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Four Questions, Pertaining to the Building of a New Offensive Line

| March 21st, 2022


(1) Does Ryan Poles want to spend big money for a premier tackle? Terron Armstead will be 31 this season but has had trouble playing a complete season. His price will be north of $20 million per season. When he is healthy, he is worth every nickel. But does Poles want to absorb that risk financially?

(2) Where do Poles and this coaching staff expect Teven Jenkins to play in 2022? Do they want him at left tackle for another season? Do they want to move him to the right side? Jenkins is going to be one of the five starting linemen, but we honestly don’t know what position he’ll be playing. (My guess is they haven’t reached that conclusion yet and may not until they see how the rest of free agency and the draft shake out.)

(3) Can Ian Cunningham coerce Ryan Bates to Chicago? Bates is 25 and the folks in Buffalo absolutely adore him. But the Bills are cash-strapped and would unlikely be able to match a generous offer sheet. Minnesota is interested. New England is interested. But the Bears have Cunningham, the man responsible for bringing Bates to Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent. Is that relationship strong enough to make a difference now? (Bates can play anywhere on the line.)

(4) Two things I was told about the offensive line when Ryan Poles was hired were: (a) James Daniels was not going to be re-signed and (b) the opinion of Larry Borom was not particularly high. But this was before Poles and Flus engaged a thorough evaluation of the entire roster. Has that opinion changed at all? Do they view Borom as a potential starter? Versatile backup? Anything?

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Five Positives from the Bears Loss to the Vikings

| December 21st, 2021


Being a beat writer for a losing team is a tough gig. (Nobody has perfected the skill better than Dave Birkett in Detroit.)

In this age where your journalistic value is determined by click totals and uniques, the beats are almost forced to treat meaningless games like they have meaning. Monday night’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings had plenty to discuss but the result really didn’t matter. Still, there were positives to be taken from the game.


Positive #1. Justin Fields.

Fields made plenty of rookie mistakes, which is not surprising because he’s a rookie. (He’s still trying to extend the extendable play and putting the football on the ground too much.) But he also flashed all the traits that give so many fans optimism around Chicago: short memory, remarkable speed, deep accuracy, cannon arm, etc. Fields is playing in an incoherent offensive system, surrounded by one of the worst collections of skill guys in the sport. The arrow is pointed decidedly up.


Positive #2. Thomas Graham Jr.

What a debut! Graham made plays all over the field, including a brilliant PBU in the endzone right after Matt Nagy’s sideline penalty.

There is reason to be very excited but let’s see this kid on the field, non-stop, for the final three games of the season.


Positive #3. Teven Jenkins

Jenkins actually played a fine game against one of the league’s premier pass rushes. But it was the personal foul penalty, defending his quarterback, that landed with the most important player in the locker room.

If the Bears can see good things from Jenkins and right tackle Larry Borom over these final weeks, they can be in a terrific position upfront going into 2022.


Positive #4. Roquan Smith, James Daniels, Darnell Mooney

This the kind of young core that will excite prospective coaches.

  • Roquan continues to be one of the best inside linebackers in the league, as dynamic in space as he is in run support. He’s always had the athletic ability but what’s really become obvious is how intuitively he now plays the position. He’s sniffing out plays pre-snap routinely; the mark of the elite inside backers.
  • Daniels is playing like a top guard and is the anchor of the team’s terrific running game. Hard to believe he won’t be receiving a lucrative extension to stay in town.
  • Mooney is a winning piece in a logical offense. (Hell, he’s a solid piece in this offense.) Why the Bears, with their complete dearth of top skill players, don’t make sure Mooney touches the ball ten times a game, is beyond me. (But that’s a sideline problem, not a player problem.)

Positive #5. Pat O’Donnell had a 72-yard punt.

That is all.

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190 Comments

Short Column: For Pace, Teven Jenkins Could Hold Key to His Future in Chicago

| December 2nd, 2021


The jury is out on Justin Fields, and will remain out for the next season or so. But the Bears, and more specifically the folks who own the Bears, have been wildly impressed with the young signal caller – on and off the field – and believe the organization may have finally solved it’s most definitive, idiosyncratic dilemma. Said an individual close to ownership, “They know the situation is not ideal but he’s handling it with class.”

The debate currently raging (possibly too strong a word, but emotions are high) through the Halls of Halas is whether the acquisition of said signal caller is enough to warrant keeping the personnel man responsible for that acquisition in his job. As Ryan Pace prepares to make his case to the McCaskey family, a key piece of the argument currently resides on IR: Teven Jenkins.

