Bears

After years of torment, Bears finally seeing 'bad' Aaron Rodgers? Not quite

After years of torment, Bears finally seeing 'bad' Aaron Rodgers? Not quite

It might be difficult for BearsNation to believe that the football gods have it in for their local gridders. For so many years the Bears and their followers have wept and gnashed their bicuspids, waiting for the Green Bay Packers to lose Brett Favre, and then when they did, Aaron Rodgers arose. Then the waiting began for Rodgers to begin faltering, when the time would come that the Bears could climb past the team that denied them the Super Bowl in 2010 and rained (literally and figuratively) on so many of their parades.

And finally, as 2016 began unfolding, it looked to be happening: Rodgers started being “bad” (if only by Rodgers standards), throwing more interceptions (7) through nine games as he typically has thrown in whole seasons and posting passer ratings down in the Jay Cutler range. The Packers were down to 4-6, and even the Bears in their diminished state, led the Packers 10-6 early in the third quarter of their game in Green Bay.

So there it was, the chance the Bears have been waiting years for…

Except that now it turns out…Rodgers wasn’t really “bad.”

“He never looked like he was off to me,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, clearly puzzled at how anyone could see one of the NFL’s measure of excellence could have been judged to have been faltering.

“He’s a complete quarterback. He’s got a big arm. He’s very accurate. He anticipates things well. He’s got a quick release. And on top of all the passing talent, he has the scrambling and the improvising and the quarterback running just makes it really a complete package.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

So has Fangio been having sleepless nights during this Packer Week?

“I’ve been up all night a lot of weeks lately,” Fangio said, his frustrations clearly not limited to just Packer prep.

Indeed, waiting for Rodgers to fade or even falter has been futile in the past and just as much so now. For all of the reports of any rift between Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers have run off three straight victories, the last a 38-10 mauling of the runaway NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks.

Rodgers has not thrown an interception in four straight games and has had no passer rating below 108.9. The Bears have had just two passer performances that high — both by Brian Hoyer — in 13 games this season.

Rookie safety Deon Bush played 5 snaps on special teams, none on defense, the first time the Bears faced Rodgers this year. Now Bush has started four games and aware of how Rodgers can abuse safeties and every other position on defense.

“He’s been doing it at a high level for a long time,” Bush said, shaking his head. “He’s unpredictable, he makes great throws. Very unpredictable and it’s hard to read that.

“We’ve just to be ready to stick with the receivers for a long time. He extends plays with his feet… For me, it’s another week, another chance to play against someone you’ve watched for a long time.”

A Bears-centric draft guide to every running back in this year's NFL Draft

A Bears-centric draft guide to every running back in this year's NFL Draft

No position carries more interest and importance than running back as the Bears head into the 2019 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday in Nashville but won’t get underway at Halas Hall until Friday. While general manager Ryan Pace said the Bears don’t need to draft a running back, given all the scouting the Bears have done on players at that position, it feels like a foregone conclusion that they will take one sometime before the end of Saturday. 

So with all the focus on this one position, NBC Sports Chicago compiled the big boards of eight major draft gurus/websites to put a wisdom-of-the-crowd spin on a running back ranking system. Sources used for these rankings: Josh Norris’ top 200, Pro Football Focus’ top 250, Dane Brugler’s top 100, Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50, Gil Brandt’s top 150 and Danny Kelly’s top 100, as well as complete big boards by ESPN and CBS. 

The results divide this class of running backs into a number of tiers based on where the Bears pick, which right now is Nos. 87, 126, 162, 222 and 238. Here’s what we came up with:

Tier 1: No chance

Member: Josh Jacobs, Alabama

Average rank: 28.1
Highest: 8 (Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com)
Lowest: 60 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 0

Every one of these eight rankings had Jacobs as its highest-rated running back. There’s a chance the Oakland Raiders use the 24th pick — which the Bears sent to them in the Khalil Mack trade — on Jacobs Thursday night. 

Tier 2: Dream scenarios with No. 87

Members: David Montgomery, Iowa State; Miles Sanders, Penn State

Montgomery average rank: 59.5
Highest: 43 (Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com)
Lowest: 79 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 0

 

Sanders average rank: 64.0
Highest: 45 (Gil Brandt, NFL.com)
Lowest: 86 (CBS)
Not ranked: 0

The dream scenario for the Bears would be having one of these guys be available when they go on the clock with the 87th pick Friday night. These two guys are comfortably the second- and third-best running backs in this year’s class when compiling all these rankings, and there’s a good chance a few teams ahead of the Bears will want a running back before that 87th selection. 

