Bears

Projecting what holes the Bears will have to fill on their 2018 depth chart

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USA Today

Projecting what holes the Bears will have to fill on their 2018 depth chart

On Wednesday’s edition of the Under Center Podcast, John “Moon” Mullin and I broke down the Bears’ current depth chart, and which players on it will and won’t be back in 2018. 

The genesis of the pod, which you can listen to below, was with this color-coded depth chart:

 

Instead of a deep dive into each of these units, as we did on the podcast, this will more be a look at who those players are who are locked into roster spots in 2018. This should begin to paint a picture of where the Bears’ positions of need are heading into the offseason. 

OFFENSE
 
QB: Mitchell Trubisky
RB: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen
FB: 
WR: Cameron Meredith, Kevin White
TE: Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen
LT: Charles Leno Jr.
LG: Josh Sitton, Eric Kush
C: Cody Whitehair
RG: Kyle Long, Eric Kush
RT: 

The first point to note with any of these projections is we don’t know what the Bears offense and defense will look like in 2018 with a potentially different coaching staff in place (i.e., if that coaching staff wants a fullback). 

The biggest need on this side of the ball, clearly, is wide receiver. Meredith and White are both coming off injuries (for White, three injuries in three years), and it’s fair to wonder if they can be as productive as the Bears expected them to be this season. 

The top five receivers currently scheduled to hit free agency are Davante Adams (744 yards, 7 TDs), Jarvis Landry (699 yards, 6 TDs), Marqise Lee (637, 3 TDs), Paul Richardson (592 yards, 5 TDs) and Sammy Watkins (528 yards, 6 TDs). Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright could play their way into contracts with the Bears in 2018 — both are due to hit free agency, too — with good play down the stretch. Inman, especially, has quickly developed chemistry with Trubisky since being acquired from the Los Angeles Chargers in October. 

The Bears could also potentially see an upgrade at right tackle, depending on how they’ve evaluated Bobby Massie’s season and his potential cap savings if he’s released ($5.6 million, according to Spotrac). There will be a need to add depth behind these starting linemen — though if Kush returns healthy from a training camp ACL injury, that would be a boost. 

Not all of these offensive players are "core" guys, but Trubisky, Howard, Cohen, Sitton, Whitehair and Long should fit that designation. 
 
DEFENSE

DE: Akiem Hicks, Jonathan Bullard
DT: Eddie Goldman
OLB: Leonard Floyd
ILB: Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski
CB: 
S: Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos

Whether the Bears’ 2018 defense is a 3-4 (as run by Vic Fangio) or a 4-3 (as run by a different defensive coordinator) remains to be seen, but these eight players would fit any scheme. 

The clear need is at cornerback, with Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara becoming free agents next year. Marcus Cooper hasn’t played up to his contract and would save the Bears $4.5 million in cap room if he were released (again, per Spotrac). Nickel corners Bryce Callahan (a restricted free agent) and Cre’von LeBlanc could be back, as could special teams ace Sherrick McManis (an unrestricted free agent). Finding an upgrade at this position is a definite “must-do” for the Bears’ offseason checklist.

But so is adding at least one go-to edge rusher, regardless of scheme fit. Pernell McPhee and Willie Young aren’t guaranteed to be back, given their relative lack of production (largely in McPhee’s case), their injury histories (in both players’ cases) or their age (in Young’s case). But if the Bears pencil in Hicks and Floyd as go-to pass-rushers in 2018, they still need a third. 

The good news is Jackson and Amos proved to be a solid safety duo in 2017, and that should carry over to 2018 (Quintin Demps could return, but perhaps as a backup). Goldman has been one of the Bears’ best defensive players this year and could be in line for a contract extension in the offseason. Trevathan is a rock on this defense, too, and is another player on whom a 2018 defense can be built. 

The "core" guys in this group: Hicks, Goldman, Trevathan and Floyd. 
 
SPECIAL TEAMS

PK: 
Punter: 
Long snapper: Andrew DePaola, Patrick Scales

Pat O’Donnell will be a free agent, while the Bears’ revolving door of kickers in 2017 isn’t likely to produce a long-term solution in 2018. 
 

Black History Month: The courage to be a black quarterback

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USA TODAY

Black History Month: The courage to be a black quarterback

NBCS Chicago is celebrating Black History Month with special episodes to discuss the impact of the black athlete in sports. In the final episode of the series, Laurence Holmes is joined by his "Football Aftershow" teammate and former Chicago Bear Alex Brown to discuss, making coaching in the NFL more diverse, is the Rooney Rule helping, and the common practice of moving black quarterbacks to other positions.

(4:20) - Alex Brown on being pushed to not play quarterback in high school

(9:15) - Jalen Hurts asked would he be willing to change positions in the NFL

(17:03) - Alex Brown on playing in a Super Bowl that featured 2 black head coaches

(22:12) - Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy not being mentioned for a head coaching job

(26:00) - Does the Rooney Rule work?

(40:35) - Overcoming unfairness

(44:28) - Watching a NFL where there are successful black quarterbacks

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player  below:

Under Center Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

People actually thought that Garth Brooks was wearing a Bernie Sanders Lions jersey

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@jasoncvincent

People actually thought that Garth Brooks was wearing a Bernie Sanders Lions jersey

Karens everywhere are officially Mad Online. 

The latest -- and probably dumbest -- example yet? Let's check in on country megastar Garth Brooks. Sports! 

Garth was playing a concert in Detroit recently, and decided to butter up the home crowd by wearing a Barry Sanders jersey. As far as in-concert statements go, that's about as innocuous as it gets. Surely nothing could have ruined a night of Garth belting out the lyrics to his most recent song about truckbeds and moonshine and American Values while wearing the jersey of *the* great player in Lions' history? 

Ha ha ha actually no, of course things were ruined. People IN DETROIT somehow thought that Garth Brooks, of all people, was supporting Bernie Sanders. Garth Brooks! If you asked 1000 random people -- apparently they can't be from Detroit though -- what political candidate they thought Garth Brooks supported, not a single human being asked would say Bernie Sanders (although maybe they should?). Not one.  AND YET: 

I can't quite put my finger on what everyone who's making a fool of themselves on Garth's Facebook has in common, but I'm sure there's some sort of connective tissue. We'll probably never know! 

Anyways, get 'em, Barry: