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Wednesday Lynx Package

| March 31st, 2021


Another Wednesday, another collection of Bears-related links from the wonderland known as the the World Wide Web.

  • In their newest mock draft for The Athletic, Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain present a pivotal question facing the Bears on draft weekend: are Kellen Mond or Davis Mills likely targets after day one? (Mills seems to have shined as his Stanford pro day, per various reports. But if you can’t shine on your pro day, you’re literally just a terrible player.)
  • Kyle Shanahan made news this week by deciding to attend the pro day of Mac Jones, not Justin Fields. This supports the widespread belief in league circles that the Niners are planning to select Jones third overall. So if you believe there are five first-round quarterbacks in this draft, the Bears are now down to two, Fields and Trey Lance.
  • Really solid longish-form piece by Jeff Berckes at Windy City Gridiron, profiling the artist Jerry Keefe. Here’s a nice little passage:

    “So, you know who George Halas is, right?”

    Jerry Keefe’s son, also named Jerry, posed that question to me about five minutes into our first conversation. I happened to be staring at the bobblehead collection of Chicago Bears greats given out at home games for the 2019 season that sits on my desk. That collection includes the special Papa Bear bobblehead the Bears sent their season ticket holders, wearing his signature suit and fedora.

    Yeah, I know George Halas.

    “George was my Godfather.”

  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS, both from ABC.
  • Dave Kindred is a sportswriting legend. 60 Minutes did a wonderful profile of his newest endeavor: covering high school girls hoops in central Illinois. (Thanks to my friend Rick Pearson for pointing me towards this piece.) He describes how he started this with perfect Kindred simplicity. “I went to a basketball game. And like the old war horse, I couldn’t sit there and not write about what I saw.”

Happy reading!

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232 Comments

Wednesday Lynx Package

| March 24th, 2021


Barring a blockbuster QB trade, it’s unlikely much will happen around the Bears – with the exception of the schedule release – before the NFL Draft. So here are some links.

  • There have been various articles detailing the salary cap situation facing the Chicago Bears, but Data’s Twitter thread on the situation is certainly the most negative I’ve seen. Here’s the thing about the Bears and the cap: it actually doesn’t matter. This franchise will continue to tread water – with cap space or without – until they settle the quarterback position.
  • Think the Dolphins are the landing spot for Deshaun Watson? Well articles are now starting to appear locally urging Miami to wait until Watson’s legal woes are resolved. Watson is going to play in the league again. He’s going to play well in the league. And he’s not going to do that for the Houston Texans. The Bears should stay in this conversation.
  • Mock drafts are now projecting Mac Jones falling to the Bears at 20, per this piece from BearsWire, which includes a quote from mocker Doug Farrar. “Why would be drop to 20? Because the modern NFL requires quarterbacks to display mobility and second-reaction ability, and Jones has not shown much of that at all. But he’s a great pocket mover (the combination of liability and asset is why so many mock him to the Patriots), and perhaps he can be developed into a league-average mover on boots and scramble drills. From Day 1, though, he’s an improvement over what the Bears are hauling out there at the position.”
  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS. China has now opened a “Polar Bear Hotel”. It is completely booked for the foreseeable future but animal rights activists are not pleased. (Honestly, I’m surprised animal rights activists still monitor China.)
  • Adam Hoge thinks the ceiling for Andy Dalton 2021 is Alex Smith 2017 and his excellent piece for NBC Sports details that comparison.

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189 Comments

Wednesday Lynx Package

| March 3rd, 2021


We all sit on Quarterback Watch 2021.

So what else is happening?

  • As we veer towards the draft, Mac Jones is veering towards having his name called quite early. In Nick Shook’s piece for NFL.com, former teammate Tua refers to Jones as a “more mobile Tom Brady”. A month ago, many believe the Bears would be reaching for Jones at 20. Now it’s becoming quite clear the Bears would need to make a significant trade to acquire his talents.
  • Jason Fitzgerald at Over the Cap provides pretty solid analysis re: the Bears releasing Buster Skrine this week. Many have wondered if the Bears would designate Skrine a June 1 release. Fitzgerald poo poos that notion: “I would say that the June 1 is very unlikely as the Bears are hoping to be active in free agency and the June 1 would force them to carry the $6.03 million cap number until June 1st. Using a regular cut allows them to free up $2.7 million immediately.”
  • Somehow I ended up reading about George Blanda in a piece by Tom Lamarre on Raider Maven. I’m not sure how I ended up there but the writing wasn’t bad. Here’s a Bears-related cut: “Playing on the same team with Sid Luckman and Bulldog Turner and against people like Sammy Baugh, those were nostalgic days for me,” Blanda said years later. “Halas was a great coach, but the only problem I had with him, the problem all the players had with him, was that we didn’t get paid very much.”
  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS! Have you ever seen photos of a bear waking up from hibernation? Well you have now because News 22 has a terrific slideshow of the aforementioned occurrence in Belchertown, Massachusetts.
  • When new Bears analyst Tom Herman was asked about his job status in December, this is how he answered: “When you don’t get on the internet and you stick to Yahoo News and Words with Friends and the Chive app when you’re bored, you tend to stay above the fray a little bit.”
  • There are very few local reporters as connected to the organization they cover as (former podcast guest) John McClain in Houston. When he writes it is time for the Texans to entertain trade offers for Deshaun Watson, he knows which way their ownership is trending.

