Bears

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

The Chicago Bears selected inside linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the expectation that he'll become an immediate starter and impact player on defense. But, was there a need at inside linebacker?

According to Pro Football Focus, Nick Kwiatkoski, who Chicago selected in the fourth round of 2016's draft, was a standout performer last season. He ranked third in the NFL among inside linebackers in run-stop percentage and was fourth-best in pass-rush productivity.

Kwiatkoski also wasn’t tagged for a missed tackle against the run all season. He still has to share time on the field with Danny Trevathan and newly-drafted Roquan Smith, but should be able to capitalize on a great sophomore year after being drafted in the fourth round from West Virginia in 2016. Overall, Kwiatoski was graded as the NFL’s 12th best inside linebacker, higher than both Spaight and Hitchens.

His 21.0 pass-rush productivity ranked fourth and came on the heels of his rookie season in which he ranked 10th in the same category in 2016.

Kwiatkoski didn't receive much fanfare last season but the analytics speak for themselves. He started six games (appeared in 11) and registered career highs in tackles (34) and sacks (two). He's an ascending player but his growth is likely to be stunted by Smith's presence. 

Chicago could view Kwiatkoski as the heir to Danny Trevathan's starting job. The Bears can move on from Trevathan with little consequence at season's end. His dead cap number drops to just $1.25 million in 2019. Kwiatkoski will be in the final year of his contract that season (2019), and if he hasn't earned a starting job by then, he's a near lock to sign elsewhere when his rookie contract expires. 

Kwiatkoski has proven he can produce when given a chance to play, something 31 other teams have certainly taken notice of.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bears are in first place, and talking Hawk's final broadcast

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USA Today

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bears are in first place, and talking Hawk's final broadcast

On the latest Sports Talk Live podcast, David Haugh, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.  The Bears win.  They’re in 1st place in the NFC North.  However, Mitch Trubisky didn’t look so good.  Should fans be worried about another lackluster performance?

Plus the Sox say goodbye to Hawk, the Cubs have a Kyle Schwarber decision to make in October and Patrick wasn’t too impressed with Tiger Woods win at the Tour Championship.

You can listen to the entire thing right here, or in the embedded player below: 

 

Neat Tweets: The win was ugly, but the tweets were beautiful

Neat Tweets: The win was ugly, but the tweets were beautiful

Another week, another ugly Bears win. A win's a win, though, and the Bears are sitting pretty in first place for now. 

The team may have been a cool 1700 miles away, but the Authentic Fans were especially authentic this Sunday:

Then all of a sudden it was 14-0 Cardinals and people were NOT pleased: 

It even ventured into Sad-Michael-Scott territory for a bit: 

But then the Bears decided to start winning the game, and the All-Caps button returned: 

And, as always, here's our Khalil Mack Tribute section: 

The Bears pulled out the win, though, and first place feels NICE: 

And then, the One Tweet to Rule Them All: