Bears

Why Bears get 'hate' and 'disrespect' from national NFL media

Why Bears get 'hate' and 'disrespect' from national NFL media

Eddie Jackson is a very, very good safety. I know this because I’ve watched nearly every snap he’s taken in the NFL.

Is he a top 10 safety in the league? Probably. But CBS Sports HQ doesn’t think so:

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Nor does CBS’ rankings have Akiem Hicks as a top 10 defensive lineman:

And there are eight – eight! – edge rushers ranked ahead of Khalil Mack:

The nerve! The disrespect! CBS clearly hates the Bears. They don’t have one eye open, they have their eyes closed!

These are just a few examples of the national media “hating” on the Bears recently. Last month, ESPN’s Michael Clay predicted a six-win season and a last-place finish for the Bears in 2020:

At best, the Bears are an afterthought in a lot of national discussions. They’re viewed as a team that’ll neither contend for a Super Bowl nor a top-10 draft pick. Otherwise, they’re a punchline – the team that drafted Mitch Trubisky instead of Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. And at worst, they’re squarely on the Jaguars track.

Meanwhile, I predicted the Bears to win 10 games when the NFL released its 2020 schedule, and most of the talk around Chicago has been about if Nick Foles or Trubisky can be enough to push a great defense into the playoffs – not avoid the bottom of the NFC North.

What gives? Why does the national opinion of the Bears seem to be so disconnected from the local one?

I think it starts with the 2019 Bears being one of the league’s most irrelevant teams. 8-8 coupled with no first round draft pick will do that. The Bears last year didn’t really give anyone outside Chicago a reason to care about them, not when there was a far more intriguing disaster playing out in Dallas. In the NFC North, the Lions marched to the No. 3 overall pick while the Vikings and Packers both won playoff games. The Bears were...just kind of there. 

And the Bears didn’t do much in the offseason to change the perception of mediocrity around the team. Though I will say: Don’t sleep on how good this defense should be with Robert Quinn on board.

Also, the Bears haven’t exactly been relevant much recently. 2018 was great; that’s the only season this franchise has had over .500 since Lovie Smith was fired after the 2012 season. And even that year ended in a moment that morphed into a league-wide joke. 

What I’m getting at is it’s not the national media’s fault the Bears aren’t exactly at the forefront of their analysis. It’s the Bears’ fault. For this “disrespect” or “hate” to stop, the Bears need to start winning, and start winning consistently.

Otherwise, yeah, Jackson is going to get left off more lists he probably should be on.  

 

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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.