They’d pick a player with similar numbers and mimic that deal. Bears are willing to risk playing with AJ on the tag because they aren’t overly concerned about losing him.

#2. Jeffery has displayed the right attitude. And if he can’t find the motivation to deliver a career year with big money on the line he’ll never find it. Motivation, passion, the desire to give 100% on every down is something the Bears hierarchy (and quarterback) want to see from AJ on a consistent basis. They are far more worried about this element of his game than his health.

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734 Comments

Expect a Career Year From Alshon Jeffery

| June 15th, 2016

With so much talk about Alshon Jeffery’s contract and value, it’s been largely forgotten — or ignored — that the Bears wide receiver is poised to have a career season.

You know, if he stays healthy.

While on the field, Jeffery was mostly great last year. His per game averages total out to about 96 catches, 1,435 yards and 7 touchdowns. Great numbers for sure, but not far from what we saw from him in 2013, especially considering the increase in targets. In 2016, however, the stars appear to be perfectly aligned for the fifth-year receiver to explode.

Here are a few reasons why:

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219 Comments

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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130 Comments

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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