Football

Welcome back to our short series to hopefully get you a little more fired up for the draft that takes place in two short weeks, but let’s be real: anything that falls under live sports is just going to kill it since we’re all dying for something that isn’t a rerun. I’ll gladly take watching Mel Kiper talking over college football highlights instead of rewatching The Town for the tenth time in April.

Today we’ll be looking at some of the players that I’ve seen mocked to the Bears should they happen to stand pat and select players at picks 43 and 50.

 

The Linemen: 

The case for going after someone on the offensive line is painfully obvious to anyone who watched the Bears play offense last year. Protection was inconsistent and the run blocking was spotty at best. With the retirement of Kyle Long, the Bears need to shore up the inside of their line and hope the outside of the line continues to progress. Below you’ll find short scouting reports on two players the Bears could be looking at if they are still available in the second round.

Lloyd Cushenberry: IOL, LSU
I’ve seen Cushenberry mocked to the Bears, admittedly a lot less recently than initially. Throughout this process it looks like his stock has dropped a little bit after a superb week of workouts at the Senior Bowl lifted his stock to right around where the Bears pick. It looks like he will be there when the Bears pick in the second round, and while he has been touted as an almost immediate starter, there will undoubtedly be people wondering if Guard could be better filled between Alex Bars and Germain Ifedi while the Bears make a sexier pick here.

Caesar Ruiz: C, Michigan
Ruiz presents a similar upside if picked by the Bears as Cushenberry, however Ruiz is unquestionably the best interior offensive lineman in the draft this year. Bears fans might be bored by the pick, but watching any of his highlights will shut their stupid mouths quickly. His tape is dominant and it’s quick to see why he’s the most heralded prospect of the bunch. He would fit perfectly in Matt Nagy’s offense, since he has the speed and strength to peel off combo blocks and get to the second level on runs out of Nagy’s preferred read option look. The real question is if Ruiz will still be there at 43, given that he is being mocked anywhere from there on the low end all the way up to picks in the mid 20s.

 

The Receivers:

The 2020 wide receiver class is so stupid stacked with talent that it could go down as one of the best classes in NFL history. Since the Bears won’t have a crack at any of those top prospects, they could be looking at a wide receiver that isn’t the total package yet and needs a bit of time to develop. This is unfortunate when you look at how slow Javon Wims and Riley Ridley are coming along, but if the Bears added any of the following players I think the offense would instantly improve drastically. However, be advised that all of these players have also been previously mocked to any and all of the Bears division opponents.

Brandon Aiyuk: Arizona State
Aiyuk brings the speed and ability to go over the top that Taylor Gabriel brought the Bears when healthy, but while Gabriel was 5’7” and 168, Aiyuk is 6’0” and 205. Watch his highlight video and get excited. Aiyuk has tremendous breakaway speed and can take any route to the house. He causes separation that just can’t be coached or schemed, and on his highlight package there’s a double move he puts on an Oregon DB that made me laugh out loud.

Jaylen Reagor: TCU
Apparently Jaylen Reagor can squat 620 pounds, which is absolutely bonkers, but watching his tape shows someone who looks much faster than his combine 4.47 40 yard dash (and instead more like his preposterous 4.22 hand-timed 40 at TCU’s recent pro day). His pro comps are Stefon Diggs and Percy Harvin according to The Ringer, but unlike Harvin his tape is filled with him making high-point catches that you wouldn’t expect a 5’11” guy to make. He might make a better outside WR and therefore a better fit for the offense, but who knows if he can still win those jump balls against CBs that are 2-4 inches taller than him. As an added bonus, he runs the reverse so well it reminded me of early Randy Moss, back in those Vikings days when you held your breath every time he touched the ball.

Laviska Shenault Jr: Colorado
I had no idea who this dude was until draft season, but if there’s someone with better tape out there I haven’t seen it yet. I love this dude’s tape and will be a sucker and probably draft him in fantasy, which might actually be me putting a curse on him. Shenault is all over the field, bodying out DBs on slant routes, making contested catches in traffic, and also running the Wildcat with crazy success. Basically, he looks like Cordarrelle Patterson. He breaks away with a beautiful second gear, and if he does get caught, well, he led all draft eligible receivers with 46 broken tackles in the last two years. Most of the scouting reports I’ve seen on Shenault mention his lack of polish as a proper WR and how he will need an innovative offensive mind to get him involved, and maybe that makes Chicago an optimal fit for him.

Michael Pittman: USC
Most scouts don’t expect Pittman to be around when the Bears pick, which would be a shame because damn, he is so polished. When watching him play, he looks a lot like Allen Robinson and throughout this draft process he has often drawn comparisons to the Bears’ best offensive player. With that in mind, he is unbelievably talented and blocks as well as he runs routes. He has highlight tapes of him straight up Mossing college DBs, and while he might not fill the Taylor Gabriel/Tyreek Hill burner role in the offense, he is certainly capable of dominating NFL defensive backs. If the Bears got him and had him line up opposite Allen Robinson, I think Anthony Miller makes the Pro Bowl simply because safeties would be so preoccupied with shading towards the outside guys that Miller would feast on single coverage looks or filling the middle seams against Cover 2 or Cover 3 looks.

Is drafting an IOL or WR irresponsible when the Bears defensive secondary is missing half their starters from last year, and 3 of the 5 DBs that were on the field during their phenomenal 2018 season? I guess that’s up to the front office to decide. I have a feeling if the Bears stay at 43 and 50, you could see one of these names in a Bears jersey next season, and that’s not too bad. I think a lot of the signings Pace made in the second wave of free agency were designed to allow him to look at the best player available at almost every slot, so we’ll see! Shit, now I’m excited for draft season all over again. I hope you are too. We’ll be back on Thursday for part 2: the DB Derby.

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

The Bears season is not going to end with any kind of post-season glory, so in lieu of a CHI/KC match up, we’re looking at some internal match ups this week of positions/players with something legitimately left to play for. Enjoy.

Tony: Wes, I appreciate the idea of re-focusing this week’s matchup on some of these end-of-roster players that we’d like to see more of in the last two weeks. It’s a lot easier than trying to figure out 400 words or so each that basically says “The Chiefs should win this one very easily”. So, since you’ve gifted me the offense, here’s 4 guys I’d like to see get some real run in the last two meaningless games.

Ryan NallFor no other reason, to finally appease the people who think Nall is a franchise-caliber RB; you know, the same people who thought Dane Sanzenbacher was the next Wes Welker. I know he’s had a couple nice 69 yard runs in consecutive pre-seasons, but let him get some carries against the starters and see what happens.

Javon WimsJuice has been out there quite a bit this season, but he doesn’t get much in terms of looks in the passing game. We all remember his outstanding Week 17 game last year; I’d like to see what we get from Wims with somewhere between 5-7 targets a game. He knows the offense much better than…

Riley RidleyHe’s been hurt, but he doesn’t seem to know where to line-up ever and I’m starting to believe he shouldn’t be out there and the coaching staff is exposing him to an unnecessarily high number of situations where he isn’t prepared. It would be nice to have a package of plays he can confidently run and we can see if he has more to offer the team than just a somewhat relevant last name.

I wrote half a paragraph about Ben Braunecker before I remembered he was in concussion protocol and is now on IR, which should tell you how high my hopes are that he makes the team next year. So instead, let’s talk about:

Jesper HorstedIn his 3 career games, Horsted has 7 catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. In Braunecker’s 47 games, he’s produced 13 catches for 142 yards and one TD. In my mind, Horsted is the only TE that is a lock to be on the roster next season, since Burton has underwhelmed and The Adam Shaheen Experiment needs to be chalked up as a loss before Mitch gets his head taken off when he misses his chip. Yeah, I know, the Bears passed on George Kittle in that draft but WWE never signed Pentagon Jr, so I guess just shut up or I’ll hit you with a package piledriver, nerd. The Bears will draft a TE high, and Horsted could be a capable #2. Bradley Sowell is a total team player and will always be Matt Nagy’s Taysom Hill, but with less of a chance to fuck your fantasy team. He might be there next year too, but with a strong showing I think Horsted sticks.

Wes: Tony, the Bears and the trash they give us to discuss every week is the true gift this season. Thank Matt Nagy, Ryan Pace and whoever else helped get us here more than ya boy. You covered a couple interesting players on the offensive side, so I guess I’ll toss out a few names on defense, especially hoping the Bears just put Akiem Hicks on IR and give him the rest of this lost campaign off. Apparently the starters will play the last two games, but here’s to hoping we get some decent looks at the younger pieces on the roster.

Also, thank YOU for the gift of reminding everyone that Dane Sanzenbacher exists.

Leonard Floyd: Not really an end of roster player I guess, but ho-boy that fifth year option is looking pretty bad right now. Floyd flew out of the gates with two Sacks in Week 1, but he’s totaled all of ONE since and had his best stretch of stats during the mid-season losing streak. Not exactly standing out in 2019. Methinks his $13M, non-guaranteed contract is going to find him cut before June 1 unless they can come to some other agreement. He’s probably playing more for his own film at this point, but you never know.

