We Are Tracking Instagram Follows Now

| February 20th, 2024

We have hit the point of the offseason where we are tracking whether the Chicago Bears’ current QB follows the team on his Instagram account. Nothing epitomizes the fanbase’s current state of limbo quite like this becoming a story last night.

I understand why it blew up — us fans will chase any crumb of insight into the 2024 Bears’ QB plan — but the speculation feels like a major reach to me. We aren’t long removed from Kyler Murray unfollowing the Arizona Cardinals (admittedly during a contract dispute) before re-signing with the team, but beyond that we’ve had much stronger intel recently tell us that Fields is likely on the move.

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2024 Bears Offseason Primer: Rounding Out the Roster

| February 16th, 2024

The Super Bowl is behind us, and the NFL offseason has officially arrived. Now is the favorite time of year for fans of downtrodden teams like the Bears. Over the next few months, every team will magically turn their weaknesses into strengths and enter training camp with hopes of playing in next years’ Super Bowl — if you don’t believe me, just survey each fanbase in July.

The Bears might not be Super Bowl contenders in 2024, but they took a clear step forward in 2023 and have the resources to improve the roster this offseason, setting up another step in the right direction next fall. But before we get into the whirlwind of draft prep (the Combine starts February 26) and free agency (starts March 13), it’s worth taking a look at where the roster currently stands. Let’s examine:

  • What the Bears’ depth chart looks like as of today
  • Which Chicago impact players are set to hit free agency
  • What Chicago’s salary cap situation looks like
  • Bears players that could be considered for cuts or extensions

Current Depth Chart

Let’s start by looking at who the Bears currently have under contract for 2024. This is based on the 53 players currently signed as of February 7, sorted loosely into what a depth chart would look like below.

A few thoughts:

  • This looks much better than the version I did at a comparable time just a year ago, but it still needs quite a bit of work before it’s truly become a good roster.
  • The most notable weaknesses that jump out are WR2, WR3, and C, where the current ‘starting’ players are clearly not starting-caliber.
    • I would also argue CB needs some work, as I would feel a lot better about Terell Smith as the top backup than a starter.
    • Still, this is a much shorter list than last year, when I said the Bears needed to add 11 starters.
  • Beyond that, improved competition for starters and/or rotational depth is needed at RB, TE, interior OL (G/C),  DE, DT, and S.
  • The Bears still lack in top-level players. Their only All-Pro from a year ago, Jaylon Johnson, is slated to be a free agent, and they lack difference makers. I count DJ Moore, Teven Jenkins, and Montez Sweat as high-level players, with the Bears hoping youngsters like Darnell Wright, Gervon Dexter, Tyrique Stevenson, Kyler Gordon, and Jaquan Brisker can rise to that level in due time.

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Shane Waldron’s Offense Is A Fun One

| February 15th, 2024

If Luke Getsy’s offense was like a finely-tuned orchestra, with every aspect of each play meticulously planned & each game script dependent on all 11 offensive players consistently doing their jobs, Shane Waldron’s offense is more like a jazz band.

“Here’s a general idea of what you’re doing, but at the end of the day go be a football player.”

It’s a fun pivot towards an offensive coordinator who empowers his best players to be field-tilters & difference-makers, but don’t let the idea of simplicity fool you — Waldron uses concepts like motion & formation shifts to his players’ advantage well. Below I walk you through a nice example of Waldron baiting out Cincinnati’s 3-by-1 defensive check before then motioning out of that 3-by-1 and forcing plenty of defensive communication, which both allows the Seahawks to identify a key Bengals’ check early in the game while still exploiting the defense and picking up a first down.

It’s a pretty design. Give it a look.

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Senior Bowl Notes From Day 3

| February 2nd, 2024

Final Senior Bowl practices just wrapped up for both the National & American Team. I spent the day watching DBs and Wide Receivers, and here’s what I saw:

National Team Practice

Did Not Practice: Florida WR Ricky Pearsall, Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell, Michigan WR Roman Wilson

Very Good: Notre Dame CB Cam Hart, Western Kentucky WR Malachi Corley, Rutgers CB Max Melton, Oregon State SAF Kitan Oladapo, Oregon SAF Evan Williams, USC WR Brenden Rice, Ohio State Safety Josh Proctor

Redeemed Himself: Washington State CB Chau Smith-Wade

I Wanted More: WR Devontez Walker, Penn State CB Kalen King, Oregon CB Khyree Jackson, Rice WR Luke McCaffrey, UCF WR Javon Baker

Notes: This isn’t a Copy/Paste list from yesterday — on the American squad, the cream has simply risen to the top. Cam Hart had another strong day, Max Melton took advantage of the extra reps, Kitan Oladapo flashed athleticism all day, and Brenden Rice separated with his feet on a day where he needed to do exactly that.

