The Bears Unnecessarily Risky Off-Season

Many who follow (or used to follow) this blog probably think I’ve abandoned it. I haven’t. Its just that I work for a living and things have been a little crazy. They’re probably going to get a lot more crazy in the near future but I’m hoping that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to post every once in a while.

Having said that, I thought I’d reference a couple articles from Yahoo! Sports today and tomorrow that have a little something for everyone.

For those cynics who think the Bears are going to be pretty bad this year because they can’t do anything right, I give you this article from Andy Behrens today. The article criticizes virtually everything from the quarterback situation to the Bears defense. This is a perfectly natural reaction and, as far as I can tell, its one shared around the league nationally. When you go 3-13 and have only won 9 games in two years, you aren’t going to get the benefit of the doubt very often. It doesn’t help that head coach John Fox isn’t what you’d call media friendly.

I’m going to leave the assessment of the way the Bears handled the quarterbacks for tomorrow. Today I’d like to chime in some other somewhat valid criticisms of the Bears off-season. From Behrens:

“The list of Chicago’s free agent additions on offense looks like a last-place fantasy roster from 2014: [Mike] Glennon, Mark Sanchez, Victor Cruz, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Rueben Randle, Dion Sims, Benny Cunningham. A few of those players could be serviceable, but none move the needle for a team coming off a 3-win season. In April, the Bears’ drafted as if their singular goal was to flummox anyone providing analysis on live TV. After using the No. 2 overall pick on [Mitch] Trubisky, Chicago spent three of its four remaining selections on players from non-FBS schools. It’s not at all clear that any of them, or Trubisky, will contribute in a meaningful way in 2017.

“So, um … Bear down. Woo.”

OK. This is mostly hard truth. Certainly the wide receiver free agents look like dart being thrown at a board. The Bears are hoping one or two stick. The Bears did manage to re-make their secondary with the signings of Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. But for the most part, Fox got virtually no help in the off-season. Some have chosen to interpret this as general manager Ryan Pace throwing Fox under the bus with the idea that he will be hiring a new coach for 2018. But I’ve a sneaking suspicion that its more likely that Fox is getting a free year as long as the team shows at least some improvement.

I also don’t disagree with Behrens’ assessment of the draft but for an entirely different reason. People who think the Bears draft was a problem because it didn’t supply immediate help just don’t understand the situation. The Bears are rebuilding. They aren’t planning for this year. They’re planning for a couple years down the road. In that respect, Pace obviously felt that he could draft guys who might require a bit longer to develop and its hard to refute that logic.

No. The problem as I see it is a different one.

The NFL draft by its very nature is a crop shoot. Its full of risk at even the best of times with roughly half of all first round picks busting out. That percentage increases to something close to three quarters for quarterbacks. The Bears took those normal risks and at least doubled them by taking small school prospects that require even more projection than usual to get right.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of great NFL players who came from small schools, not the least of whom was the late great Walter Payton (Jackson State). Its perfectly OK to take a player like that every once in a while. But to do with with 3 of 5 with the quarterback, Trubisky, being one of the two that wasn’t? That’s asking for trouble, my friends.

The Bears really needed to approach this draft the way they approached the one in 2016 when they found Jordan Howard and Cody Whitehair. Taking the guys from FBS schools carries enough risk. There’s little reason to introduce more to the process.

Here’s hoping that I’m wrong and that all of these guys work out. But if they do, it’s going to require some luck. And the Bears haven’t had much of that lately.

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