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Data Entry: Random Roster Thoughts

| April 6th, 2018

Note: thanks to Butch for the cool new header picture

Free agency is settling down, so now is a good time to take a look at where the Bears’ roster currently stands. This will give us a better idea of what minor free agency moves should still be made and where the draft attention should focus for the first few rounds.

Let’s start with a rough depth chart, followed by a few quick thoughts. This is just my estimate of what a depth chart could look like, don’t read too much into details like Roy Robertson-Harris being above Jonathan Bullard, or anything like that.

Reflections, in no particular order:

  • The Bears currently have 65 players under contract. They’re scheduled for 7 draft picks, and will likely sign a few more cheap veterans, but there’s going to be plenty of room to fill out the roster with undrafted free agents after the draft. Expect them to bring in at least 15 of them, and thus it’s no surprise that they’ve been meeting with several players projected as possible UDFA targets, including Jonah Trinnaman and Jarvion Franklin.

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Data Entry: Outlining My Ideal Free Agency

| March 6th, 2018

The Combine just ended and NFL free agency is about to kick off. Teams and agents were already talking in Indianapolis, and the official legal tampering period starts next Monday.

With that in mind, I’m going to lay out both positions and players I think the Bears should target. I’ll explain my rationale for each, detail why they are a good fit, and try to provide a contract estimate. I’m not going to address smaller depth needs – backup QB, 3rd RB, etc. Just the main contracts that will take up most of the cap room.

Salary Cap

The Bears are currently projected to have around $80 million in cap space after accounting for their eventual draft picks, so they have plenty of money to work with. They could also clear up to another $15 million by cutting Dion Sims ($5.7 million), Markus Wheaton ($5 million), and Marcus Cooper ($4.5 million).

As we’ll see below, however, they have a number of significant needs to address, and that’s before you begin to consider extensions for in-house candidates like Eddie Goldman, Adrian Amos, and Cam Meredith, which GM Ryan Pace said at the Combine were being discussed.

The Bears have money to spend. But they can’t just throw it around willy-nilly because that money won’t go as far as many might casually think from looking at the large number.


Wide Receiver

I’ve already spent a lot of time talking about wide receiver this offseason, so this discussion is going to be short. I think the Bears should try to add two players, one to be a WR2 and one as a WR3. There are plenty of FA options available for both roles who fit their new offense well.

As I stated before, my ideal targets would be Marqise Lee as the WR2 and Albert Wilson as the WR3. Lee has proven to be reliable, while Wilson knows the offense, and seemingly has a strong relationship with Matt Nagy. Both are fits.

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Lions Beat Boring Bears, Sealing Fox’s Fate

| December 17th, 2017

Matt Marton – USA TODAY Sports (Edited)

Any hope John Fox had of remaining the Chicago Bears head coach faded Saturday afternoon in Detroit with another lackluster performance. The Fox Bears did what they’ve done every time a bit of optimism has crept into this franchise during his tenure: flopped. And flopped with gusto. Rapid fire!

  • Trubisky’s interceptions will certainly be the story because this quarterback is always going to be the story. But there was far more positive than negative from Tru Saturday. With this coaching staff and these receivers, the Bears are never going to erase a three-score deficit on the road. But if that’s what it takes for the Fox and Loggains to finally let their rookie QB throw the ball around and make the mistakes he has to make, so be it. Trubisky gets better on games like Saturday’s. He doesn’t get better when he’s throwing 14 passes on third-and-long.
  • The pick in the end zone is the throw Trubisky can’t make. Wanna bet he doesn’t do it again?
  • One thing that should excite fans re: Tru is the number of times Lions CBs thought they’d get their hands on his passes and didn’t come close. The kid throws a fastball and the Lions couldn’t catch up with it. (Sadly, neither could several Bears receivers.)
  • Sacks are sacks. They’re going to happen. But I don’t like the hits Trubisky is taking on scrambles and broken down plays. Those are the ones that end seasons prematurely and the Bears need a healthy Trubisky working with his new coach in January.
  • Something that maybe interests only me. Mark Sanchez, in civvies, headset on, staring at the play sheet, completely engaged. Mike Glennon, dressed as the backup, staring into space. Sanchez is going to end up being a coach in the league.
  • Some of the Bears penalties are inexcusable. Eddie Goldman’s personal foul on opening drive. Prince holding on third-and-long. But they’re not even remotely surprising because Fox’s Bears have been undisciplined since day one. Fox and his media minions can bitch about talent all they want but under Fox, good players do stupid things.

