Football

Welcome back, Bears fans! Today, Friday, and Monday Wes and I will be doing a 3 part roundtable about the draft and going forward. Just like every website that somehow has access to our email addresses, I’d like to include the phrase “in these uncertain times” before we go too far- so be on the lookout for that.
-TM

Wes-
It’s been a minute since we were together here at the roundtable. Since we last spoke, I wrote 3500 words about a bunch of players the Bears didn’t draft, but they selected 7 new dudes and picked up 11 UDFAs.
How do we feel, in these uncertain times?

Wes French: I’m a little…skeptical. I was ECSTATIC when Josh Jones, Antoine Winfield Jr., Grant Delpit and Jeremy Chinn were all there at 43 only to see the Bears pop Cole Kmet. I was still pretty happy when Jones and Chinn were available at 50, but Jaylon Johnson is also a very good gamble given his ability and “slide” was due to some cranky shoulders that might not be that scary. 

Ryan Pace has made his mark in the middle rounds across his drafts, so I didn’t mind spending a little draft capital next year and using existing later round picks this year to create three Fifth Round 2020 selections. Trevis Gipson especially stands out for me.

Tony Martin: As everyone that reads the site knows, I was a major mark for Winfield Jr throughout the pre-draft process and I was so pumped when he was still on the board at 43. I have mixed feelings about the draft, but Jaylon Johnson isn’t one I’m mixed on. I saw projections of him as a day 1 player, and “immediate starter” is a phrase I’ve seen in a lot of his scouting reports. If both he and Kmet live up to their potential, this was a power move by Pace.

I don’t really know what to feel about the Kmet pick. I mean, I guess this is more Nagy’s chance to prove that the offensive shortcomings can be changed if they have that prototypical TE, I just wish the Bears fans on Reddit can see that he’s not a complete prospect and his blocking is suspect. Tell me more about why you like the Gibson pick, I’ll tell you why I think Kindle Vildor shines in this system and then we can probe the late round picks and UDFAs.

Wes: I was WAY in on Winfeild Jr. Man, the possibilities with playing next to Eddie Money, allowing Jackson to basically be unleashed to do ANYTHING in the defensive backfield…fuck. Oh well. 

My problem with the Kmet pick is it feels desperate. We know this was Nagy’s guy, it had to be. My problem with the whole situation is that they have now devoted a ton of resources in the way of salary, draft capital and player development into positions that are clearly central to Nagy’s offense. The boys upstairs got super cute with the first iteration, tabbing a career back up and Juco draft reach the first go around in 2017 and now Trey Burton is cut and costing millions to not play and Adam Shaheen is more thank likely to be cut without a complete 180 this summer. The pedigree is better for the second crack at it with Jimmy Graham/Kmet…but Graham is basically in the twilight of his career and Kmet is at best a high upside project. Just feels like throwing more bad money after bad money but I guess they have to try. 
On Gipson, it just feels like the type of mid/late round Pace pick that will pop. A guy that had some really strong games while playing a style with his hand in the dirt on the edge at Tulsa could easily become a force in a stand-up 3-4 straight up edge rusher role. Also, there’s this comparison I found to be pretty encouraging: 

Matthew Judon: 6-foot-3, 261 lbs., Arm length: 33 7/8 inches – Drafted: 5th round, No. 146 overall in 2016

Trevis Gipson: 6-foot-3 3/8, 261 lbs., Arm length: 33 7/8 inches – Drafted: 5th round, No. 155 overall in 2020

The paths could be similar too – Judon was a rotational/role player on the edge his rookie year, and in the last three seasons has become a force worthy of a Franchise Tag in Baltimore. Gipson has the measureables and quick-twitch hallmarks of someone that can succeed on the edge in the new NFL. While he didn’t pile up sacks last year (8.5) he did have 15 tackles for loss showing he knows how to be disruptive in opposing backfields. I love this pick. (h/t Adam Hoge for the leg work on this one)