Josh Woods: Woods was a favorite of all of ours this pre-season, and while he didn’t get any game action until four weeks ago in LA (a game we’d all like to kind of pretend didn’t happen, ugh) he’s seeing some defensive snaps and work on ST. With Roquan and Trevathan both on IR, and the future of the latter a big question mark, Woods (along with current starter Kevin Pierre-Louis) has a chance to keep his name in the queue at ILB and make Pace believe he’s got plenty at the position to make it a lower priority this upcoming off-season.

Deon Bush: The Bears will have a decision to make at Safety opposite Eddie Jackson (who himself is due new money in 2021) as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DeAndre Houston-Carson and Bush are all coming up on Free Agency. Unless Dix wants to take a similar small money/1-year pact (doubtful), getting to see a lot more of Bush (Phrasing, I know) these last two weeks should be the plan. He’s still only 27 and shouldn’t demand a high salary for sound, steady work at the position, and cap-flexibility will be key with not much readily available for Pace

Kevin Toliver II: Toliver has been a nice bright spot these last few weeks as Prince Amukamara dealt with nagging injuries. The 2nd year player out of LSU has 10 tackles and two passes defended the last two weeks, and speaking of cap space the Prince can be cut to save $8M against $1M in dead money. Again, unless Amukamara wants to restructure it’s looking like the Sophomore CB is making Pace’s decision easier come March and he can further solidify it with continued solid play against tough offenses in KC and Minne-HO-ta.

Eddy Pineiro/Pat O’Donnell: I’m cheating a little here as these are not defenders, but who isn’t thinking the Bears could move on from both their kickers in 2020? Pineiro has done nothing to stake his claim since his walk-off winner Week 2 in Denver and carries no cap penalties, though I can’t see Pace committing much over a minimum to the position. O’Donnell can also be cut for next to nothing, and while he’s not really any worse than last season he’s been treading water at bottom-third rankings in punt AVG, NET and Returns. If the Bears are going to get better they really need to improve consistency in these positions.

Football

Well, the Bears won. Somehow. Just barely. The local boys escaped Ford Field victorious and are now the least convincing .500 team in the league at 6-6. Are we going to spend another week and a half pretending this win is symbolic of a team finally putting it all together? The offense looked better than it did almost all season, save a handful of stupid penalties. Anthony Miller feasted on a pisspoor Lions defense, Allen Robinson looked good, and Mitch made a handful of great throws. The gameplan was solid, but once again it’s hard to differentiate between a mediocre team looking good because they planned well and a team who just happened to beat a far inferior team. Mitch went 29/38 for 338, finishing his line with 3 TDs and 1 INT, but still made a handful of head-scratching plays. That 3rd down in the red zone where he decided to run laterally instead of get the almost assured key first down? Great QBs don’t do that unless their name is Lamar Jackson.

The Bears came out making David Blough look like the next great Jeff Driskel-esque QB, but after the first 14 points that Detroit put up in the first quarter, they managed 6 the rest of the way. The Bears bent but didn’t break, and it was nice to see them bring pressure in key moments. It’ll be interesting to see if Prince Amukamara comes back healthy, because any serious winning streak will require a healthy defensive backfield since Dallas, Green Bay, Kansas City, and Minnesota are the teams left on the schedule.

The Good: Mitch looked great, the wide receivers played outstandingly (even Javon Wims put up good numbers), and David Montgomery runs HARD. If the Bears invest heavily in the offensive line this offseason he could put up some incredible numbers next year. Nick Kwiatkoski looked great again, and it makes me wonder if this is indeed the last season Danny Trevathan will be playing for the Bears. Kyle Fuller saved the game with a key third down tackle inside the 5 yard line, holding Detroit to a field goal. He played great all game. Eddie Jackson is back in the stat column and everything feels right.

The Bad: The Bears were determined to lose this one in the 4th, didn’t it seem? Bad penalties plagued the last Detroit drive before Roquan and Eddie teamed up to end the game, and though the Bears committed only one more penalty for four more yards than the Lions, it sure seemed like they came at the worst times. Once again the line play was uneven, and the Bears couldn’t bring consistent pressure with the front four once again.

The Ugly: I had to watch this game with my family who I love but also my mom’s friend who was pretty much yelling “OMG SPORTSBALL DID WE WIN” for the entire second half. I need a fucking nap.

If this team wins 10 games, they deserve to make the playoffs because the changes they’d need to make to get there would signify a serious righting of the ship and who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Football

Tony Martin: Today’s matchup post is going to look a little different than usual- since this year has been anything but normal, we are having to seriously discuss how to spend our Sunday afternoons. I just started a new job, I’m still in grad school, and I still play in multiple bands- that time of the weekend would be perfect to spend it on anything other than shitty football that I’m emotionally invested in.

Yet I know for a fact that I’ll be parked on the couch this Sunday, watching the lifeless Bears play against the Giants. I’m not sure if I’m watching to see if they have something to prove or if I do it out of sheer tradition. I feel like if there was a Dawn of the Dead style zombie apocalypse, instead of lurking to the mall you’d find my dead ass sitting on the couch with a half cashed bowl and a LaCroix within arms reach of my rotting arms, waiting for the Bears to come on.

What do the Bears have to prove over these last few games? Is this just a talent evaluation process by now? It could be. I’m thinking they need to assess what options they have at so many different positions- both sides of the line, tight end, linebacker, kicker, and the defensive backfield. At this point, let’s see what this team has going forward. A lot of what Pace and Nagy should be focusing on where the holes in this leaky sink are coming from, because even though Mitch is the most glaring problem, the reason we are where we are is deeper than bad QB play. If Kyle Orton can win games as a starting QB, so can Mitch, but the franchise needs to build and play to his strengths. A great game plan can help mitigate a lot of deficiencies if done right.

This team absolutely has a playoff core, but Pace/Nagy need to spend the offseason figuring out what the identity of the franchise actually is and then building towards it. The end of last season covered up a lot of the problems with this roster from an identity standpoint on offense. They had a bruising running back and then a scatback, an all-star caliber wide receiver and a bunch of undersized speedsters, and a tight end that was not worth the money. All they did was replace the running back with a much better prospect that fits the offense, but they get away from running as soon as they fall behind, even if it’s by something as small as a first half field goal. Now might be the time to find those things to build upon, but it’s going to be boring as shit from a fan perspective to see it.

To wrap this part up, I’ll tell you what I’m looking for as the Bears play us off (insert Bill O’Reilly impression here):

-Is there an NFL-caliber tight end on the roster?
-Is Anthony Miller consistent enough to warrant a spot as the starting slot WR?
-Which defensive linemen could create pressure on their own in the absence of Khalil Mack?
-Does Leonard Floyd still play for this team?
-Eddie Goldman somehow has a grade of 74.3 so far from PFF- how much of 2018’s 88 rating from PFF was aided by the presence of Akiem Hicks?
-Do the Bears look to extend any of the following players: Danny Trevathan, Haha Clinton-Dix, Aaron Lynch, Nick Williams, Nick Kwiatkoski, or Roy Robertson-Harris?
-Are the Bears interested in taking a harder look at Javon Wims or Ryan Nall?

 

Wes French:Tony, I have to admit – If there is a Dawn of the Dead style scenario, I’d like to come find that couch and help you finish off your party favors. Barring a Hollywood situation on Sunday, though, I think I’m checking out on the Bears for a week.

It’s the Sunday before what’s basically a holiday week – yeah, I’ve got to work a few days at the beginning, but am I REALLY working? Fuck no. And the fact the Bears don’t really seem to be working the last month+ makes me unsure about investing another 3-4 hour block of my weekend, especially against a putrid trash heap like the New York Giants. I guess this might be the BEST time to check in, since the Bears should be able to get a W against the rookie-QB led G-Men, but the last time we had that narrative was all of two weeks ago against Detroit and that game was about as entertaining as a wet fart. Plus we’ll get that same wet fart four days later, bright and early before we’re all stuffed.
Am I interested in another slog between trash teams trying to sort out how exactly to best use the players they employ? No, no I’m not. Tony outlined plenty to look for in terms of WHY you may want to check in to this game on Sunday, and beyond the Bears sorting themselves out for a hopefully more spirited run in 2020 I could see you being mildly interested in who this Daniel Jones character is playing QB for NYG and wanting to see the sometimes electric Barkley do what he does. Outside of those two, the Giants have nothing to hold the interest of anyone but the diehards in the Big Apple and even those dummies are probably on to other things by week 12 of a 2-8 season. The Giants are pretty terrible and deserve no one’s attention, and in the immortal words of Local H – And Fuck New York, Too.

So what else should you be doing on Sunday? I’m going to play hockey and casually catch a nice dose of Red Zone with NINE noon games. Why the NFL can’t sort themselves out enough to have a better division of games through the day (there are only TWO late afternoon contests, but one is DAL @ NE) remains a mystery, but I digress. There are some strong teams on bye this week (KC/MIN), but while the schedule at first glance looks like a mirror of Bears/Giants, I’d say we’re in for a noon slate of some wild football with goofy fun matchups galore: 
– SEA @ PHI: The best game on paper at noon, Seattle looks to keep the Eagles down as they chase the 49ers for the NFC West/#1 seed. The Eagles are maddening, but always capable of a breakout performance and still have a shot at their own shitty Division
– TB @ ATL: Human Turnover Machine/Piece of Shit Jameis Winston goes into Hotlanta, quietly one of the best defensive units in the league since Week 5; I’ll guarantee at least 3 INTs and a DEF TD
– DEN @ BUF/ OAK @ NYJ: On the surface, the Bills and Raiders should cruise, but the Broncos have proved a difficult out and the Jets are scoring in bunches of late. The Bills and Raiders also remain the Bills and Raiders, so place those bets cautiously
– PIT @ CIN: A once fierce rivalry reduced to Mason Rudolph against Ryan Finley. I’ll be honest, this one excites even less than the Bears, but it does produce a decent opportunity for the Bungals to get their first win…it could totally be worse, Bears fans
– CAR @ NO: This sees two teams heading in wildly opposite directions, with the Panthers looking like they might be onto their third QB of the season and just about dead in the NFC at 5-5. Saints are aiming for NFC’s top spot. Divisional games can be weird, though
– MIA @ CLE/DET @ WSH: These two matchups pit four of the leagues worst franchises (of late, at least) against each other, and while on the surface the matchups look shit you should NEVER discount a game between the worst of the worst. How will Cleveland respond after the brawl to end last week’s game? Can Miami make it 3 wins in 4 after starting 0-7? Will the Lions continue to be the tonic that aids young/under-performing QBs for Dwayne Haskins and the Racial Slurs???
TUNE IN TO FIND OUT
Football

vs.

 

Bears (3-1) vs. Raiders (2-2)

Sunday, October 6th 12:00

TV: Fox

London, England

Fun Fact: Winston Churchill believed non-white people were genetically inferior to white people, while also drinking enough to make Charles Bukowski look like a 14-year -old after three Natty Lites

Top of the morning, Bears fans! As you read this, we are more or less two days away from our boys taking on the Oakland Raiders, who are technically the home team at the fabled Northumberland Development Project, which I swear is the actual name of the stadium they’ll be playing in on Sunday and not something that I made up.

Let’s lead with the obvious story: Khalil Mack is returning to destroy the hopes and dreams of the team that traded him to Chicago for a handful of magic beans and a collection of Walgreens coupons. Sure, two first round picks is a high price to pay, but Mack is worth it beyond any shadow of a doubt and we know how bad Ryan Pace has been drafting in the first round. This one is going to be personal, and I am so excited to watch him get held on every single play on Sunday. It probably won’t matter how many midfielders or whatever the Raiders send to chip him, expect Mack to rule the pitch and bend rookie lineman Kolton Miller like Beckham would (I know nothing about soccer, I apologize). Khalil Mack is going to do to the Raiders what the British East India Company did to most of the world in the era of imperialism. Expect it to be NSFW.

This game feels like classic Chicago Bears football: the defense dominates and the offense, knowing how much more exciting it is to watch them play, does their best job to keep it interesting by going out three-and-out every time they’re on the field. Outside of an impressive drive to start the game and one more drive before the half, this offense didn’t inspire much last week in the absence of Mitch Trubisky, who I am also sure will be genetically modified when he comes back from injury and throw for 500 yards a game.

These games are maddening because if the Bears had a three touchdown lead for once it would be nice to see the defense get to pin their ears back and do the things that make them so fun to watch: take chances for the big play. Eddie Jackson is an All-Pro safety, and imagining him in a game situation where he’s feeling more comfortable to jump a route or two could lead to a few more team celebration photos in the opposing end zone.

Can Chase Daniel keep this offense running as smoothly as my first car, a 95 Ford Escort with one functioning door? That might be all it takes to win with the way this defense is playing. A beat-up defense ethered Minnesota’s offense so badly last week that it literally caused team dysfunction. They’re wrecking homes at an Ashley Madison rate, and you can’t compete with that kind of efficiency. Chase will be asked to manage the game, and while that’s a major regression from what we all expected going into 2019, if it means a Bears W, I’ll take it. I’m expecting Javon Wims to catch a touchdown in this one, and if I’m wrong I’ll buy everyone reading this an order of fish and chips*.