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Data Responds: Bears at Bengals

| December 10th, 2017

Is this real life?

The Bears dominated on both sides of the ball, scored 30 points for the first time in over two years, and generally rolled over the dormant Cincinnati Bengals.

I know Cincinnati is bad and banged up, but so are the Bears, and this was a lot of fun. More importantly, this as led largely by young players for the Bears, which bodes well for the future. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Offense

  • The Bears came out and threw it on their first 2 plays! The first resulted in an awful Jordan Howard drop (drink), while the second was a beautiful play action rollout to Josh Bellamy for a 1st down. This unsurprisingly caught the Bengals’ defense off guard, and they backed off the defense into standard 7 man boxes instead of loading 8-9 up. As a result, the Bears ran it the next two plays for about 40 yards and a touchdown. That marked the first time this season that the offense scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game.
  • Before I get too down on Howard, how about giving it up for a great game from Chicago’s stud running back? He had his 12th 100 yard rushing game in 26 career starts and passed the 1,000 yard mark for the 2nd year in a row, making him the first running back in Chicago history to start his career that way. That’s pretty remarkable when you think of the great running backs who have played in Chicago.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: We Got the Beat Edition

| June 5th, 2017

Lamarr Houston: Forgotten Man?

Many figured Houston would not be part of the Bears plans in 2017. Patrick Finley opines otherwise in the Sun-Times:

The Bears think Houston still can be a pass-rushing threat three seasons after then-general manager Phil Emery signed him to a five-year, $35 million contract. They signaled that by not signing or drafting any significant outside linebackers this offseason.

After rehabbing in New York during the offseason, Houston has participated in OTAs. He said his recovery is on schedule, though he hesitated to predict when he would be at full strength.

‘‘All you can do is work day by day and try to get better,’’ he said. ‘‘I work to be impactful, and I work to be the best at what I do.’’

Outside linebacker Willie Young, for one, can’t imagine how he would have handled tearing both his ACLs in a span of three seasons.

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Around the Beat: Samplings from the Papers

| May 9th, 2016

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BIGGS ON GRASU

If Hroniss Grasu develops into a frontline center, the Bears may have a terrific offensive line in 2016. But Grasu would have to make a significant leap if that’s going to be the case. From Biggs in the Trib:

The statistics in the eight games Grasu started last season and the other eight games that were split between Slauson and Will Montgomery are similar with one glaring difference. I tallied the stats for Jay Cutler’s 15 starts, (excluding the dud of a performance in Seattle in Week 3 when Jimmy Clausen was at quarterback) and what jumps out is the Bears averaged 4.22 yards per carry with Slauson and Montgomery at center. With Grasu, they averaged 3.77, nearly a half-yard less.

If the Bears had a high level of confidence in Grasu, they wouldn’t have made three additions even while removing Slauson from the equation. When the season opens Sept. 11 in Houston, left tackle Charles Leno could be the only starter in a position he played for the team last season.

My favorite line in the piece? “One front-office guy said his team nearly drafted Whitehair about 20 picks before the Bears.” I maintain a firm belief that Whitehair is going to be a ten-year star at guard for the Bears.

JAHNS ON THE UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS

Adam’s piece in the Sun-Times is a solidly comprehensive breakdown of all the UFAs but I’m sampling the one position they may have had been most focused on: tight end.

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Postseason Positional Analysis Part VII: Linebackers

| January 19th, 2016

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We start on the inside.

The Bears had five inside linebackers this season but only three are worthy of discussion. LaRoy Reynolds & Jonathan Anderson are the type of bottom-roster boys an organization needs but there’s also about 125 players like them circulating across the league. Whether they return or not in 2016 won’t make the teapot whistle.

Three questions about the others.

How Much Do the Coaches Really Like Shea McClellin?

Shea is a smart player and the coaches went out of their way throughout 2015 to applaud his impact on the defense. He also, once again, struggled to remain healthy for any substantial period of time and his level of play dropped precipitously once returning to the field.

Here’s how I’d summarize McClellin. He is constantly in position to make plays but rarely makes them. Is that a lack of physical ability? Maybe. Is that a lack of instincts? Definitely. Were his struggles this season more the result of a change to ANOTHER new position? Possibly.

