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Bears Beat Rams, Cementing Playoff Position and League Stature

| December 10th, 2018

Photo credit: New York Times.


Last night paid it off. Was it perfect? By no means. But on a cold night in Chicago the 2018 Bears provided their moment; their signature (regular season) victory. Rapid fire…

  • Trubisky was terrible. There’s no reason to sugarcoat it. Young quarterbacks are going to have games like this and all you can do is hope they grow from it. Mitch looked antsy in the pocket, was sailing balls to wide open receivers and made 2-3 decisions you simply can’t make. (The pick at the end of the first half was inexcusable.) Jared Goff was worse. And that’s why the Bears won.
  • Kyle Fuller’s interception late third quarter was the most important play of the game. Fuller’s had a brilliant season but it was clear in that moment this Bears defense wasn’t going to be defeated. Fuller shouldn’t just be going to be the Pro Bowl this season. He should be named an All Pro corner. He’s been the best in the NFL.
  • Eddie Goldman registering a sack/safety made me incredibly happy. Goldman is the unsung hero of this defense; the most important component of the league’s second-best rush unit. (New Orleans is quietly great against the run.) He deserves to fill the stat column every once in a while.
  • Aaron Donald did nothing. Who gets the credit? Everybody. But it starts with James Daniels.


  • Injuries may be the story that lingers from Sunday night. Bryce Callahan’s looked the most serious. Leonard Floyd delivered his most complete performance in years but couldn’t finish it. Bears need both of these guys down the stretch.

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Five Questions as the Bears Begin Training Camp Practices This Weekend

| July 20th, 2018

In this clandestine modern NFL, there’s something to remember: very little NFL teams show the fans or the media, prior to the start of the regular season, is all that valuable. “Open” training camp practices and preseason games exist to drain every possible nickel out of loyal fanbases. Might you catch a glimpse of a gimmick play or two? Sure. But that’s it.

What is valuable is that which is done in the Cone of Silence, behind a shroud of secrecy, in the shadows even Adam Jahns dare not show up with his 4″ x 8″ notebook. And I have questions about what the Bears will be up to in the darkness.


Question #1: Who is where on the interior of the offensive line?

For years, ever since the arrival of Kyle Long, this space has argued against the organization’s lack of consistency when it came to aligning the offensive line. This team, this summer, needs to select positions for Long, Cody Whitehair and rookie James Daniels and leave them there. Daniels will inevitably struggle early no matter where he starts because Daniels is a rookie and rookies struggle. Put em. Leave em.


Question #2: What’s the answer opposite Leonard Floyd?

If you go to the Chicago Bears’ roster page, you’ll get confused when it comes to the linebacker position. Danny Trevathan is correctedly listed at ILB. Roquan Smith is listed at just LB. Nick Kwiatkoski, rumored to be getting run on the outside, is listed at ILB. Aaron Lynch, expected to be a pass rushing option, just LB.

The Bears don’t need a star to emerge opposite Floyd. And based on their current roster, they don’t really have to worry about it. But with opposing offensive coordinators certain to game plan for Floyd’s potential impact, the team must find pass rush production on the other side from a combination of Kwik, Lynch, Sam Acho, Kylie Fitts…etc. Fans should get a good sense in the coming weeks as to where Vic Fangio and his staff are leaning from a personnel perspective.


Question #3: Are there any sneaky positional battles?

Yes, I’m looking at you, Pat O’Donnell. Pitt’s Ryan Winslow is not an elite punting prospect but one hopes the Bears are not going to give P.O.D. the free pass he’s been given in previous summers.

Where else might one’s eyes drift?

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The Positional Quick 3: Offensive Line

| June 13th, 2018

I’m traveling in Dingle, Ireland years ago and I’m exhausted. This was my first day ever in Europe and I couldn’t keep my eyes open at 4:30 in the afternoon. My uncle turns to me and says, “Have a quick three. You’ll be fine.” I drank three Guinness in the span of a half hour. Seven hours later I’m dancing to a shitty Irish house DJ with Jenny Pye, a local lass who dreamed of being an EMT in New York City.