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Three Mocks and a Strange, Recurring Theme

| February 18th, 2021


Sometimes as a silly hobby, specifically in years where the Bears might draft an early quarterback, I find myself scouring mocks in February to see which way the wind is blowing. Yesterday, I looked at three such mocks.

Daniel Jeremiah at NFL.com had the Bears taking a wide receiver at number 20.

Kadarius Tony, WR, Florida

The Bears are going to need more offensive playmakers whether pending free agent Allen Robinson is re-signed or not.

Chris Trapasso at CBS had the Bears taking an offensive lineman at 20.

Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC

Vera-Tucker is a valuable prospect because we’ve seen two high-caliber seasons from him at different positions (guard then tackle).

John Clayton at the Washington Post (apparently) had the Bears also taking a receiver at 20.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

The Bears might have to place the franchise tag on wide receiver Allen Robinson to keep him for another season, but regardless, getting another receiver will be important. He has great ability and good size at 6-2, 210.

But something stood out in both the Jeremiah and Clayton mocks. In both, New Orleans selected Mac Jones (QB, Alabama) eight picks later as the their apparently to Drew Brees.

It would be one thing to have the Bears passing on quarterback if these evaluators did not see a player worthy of selection at this stage of the draft. But if they both think Jones is good enough to be a first-round pick, and good enough for offensive guru Sean Payton, why on earth would they have the Bears passing on him?

Let me just state what should be an obvious fact. If the Bears have a first-round (or early second-round) grade on a quarterback and that quarterback is available when they’re on the clock at 20, they MUST take him. You can have all the good receivers and offensive linemen in the world but until this franchise solves the quarterback position, the rest of it doesn’t matter.

Take as many swings as necessary until you make contact.

That starts with this first round pick.

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287 Comments

Expectation Levels for 2021 Entirely Dependent Upon Quarterback Solutions

| January 26th, 2021


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had not been in the playoffs since 2007. Last year they were 7-9 and featured a quarterback setting interception records.

Now they’re in the Super Bowl because they replaced the interception machine with the best the game has ever seen and their pass rush beat up the league MVP in the title game. (The game is a simple one. Play great quarterback. Disrupt the other team’s quarterback. And spend all your money on those two things.)

Where will the Bears be next January? That’s the question many are asking on Chicago sports radio and on the back pages of the dailies. What are fair expectations for the coming season? For those asking me, here’s my answer: how the hell should I know?

Expectations for the coming season will be completely dependent upon the quarterback room. The Bears are still going to be a good defense, with greatness potential. The Bears will add to their offensive line and skill spots, most likely keeping Allen Robinson on the franchise tag. This roster, as currently constructed, can easily return to competing for a wildcard spot next season.

But will that excite anyone? Should it excite anyone? There are three probably scenarios, with a nod to Christopher Guest.


Scenario One: Best in Show

If the Bears land Deshaun Watson in an unlikely trade, they immediately become the most interesting team in the NFL next season. That’s not hyperbole. It’s fact. The jersey sales would prove it. The schedule release in April – where the Bears would be all over primetime – would prove it. The acquisition would reinvigorate the entire franchise.


Scenario Two: A Mighty Wind

Sam Darnold redemption tour?

Ryan Fitzpatrick writing a final chapter to one of the NFL’s craziest, beardiest stories?

Read More …

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ATM: First Look at the Quarterback Market

| January 12th, 2021

Regardless of who is making the decisions, the top priority for the Chicago Bears this offseason has to be finding a quarterback. The Bears can’t – and from the sounds of it, won’t – let the best stretch of Mitch Trubisky’s career change what they already knew: he is not and never will be good. Not finding an upgrade is no longer an option for the Bears.

While some have tried to paint the picture that the Bears won’t be able to find a better quarterback, the truth is they have no choice. And upgrading isn’t the monumental task some make it out to be. Here’s a quick look at some of the options:

The Extreme Long Shots

Russell Wilson

After finally letting Russ cook in 2020, the Seahawks seem determined not to do that again.

This is, more or less, throwing mud to see what sticks, but trading Wilson has been floated before and if Seattle wants to run into the middle of the line of scrimmage every other play, they might as well move him.

Seattle is operating in a different existence right now. Pete Carroll is determined to waste Wilson and the rest of the league can thank him for that. Don’t rule out Wilson requesting a trade since Carroll just signed a huge contract extension.

Deshaun Watson

Whatever the price for Watson might be, it isn’t too much. Like Wilson, it’s very unlikely that Watson will be traded, but players have power and Watson is ticked off.


Slightly More Likely

Derek Carr

We went down this road last year and not a lot has changed. He still plays for Jon Gruden and Jon Gruden doesn’t like anybody who currently plays quarterback for him.

The Raiders didn’t sign Marcus Mariota last year for insurance. They did it because Gruden always has a wandering eye. Carr likely wouldn’t cost that much in draft capital, but he may want a new contract to guarantee his future a little more.

