Poor Offensive Preseason Performance a Concern for Bears and Other Points of View

  • I found this article from Tom Peilissaro at NFL.com about Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubishy to be interesting:

“If I get unprompted texts from people with other NFL teams about something, I usually take that as a sign it’s resonating within the league. It happened with Dak Prescott last year. It happened again Thursday. One NFL scout who watched Trubisky’s debut live said he’d like to see him get some snaps with the starters next time out: ‘He looks like he’s in control.’”

It’s not just fans who saw something Thursday, though. People around the NFL took notice. And that was one early, encouraging sign for a Bears regime that, regardless of its present plans, has clearly invested in Trubisky as the future.

I’m really glad I’m not the only one who thought he might have seen something special from Trubisky Thursday night. Though I really do try to guard against it, sometimes you wonder if your hopes aren’t confusing your eyes and your brains. It’s starting to look like they weren’t.

As a precaution, this is still worth remembering:

  • Dan Durkin at The Athletic makes very good points about some of the things that offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains did to help Trubisky out.

“Loggains had Trubisky operating both from the pocket and on the move during that drive. Getting him moving on “swap” bootlegs not only gave him a run-pass option, it also cut the field in half to simplify his reads.”

“’I had the playsheet, I was able to study a little bit,‘ Trubisky said. ‘So I knew all my calls, I knew my plays, I knew what I was comfortable with. I talked it over with Dowell, so we were kind of on the same page, so I could go out there and just play free. That’s what I wanted to do. Go out there and play, do what comes natural and get into a rhythm.’”

These are all good thoughts and I pointed out some of them myself after the game.

It is, perhaps, no coincidence that the much maligned quarterback class of 2017, including Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City), Deshaun Watson (Houston) and Deshone Kizer (Cleveland) did so well last weekend. It seems obvious that the desperate need for quarterbacks has driven better coaching throughout the league and quarterback coaches seem to have a much better handle on how to bring these rookies, including the ones from spread systems in college, along.

“The consensus in talking to people around the league is the Bears will likely attempt to trade cornerback Kyle Fuller before roster cuts are due at 3 p.m. on Sept. 2. That’s what I gathered after speaking with a variety of folks from other cities over the last week. They seem to think it’s a matter of when and not if the Bears try to deal the 2014 first-round draft pick. Whether this is legitimate or not remains to be seen but there’s an awful lot of smoke and usually where there’s smoke you’re eventually going to find a fire.”

Assuming that he’s not going to make the roster, if the Bears can get anything at all for Fuller, it would be a win. But I’m not so sure that’s the case. Fuller was playing on the second team and I’m thinking he probably earned the spot.

Fuller was draft by another regime to be a zone cornerback and he’s found himself in a scheme that values man-to-man coverage skills. That means that there may be a market for him among teams with defensive schemes closer to what he was drafted for.

But if Fuller shows something on special teams – a big if, he may still be their best option as a back up. If that’s the case, they aren’t going to give him away by outright releasing him.

“Trubisky wasn’t the only draft pick to show up and play well. It was a nice debut for rookie guard Jordan Morgan and that’s a positive and a sign he could fit in as a backup. Of course, running back Tarik Cohen, who had been extra slippery in training camp, proved elusive in the open field. He’s got a nice burst and in my opinion what separates him from the last very undersized back the Bears had is Cohen had more lateral quickness than Garrett Wolfe. Just my take.”

Like almost everyone else who was paying attention, I also liked what I saw from Cohen. His small size allows him to hide behind the offensive linemen, particularly as he closes to press the hole and waits for an opening. That could sever him well. His performance was an indication that, maybe, he won’t also disappear once the season starts.

Morgan was a different story. He may have done well but he’s buried on the depth chart and no one is exactly pushing to make him the starter with backup Eric Kush out for the year and Kyle Long still recovering from surgery.

If Morgan has potential, the Bears need to push him up the depth chart and get him more snaps.

  • Kevin Fishbain from The Athletic points out that The competition at Safety is heating up. Ricky Eddie Jackson is splitting reps with a veteran Adrian Amos next to free-agent signing Quintin Demps.

“‘He missed a lot of the offseason, being a rookie, but he’s got a really good football IQ,’ [head coach John] Fox said. ‘I think you saw his return skills are capable. We averaged 10-plus yards in our punt return, which we were a non-factor a year ago. All-in-all I think he’s just going to continue to improve.’”

Amos isn’t around the ball much when it’s in the air and the Bears are a bit desperate to improve the production at the position. Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times thinks it’s only a matter of time before Jackson replaces Amos. I’m not so sure.

DeAndre Houston-Carson is making the transition to safety and had two picks in Saturday’s practice. In the end, his range may make him the guy to watch once coaches are satisfied that he knows his way around the new spot.
‘=
* No one is making a big deal out of it but Potash points out that promising linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski is in the concussion protocol. Kwiatkowski is one of the players I’d like see emerge to play faster this year.

“While that may not be what the suddenly exploding Trubisky Fan Club wants to hear, is anyone screaming for Charles Leno to be benched after nearly getting Glennon killed on the pick-six he threw to Chris Harris, Jr.?

Cody Whitehair was awful Thursday night, yet we don’t hear anyone screaming for Hroniss Grasu.

Kevin White was invisible, Cam Meredith wished he was after dropping Glennon’s first pass and the first defense notched four penalties for 35 yards on its opening foray, yet only Glennon and Trubisky are in the spotlight.”

Hub is, of course, correct.

Don’t get me wrong. Glennon really wasn’t sharp and I think he knew it. He had no pocket sense or movement. He was too slow in his decision making. He was noticeably high and behind his receivers with his throws. He looked stiff and didn’t look comfortable or confident.

At least part of the problem seems to be that he’s having a hard time getting the timing down with the receivers and he looked like he was what you might kindly refer to as “rusty”.

However, I have some hope that Glennon will show better in the future if for no other reason than he was better on tape with the Bucs than he was Thursday. I am far more concerned about the rest of the offense, particularly at the wide receiver position where a scatter shot approach to the offseason has not led to a great deal of confidence that the group has any real playmakers. Fox elaborates:

“Asked how soon he will throw Glennon to the wolves, Fox answered, ‘I think like everything, the quarterback gets a lot of the credit, a lot of the blame regardless of what happens.

“’But our whole first unit was not very good. I don’t think we blocked very well. I thought we had some drops. We didn’t get off man coverage, which wasn’t something we were surprised about.

“So all in all, I think there was a lot of things that we saw on the tape, the players saw.‘”

Personnel problems at wide receiver aside, the Bears have new coaches both there and at offensive line. It has to be a major concern that both groups got beaten like a drum at the line of scrimmage Thursday night. I think that should worry Bears fans far more than Glennon at this point.

  • On the other hand, there’s this basic truth from Kevin Patra at NFL.com on Glennon’s performance:

    “[E]xcuses are like avocados; every millennial has one – or 60 – and they rot quickly.”

Suddenly Having to Fight to Keep Perspective When It Comes To Rookie Trubisky

I am not, by my nature, a positive person, at least when it comes to football. I don’t look at the world through navy and orange glasses. I don’t poke out my eyes and shutdown my brain to blind myself to and defend the team despite obvious problems because doing so is the only way to be a “real fan”.

And I absolutely, positively, under no circumstances, get excited about performances in the preseason.

But I admit it. I am happy today.

Despite the circumstances, I was impressed by I saw from Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky last night. The guy looked like he belonged and that means so far so good for a team that is desperate to see Trubisky or Mike Glennon, somebody, anybody, succeed as a franchise quarterback.

Yes, it was the preseason. Yes, the team under Trubisky was playing against Denver’s second and third stringers and, even if it was the first stringers, all-world defensive end Von Miller sat out. And, yes, the defenses were more vanilla than what the the Bears will see once the real bullets start flying.