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Senior Bowl Notes From Day Two

| February 1st, 2024

Once again, Senior Bowl practices just wrapped up for both the National & American Team only hours ago. I spent the day watching DBs and Wide Receivers, and here’s what I saw:

National Team Practice

Dominant: Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell

Good: Florida WR Ricky Pearsall, North Carolina WR Devontez Walker, Michigan WR Roman Wilson, Western Kentucky WR Malachi Corley, Notre Dame CB Cam Hart, Rutgers CB Max Melton, Oregon State SAF Kitan Oladapo, Oregon SAF Evan Williams, UCF WR Javon Baker

I Wanted More: Penn State CB Kalen King, Oregon CB Khyree Jackson, Rice WR Luke McCaffrey

Notes: Quinyon continues to stand out, no two ways about it… Pearsall looks like a fun option in the 3rd or 4th round — he’s big enough to handle a jam, fast enough to separate after initial contact, and competitive at the catch point… Roman Wilson stayed fast.. Tez Walker looked much faster today than yesterday but he couldn’t seem to catch the ball. He did the hard part, but I’d love to see him finish tomorrow…

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Highlights from Day One at Senior Bowl

| January 30th, 2024

Senior Bowl practices just wrapped up for both the National & American Team only hours ago — I spent the day watching DBs and Wide Receivers, and here’s what I saw:

Bear With Me on these columns — time is short in Mobile, Alabama, so I’m stuffing as much as I can into this article. Organization will ebb and flow.

You need to hear about this Corner from Toledo

Quinyon Mitchell is a corner I haven’t personally had an easy time getting film on, but his play in Mobile stood out to the point that he was probably the best player on the field across both practices. He has beautiful, efficient footwork, physical during his route stem, and natural when tracking his man down the field. Made plays in both man and zone coverage. He’s assuredly out of the Bears’ league, but he’s fun nevertheless.

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It Was Always Going to Be the Chiefs

| January 29th, 2024

Not much from me today, as I’m rushing to finish as much Senior Bowl prep as possible. More on that starting tomorrow.

But my biggest takeaway from yesterday’s games? The NFL is still a Quarterback league, and it’s becoming nearly impossible for anyone to shine brighter than the league’s best Quarterback when playing under the brightest lights.

Kudos to Purdy — I thought he played a very nice game yesterday, especially after a tough first half — but the young man has his work cut out for him in Las Vegas. Can the NFL’s modern ‘SuperTeam’ fell the game’s biggest giant? We’ll find out in two weeks.

But in watching the Chiefs, one other observation jumps out at me — the Chiefs’ Cornerbacks, namely L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, and Jaylen Watson — have played great football over the last few weeks, providing Kansas City’s defense with a punch that many units in the NFL can’t even attempt. After all, could frustrate an offense  more than what we saw in Baltimore today? Todd Monken called pass play after pass play, but Odell Beckham Jr, Rashod Bateman, and Zay Flowers couldn’t separate against Kansas City’s corners, leading to tight throws that got batted away, sacks, and turnovers.

Baltimore’s frustration felt oddly familiar to me — it looked like Detroit’s frustration in their games against the Bears. And after all, how did the Bears fluster a Lions offense that seemingly no one else in the league could stop? The answer, I think, lies in Chicago’s corners. By investing in quality pass defenders, the Bears were able to turn their opponents’ rhythm throws into middle-percentage gambles that couldn’t be counted on when marching down the field.

When combined with Eberflus’ bend-don’t-break attitude, the stout run defense of Andrew Billings, and the pass-rush presence that Montez Sweat provided, I think Chicago’s corners became a force-multiplier that hasn’t been discussed enough — Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, and Kyler Gordon all gave WRs minimal room to breathe, minimizing layups and forcing offenses to play perfectly over long drives if they wanted to score. This clearly affected a pair of playoff offenses, namely Detroit and Cleveland, and throughout the Chiefs’ big win yesterday I found myself wondering if Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles might be onto something here.

I hope they are — frankly, I hope they continue investing in DB this year with a new Safety and maybe more depth at Corner. But, for now, it’s nothing if not a different perspective on the drivers of a modern defense.

Pass rush will always be king, but as Corner turns into a land of “Haves” and “Have-Nots” it seems as if Ryan Poles has found a way to get ahead of the NFL’s curve — with another likely add coming to Chicago’s Defensive Line in the 2024 offseason, I hope his approach bears further fruit next year. Regardless of who’s playing QB, a stingy corps of DBs will go a long way towards frustrating future opponents and finding wins where others can’t.

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