Bears

Bears' 2011 schedule about same difficulty as 2010

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Bears' 2011 schedule about same difficulty as 2010

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011
12:52 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Winning the NFC North division got the Bears into the 2010 playoffs. That and division finishes elsewhere in the NFC also got them their lineup of opponents for the 2011 season.

The gimmes are the obvious: games home and away against the Lions, Packers and Vikings (against whom the Bears were a combined 5-1 this season).

The divisional cycle has the Bears playing the NFC West, meaning the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All but the Panthers won at least 10 games in 2010 and the Panthers will get the No. 1 pick of the draft.

The rotation also draws the AFC West for the Bears: Denver, Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego.

And the prize for winning your division is that you play the other division winners, so add Philadelphia and Seattle to the schedule, which looks like this:

Home

Detroit
Green Bay
Minnesota
Atlanta
Carolina
Seattle
Kansas City
San Diego

Away

Detroit
Green Bay
Minnesota
New Orleans
Tampa Bay
Philadelphia
Denver
Oakland

Looking beyond just the teams, the schedule is about the same difficulty as the 2010 slate, based on opponents records (but not taking the cumulative win-loss total for all, which I think can be skewed for better or worse based on a few seriously awful teams). Consider:

The Bears will have nine games against opponents with 2010 records of .500 or better, up just one from this seasons total of eight (New England, NY Jets, Green Bay and Minnesota twice each, and both Carolina and the NY Giants were .500 teams in 2009;

Seven games are against teams in the 2010 playoffs; the Bears faced eight teams this year which had made the 2009 playoffs (Dallas, Philadelphia, New England, NY Jets, Green Bay and Minnesota twice each)
Bettin time

Theres no shortage of betting lines, odds, tips, touts, whatever on the playoffs but Bodog.com weighed in with the Seattle Seahawks at 100-1 odds for winning the Super Bowl. Players dont play based on odds but they may prepare just a little harder if theyre mad, so heres guessing Pete Carroll has let his lowlies know what the wagering world thinks of them.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears show interest in Tulsa pass rusher Trevis Gipson

Bears show interest in Tulsa pass rusher Trevis Gipson

It's early (extremely early) in the 2020 NFL draft process, and the Bears' team needs between now and when their first pick (No. 43 overall) is on the clock are certain to change. The general consensus right now is that offensive line, tight end and quarterback will be early draft targets, but edge rusher can't be overlooked.

Leonard Floyd's failure to emerge as the pass rusher the Bears need to complement Khalil Mack is a bigger problem than GM Ryan Pace or coach Matt Nagy want to admit. In fact, Floyd's ineffective style of play could cost Chicago a chance at becoming a truly elite defense and potentially limit the astronomical upside Mack has as a generational talent.

If the Bears decide to pull the fifth-year option from Floyd, they'll have no choice but to attack the position early in the 2020 draft. It appears like they're doing their homework for that scenario, too.

Bears scouts met with Tulsa edge rusher Trevis Gipson at length following Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice, an indication that the position is at least high enough on their wish list that extensive homework on pass rushers is being done.

Gipson helped his draft stock at the Senior Bowl and was an early winner among edge rushers at the game. His practice reps confirmed his tape; the dude knows how to get to the quarterback. He had eight sacks in 2019 and plays with a high-energy style that's certain to entice Chicago's coaching staff. He isn't an elite athlete, but he has an appealing frame (34-inch arms) and powerful hands.

Gipson began the week as a late-Day-3 prospect. He helped his stock and may have jumped a round or two along the way.

Bears' rookie class ranked 8th-best in NFL

Bears' rookie class ranked 8th-best in NFL

The Bears didn't have much of a rookie class in 2019. Last April's draft produced just five picks, two of which didn't appear in a regular-season game for the Bears.

But the production of running back David Montgomery was enough to carry the rookie class to a top-10 ranking, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Bears checked-in at 8th.

The Bears have a strange class. They had only five picks, none before Round 3, with three of those five selections coming after Round 6. As a result, their expected return was low. Running back David Montgomery was really the only Bears' rookie to play significant snaps, and he managed to provide enough return from his third-round selection to land them at No. 8.

It's pretty remarkable that Chicago's 2019 rookie class -- essentially, Montgomery -- garnered this much respect from PFF. Wide receiver Riley Ridley showed signs of life late in the season and cornerback Duke Shelley will be given an opportunity to carve out a role on defense next season, but with running back Kerrith Whyte, Jr. and cornerback Stephen Denmark making no impact whatsoever (Whyte is no longer with the team), the 2019 class won't be remembered as one that laid a championship foundation in Chicago.

Sure, Montgomery has a chance to become one of the NFL's more talented starting running backs (he ended his rookie season with 889 yards and six touchdowns), but if Ridley and Shelley don't turn into legitimate contributors in 2020 or 2021, the class will go down as an epic failure for GM Ryan Pace.

Remember: The Bears didn't have a first-round pick because of the trade for outside linebacker Khalil Mack. That's a win for Pace, but it doesn't change the fact that he had five selections at his disposal and ended up with what appears to be just one impact player after their rookie seasons.