But I was impressed anyway. I was impressed because Truibsky did so many things that were really good regardless of the level of competition:

  1. Trubisky is every bit as accurate as advertised. He was leading receivers and he generally put it in the right spot. For example, he should have had a third touchdown. He did just what he needed to do by throwing the ball low and away where only the receiver, tight end Daniel Brown, could get it, Brown dropped the ball despite the fact that it still hit him in the hands.
  2. Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains put Trubisky on the move where he was still quite accurate. He rolled Trubisky out quite a bit and it allowed Trubisky to avoid pressure that both Glennon and Mark Sanchez were susceptible to. There were one or two really good throws despite the presence of guys who basically came free on the rush to get right in Trubisky’s face.
  3. Trubisky was completely unflustered despite of a lot of blitzing and movement from the defense, especially on the late TD drive in the first half. This was in contrast to what we’d read in camp reports where Trubisky was fumbling snaps after losing concentration in the presence of pre-snap movement. In this respect, Glennon was the one that looked like the rookie as he was noticeably nervous whenever anyone made a move at the second level of the defense.
  4. Trubisky showed good pocket presence and movement to avoid the rush. This might be the most important thing an NFL quarterback needs to be able to do – step up against pressure into a throwing lane to deliver a ball. I’m guessing it doesn’t usually come easily to spread quarterbacks who had 13 college starts. Trubisky didn’t have to do it often but when he did he looked like a pro.

All of these are things very good professional quarterbacks can do independent of the level of competition.

I can’t blame Glennon for the look on his face immediately after Trubisky’s first touch down to basically end the first half.

I’m sure he was anticipating what the media reports in Chicago would be like this week. I would warn Bears fans to not get too high or too low after one preseason game.

But, for once, I’m even having to remind myself of this basic rule. Because, against my nature and my better judgement, I’m very encouraged by what I saw from Mitch Trubisky.

WTH is Going On at Back Up Guard? And Other Points of View.

  • With the torn biceps injury to backup guard Eric Kush, Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune says that the Bears have apparently been trying different line combinations in left guard Kyle Long’s absence. One involved moving center Cody Whitehair to guard.

“That’s the thing I’m trying to work on,” Whitehair said, “Being able to play every inside position, just in case we do have injuries.”

Versatility is nice but shuffling guys like Long and Whitehair from position to position keeps them from stabilizing one spot and becoming the best that they can be. I’d much rather see Whitehair, who was developing rapidly last year, stay where he’s at and become a Pro Bowl center.

  • Another option according to Campbell is to put swing tackle Tom Compton at guard.

Brad Biggs, also at the Tribune, thinks the Bears will be looking to pick up a back up guard after final cuts are made but what’s wrong with rookie guard Jordan Morgan? Morgan, a fifth round draft pick, was listed as fifth (or sixth) on the depth chart at guard this week behind Will Poehls and Cyril Richardson. Not good.

Are the Bears really reduced to moving Whitehair or using a tackle at backup guard before the season has even begun?

  • On a related note, we had this Biggs question about the situation:

With the loss of Eric Kush on the O-line, how does that affect Taylor Boggs‘ chances of making the roster? — @seanquincey

Boggs was out with a concussion but returned to action quickly, so that was a positive sign. He has the ability to play center and guard and the loss of Kush certainly improves his chances. He’s got previous experience with offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn as they were in Detroit at the same time. My guess is it could be a bit of an uphill battle for Boggs but he’s in the mix. He’s a smart player and offers a little bit of versatility.

Similar to the situation with Morgan, the fact that they’d rather put Compton in at guard with Kush gone and Long out tells you everything you need know about what they think about Boggs. He’s not good enough to back up Long at guard and former third rounder Hronis Grasu is most likely to get the nod at backup center. That leaves Boggs on the outside looking in.

How is the backfield shaping up behind Jordan Howard? — @thepallister

That’s a good question. Jeremy Langford has missed nearly all of training camp with a sprained right ankle suffered in a walk-through. Tarik Cohen has been exciting in Bourbonnais and I am interested to see how he performs in preseason. Ka’Deem Carey and Benny Cunningham are in the mix. It’s a little fuzzy how things are going to play out right now but Howard was electric last season and that’s a strength for the offense. Perhaps this is a position where the Bears could seek to add a player that gets cut loose by another team in a few weeks.

True enough but I’ve got a feeling that, once again against the odds, Carey sticks. Carey isn’t what you’d call dynamic but he’s a solid backup who contributes on special teams. It’s possible that Cunningham wins the return job and, if that’s the case, it may come down to a receiver or Carey. My gut tells me that with Cohen being a “joker back” with limited size and utility as a blocker, Carey gets the nod.

Langford is in deep trouble.

