Bears

View from the Moon: Colonel of truth

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View from the Moon: Colonel of truth

Friday, Feb. 4, 2011Posted: 10:00 PM
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The selections for this years Hall of Fame class will be made and announced Saturday and an unofficial prediction is that Richard Dent will finally get some very overdue recognition from the Hall electors and officially join the games elites.

The Colonel doesnt need anyone to plead a case that he made more than eloquently in his career.

An amusing part of the 2010 Bears season was the observation that Julius Peppers sometimes was mistakenly perceived as going less than full-out because he made it look so easy. That was Dent, a so-called bad body who Walter Payton once said would take the wallet out of his back pocket by reaching over his left shoulder, but someone whose grace and fluidity masked excellence at the craft of pass rushing that few in his era and others grasped so completely.

Dent told me once that, yes, of course he had plays with less that max intensity; so did everyone who had half an NFL brain. The point was to know which ones were the ones on which to do that, and at the same time to use those as part of setting up an offensive lineman for future downs.

Dent has 137.5 career sacks and has been eligible for nine years, which means a bunch of disappointments. For one of the dominant players of his era, this Saturday should put an end to that.

As for the others who would comprise my Class of 2011 (and their principle team):

Willie Roaf, tackle, New Orleans Saints
The Bears opted for wideout Curtis Conway in 1993s first round instead. When the Saints scrimmaged in training camps against the Bears, pass rushers against Roaf bordered on the comical.

Dermontti Dawson, center, Pittsburgh Steelers
Olin Kreutz considers him the standard of the era. The best in a tradition of great Pittsburgh middlemen.
Deion Sanders, cornerback, Dallas Cowboys
The ultimate shutdown corner who coordinators and quarterbacks admitted made at least one-quarter of the field off-limits. Nine-time first-team All-Pro.

Charles Haley, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys
Five-time Super Bowl winner with San Francisco and Dallas, two-time NFC defensive player of the year. Overshadowed by an offense built around Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith, Haley was the player Jimmy Johnson went after to put his Cowboys team over the hump, which Haley did.

The toughest calls are Cris Carter and Marshall Faulk. Carters 1,101 receptions are absolutely Hall-worthy, as are Faulks 19,154 career rushing yards. Both belong in the Hall of Fame, the only question being now or next year.

If Dent does not make the cut this time, it will be for one or both of these last two.

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.

Maurice Jones-Drew ranks Jordan Howard in NFL's top-10 RBs

Maurice Jones-Drew ranks Jordan Howard in NFL's top-10 RBs

Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard is entering an interesting season. He has just as good a chance of leading the NFL in rushing as he appears to have at losing reps to Tarik Cohen, a player some analysts feel is a better fit for coach Matt Nagy's system.

It's unfortunate that Howard isn't receiving the kind of praise a player like him deserves. He set the Bears' rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016. In 2017, he became the first running back in franchise history to start a career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Howard's production suggests he should be the feature back in Chicago's ground game. In fact, according to NFL Network's Maurice Jones-Drew, it's a no-brainer. He recently ranked Howard in the NFL's top-10 running backs.

7. Jordan Howard (Bears)

Even with the plethora of offensive weapons thanks to some offseason additions, the Bears' offense still must run through Howard. After rushing for at least 1,100 yards in each of his first two seasons, Howard will be a key piece for first-year head coach Matt Nagy and will have to carry Chicago late in the season if the squad is going to make a playoff push.

Howard will be given every chance to prove he can thrive in Nagy's system early in the season. If he can prove reliable as a receiver, he could match Kareem Hunt's league-leading 1,327 yards last season. He'll have to be effective as a pass-catcher to keep Cohen from threatening for more touches.

Howard deserves this kind of respect for what he's done through two seasons as a pro. He may not be in the NFL's elite class just yet, but if he surpasses 1,200-plus rushing yards and threatens for 10 or more touchdowns again, it'll be an undeniable fact that Howard is a true franchise back.

 

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.