- The Bears signed Bobby Massie to a four-year contract extension, preventing him from entering unrestricted free agency. The deal is reportedly worth more than $8 million per year. That’s a pretty good price for a solid right tackle in today’s NFL so Massie must have wanted to stay in Chicago.
Massie did a good job this year but I did wonder if the Bears were going to try to save some money by giving Rashaad Coward a shot at the right tackle job. Coward is a converted defensive line and and, though I’m sure the Bears like his future, he’s probably not ready to start, yet. He could be good depth though, probably on both sides, and it will be interesting to see how he does when he gets his chance to perform.
- Ryan Wilson at CBS sports thought quarterback Drew Lock showed well at the Senior Bowl in Mobile Alabama on Saturday.
“And while [Daniel] Jones gets the MVP hardware, those watching know that Lock was the real star. He started the game and was composed from the first snap when he rolled right only to find Montez Sweat in his face, made an arm-angle adjustment to find McLaurin for a 12-yard gain. First down. Two plays later Lock pump-faked the defense out of position and came back to NC State’s Jakobi Meyers across the middle, but Meyers couldn’t hang on.
“A series later and facing fourth-and-4, Lock rolled right and found Isabella for an eight-yard gain. It was poised, effortless – and something an NFL quarterback is expected to do. But it was the pass on second-and-10 from the South’s 26 that we’ll remember most.
#OhioState receiver Terry McLaurin drops this pass in the end zone. Drew Lock placed it in the right area for him, McLaurin can’t miss out on opportunities to make these type of plays. #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/aeqze3DmdZ
— Black and Gold Nation (@B_GNation1) January 26, 2019
“Yes, that’s an incompletion but Lock put it the only place he could and McLaurin couldn’t come up with it. That’s the throw scouts will be talking about.”
So let me say up front that I’m a proud University of Missouri alumnus.
Having said that, I love what I’ve been seeing from Drew Lock. He did, indeed, look good in the Senior Bowl. Missouri switched to a pro style offense this year and by the end of the year Lock looked pretty good in it to my eye.
I didn’t’ feel the same way about Blaine Gabbert or Chase Daniel when they came out. Both are from Missouri. So I think this is different.
Lock may be the quarterback to keep an eye on as we roll towards the draft. These quarterbacks tend to fly up the boards the closer you get and he could be the one that catches the most attention.
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:
“I understand Cody Parkey’s season was disappointing, but Mason Crosby had disappointing seasons in the past and the Packers kept him. Could this season be an anomaly for Parkey, and could the Bears look at how the Packers kept Crosby? Especially since the free-agent kickers available are bottom heavy. — John K., Parts Unknown
“The difference between Crosby and Parkey is huge, though. Crosby had a solid reputation in Green Bay and had earned the trust of general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy. Parkey was given trust by the Bears by virtue of the $9 million guarantee in his contract. He didn’t earn it. That trust has been lost. I don’t see a scenario in which the Bears bring back Parkey.”
I could be way off base here but I’m not so sure that Parkey doesn’t kick for the Bears next year. Yes, I know, the Today Show appearance by Parkey just days after blowing the potential game winning field goal against Philadelphia wasn’t a good look. But as Biggs himself has pointed out, its about performance on the field. Unless you are talking about a guy who did something that will take him off the field, its practically irrelevant.
Yes, Parkey had a miserable year. He missed 11 kicks. But six of those actually hit the upright, inches from being good kicks.
I was all in favor of getting rid of Robbie Gould at the time the Bears released him. He was obviously high maintenance and I had never warmed to his almost constant media presence (at least as kickers go). But I dislike missed kicks more than I dislike Gould and the position has been a disaster since he left while he has performed well elsewhere.
Let’s just say that I don’t want to look back 2 years from now and know that Parkey got together with a good kicking coach like John Carney made a few minor adjustments and became a very good kicker elsewhere.
As the questioner above implies, the Bears may be better off keeping Parkey into training camp and letting the best guy win. If Parkey performs well, I think all can be forgiven with the team. The worst thing you can do in this situation is let things that don’t really matter take precedence over performance.