Tier 3: Realistic at No. 87

Members: Damien Harris, Alabama; Darrell Henderson, Memphis; Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic

Harris average rank: 86.0
Highest: 55 (Dane Brugler, The Athletic)
Lowest: 135 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

Henderson average rank: 87.0
Highest: 69 (Danny Kelly, The Ringer)
Lowest: 119 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

 

Singletary average rank: 91.7
Highest: 55 (Josh Norris, Rotoworld)
Lowest: 139 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 1 (Jeremiah)

 

We start to see some variance with these three running backs. Norris has Singletary (55) and Henderson (74) ranked ahead of Sanders (75), with Harris (103) lagging behind; Brandt has Harris (88) and Henderson (95) in his top 100, with Singletary (112) out of it. 

As with anyone in the draft, it only takes one team to like you, and while it’d be a shock if any of these three players jumped Jacobs, one could be drafted ahead of Montgomery or Sanders on Friday night (there’s been some buzz about Henderson climbing up draft boards lately, for what it’s worth). Still, if the Bears are targeting a running back with their third-round pick, some or all of these guys could very well be in Pace’s cloud. 

Tier 4: Options at No. 126 or No. 162

Members: Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M; Justice Hill, Oklahoma State; Bryce Love, Stanford; Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma; Tony Pollard, Memphis; Elijah Holyfield, Georgia; Dexter Williams, Notre Dame; Karan Higdon, Michigan; Ryquell Armstead, Temple; Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska

T. Williams average rank: 110.5
Highest: 76 (ESPN)
Lowest: 238 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 3 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

 

Hill average rank: 120.0
Highest: 72 (ESPN)
Lowest: 190 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 2 (Jeremiah, Kelly)

Love average rank: 120.4
Highest: 113 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 140 (CBS)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Anderson average rank: 125.3
Highest: 112 (CBS)
Lowest: 138 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Holyfield average rank: 130.7
Highest: 99 (CBS)
Lowest: 157 (Norris)
Not ranked: 5 (Pro Football Focus, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Pollard average rank: 140.3
Highest: 132 (Brandt)
Lowest: 244 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 4 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

D. Williams average rank: 148.0
Highest: 116 (Brandt)
Lowest: 177 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 4 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

Higdon average rank: 160.3
Highest: 149 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 182 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Armstead average rank: 166.5
Highest: 147 (Brandt)
Lowest: 181 (CBS)
Not ranked: 3 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Kelly)

 

Ozigbo average rank: 169.5
Highest: 73 (Norris)
Lowest: 305 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Now we’re really all over the board, which is how a glance at eight NFL draft boards would look like. Some may not include Ozigbo — who wasn’t invited to the Combine — while another team could have a third-round grade on him. Trayveon Williams could be a third-rounder on one team’s board and a seventh-rounder on another’s. With all these guys, it depends on how they’d fit what Pace and Matt Nagy believe would fit the Bears best. 

A few quick thought here: Love seems unlikely given his medical re-check revealed some lingering concerns about his surgically-repaired knee. The previously-injured running back the Bears would seem more likely to take out of this group would be Anderson. 

Tier 5: Seventh-round fliers

Members: Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky; Mike Weber, Ohio State; Miles Gaskin, Washington; Jalin Moore, Appalachian State; Jordan Scarlett, Florida; Travis Homer, Miami (Fla.); Alexander Mattison, Boise State; James Williams, Washington State; Darwin Thompson, Utah State; Alex Barnes, Kansas State

Snell Jr. average rank: 164.0
Highest: 116 (CBS)
Lowest: 212 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 6 (Norris, Pro Football Focus, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Weber average rank: 185.0
Highest: 139 (CBS)
Lowest: 219 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Gaskin average rank: 198.3
Highest: 147 (CBS)
Lowest: 243 (Pro Football Focus)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Moore average rank: 200
Highest: 191 (ESPN)
Lowest: 209 (CBS)
Not ranked: 6 (Norris, Pro Football Focus) Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Scarlett average rank: 204.0
Highest: 148 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 266 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Homer average rank: 208.8
Highest: 185 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 240 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Mattison average rank: 209.6
Highest: 150 (Norris)
Lowest: 295 (CBS)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

