Wednesday Lynx Package: Arlington Heights Traffic, Don’t Forget Paris & Moore(2Life)!

| March 22nd, 2023

We’re entering something of quiet period between the height of free agency and the draft, unless you’re someone who finds prospect visits and pro days fascinating. So, let’s see what is being discussed out there.

  • Next week, DBB will be holding our second annual pledge drive. With a full graduate school workload, this last year would have been near-impossible to execute on the site without the support from last year’s drive. Here’s hoping we have another successful week and can enthusiastically steer the ship into the lead-up to the draft.
  • SHOCKER! Arlington Heights residents are now worried that bringing the Bears to their neighborhood will create a “traffic nightmare”. Why are they worried? Because every single stadium built in a suburb creates a traffic nightmare. Go to Foxboro, or the Meadowlands, or Inglewood. Everyone arguing otherwise is kidding themselves.
  • ICYMI. Ryan Poles was convinced he could trade back twice in the first round, accruing an additional first pound pick in 2024. Instead, he took the Panthers offer, specifically because DJ Moore was in it. No brainer for Poles. Draft picks are rolling the dice and hoping for a six. Moore is an accomplished NFL wide receiver, a true top guy, that makes his club better immediately.
  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS: New Mexico’s Department of Game and Fish is now hiring “bear huggers”. And yes, it’s as adorable as it sounds.
  • Teams are starting to leak their intentions when it comes to drafting Jalen Carter, but none of them should be believed. Carter is a tremendous talent, and he has a month of meetings to convince NFL franchises that his character concerns are overstated. (For the record, I don’t see Carter as a game changer at the next level.)
  • Sometimes I get a good vibe about a player after reading a few profiles, and I’m getting that vibe about Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr. From Doug Lesmerises at Cleveland.com: “Hard to imagine the Bears not getting a good vibe from Johnson, who was a student journalist at Ohio State, who started a charity to help veterans, who always seems comfortable with who he is. He was on the OSU roster with Fields in 2020 as a freshman even though he didn’t start. Fields was the focus of a lot of combine questions, and Johnson went into a staunch defense of him, ending with, ‘He has all the intangibles that you want.'”
  • Mel Kiper has his flaws when it comes to draft analysis, but he joins a growing chorus on Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, suggesting the kid is destined to at least start his NFL career at guard. If that is the case, would the Bears be interested if they decide to take a lineman early, as Johnson Jr. and Georgia’s Broderick Jones will also likely be on the board when they choose?
  • DJ Moore’s Moore2Life Foundation “supports at-risk youth and families in need through resource distribution, educational advancement, and mentorship-based programming. Growing up with a single mom in the heart of Philadelphia, Moore witnessed gun shots, sirens, and violence on a regular basis. Through the eyes of his young daughter, Ari, Moore intends to change that viewpoint and show the importance of giving back.” Here’s hoping that DJ can bring these efforts to Chicago in the coming years. It is needed.

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Free Agency Day One, Open Thread

| March 15th, 2023

DBB is on spring break this week. And in lieu of spending the week drunk and shirtless in Daytona Beach, I’m hanging out with Sarah and the cats in Queens while doing very little mental labor. So, we’ll start this week with a series of three open threads during the legal tampering period and opening day of free agency, allowing the comments section to be the place to discuss the moves/non-moves. Thursday we will return with some longer reflections. 


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Legal Tampering Day Two, Open Thread

| March 14th, 2023

DBB is on spring break this week. And in lieu of spending the week drunk and shirtless in Daytona Beach, I’m hanging out with Sarah and the cats in Queens while doing very little mental labor. So, we’ll start this week with a series of three open threads during the legal tampering period and opening day of free agency, allowing the comments section to be the place to discuss the moves/non-moves. Thursday we will return with some longer reflections. 


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Legal Tampering Day One, Open Thread

| March 13th, 2023

DBB is on spring break this week. And in lieu of spending the week drunk and shirtless in Daytona Beach, I’m hanging out with Sarah and the cats in Queens while doing very little mental labor. So, we’ll start this week with a series of three open threads during the legal tampering period and opening day of free agency, allowing the comments section to be the place to discuss the moves/non-moves. Thursday we will return with some longer reflections. 


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Dannehy: Four Things to Watch at Combine

| March 1st, 2023

With the first pick and the possibility of getting more selections, all eyes are going to be on the Chicago Bears in Indianapolis this weekend.

In the second year of the Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus regime, we have a better idea of what kind of players the team is looking to add. Beyond just the standard answer they give regarding players who fit the mental makeup they want, the Bears brass reiterated some of the physical attributes for which they are looking.