Unlike many who’d like to see the Bears cut the Shea line, I’d like to see him return and continue to develop at middle linebacker. He won’t be expensive or require a lengthy deal so why not? At worst he’s a third linebacker off the bench who can also call signals.

How Much Stake Do the Coaches Put Into John Timu’s Finish?

Adrian Peterson had 18 rushes for 63 yards. Doug Martin had 17 carries for 49 yards. Ameer Abdullah had a more respectable 10 carries for 44 yards. This was a poor rush defense all season long that turned into a solid unit once Timu ascended into the starting lineup. Does this mean the Bears should move forward with Timu cemented in the middle? Of course not. But barring a big splurge in free agency, Timu should come to Bourbonnais with confidence.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears & Bucs Play Out the String (Christmas Edition!)

| December 24th, 2015

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THE GAME POEM

THOUGHTS ON THE TAMPA BAY BUCS

  • Bucs offense is simple. They want to hand the ball off a zillion times to Doug Martin and then make plays down the field to Mike Evans off play-action. If their running game is shut down it greatly limits their effectiveness to move the ball/score points.
  • Earlier in the week I paired the Bucs and Bears as two teams that weren’t ready to put themselves in the thick of a playoff chase. Four weeks ago the Bucs were 5-5 and positioned well to make a run at the 6th seed. Since then they’ve lost to a Luck-less Colts, a Saints team playing out the string and were roughed up last Thursday night by the Rams until mounting a late comeback. This is a team with a lot of weapons and a bright future. But they’re not there yet. The question will be whether Lovie can get them over the top in 2016.
  • Tampa’s rush defense is very good, allowing 30 less yards per game on the ground than Chicago. If the Bears think they’re going to control this game on the ground it’s unlikely. The way to attack Tampa is to isolate a couple familiar fellows at the backend of their secondary (Conte, Wright…etc.) and throw the ball down the field. The question will be whether any of the Bears receivers can get any separation.

NEW CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

Each year, from Thanksgiving until Christmas, I (like many) indulge in the joy that is the Christmas movie. And it surprises me that movies and television shows still find their way into the rotation. This last year produced two new additions.

A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS

It’s television the way television used to be made in the days of soundstages and cigarette holders and Dean Martin. Everything about it is a throwback and it’s still completely original. The highlight? George Clooney popping out repeatedly from behind Christmas trees to deliver the chorus of Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’.

DIFFICULT PEOPLE, “DIFFICULT CHRISTMAS”

The best new comedy on television in 2015 was Julie Klausner’s Difficult People and the final episode of the season, the Christmas episode, might have been the best. The highlight? Klausner getting fired from her job as a gift wrapper for reciting the story of Capturing the Friedmans to a customer.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Welcome to the Brock!

| November 20th, 2015

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The Bears now have a chance to find .500 by beating Brock Osweiler at home. A win would thrust them into playoff consideration and create Must See TV on Thanksgiving night at Lambeau. And so the season continues for one of the most entertaining Chicago Bears teams in recent memory.

THE GAME POEM

In Denver I ate a hot dog once

It was bigger than expected

The stuff they piled on was fine

The dog itself neglected

Don’t sell me on your franks, dear sir

Because they’re wrapped in bacon

The wiener is the thing, kind sir

The other shit is fakin’

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Hoge’s Three Points, Defense Improving & the Favored Raiders?

| September 28th, 2015

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HOGE NAILS THREE POINTS

Sat down to write a column Monday morning and after a Google search realized Adam Hoge (WGN) already wrote it. He makes three suggestions to John Fox and all three are 100% correct.

1. Start David Fales against the Raiders.

2. Stop the nonsense and just have Pat O’Donnell boom kickoffs out of the back of the end zone.

3. Give Jeremy Langford more carries.

Quick thought on each.

  • Wrote the column on why Bears should have started David Fales last week. Jimmy Clausen is horrible and everyone on earth knows that. (Did you see how Pete Carroll approached him Sunday? They were daring him to throw passes!) 2015 is in the books. Every decision should be geared towards 2016 and beyond.
  • Teams are going to move the ball on the Bears all season so they’re not afraid to return kickoffs from inside the end zone. There’s no different to them between starting on the 13 or 20 yard lines. Bears can’t cover kicks currently and they shouldn’t have to. They have a protective measure on the roster. They should use him.
  • Bears need to make a decision immediately whether Matt Forte is part of their future. If he’s not, he shouldn’t be on this team. I’d take Hoge’s point a step further. I think Langford should be receiving a bulk of the carries.

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