Bears grade well in 'secondary' free-agent market


Bears grade well in 'secondary' free-agent market

While specific position battles dont materially play out during OTAs, it has been amply evident that the Bears came out of the 2012 free-agent market with perhaps the highest record of acquisition in recent memory.

Longtime friend John Clayton over at ESPN in fact rates the Bears offseason-to-date behind only Tampa Bay, Buffalo, St. Louis and Oakland. John is an annual visitor to Bourbonnais and does a superb job, has for many years, of getting up close on teams and key figures.

But its the basis for Johns rating that is especially interesting.

The Bucs get JCs top grade for bringing in wideout Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright all starters at an elite level, plus defensive tackle Amobi Okoye from the Bears. Same for the Bills with adding defensive end Mario Williams.

But the second-wave winners, including the Bears, are based on the quality of depth added. That is part of what is clearly apparent even in the OTAs.

Guard Chilo Rachal and cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite all have been starters and could be again. Rachal is getting spot work with the 1s, and the two corners are penciled in as competition for both Tim Jennings left cornerback spot and D.J. Moores nickel spot.

Linebacker Geno Hayes is an impact special-teams player and the level of this phase of Bears performance qualifies this as a starter addition.

The Bears reaped significant benefits from a signing like centerguard Chris Spencer last offseason; Spencer became a starter and likely still will be. Okoye was a contributor and opted for Tampa Bay. Vernon Gholston and Roy Williams were not particularly memorable. Marion Barber was, for all the wrong reasons.

But the 2012 additions come in on short-term deals, which translates to motivation in the NFL and that bodes very well for the Bears as they do their last week of OTAs before next weeks three-day full minicamp.

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins


Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

The Bears defense was not its usual self in their overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The pass rush was minimal and tackling looked optional, and Brock Osweiler threw for almost 400 yards.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but a few individual defenders had success while their teammates struggled.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks made the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for Week 6 with a 92.2 overall grade.

He recorded seven tackles that resulted in a defensive “stop,” the most of any defensive lineman according to PFF.

Chicago’s next highest-graded player was cornerback Kyle Fuller (78.2), who intercepted Osweiler twice but also missed two tackles.

Offensively, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel led the way with a 76.9 mark. PFF credited four of his five catches coming against Dolphins cornerback Torry McTyer in coverage.

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Khalil Mack had the lowest-graded game of his career (47.8), while linebacker Danny Trevathan (29.9) and safety Adrian Amos Jr. (47.5) each had their second-worst games.

Some of the Bears’ best players were at their worst in Miami. They’re going to need to get their act together for the New England Patriots on Sunday.

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition


2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.