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Some Hopes For Today’s Schedule Release

| April 19th, 2018

There are things I’m rooting for when it comes to the schedule release. I want at Buffalo in the first six weeks. I want Miami/Arizona late in the season, when playing golf is no longer an option for those of us in New York City. I don’t want a primetime game the week in November when I’ll be in Europe.

But none of that has anything to do with the actual Chicago Bears. These three things do.

  • Easy Start. The entire organization needs a couple wins early to convince the locker room things are headed in the right direction and convince the fan base there’s something to be excited about on the lakefront. Ideal opening spots? Home to the Jets or at Buffalo, both of whom will be starting either rookie or journeyman QBs.
  • Stay off Primetime. If the schedule has the Bears playing 15 early Sunday games and the obligatory Thursday nighter, that would be ideal. The Bears need to grow and develop with their second-year QB in the relative anonymity non-primetime contests provide. (And personally, I just love the early game Sunday. That’s football. First beer at 11 am. Last beer at 5:30 pm.)

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Across The Middle: Bears Big Board 2.0

| April 18th, 2018

I consider myself the top Ryan Paceologist on the Bears writer landscape. My resume:

Trying to figure out who they’re targeting in the 2018 draft has me stumped. I came to the three conclusions above by looking at all of the evidence I could find and asking what made the most sense.

Picking eighth, the Bears surely aren’t going to be able to get the player they surely want and need most, edge Bradley Chubb. One must also operate under the assumption that running back Saquon Barkley will be gone.

There seems to be a good chance that four quarterbacks go within the first seven picks, but if they don’t, the top guys on this list might be gone. It’s also possible that the Bears trade back, which is why the list is more than eight players deep.

There are some good players that are going to be available. The problem I’m having is that I can construct a really strong argument against all of the top candidates. Still, one sticks out as the most likely simply because it makes the most sense.

The list:

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Data Entry: Establishing Ryan Pace’s draft profile, day 3

| April 17th, 2018

The last in a three-part series, breaking down Ryan Pace’s approach to the NFL Draft when it comes to prospects. Today, day three, rounds four through seven.


Draft History

2015: RB Jeremy Langford (R4), S Adrian Amos (R5), T Tayo Fabuluje (R6)

2016: LB Nick Kwiatkoski (R4), S Deon Bush (R4), CB Deiondre’ Hall (R4), RB Jordan Howard (R5), S DeAndre Houston-Carson (R6), WR Daniel Braverman (R7)

2017: S Eddie Jackson (R4), RB Tarik Cohen (R4), OL Jordan Morgan (R5)


Trend 1

Prioritize Rounds 4-5

Under Ryan Pace, the Bears are averaging two round 4 picks per year and are currently slated to have two in 2018. They will potentially have more if Pace trades down in round 2 again, as is he wont.

The Bears also acquired a fifth round pick in the Brandon Marshall deal. These are the rounds where he likes to operate, and he has done quite well, landing five solid contributors in three years: Adrian Amos, Nick Kwiatkoski, Jordan Howard, Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen.

On the flip side, Pace doesn’t seem to care much about round 6 or 7, where he has made only three picks total through three years. He’s made several trades sending these picks out.

  • 6th for Khari Lee
  • Throw-ins for a trade on day two that netted extra 4ths
  • 6th to move up for Kwiatkoski
  • Throw-in 7th to get 5th back when trading Brandon Marshall to Jets
  • Conditional 2018 7th for Inman that they kept in 2018.

Don’t be surprised to see one of those traded away, perhaps to help move up for a coveted player in round 4.

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Back-to-Back Audibles: Finley on the DL, Nagy Inspires the Cubs, Bennie Fowler, Links!

| April 16th, 2018

Finley on the Defensive Line

From Patrick Finley and the Sun-Times – who now finally have a readable website thanks to the fine folks at WordPress:

If Pace is able to sign Goldman to a contract extension before the final year of his rookie deal — the Bears are trying — he could have two stellar talents locked up for the next four years, when Hicks’ deal expires.

The Bears, of course, have three starting defensive line positions.

Their interest in drafting someone to develop alongside Hicks and Goldman depends on how vital they view that third spot to be. The Bears typically rotate defensive linemen, lessening the need for an every-down end opposite Hicks, who played about 85 percent of the team’s snaps last year. In nickel and dime packages, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio often replaces an end with a linebacker in hopes of creating pass-rush mismatches.

The Bears never settled on an end to start alongside Hicks last year. Jonathan Bullard, who Pace drafted in the third round in 2016, played 40 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps, veteran Mitch Unrein 37 percent and former undrafted free agent Roy Robertson-Harris 20 percent. At the end of the season, Pace singled out Bullard and Robertson-Harris as players who made significant leaps during the year.

Perhaps as a result, the Bears didn’t add anyone to replace Unrein when he signed a three-year, $10.5 million deal with the Buccaneers last month.

