It was just one of those numerous roster-shufflings that occur from about this time of year on through the end of training camp. Or was it? Or was it a move that the Bears hope will re-create some very distinguished history for themselves?
Greg Scruggs, a defensive lineman who signed with the Bears last Dec. 30 after being waived by the Seattle Seahawks, was good enough to post three solo tackles and earn a sack in a Week 17 loss to the Detroit Lions. The Bears now appear convinced that he’s enough of an athlete to move him to tight end, complete with a number change from 90 to 87.
Scruggs did play a little tight end at Louisville on a fill-in basis and the Bears have been looking for help at the position ever since dealing away Martellus Bennett.
They made a play for New Orleans Saints tight end Josh Hill but the Saints matched the Bears’ offer sheet to the restricted free agent. They’d hoped to use a draft choice on Hunter Henry from Arkansas but were beaten to him by the San Diego Chargers, who selected Henry six picks before the Bears’ second-round selection.
The Bears also used two of their 10 UDFA signings on tight ends (Ben Braunecker from Harvard, Joe Sommers from Wisconsin-Oshkosh). Now comes Scruggs.
Converting defensive linemen to offense has worked very, very well for the Bears. Mark Bortz had been a defensive tackle at Iowa when the Bears used an eighth-round pick in the 1983 draft to land him, with the intention of moving him to offense. Bortz became a fixture on the Bears offensive line of the 1980's and was twice selected to NFC Pro Bowl squads.
James “Big Cat” Williams arrived in 1991 as an undrafted defensive tackle out of Cheney State. He was shifted to offensive tackle part time in 1992, then moved permanently to that side of the football by then-coach Tony Wise. Williams was a Pro Bowl alternate in 1998 and voted to the team in 2001.
For that matter, Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long was a defensive end at Saddleback (Cal.) Community College before moving to offense.
The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.
It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.
Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.
Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.
Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.
On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.
Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.
Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams.
Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs?
The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD.
Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week?
You can take a look here and see where they landed.