Here are four things to look for:


The Bears once again refused to offer unwavering commitment to Justin Fields as their quarterback and on Tuesday morning Poles made it sound as if the team is keeping its options open.

The door might only be open a crack, but if the Bears weren’t at least considering drafting a quarterback with the first overall pick, there would be no reason not to slam it shut. The idea that they need to make teams think they’re going draft a quarterback simply for leverage doesn’t make any sense. The only team that might panic is Houston, which would be more nervous about the idea the Colts are going to take a quarterback.

Compare it to the Eagles last year who, when rumor about interest in Russell Wilson or drafting a quarterback surfaced, said “there’s no doubt about it” when asked if Jalen Hurts was the team’s future at the position.

Nobody honestly expects the Bears to take a quarterback, but their refusal to say “this is Fields’ team” is weird. When teams are confident in their quarterback, they are almost always willing to broadcast that to the world.

The most likely explanation is that the Bears would be happy going forward with Fields as the quarterback, but would like to see if they can upgrade. There’s nothing wrong with that.

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Dannehy: Poles Must Do Homework on Quarterbacks

| January 19th, 2023

With great power comes great responsibility. Or something like that.

When he met the media last week, Ryan Poles left the door open just a tiny crack that he may use the first overall pick on a quarterback. Poles said he would have to be “absolutely blown away” in order to consider the position. That comment showed support for Justin Fields but also made it clear Poles is going to do his due diligence.

It wasn’t all that long ago – OK, so maybe it was for you, but not me – that the Bears refused to even consider taking a quarterback because they had Rex Grossman. Even after Aaron Rodgers sought the team out and impressed them in an interview, they still would not consider it, according to former Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel.

Grossman had just finished his second season and played in just four games. The Bears couldn’t have been *that* in love with him; he wasn’t even their first pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Ultimately, refusing to consider another option is what doomed Jerry Angelo and company.

Poles has to make sure that doesn’t happen to him.

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Dannehy: First Pick a Dangerous Precedent for GMs

| January 12th, 2023

Since the turn of the century there have been eight general managers who have kept their jobs after ending a season with the worst record in the league. Of those, San Diego’s A.J. Smith, Houston’s Rick Smith, Tampa Bay’s Jason Licht, Detroit’s Martin Mayhew and Jacksonville’s Trent Baalke have recovered to make the playoffs. In two of those cases — Licht and Baalke — the GM didn’t have final say on the roster, instead it was head coaches Lovie Smith and Urban Meyer calling the shots.

Another example could be Duke Tobin of the Bengals, though Cincinnati’s front office set up is unique and it’s unknown how much power he actually has.

More often than not, the decision maker who is responsible for constructing the worst team in the league is fired, either immediately or soon after.

The easiest way to climb out of the dumpster is by hitting on a quarterback. That, more than anything, is what has the Jaguars and Bengals in the playoffs. Hitting on Matthew Stafford kept Martin Mayhew employed for a few more years and AJ Smith was able to get creative, taking Eli Manning and swapping him for Philip Rivers. Time will tell if the Bears truly believe they have their quarterback, though they seem content – at the very least – with Justin Fields.

Rick Smith is the exception; he took defensive ends both times he had the first pick and neither worked out particularly well. He had a longer leash than most as the Texans didn’t make the playoffs until his sixth season in charge. You can bet Poles won’t get that much time.

Carolina’s Marty Hurney is also an exception, he hit on the quarterback but was still fired shortly after.

Poles is in a good spot to turn this roster around as long as he uses his resources wisely.

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2023 Off-Season Primer: Plenty of Money, Plenty of Needs

| January 10th, 2023

The 2022 season is finally over, meaning it is time for fans to shift their attention to the off-season, that magical time of year when every team turns all of their weaknesses into strengths and enters training camp as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

I kid, of course, but the offseason is a time to improve the roster, and the Bears showed this year that they need plenty of roster improvement. To give us an idea of what might be possible in the next few months, I want to take stock of where the Bears currently are. We’ll explore:

  • Who is still under contract vs. entering free agency.
  • What upgrades are needed.
  • What the salary cap situation looks like.
  • What players could be eligible for extensions.

Current Depth Chart

Let’s start by looking at who the Bears currently have under contract for 2023. This is based on players currently signed as of January 9.

As you can see, the roster is going to undergo a significant overhaul this offseason for the second year in a row. As of right now, there are only 41 players on the roster, and many of them are fringe guys who may not make the team next year.

(Quick side note: there are 2 players that did not fit on this depth chart: TE Chase Allen and safety Adrian Colbert. I didn’t want to add a 3rd string just for them, and they’re practice squad guys who likely won’t factor into the 2023 roster anyway).