Tony: Before we put the Winfield Jr stuff to rest, I’d like to agree and also point out that I’ve seen a lot of chatter that the Bears needed an “in the box” safety, without acknowledging that EJax also plays close to the line and makes plays in the run game as well, and having two incredibly versatile athletes at Safety gives the team crazy amounts of flexibility.I think your love for Gipson will pay off, to be honest. He looks like he can contribute to the rotation and will certainly be an upgrade over Aaron Lynch almost no matter what. As an added bonus, he also gets to learn from two all-star edge rushers, which no doubt inspires confidence in his future development.While we’re dreaming of big things, I wanna talk about two guys that I think not only make this team but contribute: CB Kindle Vildor and WR Darnell Mooney. Vildor is a man corner who won’t challenge for starting reps anytime soon, but he will make major contributions on special teams and I believe can eventually come in and make plays in sub packages. He’s got a major chip on his shoulder and I have major love for gritty players from small schools. Mooney, on the other hand, is going to come in and make plays. He’s quick, tall, and can win contested catches. His highlight tape is basically him winning jump balls and taking slants 70 yards to the endzone, and ironically as I was writing this the Bears signed Ted Ginn Jr, so I guess there’s time for him to develop that route tree.

Any thoughts on the later round guys or UDFAs?

Wes:I agree on Vildor, and I’d like to tie this into baseball (RIP) a little bit and steal a phrase – This entire Bears draft is full of 70/80-grade names. Love it. I do think taking two CBs and no safeties tells you how they feel about the personnel in house. I was pretty happy with what I saw from Kevin Toliver at the end of last season, but he’s going to have a real battle just to make this team now.For the 7th rounders/UDFAs I think it’s those last two picks/two signings on the Oline that stand out, another few 80-grade names in Arlington Hambright and Lachavious Simmons (7th Rd) and Dieter Eiselen/Badara Traore (UDFAs). The more I think about the process the more I like the idea of swinging for a handful of OL late with the idea you stash them on the practice (or possible taxi squad this Fall…) and let them come along that way instead of a project in the 2nd round. Pace keeps telling us that Juan Castillo was the big acquisition on the OL this offseason and this draft only solidifies that sentiment.

You feeling good about any of the other UDFAs?

Tony: Simmons has some awesome tape, and with a new offensive line coach I’m excited to see how the young guys develop, given that most of them won’t have the time to take physical reps, given the state of the world. I’m hoping at least one of the late round linemen makes the team, and a couple of the UDFAs make the practice squad. Is LeDarius Mack a viable prospect? I’m hoping the name gets him in the door and he makes the team, but the ones I like the most are Artavis Pierce, the RB from Oregon State, and Rashad Smith, another OLB from Florida Atlantic who I think is going to get kicked inside and back up Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith. Rashad Smith put up preposterous tackle numbers and can cover as well as play the run. I’d like to see Pierce make the team, especially if the Bears don’t intend to resign Tarik Cohen after this season. I think Ryan Pace’s ability to find quality running backs has been understated in his time here, and Pierce might make the team given where the depth chart sits today.

Final thoughts?

Wes: I feel like Mack was a nice nod to Khalil, and if there’s anything that will get him as motivated as possible it’s big brother on his ass all offseason in the same training program. I’m not sure if he can become a rotation player given what they have at the position, but he can win a job by going hard on special teams and showing some versatility – he’s smaller than Khalil so maybe a hybrid edge/coverage option in the middle.

I really, really like Pierce as well, the lightening to our fan favorite Ryan Nall’s thunder at OSU. I feel like overall there are some good opportunities for the guys drafted/signed to make this team one way or another. I’ll especially be keeping my eye on Pierce and Mooney as returner options and a path for either to make the team outright.

That’s all I have for now…which looks like quite a bit as I scroll back up this marathon. Great chatting you up about sports again with the uncertainty surrounding everything else right now. Stay safe out there, dear readers, and remember – fuck landlords and mortgage lenders #cancelrent Now!

Tony: It’s always a pleasure chopping up the finer points of this shitshow with you, Wes. Football was a nice distraction from the dystopian shithole our world is at the moment. I hope everyone reading this is making the best of it that they can, unless you’re a landlord expecting rent today. Happy May Day!

