ATM: Bears Should Double-Dip at QB

| April 13th, 2021

One might have to go back to 2012 to find a draft that was considered so strong at the game’s most crucial position. There are four players who most seem to agree should be selected in the top ten. Another who is a clear first rounder. Several more who are at least interesting. So whether the Bears are trading up or standing pat, the 2021 NFL Draft would be a good one for the team to spend multiple draft picks on the quarterback position.

If the Bears can get high enough to get one of the four best quarterbacks, it would be hard to criticize them. Assuming that isn’t possible, however, the Bears should strongly consider taking two quarterbacks in this draft. Typically, any quarterback taken after the second round proves to be a wasted pick. But, like 2012, the 2021 crop offers rare talent, and some unknown due to the pandemic.

Anyone who saw Davis Mills from Stanford wanted to see more. Mills was one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the country when he signed with Stanford, despite a knee injury as a high school senior. Another knee injury sidelined him until late in 2020 when he took over. He then played just five games in David Shaw’s painfully conservative offense in 2021. But the talent was so obviously there.

Kyle Trask may be a bit of a statue in the pocket (he’s probably more athletic than he gets credit for) but he throws a nice ball, especially on deep passes. His production is difficult to ignore and it’s worth questioning if he’s really all that different from Mac Jones.


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Analyzing Pre-Draft Roster Needs and Resources

| April 12th, 2021

The NFL draft, which begins on April 29, is just a few weeks away, and free agency has quieted down significantly. That means we know roughly what the Bears’ roster will look like heading into the draft, which can be seen in their current presumed depth chart below.

With that depth chart in mind, let’s look at Chicago’s biggest needs as they prepare for the draft. I’m going to start with immediate needs, spots where the Bears need to find somebody who can step in and start on day 1.

  • Cornerback. Teams need 3-4 good CBs, and right now the Bears might have 0. Sure, Desmond Trufant was good in 2018, and Jaylon Johnson played well for a few games in his rookie year before falling off hard down the stretch, but there’s not a single CB on the roster you can confidently rely on. This is easily the biggest immediate hole on the team. The bad news is that a rookie is unlikely to help much in the here and now, as the adjustment to the NFL is a steep one. Still, Chicago should be looking to invest a premium pick in this premium position to make up for the loss of Kyle Fuller.
  • Offensive Tackle. Charles Leno is nothing special, but he’s an adequate left tackle, especially when the guard playing next to him is good (his play noticeably improved in 2020 after Cody Whitehair moved back to left guard). Germain Ifedi is ideally suited to be a swing tackle, just like current swing tackle Elijah Wilkinson. This is a group that looks like a weakness right now, but could easily be a strength if the Bears draft a tackle somewhere in the early rounds in what is supposed to be one of the best OT draft classes in years. Given that Leno, Ifedi, and Wilkinson are all free agents after 2021, double-dipping with a developmental prospect on day 3 wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

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Stop Talking About Chicago’s Defense as a Strength

| April 8th, 2021

There seems to be a prevailing consensus among Chicago fans that the Bears still have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that is true.

The Bears had a great defense in 2018, but that was 3 years ago, an eternity in the NFL. They led the NFL in pretty much every defensive stat imaginable that season, but we’ll track their decline since then with a simple one: points allowed.

  • 2018: 17.7 points/game, 1st in NFL
  • 2019: 18.6 points/game, 4th in NFL
  • 2020: 23.1 points/game, 14th in the NFL

That’s right, Chicago’s defense was more average than good in 2020 (with 32 NFL teams, 16th is exactly average). That feels weird to say, right? I know I certainly didn’t think of them that way last year. But a broader look at the statistics paints exactly that picture, as you can see in the table below. DVOA is a measure of total defensive performance from Football Outsiders, and net yards/attempt (which factors in sacks and pass attempts) is from Pro Football Reference.

