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Ranking the Bears: Long and Longish Shots (85-60)

| August 4th, 2020


The Bears reported to training camp last week with a large number of guys you probably don’t need to know.

This is my fifth year ranking the entire roster and the bottom of the roster is as much of a guess as it’s ever been. There are a few names on this list that fans know, but none who can be relied upon in 2020. What you can tell by looking at the list is that GM Ryan Pace values physical talent at the bottom of the roster. It’s unlikely that any of these players will make an impact in the NFL, but they’re in Chicago for a reason.

85. LaCale London, DL

A local product from Peoria and Western Illinois. Has great size (6’5”, 280), but wasn’t really exceptional, even as the small college level.

84. Reggie Davis, WR

The former Georgia product clocked a 4.31 40-yard dash time ahead of the 2017 NFL draft, but has never produced on the field. He caught just three passes in preseason last year and never had more than 12 in college. He did have a punt return for a touchdown at Georgia, but had otherwise pedestrian numbers as a return man.

83. Dieter Eiselen, OL

A 2019 first-team All-Ivy Leaguer from South Africa. Probably a long shot, but certainly sounds like a good story.

82. Darion Clark, TE

Yet another tight end. Clark is a 26-year-old former college basketball player from USC. He’s 6’7” and 220 pounds, but seems like a long shot to make the roster.

81. Dino Boyd, OL

A UDFA in 2019, Boyd spent time on the Chiefs, Bengals and Bears practice squads last season. He’s short (6’3”), but had nearly 35-inch arms.

80. Trevon McSwain, DL

Great size (6’6”, 285), but little production at Duke. Finished his career with 7.5 sacks and 12 QB pressures. Did have five forced fumbles.

79. Ramix Ahmed, K

The Bears latest attempt to find a kicker from nowhere led them to the 25-year-old who played at Nevada. He has a shot to beat out Piniero, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s good.

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Nick Foles: Reasons for Optimism

| August 3rd, 2020


There’s a popular opinion shared among Bears fans (and certain media types) that Nick Foles isn’t good. Because of this belief, these individuals have reached two conclusions: (1) it’s in the best interest of the Bears for Mitch Trubisky to “win” the starting job this summer and (2) the Bears won’t be any good in 2020.

Here’s where I differ: I think Nick Foles is good. Great? No. A franchise quarterback? Of course not. But Nick Foles has led a franchise through a miraculous postseason and won Super Bowl MVP. Nick Foles has thrown twice the number of touchdowns as interceptions in his eight seasons. Nick Foles has pitched to a career QB rating of 88.2, more than two points better than that Cam Newton with whom everybody seemed so enamored.

And Foles’ goodness goes beyond statistics. I remember seeing him look absolutely dominant running Chip Kelly’s offense in Philly. I remember the calmness he brought to the huddle after Carson Wentz’ injury. I’ve seen him for what he is: a stabilizing force within an organization.

That’s what stood out when he and Mitch Trubisky addressed the media Friday. Trubisky seemed immature, still spouting well-rehearsed cliches and insinuating – somehow – that he’d never make mechanical adjustments before. Trubisky seems like a good enough kid but the act is tired now. He wants to “prove everybody wrong” but the opinions of everybody are based solely on one thing: his wretched play.

This organization, city, fan base is lost in the quarterbacking desert, so thirsty for good play from the position they’ll enthusiastically believe any watery mirage is real and pretend to be quenched after consumption. Trubisky couldn’t even satisfy the most delusional among us.

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On “Opting Out”…

| July 31st, 2020


Tuesday, Eddie Goldman opted out of the 2020 NFL season. He wasn’t alone. He was joined by essentially the whole of the New England Patriots.

So why are players punching out of this season? A few things to remember about Covid-19.

First, this disease disproportionately impacts black and brown communities and roughly 70% of NFL players are black. While most of these young men will be unaffected by the disease, we still don’t know what the long-term impacts on the body come from the diagnosis.

Second, it’s not only about the health of the players themselves. These are young men and they have parents and grandparents dealing with the exact comorbidities that make them gravely susceptible to this virus. And cutting off from those relatives for a five-month period is simply a non-starter for most.

When a receiver in peak physical condition is exposed to the virus, he’ll likely see little to no health impact. When his diabetic mother is exposed, her life is at risk. That’s the decision these athletes face heading into 2020.

Does it suck for teams and fans? Of course it does. The NFL’s tight salary cap does not allow for depth at most positions. When Goldman opts out of the coming season, there isn’t another Goldman in the wings.

Does it suck for writers like me? It sure does. It’s getting a awfully difficult to engage this season with any real intensity when it feels like we’re one bad news story from the whole thing collapsing.

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Thursday Lynx Package (7/29/20)

| July 30th, 2020


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ATM: Before Worrying About the 2021 Bears, Maybe Let’s See How 2020 Plays Out

| July 29th, 2020

The voices clamoring to replace Ryan Pace have grown louder this off-season, but the simple truth is this: we have to see what 2020 brings before making any determination on whether or not the GM should be employed beyond this season. Some of Pace’s recent moves haven’t been popular and some of his past moves simply haven’t worked out. But the criticism of the Bears has gotten out of control, especially considering they are coming off their best two-year stretch since Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo were in their primes.

Like pretty much every Bears GM since the beginning of time, Pace missed at quarterback. Those who believe Pace should be fired for drafting Mitch Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes won’t be dissuaded. It is harsh but not entirely unfair.