*Not an actual guarantee, but hey I did learn that the British call french fries “chips” because it’s short for “chipped potatoes.”

Honestly, I just want to see notable Red-Assed goober Jon Gruden have a shitty day. He’s a total heel, but not in the fun heel way a la Dusty Rhodes. Gruden has X-Pac Heat (for those unfamiliar, X-Pac Heat is when wrestling fans hate a wrestler not because of effective heel work, but because they are unlikable as a human being/suck at wrestling). If I can’t get WALTER to come out and hit Chucky with a lariat, I’d hope the Bears could make him regret pretty much everything he’s done since taking over creative control of the Raiders and doing exactly two things:

1. Cutting or trading everyone that made this team interesting or fun
2. Ruining how cool it is that I got a dope throwback Raiders Starter jacket three years ago

Derek Carr is overrated, and is at best a middling QB who wants to be Tony Romo for a new generation. Josh Jacobs has potential, but isn’t there yet. Jacobs, Darren Waller, and Tyrell Williams are the best things going for this Oakland offense. This is a team that was in need of a Dolphins-esque rebuild, and they entrusted it to a fucking clown and I feel bad for the 10-15 good to great players on the roster.

This game could go a number of different ways. I can see it being anything from a 24-3 laugher in favor of the Bears, or the Raiders could shock us all and pull out a close one. When in London, nothing is guaranteed, except for Allen Robinson‘s dominance (16 catches, 213 yards, 2 touchdowns in 3 career games in London), because he’s the best Zed receiver taking the pitch on Sunday.

Prediction: Bears 27, Raiders 10

Football

Our collective is back to review what went down on Sunday and looking ahead to the trip to the Old Empire. 

Considering who was out, and though the Vikings make a habit of being a fraud, that’s a pretty impressive win, no?

Wes French (@WFrenchman): It’s a great win. It’s a win for Nagy and Pagano. It’s a win for the defense, again. It’s a win for the system to get enough points to win an ugly game. This can work, QB position be damned.

But hanging over this big win is a whole lot of uncertainty. How long will Trubisky be sidelined? If he’s out for the season is this Chade Daniel’s show or is there a move to be made? And what about Roquan Smith, late inactive but on the sidelines, and a very expensive wrecked car earlier in the morning on Sunday?
Tony Martin (@MrMartinBruh): There’s an art to winning ugly, and with a defense like this it’s gonna happen a lot. The Roquan stuff is a huge bummer, but hey on the plus side Nick Kwiatkoski flashed all game. The team looked great short handed, I’m just a little worried at how conservative the play calling gets later in the game. 
Brian Schmitz (@_BrianSchmitz) Very impressive. Especially from a piecemeal defensive unit and a backup quarterback. I loved the way Chase Daniel(s) stayed within himself and the offense and relied almost solely on quick read, quick hitters.
They only put up 16 points, so anyone erotically-asphyxiating themselves over Chase Daniel is…well I won’t finish that, but why did the offense look a touch smoother with Daniel in at QB? 

Wes: Accuracy. Daniel isn’t going to get anyone excited about, well, anything. But he can make NFL-caliber throws when given the time because he can read the field. The completion to backup WR Javon Wims down the right sideline in the 3rd quarter was completed because Daniel put it in a spot only Wims could make a play on it. You routinely see that ball sail on Mitch or end up in a 50-50 position. Daniel will run through his reads very quickly as well and put the ball on whoever he feels is the best option that play, or wait until that option develops. He does this by working mostly inside of 10-15 yards, though, so there isn’t much of a big play aspect at all with him under center.

The drawback with Daniel is that he’s essentially immobile. He will give you less than nothing in a broken play/scramble situation and he doesn’t have the arm to hit anything further than the Wims play. The Vikings are a good defense, but this thing could have been well over by the start of the 3rd Q after the Mack strip sack that set up another FG. You can go a long way in this league by capitalizing with touchdowns off turnovers. There were many points left on the field yesterday, but luckily the Bears didn’t need them.
Brian: It’s because Daniel know his athleticism can’t create something out of nothing, so he goes thru his progressions and gets rid of the ball. Nagy’s pass plays were almost solely within a 10 yard window, which of course aids in Daniel’s accuracy, which was very, very good.  
Are we expecting some sort of letdown against the Raiders in London, or the Bears to roll straight through into the bye?
Brian: I don’t expect a letdown because a.) they scored 16 points last week; its not like they came out and lit shit up and b.) I don’t think this defense is capable of a letdown; they truly want to be great and take each opportunity as a challenge. Khalil Mack will most certainly be ready against his old team and a coach he hates.

