Bears

10 days to go: The latest state of Bears draft needs

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10 days to go: The latest state of Bears draft needs

Offseasons proceed in stages, effectively beginning late in the preceding regular season and running into the draft in late April. Transactions will go down outside of that framework but the defining deals typically go down in those stages, each one affecting the next and ultimately dominoing into the draft.

So it is with the Bears.

First are in-season re-signings of in-house targets (receiver Earl Bennett, center Roberto Garza, guard Edwin Williams).

Then come re-signings before the onset of free agency (cornerback Tim Jennings) and into the early stages of the open market (tight end Kellen Davis, defensive end Israel Idonije, quarterback Josh McCown, safety Craig Steltz).

Those were preceded by a trade (wide receiver Brandon Mashall) that dramatically altered the Bears course in free agency. That was followed by others: quarterback Jason Campbell, running back Michael Bush, receivers Devin Thomas and Eric Weems, linebacker Blake Costanzo, cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden, Jonathan Wilhite).

Throw in the assorted extension (linebacker Lance Briggs) and you have an active franchise for not just the last six weeks but also the last six months.

So what does all that activity mean for draft needs, which are considerably altered from the premature analyses before the tsunami of change rolled through Halas Hall?

CSNChicago.com assesses the degree of current need for each position group in the wake of the additions.

The key:
1 = priority need; likely pick during first four rounds.
2 = moderate need; help wanted but not desperate enough for a need-based reach.
3 = low or no need; could take one but only a value surprise.

Quarterback: 3

With Jay Cutler in place, Jason Campbell in addition, Josh McCown in reserve and Nathan Enderle in question, the Bears have gone into few drafts with less pressing need for help at quarterback.

Running back: 3

Matt Forte isnt expected to be reporting anytime soon in protest over his franchise tag, although a holdout extending into the season is unlikely. Michael Bush would be competing for a starting job with multiple teams and well could be in Chicago before his four-year deal is done. Khalil Bell is a restricted free agent playing for his opp next offseason.

Wide receiver: 1

The problem is still simple numbers. Marshall and Bennett take care of two of the top three spots, and Devin Hester has enough returner help to let him focus on receiving. Devin Thomas and Eric Weems are depth and special teamers wholl put Dane Sanzenbacher in a roster vise. Johnny Knoxs return is still a significant question.

Tight end: 3

Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth are not big producers but coaches believe in both, and have prospects (Kyle Adams, Andre Smith) down the depth chart.

Offensive line: 2

The Bears had three backs with 100-yard games and 2,015 rushing yards for the season. Pass protection was a problem but Mike Tice isnt Mike Martz and Cutler isnt Caleb Hanie. The Bears believe they have potentially three serviceable tackles (Gabe Carimi, JMarcus Webb, Chris Williams), three guards (Lance Louis, Chris Spencer, Edwin Williams) and three centers (Roberto Garza, Spencer, E. Williams). Free agents have been interviewed but coaches dont see the dire situation outsiders do.

Defensive end: 1

Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije are in place along with injury prone reserve Corey Wootton. The Bears didnt land Jeremy Mincey or Mario Williams and will have trouble landing in the playoffs without more pressure off the edge.

Defensive tackle: 1

Losing Amobi Okoye to Tampa Bay was a setback but Henry Melton and Matt Toeaina are returning starters and Stephen Paea is a returning No. 2 pick. Idonije is a potential swingman with E-T experience but the Bears have drafted at least one defensive linemen within the first four rounds of all but one draft since 2000.

Linebacker: 1-2

Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are set for another year and Nick Roach has missed just three games over the last four seasons. Depth is always a concern but not enough to force a need reach.

Cornerback: 2

The Bears have four corners with starter experience (Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings, Charles Tillman, Jonathan Wilhite) plus nickel back D.J. Moore. They have size and depth but if a quality cover man falls within reach, theyll build for the future.

Safety: 2

Chris Conte is considered a future star at free safety and Major Wright is expected to perform better with a clear assignment at strong. Craig Steltz is insurance at strong but Conte finished the season on IR. Whether the Bears will invest another fourth-round-or-higher pick for the fourth time in five drafts isnt a given.

A Bears' offense lacking results needs to hope messy start to 2019 is an early-season mirage

A Bears' offense lacking results needs to hope messy start to 2019 is an early-season mirage

DENVER — Through two games, the Bears’ offense hasn’t shown any evidence of being better in Mitch Trubisky’s third year in the NFL, and in its second year running Matt Nagy’s scheme. 

If anything, it’s looked worse than it did in 2018.