  • I also wanted to highlight something one more thing that Biggs mentions. The Bears really need 2016 third round pick Jonathan Bullard to step up this year and Biggs wrote just about the first positive thing I’ve read about him when he said that Bullard “ has been much better in training camp” than last year. That’s encouraging and I’ll once again be looking forward to watching him tonight against the Broncos.
  • I thought this comment from new quarterback Mike Glennon about the Bears receivers via Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic was interesting:

“I’d say it’s way deeper here [than in Tampa Bay],” said Glennon, whose Bucs had a clear No. 1 wideout in Mike Evans. “I mean there are guys here, I hate to say it that could be on a lot of different teams and make the team. So obviously realistically only 53 guys make the team and so that receiver number has to get cut down but I think it’s a very deep group, a lot of guys that are NFL-caliber players and I think we’ll just spread the ball out.”

Hmmmm… Sounds like Glennon has been drinking the navy and orange Kool Aid. I suppose “deep” might apply in a way because the scatter shot approach to the position this offseason led to there being a lot of bodies. But the Bears don’t have a proven number one receiver and I don’t think many competitive teams would want this group over their own.

  • Despite getting a lot of preseason buz, its notable that rookie tight end Adam Shaheen was third on the depth chart behind Dion Sims and Zach Miller this week. Most figure the Bears might be ready to move on from Miller given his injury history but this certainly doesn’t reflect that thought.

Things to Look for in the First Preseason Game: Two Defensive Rookies

As we quickly review some of the things that I’ll be looking at on Thursday with the Bears as they take on the Broncos in the first preseason game, I’d like to take a look at a few of the recent defensive draft picks that the Bears really need to see come through this year.

We will all, of course, be watching Leonard Floyd and Eddie Goldman on Thursday night. Floyd is a potential star outside linebacker in the making and the Bears aren’t the same without Goldman in the middle after his ankle injury last year, something that to their credit they recognized and partially addressed with the addition of nose tackle John Jenkins.

Both of these men have already shown enough to convince fans that they are capable of performing and, though both need to continue to develop, questions surrounding them have more to do with their health than their ability.

So with this post, I’d like to point to a couple of guys whose situation is a little different.

The Bears have completely rebuilt themselves up from scratch starting with Ryan Pace‘s first draft in 2015. Some of those picks have really come through but others have either been inconsistent or have proven to need time to develop. For one or two, its time to produce on their potential. If they don’t, their careers may be in jeopardy.

Jonathan Bullard was a 2016 third round pick that the Bears are depending upon to be part of their future at defensive end. Bullard came from a system at Florida where he was expected to penetrate in a Lovie Smith style of line play. But the Bears base defense is a 3-4 and Bullard is expected to be a two-gap lineman in that sort of scheme. That means he needs to hold up the lineman and read the play while covering the gaps to either side of him. It requires more strength and awareness than, perhaps, Bullard was expected to display in college and he had a hard time adjusting to it in his first year.

Although he’s apparently had a quiet training camp to this point, Bullard bulked up to over 300 lb in the offseason and apparently has progressed in the scheme to the point that there might be some hope for him. Coaches think the game has slowed down form him since his rookie year. They’d better hope so. Their starting ends are Akiem Hicks and either Jay Howard or Mitch Unrein and the first injury is going to throw him into the rotation, ready-or-not.

Similar to Bullard on the defensive line, the Bears need Nick Kwiatkowski, a fourth rounder from 2016, to develop into a starter quality NFL linebacker. Kiatkowski played a great deal last year with Jerrell Freeman missing games due to a suspension and Danny Trevathan‘s knee injury. Travathan is rehabbing but isn’t fully back.

Kwiatkowski played too slowly last year and apparently lacked the necessary play recognition skills to play the position at a high level. He needs to step up now and make plays in the middle and the Bears and their fans have to be hoping that he flashes more this preseason because he’s going to be needed as the first guy off the bench (assuming Trevathan is ready to play – a big assumption).

As young players that they hope are on the rise, both of these men represent important players not only for the Bears present but, they hope, for their future as well. How they perform this year will tell us a lot about how that future will shape itself and how quickly.

