Why are Bears losing out in bids for offensive free agents?


Why are Bears losing out in bids for offensive free agents?

What is it about the Bears offense that people don’t want to come be part of it?

Within the early hours of free agency, the Bears landed a cluster of defensive players (linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, as well as D-lineman Akiem Hicks). But beyond former Arizona tackle Bobby Massie, the Bears have been spurned by a couple of targeted free agents where they appeared to be a preferred destination for playing-time opportunities.

Tight end has been a scratchy point for the Bears for more than a few years, with only the occasional Emery Moorehead or Greg Olsen or Martellus Bennett season or two to break the run of mediocrity since Mike Ditka. This offseason unfortunately hasn’t broken much from that pattern, with a couple of head-shakers thrown in.

Re-signing Zach Miller put a respectable 32-year-old band-aid in place before Bennett was traded to the New England Patriots. The Bears targeted New Orleans tight end Josh Hill with an offer sheet, only to have the Saints match their offer despite earlier signing Coby Fleener away from Indianapolis.

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Now the Green Bay Packers have signed Jared Cook, who was on the Bears’ wish list not once but twice. He chose the then-St. Louis Rams in 2013 with a five-year deal. Now Cook has opted for a one-year deal with a Green Bay team that already has Richard Rodgers in place as the starter, rather than the Bears and a clear vacancy as either the No. 1 or 1A tight end.

This comes after running back C.J. Anderson opted to sign an offer sheet with the Miami Dolphins for less money than the Bears were offering the Denver Broncos tailback.

The Broncos matched the Miami offer, so likely Anderson wouldn’t have escaped Denver for Chicago even for a slightly higher offer anyway. But Anderson voiced a wish to get with the offense of Adam Gase, the Denver offensive coordinator before taking that post in Chicago last year and now the head coach in Miami — this in spite of knowing the offensive philosophy of John Fox, his initial coach in Denver, and Fox stating that the philosophy would remain in place as Dowell Loggains replaced Gase in Chicago.

Chris Simms says the Bears' offensive struggles make the defense, Khalil Mack easier to gameplan for

Chris Simms says the Bears' offensive struggles make the defense, Khalil Mack easier to gameplan for

What a difference a year makes.

On November 14, 2018, the Bears — with a record of 6-3 — were riding a three-game winning streak into a Week 10 matchup with division rival Minnesota Vikings. They would go on to win that game, and the next one, en route to an eventual 12-4 regular season record and NFC North title. The offense was humming, the defense was dominant and, at the heart of it, their best player: Khalil Mack.

But 2019 has been a different story. Heading into Week 10 of this season, the Bears are 4-5 and living in a reality where every game is a must-win. A sputtering offensive attack, helmed by the increasingly-maligned duo of Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy, has catalyzed struggles across the team — including a half-step back for a defense that once appeared unassailable. They are still one of the league’s best, but not quite the death star of a unit they were in 2018.

Though many of his stats are comparable to his 2018 pace (outside of raw sack totals), Mack, specifically, hasn’t wreaked the same kind of havoc this season as he did last. Recently, NBC Sports NFL analyst, Chris Simms, posited a few theories for that development:

“In the big picture of the Chicago Bears: In general, when you’re not playing from a lead ever, to where the team playing against Chicago goes, ‘Oh man, we’re down by 14 or we’re down by 20. We gotta start throwing the football more,’ you know, those were the opportunities last year where Khalil Mack and the Bears were in control of the game,” Simms said.

“When you’re playing the Chicago Bears right now, you gameplan and you go, ‘Ok, what’s the big picture here?’ We’re not scared of their offense, so you can play it conservative on offense when you are playing the Bears,” he continued. “We know the one way we can lose to the Bears this week is if we let Khalil Mack get off on us, and we try to throw complete passes down the field, and then stripe-sack[s], fumbles and things happen.

“Within playing the Bears, most teams go into the games with conservative offensive gameplans because they don’t trust that the Bears offense is going to be able to move the ball a whole lot on their defense, and it’s short passes and things like that to where one guy that may be able to ruin a game on a weekly basis… Khalil Mack kind of gets taken away in those circumstances.” 

Opposing offenses have also been able to devote even more attention than usual to Mack in the form of double-teams and chips, given the increasing amount of injuries the Bears have sustained in their front seven — a fact Simms also acknowledges.

“[Mack] really creates a lot of attention,” Simms said. “And without Akiem Hicks there, a lot of offenses don’t have to worry about that beast in the middle and we can focus on our attention [to] let’s not let 52 ruin the game for us on that side.”

With the loss of Danny Trevathan on Sunday, that special attention Mack receives is only like to increase.

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Bears not on initial list of teams attending Colin Kaepernick workout

Bears not on initial list of teams attending Colin Kaepernick workout

The Bears are considered one of the NFL's most quarterback-needy teams after Mitch Trubisky's uninspiring play through the first half of the 2019 season, but that doesn't mean they're searching for his replacement just yet. 

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will conduct a workout on Saturday in Atlanta and the Bears were considered to be one of the most likely landing spots for the one-time dual-threat. But according to Thursday's announcement by the league, Chicago isn't one of the 11 teams who have confirmed their attendance.

The clubs who will have a representative on-site are Arizona, Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New England, NY Giants, NY Jets, Tampa Bay and Washington.

It's possible the Bears could confirm their attendance over the next few days, but at this point, it doesn't appear like there's much interest.

We'll continue to update the Kaepernick story as news breaks.