Bears

No sign Bears locked into drafting a QB in 2017 as Ryan Pace underscores 'best available' tack

No sign Bears locked into drafting a QB in 2017 as Ryan Pace underscores 'best available' tack

PHOENIX – NFL owners meetings, like the Scouting Combine, invariably involve hallway conversations regarding quarterbacks. Why doesn’t Colin Kaepernick have a job? Why does Mark Sanchez have one? Will Jay Cutler take one? This year, despite a 3-13 record last season and a continuing slide toward irrelevance, the Bears are in intriguing part of those conversations, or maybe, whispers.

The reason, beyond the obvious fact that the Bears stand at No. 3 in a QB-lite draft, is because the Bears not only have done significant things at the position – cutting Cutler, signing Sanchez and Mike Glennon, not signing Brian Hoyer – but one NFL source said to keep an eye on the Bears as potentially being involved in at least one future blockbuster after this season.

More on that in a moment.

First of all, every indication is that GM Ryan Pace is absolutely NOT locked into or about to allow himself to be pressured into drafting a quarterback in 2017. Certainly not at No. 3, maybe not at all. Maybe this is pre-draft posturing, misinformation or misdirection, and Pace has said in the past that he wants to draft quarterbacks but hasn’t in his first two Bears drafts. But still:

“We’re going to draft the best players available, wherever that may be,” Pace said on Tuesday. “And if it’s a quarterback, it’s a quarterback. But we’re going to take the best players available. I think now some of those things are unforeseen. You can’t predict some of those things. But right now I like the way Sanchez blends with Glennon and with Connor Shaw.”

Whether the public likes Pace’s moves at quarterback, or whether they’re good, bad or anywhere in between is just offseason speculation for now. The NFL will start giving him meaningful feedback sometime this September. What Pace has in fact done, regardless of analyses at this point, like it or not, is create options for himself and his coaches. And those extend beyond 2017.

Some context here: Even with some measure of job security in the short term, Pace is tasked with winning in the future as well as the present. He has addressed the 2017 quarterback situation, if not spectacularly, with Glennon and Sanchez specifically. But think beyond ’17; because Pace is.

More context: GM’s and head coaches like and need options. Doubts about Glennon, Sanchez, Connor Shaw or some rookie notwithstanding, Pace has the Bears positioned with options, not necessarily good options, but arguably best-available for the most part.

A little more context: Dowell Loggains may not have quelled all doubts about his play calling, but Cutler, Hoyer and Matt Barkley all had their best NFL stretches, albeit short, under his stewardship. 

Pace has effectively positioned the Bears for not one or two, but as many as a half-dozen spins of the quarterback wheel looking for a winner. It is a place the Bears were not in for most of Cutler’s tenure outside of brief Hoyer and Josh McCown bursts.

Within this context, consider the Pace’s chances for a strike at THE priority position for the franchise:

Spin 1: Mike Glennon

Pace announced the former Bucs quarterback as the Bears’ starter. Probably is. But Matt Flynn was the Seahawks’ starter when they free-agent signed him away from Green Bay in 2012. He lost his starting job by the end of training camp to a rookie third-round draft choice, Russell Wilson.

The Bears chose Glennon over Cutler and Hoyer because of upside; if Glennon plays to his perceived ceiling, the Bears have him under contract for two more years.

Spin 2: Mark Sanchez

When all the cynical subsides, consider him a low-risk spin who has been good enough to stand a career 37-35 as a starter. McCown amounted to something and still is after age 30, even with bad teams. Hoyer played some of his best football the past two seasons, after age 30. If Loggains resuscitates Sanchez’s career at age 30… .

Spin 3: The rookie

How, where and even if – make that a big IF – the Bears make their first Ryan Pace draft pick of a quarterback doesn’t come around for another month. But whomever the Bears select, if they select a quarterback this draft, gives Pace another spin of the QB wheel.

Spin 4: Kirk Cousins

CSNChicago.com confirmed that the Bears called on Cousins’ availability, even with the specter of Washington’s franchise tag hanging over him. But as one NFL source noted, Cousins is on a one-year deal ($23.94 million tag guarantee), it is his second and presumably last tag, and he has spurned long-term Washington offers to this point.

Glennon’s contract commits the Bears to $16 million this year. After that, minimal guarantee. Sanchez, one-year deal. Cousins, one-year deal.

Next offseason… . 

Spin 5: Jimmy Garoppolo

The Eastern Illinois quarterback wasn’t deemed worth a No. 3 pick in 2014, in either round one or two. He hasn’t put enough on film to make him worth that pick now.

But if the Cleveland Browns don’t trade for him, or New England hasn’t turned to him and locked him up contractually, he would be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. It will take a long-term market deal but at least he wouldn’t cost a high No. 1.

Spin 6: Connor Shaw

He is already clearly getting a preseason look, as he did last year, and is ahead of evaluations that accompanied David Fales and some other Bears hopefuls. He’s found money if he develops into something, but Warren Moon, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner were all undrafted free agents, too.

Bears' Akiem Hicks loves tweeting quotes from 2000's smash hit 'Gladiator'

Bears' Akiem Hicks loves tweeting quotes from 2000's smash hit 'Gladiator'

So Akiem Hicks tweeted this earlier on Tuesday:

You're right – that is a quote from 2000's Oscar-winning movie Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott, scored by Hans Zimmer, and starring a young Russell Crowe. Who's Hicks talking about?! Is it Aaron Rodgers?! IS IT JORDAN LOVE?! It's also entirely possible that Hicks is just watching Gladiator, considering that Gladiator is, quite literally, never not on television. I will bet you five dollars that if you turn your T.V. on right now, Maximus Decimus Meridius is telling his generals to hold the line against the last warrior tribe standing in the way of the Roman Empire's conquest of Germania. 

Akiem Hicks clearly loves Gladiator as much as your friend's Dad, and from the looks of it, probably more. Case in point: the Bears star has been tweeting famous lines from the movie for like, quite a while now: 

There are so, so, so many terrible shticks on Twitter. I'd even argue that 99% of them are bad. But this – this is not a bad schtick. I am fired up just from reading Akiem Hicks' tweets about the movie Gladiator. Don't ever stop, Akiem. Because without these tweets, we mortals are just shadows and dust. Shadows and dust. 

David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen dubbed shakiest backfield in NFL

David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen dubbed shakiest backfield in NFL

David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen are by no means the most exciting backfield in the NFL. At least, not yet. They still have much to prove in 2020 after their first year teaming up for the Bears in 2019.

Montgomery finished his rookie season with 889 yards and six touchdowns while Cohen managed just 669 total yards and three scores. With no other accomplished NFL running back on the roster, it's Montgomery and Cohen or bust.

According to ESPN, there's a really good chance they'll be a bust. They dubbed the Bears' backfield as the shakiest in the NFL.

"This is one of the situations where "it's all relative" really comes into play," ESPN's Mike Clay wrote. "Could David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen put together a solid or exceptional season? Absolutely. However, it's not hard to identify more proven and effective backs on the other 31 rosters. Montgomery underwhelmed on 267 touches as a third-round rookie last season, whereas Cohen posted atrocious yardage numbers on a per-carry (3.3) and per-target (4.4) basis. Furthermore, Chicago's depth is also arguably weakest in the league."

It's hard to argue with that assessment. Chicago's running game is in something of a prove-it season which extends beyond just the ball-carriers. Matt Nagy has to prove he can script a good game plan, the offensive line has to consistently open holes, and the running backs have to take advantage of their opportunities to make plays on a more efficient basis.

Until then, it's fair to call the Bears' backfield shaky.

 

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