Though the Bears can at least pencil in a “starter” at most roster spots, many of those players should not be starting in 2023, and the team should be looking to add new starters at the following positions this offseason:

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Dannehy: Bears Mess Deserve More Scrutiny

| January 4th, 2023

“I don’t know why I did that…”

The admission was strange on the surface, but the fact that Justin Fields was talking about an interception that came right after he exited the concussion protocol makes it a concern. Fields cleared concussion protocol and there has been no evidence that he is suffering from any issues, but head injuries are tricky, and it isn’t extreme to suggest it was partly to blame for what is easily the worst interception the quarterback has thrown this season.

The larger concern is that was the second time he was checked by medical personnel in the game. Once again, the young quarterback was under constant pressure, despite coming into the game with a shoulder injury and a hurt foot. He injured his hip earlier in the game, then took an ugly shot to the back of his head.

These beatings have become a weekly occurrence. It’s enough to make you question this entire season or, rather, the roster moves that have been made since Ryan Poles was hired as the general manager last January.

It’s easy to say Poles’ decision to tear the roster down and build from scratch was necessary or that it is a good team-building strategy, but that seems to be much closer to wishful thinking than actual justification. None of the elite teams in the NFL got where they are by tanking. And, certainly, none asked their quarterbacks to make something out of nothing weekly.

Perhaps more concerning is the question of if he even actually intended on being this bad. If Poles’ plan was to tank, why did he offer 28-year-old Larry Ogunjobi a big contract? And why in the world would he trade a high second-round pick for Chase Claypool?

The biggest concern is his failure to build an offense around Fields. The way he went about the process was questionable as he mostly went after cheap players and, when he did use actual assets, they didn’t work out.

While Fields was under constant pressure last week, it’s worth pointing out that four of the five offensive linemen the Bears had on the field against Detroit were projected starters when the team entered training camp. The only starter missing was Lucas Patrick, who was horrible when he did play. The next biggest investment Poles made on the offensive line was Alex Leatherwood, who was a healthy scratch.

Then, there’s the wide receiver group. None of his three biggest investments – Claypool, Byron Pringle and Velus Jones Jr. have made an impact on the offense. All three were available last week, but didn’t catch any of their six targets.

Poles likes to point out a lack of assets, but that is mostly hogwash. While the team didn’t have a lot of salary cap space in 2022, they could’ve used some of the money available in 2023 to sign players. Even if they had spent $20 million of future cap space to help protect the young quarterback, they’d still have nearly $100 million to spend this offseason — about $30 million more than any other team.

Regardless, the problem isn’t the players he didn’t sign. It’s that the players he did sign aren’t good. It’s hard to ignore how the personnel misses are already starting to pile up. If we are to believe Poles is going to build the Bears into a contender, we also have to believe he is capable of evaluating offensive players, but there is almost no evidence to support that belief, though the sample size is still small.

If Poles truly has had an eye on the future, then protecting Fields should have been a priority last offseason. Even if Fields didn’t prove to be “the guy” they wouldn’t regret having solid offensive linemen or pass catching options for whoever the next quarterback would be, especially if it’s a rookie.

Instead, Poles enters this offseason needing to rebuild almost an entire offense around the quarterback, while also trying to improve what is the worst defense in the league.

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Dannehy: “Special, Special, Special, Special Special” Justin Fields.

| November 9th, 2022

It should not be possible for a quarterback to run toward the line of scrimmage, leave his feet for a pump fake, come back to the ground, and then outrace the defense for a 61-yard touchdown.

But that’s what Justin Fields did on Sunday and such plays are becoming a weekly occurrence.

What makes Fields special isn’t just what he’s doing, it’s that so often the defense appears to be in position to make a play and they don’t because he is too good. Perhaps most telling are the comments from opponents. 

Melvin Ingram has been around the block, he said Fields is special five times. Jaelan Phillips called him a monster, Mike McDaniel said Fields is “as dynamic with the ball in his hands as any player in the league really.”

Luke Getsy deserves credit for checking his ego and installing an offense that works for his quarterback. It’s fair to question why it took so long to do that, but that’s old history. The true challenge for Getsy will be coming up with a counter when opponents are able to adjust.

That said, the Bears offense is taking off because of the quarterback.

Did Poles Mess Up?

Imagine if this offense was paired with a top fifteen defense? It isn’t that crazy because that’s exactly what the Bears had prior to the trades of Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith.

When the Bears entered the season, the common thought was that the defense would be good, and the offense would be only as good as Justin Fields. That proved true through the first seven weeks as the team struggled to score points. The defense was still pretty good.

Now they have an offense that looks like an absolute machine, but they’re still not likely to win many more games simply because their defense cannot get a stop.

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