The Mysteries of the Bears Interior Offensive Line. And Other Points of View.

“Do you think it’s more likely the Bears draft a quarterback in Round 2 or trade down and recoup picks? — joshua726_gs “Choosing solely between those two options, my hunch is the Bears would be more likely to trade down with one of their second-round picks than draft a quarterback in Round 2. As I said above, they’re in win-now mode with the defense they have, and I expect them to address the 2020 quarterback situation via free agency or a trade. Maybe they would explore a quarterback later in the draft, but unless there is a guy on the board whom coach Matt Nagy is completely in love with, I don’t see how they choose a quarterback in the
second round.” “If Jalen Hurts is there for the Bears at No. 43 or 50, why would they not pull the trigger? What’s the knock on this guy? He’s everything Matt Nagy needs for this type of offense, from being able to extend plays to making correct reads using RPOs.— @king8off “Hurts had a solid performance at the scouting combine and has a ton of college experience at the highest level playing in a lot of big games. He has terrific character and in some ways compares to Deshaun Watson
as a gym-rat kind of guy with a true passion for the game. But scouts I’ve talked to have questions about Hurts’ ability to excel as a pocket passer. I
don’t know how the Bears feel about him. I doubt he’s off the board before the Bears pick, but you never know because it takes only one team to fall in love with a player. Hurts could have a lengthy pro career, but I haven’t talked to anyone who views him as a front-line starter. Keep in mind he played with some of the top skill-position talent in college football at Alabama and Oklahoma, so he always has been surrounded with great players.” “Are Cam Newton and Derek Carr on [Bears GM] Ryan Pace’s
radar? — @thegeorgeyou “If the Raiders made Carr available, I see a possibility the Bears would be interested. The Raiders aren’t going to ship out Carr unless they first replace him with a player they view as an upgrade. A high-stakes game of musical chairs will take place for quarterbacks once the new league year begins. Newton has serious questions regarding his health. Is his shoulder healed? He didn’t throw the ball well last year after he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. That’s also a serious injury.”
All of these are sensible responses but I do hope they take a quarterback somewhere in the draft.  Like almost all GMs and every one the Bears have had for the last 20 years, Pace has said multiple times that he’s like to take one every year.  The problem is that all of those GMs had multiple immediate needs and quarterback picks beyond the first round are part
of future planning. It take discipline to take a quarterback and plan for the future of the franchise when you are in “win now” mode.  The Bears have struggled to find one with the proper attitude and vision to do it. As far as Hurts goes, the question is out of line with reality.  Hurts is unlikely to go before the third round and probably won’t go until the fourth.  That’s where likely backups with an outside chance to start generally go. It looks very unlikely that Derek Carr is going to be traded.  Via
“The Raiders coach [Jon Gruden], appearing recently at an
event in the team’s new hometown, bristled at a question about the team’s interest in the six-time Super Bowl winner. “‘You’re killing me, man,’ Gruden said, via John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. ‘We love our quarterback. Our quarterback’s a really good player, Derek Carr. I want to reiterate that to everybody here in Vegas.
We’ve got a good, young quarterback, and the film, the statistics and analytics prove it.'” “The Raiders previously have been linked to [Tom] Brady, nearly a month has passed without any significant reporting linking Brady to Las Vegas. If the Raiders were plotting a run at Brady, more r ports to that
effect likely would have emerged, especially since Gruden (as former Gruden pupil Chris Simms has surmised in the past) would be unable to not bounce the possibility off of others, who would then be tempted to tell a reporter or two that Gruden is talking about chasing Brady.'”
“Don’t be surprised if …: Vic Beasley becomes a top target for Ryan Pace. Beasley was drafted eighth in 2015, one pick after the Bears chose Kevin White. Beasley’s best season came in 2016 whe he recorded 15½ sacks, earned first-team All-Pro honors and helped the Falcons win the NFC. Beasley had only 18 sacks total in the three seasons since then. But some
believe his top-level potential could be unlocked again if he lands in a new place with a coaching staff and teammates who quickly learn which buttons to push.”
Beasley reminds me a bit more of current Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd than I’m comfortable with.  We’ve heard every year about Floyd’s potential and every year the sacks don’t come.  If Floyd was ever going to break through, it should have been last year when Khalil Mack was
frequently triple teamed on the other side. Still, at least Beasley has had one good season.  And he wasn’t always used in the proper way in the Falcons scheme under head coach Dan Quinn.  Beasley might benefit from starting at linebacker in the Bears 3-4 base.  And he’s almost certainly be cheaper than the $13 million the Bears are currently set to pay Floyd.
“Biggest storylines: Even with an obvious glaring need at the position, it’s
difficult to imagine the Bears will be willing to engage in the high-priced bidding wars that likely will ensue for players such as [Austin] Hooper.
Don’t forget: Trey Burton still has two years remaining on the $32 million contract he signed in 2018, with the Bears on the hook for $4 million guaranteed and up to $6.8 million overall in 2020. Still, for a sputtering offense that got next to nothing out of the tight end position last season, the Bears have to remain aggressive in free agency and the draft to make certain they upgrade their talent and depth. A patient approach in free agency might prove most prudent. As the market settles and the second wave of free agency begins, the Bears might be able to find a reliable
veteran at a bargain price. It also will be interesting to see how the pursuit of [Eric] Ebron unfolds leaguewide. The 26-year-old tight end had a career year in 2018 with 66 catches, 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. “Don’t be surprised if …: Adam Shaheen is not on the Bears roster come September. Shaheen is set to enter the final season of his rookie deal with an uphill climb to stick around. He has been injury prone and unreliable through his first three seasons, totaling just 26 catches for 249 yards while missing 21 games. That production is hardly befitting of a player selected with the 45th pick in the 2017 draft. And the Bears made clear when last season ended that availability would be a major focus in their evaluation.”