I’m very tired of this 2018 off-season. And incredibly eager for the season to begin. So I’m taking the quick three approach to each position group as we head into the summer. Not grading the groups or anything. Just making some points.


Offensive Line

  • Perhaps the most important positional decision in the coming days will be how Nagy and Harry Hiestand situate the middle of their offensive line. (Both Cody Whitehair and James Daniels are listed as simply OL on the team’s roster page.) Whitehair is 25. Daniels is 20. This should be the team’s line leadership for the next five years plus. Getting them in the correct position is essential to that cause.
  • The chances of Bobby Massie being on the Bears roster in 2019 are not particularly good. So this becomes a contract year for the right tackle. Does that mean anything? Not really. But I have to fill three bullet points here.
  • Is this a flawless unit? No. But there are very few, if any, flawless offensive lines in the modern NFL. Is this an offensive line capable of playing into the postseason? Absolutely. Especially if the middle of the line is sorted correctly. This is an offensive line that can protect the quarterback long enough to make plays down the field and an offensive line capable of pushing a defense around 25 times a game to create some space for Jordan Howard. They are a good, not great unit.

Tomorrow: Offensive Coaches

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The 2018 Chicago Bears Draft Class

| April 28th, 2018

Come back Monday morning to read big-picture analysis of the front office’s approach to these three days. For now, here are the newest members of the Chicago Bears with a quick blurb from yours truly.


Round 1 – Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

Honestly, ten years from now, fans should be debating where Smith ranks among the great middle linebackers in Bears history. That’s what an organization should expect when drafting a player at this position this high. Ryan Pace needs this to be Roquan’s defense for the next decade plus.


Round 2 – James Daniels, C/G, Iowa

Immediate starter. The Bears now have one of the league’s best interior o-lines (Daniels-Whitehair-Long) and one of the league’s three finest offensive line coaches. If he stays healthy, Jordan Howard may find himself in the MVP conversation this season.


Round 2 – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

A text from a friend in the league: “He was the highest wide receiver on our board.” The Bears gave up a lot to get Miller and will put a lot on his shoulders quickly. Expect him to start in the slot in the opener against Green Bay.


Round 4 – Joel Iyegbuniwe, ILB, Western Kentucky

This most interesting pick of the week for Pace. If the Bears intend to play him inside, he’ll have a near-impossible time getting on the field. But he profiles similarly to Brendon Ayanbadejo – a solid defensive depth piece who excels on special teams. (If he sticks I’m sure I’ll need to Google the spelling of his name just as many times as I did Ayanbadejo’s in his career.)


Round 5 – Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware

Akiem Hicks wore down in 2017. Eddie Goldman has an injury history. Nichols is being drafted to work steadily into the rotation and give these two great players a breather. In 2017 he simply devoured blockers in the middle of a 3-4 line. In 2016, according to Mike Mayock, he showed burst and acceleration getting to the quarterback. Rarely should one have expectations for a fifth-round pick. In this case, have some.


Round 6 – Kylie Fitts, Edge, Utah

Worth the risk for an athlete this impressive at a need position off the edge. Fitts has a terrific chance to be a real contributor to this Bears defense if he stays healthy. The problem? He’s rarely healthy. But it’s the sixth round. Why not? 


Round 7 – Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

A big dude who consistently makes highlight reel catches. Can he separate from pro corners? Doubtful. But with his size and speed, it’s impossible to rule him out of having a plausible chance to make some kind of impact in 2018.

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Second Round Selections: James Daniels & Anthony Miller

| April 28th, 2018

The Bears landed a much-needed interior lineman with their first pick of the second round and traded back into the round to grab a coveted wide receiver. Tomorrow I’ll be back to wrap up the draft in its entirety. Today? Highlights!


James Daniels, C/G, Iowa

From Lance Zierlein at NFL.com:

Daniels is a fluid mover with tremendous initial quickness to win positioning on most every zone block he’s asked to make — both on the first and second levels. His height, weight and arm length numbers at the Combine will be critical in either solidifying his draft slot or potentially dropping him a round. Some teams might see him as a zone-only center, but he may be strong enough to fit in with other blocking schemes. He needs to get stronger, but he’s a plus run blocker and pass protector with a chance to become a Pro Bowl starter.

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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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