 

Williams average rank: 222.8
Highest: 127 (Norris)
Lowest: 281 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 4 (Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Thompson average rank: 247.0
Highest: 170 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 294 (ESPN)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

Barnes average rank: 264.3
Highest: 191 (Pro Football Focus)
Lowest: 327 (CBS)
Not ranked: 5 (Norris, Brugler, Jeremiah, Brandt, Kelly)

It’s hardly unprecedented for a running back drafted in the sixth or seventh round to make an impact — Chris Carson did for the Seattle Seahawks last year, for instance — but if the Bears draft one of these guys, expectations should be set accordingly. As in: It’d be a sign the Bears believe Mike Davis can take on a larger load, and that this player they drafted can fill a smaller role than, say, a running back drafted in the third round. 

Of note here: There rest of the players listed in Tier 6 are all ranked by only two services (ESPN and CBS). Exceptions were made here for Moore and Snell given their high rankings, and that Brugler has a fourth-round grade on Moore and a fifth/sixth-round grade on Snell, though neither were in his top 100. 

Tier 6: Priority free agents

Members: Qadree Ollison, Pittsburgh; LJ Scott, Michigan State; Kerrith Whyte Jr., Florida Atlantic; Ty Johnson, Maryland; Wes Hills, Slippery Rock; Bruce Anderson, North Dakota State; Darrin Hall, Pittsburgh; Matt Colburn II, Wake Forest; Taiwan Deal, Wisconsin; Marquis Young, Massachusetts; Jaques Patrick, Florida State; Nick Brossette, LSU; Damarea Crockett, Missouri; Xavier Turner, Tarleton State; Joe Connor, Concordia (Mich.); Aeris Williams, Mississippi State; Khari Blasingame, Vanderbilt; Lexington Thomas, UNLV; Alec Ingold, Wisconsin; Craig Reynolds, Kutztown; Dominick Bragalone, Lehigh; A.J. Oullette, Ohio; Cullen Gillaspia, Texas A&M; Jordan Ellis, Virginia

 

That’s a lot of names! Perhaps the Bears could unearth a Phillip Lindsay-level undrafted free agent out of this group (want a name? Bruce Anderson). More likely, they won’t. But expect the Bears to sign at least one of the names from this group, or if someone from Tier 5 isn’t drafted (which is likely), as a free agent in the feeding frenzy that happens after Mr. Irrelevant is selected on Saturday. 

2019 NFL Draft Preview Show: How to watch online

1920x1080_nfldraft_stream_chi.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

2019 NFL Draft Preview Show: How to watch online

The pinnacle of the NFL offseason is NFL Draft night and it's finally here. This is the night that fortunes can change for teams with the right selections.

The Bears don't have a first or second round pick, but general manager Ryan Pace has been known to be aggressive and trade up in the draft. And the Bears are looking for depth on an already talented team that finished the 2018 sesason with a 12-4 record as the NFC North Champions.

All eyes will be on the running back class, where the Bears will look to add some talent alongside Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis.

NBC Sports has collected some of the best football minds from around the country to look ahead to draft in the NFL Draft Preview Show, which will begin at 2 p.m. CT and stream exclusively in the MyTeams App.

NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry will host and lead the discussions, including with our own Bears Inisder JJ Stankevitz. Fans can submit questions on social media using the hashtag #NFLDraftNBC.

Here's how you can watch NBC Sports' NFL Draft Preview Show online:

DATE: Thursday, April 25, 2019
TIME: 2 p.m. CT
WHERE: MyTeams App

Here are the guests:

Bears Insider: JJ Stankevitz
Raiders Insider: Scott Bair
49ers Insider: Matt Maiocco
Patriots Insider: Tom Curran
Seahawks Insider: Aaron Fentress
Eagles reporter: Derrick Gunn
Redskins Insider: J.P. Finlay
Rotoworld draft expert: Josh Norris

Catch up on our Bears NFL Draft preview coverage:

Mock Draft: Bears stick to best player available, wait to take a running back

On The Clock Draft Profiles:

- Memphis running back Darrell Henderson
Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
- Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams
Temple safety Delvon Randall
North Dakota St. running back Bruce Anderson
Washburn cornerback Corey Ballentine
Iowa State running back David Montgomery
Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson
Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary
Ohio State running back Mike Weber
Temple running back Ryquell Armstead
Boise State running back Alexander Mattison

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