With two straight seasons surpassing 4,000 yards and a passer rating of 100, Carr would solve the position for the foreseeable future. The difficult part is making sure they have enough talent around him.

Dak Prescott

If the Cowboys loved Prescott as much as they say they do, he wouldn’t be worried about a contract right now.

Prescott was on pace to throw for nearly 6,000 yards; completing 68% of his passes for an average of 8.4 per attempt. He has a career passer rating of 97.3 and he can run.

Bringing him back seems like a no-brainer for the Cowboys, but Jerry is Jerry.  It’ll cost draft picks and a lot of money, but Prescott is worth it.

Read More …

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Saturday QBs to Watch: Conference Title Games!

| December 19th, 2020

(Photo of Trask by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)


If the Bears win Sunday, they are unlikely to be choosing one of the top four quarterbacks in this coming draft. (And I have had several personnel folks tell me that might not be the worst thing for them long-term.) So looking at that next crop of QBs is probably a more apt exercise at this point. Today will be a good opportunity to look at three them, two for the second time in this space.


3:00 PM CT

ACC Championship Game

Clemson vs. Notre Dame

__________

Trevor Lawrence is going to be the first pick of the draft and stabilize a Jets franchise desperate for stabilization. But ND quarterback Ian Book is going to be an interesting option for teams in the middle rounds. Eric Edholm of Yahoo found an interesting comp for Book:

I texted a Midwest scout who has seen Book’s success as a college QB and watched him grow as an NFL prospect. Who does Book remind the scout of?

Jeff Garcia, he told me. Not the name I was expecting, but it makes sense.

Garcia was far from a roundly beloved prospect coming out of San Jose State in the early ’90s — like Book, branded too small, too hectic, too not NFL. For that time, anyway. And it took him five years of success in the CFL and a visionary in Bill Walsh (who had returned to the 49ers’ front office) to see Garcia’s NFL potential.

Book’s road to the league shouldn’t be quite as circuitous because it appears that he’s only helped his draft stock and could push for a spot in Round 4 — or even higher. It will be fascinating to see which team drafts him, perhaps a club such as the Pittsburgh Steelers that will need to find its eventual starter or one such as the Houston Texans or Kansas City Chiefs, who have their current starter but might want a backup to groom with similar skills to their almost irreplaceable stars in Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.

Book’s deep-ball effectiveness has improved dramatically from his first few seasons, and even — despite fewer downfield attempts — from a year ago. He still has issues throwing intermediate and deep toward the sidelines but has developed the kind of hip torque and arm strength to get the balls to their targets more readily.

Like with Jalen Hurts a year ago, Book holds onto the ball too long. That won’t fly as readily in the NFL; he has to speed up his clock and not assume his brilliant offensive line and his own athleticism will keep him safe.

Overall, it’s hard not to love and appreciate the strides Book has made as an NFL prospect over the past few years. And with a potential playoff spot looming for the Irish, there are more tests awaiting.


7:00 PM CT

SEC Championship Game

Florida vs. Alabama

__________

Both quarterbacks in this game – Kyle Trask and Mac Jones – are projecting to be drafted somewhere between pick 15 and pick 50. And it’s safe to every that every NFL eye will be on both tonight.

Read More …

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Saturday QB to Watch: Mac Jones, Alabama

| November 28th, 2020

Alabama (6-0) vs. Auburn (5-2)

3:30 PM ET


True story: I’ve never seen Jones play. Not a single snap. So I’ll be interested look at him in this high pressure scenario. At this stage, should he declare for the NFL Draft, he’s profiling at the back end of the first round / top of the second round. In other words, he’s profiling as someone the Bears could be considering.


Highlights.


From Mel Kiper, in a piece over at 247 Sports:

NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. appeared Saturday on SEC Nation and raved over Jones’ ability as a passer. However, the number of overall starts could be a factor within NFL circles, much like former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ one-year wonder of a season two years ago which helped him go in the opening round to Washington.

“He’s spectacular, Laura (Rutledge), you think about 78.5%, 16 touchdowns, two picks. He’s got all of that talent around him, yes he does,” Kiper said. “But Jaylen Waddle is now hurt. He’s without that great receiver opposite DeVonta Smith. I think his deep-ball accuracy is phenomenal, his poise, his confidence right now directing that Alabama offense.

“Now, six-career starts this year, four last year, 10 total. You want that number higher than that. He’s going to end up with 16 after this year is over. Remember Mitchell Trubisky, 13, Mark Sanchez 16? That’s the issue. Career starts only around 16, will he go back to Alabama to try to get more of those, more experience? We’ll see.”

Several quarterbacks are expected to be selected ahead of Jones in the 2021 NFL Draft if he comes out as a junior, according to most mocks. But Jones is gaining ground, Kiper notes.

“Now he’s in that Top 25 in terms of the big board,” Kiper said. “Sixteen career starts is going to be something people will factor in , but if he keeps lighting it up, he’s right around 80% right now.

“If he keeps putting up the numbers he has been putting up, I think he’s in the late-first round discussion. Maybe a little higher than that.”

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