Football

2019 is going to be the type of football year that you just want to throw in the trash, hoping that things get sorted out in a positive manner and you can mostly forget the things that transpired on the field. That’s essentially the case for the Bears pass catchers save for what passes as the brightest spot from the team, but also includes arguably the darkest, deepest hole (outside of QB…) and Ryan Pace’s second biggest miss of the 2017 draft.

On one hand, you have Allen Robinson being the monster wide out everyone wanted when he signed in the 2018 off-season and the emergence of second-year receiver Anthony Miller into a legit threat on any play. On the other, you have an underwhelming group of wide outs behind them, a one-dimensional backfield passing attack and a tight end room that’s stinkier than David Kaplan’s nose (because it’s firmly planted somewhere inside Tom Ricketts colon, GET IT??).  The team ranked in the lower third in just about all receiving categories, and if you read the rushing post from yesterday and quarterbacks on Monday you don’t have to squint to pick up on the theme of the 2019 Chicago offense. It sucked.

The highs were the type that felt squandered, the lows all disasters that played a part in the unacceptable offensive output – to varying degrees.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Good

Allen Robinson. That’s essentially your list. Robinson was the steady, go-to security blanket all season and pulled in 98 of 154 (!!) targets for just under 1,150 yards and seven scores, roughly one third of the entire receiving production on the team. He’s been everything the team needed and wanted when they gambled and signed the oft-injured Robinson two years ago, and Pace would do well to rip up the final year of his contract because 1) He’s more than earned new paper/$, 2) a new deal would actually improve the Bears cap situation for 2020 and beyond (ARob counts $15M against the cap with just $10.5 in actual dollars in 2020) and 3) who in the fuck else are you trusting on this roster going forward, especially after 2020?

Anthony Miller shone at times this season, especially standing out on Thanksgiving in Detroit with a 9/140 line. While he came up big during the min- revival stretch later in the season, he was inconsistent on the whole. But you if you want to argue that was more product of his environment in this slap dick offense you’d get no more than a “fair” from me. Miller is still an injury case, however, as he’ll rehab this spring from the exact same shoulder surgery that ended his 2018-19 campaign. Still, he lands in the positives and the Bears will need him back and building on his success in 2020.

The Bad

The rest of the wide out group left a whole lot to be desired. Taylor Gabriel was the benefactor of three TD catches in a half against the atrocious R-words in Week 3, but again suffered from concussion issues and only played parts of nine games. Rookie 4th round pick Riley Ridley hardly saw the field, working through a litany of nagging foot and leg injuries before totaling a whopping six catches over the final three contests. Javon Wims filled in admirably, again, but when he’s consistently on the field you’re probably in some trouble with your personnel; he’s best suited for ST duty in the opinion of yours truly.

Tarik Cohen was the only real contributor out of the backfield, and while he was used quite a bit (79 catches, 104 targets) all but 19 of his 456 yards were via YAC, meaning he was hardly targeted past the line of scrimmage all year. That’s your #2 in targets, averaging 5.8 yards/catch, often being targeted BEHIND the line of scrimmage. Fun!

The Ugly

The tight end group may have been the worst ever in Chicago Bears history, at least in terms of the modern game. No individual player went over 91 yards FOR THE SEASON, and the two leaders at 91/87 were preseason practice squad players JP Holtz and Jesper Horsted. Big money man Trey Burton got hurt in August, never really got to full health, and submitted to injury in November, landing on IR with all of 24 catches for 84 yards. Pace’s pet Adam Shaheen continued to impress no one but his boss, again dealing with a myriad of injuries and totaling 9/74 line. He now boasts 26 catches in 27 career games since being drafted in the 2nd round of 2017. Blocking TE Ben Braunecker was used in the passing game. Bradley Sowell was active at the position for a few games; that should tell you all you need to know about this shit ass group.

The RBs outside of Cohen weren’t as bad as the TEs, but that group was paced by David Montgomery‘s 25/185/1 line, a bit underwhelming after all the buzz about him “doing it all well” after the draft. FA Mike Davis caught all seven of his targets before he was cut, and the coaching staff failed to get $5M man Cordarrelle Patterson involved in any meaningful way.

