- Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic evaluates the Bears’ tight end options the combine. He voices the cautious concerns some Bears fans have over the possibility of Drafting Dayton’s Adam Trautman:
“And that brings us to another commonly-held thought in Indianapolis: regardless of whether he’d fit or how good he could be in the NFL, it’d be stunning if the Bears took Trautman. One tight end named Adam from a small school in Ohio is enough for one front office.”
Fishbain is referring, of course to Adam Shaheen, who the Bears drafted out of Division II Ashland in 2017. Shaheen has been a major disappointment and, therefore, he is a big reason why the Bears are looking for more tight end help again this year.
Potential public relations problems aside, I’m not sure that the experience with Shaheen should keep the Bears from taking Trautmen. For one thing, Shaheen was coming out a year early whereas Trautmen is a senior. Amongst other things, this gave him a chance to compete in the Senior Bowl against top Division I prospects where he more than held his own. In fact, he impressed.
- • Fishbain also collected respnoses from tight ends when they were asked about their strengths:
“For teams that will evaluate how players respond to certain questions in their interviews, here’s a sampling from the combine on their strengths…
“[Cole] Kmet: “I think it’s my ability to stretch the field, get open and win one-on-one matchups. What I really have to work on is my blocking technique, my hands, all that type of stuff. That’s something I’m still trying to improve on today.”
“Harrison Bryant: “For sure. My willingness to block is all there. I’ve always had that. I enjoy blocking and I feel like that’s a big thing from playing offensive tackle because growing up that’s all I did was block people, so it’s definitely there and I enjoy it and I feel like I do a pretty good job at it.”
“Hunter Bryant: “I think I can create a lot of mismatches because I can be moved around so much and all over the field in so many different positions, so I think that’s something unique to me. And I’m excited to go into the NFL and do it.”
“[Albert] Okwuegbunam: “Just my ability to create mismatches all over the field. Whether it is in the red zone and using my athleticism to get open or just be able to stretch the field with my speed, or just anywhere to pick up a first down. As well as my versatility and the balance to my game — being able to be used effectively in the run game as well.”
“Trautman: “Just a relentless style of play along with an edge. Every level I’ve been at, I’ve been not good enough. Coming out of high school, you’re not good enough to play FBS. And then going to Dayton, no one’s ever really played in the NFL — especially drafted since the ’70s. I’m here to keep fighting that and always use that edge and carry it with me.”
“[Thaddeus] Moss: “I think (I have) the want-to. That’s the biggest thing when it comes to blocking, period. You’ve gotta want to put your nose in there and get physical and block. The tight end position, you should be able to do everything the coach asked you to do. If that’s go block a D-end, if that’s wham a three-technique or a shade-technique, go lead up on a linebacker, I think the want-to is the biggest thing when it comes to the tight end position.”
Of all of these responses, the ones that stuck out to me were the last two. I get the impression that Trautman and, especially Moss, get it. It helps to have talent. But in the NFL everyone has talent. Particularly when it comes to blocking and playing defense in the NFL, “want to” becomes a big factor.
Trautmen and Moss sound to me like the guys most likely to play with the testicular fortitude necessary to succed.
- • Jason Lieser at the Chicago Sun-Times comments upon the Bears reported pursuit of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in a trade:
“Sniffing around for Dalton is the first sign that Bears general manager Ryan Pace grasps reality, though, and is unwilling to bet the 2020 season — and his employment — on [Bears quarterback Mitch] Trubisky. There’s a big difference between trading for someone such as Dalton and bringing in a clear backup a la Chase Daniel. The Bears wouldn’t bother with Dalton unless they were ready to hold a legitimate competition for the job.”
I think calling whoever the Bears bring in “legitimate competition” is going a bit too far. I doubt very much that “legitimate” will apply.
The Bears want Trubisky to succeed badly and he’s going to be given every opportunity to do so. The Bears would have to be very disappointed in the results of Trubisky’s offseason work and he would have to be very, very bad in the preseason not to be the starter when the season begins.
I think the correct term for whoever the Bears bring in is likely “insurance policy”. If Trubisky starts 202 like he started 2019, he won’t last 4 games before being replaced by whoever the Bears sign.
- • Peter King at profootballtalk.com gives us 30 bits of buzz from the NFL Combine:
“4. Anonymous quote of the combine. From an agent with vet quarterbacks in the mix, when I said I had no idea how this QB game of musical chairs will end up: “The problem is, there’s way more quarterbacks than chairs.” I can see that.
“My prediction: Five quarterbacks will be immensely pissed off a month from today, with a depressed market value for their services. Or no market value.”
I can totally see this happening. It’s a crazy year for veteran free agent quarterbacks with 8 reasonably good ones making nfl.com’s top 101 free agent list.
