Bears

Bucs' Jameis Winston yet another young QB problem for Bears

Bucs' Jameis Winston yet another young QB problem for Bears

Maybe they should be used to this by now. But facing young, relatively inexperienced quarterbacks, something defenses are supposed to fatten up on, has not been a positive for the John Fox Bears. And now here comes another one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will be one of four first-or-second-year starting quarterbacks on the Bears’ 2016 schedule, following Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles), Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) and ahead of Marcus Mariota, who arrives to Soldier Field in two weeks leading the Tennessee Titans. The Bears lost to the first two.

And last year the Bears were outscored 61-37 in two losses to the Minnesota Vikings and second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. They managed to escape Tampa with a win despite Winston’s 295 passing yards and two touchdown passes, and defeated the Oakland Raiders and second-year quarterback Derek Carr, albeit only through a Robbie Gould field goal with two seconds remaining.

Brock Osweiler wasn’t a rookie or second-year guy in 2015 but he was starting his first NFL game last season when he and the Denver Broncos defeated the Bears, 17-15, in Chicago.

Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, has not produced the impact of some others among the kid-QB corps. His passer rating (85.4) is about what it was his rookie season (84.2), his completion percentage remains sub-60 and his interception rate again hovers near 3 percent — all numbers not up to the performances of the others mentioned above.

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But Winston is seeing differences. After losing three straight, Winston brought the Bucs to .500 with road wins over the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers before stumbling the last two weeks in home losses to the Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.

“The goal is to get better every day, so I'm definitely ahead as far as my preparation from last year to this year,” Winston said on Wednesday. “I don't really see a difference in other teams as far as scheming against us. The difference for me as a player is just being able to process information and just being very familiar with the playbook.”

The early performance of a young quarterback again is worth considering given the likelihood of the Bears investing a high-round pick in one in the 2017 draft.

That involves a commitment, as Bucs coach Dirk Koetter knows from being Tampa Bay offensive coordinator last year when the decision to go with Winston over Mariota was made.

“That’s an entire organization decision,” Koetter recalled. “So that goes from ownership, management, down into coaching. And I would think that you would be signing up for patience.

“I was the offensive coordinator when we drafted Jameis and lucky to be that. But the whole patience thing, that’s sometimes in other people’s hands. So I look at Carolina as a good example in our [NFC South] division. They drafted a quarterback [Cam Newton]. They drafted a middle linebacker [Luke Kuechly]. They built around those guys. I think [Carolina is] a good model for us as someone who has been in the division for five years now.”

Here's what the 2020 NFL draft TV broadcast could look like

Here's what the 2020 NFL draft TV broadcast could look like

The 2020 NFL draft will take place as scheduled on April 23-25 despite the nationwide social distancing campaign enacted to combat the outbreak of COVID-19. 

The NFL canceled the three-day party in Las Vegas and the league won't hold any public events to celebrate the players or the teams, but the show will go on in a much different way.

NBC Sports' Peter King outlined how this year's draft will likely be broadcast, which will be a familiar sight for anyone who's working from home or paying attention to how television has adapted to these challenging times:

If you’ve done Zoom video conferencing, or you’ve watched recent nightly newscasts, maybe you’ve seen eight or 10 people on the laptop screen or the TV all ready to be called on by a host. Imagine the same thing on draft night. The NFL will send out about 50 portable camera kits with microphones to top prospects and college coaches, with better-than-FaceTime quality, so NFL draft coverage will be able to bring in, say, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow from the family home outside Athens, Ohio, when/if he’s the first pick of the Bengals. Then Burrow will be able to do his media availability with the Cincinnati press, and whatever other one-on-ones he chooses to do.

It'll be a stark contrast to how the NFL draft is traditionally conducted. From the days of Radio City Music Hall in New York City to the traveling roadshow it's become in recent years, the league has done a remarkable job turning its biggest offseason event into arguably the biggest event in the sport aside from the Super Bowl.

Diehard fans of the draft will enjoy the broadcast regardless of whatever form it takes. Whether it's a red-carpet event or a zoom-style meeting, the teams will still pick their players and fans will celebrate (or loathe) the selections. The casual observer may not be as impressed, however. The emotions of draft day, especially when players realize their life-long dream by walking across the stage and bearhugging Goodell, will be lost. At least, there will be less of it.

Sure, watching prospects celebrate with their families in the comfort of their own home will be fun, but the cloud of what really matters -- the coronavirus and the devastation its causing across the globe -- will be unavoidable. The setting of this year's draft will be a constant reminder of it, too.

But the show must go on (apparently). And if the NFL has proven anything over the years, it's that the league knows how to take advantage of every opportunity it has to captivate an audience. 

Maybe, just maybe, the best thing the draft has to offer fans this year is a much-needed distraction from the stress and anxiety of the real world. Don't bet against the NFL accomplishing that goal. 

Bears hold pre-draft meeting with SIU safety Jeremy Chinn

Bears hold pre-draft meeting with SIU safety Jeremy Chinn

The Bears have a need at safety alongside Eddie Jackson, and while Deon Bush was re-signed to a one-year deal to presumably replace Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the starting lineup, GM Ryan Pace may decide the 2020 NFL draft offers a better option.

One safety who fits the profile as a physical in-the-box defender is Southern Illinois' Jeremy Chinn. The 6-foot-3, 221-pounder wowed at the NFL Combine when he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and lept 41 inches in the vertical jump, testing scores that confirmed the elite athleticism he displays on tape.

The Bears took notice and their interest in the small-school standout is real. Chicago held a pre-draft meeting with Chinn, albeit via Facetime, in an effort to learn more about the local prospect, a source told NBC Sports Chicago.

Chinn finished 2019 with 71 tackles, 2.5 for loss,  four interceptions and three pass breakups. He was a do-it-all defender who's been comp'd as a discount version of Clemson's Isaiah Simmons.

Unlike Simmons, there's a chance Chinn will be available when the Bears are on the clock at No. 43 overall. If he is, expect Pace, who has an affinity for small-school players, to pull the trigger.