Any Hope?

No? Not really? Robinson should get a new deal, possibly very soon, but after that it’s a big ol’ shit sandwich. Miller has the injury history, Gabriel might need to retire (but at least they can save $4.5M in cutting him) and Ridley looks to have a long way to go. This group lacks speed…so maybe just try Patterson out there instead of running him on 3rd and short?? Whoever gets hired to help run the offense would do well to get Cohen involved more down the field and in the slot, potentially, along with Patterson. The speed exists on the team, just not sure these dummies can harness it properly. Maybe some further passing work for Montgomery to keep teams guessing too.

The TE room is all signed for next year, and Burton somehow has so much guaranteed money that they can’t just cut him. The depth pieces are all okay, but this group screams for improvement. Can they sign Austin Hooper if he hits FA? Pace will need to get creative to clear enough space for such a move.

Pace and Co. have quite the overhaul on their hands this off-season.

Final Grade: C-

Football

Our Bears wing gets together one last time to work out their feelings about whatever it was that just went down.

 So now it’s all over, and we couldn’t glean anything from the finale. Where are you? How far away do you think the Bears are from getting back to contending next year? What’s most important to you this offseason?

Brian Schmitz: As I have clearly shown this season, I am a Bears pessimist. And to be totally honest with everyone, I took some pleasure in watching this team self-destruct time and time again. That probably says more about the person I am than anything; but…whatever. 

With that, I think the 2020 Bears, with a few tweaks, are a 10-win playoff team. The schedule will get easier next year and you have to expect  improvement from the major cogs of this team: coaching, QB, d-coordinator, kicker, tight end to name a few. 

Tony Martin: I’m excited to see what the front office does to right this ship, you know? It should be pretty clear where the faults lie, and the question is now wether or not the front office can fix the personnel holes with their limited cap space, and if they can wrestle away play calling duties from Matt Nagy. 

Wes French: I, too, am very interested to see what Pace has planned for this offseason. His and Nagy’s fates are predicated on a run at the playoffs if not a division crown in 2020. They’ve got some big decisions to make between QB, OL and a few key contract decisions on defense. 

I can say I didn’t take much pleasure in watching this team punch itself in the dick over and over again and I sure hope they have more of a plan for next season. 

Did you guys take anything out of the postseason press conference at Halas Hall? Other than as an organization the Bears are extremely weird…

Brian: My biggest takeaway is that the entire organization is trying to build up a quarterback that clearly has confidence issues. Pace’s job is tied into his quarterback, so in order to protect his own best interests, he is forced to ride or die with Trubisky. 

Wes: I was a bit disappointed with the press conference as a whole. I know, you can’t expect them to come right out and declare the QB sucks and needs to be replaced, but to continue to talk up his development and that he was very raw coming out of college is like….why did you take him at #2 then??

I think the thing that pissed me off the most though was talking up Adam Shaheen in a similar fashion. Pace almost seems more like he has to defend that pick more than Trubs, citing the same stuff of him being raw, playing at a small school, etc. Then why take him in the 2nd round? Why reach on a guy you know is going to be a major project when you’re trying to set up for a SB run? 

The OC/his staff took the blade as they were mercilessly let go, and I’m curious to see if they bring someone in with a big pedigree that would wrestle play calling or at least game prep away from Nagy. Juan Castillo is familiar with the type of stuff Nagy wants with the O-line/run game to do given his background with the Reid coaching tree. I’m trying to remain optimistic but until we see other hires/FA-roster moves I don’t think anyone at Halas Hall gets the benefit of the doubt right now. 

Tony: This is the last offseason that I’m going into with the full faith in Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy. They’ve had their fingerprints all over this trainwreck, and it should be noted that this is their chance to reflect on the job they’ve done thus far. It’s one thing to assess the talent left on your roster and to try to build around it, but now we get to see how they’ll address the setback that was the entire 2019 campaign. As a professional educator, I embrace mistakes because they are an important part of the learning process. True learning comes from identifying where you went wrong, understanding the error, and fixing it, and I hope the dudes at the top are willing to look at their faults in an honest way for the benefit of the organization and most importantly my Sunday afternoons.

