Bears

Re-signing Adams a high priority for Bears

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Re-signing Adams a high priority for Bears

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted: 10:44 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Defensive tackle Anthony Adams receives the Ed Block Courage Award on Tuesday at Maryville. The 2009 winner was defensive end Israel Idonije, one of the three finalists this year for the NFLs Walter Payton Man of the Year.

What the Bears would like very much to happen next is Adams re-signing with the team. How soon or not that might happen will start playing out in a Minnesota courtroom Wednesday when the lawsuit under the names of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and other notables comes before Judge Susan Nelson.

If the Judge rules in favor of the players, followed by a big if in the form of an appeal by the NFL, the league year would officially begin, meaning open season on signings, like Adams, the nose tackle anchor of a very good defensive front. And for all the attention being paid to other positions on the defense three-technique, linebacker, cornerback if the Bears cant bring Adams back somehow, they have a significant gap to fill that they hadnt planned on.

Adams started all 16 games last year and played all 16 the year before at perhaps the single most high-impact on the defense. The Bears have Henry Melton set to replace Tommie Harris but, with apologies to Matt Toeaina, whos not the presence Adams is and has played more three-technique, they dont have anyone at Adams level in the pipeline.

The Bears have their targets identified for whenever free agency opens. Green Bays Cullen Jenkins projects as the priority, followed by perhaps a Brandon Mebane out of Seattle. Mebane has played some two-gap inside at the beginning of his time with the Seattle Seahawks but also is not the figure that Adams represents.

Consider Adams along with Jenkins the top two signing priorities, ahead of center Olin Kreutz in some organization thinking. Free agency routinely determines some courses of action in the draft; this year that process is reversed. There will be nearly 500 free agents to choose from but the Bears have been effective at re-signing their own where the player and position require it. Adams will be one of those cases.

Listen in

Colleague Tom Curran out at CSNNE.com will guest on ProFootballTalk Live with Mike Florio at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Tom is close to a lot of the intricacies with the ongoing (more or less) situation between NFL owners and players and always brings a lot to the discussion.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

The Chicago Bears selected inside linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the expectation that he'll become an immediate starter and impact player on defense. But, was there a need at inside linebacker?

According to Pro Football Focus, Nick Kwiatkoski, who Chicago selected in the fourth round of 2016's draft, was a standout performer last season. He ranked third in the NFL among inside linebackers in run-stop percentage and was fourth-best in pass-rush productivity.

Kwiatkoski also wasn’t tagged for a missed tackle against the run all season. He still has to share time on the field with Danny Trevathan and newly-drafted Roquan Smith, but should be able to capitalize on a great sophomore year after being drafted in the fourth round from West Virginia in 2016. Overall, Kwiatoski was graded as the NFL’s 12th best inside linebacker, higher than both Spaight and Hitchens.

His 21.0 pass-rush productivity ranked fourth and came on the heels of his rookie season in which he ranked 10th in the same category in 2016.

Kwiatkoski didn't receive much fanfare last season but the analytics speak for themselves. He started six games (appeared in 11) and registered career highs in tackles (34) and sacks (two). He's an ascending player but his growth is likely to be stunted by Smith's presence. 

Chicago could view Kwiatkoski as the heir to Danny Trevathan's starting job. The Bears can move on from Trevathan with little consequence at season's end. His dead cap number drops to just $1.25 million in 2019. Kwiatkoski will be in the final year of his contract that season (2019), and if he hasn't earned a starting job by then, he's a near lock to sign elsewhere when his rookie contract expires. 

Kwiatkoski has proven he can produce when given a chance to play, something 31 other teams have certainly taken notice of.

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

If the Chicago Bears want to make a real run at the playoffs in 2018, the offensive line will have to do its part by keeping QB Mitch Trubisky upright. The offense is expected to be more pass-heavy under coach Matt Nagy and will depend on Trubisky having time in the pocket to go through his progressions and find the open target.

New offensive line coach Harry Hiestand should help that cause. He's universally praised as one of the best offensive line coaches in the sport and will be charged with getting a better effort from a unit that ended last season ranked in the bottom-third of pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus.

19. CHICAGO BEARS

2017 pass-blocking efficiency: 77.9

Best individual PBE: Josh Sitton, 97.4

Because of several crippling injuries, nine different players saw at least 100 pass-block snaps for the Bears in 2017. They gave up 152 pressures on 536 passing plays. The top performance came from left tackle Charles Leno Jr., who enjoyed the best season of his career and allowed just 24 pressures all season. Heading into the 2018 campaign, rookie guard James Daniels is penciled in to fill the shoes of the recently departed pass-blocking star Josh Sitton. Daniels performed well in pass protection during his final college season, allowing just 10 pressures on 371 pass-blocking snaps at Iowa.

The Bears will be without last season's top pass-protector, Josh Sitton, who was let go by GM Ryan Pace this offseason and signed with the Dolphins. 

Pass protection was once all about the play of the offensive tackles, but with the NFL's interior defensive linemen evolving into disruptive forces up the middle, guard play will be nearly as important. A healthy Kyle Long is critical. Chicago can't afford growing pains from James Daniels, either. Cody Whitehair returns to full-time center duties, a role he excelled at during his rookie season. 

Charles Leno should provide reliable play at left tackle. Bobby Massie remains a wildcard, but with little depth behind him, the Bears can do nothing more than hope his bad reps are limited in 2018.

With Hiestand in the fold and a healthy Long ready to compete at a high level again, the Bears' offensive line should be much improved this season.