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ATM: Nick Kwiatkoski’s Limitations Leave Bears Lacking Depth Inside

| August 13th, 2019

The first two plays of Thursday’s preseason opener gave Bears fans the full Nick Kwiatkoski experience. On the first play, the fourth-year linebacker pushed an offensive lineman back as he made a tackle near the line of scrimmage.



On the second, he got lost in space and allowed a big gain off of a dump off. He later overran a screen pass for another big gain.



Those plays look all too familiar, as it was Kwiatkoski regularly burned in the loss to Green Bay in the 2018 opener. It took less than one full game for Kwiatkoski to lose his job to Smith, despite the then-rookie missing almost all of the preseason. Ten years ago, Kwiatkoski would’ve been a star, but his failures in coverage make him unplayable against good offenses.

Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith are both among the 20 or so best inside linebackers in the league, with the latter likely cementing himself inside the top five this season. But health has always been an issue with Trevathan and last Thursday’s preseason game showed that the Bears simply can’t be without the veteran.

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: Top of the Heap (1-10)

| August 6th, 2019

As I got down to the top of this list, the one thing that really stood out to me was the quality here. The Bears have three players who are without question among the top two or three at their positions. In the three years I’ve done this list, I don’t know that they’ve ever even had one.

The Bears also have four all pros on this list and two other players who are 25 or younger and could easily be all pros this year.


10. Kyle Long, OG

He’s not young anymore but Long is still a mauler when he’s on the field. The Bears have only been able to get about half of their snaps with Long in recent seasons, but they’ve been significantly better when he has played.

9. Danny Trevathan, LB

One of the most underrated players on the Bears. Trevathan sets the tone with his leadership, while also flying around the field. Covers a lot of ground in the passing game and against the run.

8. Allen Robinson

According to the early camp reports, we didn’t see the real A-Rob last year. After an early season ankle injury, Robinson caught 40 passes for 612 yards in his final eight games. Expect to see more this year.

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: Key Contributors (11-39)

| August 5th, 2019

This is the meat of the rosters, players who should see the field quite a bit.


39. Nick Kwiatkoski, LB

Can really be a liability against the pass, but he has good instincts and is a solid special teams player. The Bears could live with him playing on first and second downs if needed.

38.  Jonathan Bullard, DL

Has never even approached his potential, but hasn’t been awful either. Holds his own and you occasionally see his burst but not consistent enough to play on a deep defensive line.

37. Chase Daniel, QB

Great for the locker room and he showed last year the Bears can win with him. He’s not capable of being a starter, but the Bears have had a lot of starting quarterbacks who were worse than Daniel.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Never a truer, sadder statement.]

36. Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB

Played some special teams last year, but the hope is he can beat out Kwik this year. Didn’t have to play with much discipline in college so the NFL was a big jump. Now it’s time to see if he can play.

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: The Relevant Non-Starters (40-59)

| July 30th, 2019

The rankings continue. To read part one of this three-part exercise, CLICK HERE.

Some of these guys will be battling for the final few roster spots, but none — outside specialists — are competing for starting spots.

59. Tyler Bray

There really isn’t a lot to say about Bray. He knows the offense and is good for the QB room. He’s just not good on the field. He’ll get some playing time during preseason, but won’t make the roster.

58. Tanner Gentry, WR

The preseason hero of 2017 has made it on the team the last two years, but this is likely his last stand. Gentry has potential and should get another shot elsewhere should he fail to make the squad.

57. Dax Raymond, TE

The UDFA tight end who everybody seems to like. A good athlete who looks like a natural receiver. He just could make the final cut as the fourth tight end.

56. Cornelius Lucas, OT

Huge dude (6’9″, 328), who has played some in the league. Not an ideal third tackle, but he can play in a pinch.

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Ranking The Bears: The Long Shots (90-60)

| July 23rd, 2019

With training camp getting underway this week, it’s time to get to know the entire roster.

Because I didn’t want you to have to go through the entire roster, I went ahead and did it for you. For the third straight year, I’ve ranked everyone – from the guys who are never going to make it to players who are among the very best in the entire league. What made this year more challenging is the pure depth the Bears have on their roster.

While this list is made up of guys who very likely will never have an impact in the league, there are several who I could easily see surprising.. That just wasn’t the case in years past. The Bears are good and that shows even at the very bottom of the roster.

90. Elliott Fry, K

If he can go 14-for-14 in the minor leagues, surely he can make kicks in the NFL, right? God I hope so.

89. Eddy Pineiro, K

I’ve been told he has a huge leg. Would’ve won the Raiders job if not for an injury, so that has to be worth something, right?

(Note: If the two kickers continue missing as much as they did throughout the spring, this is a very accurate ranking for them. What good is a kicker who can’t make kicks in practice. Good thing they have time to get better.)

88. Josh Wirtel, longsnapper

I have no idea if he’s in camp for the hell of it or if he’s actually going to compete with Pat Scales. I also had no idea he existed until three minutes ago.

87. Blake Blackmar, OL

One of the biggest dudes on the team at 326 pounds. Didn’t test well in the pre-draft process, which likely makes him a longshot on a team that requires athletic offensive linemen. Maybe there’s something they saw on tape?

86. Jordan McCray, OL

Veteran offensive lineman who has never appeared in a game. We see these guys every year and every year they don’t last.

85. James Vaughters, LB

Veteran who bounced around with the Packers, Patriots and Chargers, with stops in the CFL. Likely just a camp body.

84. Jameer Thurman, LB

After entering the NFL as a 194-pound linebacker, Thurman bulked up to 230. Was a standout in the CFL, but he’s unlikely to do anything in the NFL.

