Bears

Bears Grades: Marquess Wilson steps up for depleted WR corps

bears-wr-grades-10-11-15.png

Bears Grades: Marquess Wilson steps up for depleted WR corps

An enigmatic day for a star-crossed group that ended in spectacular fashion with Marquess Wilson catching a 22-yard pass from Jay Cutler late in the fourth quarter to set the stage for a winning Cutler-to-Matt Forte touchdown pass 3 minutes later. Some superb work by one player, not so superb by some others and not enough production early in a winnable game.

Through most of the first half and even into the third quarter, a corps depleted with Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal inactive with injuries gave Cutler very little in the way of separation. That very likely lay behind part of coordinator Adam Gase taking few shots down the field against a Kansas City defense that increasingly stacked the box and defied the Bears to beat it one-on-one almost anywhere throwing.

[MORE GRADES: Cutler leads Bears to another comeback win]

Wilson produced one of his best-ever games, better as it went along as Cutler’s confidence appeared to grow as Wilson worked against the Chiefs secondary.

“A quarterback always gains trust when a guy catches the ball,” Wilson said, laughing. “Drops lose confidence, but I think it’s getting higher.”

High enough that it was to Wilson that Cutler went against late double coverage from the Kansas City 22. “It was just a ‘corner’ [route],” Wilson said. “I got out of my break and saw the ball in the air. I knew I just had to get there. I knew I had to get it.”

If there was an unpleasant surprise it was tight end Martellus Bennett catching just four of the 11 passes directed to him, with Bennett dropping two balls, one on the final drive that went for a touchdown but needed to overcome a Bennett drop deep in Kansas City’s end.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Bennett was not alone in costly drops. Josh Bellamy caught four passes in the third quarter but let a long first-down pass go through his hands in the fourth quarter, and was injured on the hit just after the ball went incomplete.

A false start by tight end Zach Miller pushed the Bears back near their own goal line in the first quarter, from where a sack and forced fumble gave the Chiefs a first touchdown.

Moon's Grade: B+

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

6-8trubiskyqbs.jpg
USA Today

Chicago Bears Training Camp: Veteran and rookie report dates

Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21. 

Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.

All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.

The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players. 

The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

Leonard Floyd picked as potential Pro Bowler in 2018

The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.

Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons. 

Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.

Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.

CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.

The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.

It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.

We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.