First I agree that Shaheen could well be off the roster in September.  Unlike Burton, Shaheen has never been able to perform even when he was healthy. In contrast, however, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the Bears pursue Hooper and rumor has it that they are interested.  Pace has an aggressive nature and, right or wrong, going after Hooper looks to me like the kind of thing he would do.
“Do the Bears think they made the right decision by letting [former Bears safety Adrian] Amos go and signing Ha Ha Clinton Dix? Of course economics played a part in the decision. — Joe S.  “Yes, they do — and everyone should feel the same. Adrian Amos is a good starter but he isn’t a great one. With safety Eddie Jackson eventually getting a $58.4 million extension this offseason, spending significant money on Amos last year wouldn’t have been wise. There is only so much to go around for one position. “Playmakers get paid first too. In his career, Amos has five interceptions, 26 pass breakups and three forced fumbles in 76 games, which includes 72 starts. One of those interceptions came against the Bears in Week 1 of last season. Jackson is different; he’s elite. He has 10 interceptions, 26 pass breakups and four forced fumbles in 46 games.”
Agreed. Having said that, its worth pointing out that this wasn’t a bad signing for the
Packers.  They knew exactly what they were getting and they got exactly what they wanted. Amos wasn’t ever going to be a turnover generating machine.  What he does do really well is his job in terms of getting into the right place at the right time.  That’s what they wanted.  A reliable back stop that would allow they to do what they needed to do with their scheme in front of him.
  • Continuing on the subject of safety, Jahns and Kevin Fishbain address the position as they consider which of the departing veteran free agents should be resigned
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix “Age: 27 “2019 stats: 16 games, 16 starts; 78 tackles, two interceptions, five passes
defensed, two fumble recoveries “Should he be re-signed? “Jahns: Yes but also no. Clinton Dix is a starter, but his return depends on other options. The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia recently paired the Bears with safety Vonn Bell. I agree with it, too. The Bears need to add a safety that will allow Eddie Jackson to roam free on the back end. He didn’t do that enough in 2019. If the Bears do bring back Clinton-Dix — he seemed to hint at it on Twitter — then defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano needs to find ways to maximize what Jackson does best.  “Fishbain: Maybe. The Bears liked the pairing of Clinton-Dix and Jackson. The two former Alabama safeties are friends and enjoyed playing together, and Clinton-Dix’s tweet would suggest it’s a possibility. There’s also the thought of getting someone that complements Jackson’s center-field abilities better like Bell or Kenny Vaccaro or Tony Jefferson … or a draft pick, which would be cheaper than Clinton-Dix. But if the former first-rounder is willing — again — to play for the Bears at a reasonable price, why not?”
I’m really not sure why the answers were so equivocal here.  The answer is a flat “no”.   As Jahns hints, the Bears tried to make it work with Clinton-Dix last year by moving Jackson to strong safeties.  This was a down grade at both positions.  Clinton-Dix isn’t as good as Jackson at free safety and Jackson wasn’t as effective in the box. The Bears need to let go of Clinton-Dix and sign or draft a box safety so they can move Jackson back where he belongs.
Isaiah Irving (restricted free agent) “Age: 25 “2019 stats: 13 games, zero starts; 10 tackles, one QB hit, four tackles on special teams “Should he be re-signed? “Jahns: Yes. He’s a young player and the cost will be low. The better question is whether he’ll make the roster after training camp. There will be new competition for him. “Fishbain: Yes. The Bears won’t tender Irving, but will likely re-sign him on a cheaper contract like DeAndre Houston-Carson did last season. He can still compete to be a rotational edge rusher and special teams contributor. The OLB spot is too thin to not bring him back.”
No.   I have been a fan of Irving and I’ve thought for a couple years that he might develop into something.  But the fact of the matter is that he hasn’t and if he was going to, he would have done it by now. The Beas need to move on and find someone to fill that roster spot who still has the potential to become a future starter.
“Offensive guard “The Bears have a crater-sized hole at right guard. Kyle Long was physically unable to perform his job last year and the contingency plans the team had at the position faltered. Rashaad Coward was given an extended look and
showed he is not a viable NFL starter on offense. “It’s curious that the team continued to play Coward and didn’t take a look at Alex Bars, whom they elevated to the active roster to keep from signing with the New England Patriots. They gained no observable data about Bars’ ability to play in the NFL, which was a miscalculation by the front office and coaching staff.”
What the Bears do at the interior offensive line positions in free agency and the draft will be fascinating. Right now there are a lot of unknowns.  What do they think of Bars?  Did they hold him out all of last year because he wasn’t fully recovered from knee surgery in 2018?  Or do they have doubts about his ability, especially with his former offensive line coach at Notre Dame, Harry Hiestand, not with the Bears any more. What do they think of Coward?  He seemed to get better as the year wore on but was he good enough for the Bears to depend upon him to start in 2020?  Most observers don’t seem to think so. Finally, what do the Bears think of current left guard James Daniels and current center Cody Whitehair?  They tried to move Whitehair to guard and Daniels to center last year but the experiment failed and they switch positions again mid-season.  Whitehair is an excellent center and the Bears have said that they want to leave him there.  But they made that switch once for a reason and it would surprise no one to see him move back to guard to make room for a
new player. I have to figure the Beas will add someone to the group on the interior of the line.  Former Lions guard Graham Glasgow is hitting free agency but a cheaper choice might be former Broncos center Conner McGovern. McGovern played right guard his first two years in Denver and started at center the past two. He’s rated #78 on’s top 101 free agent list and he should come at a reasonable price. It’s a weak draft for guards but its thought to be a good year for the center position. In any case, what the Bears do here will answer a lot of the questions surrounding their thoughts on the line.

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