Where the anti-Pace argument gets out of control is when he gets criticized for what most would consider good moves. Roquan Smith is a very good linebacker. Drafting him ninth wasn’t a bad move. Pace deserves credit for pulling the trigger on the Khalil Mack trade and for building one of the elite defenses in the league. (Especially considering he inherited the worst defense in franchise history.) While drafting Adam Shaheen in the second round was bad, getting something for a player who had no shot to make the roster was a good move.

Pace has found good players late in the draft and as bargains in free agency.  He has made many good moves, enough that the team has won 20 games the past two seasons and has a roster that should contend for a division title in 2020.

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Grading the 2020 Chicago Bears Roster: Defense & Specials

| July 28th, 2020


Defensive Line: 7

Key Players: Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris

Roster Depth: Brent Urban, Abdullah Anderson, John Jenkins, Trevon McSwain, Lee Autry

I went back and forth between a 7 and an 8 for this one. Akiem Hicks is a monster, assuming he can return to his pre-injury form in 2020. Eddie Goldman is a really good run-stuffing nose tackle, and Roy Robertson-Harris provides some nice juice as a situational pass rusher.

The wild card here is Bilal Nichols, who took a step back last year after a promising rookie season in 2018. If he can step up, this group should be really good. If he doesn’t, then they look a bit more like Hicks and a bunch of situational pieces. Brent Urban and Abdullah Anderson are both fine end of the roster players who won’t get pushed around too badly against the run but don’t offer much as pass rushers.


Edge rushers: 9

Key Players: Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Barkevious Mingo

Roster Depth: Trevis Gipson, Isaiah Irving, James Vaughters, LaCale London, Ledarius Mack

Mack and Quinn are the headliners here, as the duo might be the best pass-rushing tandem in the NFL. Just don’t look too closely at the depth behind them, because it’s ugly. Mingo is a suitable coverage player and run defender, but offers nothing in the way of pass rush. Nobody else has any notable NFL experience.

If Mack and Quinn stay healthy, this is one of the best groups in the NFL. If one (or God forbid both) of them gets hurt, the Bears are in trouble.


Inside linebackers: 7

Key Players: Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Josh Woods

Roster Depth: Rashad Smith, KeAndre Jones

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the starters are really good, but the depth is scary. Trevathan in particular is a really solid, smart player, while Roquan Smith has flashed all-pro ability through two years but needs to be more consistent. Both players ended 2019 on injured reserve and need to stay healthy this year, because the guys fighting for time behind them haven’t done much outside of special teams. Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis, who both played very well for extended stretches in 2019, are gone.

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Grading the 2020 Chicago Bears Roster: Offense

| July 27th, 2020

Camp is here, which means it’s time for me to grade the roster. Like I did last year, I’ll grade on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the worst in the NFL, 10 being the best, and 5 being an average NFL unit. Let’s get right down to it.


Quarterback: 3

Key Players: Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles

Roster Depth: Tyler Bray

Mitchell Trubisky was one of the 5 worst quarterbacks with significant playing time in the NFL last year. Nick Foles is on his 3rd team in 3 years and hasn’t started more than 5 games in a season since 2015. The Bears don’t have a good quarterback on the roster, which is a real problem in a quarterback-driven league.

If I were grading just on the starter, this would be a 2. But the Bears are probably going to end up with one of the worst starters and best backups in the NFL, so the better depth bumps it up slightly.


Running back: 3

Key Players: David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen

Roster Depth: Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce, Napoleon Maxwell

David Montgomery struggled as a rookie, averaging only 3.7 yards/carry and failing to establish himself in the passing game, which was supposed to be the reason why the Bears traded up for him after getting rid of Jordan Howard. Tarik Cohen followed up a stellar 2018 with the worst season of his career. I think both of these players have the potential to be really good in 2020, but neither was last year, so it’s hard to be super confident in them right now.

Still, I might be willing to give them a 4 as the “starters,” but the atrocious roster depth knocks this down a peg. All 3 backups are undrafted players who have yet to show they can do anything in the NFL. If David Montgomery gets hurt, the Bears don’t have a runner on the roster who you can reasonably trust.

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Our First DBB/Lou’s Malnati’s Winner: Tim Wallace!

| July 24th, 2020

He wrote from the heart. He included a haiku. He was tough to beat. Below is the email that secured Tim Wallace (@LogicforGood on Twitter) some frozen deep dish from Lou Malnati’s.


Hi Jeff,

I’m your target demographic. Huge Bears fan living far away from Chicago. My wife and I moved to Charlottesville, from Chicago, in October 2013 with our almost two-year-old.

A month later, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I came down with a horrific case of hand foot and mouth disease. Not fun and very contagious. My wife did the smart thing and took our daughter to her parents.  They stayed there until I recovered, which was, of course, after Thanksgiving.

So I had to do my first turkey day away from Chicago alone, quarantining with a nasty, contagious, unpleasant condition.

And I had no idea what I was going to eat. I’ve never cooked a Turkey in my life, and it would have been irresponsible to go to the grocery store anyways.

I will never forget that on the day before Thanksgiving, I walked out on my porch and there was this big square box sitting there. Inside were four Lou Malnati’s pies on dry ice with a note from my Mom, “Happy Thanksgiving!  Here’s a little taste of home.”

Those were the best pizzas I ever ate.

Thanksgiving alone.
Far away from my city.
Lou’s was home sweet home.

Peace,
   Tim Wallace


We’ll have our second Malnati’s giveaway closer to the start of the regular season. And we’ll be formally announcing a new partnership on Monday. Stay tuned!

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Thursday Lynx Package (7/23/20)

| July 23rd, 2020


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