Grading the Roster: Offense

| July 19th, 2023

Camp approaches, which means it’s time for me to grade the roster. Like I’ve done the last few years, I’ll grade on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the worst in the NFL, 10 being the best, and 5 being an average NFL unit. Let’s get right down to it.

Quarterback: 4

Key Players: Justin Fields, PJ Walker

Others: Nathan Peterman, Tyson Bagent

I should start here by noting that I’m grading based on past production so that I don’t project what I personally think will happen in the future. After a terrible 1st month, Fields more or less spent the bulk of his sophomore campaign as an average passer and elite runner, though he also took a ton of sacks, and a decent number of them were his fault. There is some hope he can make a Year 3 leap towards superstardom, but until he does, it’s hard to rank him much higher than average.

The overall grade gets dinged because of depth; Fields has missed multiple games due to injury in each of his first two seasons, and PJ Walker seems like a less than ideal backup with a career 58% completion rate, 6.4 yards per attempt, and 5 TD to 11 INT. Peterman and Bagent will compete to be the practice squad QB, and we can only hope that we don’t see either of them take a meaningful snap this season.

Running Back: 5

Key Players: Khalil Herbert, D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson

Others: Travis Homer, Trestan Ebner, Khari Blasingame, Robert Burns

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On the Eve of the Preseason, Grading the 2019 Roster

| August 7th, 2019

Like I did last year, here’s an objective look at this Bears roster, grading each unit on a 1-10 scale. I’m scaling it such that 1 means it’s the worst in the NFL, 10 is the best in the NFL, and 5 is an average NFL grouping. I am going to try to avoid projecting too much for young players who have not yet proven it in the NFL, so some of these rankings might be a bit lower than expected.

Let’s get right down to it!

Quarterback: 6

Key Players: Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel

Roster Depth: Tyler Bray

Trubisky was right around average statistically as a passer in 2018, but added value as a runner. In two games when he was out hurt, Chase Daniel showed that he’s a solid backup, but also reminded us that he’s a backup. I was torn between a 5 and 6 here, but decided Trubisky’s running and Daniel as a backup warranted the higher grade.

Running Back: 5

Key Players: David Mongtomery, Mike Davis, Tarik Cohen

Roster Depth: Kerrith Whyte, Ryan Nall

This was a difficult position to grade because of Tarik Cohen. He’s a really good offensive weapon who produced almost 1200 yards of offense and 8 TDs in 2018, but he can’t handle a huge load and does more damage as a pass catcher than a runner.

Mike Davis is a solid player who fits well in this offense, but he’s probably best suited as a backup.

And while I’m hugely excited about David Montgomery and his fit in this offense, I can’t credit him for anything when he’s yet to play an NFL game. Thus I’ll give this group an average grade for now, but I think this is the position that has the highest potential to outperform its ranking in 2019.

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Grades for the NFC North’s Best Team at the Halfway Point

| November 7th, 2018

The Bears are 5-3. They lead the NFC North at the halfway point. Let’s take stock of how the units have performed through eight games.


Blurb: The Bears have a real, professional, exciting offense and a play-caller getting more comfortable each and every week. That they’re scoring the way they are while bringing along *essentially* a rookie quarterback is the most impressive thing about this unit.

Key Stat: Jordan Howard is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry, a significant drop from the previous two seasons. But the Bears are 7th in rushing yards per game, primarily due to Mitch Trubisky.

Grade: The Bears are still leaving big plays out there because of a young, developing quarterback. But the overall numbers are good and the arrow is now pointing decidedly up. B


Blurb: The Bears defense has played two poor games and it’s not coincidence that both of those games featured Khalil Mack on the field, on one leg. When the team has either (a) had Mack at full strength or (b) prepared to play without him, they’ve been the league’s best defense. Mack was the MVP of September. Bryce Callahan has been the breakout star. Kyle Fuller has been the unit’s best player for the duration.

Key Stat: Bears rush defense is allowing 3.7 yards per carry (5th), 84.9 yards per game (3rd), have allowed just 1 rushing touchdown (1st) and recovered 5 fumbles in the run game (1st).

Grade: I’ll give them a mulligan for Edith Wharton’s The Osweiler Affair. They’re dominant against the run. They turn opponents over. They score. They’re a great unit. A

Special Teams

Blurb: They had a nightmare against the New England Patriots, allowing two touchdowns, and Cody Parkey missed his biggest kick of the season against Miami. Pat O’Donnell is inconsistent in the punt game but Tarik Cohen is absolutely electric in the punt return game.

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Grades (and Haikus!) For the NFC North’s Top Team at the Quarter Mark

| October 3rd, 2018

Joe Camporeale – USA TODAY Sports

Data is going to be writing a series of pieces breaking down what the Bears have been numerically/statistically through the first quarter of the season, as only he can. So this will just be CliffsNotes stock taking for now. With haikus!


Blurb: Through three games, the offense was incoherently constructed and impotently executed. Then they delivered the finest offensive performance in this organization’s history against the Tampa Bay Bucs. They have a solid offensive line and a terrific collection of play-making weapons. It just took a month for it all to come together.

Key Stat: Mitch Trubisky’s QB line: 70% completion, 945 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT, 101.6 rating.

Grade: I would have given this unit an F before Sunday’s performance so I can’t ignore those games. But the arrow is decidedly pointing up. C+


Six touchdown passes.

The ghost of Johnny Lujack

Recedes into dark


Blurb: Patrick Mahomes has the gaudiest stat line in the league but Khalil Mack has been every bit the NFL’s MVP. No player has made a larger impact on the performance of their team. Mack has made every single player on this unit better and they are the league’s top defense. Lead in sacks. Second in picks. Right at the top of every valuable statistical category.

Key Stat: The Bears had 8 interceptions in 2017. They have 8 through four games of 2018.

Grade: There is no drama. There is no debate. A+


There goes Khalil Mack,

Flying ’round the right tackle

Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball! Ball!

Special Teams

Blurb: Cody Parkey is a solid upgrade but he’s not really been tested in a big moment. Pat O’Donnell is having a solid year punting the football. The return game has provided little but the units have avoided the kinds of penalties that can bury the offense. They’ve covered kicks well, with Sherrick McManis mounting a Pro Bowl-caliber campaign.

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Camp Has Started. Let’s Grade Chicago’s Roster.

| July 24th, 2018

Let’s take an objective look at this Bears roster, grading each unit on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the worst in the NFL, 10 being the best in the NFL, and 5 being an average NFL grouping. I am going to try to avoid projecting too much for young players who have not yet proven it in the NFL, so some of these rankings might be a bit lower than expected.

Let’s get right down to it!

Quarterback: 3.5

Key players: Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel

Roster depth: Tyler Bray

I have a feeling this rating will be higher by the end of the 2018 season, but right now I can’t go any higher than a 3.5 out of 10. Mitchell Trubisky got steadily better as his rookie season progressed, but he still didn’t play that great, and while people seem to love Chase Daniel as a backup, he’s only thrown 78 passes over 8 seasons in the NFL.

Running Back: 8

Key players: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen

Roster depth: Benny Cunningham, Michael Burton, Taquan Mizzell, Ryan Nall

Welcome to the best position group on the Bears’ roster. Jordan Howard has run for over 2400 yards the last 2 years, and Tarik Cohen is a perfect complement who can make explosive plays on limited touches. Howard’s struggles through the air are the only thing keeping this grade from being higher, but the duo should be very productive in 2018 if used correctly. The depth here is solid as well; Benny Cunningham is a good ST contributor and solid 3rd down back, and people seem to like UDFA Ryan Nall as a sleeper.

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