Bears

Are Bears better than Texans, Broncos, Dolphins and others? Pro Football Focus says yes

Are Bears better than Texans, Broncos, Dolphins and others? Pro Football Focus says yes

Pro Football Focus has more than its share of both supporters and detractors of how it goes about grading NFL players. They break down every snap for every player, and while there are general agreements on what's seen by naked, untrained eyes who don't put the time and investment into its system that PFF does, there are other evaluations that seem to come out of the blue. While there's occasional guesswork on a player's particular assignment on a given play within its scheme, those of us who've watched and studied nuances of the game, or those who've played it, can usually identify how many jobs were done correctly.

Tuesday, PFF released its rankings of all 32 NFL rosters but in essence focused on the quality of each team's starting lineup, listing the Bears — are you sitting down? — 18th in the league. That's ahead of the likes of the Ravens, Saints, Texans, Dolphins, a Jaguars franchise that's had tons of high draft picks in recent years, as well as the Broncos and Lions (whom they rank 28th). The top five are the Falcons, Patriots, Titans, Packers and Steelers (the Bears play three of those teams in September alone). Among other Bears opponents, they rank the Panthers 10th, Vikings 12th, Buccaneers 13th and Eagles 15th.

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Their evaluation is based on each player's final score from last season, "elite" and "good" being the top two levels, followed by "average" and "below average" to "poor." The only Bear earning elite status was inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. Another nine Bears finished with good grades: Jordan Howard, Zach Miller, Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan, Adrian Amos and Quintin Demps (who earned his grade in Houston).

Those earning average grades were Cam Meredith, Kendall Wright, Kyle Long, Charles Leno, Jr., Pernell McPhee and Prince Amukamara. Below average: Mike Glennon (in mop-up duty in Tampa Bay), Kevin White, Bobby Massie, Leonard Floyd and Jaye Howard. The only Bear earning a poor grade among projected starters was tight end Dion Sims (with Miami). The other potential flaw is that PFF lists Kyle Fuller (no grade) and Bryce Callahan (average) as starters when Marcus Cooper and Cre'Von LeBlanc likely have the inside track to start at cornerback and nickel back, respectively.

How did the Bears get to 18th, above three playoff teams and another that won the Super Bowl two years ago? Well, all of those other teams have more elite players at certain positions, but it's offset by a number of spots occupied by more players with poor or below average grades. The Broncos (25th) for instance, had four elite players, just another four falling under the good grade, but five players listed as poor.

There are no certainties yet, but the Bears are 'cautiously optimistic' that Mitch Trubisky will return this Sunday

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USA Today

There are no certainties yet, but the Bears are 'cautiously optimistic' that Mitch Trubisky will return this Sunday

The Bears won’t definitively say whether quarterback Mitch Trubisky will return for Sunday’s game against New Orleans, but, to borrow one of Matt Nagy’s favorite deflections, his arrow seems to be pointing in the right direction.

“I feel good that he’ll be able to practice the whole way, and have a good practice,” Nagy said. “His deal is going to be more a day-by-day deal –– let’s see exactly. Every day that goes by, was that a good day? Was that a bad day? Talk through it and see how he feels, see what the trainers say, where we as coaches think he’s at. And mentally, too. All that’s a part of this thing.”

Wednesday will be the first day that the Bears release a post-practice injury report. Trubisky returned to his throwing regiment on Monday and wasn’t limited with any sort of pitch count. He’ll be a full-go in practice, and feels confident that his left shoulder is close to feeling 100%. Trubisky (/Bears PR) brushed off the line of questioning when an official diagnosis was asked for, but his left shoulder, as reported, was dislocated.

“Yeah, it went back in,” he said. “It's a weird feeling – it's not good.”

Trubisky and the Bears were pretty confident off the bat that the injury wasn’t season-ending. Going forward, he’ll wear a protective brace on the shoulder, and the team plans to spend this week assessing his pain tolerance.

“Obviously I haven't gotten hit since then, and there always is some pain tolerance involved,” Trubisky added. “I mean, this is football. So you've just got to figure it out throughout the course of the week I guess. There are some ways we simulate getting hit –– either with the pads or going through certain drills with the trainers –– to try to get you as ready as possible and to make sure I can go out and do the job the way I know I can.”

The harness he’ll wear is similar to what wide receiver Taylor Gabriel had been using to protect a shoulder that was dislocated at multiple points last season. Gabriel actually cut off the brace during halftime of the Bears game in London because he was frustrated with how much it limited his pass catching. Still, the two have spent some time talking about what to expect.

“Mine’s a little different because I don’t need to necessarily catch,” Trubisky said. “But I’ve got to make sure I’ll be able to catch all the snap radius’ if something happens with that. I’ve been practicing everything that you could pretty much simulate with the trainers as much as you can to make sure I could go out there and do what my team needs me to do.”

For now, the public-facing message coming out of Halas Hall is that Trubisky and backup Chase Daniel will be splitting reps with the 1’s all week. And even though the Nagy-era Bears have always practiced excess precaution with injuries, there's an undeniable optimism in the building.

“I always say ‘cautiously optimistic’,” Nagy said. “I feel good about it, but we’re preparing with both right now. The thing with Chase is that we know he’s been in this role before. If it ends up being him, then it’s the same mojo.”

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Which Saints player would you want on the Bears?

Which Saints player would you want on the Bears?

The Chicago Bears have a tough test ahead of them Sunday at home against the 5-1 New Orleans Saints. Not only is New Orleans rolling on offense, even without QB Drew Brees in the lineup, but their defense has ascended into near-elite territory over the last few games.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to NFL fans, either. The Saints are overflowing with talent on both sides of the ball and there are several players who would represent an upgrade on the Bears.

Let's start on offense, where the obvious pick is Brees. But since he won't take the field in Week 7, we'll look elsewhere. 

Running back Alvin Kamara is about as dynamic as it gets at the position in 2019. He offers an equally lethal skill set as a runner and receiver with the kind of contact balance and burst to flip the field in one play. Imagine him working in Matt Nagy's offense? Scary.

There's also wide receiver Michael Thomas, who may just be the game's best all-around player at the position. He can beat defensive backs on all three levels of the passing game and is off to an incredible start to the season with 53 catches, 632 yards and three touchdowns. I'll do the math for you: those numbers equate to a 141-catch, 1,685-yard season. Yup. He's going to be a tough assignment for cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara.

New Orleans' offense isn't limited to just talent at the skill positions, either. Tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk are two of their four highest-graded players on offense, per Pro Football Focus, and each would represent a potential upgrade over Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie. Armstead and Ramczyk each rank in PFF's top 15 at offensive tackle in 2019, while Leno, Jr. and Massie are both outside of the top 50.

On the defensive side of the ball, it's hard to find a player who the Bears would prefer over a current starter, but one candidate is cornerback Marshon Lattimore. 

Lattimore hasn't been great this season, but his incredible blend of long speed and ability to change directions quickly established him as one of the league's most talented cornerbacks during his rookie season. It's a volatile position where players go through peaks and valleys during their careers, but Lattimore's physical gifts are borderline rare.

Cameron Jordan, the Saints' premier edge rusher and most recognizable name on the defense, would be enticing as well. He leads the team with five sacks and has accumulated 31 pressures over six games, proof that he's a handful for opposing offensive linemen. He wouldn't be a perfect scheme fit for the Bears, but lining him up opposite Khalil Mack would be fun to watch (to say the least).

This is a tough call. What say you? Head over to Twitter and share your thoughts here.