83. Daryl Banfield, DL

Tested out as a decent athlete at the FBS combine, running a 5.15 40-yard dash with a  33-inch vertical and a 115-inch broad jump. But he had hardly any production at Brown, finishing last season with 25 tackles — 12 of which were solo — and zero sacks. Had just 3.5 sacks in his collegiate career.

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How Old Is Eddie Jackson: A Deep Dive Into The Best Safety In The Game

| July 16th, 2019


As I sat down to write this investigative piece, a yellow hummingbird rested outside my window and began pecking away.

Tap, tap tap…

Every time I moved the keys…

Tap, tap tap…

The bird looked in at me. I stopped to acknowledge it only to see a serious look on its face. Perhaps this was a sign that someone, somewhere didn’t want me to uncover what I was about to come across.

Should I stop? No, the truth is too important.

How old is Eddie Jackson?

It’s a simple enough question, right?

Google tells you Jackson is 26 years old. The best and most accurate database in the history of the world, Pro-Football-Reference, says the same. So does the NFL’s official website.

Case closed, right?

Wrong. Jackson is 25 years old.

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ATM: Bears Need More From Floyd

| July 9th, 2019

When Khalil Mack wasn’t on the field, the Bears had one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL. That is a direct reflection on former first-rounder Leonard Floyd.

Perhaps the biggest argument for Mack’s Defensive POY candidacy last year was how much the Bears struggled to get after the quarterback when he was limited or not on the field at all. In the four games Mack was playing hurt or not playing at all, the Bears managed a combined 24 quarterback sacks and hits, applying such pressure on just 14.6% of the drop backs (not counting quarterback runs which are often the result of good coverage). That rate would’ve been the second worst in the entire league, ahead of only — surprise, surprise — Oakland.

In all, the Bears pass rush wasn’t bad last year. When Mack was on the field, they hit opposing quarterbacks at the fifth-highest rate and finished 15th overall. Floyd was third on the team in both sacks and hits, but spent too much time doing his best Sam Wheat impression.

Nine times last year, Floyd didn’t even touch the opposing quarterback. Some of those struggles can be contributed to a preseason hand injury — he didn’t record a QB hit or sack in six of the team’s first seven games. But he still had three such games in the team’s final seven and half of his sacks came in one game — both largely the result of pressures by Mack.

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ATM: Expect A Heavy Workload For David Montgomery

| July 2nd, 2019

Give Matt Nagy credit for saying he wants to use a committee approach when it comes to the running back position, but don’t be surprised if rookie David Montgomery is the bell cow before long. While the Bears have generally been trying to keep their depth chart a secret (and not allowing media members to report on the topic) it seems the rookie has already been getting playing time with the first team, a rarity for any mid-round running back.

Montgomery will still have to earn the job. Running backs, especially those in the 220-pound range, generally don’t show much until the pads come on; it’s impossible to display power and contact balance when the defense can’t hit. But by all accounts, Montgomery has looked the part, opening eyes the same way Tarik Cohen did two years ago, per Adam Jahns on the Hoge & Jahns Podcast.


Montgomery’s currently tied fifth favorite to be Offensive Rookie of the Year. Third among non-QBs.


The Bears signed Mike Davis and it seems that he has gotten most of the reps with the first team offense this offseason. But in the most recent clips released by the team on their website, you can see Montgomery sneaking out of the backfield with Mitch Trubisky playing quarterback. Maybe those are just misleading shots, but they didn’t exist at the start of the offseason program, when even Ryan Nall was shown with the starters in one of the clips.

If Montgomery has already been as impressive as most have said without the pads, the general expectation is that he’ll be even better once they start hitting. After all, his strength is supposed to be his ability to play through contact.

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ATM: Trubisky Has Earned Optimism

| June 25th, 2019

The Vikings kept bringing the heat, and Mitch Trubisky kept beating it.

Minnesota was playing for everything in Week 17 and all they needed was a stop and a score. They brought the heat and Trubisky dissected them, despite playing without his top three wide receivers.

After a Vikings touchdown made the score 13-10, the Bears young QB took over.

Third and five, the QB runs for 12.

Third-and-six, Javon Wims for 16.

Third-and-six again, Burton for nine.

Third-and-seven, Wims for nine and a first down at the eight.



Two plays later, Cohen runs in a touchdown before Trubisky drills a pass into the chest of linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski for the two-point conversion.

Ball game.

Trubisky’s 2018 season has been dissected over and over and those doing the dissecting have always been able to find enough evidence to come to their pre-reached conclusion. The season was enough of a roller coaster for Trubisky that almost anybody can find evidence to prove any opinion correct. What isn’t debatable, however, is the mastery Trubisky showed at the end of the season, specifically that final regular season Sunday against one of the three best defenses in the league.

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ATM: Appreciating Josh McCown

| June 18th, 2019

Josh McCown announced his retirement yesterday after a 15-year career in which he played for seven teams, including the Bears from 2011-2013, with his final season being the one that extended his career and left fans wondering “what if?” It’s too bad most Bears fans couldn’t appreciate McCown’s time with the Bears.

But we all remember the Dallas game.

Monday Night Football.

Eight degrees with a wind chill of negative-nine.

Mike Ditka’s jersey being retired.

McCown — who half the fans were still calling McNown — balling out in a 45-28 Bears win.

[Editor’s Note: I was there. I didn’t thaw out until Friday.]

It was the most fun many of us ever had watching a Bears offense. They scored on all eight of their drives before ending the game by taking a knee. McCown, specifically, was special, going 27/36 with 348 yards, four touchdowns and another rushing. He spread the ball out too, as four players had five or more catches.

McCown’s performance was as special as we got until this past season when Mitch Trubisky torched the Buccaneers for six touchdowns.

And yet, we couldn’t enjoy it.

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