- Biggs answers another question:
“What are the chances Matt Nagy gives up play-calling duties next year? When he looks back on his first year as head coach, do you think he will see some of the mistakes as rookie-head-coach mistakes or having too much to do? Mainly thinking about game management. — @adamdcharlton
I’d say there is little to no chance Nagy hands off play-calling duties to anyone on his staff, and I think doing so would be a mistake. Nagy’s offensive vision is one of his strengths, and the Bears reaped the benefits this season as they went from 29th in the league with 16.5 points per game to ninth with 26.3. That’s quite a jump in one year, and there is reason to believe the offense will be more potent in Year 2.”
“..Was he perfect with game management? No. There surely are some things he’d like to do differently. Some of those situations may be rookie mistakes as you call them. But I don’t think the Bears had glaring issues with game management, and as I have written before, when you’re simply viewing the game and not processing tons of information on the fly as a coach, it’s a lot easier to make snap decisions.”
I’d suggest that Nagy put a coach in the booth to advise him on some of those snap decisions, particularly those involving clock management. I don’t think Nagy was horrible with this but I think he is distracted and it might help to have someone else thinking these things through with a clear head.
- Biggs answers yet another one:
“I recall some excitement about Jonathan Bullard when the Bears drafted him a few years ago, but I don’t remember seeing Bullard having much of an impact this year. Should we be resigned to the fact that he is just a rotational guy and not an impact player? Or is he doing things on defense the casual fan doesn’t see? — Rich S., Barrington
“Bullard hasn’t panned out quite like the Bears hoped he would. He is a rotational player and was on the field for 28 percent of the snaps this season. Bullard would probably would be best in a 3-4 scheme. He can help them a bit, but as a third-round pick, it’s probably fair to say he’s been a bit of a disappointment. Entering the final year of his contract, maybe the Bears will get more out of him in 2019.”
I’m going to mildly disagree with Biggs on this one. Although Roy Robertson-Harris out performed him, I thought Bullard made some progress this year.
In watching him, along with Robertson-Harris, Bilal Nichols, Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving in training camp, my impression was that the Bears had more depth on defense than I had thought back in early July. That depth wasn’t tested as the Bears remained extremely healthy. During the season defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was obviously very hesitant to take Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd off the field and when he did, veteran Aaron Lynch was the first off the bench. As Biggs points out, the defensive ends got more time but only on a rotational basis.
Nevertheless, I’m going to say that it would have been very interesting to see what some of these guys could have done given the chance. My guess is that for the most part they would have all been solid but not spectacular performers. That wouldn’t make Bullard a great pick but it wouldn’t make him a bad one, either.
- In reading through this fluffy interview with former Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher at the Pro Bowl, one response stood out to me:
“[Q:] What did you want from your quarterback being on the other side of the ball?
“[A:] Don’t turn the ball over. Simple. Don’t turn the ball over. Take care of the football. Convert some third downs. And protect the ball. The No. 1 thing for us was always: Don’t put us in bad positions. If the quarterback and the offense could do that, we were happy. We could tolerate being put on a short field every once in a while.”
I totally get this. And its very evident that Nagy got it during the year as well. But I’m not sure its the right attitude for the team overall.
As the year wore on, Nagy got more and more conservative with his play calling, particularly as opponents played more and more zone defense to prevent the big play against the Bears. Nagy has the NFL’s #1 defense and he didn’t want to turn the ball over and put them in a bad spot.
The problem is that football is a game of aggression and it has to be played aggressively. This is especially true against good teams like the Eagles. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of Mitch Trubisky after that game but the truth is, Trubisky’s hands were tied. He was forced to embrace the role of game manager because that’s what the team wanted.
To be frank, the Bears flat out had a better team than the Eagles did. But Nagy played it close to the vest offensively and let them hang around. That’s really why it came down to one missed field goal.
Next year we should all hope Nagy chooses to play aggressively and attacks on both sides of the ball. Its the only way that the team will really play up to its potential.
Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes Mitch Trubisky as he addresses the inevitable comparisons between himself and Patrick Mahomes:
“But even as Mahomes has surged ahead as the consensus best quarterback from that 2017 class, Trubisky makes it clear he’s trying not to get caught up in an ill-advised chase or a competition that doesn’t really exist.
