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How Will Bears Handle Massive Special Teams Turnover in 2021?

| May 21st, 2021

A whole lot of attention has been paid to Chicago’s offense and defense this offseason, but there hasn’t been much focus on the unit that will see the largest turnover from 2020: special teams.

Bears special teams were quietly very good last year; they ranked 8th in total DVOA according to Football Outsiders, and were among the 10 best NFL teams in field goals, kickoff coverage, kickoff returns, and punt returns.

This was not a usual result for Chicago, as 2020 was the first year they were ranked in the top 10 for ST DVOA since 2012. To put that in perspective, in 2012 Lovie Smith was still the head coach, Dave Toub the ST coordinator, Devin Hester the return man, Robbie Gould the kicker, and Patrick Mannelly the long snapper. Those were the days.

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General Changeover

So how did Chicago celebrate their 2020 special teams success? By changing over much of the unit. The specialists – K Cairo Santos, P Pat O’Donnell, and LS Patrick Scales – all return, but many of their core ST players will not. Just look at the table below, which shows all 12 Bears who played at least 30% of the ST snaps last year.

The players highlighted in red are no longer with the Bears, and make up nearly half the list (5 of 12). Two more core special teamers – RB Ryan Nall and OLB James Vaughters – saw additions made to their position this offseason that leave them with an uphill climb to make the roster again. If those two are not able to stick, then 7 of the 12 players on this list will be gone. That leaves a whole lot of special teams snaps that will need to be filled.

The good news is that the Bears have emphasized bringing in players with ST experience this offseason. The table below shows new Bears who were core ST performers at their last stop. An * indicates the ST experience was in college.



You can see fairly logical replacements for the players who are leaving from above.

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The (Rest of the) 2021 Chicago Bears Draft Class [VIDEOS]

| May 2nd, 2021

In the first round, the Bears selected Justin Fields. (More on this tomorrow.)

In the second, they selected Teven Jenkins, the most mocked player to the team over the last month.

We posted highlights of fifth round pick Larry Borom. Here are highlights from the rest.


Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech


Dazz Newsome, WR, UNC


Thomas Graham Jr., DB, Oregon

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My Five Favorite Players in the NFL Draft

| April 26th, 2021


This is one of my favorite pieces all year. This is where I told you Aaron Donald was the best player in his class. This is also where I told you Justin Blackmon would dominate the NFL. On the lighter note, last year I focused my lens on kicker Rodrigo Blankenship – because he was ridiculous looking – and he was a terrific rookie for the Indianapolis Colts.

So who are my five this season?

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DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama.

I don’t get it.

I’m sure there are scouty/personnel types who will quibble at Smith’s measureables (oh no, he doesn’t weigh enough!) but when you watch him on the field, which is where he actually plays football, you see an NFL star.



In the modern NFL there are very few line-em-up-and-beat-the-corner wide receivers. The game is about matchups and Smith is a matchup nightmare. He’s the best wide receiver in this draft. He’s the best return man in this draft. He’s the best player in this draft.

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Pressley Harvin III, Punter, Georgia Tech

Have you seen this kid?

He’s 260 pounds. And he throws dimes.



Someone is going to draft this kid. And the fans of that team are going to absolutely love him. (God I hope that team plays in a city with several Billy Goat Taverns.) Harvin isn’t just a novelty act. He won the Ray Guy Award for top punter in college football for 2020. He’s going to kick at the next level.

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