The only major stat where the defense ranked in the top ten was yards/run allowed. Everywhere else was mostly middle of the pack besides forcing turnovers, which they were bad at.

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If Not QB, Then Who: Part Two

| April 7th, 2021

The journey continues…


This is probably the weakest position on the roster right now.

Eddie Jackson clearly regressed last season, though that could be as much to do with scheme with a coordinator who was hell bent on using him like a player he isn’t. The Bears have banked on Jackson being good enough to make whoever is next to him useful for the last two seasons — but that didn’t work last year.

The Bears could add a minimum-level free agent like they did in 2019 with HaHa Clinton-Dix and 2020 with Tashaun Gipson, but there might also be value in spending an actual asset to getting Jackson a terrific running mate.

The only good option in the first round appears to be Trevon Moehrig from TCU, widely considered a top-25 player. They could also look at Jevon Holland or Andre Cisco in the second or third rounds.

It could be interesting to see what kind of player the Bears want next to Jackson. They have prioritized having interchangeable safeties, but it’s inarguable that they miss the physical presence Adrian Amos provided in 2018, even if he lacked in coverage. With both cornerback and safety, it’s worth wondering if the Bears are going to try kicking the can down the road for a year in order to try to improve the offense.

Wide Receiver

Reports that the Bears have tried to trade Anthony Miller and sign Kenny Golladay make this an interesting position.

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If Not QB, Then Who: Part One

| April 6th, 2021

If the Chicago Bears are unable to secure a trade up for one of the five best quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft, they still should be able to get a quality player.

Should five quarterbacks go in the top 20, that will push the rest of the skill position players down. And this draft is (supposedly) rich in areas the Bears could use upgrades.

Here is a quick look at some of the positions the Bears could look to fill early in the draft and the players who could fill them.

Offensive Tackle

We can feel confident that the Bears see a need here based on the reports that they were going after Trent Williams. Williams re-signed a huge deal with the 49ers and there was never a thought that he would come cheap, so the Bears were clearly — if the reports were remotely true — willing to shell out a large sum of money for this position.

The Bears have an adequate left tackle in Charles Leno Jr. and Germaine Ifedi played well at right tackle last year. The pursuit of Williams tells us the Bears want to do better than adequate at left tackle.

This would be a good draft to revamp the tackle position. While five quarterbacks will surely go within the top 20 picks, along with a handful of defensive players, wide receivers and a tight end, the Bears could be looking at franchise tackle, so to speak.

The only tackle who is pretty much guaranteed to be drafted before the Bears choose is Penei Sewell — widely seen as one of the five best players in the draft. The Bears would probably love to get their hands on Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech or Rashawn Slater from Northwester. Slater is more likely as some teams won’t like his size and could project him as a guard or strictly right tackle.

Even if all three are gone, the Bears could grab a mauler in Teven Jenkins, though he might be strictly a right tackle.

Tackle is widely considered the deepest position in the draft, so the Bears could wait until the second round or later. A player like Standord’s Walker Little could be a great pick at 52 or they could grab Dillon Radunz from NDSU or Brady Christensen from BYU.

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Is Kyle Trask a Starting QB in the NFL?

| April 5th, 2021

There has been tremendous debate about Kyle Trask among scouting types. No one doubts his arm but his athleticism has called his future into question. From my perspective, he’s worth the risk any time after the first round. Here is analysis from the great Lance Zierlein at NFL.com:


Trask clearly has the arm strength, touch and placement to wear out one-on-one coverage if he has good protection and above-average players around him, but he’s not going to elevate an offense with his talent alone. He’s very good at finding his throwing platform and can deliver deep throws with outstanding touch. He needs to improve his eye work to create more opportunities by moving safeties around. Trask is clearly a skilled passer, but it’s hard to find evidence of him being able to play chess at this point against what NFL defenses are likely to show him.