’I learned that isn’t something that’s ever going to help you, when you measure against other people,’ Trubisky said. ’Just measure against yourself. If you stay locked in and try to be the best you can possibly be, that’s when you’ll have the most success. But if you get caught up in the comparisons, that’s when you get distracted and you’re not as focused as you should be.’”
This sounds like the right attitude and it is certainly one that fans and media should emulate as they examine Trubisky’s performance.
I’ve heard a lot of talk, mostly outside of Chicago, criticizing Bears general manager Ryan Pace for taking Trubisky before Mahomes. This is total nonsense.
For one thing, Trubisky isn’t done developing. Most of those people haven’t actually studied Trubisky on a week-to-week basis. If they had, they would have seen very steady growth over the course of the year.
“’Nobody truly knows how far that kid’s come this year more than me,” [Bears head coach Matt] Nagy said. “I’m looking forward to the future because the city of Chicago is lucky to have that kid at quarterback.
“We threw a lot at him early on. We threw a bunch at him, and he didn’t really have a big library into seeing a bunch of different defenses. So he was trying to learn our offense and then pair it up with the defenses he was going to see. And some defensive coordinators, they did a good job of throwing a bunch of different stuff at us this year, so we got to see a lot of different things. And what he did was early in the year, it was maybe a next play, ‘Hey, let’s forget that,’ and he grew there. So he got better in regards to (forgetting) about what just happened the previous play.”
And Trubisky is very likely nowhere near finished growing.
Will he ever be as good as Mahomes? As of now, I kind of doubt it. I’ve never seen a quarterback be so physically gifted and so accurate at the same time. He plays the game on schedule almost flawlessly at times and yet he can go off schedule and make spectacular plays when necessary. He could turn out to be the best ever before he’s done.
But having said that, overall, for the record, you can now consider me to be a Trubisky guy. When this year started, I knew it would take time before we could draw any conclusions about Trubisky. In fact, I honestly wasn’t too sure we’d be able to do it even by the end of this year. But I’m reasonably sure now.
I think Trubisky’s floor is above average quarterback because, as he plays in his first Pro Bowl, that’s what he is right now. Trubisky settled down as the season wore on, he got more comfortable with what he was seeing and his accuracy got better with that. The wild throws that went miles over the heads of receivers had virtually disappeared by the end of the year. By all accounts he was reading the field much better than he was at the beginning of the year and there’s every expectation that he’ll get better at it as he progresses in the offense in 2019. Certainly that is Nagy’s expectation.
“’By the end of the year, he was reading (his progressions) 1-2-3-run,’ Nagy said. ’That, he conquered. Now, I think level two next year is going to be him really recognizing pre-snap what he’s about to see from these defenses.’”
I think it’s very possible Trubisky could eventually grow to be something really special. Right now I’m thinking his ceiling is Drew Brees. In my wildest dreams, Peyton Manning. But I’m definitely beginning to see a little Drew Brees there.
And, for now, that should be good enough for anyone.
Kevin Fishbain at the The Athletic reviews the Bears offseason needs:
“Greatest offseason need: Running back. The good thing for the Bears is it’s kind of difficult to peg one major need. Last offseason it was clearly wide receiver. In 2016, they had to upgrade at inside linebacker. This depends on which free agents are re-signed, but running back isn’t an issue of a starter with a contract expiring. It held the offense back to not have more production from the position. Jordan Howard was sixth in the NFL in carries (remember how everyone wanted him to get the ball more?), yet his 3.7-yard rushing average was third-worst among the top 20 rushers. Only 7.2 percent of his carries went for 10-plus yards, which was the lowest for a back with at least 180 carries. Now, fulfilling that need could involve a few things. Maybe Howard completely changes his body and game for next year. Maybe the Bears think he’s fine and it was an offensive-line issue. More likely, though, they address it in the draft or free agency and put more speed in the backfield.”
I agree that the Bears need a running back. But I’m not so sure that its Jordan Howard they should be looking to replace.
Howard had an off year, no doubt about it. Although I thought his vision wasn’t as good earlier in the year, that improved as the season wore on. What did not improve was his explosiveness. Howard had one or two runs where he broke completely in the clear that should have been touchdowns but weren’t because he was simply too slow.