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After Sunday, the Bears have five games remaining. If Jenkins can get back on the field in 2021, even for the final 2-3 games, and show glimpses of premier left tackle play, Pace can argue his 2021 draft as potentially organization defining. (Few teams come out of a single draft with franchise players at both quarterback and left tackle.) Pace has made plenty of mistakes – Mitch and Matt predominantly – but the Bears believe in his leadership and also believe he’s improving in the job. Jenkins performing at a high level might give ownership that confidence that he’s capable of the next major task: building around Justin Fields.

The merits of that confidence would be, let’s just say, debatable. But as the head coach’s fate has become clear in recent weeks, the focus of ownership has shifted almost entirely to evaluating their GM. Jenkins playing, and playing well, could alter that evaluation.

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Training Camp Diary: Teven Jenkins Has Back Surgery; What if Dalton Stinks on Saturday?

| August 19th, 2021


Teven Jenkins Has Back Surgery.

  • It is now unlikely the second-round selection will see the field this season. Back injuries are bad news for offensive linemen, and pretty much everyone else on the planet.
  • Trading up for a player with known injury concerns, even despite the potential/ability, is a suspect decision. Often times draftniks will argue that players “fall” in the draft but the truth is many organizations don’t touch guys with lingering injury concerns. Ryan Pace has to own this failure, including the decision to release Charles Leno, leaving the club extremely vulnerable on the edge.
  • Once again, I question why Matt Nagy says the things he says publicly. Why say the Jason Peters signing has nothing to do with Jenkins’ health FOUR DAYS before the latter has surgery? Does that give the club a competitive advantage? No. All it does it devalue any other public statements you make. After a while, everyone is going to just tune the coach out. (I’m pretty damn close.)
  • There will certainly be some urgency inside the Bears when it comes to Jenkins’ recovery but their entire focus should be readying him for the 2022 season. If this is a redshirt season, so be it. He’ll still be an immensely talented tackle next off-season.

What Do the Bears Do if Andy Dalton Stinks on Saturday?

Justin Fields is the future at the quarterback position.

Justin Fields has shown command of the offense and composure at every stage of the off-season program.

The only thing seemingly keeping the Bears from giving Fields the first-team reps in practice and naming him the starter is the presence, and behavior, of Andy Dalton. (If the Bears only had Nick Foles on the roster, you think he’d be getting starter’s reps?) Dalton was signed with the “promise” of the starting gig and has been a model soldier during his short tenure with the organization. Dalton doesn’t have the resume to keep Fields at bay. He hasn’t lit up training camp. He’s been fine. He’s been…Andy Dalton. And that seems to be enough.

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208 Comments

Training Camp Diary: A Series of Summarizing Tweets!

| July 30th, 2021


My rule with injuries over the summer: none of them matter until mid-August. But Jenkins needs to get on the practice field.


Somehow, a vaccine became political. Because we’re a fundamentally stupid country. From a football standpoint, this is great news.


Andy Dalton is not a great player. But he is a professional quarterback. And I just don’t see him pulling a Glennon or Nate Peterman and being so bad the organization is forced to play the young kid. Fields will play, and likely by midseason, but it won’t be because Dalton fails.


I refuse to believe Scooter Harrington is a football player and not a character on Happy Days.

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Establishing Realistic Expectations for Teven Jenkins

| May 24th, 2021

The Bears traded up in the second round to select Teven Jenkins and then promptly cut Charles Leno, paving the way for Jenkins to take over as the starting left tackle on day one. Bears fans have high expectations for Jenkins, helped along by Ryan Pace saying he gave Jenkins a first-round grade.

With that context in mind, I thought it might be helpful to look at recent history of tackles drafted in the second round. This can give us an idea of what to expect from Jenkins, and see what rough odds are for him becoming a quality starter vs. being a bust. I looked at all draft picks from 2011-20 to give a 10-year sample featuring 26 players. Full data can be seen here.

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Most Start as Rookies

18 of the 26 tackles (a very nice 69%) drafted in the second round started as rookies. Starter can be a bit difficult to define here due to injury and mid-season depth chart changes, so I considered them starters if they played more than half of their offense’s snaps and started in more than half of the games they appeared in, according to Pro Football Reference.

