How Bad is “Bad”? And Other Points of View.

  • Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic makes his roster predictions.

    Quarterback (2)

    Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian

    Who will be the practice-squad quarterback?

    The Bears don’t have a good enough roster to keep a third quarterback. Nathan Peterman will help them get through
    camp and the preseason, and it might be nice to have a veteran to work with some of the third-team players. Peterman could be on the practice squad, and it appears — for this season at least — the Bears won’t have
    a rookie or younger quarterback to develop behind the first two.

    Considering Siemian’s experience, if Fields takes the step the Bears are hoping for, they’ll have a solid duo, but it’s important to have a
    third quarterback on the practice squad who knows the scheme, in case of emergency.

I’m disappointed that Peterman is the third option at quarterback on the roster. As I’ve made clear in previous posts, I think the Bears should always be doing everything they can to develop new young talent
at the quarterback position. I realize that a young practice squad quarterback is a long shot to develop into anything significant. But that’s all the more reason to evaluate as many as possible in a search
fro one to develop.

The only thing that I can figure is that the Bears want to
concentrate completely on developing Fields. I understand that. But I see no reason why efforts should be restricted to Fields alone. If necessary, the Bears could hire an extra coach to work with a potential
practice squad quarterback.

Once again, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Bears are not going
to do enough to find talent at the quarterback position. It’s all or nothing with Fields and they aren’t even looking for anyone else. If Fields is in year four and he doesn’t work out, Poles will be in the
same position that former GM Ryan Pace was. Desperate to find somebody at the position because he didn’t even look for anyone else.

Hopefully the Bears are planning on churning through a series of
young quarterbacks with tryouts as the year progresses in their continued search fro talent at the position.

Running back (5) David Montgomery, Khalil
, Darrynton Evans, Trestan
, Khari Blasingame (fullback)

Will the Bears keep five in the backfield?

The Bears claimed Evans off waivers from the Titans in March, signaling he’s someone the front office identified as being a good fit for the backfield and special teams. As a draft pick, Ebner also comes
with some cachet, and his pass-catching skills stood out in minicamp. He could also factor into the return competition.

Blasingame seems to be a lock as the fullback, and as long as Evans and Ebner are contributing on special teams, the Bears might go heavy in the backfield and lighter at tight end.

The only thing I will say here is that if the Bears choose to keep a full back in Blasingame then I hope that, unlike many previous regimes, they find a way to use him regularly. Too many times in the past the
Bears have decided to keep a full back that turned out to be wasted roster space. If they have a defined role for a full back and they’re going to play him, then by all means they should keep one. Otherwise
another tight end would be a better choice.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

    With spots open at linebacker, right guard and defensive tackle, and salary cap space, do the Bears make more free-agent moves before camp?— @pilcher2700

    Who are they going to sign? With 32 teams having 90-man rosters right now, it’s not as if there are a bunch of guys on the street that look like Week 1 starters once they have a contract and a uniform. Yes, I expect this roster to be constantly evolving and that could mean players added because of injuries or other reasons. No, I don’t envision the Bears in 2022 adding a difference maker off the street right now. Maybe they get a player or two that can fit their system during roster cuts but it’s not as if the Bears are just biding their time waiting to pounce on potential free agents. Most of the moves at this point in the calendar are for camp depth.

    Given the hole at right guard, is the possibility of starting Braxton Jones at left tackle more about getting the best five O-linemen on the field and maybe means Larry Borom or Teven Jenkins plays guard? — @jtbcubs

    I see where you are going here but I don’t think you make a decision at left tackle, of all positions, because of a question you have at right guard. Left tackle is the premier position on the offensive line and you can make a case right guard is at the bottom of the list. I say this because some coaches really value an athletic player at left guard, making it more of a priority than the right guard position.

    Yes, the Bears need to find their five best linemen and get them on the field. They’ve yet to look at Borom or Jenkins at guard this spring, at least as far as I saw. Could that change on Day 1 of minicamp? Sure.
    Some I talked to when the Bears drafted Jenkins last year thought he might be best playing inside. But I don’t think you put a rookie fifth-round pick at left tackle unless you believe he’s your best option at that position, no matter what else you have going on along the line. Questions at left tackle trump questions at right guard. Maybe Jones excels when pads going on next month.

I realize that the Bears have had only non-contact practices so far. And I also realize that there’s only so much that you can evaluate in terms of offensive lineman when there’s no contact. But there are things
that you can evaluate and what evidence there is seems to indicate that the Bears are not sold on Jenkins.

He was a second round pick last year and if you’re going to take an offensive lineman and move him to the second team to make room for Jones to give him a look, you wouldn’t think that the highest draft pick on
the line would be the guy that you would move down.

True, the drills are non-contact but there are things that you can evaluate. You can evaluate movement skills physically but, perhaps more important at this time of year, you can evaluate coachability. This
situation may well be a measure of how many mistakes Jenkins has been making in practice and that is, in fact, a good part of what offensive line play is about. As much as any position on the field it is about
execution, consistency and technique. It is entirely possible that Ryan Poles scouted Jenkins last year and perhaps they weren’t sold on him then either.

Furthermore, I agree that the Bears are highly unlikely to sign anybody at any position who is likely to be very good. But from my perspective the Bears have to do something about offensive right

Sam Mustipher has been starting at the position and he is simply too
small for the position and is really more built to be a center. My understanding is that he’s gained weight in the off-season but my understanding is that it wasn’t enough. They have to have their eye open
for some sort of a veteran to plug into that role. Either that or they are hoping that Zac Thomas will be ready early in training camp or be planning to move a tackle like Teven
to guard. A veteran may very well not be very good. Even if there is a really good veteran on the street to be signed, those guys are waiting for an opportunity with either a winning team or a huge
contract. Nevertheless, I think that they have to consider signing someone.

  • Biggs continues:

    I feel the Bears are getting dumped on nationally and picked to be worse than the Jacksonville Jaguars. I believe Matt Eberflus will get them playing hard and Justin Fields can win
    more games than people think. Cincinnati Bengals-type season? — @dpeak1313

    The Bengals reached the Super Bowl last season. I do not believe the Bears are going to enjoy a similar resurgence in 2022 and ultimately be crowned NFC champions. There’s a heck of a lot of space in the middle, though, between being worse than Jacksonville and being as good as Cincinnati was in 2021. I agree Eberflus likely will get the team playing hard and that can create the kind of energy needed in the building to power through some rough spots in the schedule. The coaching staff has been really positive about Fields this spring and he has nowhere to go but up.

    I understand Bears fans, at least a good portion of them, are tired of hearing that this may be a season full of growing pains. From a national perspective, why would there be a different quick take on the team? They won six games last season. Statistically, Fields struggled as much as about any rookie quarterback has in the last decade. Some marquee defensive players departed and there are significant questions about an offensive line that struggled last season. The only additions to the O-line have been center Lucas Patrick, signed to a two-year, $8 million contract, and a quartet of Day 3 draft picks. If Fields takes some steps forward this season, the Bears can be competitive nearly every week and be close into the fourth quarter. Then, it’s about making plays.

I also keep hearing nationally that Bears fans are going to have to get used to the idea that they are going to be bad this year. But I really think the answer to this question depends on your definition of “bad”.

If you think that they’re only going to win two games. I would say that’s highly unlikely. It is true that the roster has lost a lot of talent but I think we can reasonably expect that the talent that they have will execute better than last year.

I’m sure the players liked Matt Nagy as much as I did but he wasn’t ready to be a head coach and its unlikely that he was getting the most out of the players. Indications are that Eberflus will
do a better job of that. Defensively he has shown himself to be a very good coach. And I like the direction that the offense is headed in. The Bears definitely need to incorporate a better running game and more play
action passing. It sounds like they are on their way to doing that.

Its true that last year’s six win team had more veteran talent on paper. But the over-under for wins in Las Vegas is still 6 1/2. I’d say with an easier schedule and the bump that you get in player performance with a first year head coach that six or seven wins is not unrealistic. If that’s what you call “bad“. Then yes they are going to have a bad year. But if it’s overall first round pick miserable, I’m going to be surprised.

Extending Roquan Smith’s Contract Would Only Make Sense

Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic answers your questions.

Roquan Smith has really grown into the defense’s leader, but can we justify spending the going rate ($20M/season) on an inside linebacker? Are we better off putting that money on offense to support Fields and take the comp pick? — Brian L.

I don’t think it has to be an either/or situation considering the Bears’ healthy cap situation heading into the 2023 season and beyond. If the new front office deems Smith worthy of a top-of-the-market deal for an inside linebacker, like Darius Leonard received ($19.7 million per year), it shouldn’t preclude them from making aggressive moves next offseason at wide receiver, offensive tackle, etc.

Smith is only 25, is a leader for this team, seems to love Chicago, and has been one of the best players at his position in football. We could even see more impact plays from him in the new scheme. In a vacuum, he’s the type of player an organization wants to keep around.

It bothers me that the minute the Bears find a good, young player, fans immediately want to let him go to save money and get a “compensatory pick“.

The Bears have plenty of cap space next off-season and the best way to use that space by far is the sign their own when they have players that are worthy of it. The idea is that you reward your own players, something that fosters loyalty in the player and a positive attitude throughout the team as other players know that the team will take care of them.The more you do that the less you have to dip into free agency and take a chance on other teams rejects. This is the way that franchises that compete year in and year out do it.

Roquan Smith was a first round draft pick and is performing like one. The idea that even a third round compensatory pick and cap space saved that the Bears don’t need will compensate for his loss is not a sound one. Something similar same could be said for many other young players that we can all hope that the Bears will have that will be worthy of an extension.