 

Things to Look for in the First Preseason Game: Two Offensive Rookies

 

I’m quickly reviewing some of the things that I’ll be looking at on Thursday with the Bears as they suit up against the Broncos in the first pre-season game. Next up, a couple of the more interesting rookies.

As most regular readers know, I was critical of the Bears approach to the last draft. Basically its my contention that the Bears took unnecessary risks during the offseason culminating in their selection of too many small school prospects making the draft, something which by its very nature is a crap shoot, into a series of all-or-nothing bets on long shots. One small school guy is OK. Four is insane.

Or so I thought.

I’m usually pretty skeptical of anything that comes out of training camp in terms of media reports. There’s no percentage in trashing a player in July. If you are ever going to be optimistic about your team, this is the time of year for it and no one sees any reason to squish that too soon.

But I have to admit that the almost daily reports about two of the newly drafted small school rookies have worn on me and now I’m intrigued. Article after article has touted how tight end Adam Shaheen (Ashland) and running back Tarik Cohen (North Carolina A&T) have been stringing good practices together and flashing potential. Both men are (apparently) showing a great deal of athleticism.  Both have the potential to be a matchup nightmare for defenses, Shaheen because of his size and Cohen because of his quickness and elusiveness.

I’m still skeptical. But I’m anxious to see how these men will perform. Small school prospects have a habit of disappearing once the big boys take the field and I can’t help but believe that Shaheen’s inexperience is likely to show. Cohen is a diminutive 185 pounds and players of that size have a bad habit of being overwhelmed by bigger men with more athleticism than they are used to seeing.  Up until now neither has been challenged by players approaching their own level of ability.

With no help coming from first round quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (if the Bears get their way) the Bears need their other picks from this draft to hit along with a few from previous drafts – but we’ll get to them later. The farther we get along, the more we will be able to believe that these guys are the real deal. Their performances at this stage will be crucial steps in their evaluation.

 

Things to Look for in the First Preseason Game: Quarterbacks

 

I hate the offseason. I mean I really do. Nothing but pure speculative judgments about personnel that we haven’t even seen play. Finally, this Thursday, we’ll get a chance to see what the Bears are made of as they take the field against the Broncos.

It would be easier to list the things that I won’t be looking for than the things that I will be. This is now truly General Manager Ryan Pace‘s team as the roster has been almost completely turned over since former head coach Marc Trestman and ex-General Manager Phil Emery left Halas Hall. Pace and head coach John Fox have now changed the culture of the team.  But do they have the talent to compete?

There are so many unknowns about this team you almost don’t know where to start. But over the next few days I’ll try to get you going starting exactly where you would expect – with the quarterbacks.

Although it will be fun to see the fresh second overall pick Mitch Trubisky play, he is apparently so undeveloped at this point its meaningless. If he plays well, it will be against third stringers who are playing vanilla defenses. If he doesn’t, it’s too early in his development to make a big deal out of it. He needs work.  We knew that.  Next summer will likely be the time to start paying attention to Trubisky’s performances, at least if the Bears get their way.

No, this preseason is about new veteran quarterback, Mike Glennon. What will be interesting to see is if Glennon is on the same page with these guys.

From what I’ve seen of him on tape, Bears fans are finally going to be able to leave behind the “see-it, throw-it” style that Jay Cutler lived and died with (mostly died with) for 8 years. We should see Glennon throwing with anticipation to receivers rather than waiting for them to get open and then trying to strong arm it in. This is, in my opinion, the only way to win consistently in the NFL and certainly it is the only way the Bears will ever see a top five quarterback perform (on their own team).

Not that Glennon is going to be a top five quarterback. If he was top twelve, I think everyone in town would be very happy. But at least he has a chance to be better than that.  Cutler never really did.

Glennon’s strength appears to be his accuracy and the fact that he usually puts the ball where only the receiver can get it. This means that his turnovers should be limited. However, this early in his progression with the team, that may not be entirely evident.

One draw back to throwing with anticipation is that you have to be on the same page with your receivers. The timing has to be good and quarterbacks of this type have a bad habit of looking very bad early on as they gradually get to know their guys on the other end of the pass. Missed connections tend to be frequent either because the receiver goes one way and the quarterback the other or because the timing is simply so bad that neither the ball of the receiver end up in the right spot.  It could be ugly for a couple weeks.  So keeping an eye on Glennon’s progress will be a key to the preseason. That starts on Thursday.

