Bears

Nick Foles' familiarity with Bears coaches, system important to Ryan Pace

Nick Foles' familiarity with Bears coaches, system important to Ryan Pace

When news leaked that the Bears had traded for Nick Foles, it sent shockwaves through the league. Many people supported the move to bring in a former Super Bowl MVP, but many others questioned the decision.

On Friday, Bears GM Ryan Pace appeared on Pro Football Talk’s podcast “PFT PM” to discuss all sorts of things the Bears have been focusing on this offseason, including what went into the decision to trade for Foles.

Part of what helped, Pace said, was the team’s overall familiarity with Foles.

“We have about four coaches on our staff that have worked with Nick and coached Nick,” Pace said on the podcast. “And at different places, which I think is valuable because they’ve seen him at different stages of his career.

“When you’re evaluating the position, obviously the film and what you see on the field is an important part of the product. But I think the knowledge of Nick behind the scenes, how he deals with adversity, what kind of teammate he is… that was huge for us. That intimate knowledge of the coaches on our staff.”

All of that is great, but when it comes down to brass tacks will that familiarity help Foles play in Nagy’s system? Pace says yes.

“As we went through all the different styles of offenses that he’s played in, what we do here in Chicago is very similar to what he was doing in Philadelphia with coach Pederson. So I think there’s a lot of commonalities there, so I think that style of play you saw in Philly with Nick-- we saw it firsthand in the playoffs-- I think that’s something you can expect to see here in Chicago.”

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Will the Bears field a top-20 fantasy football running back this season?

Will the Bears field a top-20 fantasy football running back this season?

Fantasy football leagues around the country are beginning to schedule their drafts, and as is the case in every league regardless of the scoring format, running backs will be a hot commodity.

The elite running backs -- Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Saquon Barkley -- are easy picks at the top of Round 1. But finding value at the position in the next couple of rounds is where league titles are won. Will David Montgomery be one of those guys? 

According to the analytics experts at Pro Football Focus, he might be. PFF is projecting Montgomery to be a top-20 running back in PPR (points per reception) leagues.

Another 250-plus touches seem more than reasonable for Montgomery in 2020. This number, like most statistical thresholds, is fairly arbitrary, but there has been a strong history of success from players that manage to reach this “milestone.” Overall, only nine out of 153 RBs with at least 250 touches in a season failed to finish better than the PPR RB24. Yes, 2019 featured three of those players in Montgomery himself, Carlos Hyde and Sony Michel, but the potential for the Bears' featured back to continue to improve his efficiency and pass-game role adds a bit more of a ceiling for 2020.

This seems like a logical projection for Montgomery, who currently has an average draft position (ADP) of RB21 (49th overall). That equates to an early fifth-round pick in 12-team leagues.

Running backs who are being drafted just ahead of Montgomery are David Johnson (Texans), Melvin Gordon (Broncos), Chris Carson (Seahawks) and even Todd Gurley (Falcons).

Fantasy owners who draft Montgomery would be wise to target Tarik Cohen as his handcuff. He can be had much later in fantasy leagues; he's coming off the board as the 42nd running back and 145th player overall.

PFF says Roquan Smith is "still trying to find consistency"

PFF says Roquan Smith is "still trying to find consistency"

Rarely is former first-round pick Roquan Smith mentioned as a weakness on the Bears defense, but entering his third season in the league, Smith needs a breakout year to justify the Bears' decision to select him with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

In fact, Pro Football Focus listed Smith among 15 players entering a prove-it year in 2020.

When he came into the league, Roquan Smith looked tailor-made for the modern NFL — a linebacker who excelled in coverage in college with the athleticism, instincts and feel for the game to be a difference-maker at the next level. Yet, the player we saw at Georgia has yet to really show up in the NFL with any degree of regularity. Smith has made a lot of tackles and missed relatively few (17 in 234 attempts), but his PFF grades reflect a player still trying to find consistency, particularly in coverage where he was so special in college. A top-10 draft pick in 2018, Smith enters Year 3 needing to show the Bears he can be a difference-maker on defense — not just another body who is a relatively solid tackler.

PFF's assessment of Smith is fair. It's actually kind of generous considering how bizarre his season was in 2019. While he's considered a critical starter in the Bears' defense, he isn't a star (yet) despite the fanbase thinking he is, or at least close to being one.

This may be a product of Chicago's post-traumatic draft-bust syndrome. Bears fans are so used to the team selecting first-round busts (Kevin White, Leonard Floyd and Mitch Trubisky), that even average play from Smith will feel like a breath of fresh air.

The reality, however, is that Smith is teetering toward settling in as a slightly above-average inside linebacker. And that's fine. But if he's going to ever become a star, it has to happen in 2020.