An Assessment of the Competition for the Third and Fourth Tight End Spots

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“How many tight ends do you see the Bears carrying to the 53-man roster? Is Bradley Sowell a roster lock since the Bears have pretty much asked him to alter his entire career to match their need for a Y tight end? — @gumm006

My best guess is four tight ends will make the 53-man roster with Sowell having an edge over undrafted rookie Ian Bunting for the final spot behind Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker. I would not describe Sowell as a “lock,” and his contract certainly doesn’t give him any kind of protection because of guaranteed money. The Bears would not promise him anything in asking him to change positions either.

I think Bradley Sowell is a virtual lock to make the roster on this team. Head coach Matt Nagy used a third offensive tackle to block last year in a variety of short yardage situations, especially near the goal line. I think he wants to do that again this year with Sowell but in situations where he’s more versatile as a receiving threat rather than the target on a one time gadget play.

The guy I’m wondering about is Braunecker. He’s a four phase special teamer but based upon his performance in last week’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, Bunting looks like he has a lot more to offer the offense.

Bunting had big highs and big lows over the course of the game and he needs to show more consistency. That might make him a practice squad candidate. But I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Braunecker will be a surprise cut if the Bears think Bunting has improved enough and/or they don’t think they can get him through waivers to the practice squad.

Aaron Rogers Undermines His Head Coach Every Time He Opens His Mouth

Mike Florio at on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers characterizing critical comments that he’s creating “outside noise” as “click bait”:

“If Rodgers doesn’t want to be ’put in that news cycle,’ he should quit saying things that naturally flow into that news cycle. When he complains to Mike Silver of the NFL that Rodgers wants more freedom at the line of scrimmage than the [head coach Matt] LaFleur offense gives him, Rodgers puts himself in that news cycle. When Rodgers complains to reporters about joint practices and, more surprisingly, specifically says it’s not ’smart’ to have close-to-live kickoff drills that are sure to catch the attention of the NFL Players Association, Rodgers puts himself in that news cycle.

It more than that. Rogers is using the media as a weapon to undermine the head coach.

He wants more freedom at the line of scrimmage? He doesn’t work it out with LaFleur internally. Instead, he runs to the media and complains. The next thing you know, Green Bay fans are saying, “Yeah. He’s a veteran, he should be able to change the play.”

That adds pressure on LaFleur to change his policy, even though he knows the way he runs his offense will work if given a chance. In the mean time, the whole issue undermines his authority with both the fans and the media.

Rogers is playing LaFleur and their fans like a fiddle. And he’s using the media to do it.

Fortunately, the media knows when its being used though they didn’t bother to try to point it out while former head coach Mike McCarthy was the victim, at least some are apparently trying to give LaFleur a little bit more of a chance. For now.

The Montgomery Dilemma: To Play or Not To Play. That is the Question.

Adan Jahns at The Athletic comments upon risers and fallers on the Bears roster after the first preseason game. In particular, he highlighted the situation of running back David Montgomery:

The Bears’ exhibition loss against the Panthers Thursday night produced a healthy dilemma for coach Matt Nagy.

Do the Bears really need to see more of running back David Montgomery in the preseason?

It wouldn’t be surprising if Nagy is now leaning toward “no” after his prized rookie totaled 46 yards on six touches and scored on an impressive 7-yard touchdown run in his NFL debut.

Montgomery. like most rookie running backs, has to learn to pass protect if he wants to play. Not that he did a bad job. But all of these guys need work on it because they did it so rarely i college. This is why Jordan Howard didn’t start out of the gate. They can’t just roll these guys out there and get Trubisky killed, no matter how well they run.

Montgomery will start out of the gate or at least get a lot of playing time. That is clear.

I think that makes it all the more important that he get as much practice protecting the quarterback before then as possible. Yes, its a risk. But its better to risk injury to Montgomery in the preseason than to risk losing your quarterback to a rookie mistake once the season begins.

Bears David Montgomery Strength? He’s All Football Player.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the performance of Bears rookie running back David Montgomery last night:

“Six touches for rookie running back David Montgomery was all that was needed to feel really good about him — and the role he’s going to play in this offense.

“Montgomery already looked the part in training camp, running hard through tackles in some rare live action in Bourbonnais. But a chance to see him go against the Panthers, albeit a brief chance, was enough to confirm what was expected. Montgomery looked really good in the open field. He looked good in the low red zone, running to daylight after a jump-cut at the line of scrimmage on a 7-yard touchdown. He looked natural catching the ball. If you were seeking validation that general manager Ryan Pace made the right move in paying a pretty hefty price to trade up and select Montgomery, this was a heck of a start.”

My first impression of Montgomery is similar to what my first impression of former Bears running back Jordan Howard was – he isn’t going to be running away from guys very often. And unlike Howard, Montgomery isn’t particularly big though his center of gravity is lower to the ground than I thought it was. But, similar to what I eventually concluded about Howard, I can see why the Bears like him. Montgomery is a football player. And that’s probably more important than superior physical talent.

Don’t get my wrong. Talent is important and you have to have at least some of it to succeed. But you don’t have to be the fastest guy on the field. In Howard’s case, his ability to find small cracks in the line and to slip through to make gains was a huge strength for a big back. It looks to me like Montgomery has some of that vision when he bounces the ball outside. Defenses are going to have to play the run with discipline whenever Montgomery is on the field or he’s going to burn them for big gains.

You can also see where Montgomery could succeed in the passing game. Get him into space and his quickness and ability to break tackles starts to show itself. He’s got instincts and he runs with effort.

Yeah, the guy probably is going to get caught from behind a few times this year. But overall, I like what I see and I think Montgomery’s strengths could far out weight his weaknesses. I see a guy who could quite possibly match the production of a Matt Forte as a very good running back that could provide yet another aspect to what is looking like its going to be a versatile offense.

The Bears Kicking Competition Has Many Subtle Aspects to Consider

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“Is there any benefit, cap-wise or other, to the Bears keeping one kicker or another? — @steveoatms

“There is no way the Bears will base the decision on the kicker for this season on money or cap space. Fry and Pineiro are each signed for $495,000 this season and would count that much against the cap, so there is no difference in that regard. I can’t see a kicker who would become an option for them between now and the start of the season who would cost a lot. Robbie Gould was never an option as the 49ers franchise-tagged him.

“Everything I’ve read so far from camp has both kickers performing well. But if it comes down to a little more leg strength or slightly better consistency, which would the coaching staff choose? — @chriscremer5

“In that scenario, I think the Bears would choose the kicker with better consistency. What is more important? A kicker who is money from 30 to, say, 45 yards or a kicker who has a better chance of banging one through from 55? I think you go with the more consistent guy for the kicks that are going to come up much more often. But it’s hard to believe a final decision will come down to issues that black and white.”

There is one aspect of this kicker competition that Biggs didn’t mention. The Bears give up a seventh round pick to the Raiders if Pineiro is on the Bears roster for 5 games. They’ll happily give that up if he works out. But it is an issue if all else is equal.

There is, however, one subtle advantage that Pineiro has. Pineiro apparently won the job with the Raiders before going on injured reserve last season. That means that the Raiders liked him. That can have an effect upon the decision making process. Somewhere in the back of the minds of general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy, they are probably thinking, “Well, the Raiders liked him. So shouldn’t we like him, too?”

That’s not a major factor – these guys definitely have their own minds. But if its close, it could be the thing that tips the scales.