  • Prototypical size to stand tall and fire from the pocket
  • Made substantial production gains across the board in 2020.
  • Enabled team to open up game plan in 2020.
  • Became the first FBS quarterback in 15 years to post three or more TD passes in nine consecutive games.
  • Stepped up against Alabama in SEC Championship Game.
  • Able to pump and reset against baiting coverage.
  • Feels edge pressure and climbs to free space in pocket.
  • Gets back into passing platform when moving outside the pocket.
  • Arm strength to whip field-side deep outs with no issues.
  • Tardy safeties will find a willing challenger over the top.
  • Talented downfield passer with touch and accuracy.
  • Can attack one-on-ones and place deep throw where it needs to go.
  • Fairly accurate even when feet are not set.

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McCaskey On 17th Game: No.

| April 2nd, 2021

This was apparently a near-unanimous vote. So the question becomes why didn’t George want that 17th game? Was he siding with the players? More to come…



If They Make 2021 About Andy Dalton, the Chicago Bears – Collectively – Have Lost Their Minds

| April 1st, 2021

Andy Dalton is a middle of the road quarterback.

Ryan Pace knows Dalton is a middle of the road quarterback.

Matt Nagy knows Dalton is a middle of the road quarterback.

George McCaskey and Ted Phillips know Dalton is a middle of the road quarterback.

And that is why none of these men can possibly believe Dalton is a pathway out of the mediocrity of the last two seasons. None of these men can possibly think Dalton – even replacing the ineptitude of “the former guy” – is the missing piece in a Super Bowl puzzle. And in the cases of Pace, Nagy and perhaps even Phillips, they can’t possibly imagine Dalton is worth risking their tenures within the organization.

To believe any of that nonsense would show that everyone in a position of authority at Halas Hall has lost their collective minds. And if that’s case, what hope do any of us have?

So we must believe Pace, Nagy, Phillips and McCaskey have not lost their minds. We must believe they understand the Bears must still solve the most important position in team sports. We must believe they know there are only two ways to inspire this fanbase for the coming season: Russell Wilson or a first-round (or very early second-round) quarterback.

Bears fans have grown impatient, and with every right. But until we know if either Wilson or a top prospect are achieved, there is no reason to be decisive about this Bears off-season. That time, however, is rapidly approaching.

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Wednesday Lynx Package

| March 31st, 2021

Another Wednesday, another collection of Bears-related links from the wonderland known as the the World Wide Web.

  • In their newest mock draft for The Athletic, Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain present a pivotal question facing the Bears on draft weekend: are Kellen Mond or Davis Mills likely targets after day one? (Mills seems to have shined as his Stanford pro day, per various reports. But if you can’t shine on your pro day, you’re literally just a terrible player.)
  • Kyle Shanahan made news this week by deciding to attend the pro day of Mac Jones, not Justin Fields. This supports the widespread belief in league circles that the Niners are planning to select Jones third overall. So if you believe there are five first-round quarterbacks in this draft, the Bears are now down to two, Fields and Trey Lance.
  • Really solid longish-form piece by Jeff Berckes at Windy City Gridiron, profiling the artist Jerry Keefe. Here’s a nice little passage:

    “So, you know who George Halas is, right?”

    Jerry Keefe’s son, also named Jerry, posed that question to me about five minutes into our first conversation. I happened to be staring at the bobblehead collection of Chicago Bears greats given out at home games for the 2019 season that sits on my desk. That collection includes the special Papa Bear bobblehead the Bears sent their season ticket holders, wearing his signature suit and fedora.

    Yeah, I know George Halas.

    “George was my Godfather.”

  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS, both from ABC.
  • Dave Kindred is a sportswriting legend. 60 Minutes did a wonderful profile of his newest endeavor: covering high school girls hoops in central Illinois. (Thanks to my friend Rick Pearson for pointing me towards this piece.) He describes how he started this with perfect Kindred simplicity. “I went to a basketball game. And like the old war horse, I couldn’t sit there and not write about what I saw.”

Happy reading!

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