If I were the Bears, I’d seriously consider holding off signing veteran “competition” for Trubisky. Letting the first wave of free agency pass, then seeing who is left my allow them to find some surprising names still not associated with a team. Which is exactly what King expects the Patriots to do:
“I think, judging by history, the Patriots won’t rush into the quarterback market if they lose Tom Brady. I’ll tell you how I see a New England-minus-Brady scenario playing out: New England goes through the draft, and maybe picks a quarterback (I doubt in the first round) and maybe does not. But after the draft, there will be four or five vets looking for a landing spot. Will one—Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Case Keenum, someone else—still unsigned by May 1 be interested in a one-year, low-money deal to recharge a career and have the chance to play for the six-time Super Bowl champs?”
The Bears probably have the best back up opportunity in the NFL right now with Trubisky being on shaky ground.
- • King keeps going:
“21. Toughest TV schedule in years. Imagine being on NFL schedulemeister Howard Katz’s four-person team that puts the schedule together every year. You’re six weeks from having to release the slate, and you don’t know if you should have the Patriots slated for five national dates or three because of the Tom Brady thing, and because you don’t know the Brady whereabouts, you don’t know if the Titans or Raiders or Chargers or Colts should max out on national dates . . . or if maybe they should have two or three. You have the regular unknowns of the season—about the Rams bouncing back, about the fate of the Steelers, about who will end up with the franchise QBs in this draft—but this year just seems harder to forecast because of the free-agent dominoes, none of which will fall for at least 17 days. As an exec for one of those teams I’ve just mentioned told me here: ‘How do you create a prime-time schedule not knowing who half the quarterbacks will be?'”
I know. Let’s just keep the hard working people of Chicago up all night by putting the Bears on as often as possible regardless of the schedule.
Which they will. They’ll get as many games onto prime time as early in the season as they can get away with in case they start losing later on.
- • Adam Jahns at The Athletic addresses some of the Bears’ non-quarterback concerns. He’s concerned about the offensive line:
“One team executive suggested that the Bears lost an edge on their offensive line when it became clear that Kyle Long wasn’t the same player he once was. Long was eventually placed on injured reserve. After that, the executive said the Bears’ line isn’t impressive or physical enough. They lack some ‘nasty.’
“That’s also why Castillo was hired.
“‘He’s going to push them to the brink,’ [head coach Matt] Nagy said.
“Castillo has to. Tackles Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie, guard James Daniels and center Cody Whitehair all return. But the Bears are expected to be active on the guard market in free agency.”
I’m worried about the Castillo hire.
When the Bears hired Harry Heistand I wondered why, if Heistand was do good, he was coaching at Notre Dame rather with another professional franchise. Now we have Castilo and I have similar concerns.
There’s little doubt Castillo was a top notch offensive Iine coach with the Eagles from 1995-2010 until his ill-fated forray into the other side of the ball when he became their defensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012. Since then he was had stints with the Ravens and the Bills before being dismissed by each franchise. He was out of work in 2019.
I’m not sure exactly what the problem has been since Castillo left the Eagles in 2012 but it troubles me. We’ll see how he does with the Bears.
- • Mike Florio at pro football talk.com thinks the Raiders are eyeing Eagles back up quarterback Nate Sudfeld:
“A preseason broken wrist wiped out Sudfeld’s 2019 season, one that saw him enter the year as the primary backup to Carson Wentz. Operating under a restricted free agent tender of $3.095 million, the 2016 sixth-rounder is now eligible to hit the open market.”
Lots of people like Sudfeld an awful lot. He’s only 26 years old. If he doesn’t get a starting opportunity, he might consider the Bears as his best opportunity to see playing time as a potential Trubisky replacement.
This would be exactly the kind of move you could see Pace making if he likes him.
- • King continues:
“2. Brady, Brady, Brady. “Tom Brady,” one well-connected NFL exec told me, “is the one domino paralyzing the entire NFL right now.” That’s because of the realization among teams here that Brady actually might leave New England. Before this past week, I’d say most people in the league thought Brady might flirt with other teams but eventually finish where he started and where he belongs. But by week’s end, there was rising informed speculation the Raiders, Chargers, Colts and Titans (though that cause would be hurt if Derrick Henry leaves in free agency) could be in play for Brady.”
This all might be true. But the problem is that, to my eye, Brady’s really not that good right now. I think that the Patriots have seen this and they aren’t in the habit of making mistakes.
I would still say the odds are good that Patriots owner Bob Kraft steps in and stops this. But I’m really not that sure that he should.
One Final Thought
And now, just because I can. From Florio:
“In a video that, per a league source, reflects a Q&A conducted by Combine staff and not by any specific team, Washington tackle Trey Adams is asked, ’If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?’
“He pauses, considers the question, twists his mouth for a moment, and sheepishly says, ‘Bigger d-ck.‘ Then he decides to say it more clearly, confidently: ‘Bigger d-ck.’”