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They Stay on the Field

All 18 of the players who started as rookies spent at least three years as a starter, or have not yet played three years in the NFL but are projected to continue starting in 2021.

11 of the 13 with four or more years of experience spent at least four seasons starting.

Of the 12 rookie starters drafted in 2015 or earlier (so at least 6 NFL seasons by now), nine of them have been a starter for six or more years, with more than half (7) being a starter for at least 8 years (or 6+ years and projected to continue starting in 2021).

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Second Round Selection: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State

| April 30th, 2021


Three thoughts:

  • Love the approach or hate the approach, but Ryan Pace is an aggressive GM when it comes to the NFL Draft. He targets specific players and almost always gets them.
  • Jenkins was projected to the Bears in the FIRST ROUND in mocks all across the country. The Bears have come out of the first two nights with a starting QB and a starting tackle. Hard to be bothered by losing a third round pick in that scenario.
  • Mauler is the word most associated with Jenkins. Joel Klatt says he has a “nasty demeanor”. And the Bears need those traits on their offensive line.

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Wednesday Lynx Package: Draft Edition

| April 21st, 2021


If the Bears stand pat at the twentieth overall selection, there is a range of potential impact players that will be available to them. Today, some links featuring those names.

  • Teven Jenkins, from KSNT in Kansas: “The biggest obstacle ever I feel like to me is when my mother passed when I was eight years old,” says Jenkins. “She passed away from breast cancer and that was the biggest obstacle for me and through the rest of my life there hasn’t even been anything close to that.”
  • There are crazily three legacy corners in this draft, all projected to go in round one. Patrick Surtain II and Asante Samuel Jr. are self-explanatory. Jaycee Horn is the son of Joe Horn. Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post breaks down the corner class, which will interest the CB-needy Chicago Bears.
  • Rashod Bateman’s decision to opt out of the 2020 college football season has come under scrutiny by NFL front offices. Per SI, he believes the decision made him a better man.
  • The Bears have a good running back in David Montgomery. But there are two backs in this draft – Travis Etienne and Najee Harris – that would be electric additions to Matt Nagy’s offense. The Democrat & Chronicle (Western NY) believes Etienne is the home run hitter the Bills need. Could he be the same in Chicago?
  • The Bears love their southeastern scouts. And there’s a pass rusher out of Georgia – Azeez Ojulari – that is climbing many draft boards. There have even been some comparisons to Steelers’ legend Joey Porter. If there are even slight Porter-ish vibes, the Bears shouldn’t let a minute come off their draft clock.

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Wednesday Lynx Package

| April 14th, 2021


Very little happening. Here are some links.

  • Adam Jahns, fresh from vacation, posits what the Bears could look like if Ryan Pace had been perfect when it comes to the draft. (He openly admits that no GM is perfect – or anywhere near it – but it’s still a fun exercise to read.) The truth? Pace didn’t have to be perfect. He just had to get quarterback correct.
  • WCG must have an ESPN+ subscription because they let us know who Mel Kiper projects to the Bears in both rounds one and two. (I pay for Jahnsy. That’s enough.) The players? OT Teven Jenkins and WR Anthony Schwartz.
  • Patrick Finley of the Sun-Times does a breakdown of the four QBs who should be available day two and beyond. We’ve discussed three ad nauseum. Mond. Mills. Trask. But Finley sneaks in another name: Notre Dame’s Ian Book. His breakdown: The skinny: Book isn’t a Day 2 pick unless a team overlooks his measurables and sees a two-time captain who had more success than almost any passer in Notre Dame history. He’s probably at the top of the Day 3 quarterback tier, which includes Texas’ Sam Ehlinger — Tom Herman, his former head coach, now works for the Bears — and former Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman.”
  • ACTUAL BEAR NEWS! This USA Today piece has nice video of a “curious” bear being chased away from a home by two “mighty” guard dogs.
  • Nice Brad Biggs piece on lengendary strength coach Clyde Emrich – one of the rare individuals connected to the team’s titles in both 1963 and 1985. Emrich just turned 90. You’ll probably have to pay to read this. But the Tribune is worth paying for because you get Rick Pearson in the deal.
  • There is a movie called Thunder Force. It is apparently terrible. And in this terrible movie, a character named “Lydia goes on a long rant about the Chicago Bears’ 1985 season.” Perhaps it’s time to simply retire all things ’85 Bears for the foreseeable future. Haven’t we drained all the milk we’re gonna get from that cow.

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