Everything Else

Wow. There are moments as a sports fan where you can say “I was there when ______ happened”. The Cleveland Cavilers come back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Warriors. Keith Traylor returns a Mark Brunell interception 67 yards. Mick Foley gets thrown off the Hell in a Cell cage. Mick Foley gets thrown through the Hell in a Cell cage. Mick Foley gets chokeslammed onto thumbtacks. Andrew Luck solidified himself as the subject of a future bomb ass 30 for 30 documentary tonight with his 3rd quarter retirement from football. Dude’s 29 and has seen some shit, and you’ll see some takes about how disloyal he was to the franchise and the fans and blah blah blah. Don’t buy it. This team sucked for Luck, and then they fucked Luck, because Ryan Grigson is a schmuck. New Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano fucked him as well, since both oversaw what was essentially medical malpractice when the stud QB injured his shoulder in 2015 and the team allowed him to play so that the then GM and coach could keep their jobs. He doesn’t owe the team a goddamn thing.

That said, holy shit what a shocker. I’m assuming he didn’t tell the team what was going on, and it’s an almost Aaron Rodgers level of pettiness to be out there shooting the breeze with his teammates knowing he is checking out tomorrow, instantly taking them out of the AFC title hunt. I feel for the dude, I really do, but I feel the most for Jacoby Brissett, because he is the guy that’s gotta cover for the guy who quit mid-shift and now he’s filling orders for two packers because Jeff Bezos needs to keep his profit margins as high as possible.

Oh yeah, the Bears played too. Honestly, if this wasn’t a player who I liked so much that was screwed by his team, I’d be making more jokes about how he retired due to the @CaptAndrewLuck Twitter account getting absolutely ETHERED by Prince Amukamara this week, or because Deon Bush’s pure dominance struck an almost existential fear into the heart of America’s preeminent neckbearded athlete.

Other takeaways from The Luck Game:

-Deon Bush has played himself on the field for the regular season if you ask me. He’s gonna get some snaps, and if HaHa struggles I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start a game or two. I also think James Vaughters makes the 53 man roster, and YES MY BOY SMOKE MIZZELL LOOKED GREAT ON SPECIAL TEAMS. We all have those bubble guys that we root for, and seeing Taquan turn on those jets while covering punts and making tackles on kickoff returns was a thing of beauty.

-Eddy Pineiro crushed that 58 yard field goal and it was a thing of beauty, and nailed all his kickoffs and extra points. Can we stop with the kicker stuff now? Please?

-I said it last week and I’ll say it again, Kerrith Whyte makes this team, Marvin Hall doesn’t. Whyte is gonna get some burn during the regular season, too. Seeing his agility has me pumped thinking about using him in plays using pre-snap jet motion principles. Holy shit hurry up and be September 5th already.

-Nice Fact of the Week: Ryan Nall has a 69 yard run in a preseason game for the second time in two years. Nice.

-Nick Kwiatkoski played great, and I’m warming up to the idea of looking at a second contract for him, but there is no way he should be a starting ILB in 2019. I’m also all in on the idea of Josh Woods as the last ILB to make the roster. Dude has range and makes plays all over the field.

-The entire WR corps played like garbage. I’m still holding out hope for that Riley Ridley hype train to pick me up, but I hope he can play some special teams while we wait.

-The Bears shouldn’t have any tight ends on the 53 man roster for the upcoming season because holy fuck the depth chart after Trey Burton is literally Adam Shaheen and a collection of future suburban Chicagoland gym teachers.

-Duke Shelley is an interesting prospect, but he is not ready for meaningful football on the main roster this upcoming season. He flashes once or twice a game, but he was getting beat all night in coverage and in Pagano’s more man-to-man system, he needs time to hone his technique.

The Bears play their preseason finale next Thursday, and in the meantime I’ll be watching King of the Ring 1998. Hopefully Marcus Mariota survives the game, because if he doesn’t the Chicago Bears of the 2019 preseason will be knocking QBs out of the league at an unheard of rate.

