State of the Bears

Image by Zachary Rosenbaum – https://www.instagram.com/zacharyrosenbaumdesign/

I’ve had it in “my cart” for three weeks now. You know what I mean, you may have already purchased it. The # 1, Justin Fields jersey. Several friends already have theirs, including my guy Anthony from Cork, Ireland. (Ant, you look sexy as hell in that thing…) BUT, I just haven’t done it yet. I’ve been burned before. I remember thinking that Khalil Mack would be the thing to get us over the hump. Before that it was the trade for Jay Cutler. I remember watching highlights of Rex Grossman and thinking, we finally have our QB. All of my friends will attest (especially @BDRBradley) that I wasn’t thrilled about Mitchell Trubisky being drafted, but I worked my way into being a Mitch supporter. 

I had moments of excitement for a lot of former Bears QBs like Brian Griese, Kyle Orton, Josh McCown and yes, even Caleb Hanie. I thought Caleb was going to be the next best thing; instead he was abhorrent. 

The last thing I wrote for the Bear Down Report was my Quick Hits Bears @ Saints. After the highs of the draft, I had to re-read it and try to remember how bad things have been. Let’s break it down. 

Coaching and Front Office

Matt Nagy

I still have very little faith in Matt Nagy. One of the more curious things rolling around Twitter right now is all of the excitement surrounding the potential of first round QB, Justin Fields and how he fits into Matt Nagy’s system. Excuse me? Matt Nagy’s system is awful. For the past three years, we’ve watched the Bears go 21st, 29th and 26th in offense respectively. There are 32 teams in the NFL, and the Bears have been in the bottom half every year that the offensive genius has run this offense. If you’re one of the people that puts all of that on Mitchell Trubisky, we just can’t have a conversation. When Nick Foles came in, every Mitch-hater was elated; they finally got to see the beauty of Matt Nagy’s system. Instead, he was benched because he wasn’t as good as Mitch was. 

With the drafting of Justin Fields and Teven Jenkins, Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace have bought themselves a few more years. Matt Nagy is a great guy, but unless the Bears can muster an offense that is 15th or higher, he needs to be relieved of his duties as head coach. 

Ryan Pace

Writing about Pace was one of the first things I put out on BDR. For all of his faults: overpaying free agents, outbidding himself (Mike Glennon and Andy Dalton…woof), drafting the wrong WR (Kevin White) and the wrong QB (Mitch), Pace has gotten a lot of things right. He brought in Khalil Mack, Allen Robinson, Akiem Hicks, Cairo Santos, Tarik Cohen, Roquan Smith and appears to have had one of, if not the best drafts of any GM in the NFL this year. Pace is getting better. He is not a perfect GM, but I still believe that he has given his head coach enough weapons on both sides of the ball to win. 

I wonder if Pace and Nagy are as linked as we think they are. Justin Fields has created an incredible energy amongst the fan base, but will Nagy utilize him properly or develop his talents? I am not so sure. Nagy doesn’t strike me as a guy who can maneuver his offense around the talent he has, but rather tries to make that talent fit into his system. Not sold here my friends.

The Offense

QB

The Bears haven’t had a real Pro Bowl QB since McMahon. Ohio State has never produced a HOF QB. It sure feels like this narrative has a chance to be re-written by Justin Fields. Everyone who isn’t a Packer, Lions or Vikings fan seems to be praising the draft pick. Fields passes the eye test and then some. There is almost no way that the Bears front office can sit this kid for very long, the expectations are just too high…and that worries me a lot. The Andy Dalton signing still has me confused. Is he really that much better than Nick Foles? No. No he isn’t. 

RB

David Montgomery, Damien Williams, Tarik Cohen and Khalil Herbert could be an explosive running back committee. Will the head coach use them?

WR

Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney are an awesome 1-2 duo. After that, we’ll see. I sure hope that Wims and Miller find themselves with a fresh opportunity somewhere else. 

TE

If Jimmy Graham (NINE TDs last season) stays, the Bears have an excellent tight end room. Cole Kmet has a ton of potential. 

OL

Will Teven Jenkins develop into a quality starting OT? I sure hope so. He looks like an absolute beast. I’m excited to see where the Bears place 5th round pick, Larry Borom. I’m a broken record, but love the idea of interior linemen Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher and James Daniels as the anchor of this line. 

Defense

DL

Akiem Hicks. Bilal Nichols. Mario Edwards Jr. Angelo Blackson. Khyiris Tonga. AND the return of Eddie Goldman. This may be one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. 

LB

Roquan Smith wasn’t an All-Pro. Let that sink in for a second. Ridiculous. I am hoping that Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn both have bounce-back years. After that, this group is just okay. 

DB

Kyle Fuller is gone, which put this group into a rough spot. Jaylon Johnson looked good, but needs to prove he can stay healthy. Eddie Jackson played terribly last year. I would love to see him rebound.  I am excited to see where 6th round draft pick Thomas Graham Jr. fits in with Duke Shelley, Kindle Vildor and free-agent Desmond Trufant. 

Special Teams

The Bears finally have their kicker situation settled. Pat O’Donnell is a decent punter. Patrick Scales is the model of consistency; you cannot ask for more than that from your long-snapper. The return game will probably be some combination of 6th round WR Dazz Newsome, RB Tarik Cohen, 6th round RB Khalil Herbert. We will miss the Cordarelle ‘how bout dem Bears’ Patterson, but he was asking for entirely too much money to come back. 

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately as of May 14th, Aaron Rogers is still a Green Bay Packer. The Vikings defense is still pretty darn good, and getting better with Danielle Hunter coming back. A few Lions fans are somehow excited about switching Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff, but the team is still one of the most dysfunctional organizations in sports. My hope is that the Bears surprise us this season, but as much as my heart wants to say Superbowl, they just aren’t there yet. I would LOVE to be wrong. 

Bear Down my friends.

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