Bears

No, Dez Bryant doesn't make sense for the Bears (and the Bears don't make sense for him)

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USA Today Sports Images

No, Dez Bryant doesn't make sense for the Bears (and the Bears don't make sense for him)

The Bears need a wide receiver, and one of the biggest names in the league just became a free agent. But Dez Bryant isn’t a fit for the Bears, and the Bears aren’t a fit for Dez Bryant. 

Let’s start with the latter part of that: Why would Bryant want to come to Chicago? He already made it clear he wants to stay in the NFC East, apparently:

And while Bryant offered this statement on Twitter…

… He’d have an opportunity to stick it to the Cowboys if he signed, for, say, Washington or the New York Giants. Neither team made the playoffs last year, and the Giants are in the twilight of the Eli Manning era, so going to Washington and linking up with Alex Smith may make more sense from a competition standpoint. 

If he doesn’t stick in the NFC East, it’d stand to reason Bryant would try to join a winning team. He turns 30 in November and has seen is production decline from those back-to-back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons from 2012-2014. If he wants a shot at a Super Bowl ring, being an unrestricted free agent could allow him to find a team that needs a receiver and is knocking on the door of a championship. The Bears don’t fit that bill yet. 

And the Bears already splurged on Allen Robinson this offseason. Would Bryant be okay playing second fiddle on a team that’s lost 10 or more games in each of the last four years?

But let’s assume for a moment that Bryant actually is interested in the Bears. Why would the Bears want him?

Yes, Bryant has been one of the league’s best receivers, but that was four years ago. Since his peak in 2014, Bryant has averaged 50 catches for 678 yards per season, while missing an average of three games every year. More importantly: Bryant hasn’t even caught 50 percent of his targets since 2015:

The Bears already have two bigger outside receivers in Robinson and Kevin White, so from purely a “need” standpoint, they probably don’t need a third — especially one who’s about to turn 30 and hasn’t had his production match his pay in a few years. More likely, the Bears need a flexible, quicker receiver who can play in the slot and outside. 

Plus, the Bears’ plan has been to build through youth. Even in splurging on Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton this spring, the oldest of that bunch is the 27-year-old Gabriel. If the Bears are going to sign a free agent receiver in his late 20's, someone like Jeremy Maclin, Dontrelle Inman or Kamar Aiken makes more sense. 

This isn’t to say Bryant isn’t still a good player — whatever team signs him could get a motivated receiver with something still left in the tank. Not that Bryant is Randy Moss, but Moss went from a disappointing 553-yard age-29 season with Oakland to a ridiculous, 1,400-yard, 23-touchdown season with the New England Patriots at age 30. It could happen. 

Just not with the Bears. 

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: 

How good can the Bears’ offense be while Mitch Trubisky is a work in progress?

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USA Today Sports Images

How good can the Bears’ offense be while Mitch Trubisky is a work in progress?

Matt Nagy liked some of the throws Mitch Trubisky made in Sunday’s 16-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals, at least the ones he threw with conviction. 

“I say to myself, that right there is what we’re about to get to,” Nagy said. 

Trubisky, indeed, did throw a few completions with what looked like conviction upon first and second viewing. There was a 25-yard strike to tight end Trey Burton in the second quarter, a 39-yard completion to Allen Robinson after the receiver got open with an excellent double move, and a 12-yard laser to Burton that sparked what wound up being the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. 

But still plaguing the second-year quarterback were inaccurate throws, especially downfield, and some questionable decision-making. So that brought up a question to Nagy in his regular Monday press conference: Is Trubisky mentally full or at capacity as he works to learn the offense?

“I think that it's probably getting close,” Nagy said. “It's not fair to him if it gets -- remember what I told you before, there's that balance of knowing what he can and can't handle. And not just him now too, but we have 10 other guys on this offense that this is their first time learning it. So, they need to be able to go through these routes and these plays for the first time as well. 

“When you feel like it's getting close to that breaking point or too much, you got to pull back. And so I feel like we've done a pretty good job so far with that. We'll continue to monitor that and see where he's at. We'll talk to him, we'll get feedback from him, as well as the other guys, and then try to figure out the 'why' part. Why aren't we where we want to be? 

“So, there's some common sense to it of knowing that it's going t o take a little time, but then there's some, 'Hey, let's start doing the little things the right way, the details.' And let's make sure that we as coaches are pitting these players in the best position possible.”

A number of incomplete passes thrown by Trubisky on Sunday warrant additional scrutiny. 

He didn’t connect with an open Robinson on what would’ve been a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter, firing the ball behind his receiver when an accurate pass would’ve almost certainly resulted in seven points. Nagy, though, pointed to there being some pass rushing pressure near Trubisky’s knees, which made it more difficult for him to make an accurate throw. 

A few plays earlier, Taylor Gabriel looked like he had a step in the end zone, but Trubisky overthrew him from the 36-yard line. He had time to throw and showed better pocket awareness, but wasn’t able to get the throw right. 

Those are the kind of throws the Bears expect Trubisky to hit, even if you add “eventually” to that sentence. Connecting on deep shots will be critical to the success of this offense going forward — not only will can those spark Trubisky and the offense, but it would force opposing defenses to back off the line of scrimmage a bit. Arizona sold out to stop Jordan Howard, committing eight or more men to the box on 42 percent of the running back’s attempts (which is in line with the rate of stacked boxes he faced in 2017). It’s clear that Arizona and, a week ago, Seattle went into facing the Bears’ offense with the plan of not letting Howard beat them — or, alternatively, making Trubisky prove he can beat them. 

“We need to start connecting on those,” Nagy said. “It’s great to take the opportunity of going deep. Those are great. but they’re way better and they mean a lot more when you connect on them.”

Until Trubisky’s accuracy and decision-making improve, though, the Bears’ offense will have to hang its hat on its ability to grind out drives that, at the least, give the defense a breather. Nagy cited the Bears’ time of possession — which averages 34:42, second-highest in the NFL — as something with which he’s pleased. But it also bears noting Nagy’s old team, the best-offense-in-the-league Kansas City Chiefs, rank 25th in average time of possession (27:48). 

So if the explosive plays aren’t coming, what Nagy is focusing on is better efficiency to end those lengthy drives with touchdowns instead of field goals. For an offense that’s still a work in progress, starting with that goal sounds like a realistic idea. 

And, it's worth noting here too: The Bears have won more games than they've lost. It's certainly better to be winning games than not when going through what Trubisky and the Bears' offense is right now. 

“When you're a quarterback in this offense and you're not going three and out and you're not using your punter, you know what that does? That helps your defense out because they get a breather,” Nagy said. “And so, understand that there's two parts to that. Where do we got to get better? We got to get better in the red zone. And that's where we need to improve right now. We're moving the ball and getting first downs. We're chewing up the clock and we're getting stopped in the red zone and we're kicking field goals and we need to get touchdowns.”