Mark Sanchez was the second string quarterback in Saturday’s scrimmage and he should get the second team snaps throughout the preseason. With Glennon still learning the offense and the personnel, he’ll go at least a quarter with Sanchez taking what’s left of the first half and probably playing into the third quarter. From there it will probably be Trubisky time as Connor Shaw hasn’t been practicing with an unspecified foot injury and may well not play.

Seeing how sharp Sanchez is with what apparently are limited reps in practice will be something to keep an eye on here.

 

Bears Strategy to Solve the Quarterback Position Is Only Logical

Yesterday I addressed the first of two Bear-related articles at Yahoo! Sports.  The first was a pretty negative  view point expressed by Andy Behrens that pretty much corresponds to the national view point.  Today I’d like to talk a little about a more balanced article written by Frank Schwab.

Like me, Schwab can’t understand why General Manager Ryan Pace is getting so much flack for aggressively pursuing answers to the quarterback position.

Combining the two big moves at quarterback brought on a separate wave of criticism. Because after almost seven decades of futility at the position, people apparently wanted Pace to just keep doing things the same way they’ve always been done. There’s nothing wrong with investing in both options. Mike Glennon will presumably begin this season as the starter. If he’s bad, the Bears will cut him and they haven’t affected their salary-cap situation. If he’s good, there will be chances to trade him. If he’s great, maybe the Bears keep Glennon and trade Mitch Trubisky. And let’s be clear: If Glennon is great, it’s a problem the Bears haven’t had since Vince Lombardi was an unknown assistant at Army. There are worse problems to have.

Pace’s plan, especially to move up and get Trubisky, was aggressive. That’s OK.

Couldn’t agree more with every word.

The heavy criticism that Pace has gotten for trading away a third round pick and two fourth round picks to move up to get Trubisky is absurd when compared to what both the Chiefs and the Texans had to give up to acquire lesser prospects.  Furthermore, Pace’s explanation that he felt he had to trade up to get Trubisky based upon the offers he was getting from quarterback needy teams for the third overall pick is, for some reason, being largely ignored while national outlets continue to push the baseless assumption that the Bears didn’t need to make the trade.

Similarly, people who claim that the Bears should have kept Brian Hoyer or someone similar as a placeholder instead of signing Glennon simply aren’t thinking straight.

Mike Glennon is a legitimate swing at solving the position.  Is he a great swing?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Behrens certainly didn’t think so but, the humorous videos of Glennon fumbling the ball aside, he didn’t really make any legitimate points.

Bottom line, Glennon was the best free agent available and is a legitimate attempt at a long term solution to the problem. Hoyer would have been a waste of a year.

Would Behrens have rather the Bears had handled the off-season the way the 49ers and Browns did, both of whom I’ve seen continually praised despite the fact that neither made a good move to solve their quarterback dilemmas?  Or the way the Jets did by deciding to tank the 2017 season and pray that one of the supposedly superior quartbacks in the potential 2018 class 1) continues to develop and 2) comes out early?  Anyone remember who the consensus #1 overall pick for 2017 was this time last year?  Deshaun Watson.

The only legitimate criticism I’ve heard is the way the Bears handled the draft with Glennon.  Certainly the Bears didn’t have to tell Glennon that they were planning to take Trubisky.  Indeed, they did the right thing by not doing so.  There’s no getting around that he was going to have to be surprised by it and that’s just the way it had to be.

But Glennon was at the Bears draft party when Trubisky’s name was called.  Why any active player would be invited to such a party given the chances that any of them could be watching his eventual replacement be drafted is beyond me.

It was bound to happen that Glennon would be unhappy about this.  That’s life in the league.  But this added drama to a situation that definitely didn’t need any more of it.

The other related thing that bothers me is the continual criticism that the Bears have received for supposedly not telling head coach John Fox that they were trading up to take Trubisky.  It has been made crystal clear that Fox was with Pace every step of the way in this process.

