15 on 15: Youre a mean one, Mr. Grinch


15 on 15: Youre a mean one, Mr. Grinch

As if the Bears did not have enough to deal with when facing the Green Bay Packers at full strength, now they are down in numbers at wide receiver and running back.

New quarterback Josh McCown must navigate this group into the end zone repeatedly to keep the Bears playoff hopes alive. Its not looking good for the Bears to pull off the ultimate Grinch who Stole Christmas by beating the Packers.

Anything can happen, but Chicagos offense must be scaled back even more to have any shot of winning. With the Bears dealing with so many new skill-position players, timing is going to be an issue. Mike Martz must make the game plan likeable and learnable with core plays emphasized. Players must then fight the good fight. They must play for pride, competition and love of the game in the NFLs most storied rivalry.

Door open to get back in

This is this type of opportunity that could give McCown a more permanent door back into the NFL. He must show poise, leadership and compete to gauge whether he is worthy to resurrect his NFL career.

If McCown were to nose dive, Nathan Enderle needs to get a look next week against Minnesota. They both may not even be in a Bears uniform next year if Martz is let go at the end of the season.

Lovie Smith says Martz is staying put, so the Bears may as well see both of them in Martzs offense to evaluate against live game action.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?


With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?


Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: