Bears

Devin Hester is on NFL 100 All-Time Team, now only the Hall of Fame awaits

Devin Hester is on NFL 100 All-Time Team, now only the Hall of Fame awaits

Football lists usually leave me feeling a bit cringey.

I don’t like being asked to rank players of different eras because of our collective historical ignorance and quite frankly my own. Even if we take a look at statistics or happen upon film of the player, it’s hard to compare.

I don’t like being asked my opinion on these matters because slighting someone who deserves praise is inevitable. The Bears 100 list was an excruciating exercise for all involved. Watching the reveal of the list was difficult. As hard as Don Pierson and Dan Pompei tried to be measured and fair in their assessments, worthy players were left out.

Our own Alex Brown felt obliged to defend his life’s work. Watching him go through that, quite honestly felt icky. For the record, A.B. ranks in the top 5 all-time in Bears history in sacks. The fact that he isn’t on the list is a shame, but I digress.

As football continues to celebrate its 100-year anniversary, I’ve been intrigued at the way the NFL Network has devised their ranking system and put together their “All-Time Team” of 100.

Now comes the part in the column where you can ignore almost every bit that comes before this sentence: I’m really happy that Devin Hester is on this list. It literally made me smile that his inclusion on the team was without any real debate.

Hester came along in my third full year covering the Bears beat. He was this quiet, shy kid who let his play do the talking. Watching him that first year was mesmerizing. In the ‘06 season he had five return touchdowns (three punts, two on kickoffs).

The most famous, until the Super Bowl, was his role in the Monday Night comeback against Arizona. What we were all watching was impossible. It’s a game that will live on in not just Bears history, but NFL history because the team somehow overcame Rex Grossman’s six, yes SIX, turnovers to win a game.

It was a win that prompted one of the most famous post-game rants in 100 years of the NFL.

Hester’s return in the Arizona game and his return to kick off Super Bowl 41 are both iconic moments. What I remember most about Hester is a bit more abstract.

I imagine that any Bears fan of a certain age can relate, but when the steel drums of Soulja Boy’s: “Crank That” start, it was an event. Hester adopted that song as his kickoff theme and the energy that would overtake Soldier Field before each kickoff was intoxicating. It was a call to arms for the 61,500 fans packed into the stadium.

There was Hester in the end zone-unaffected, dancing, waiting for a chance to make a play. You had to take notice because there was the opportunity to see something special, something you’d never seen before.

On top of hating lists, I hate Hall of Fame debates, but allow me to contradict myself once more. Hester’s inclusion on the All-Time Team list will go a long way towards his induction into Canton.

He shouldn’t have to beg or wait for his gold jacket. Everyone knows what they saw and what they saw was the greatest returner in the history of this league. This list affirms that.

The Hall of Fame is a museum, right? Well, how can a football museum keep out the Basquiat of returns?

Oh and A.B. should be on that Bears top 100 list. If we’re keepin’ it 100.

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Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Patrick Finley at the 2020 Pro Bowl and offered a glowing review of Bears quarterback coach, John DeFilippo, whose addition to Chicago's coaching staff is expected to bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky, the Bears' incumbent starter who's entering a make-or-break offseason with the team.

“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’

“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”

DeFilippo was the Eagles quarterback coach for two seasons (2016-17) and played an integral part in Wentz's development between his rookie and second seasons. Under DeFilippo's tutelage, Wentz went from a solid rookie season to an MVP-worthy campaign in 2017. It's also noteworthy that DeFilippo managed to get the best out of veteran Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz after a season-ending injury. Foles went on to enjoy a miraculous Super Bowl run.

DeFilippo certainly has his work cut out for him with Trubisky. The former second-overall pick has looked like an average starter (at best) through 41 regular-season starts and regressed mightily in 2019. Blame for his regression has been shared among the offensive line and play-calling, but he deserves much of the criticism too. His mechanics were sloppy, his accuracy was lacking and he just didn't play with the kind of downfield killer instinct Nagy wants from his starter.

Nagy's end-of-year comments about Trubisky needing to learn how to identify coverages didn't create much confidence in his near-term trajectory, either.

But that's why DeFilippo is in town. And if Cousins' comments prove to be true, then we may be on the precipice of a breakout season from Trubisky.

Or maybe DeFilippo will be the tie-breaking voice that allows the Bears to move on if Trubisky's struggles continue.

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Believe it or not, the Bears are in good shape for the 2020 NFL Draft, even without a first-round pick.

This year’s class of prospects runs deep with talent and several players chosen between picks 33-50 will have upside similar to first-rounders from years past.

The Bears have two picks in that range — Nos. 43 and 50 — and have a great opportunity to add two starting-quality players by the end of Day 2.

But which players are likely to be available when they’re on the clock? 

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. published his new mock draft Friday and it offers a good look not only at who the potential first-round picks will be but also the cluster of highly-ranked prospects who will fall into Round 2.

Here are five players who didn’t make Kiper’s first-round cut that the Bears will give strong consideration to. 

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

Fromm is likely to be the highest-rated passer still on the board when the Bears are on the clock in the second round. And while he doesn’t have elite traits, his experience as a starter in the SEC adds an element to the Bears' quarterback room that’s currently missing. Plus, his accuracy on short and intermediate routes is a good fit for Matt Nagy’s offense.

Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

The best tight end at the 2020 Senior Bowl and arguably the top tight end in the draft class slips out of Kiper’s first round and potentially into the Bears’ lap at No. 43 overall. Hopkins is an athletic yet undersized pass-catcher at the position who would immediately challenge for the starting job in Chicago.

Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

Lewis looks the part of an NFL edge rusher. and with questions surrounding the future of former first-round pick Leonard Floyd, the Bears are likely to target a player who can help add some juice on the outside rush track. Lewis’ production (only seven sacks the last two seasons) will likely create enough questions about his upside to push him into the second round.

Austin Jackson, OT, USC

The Bears offensive line was a big weakness in 2019 and there’s no doubt it will be a high priority in the 2020 NFL Draft. The pressing question is whether the Bears will attack offensive tackle or guard first, but with a player like Jackson making it to the second round in Kiper’s mock draft, they'd be hard-pressed to pass him up.

Lloyd Cushenberry, iOL, LSU

Cushenberry was one of the top offensive linemen at the 2020 Senior Bowl and will be a riser throughout the draft process. He may end up being the best interior lineman to slip to the second round, and like Hopkins, would be an immediate upgrade and potential starter on Day 1 of his rookie season.