 

Football

Be honest with yourself for a second. Do the Bears have anyone of their roster that can be trusted to play and contribute at the tight end position this season? The answer is no. And it’s not even close. Adam Shaheen blows, and if being flat out bad isn’t enough, he’s always hurt. Shaheen was the 45th player selected in the 2017 draft and has struggled athletically to play in the new NFL. The position has morphed into an extension of a Wide Receiver. Slow, plodding, block first Tight Ends are no longer an NFL commodity. This fact is especially true in Matt Nagy’s uber-creative, hair on fire, offense. When he was drafted, Shaheen was compared to Antonio Gates, he is now more comparable to Kevin White. With his height, a healthy Shaheen can be a valued red zone option, especially when he’s split out wide against a shorter corner. However, he will never be the type of guy who can stretch the field, which what was expect when you select a TE in the second round. Here are Shaheen’s career stats against a list of the tight ends that were drafted after the 3rd year pro from Ashland College, whatever the fuck that is:

 

Pick #

Games Receptions Yards TD
Adam Shaheen 45 19 17 175 4
Jonnu Smith 100 29 38 415 5
Michael Roberts 127 23 13 146 3
Jake Butt 145 3 8 85 0
George Kittle 146 31 131 1,892 7
Jordan Leggett 150 15 14 114 1
Jeremy Sprinkle 154 27 7 54 2
Eric Saubert 174 30 5 48 0
Bucky Hodges 201 0 0 0 0
Mason Schreck 251 6 0 0 0
Jason Croom FA 15 22 259 1
Ricky Seals-Jones FA 25 46 544

4

The actual stats are not terribly bad in comparison to the others, but keep in mind that every single one of these players was drafted in the 4th round or later. As if that doesn’t paint enough of a picture of a player that can be classified as somewhere between a stretch and a bust, here is a list of All-Pro players that were selected after Shaheen:

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Kareem Hunt
  • James Connor
  • Eddie Jackson
  • Tarik Cohen
  • George Kittle

Seeing the names Cohen and Jackson on this list saves some face for Ryan Pace, but these guys were chosen in late rounds, where it’s perfectly acceptable and often genius to take a flyer on a guy with some hidden upside. The 2nd round is not the place to try to show people how smart you are, in fact, it’s a draft place that can get you fired for failures.

If you were to re-do the 2017 NFL Draft, I do not see a scenario in which Shaheen gets selected anywhere sooner than round 5. Overvaluing a player in the draft happens almost 50% of the time; guys simply don’t work out sometimes, that’s just what happens. What really hurts the Bears is that Mitch Trubisky could really use that reliable, possession-type tight end that could serve as a safety blanket similar to what Jason Whitten was to Dak Prescott at the end of Whitten’s career. Hot routes and third read tight end receptions are the types of plays that extend drives. This is currently a glaring hole in a Bears offense that desperately needs this role to be successful.

The blame for the lack of a reliable tight end does not, however, fall only all on the fragile shoulders of Adam Shaheen. 2018 free agent signee Trey Burton had himself a very strong regular season, accounting for 54 catches for 569 yards and 6 TDs. Then the playoffs started and Burton was either physically or mentally unable to play in the most important Bears game since 2010. This very odd occurrence was then followed by an offseason and preseason in which Burton has still not fully recovered from a minor surgery that reported took place sometime in March, almost six months ago.

There is no question, that if healthy, Burton will be a weapon for Mitch Trubisky. However, that is a huge “if,” Each guy has about three weeks left until the opener to get healthy, until then, the entire organization and fan base cannot feel comfortable relying on Burton or Shaheen.

Football

Fantasy season is almost upon us for 2019, and if you’re like me you are spending as much time as humanly possible reading up on as much as you can before all your targets inevitably get injured before opening day. I’ve always tried shying away from using Bears players in fantasy, since I’ve been conditioned to eternally expect the offense to always put up mediocre numbers, but also because the big money league I play in is made up of Bears fans. Someone will inevitably draft Anthony Miller in the 4th round and I’ll quietly roll my eyes and shrug it off until he goes off for 20 points when I go against him. Such is life.

That said, 2019 is probably the first year I can remember where Bears offensive players will come at a premium in fantasy football, but it’s important to have realistic expectations to make sure you aren’t reaching for guys when there’s much better options available. So, with that said, let’s take a look at where you should be willing to slot Bears players on your fantasy squad this year.

Mitch Trubisky: Consensus among the experts I’ve read is that our beloved signal-caller is a #2 QB at best, but if you look at the Bears subreddit you’d think Mitch is about to have a Jared Goff-esque breakout season. As much as I hate going with the dorks on the various fantasy sites I peruse, I gotta agree. I am not comfortable drafting Mitch to be my starting QB. He could be a premium backup or match-up play, especially if you stack him in a DFS lineup with Miller or Robinson, or even Taylor Gabriel in some sort of best-ball scoring setup, but in season-long leagues I am drafting him as the QB 14-18 and hoping I’m totally wrong.

What the hell do I do with the Bears backfield? That’s a good question. Is Tarik Cohen going to finish in the top-15 again at the RB position? I’m fearful of his durability going into this season for no real reason in particular, and the uncertainty regarding who will take a majority of carries in this offense makes the outlook super unclear. I wouldn’t be surprised to still have that uncertainty on a week-to-week basis when the year is in full swing. As of right now, I’m drafting Cohen as the best RB2 on my board (and a mid-level RB 1 in PPR formats), and David Montgomery as a flex starter, who could optimistically finish as a top-20 RB if everything shakes out. Mike Davis isn’t worth a roster spot.

Avoid Bears tight ends. I’d rather use Bradley Sowell in DFS once as a joke than draft Burton or Shaheen. Tight end is going to be a bloodbath this year, so make sure you’re locking down Kelce, Ertz, or Kittle in your first four rounds if possible. If not, you’re screwed and hoping to get NFL Red Zone highlights of Vance McDonald catching an 8-yard pass.

Okay, deep breath. Let’s try to figure out the Bears WR corps. Allen Robinson can be a top-10 wideout from a fantasy perspective, but will he? I’m not betting on it. His numbers last year are not good, even adjusted for his two games out of the lineup. Is he due back this year? He could be, and I’d be more than willing to buy low if he’s available in the 6th or 7th round. He’s a beast that will demand attention, but once again you gotta wonder if Mitch will throw his way if opposing teams try to take him out of the game (see his two-catch for 37 yards performance against Detroit). I’m taking him as a WR3 or Flex at best, which is actually lower than where I’d put Anthony Miller in PPR. Miller was TD dependent last year, but this year I’m hoping for more of a breakout season statistically. In PPR I’m drafting Miller to be a low end WR2. As mentioned earlier, Taylor Gabriel is someone I’d use in daily fantasy or best ball leagues, and Cordarrelle Patterson will be fun to watch but really only exists to vulture points from all Bears skill position players.

This offense is a mess in the best way. Sure, as a Jordan Howard owner the last two years I’ve had some conflicting emotions watching defensive players score goal-line touchdowns. On one hand its fun and it means the Bears are scoring, but as a season long, dynasty, and daily fantasy football player I just shake my head sadly. Part of me wants to not draft any Bears players with high expectations because I want to just enjoy Matt Nagy’s wild ride, but if Mitch crushes it this year there’s nothing stopping this offense from looking like those classic Saints offenses from a few years ago.

Football

Do you hear anything? No? Me either. No noise. No torches and pitchforks. No jobs on the line (yet). It’s pretty boring around here.

Usually in late July we’re all too eager here in Chicago to begin HOT TAKE SZN surrounding the Bears and the NFL. This July, though, feels different. Is everyone just happy to banter about the Cubs division chase and Sox future potential? No, we’ve been doing that every July since 2015. The NBA had a pretty big summer, but the Bulls largely sat that out and everyone is just content they MIGHT make a surprise run at the 8-seed in the East. Hawks prospect camp and convention?? OK, I’m done.

