Bears

Bears should be in Super Bowl discussion next year

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Bears should be in Super Bowl discussion next year

With Phil Emery officially sworn in as the fifth general manager in franchise history, the overriding question turns to how quickly he and his still-forming staff can be about the job Chairman George McCaskey set down in clear terms: winning championships.Emery received the requisite five-year contract from the Bears. It should not take him that long.Unless there are setbacks of the magnitude of the Jay Cutler and Matt Forte injuries in 2011, the Bears should be in the discussion for a Super Bowl trip in 2012. Nothing less.The reasons are simple: Emery takes over a team that was anything but a rebuilding project. The Bears were 7-3 when Cutler broke his passing hand. They had accelerated past the Detroit Lions and were being talked about as one of a small number of NFC teams capable of taking down the Green Bay Packers.Also, Emery is a draft builder, and 2011 showed convincingly that rookies can deliver impact on extremely high levels. If quarterbacks can play and play well immediately (Cam Newton, Andy Dalton), the expectations are no less from other positions on both sides of the ball.
Von Miller (Denver), Patrick Peterson (Arizona), Aldon Smith (San Francisco), J.J. Watt (Houston), all were standouts on their teams defenses. Deeper down in the first round, Danny Watkins was a starting guard for the Eagles; Gabe Carimi was the Bears right tackle before he was lost to a knee injury.Bryan Bulaga was Green Bays starting right tackle when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV a year ago. He was a rookie.Free agency comes before the draft but not surprisingly perhaps, Emery cited the draft first on how this all will be accomplished.The object is adding playmakers and if we keep doing that, and primarily through the college draft, and fill in where we see strengths in free agency, well close the talent gap, he said of rejoining the NFLs elite after one playoff appearance in five years.Emery is now on the clock. And his history says thats where hes most comfortable.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do any Chicago athletes deserve a 10-year deal?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do any Chicago athletes deserve a 10-year deal?

Pat Boyle, David Haugh and Mark Carman join Kap on a Wednesday edition of STL.

0:00 - MLB teams continue to get ready for Opening Day. Should players feel any more confident in the league’s testing practices?

4:00 - Patrick Mahomes got a 10-year contract extension from the Chiefs. Are any current Chicago athletes worthy of a 10-year extension?

9:30 - KC Johnson joins Kap to look back at “The Decision” on its 10th anniversary. Just how close were the Bulls to landing LeBron, Bosh and Wade?

19:00 - The panel remembers where they were when LeBron made “The Decision”. Plus, they give their Blackhawks playoff odds.

Listen here or below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Bears offensive line ranked 22nd in NFL by Pro Football Focus

Bears offensive line ranked 22nd in NFL by Pro Football Focus

It wasn't long ago that the Chicago Bears offensive line was considered a strength of the team. They were one of the best in the NFL in 2018. The Bears' starting five was a big reason why the team went 12-4 and won the NFC North that year, but that wasn't the case in 2019. Chicago's offensive line had a lot to do with the team's underwhelming 8-8 season.

As a result, the Bears' starting group isn't getting much respect entering the 2020 season. According to Pro Football Focus' recent ranking of all 32 offensive lines, Chicago checks in at No. 22.

The Bears regressed from a fringe top-10 offensive line in 2018 to the 25th-ranked unit last season despite most of the group remaining intact. Left tackle Charles Leno saw the biggest drop-off in play, as he had four straight seasons grading in the 70s from 2015 to 2018 but finished at just 58.6 overall last season, good for just 64th out of 82 qualifiers. Leno earned his worst pass-blocking grade since 2015 while posting the lowest run-blocking grade of his career, at 47.5.

While PFF's ranking isn't great, there was a bit of optimism baked in. The analytics powerhouse still believes in the o-line's potential.

The Bears have the pieces to rank among the top 10-15 offensive lines in the league, but they need the tackles to get back to their 2018 form to go with progression from at least two players on the interior.

One of the big reasons why the Bears' offensive line struggled last year was the aftermath of Kyle Long's injury. Rashaad Coward was elevated to the first team; Cody Whitehair and James Daniels swapped positions. The best offensive lines have continuity, and that was lost in 2019.

With Germain Ifedi stepping into the right guard spot in 2020, and both Whitehair and Daniels settled in at center and left guard, the Bears will begin this season in much better shape and with a much better chance to return to the level of play we saw in 2018.