The Bears Still Have a Lot of Work to Do. And Other Points of View.

  1. The most puzzling move of the draft was the Falcons taking Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8. I wasn’t surprised a team thought the Washington quarterback was worth a top-10 pick. Coaches I’ve spoken to have always been way more effusive about him and his film than many on social media. Coaches really like his arm talent, how he reads coverages, his sharpness and the resiliency he’s displayed in his college career. But I was convinced the Falcons needed to go defense at the top of their draft. Instead, a franchise that just invested a fortune in Kirk Cousins took Penix.

I am a big believer in Penix, but this fit seems curious to me. He’s about as ready to go now as any quarterback in this class. He’ll be 24 soon. Sitting and potentially waiting for two or more seasons doesn’t make a lot of sense.

I, personally, upon reflection did not have a big problem with this pick. I see this as a Packers type move where Atlanta took their guy and plans to develop him behind Cousins in the same way that the Packers developed Jordan Love behind Aaron Rodgers.

Yes, he’ll be 26 before he’s ready to play if they keep Cousins around as the starter for a couple yers. But that still gives them 10 years of franchise quarterback play if he works out the way that they think he will.

What struck me about Atlanta draft is that it very much reminded me of the way that Falcons Director of Player Personnel Ryan Pace handled the process when he was GM with the Bears. He would fall in love with a player and then overpay to get him. I thought they may have done that with Penix here.

But the pick that had Pace’s name written all over it was in the second round when they traded up to get someone called Ruke Orhorhoro. If the media experts were anything close to right, this player was nowhere near the kind of second rounder that Atlanta made him into. I have a vision of Pace pounding the player for this player and insisting that they “act with conviction” and trade up, convinced that the rest of the league saw in him the mirage that Pace saw.

There is an off chance that Pace and the Falcons will turn out to be right about this player. But that won’t make it any less of a reach in terms of the draft value.

Fortunately for the Bears, Pace is Atlanta’s problem now.

  • I was disappointed that the Bears decided not to provide videos of the various area scouts who were responsible for the reports on the various prospects this year. In the past, these videos have been informative as the scouts typically had time to provide more detail on the prospects than Bears GM Ryan Poles could give.

Fans may remember that a scout who gave one of these interviews last year garnered national attention from media members with an agenda who interpreted his comments as being racially offensive. Its a shame that this had to ruin this part of the draft coverage for those of us who appreciated it.

  • I didn’t have a problem with the Bears selecting Kansas defensive end Austin Booker with a fifth round pick, though he’s definitely a developmental prospect who, at 245 lb, is going to have to gain weight if he wants to be anything better than useless against the run.

What I did have a problem with is trading a 2025 fourth round pick to get him. Admittedly it wasn’t like they traded away a second rounder but when you identify a prospect here that you have to have so badly that you are willing to pay a premium to trade into the future to get him, I think it shows a lack of discipline. Though the Bears have drafted some productive players in this round in the past, fifth round picks are getting into long shot range. There shouldn’t be one there that you have to have that badly.

5/6. Quinyon Mitchell & Cooper DeJean, DBs, Philadelphia Eagles

Mitchell’s playstyle: Off-man corner with elite recognition and click-and-close ability.

DeJean’s playstyle: Versatile defensive back who can line up anywhere.

Scheme: Two-high, soft zone system.

Mitchell played a lot of off-coverage at Toledo. Some of his best highlights are him reading a play and firing off like a missile to make a play on the ball or a big hit. Eagles defensive coordinator Vic Fangio uses a lot of soft zone or off-man coverage to disguise his coverages. Mitchell fits like a glove in Fangio’s system. The Eagles’ pass defense trotted out one the oldest pair of starting corners last season — Darius Slay is 33 and James Bradberry is 30. Adding a young, athletic corner in Mitchell will bolster their secondary and give them some options.

A staple of Fangio’s defense is starting in two deep and rotating into different coverages to repeatedly give quarterbacks the same pre-snap look and then changing the picture post-snap. DeJean’s versatility and ability to cover man-to-man would add a dynamic to Fangio’s defense that he hasn’t had.


p>The Eagles might’ve had my favorite draft. These two defensive backs fit the scheme like a glove. How are you GM Howie Roseman gave Vic Fangio a lot to work with here.

However, it should be pointed out that safety is a very also important position in Fangio scheme, as well as linebacker. These are the two positions that are most involved in creating the blurry looks that Fangio specializes in. It’s the players in the middle of the field who do most of the hiding in defenses that move post snap. How they play determines how the defense is arranged. So the Eagles may still have some work to do.

One Final Thought

Some local pundits, particularly those at the Chicago Sun-Times, are stating that they expect the Bears to be a playoff team in 2024. I find this assertion to be off the mark.

Yes, the Bears will be better on offense with the addition of wide receiver Keenan Allen and D’Andre Swift and what we hope will be an improved center position. But:

  1. they will still be short on pass rush with only Montez Sweat able to do so to a competent level.
  2. they are counting on Gervon Dexter or Zach Pickens to become the three-technique defensive tackle that is the engine that makes the defense go.
  3. they will have a rookie quarterback and their third receiver will be a rookie with literally no one behind him.
  4. the depth throughout the roster is lacking and the odds that the Bears will be as healthy in 2024 as they were in 2023 are low.
  5. the Bears went 7-10 against one of the easiest schedule strengths in the league in 2023. Once again, the odds that the 2024 season schedule will end up being on a similar level are low.

The Bears are not done building this team. I think if you are a Bears fan you should be looking for improvement in the performance of the team. But expecting the playoffs is setting the team up to fail.

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