It must have been a pretty good question and answer column from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune because I’ve got a lot of comments to make in my free time this Thanksgiving day:
- Here’s question number one:
Can you explain why Tarik Cohen wasn’t on the field for the final drive on Sunday against the Lions? Why do the coaches insist on using Benny Cunningham? — Mark A., Milwaukee
I don’t have a problem with this decision the way some people do. If folks want to criticize the coaching staff for some of the decisions that have been made, including how personnel has been deployed, I think there are more nuanced criticisms that can be made. The Bears ran 10 offensive plays in the final possession and Cunningham was on the field for all of them. He stayed in as a pass blocker on six snaps. He chipped and then released into the pattern as a check-down target on one snap and he released from the backfield on three snaps. I certainly don’t think it would make sense to have Cohen on the field as a pass blocker in that situation.
I tend to agree.
Biggs has made the point that Cohen is a gadget player at this point in his career and that’s what I see as well. I’ve had a hard time understanding the ciriticsm of the Bears from both fans and media aimed at how they are playing him.
To some extent the league has caught up to Cohen. He really hasn’t shown that much once the league took away his cut back lanes. Last game he had 9 carries for 44 yards (4.9 ypc), his best game in many weeks. But Jordan Howard had 15 carries for 125 yards (8.3 ypc). Its hard to take Howard off the field as a runner at this point and, as Biggs points out, the 5’6” Cohen is unlikely to ever be the kind of pass blocker that you can leave in when you are expecting the blitz. He certainly isn’t right now.
There are plenty of things to worry about as Bears fans right now. How they are using Cohen is so far down the list it should barely register.
- Here’s another good question:
Why is John Fox on the hot seat while Ryan Pace’s job appears safe? The Bears have finished last for his entire tenure and look likely to finish last this year as well. The roster has few playmakers, an abysmal receiving corps, a secondary in need of a rebuild and a limited pass rush. Does anyone believe a different coach would get much better results with this roster? While Pace was not handed much in terms of a roster, the NFL operates on a much shorter cycle than other sports, and after 2 1/2 years a turnaround has not happened and does not appear imminent. In my opinion much of the goodwill centers around optimism you can still project onto Mitch Trubisky. But Pace gave up enormous value to get him and that already appears to be a mistake (Deshaun Watson). — Tim M., Parts Unknown
I don’t believe Pace has been unscathed when it comes to criticism and commentary this season. Fox is front and center every week and that certainly makes him an easier target for most people.
I continue to have a tough time with the idea that Fox cold be fired while Pace remains. How can you hold a coach responsible for losing without holding the person who supplied him with the players equally so? Especially in this case where only mediocre free agents and little immediate help in the draft was added to a 3-13 team?
I really don’t want to see either of these guys go. At least not before we see if there’s any progress before the end of the season. But my sense of justice tells me that Fox will getting a bit of a raw deal if he’s fired while Pace stays.
- Here’s another one:
What are your thoughts on the Bears drafting another quarter back next year? — @bearsdfense
I’m guessing a guy with the Twitter handle @bearsdfense would be happier if they used their draft picks on wide receivers, defensive backs, outside linebackers and maybe some linemen. I’d be stunned if they drafted a quarterback in 2018 and you should be too.
I don’t think I’d go that far. The odds of Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez returning aren’t great. They’ll sign a veteran backup of some type, for sure but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bear use a mid-to-late round pick on a guy that they like to develop as a third quarterback.
- And again:
What do you think the defensive backfield looks like next year? — @jpzimm
That’s a good question… The burning question is what happens at cornerback? Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller are in contract seasons and the Bears can move on from Marcus Cooper before a roster bonus is due to him in March. So as I wrote this past Sunday, all three are really in a contract year. My hunch is Fuller will want to explore the open market and see what is out there. He’s played OK this season with some ups and downs. Amukamara has been steady and has gotten a lot less action than Fuller. Two pass interference calls against him the last two weeks aren’t good but that happens. Cooper looks like he’s lacking confidence. What’s the solution? I think the Bears need to use a high draft pick (think first two rounds) on a cornerback, they need to sign one in free agency and come up with a third option. This will be an offseason project for sure.
If Amukamara is amenable, the Bears should be moving to try to sign him for a reasonable price right now before he hits the open market. Despite his continued drought in terms of generating turnovers, he’s been their best cover corner. My guess is that they let Cooper go.
Fuller has been better than expected but hasn’t looked good the last couple weeks and his tacking is suspect. His future with the Bears probably depends a lot on how he finishes the season. As it is, they might try to sign him on the cheap but why would he accept that kind of contract with them when he could get a fresh start for the same money somewhere else?
- Here’s the last one I want to address:
With the injury to Leonard Floyd and injury history of Pernell McPhee, the Bears appear to be lacking impact pash rushers yet again. Do you believe the Bears cut McPhee to save the $7 million against the cap in the offseason? Who are impact pass rushers the Bears may consider in draft and free agency? — @beardown7878
I don’t think the right knee injury Floyd suffered in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Lions has anything to do with what the club will decide to do with McPhee, who turns 29 next month. McPhee’s balky knees will make it difficult, in my opinion, for the Bears to consider him part of the future plan. He has a base salary of $7.2 million in 2018 with a $200,000 roster bonus due June 1 and a $175,000 workout bonus. The delayed roster bonus would give the Bears a little time to make a decision but I don’t know that the Bears will need that much time to filter through this one. McPhee is a part-time player at this point and has struggled with the knees since midway through the 2015 season.
Yeah, I can’t see the Bears paying this kind of money for McPhee. One thing that could do is ask him to take a pay cut. McPhee has occasionally provided a boost in spurts at critical times in the game. That certainly doesn’t make him worth $7 million. But he might still get as much or more from the Bears as a part time player than he would on the open market.
- The Denver Broncos fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy this week. Apparenty general manager John Elway felt that the offense was too complex.The firing makes me wonder if head coach John Fox would consider hiring McCoy in some capacity. McCoy was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the Broncos from 2009-2012. In 2009 Broncos QB Kyle Orton enjoyed a career year under McCoy and in 2010 the Broncos ranked seventh in passing and Orton ranked fourth in the league in passing yards per game. McCoy adapted to accommodate Tim Tebow’s skill-set in 2011.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Bears showed interest in McCoy. They asked the Broncos for permission to interview McCoy for the head coach position in 2012 after they fired Lovie Smith.
Dowell Loggains hasn’t really done anything to deserve to be fired but you wonder if the future of Mitch Trubisky might be in better hands with McCoy as the quarterback coach over the relatively inexperienced Dave Ragone.