Was he happy with it?  Hell, who would be?  He needs help now.  But he accepted the decision and he said that he was on board with it.  If he wasn’t told about the trade until “hours before the draft” then its obviously because, though they had been working it before that, the decision wasn’t finalized until then.  Indeed, this is exactly what Chris Mortenson, the originator of the initial report, said in a later Tweet that, for some reason continues to be ignored.  I see no reason why there should be any more to it than that and I’ve seen zero evidence that there was.

The Bears have become a punching bag for the national media.  I understand that when you go 3-13, you aren’t going to get the benefit of the doubt on these decisions.  But the criticism that writers and commentators across the league have continued to leveled at the Bears is, as far as I can tell, totally baseless.

There’s not a thing wrong with what the Bears have done at quarterback this off-season.  Ryan Pace acted aggressively to solve a situation that is long overdue to be solved.

Will it work?  I can’t say.  But I can say that I’m glad to see someone giving it a legitimate try and I think any other view point defies logic.

The Bears Unnecessarily Risky Off-Season

Many who follow (or used to follow) this blog probably think I’ve abandoned it. I haven’t. Its just that I work for a living and things have been a little crazy. They’re probably going to get a lot more crazy in the near future but I’m hoping that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to post every once in a while.

Having said that, I thought I’d reference a couple articles from Yahoo! Sports today and tomorrow that have a little something for everyone.

For those cynics who think the Bears are going to be pretty bad this year because they can’t do anything right, I give you this article from Andy Behrens today. The article criticizes virtually everything from the quarterback situation to the Bears defense. This is a perfectly natural reaction and, as far as I can tell, its one shared around the league nationally. When you go 3-13 and have only won 9 games in two years, you aren’t going to get the benefit of the doubt very often. It doesn’t help that head coach John Fox isn’t what you’d call media friendly.

I’m going to leave the assessment of the way the Bears handled the quarterbacks for tomorrow. Today I’d like to chime in some other somewhat valid criticisms of the Bears off-season. From Behrens:

“The list of Chicago’s free agent additions on offense looks like a last-place fantasy roster from 2014: [Mike] Glennon, Mark Sanchez, Victor Cruz, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Rueben Randle, Dion Sims, Benny Cunningham. A few of those players could be serviceable, but none move the needle for a team coming off a 3-win season. In April, the Bears’ drafted as if their singular goal was to flummox anyone providing analysis on live TV. After using the No. 2 overall pick on [Mitch] Trubisky, Chicago spent three of its four remaining selections on players from non-FBS schools. It’s not at all clear that any of them, or Trubisky, will contribute in a meaningful way in 2017.

“So, um … Bear down. Woo.”

OK. This is mostly hard truth. Certainly the wide receiver free agents look like dart being thrown at a board. The Bears are hoping one or two stick. The Bears did manage to re-make their secondary with the signings of Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. But for the most part, Fox got virtually no help in the off-season. Some have chosen to interpret this as general manager Ryan Pace throwing Fox under the bus with the idea that he will be hiring a new coach for 2018. But I’ve a sneaking suspicion that its more likely that Fox is getting a free year as long as the team shows at least some improvement.

I also don’t disagree with Behrens’ assessment of the draft but for an entirely different reason. People who think the Bears draft was a problem because it didn’t supply immediate help just don’t understand the situation. The Bears are rebuilding. They aren’t planning for this year. They’re planning for a couple years down the road. In that respect, Pace obviously felt that he could draft guys who might require a bit longer to develop and its hard to refute that logic.

No. The problem as I see it is a different one.

The NFL draft by its very nature is a crop shoot. Its full of risk at even the best of times with roughly half of all first round picks busting out. That percentage increases to something close to three quarters for quarterbacks. The Bears took those normal risks and at least doubled them by taking small school prospects that require even more projection than usual to get right.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of great NFL players who came from small schools, not the least of whom was the late great Walter Payton (Jackson State). Its perfectly OK to take a player like that every once in a while. But to do with with 3 of 5 with the quarterback, Trubisky, being one of the two that wasn’t? That’s asking for trouble, my friends.

The Bears really needed to approach this draft the way they approached the one in 2016 when they found Jordan Howard and Cody Whitehair. Taking the guys from FBS schools carries enough risk. There’s little reason to introduce more to the process.

Here’s hoping that I’m wrong and that all of these guys work out. But if they do, it’s going to require some luck. And the Bears haven’t had much of that lately.