Yes, the Bears won on Sunday, beating the Denver Broncos, 16-14, in what might’ve been a season-saving victory. But teams were 2-16 in 2018 when their quarterback passed at least 25 times and averaged fewer than 4.5 yards per attempt. Trubisky completed 16 of 27 passes for 120 yards on Sunday, good for a paltry average of 4.4 yards per attempt. The Bears were incredibly lucky to escape Colorado with a win.  

“We know we’re not where we want to be as an offense,” Trubisky said. “I’m not where I want to be as quarterback, but you use these games and these wins as momentum to keep getting better and finding ways to win and keep improving our skills.”

Papering over the issues that arose over the game’s first 59 minutes and 51 seconds was the clutch 25-yard strike Trubisky fired to an open Allen Robinson, which set up Eddy Pineiro’s game-winning 53-yard field goal as time expired. That play came on a do-or-die fourth and 15, and Trubisky climbed the pocket well and bought just enough time to connect with Robinson over the middle.

It was reminiscent of the connection he had with Robinson at the end of January’s wild card game against the Philadelphia Eagles, only this time, his kicker made the kick.

“I’ve always been taught that quarterbacks are evaluated by how they finish games and what they do,” Nagy said. “So, this is again one of those games that you saw where there just happened to be some more runs that went on. We tried to control Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, two guys that are real game changers. We wanted to make sure that we controlled them.

“We wanted to get back to throwing the ball a little bit, but when the time presents itself to throw the ball, we will do that. For me, I’m just proud that he made that throw at the end.”

The Bears’ offensive balance was monumentally better than it was in Week 1, with 28 handoffs standing against 27 drop-backs for Trubisky (those numbers don’t account for RPO decisions, but safe to say, Nagy’s playcalling was indeed balanced). David Montgomery looked better than his 3.4 yards-per-carry average may indicate, while a well-designed toss to Cordarrelle Patterson gouged 46 yards — easily the Bears’ most explosive play of 2019.

And credit Nagy and his offensive brain trust for scheming Miller and Chubb out of making an impact — Miller was invisible, and Chubb’s most notable play was a dodgy roughing the passer penalty that helped move the Bears closer to field goal range in the dying embers of the fourth quarter. Those two players accounted for 26 1/2 sacks in 2018, and the Bears’ offensive line can head back to Chicago feeling positive about the impact they made Sunday. 

So the Bears’ offense did show improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, though the bar was awfully low. And it still wasn’t exactly good Sunday — one touchdown and three field goals is not what this team needs if it’s serious about making the playoffs again, let alone reaching the Super Bowl.

The best-case scenario is that the Bears’ offense will be significantly better in Week 7 and Week 11 and Week 15 as it develops an identity. The Bears won an uninspiring 16-14 game against a bad team out west last year — Week 3 over the Arizona Cardinals — but at least before that they showed the ability to sustain a certain level of offensive competence.

Through two weeks, the most competent drive the Bears had was powered by nothing but running plays. Otherwise, this offense has been a mess.

Nagy and Trubisky have time to figure this out, especially with a suboptimal Washington side awaiting them a week from Monday. Few teams are lucky enough to form a season-long identity in the first four weeks of the regular season (remember when the New England Patriots lost to the Detroit Lions last September?) and the Bears can point to that fact as a reason for hope about this offense.

But right now, it’s all about hope. Because the results haven’t shown much of anything to provide hope.  

“Nothing in the NFL is easy at all, especially early in the season when you’re trying to figure out who you are,” offensive lineman Kyle Long said. “That’s why there’s 16 games and 17 weeks.”

 

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NFC North standings: Bears remain in last place despite Week 2 win

NFC North standings: Bears remain in last place despite Week 2 win

The Chicago Bears defeated the Denver Broncos in thrilling fashion Sunday thanks to the right leg of kicker Eddy Pineiro. The winner of Chicago's summer kicking derby blasted a 53-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bears a 16-14 victory over Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos.

The win moves the Bears to 1-1 on the season, but didn't do much to help their standing in the NFC North. Chicago remains in last place despite the victory. They have company at the bottom of the division, however, as the Minnesota Vikings dropped their Week 2 game against the Packers, 21-16. 

Green Bay's victory moves them to a perfect 2-0 and in sole possession of first place in the North, while the Detroit Lions moved into second place with their victory over the Los Angeles Chargers (13-10).

The Bears have a winnable game in Week 3 against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, and the Packers could end next Sunday 3-0 after welcoming the Denver Broncos to Lambeau Field. The Lions face the toughest opponent -- the Philadelphia Eagles -- while the Vikings are home against the beatable Oakland Raiders.

For now, the NFC North standings are as follows:

1) Green Bay Packers (2-0)
2) Detroit Lions (1-0-1)
T-3) Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
T-3) Chicago Bears (1-1)

 

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