Wes: I think normally this type of game, being 10 time zones away and all, would scream let down. But I think there’s even more of a sense of urgency to get some things right on offense and roll into the bye with more positivity and get some guys healthy. Khalil Mack might be able to provide motivation for the entire team anyway. He’s already been quoted as saying this is a game he’s been waiting for since the trade. He’s going to make some lifetime fans at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

I think any letdowns this week come in the form of long term news on the injury front and whatever is going on with Roquan Smith.
Tony: This game screams “trap game” to me, but I’m wondering of Khalil Mack can singlehandedly reverse that. I don’t see the Bears scoring much, but the defense is untouchable. If they score two touchdowns, it should be a lock. That’s a big if, though. 
Football

We gathered our Bears crew in the aftermath of the preseason opener to take a temperature. We won’t tell you about the thermometer application. And away we go?

Did we learn anything important from the Bears first preseason game?

Tony Martin: What popped for y’all? Nick Kwiatkoski still can’t cover the pass. I’m hoping the Bears go a different direction when his rookie deal expires.

-I sleep better at night knowing Ted Larsen is available in case of an injury on the offensive line. He was wrecking dudes out there last night.
-Kickers kicked some kicks! I’m so sick of all of this. If I have to see another message board post about getting that kicker from Baltimore I’m gonna finally admit I’m going bald and pay for Restore hair treatment (can you tell I was on I-90 today?).
-Ian Bunting looked okay at times, but did he play basketball in college? That makes all the difference.
Brian Schmitz: In an effort to suck myself off, I was happy to see my earlier prediction about John Franklin III come to fruition as he was all over the place last night. Franklin was 3rd on the team on tackles and contributed on both kick returns and kickoff coverage. He will be given a real chance to make this team and thus far, he’s looked good. 

I saw what I needed to see from David Montgomery. Seven touches for 60 yards and a TD. I’m ok with not seeing the rook again until week 1, where he should be the starting RB. 
This time of the year is backup quarterback heaven. This is where guys make teams, showcase for other squads, and most importantly, make career money as a trusted backup. Chase Daniel is everything you want in a reserve QB whom you hope will never play. Guys knows the offense and most importantly, knows his own limitations. I don’t ever want to see him on the field this year, but he’s a solid insurance policy. 
Finally, what we learned from game 1 is that the Bears still don’t know who their kicker will be. Average showings from each on Thursday were expected and unappreciated. I’m convinced the Bears week 1 kicker is not on this roster. 
Tony: JF3 looked good, but I still think he needs to be a 4 phase special teamer to make this roster. As long as you can still contribute to the open threads, I say good luck, but don’t throw out your back trying to taste your successes.
Wes French: Brian, please don’t make any permanent body modifications to go about fellating yourself for JF3’s “breakout” in preseason game one. He was impressive against some paltry competition, but I think we’ll need to see more and, as Tony alluded, especially on Special Teams if he’s going to make the cut. I’ll now flip my thinking completely and overreact to Montgomery’s performance by agreeing we should pack him in bubble wrap and make sure he gets to September untouched.

I’d go as far as to say I was bummed to learn that Baltimore dealt kicker Vedvik to division rivals Minnesota over the weekend. Fry and Piniero are leaving a lot to be desired for what has been the biggest need for Chicago. having already dealt some (potential) draft capital for not-so-steady Eddy, I’d think Pace waits out other teams and picks through those cut as preseason comes to a close later this month. 
Then again, I’ve been out of the loop for a few days, moving my life a mile away and getting sick in the process. Did I miss any glaring transactions or anything else from around the Bears/the League? I know Miller rolled an ankle but sounds like he’s a go for week one…
Tony: I’m hoping for Vedvik to have a great career in Minnesota. May he hit 100% of his kicks against Green Bay and exactly 0 against the Bears. I’m not invested in the Lions enough to even pretend to want to put an arbitrary number on this hypothetical. Seriously, the Lions are the NFL version of the cousin whose name you never bothered to learn because you only see them at holidays and you try to avoid them.

Wes, I think you’re spot on about Montgomery because the more I think about it, the more I think he should be saved for the season. However, I say that because I am super interested in how the competition for the 3rd/4th running back spot goes. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I think the Bears are going to approach this depth chart a little bit differently, with players like Patterson being on the depth chart as either a running back or wide receiver. So, let’s say the Bears choose to keep a combined 10 of the bunch for the 53. We’ve got:
AR12
Tarik
David Montgomery
Anthony Miller
Taylor Gabriel
Patterson
Mike Davis
Riley Ridley
Javon Wims
And then one of:
Kerrith Whyte Jr/Marvin Hall/Taquan Mizzell Sr (or two if they choose to not keep a FB).
I wanna see the competition for that last couple spots heat up, and as much as I like seeing Montgomery play, I’m here for those reps!
Wes French: I would also like to see more of Whyte/Hall/Ridley/Wims in the next few weeks. I think you’re right that the personnel they have makes it a bit fluid on RB/WR roster selections, but the back end of that list is going to need to show out on special teams as well. I know I keep bringing STs up, but the offense and defense are pretty well set in terms of starters and even most backups. Anyone that has ideas on being the next man up for one of those positions is going to have to contribute via the kicking/return/punt teams in addition to showing they can step in at WR/RB/DB/LB to make this team. That makes me think a guys like Mizzell and Wims have an inside track over Whyte and Hall. The Bears did not sign Davis to play in the kicking game, and Patterson actually hurts those bubble guys with his ability to return kicks in addition to his versatility on offense. 

We haven’t talked much about the defensive side of the ball, but I think fans are sleeping a bit on the lack of depth behind the pass rushers up front. If Kyle Fitts is the best we’ve got to put in rotation after Mack/Floyd….yikes. 
Brian: You’re spot on about the defense; but I guess no news is good news. I’m extremely confident the defense will be who we think they are. 

We need to pump the brakes on Cordarrell Patterson. The guy can’t catch, which is fine, because Devin Hester couldn’t catch either, but in regards to the return game, Patterson is no Hester. I’m also suspect about his character. There has to be a reason he continues to sign one-year deals. 
Tony: I think there’s quality depth on defense since Aaron Lynch will most likely also take rotational reps, and they have solid backup ILBs even if I’m not crazy about them. The DL has a dank rotation in place, especially with Jonathan Bullard still on his rookie contract, but the secondary worries me. The depth chart after Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamura is as bare as my fridge in college. Brian, maybe some autofellatio might lock up your boy JF3 for a roster spot. Keep us posted.
Brian: Just had to google autofellatio. 1. Gross. 2. IT is going to think I am real sicko. O well.
Wes: You brought this on yourself. I think this is a good place to wrap this one up. Until next time, take care sports fans. 
Football

Bad football rules because you know that it’s only a matter of time before the games start to count and I gotta say I was super geeked to watch the Bears play again. I’d say that the game tonight went about as well as the first preseason game could be expected to go, especially in the modern age when keeping starters out is the standard. Was it boring? Yeah. But it was a PRODUCTIVE boring. So, since the clock has just struck zero on 60 minutes of Bears football, I have some quick reactions I’d like to share even though I’m three White Claws deep and have to get up for work in 7 hours.

-Deon Bush was all over the field, which was more impressive than the interception he was gifted via an awful throw. If a starter gets hurt, he is a player easily above replacement level and could fill in nicely (and has in the past). I can see the Bears having a tough time deciding if they want to extend him for next year.

-Please keep David Montgomery off special teams FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. He looked so good, and the more time he gets in this offense, the better he’ll get. He and Cohen are gonna be sick together. I want Matt Nagy to unironically use those two and Patterson in a T-Formation. Can a play call be ironic? Whatever.

-Josh Woods flashed a lot in run support (and forced a fumble), but got sucked inside twice on two big runs. I’d like to see more of him this preseason and maybe he can challenge for a backup ILB spot this year.

-I love the pass interference challenge rule, but only because the one thing I want more of when watching preseason football is insurance commercials. I wrote this joke sober and I was lukewarm on it, but it’s preseason for Bears writers just like the players so I’m keeping it in and I’ll look at the tape tomorrow and make adjustments.

-Javon Wims popped off the screen again. I think this dude is legit, and will make the team. I think he’ll be used like Nagy used Demarcus Robinson in Kansas City. I can see him catching 20 passes for this team and scoring a couple times.

-Speaking of that Wide Receiver room: Marvin Hall is FAST, and yes, these are the kinds of takes I get paid the big bucks to formulate. I’m pumped to see what he can do with the first team punt return unit, if he makes the squad (I hope he does). Unfortunately, I think Taquan Mizzell Sr is the odd man out, which is a shame. Unless Kerrith Whyte really screws up or the Bears decide to keep 4 Running Backs on the 53, he won’t make it. Hopefully he catches on somewhere else because I like Smoke a lot and I think he can contribute to a roster somewhere.