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

vs

Records: It Matters Not…but CHI 1-2 TEN 1-2

Kickoff: 7 pm

TV: Fox 32

Radio: WBBM 780 AM/105.9 FM

It was a Forward Pass: Musiccitymiracles.com

And so it ends, with a whimper.

The 2019 NFL Preseason finally comes to a close on Thursday. I say finally because the Preseason is now total trash. A lot of guys will play tonight that you’ve never heard of, and probably never will again. Hell, Chicago signed a guy to play running back so as not to hurt players they likely intend to keep on the practice squad. The Bears are slightly ahead of the curve here, but most of the league is now using the bulk of August games to work out the edges of the roster. Guaranteed starters are tasked with doing little more than going through normal game prep and then shedding the pads, if they even put them on, and yucking it up on the sidelines with coaches and their not-as-nearly-good counterparts, players doing all they can to earn a spot on the final roster the league over.

There’s been a lot of smoke in recent years about reducing the preseason to two games and adding two in the regular season. Count me in the camp that would like to see this become reality, albeit with the caveat that teams are given two bye weeks instead of simply adding a game to the already brutal slate. That wouldn’t net billionaire owners that much more money, though, so you can guess how much juice that idea has. Regardless, something’s gotta give in the near future with the preseason structure.

As for this game….well, dear reader, not a whole lot to say that my guy Tony didn’t already say yesterday.

My FFUD Bears compatriot broke down battles at every position for you and gave his best guesses at who’ll make this final 53 at Halas Hall come Saturday afternoon. Hate to say it, but I think his and FFUD Brian’s faves Taquan SMOKE Mizzell and John Franklin III are at best destined for the practice squad. That’s not a bad thing, but even with his special teams experience I just don’t see a scenario where Mizzell makes the cut, especially with Ryan Nall running roughshod his second straight August. JF3 has a slightly better shot in a muddled defensive backfield race, but I think it’s a lack of experience for him that lands him…on the practice squad.

There’s definitely going to be a tight end that wins a job tonight, and my money is on Dax Raymond. Josh Woods is really forcing the Bears hand, playing so well this summer that I don’t think they’ll be able to sneak him to Sunday and the practice squad. This makes it even more difficult to see the team keep any of JF3, Mizzell or Nall if we’re being honest. This team really feels like it’s pretty well set for about 50 or 51 spots, and with the offensive line depth hurting through injury, a few more could even be squeezed to make room for a signing once all cuts are announced.

The Titans just traded for Reggie Gilbert, formerly of Green Bay, and that would normally make one think any EDGE players need to start worrying, but the team was thin at the position due to injury so the pinch felt from this trade will likely be elsewhere. The Titans’ site linked above ponders if the team will look to deal from tackle/O-Line depth to recoup some draft capital, having just five 2020 selections after the deal. Maybe Ryan Pace comes calling for some help if the Bears suffer further losses to the current line.

Deep breaths, Chicago. Green bay in a week. Hell Yes.