My personal belief is the Bears don’t put a tremendous value in this third defensive lineman position. They will continue to get production there from low-risk veterans and late draft picks.

Also, I have it on good authority that both Ryan Pace and Vic Fangio believe Jon Bullard can be a top player in the league. Not just good. Top. Has he shown that potential? No. At least not in the game tape. But they believe they’ve seen flashes.

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Audibles: First-Round Projections for the Bears

| April 13th, 2018

The draft is coming and the mocks are rolling in. Here are some projections for the Bears’ first-round selection. As has been proven in the Ryan Pace era, the chances of these being correct are not good.


Scott Wright, NFLDraftCountdown projects Quenton Nelson:

The Bears wisely noted a weak crop of wide receivers in the draft and instead used free agency to provide young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with some weapons to throw to.  Now they are free to shore up the offensive line with Nelson, who I feel is the best prospect in this class, regardless of position.  It also doesn’t hurt that Nelson’s college offensive line coach Harry Hiestand now holds the same position in the Windy City.

Nelson is a mountain of a man with outstanding strength and power, but also surprising athletic and nimble when pulling and blocking in space.  What really sets Nelson apart though is his aggressiveness, nasty on-field temperament and desire to finish blocks.  I don’t throw my “Elite” grade around lightly and this year Nelson and Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley were the only two prospects to earn that label.  In fact, Nelson is the best true offensive guard prospect I’ve seen in my two decades of covering the NFL Draft.

If Nelson is gone or they want to go in another direction, keep an eye on Virginia Tech OLB Tremaine Edmunds.  The young, athletic, rangy ‘backer has actually been compared to Bears great Brian Urlacher due to his well-rounded skill set and upside.

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Across The Middle: Be Prepared To Be Surprised (With an Emphasis on Denzel Ward)

| April 11th, 2018

In 2016, outside linebacker was considered a strength for the Bears after Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Pernell McPhee combined for 20.5 sacks. Ryan Pace drafted Leonard Floyd in the first round.

In 2017, the Bears overpaid Mike Glennon and raved about his upside (“fired up”). They signed Mark Sanchez as a competent backup. Ryan Pace drafted Mitch Trubisky.

Those moves weren’t about value dropping to them. They weren’t about “best player available”. In both instances, Pace traded up for the player and surprised many by drafting what wasn’t considered a need.

The lesson is clear. How the Bears identify their needs is not necessarily how the media and fans identify them. And it isn’t just the first round.

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Data Entry: Establishing Ryan Pace’s Draft Profile, Day 2

| April 10th, 2018

Now that Ryan Pace has been here a while, it’s possible to look at his past drafts to see what lessons can be learned from his approach. This can help us cautiously look ahead to the 2018 draft to see what he might be thinking.

With that goal in mind, I’m going to spend three weeks looking at how Pace has approached the three days of the draft, and then applying that approach to 2018 to see what players are likely being considered for the Bears this year. I looked at day 1 last week, so today will be day 2 (rounds 2-3).


Draft History

2015: Eddie Goldman, DT, 39th pick; Hroniss Grasu, C, 71st pick

2016: Cody Whitehair, OL, 56th pick (after 2 trade downs); Jonathan Bullard, DL, 72nd pick

2017: Adam Shaheen, TE, 45th pick (after trading down)

Trend 1: Trade Down

Ryan Pace has been a big fan of trading down for extra picks in round 2. He did it twice before selecting Cody Whitehair in 2016 and once before taking Adam Shaheen in 2017. Given that the Bears are short a third round pick this year, I think he will be working the phones looking to do that again in round 2.  Read More …

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A Short Statement on Jordan Howard

| April 9th, 2018

From the desk of:

Jeff Hughes, Editor-in-Chief

DaBearsBlog

Jordan Howard is Good

Honestly, I was just going to write the headline and leave it there. Because the growing number of Bears fans across social media who, due to trade “rumors”, suddenly believe Howard is not a great running back…is starting to sicken me.

Is Howard great in the passing game? No. Point conceded.

But in two seasons Howard has amassed more than 2400 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards a clip. For the “anyone can do that” crowd, show me another back who HAS while:

  • Running by second and third-string offensive linemen.
  • Running without the luxury of a passing attack.
  • Running hurt for nearly HALF those games.

Just show me another back with similar achievement. I will actually spare the effort of looking. There isn’t anyone close.

(He also has 52 catches in that time. Ezekiel Elliot has 58. )

I like Ryan Pace and am supremely optimistic about Matt Nagy. But if they looked at Howard’s body of work with the Bears and thought, “Yea, we don’t need this guy” then I seriously question both men’s ability to evaluate personnel. Howard may not be a prototypical modern running back but he reminds one of what a Bears tailback used to look like. Back when they were a winning organization.

If I was starting a team tomorrow, I wouldn’t want Jordan Howard. I’d want 53 Jordan Howards. And I’d like my odds in the Sunday street fight.

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