Bears

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

If the Chicago Bears want to make a real run at the playoffs in 2018, the offensive line will have to do its part by keeping QB Mitch Trubisky upright. The offense is expected to be more pass-heavy under coach Matt Nagy and will depend on Trubisky having time in the pocket to go through his progressions and find the open target.

New offensive line coach Harry Hiestand should help that cause. He's universally praised as one of the best offensive line coaches in the sport and will be charged with getting a better effort from a unit that ended last season ranked in the bottom-third of pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus.

19. CHICAGO BEARS

2017 pass-blocking efficiency: 77.9

Best individual PBE: Josh Sitton, 97.4

Because of several crippling injuries, nine different players saw at least 100 pass-block snaps for the Bears in 2017. They gave up 152 pressures on 536 passing plays. The top performance came from left tackle Charles Leno Jr., who enjoyed the best season of his career and allowed just 24 pressures all season. Heading into the 2018 campaign, rookie guard James Daniels is penciled in to fill the shoes of the recently departed pass-blocking star Josh Sitton. Daniels performed well in pass protection during his final college season, allowing just 10 pressures on 371 pass-blocking snaps at Iowa.

The Bears will be without last season's top pass-protector, Josh Sitton, who was let go by GM Ryan Pace this offseason and signed with the Dolphins. 

Pass protection was once all about the play of the offensive tackles, but with the NFL's interior defensive linemen evolving into disruptive forces up the middle, guard play will be nearly as important. A healthy Kyle Long is critical. Chicago can't afford growing pains from James Daniels, either. Cody Whitehair returns to full-time center duties, a role he excelled at during his rookie season. 

Charles Leno should provide reliable play at left tackle. Bobby Massie remains a wildcard, but with little depth behind him, the Bears can do nothing more than hope his bad reps are limited in 2018.

With Hiestand in the fold and a healthy Long ready to compete at a high level again, the Bears' offensive line should be much improved this season.

Injury report: TE Dion Sims is only Bears player to miss practice Wednesday

Injury report: TE Dion Sims is only Bears player to miss practice Wednesday

The good news keeps coming for the Bears after their third-straight win. Mitchell Trubisky is the NFC Player of the Week, and their Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams has been flexed to Sunday Night Football on NBC.

They took the practice field Wednesday to prepare for the Minnesota Vikings, and they came away with the closest thing to a clean bill of health any team could ask for at this point in the season.

Tight end Dion Sims is the only injured player on the active roster, and he missed practice with a concussion that held him out of last week’s game against the Detroit Lions.

Last week, eight players appeared on the Bears injury report, although Sims was the only one who sat out of practice due to injury.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson and outside linebacker Khalil Mack are both off the list after practicing fully last week, as is rookie defensive lineman Bilal Nichols, who was questionable for the Lions game with a knee injury.

Meanwhile, the Vikings had nine players on their Wednesday injury report, including two starters who were unable to participate in practice.

This comes immediately following their bye week, their best opportunity to heal up for the home stretch of the season.

Chicago should be pretty close to full strength for Sunday night’s matchup, and it appears early on that Minnesota won’t.

Bears get flexed into Sunday Night for 2nd time in a month

usatsi_9812327.jpg
USA Today

Bears get flexed into Sunday Night for 2nd time in a month

The next month will show just how good the Bears really are, and a nationall audience will be on hand to watch. 

In what will be the second time in 4 weeks, a Bears game has been flexed into the Sunday Night slot: 

This makes sense, as the Bears are becomming very good while the Rams have already become very good. 

The original matchup in that slot was Steelers-Raiders, which, ew yuck, hard pass. Get used to some long nights coming up, Bears fans.