Howard will never be a burner. But he didn’t have this problem in 2017 when he was very impressive on some runs, finding cracks and bursting through them before the viewer even knew they were there. This leads me to wonder if he was hurt in 2018 and he definitely had that look about him.
I think a little patience with Howard might go a long way. The Bears patience with Taquan Mizzell, however, should have run out a long, long time ago. Mizzell was given chance after chance to do something in the Bears offense this year, presumably because head coach Matt Nagy wanted more of a “do it all” utility back who had more power than Tarik Cohen and more mobility than Howard. Whatever the reason, he was a miserable failure.
If Howard was, indeed, injured this year there’s every reason to believe he’ll come back stronger and look more like the 2017 version of himself in 2019. If so, the Bears should be looking for a replacement for Mizzell’s role in the offense.
- Looked to me like the Eagles thought they might be able to spread the Bears out and run up the middle. It didn’t work.
- What did work was the mid range passing game. The Eagles burned the Bears passing over the middle and up the seam.
- On a related note, Zach Ertz might be the best tight end the Bears played all year. It showed as he caused some trouble and had a good game.
- Alshon Jeffery had a good game as well. He seemed like he wanted to show the Chicago crowd something.
- I thought the Eagles did a pretty good job of protecting Nick Foles all things considered. As promised, Foles generally got the ball out early.
- When he didn’t get the ball out early and when he threw deep he ran into the occasional problem. Two interceptions in the first half kept the Bears in the game.
- Khalil Mack looked a step slow all night. Either he wasn’t feeling well or he didn’t show up. This reminded me of the Dolphins game.
- As expected, the Bears generally did a decent job against the run in this game.
- Some poor tackling in the fourth quarter reaered its ugly head and hurt the Bears as the game wound down. Some of those guys might have been getting tired.
- The Bears started with a few good runs but the Eagles defensive line toughened up and it was rough going from there on out. Seemed like the Bears were trying a lot of trap blocks to take advantage of the Eagles aggressive, penetrating defensive line.
- It was a lot of dink and dunk out there for the Bears. I understand the need to protect the ball when you have a good defense but I wonder if they are going too far. I’m not sure you are going to beat really good teams without an aggressive offense very often. And the Eagles are a good team.
- Still wondering why the Bears insist on playing Taquan Mizzell.
- What is the deal with Michael Bennett’s shoulder pads? They look like they should be on a 9 year old.
- Supposedly the Eagles defensive backs were all hurt and the position was a weakness. They sure looked good to me.
- On a related note, nice adjustment by the Bears by picking on Avonte Maddox in the second half with some double moves and some other trickery. He was very successful in the first half by being mighty aggressive. The Bears turned it against him.
- Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth did a nice job as usual of pointing out the major points during the game. Always enjoy listening to those guys. Collinsworth is a reasonably good teacher and I always feel like I learn something.
- Well, Cody Parkey finally killed them. Pat O’Donnell had a nice punt out of bounds that trapped the Eagles on the one yard line in the first quarter. I’ve often wondered why more punters don’t use the old “coffin corner” kick. Having said that, a short kick with 5 minutes left in the game set the Eagles up with a short field. The Bears are going to have to take a close look at punter in the offseason.
- Drop weren’t a major issue in the game.
- Weird play at the end of the first half when Anthony Miller caught a pass and fumbled. The play was initially ruled and incomplete pass and no one recovered the ball after the whistle. Everyone expected the bears to get the ball at the point of the fumble. Instead they got a loss of down and the ball was moved back to the initial line of scrimmage. Here is the explanation. The referees let a lot of contact go in the defensive backfield this game. There could have been a lot more calls on both sides than there were. I guess that’s playoff football. We haven’t seen it around here in so long we wouldn’t recognize it.
- Turnovers kept the Bears in this game in the first half with two interceptions, one by Roquan Smith and one by Adrian Amos. The Bears weren’t burned by turnovers but they played so conservative on offense through three quarters protecting the ball that you wonder if the Eagles came out ahead.
- Its the NFL. Nobody died.