So with nothing new or exciting going on in major sports around the city, why is this late July so different? The Bears, coming off their first playoff appearance since 2010 and second in the last 13 years, have had the quietest offseason in about as long. No new head coach/GM/Front Office personnel. No major signings/high draft picks. Hardly any turnover on the roster/staff, and no real starting positions up for the taking. GM Ryan Pace didn’t even get to make a draft pick until the third day, and there’s been little discussion about the his team or the impending camp since.

The biggest offseason story? Kickers. Cody Parkey long fired into the sun, the talk of both mini-camp and now training camp is the kicking sideshow. Each day’s camp breakdown thus far has started with the accuracy for that day’s kicker; Elliot Fry is 17 of 20 so far! He’s hit from 60 and banged in from 48 and 51 in the driving rain! Eddie Pineiro hit from 63 after doing his best 80s macho movie hunk routine – after his coaches asked him to try from 60 he replied “nah, how ’bout 63”! Suh gnarly, broseph.

The crowds are another HOT story coming out of Bourbonnais. Attendance day one? OVER 8,000!!! Videos tweeted of fans LIGHTLY JOGGING to get front row standing room to see the Midway Monsters strap on the pads and paw at each other! Whoa, did you see that 50-yard bomb from Mitch to Gabriel?? Kahlil Mack and Eddie Jackson are sooooo goood OMFG!!!! I mean, it’s great to see the guys you want to excel succeed in practice, but that’s the bar here, no? To be as good as advertised?

This shit is BORING. But boring doesn’t really mean bad. Consider:

-There was one major coaching change in the offseason, but not the normal refrain of a deficiency in some area. Vic Fangio left to go be the head coach in Denver because his defense was so amazing (while the rest of the team was total ass for most of his tenure). The ensuing hire? Chuck Pagano, a highly regarded defensive mind in his own right that mostly just needs to keep the ship on course. There also are no ‘hot’ seats to speak of at the moment. Weird.

-The players lost to free agency were seen as priced out of their worth at Halas Hall and nary a tear was shed for Adrian Amos or Bryce Callahan. The replacements and other new signings were mostly budget buys met with a collective “meh”.  HaHa Clinton-Dix and Buster Skine swap in for Amos and Callahan. Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson are here to do something in the backfield. Great, fine. I bet you didn’t even know they signed Ted Larson, again, for O-Line depth or Marvin Hall and Peter Williams. Only one of those guys is made up, but I’m guessing you have to look it up to tell me which one.

-The draft was pretty uneventful as well, unless you count trading up 14 or so spots in the 3rd round “eventful”. Sure, they got their GUY at running back in David Montgomery, or so they’ll tell anything with ears. Even he hasn’t generated much buzz since the draft, a soft spoken type that just does his work and stays quiet off the field. Booooooring. The rest of the draft was all lottery tickets and undrafted free agents because Pace only had five picks to work with. They got a Ridley? No, not the one from Alabama.

-There aren’t any big injuries to get all worked up about, either. Adam Shaheen hasn’t practiced in two days, but that’s basically his whole bag of tricks since being wildly overdrafted three years ago. Someone named Emmanuel Hall is recovering from groin surgery. HaHa is on the PUP list, rehabbing a lower body injury but expected back before too long. Whatever.

So this late July, the start to camp is boring. Embrace the boring, it means that most of us are looking forward to September and could give a shit about what happens between now and then. We don’t even get another open practice for a few days; the team has a shorter, closed practice today and is off Wednesday. There’s a preseason game a week after that, so maybe by the weekend we’ll start to get some real battles for the edge of the roster. Those are the positions that help to define serious championship contending NFL teams from the dregs they beat up.

Boring kinda sucks, but we’ll take it after the last decade worth of summers overstuffed with tough questions. Wait and see how these jokers fighting for their NFL lives fair in game reps in a week or so. If you need your fix the rest of this first week, keep refreshing that twitter account of your favorite beat writer to see where Steady Eddie P tells coach he’s spotting his next kick. HOOOOO BABYYYYY!

@WFrenchman on Twitter