Alex Shapiro

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 11-17

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 11-17

A lot has changed since the NFL released the 2019 schedule. Teams have added through the draft and free agency, and learned more about their rosters with rookie minicamps. Now with all that behind us, let’s take another look at which opposing rookies could make an impact in 2019. We’ll go over the first five opponents on Wednesday, the next four on Thursday and the last four on Friday.

Week 11 at Rams

If LA doesn’t re-sign Ndamukong Suh they’ll have a major vacancy on their defensive line: enter fourth-rounder Greg Gaines. The Rams traded back into the fourth round to snag Gaines, so clearly they think highly of the first team All-Pac-12 DL who had 56 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season at Washington.

Week 12 vs. Giants

The Giants made the biggest splash of the draft by selecting Daniel Jones No. 6 overall. Reactions to the picks in the media and on social media were very similar to when the Bears traded up to pick Mitchell Trubisky No. 2 overall in 2017, and Trubisky has already publicly given Jones advice for how to deal with the negative attention. Will Jones follow in Trubisky’s footsteps and have replaced Eli Manning under center by the time the Giants visit Chicago?

Week 13 at Lions

See Thursday’s preview of Bears’ opponents. 

Week 14 vs. Cowboys

Fourth-round pick Tony Pollard is the lesser-heralded running back from Memphis rather than Darrell Henderson, but he can run and catch. Over his last two seasons, he put up 782 rushing yards, 994 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns. He also adds much needed depth to the Dallas running back room, as the leading rusher behind Ezekiel Elliott last season was Dak Prescott with 75 attempts for 305 yards. After that, it was Rod Smith with 44 attempts for 127 yards.

Week 15 at Packers

See Wednesday’s preview of Bears’ opponents.

Week 16 vs. Chiefs

If Tyreek Hill doesn’t play this year due to domestic violence allegations, second-round pick Mecole Hardman could get a lot of snaps at WR in his stead. Hardman can blow by defenders, like Hill, and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine. That number was good for fifth-best among all participants this year. On the field for Georgia, he caught 35 balls for 543 yards and seven touchdowns. He added a punt return touchdown, as well.

Week 17 at Vikings

See Wednesday’s preview of Bears’ opponents.

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 7-10

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 7-10

A lot has changed since the NFL released the 2019 schedule. Teams have added through the draft and free agency, and learned more about their rosters with rookie minicamps. Now with all that behind us, let’s take another look at which opposing rookies could make an impact in 2019. We’ll go over the first five opponents on Wednesday, the next four on Thursday and the last four on Friday.

Week 7 vs. Saints

The home meeting vs. New Orleans is certainly a marquee matchup, and initially looked like it would be an opportunity for Mitchell Trubisky and the offense to show off how far they’ve come. In 2018, the Saints pass defense ranked in the bottom-10 in TD allowed, YPG allowed and QB rating against. But they drafted defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the fourth round to help shore things up in the secondary. Gardner-Johnson fell despite being projected as a possible second or third-rounder and had nine interceptions (including three returned for touchdowns) and 12 pass breakups in 37 games at Florida.

Week 8 vs. Chargers

First-round selection Jerry Tillery has the ability to push the pocket and get after the quarterback from the inside if healthy. He notched eight sacks as an interior lineman at Notre Dame last season. Pair this pass rush threat with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming off the edge and it could present some matchup problems for the Bears offensive line.

Week 9 at Eagles

When the schedule was initially released, this appeared to be a major matchup—and an opportunity for former Bear Jordan Howard to remind everyone in Chicago of what he can do between the tackles.  But then Philadelphia drafted Penn State running back Miles Sanders in the second round. Last season, Sanders rushed 220 times for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns, so he should contribute as a rookie for the Eagles. So, will we see less of Jordan Howard in Week 9 than previously expected?

Week 10 vs. Lions

The last time the Lions had a Top-10 pick they selected tight end Eric Ebron ahead of Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald, Kyle Fuller, Ryan Shazier and Zack Martin. Ebron never lived up to his first-round status in Detroit and the Lions cut him in March of 2018. Ebron then signed with the Colts and went on to have his first Pro Bowl season. Now, the Lions have selected T.J. Hockenson at No. 8 overall to replace Ebron… ahead of highly-touted talents Ed Oliver, Devin Bush Jr. and Christian Wilkins.

Check back Friday as we’ll go over Weeks 11-17 for the Bears.

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 1 - 5

Taking a post draft, rookie-minicamp look at the Bears 2019 opponents: Weeks 1 - 5

A lot has changed since the NFL released the 2019 schedule. Teams have added through the draft and free agency, and learned more about their rosters with rookie minicamps. Now with all that behind us, let’s take another look at which opposing rookies could make an impact in 2019. We’ll go over the first five opponents on Wednesday, the next four on Thursday and the last four on Friday.

Week 1 vs. Packers

The Packers selected EDGE Rashan Gary with the No. 12 overall pick. Gary performed well at the Combine compared to other defensive linemen and outside linebackers, showing off his athleticism. But that athleticism didn’t lead to a ton of productivity in his final season at Michigan, as he only recorded 3.5 sacks and 38 tackles. Paired with the fact that Green Bay signed two veteran pass rushers this offseason, Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, it will be interesting to see how many snaps Gary gets in Week 1.

Week 2 at Broncos

Joe Flacco LOVES throwing to the tight end. In 2017 (his last full season starting) he targeted tight ends on 24 percent of his passes. To compare, the Bears targeted their tight ends on 18 percent of all their passes. So, Denver GM John Elway went out and got Flacco a new, big target in the first round by selecting Noah Fant out of Iowa. Fant caught 39 passes for 519 yards and 7 touchdowns last season, and could factor into the Broncos passing game early in the season.

Week 3 at Washington

I’m sure no one had this game circled when schedules were officially released mid-April, but now that Dwayne Haskins is in D.C. this game is suddenly more interesting. Will Haskins have replaced Case Keenum as the starter by Week 3? Can Haskins re-create some chemistry with fellow OSU rookie and third-round pick Terry McLaurin? Last season for the Buckeyes that duo connected for 650 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Week 4 vs. Vikings

This will be the first look for the Bears at Minnesota’s revamped offensive line. Last season, the Bears sacked Kirk Cousins five times across their two meetings. The Vikings were only able to muster 85 total rushing yards in those two games, as well. To help with these issues the Vikings went out and drafted center Garrett Bradbury with their first round pick, traded up in the fourth round to select guard Dru Samia, and used a sixth-round pick to take tackle Olisaemeka Udoh. Vikings beat writers figure Bradbury will compete for the starting center job, which would slide Pat Elflein to guard, opposite new free-agent signing Josh Kline. Samia and Udoh would likely compete for backup roles.

Week 5 at Raiders (in London)

All eyes will be on Josh Jacobs, the running back from Alabama who the Raiders drafted with one of the first-round picks the Bears sent to Oakland in exchange for Khalil Mack. Jacobs was the consensus best back in the draft this season and should feature heavily in the Raiders run game this season, as Adam Schefter has reported that Marshawn Lynch plans to retire.

Check back Thursday as we’ll go over Weeks 6 through 9 for the Bears.