The Chicago Bears had some additional time this week between Thursday’s 16-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers and Sunday once they face the NFC North-leading Lions in Detroit.
Heading into Week 11, there are nonetheless many questions surrounding the coach, the tradition and the contracts. Brad Biggs solutions your Chicago Bears questions, which have been calmly edited, every week.
After listening to Ryan Poles speak about Matt Eberflus in his final information convention, what are the trustworthy possibilities he truly will get fired come the tip of the season in the event that they win a pair extra video games? I feel the group total is taking part in onerous and the run protection is taking part in eons higher than final yr — a key accountability of his. But the move protection continues to be unhealthy for a lot of causes. Clearly they love his tradition at Halas Hall given how a lot they use the phrase. I feel it’s additionally necessary to not neglect this is a corporation that stored John Fox for a 3rd yr after a 6-10 and 3-13 seasons. — Gerry M., Chicago
I don’t know what’s going to shake out on the finish of the season. I do imagine a choice shall be primarily based on the whole lot of the season and as I’ve written on this house beforehand, I feel there’s a differencebetween 2022 and 2023. Last season, there was zero expectation for the group to be aggressive because the Bears have been carrying greater than $85 million in lifeless cap house earlier than the yr ended. So, whereas Eberflus (and Poles) will at all times have that 3-14 season on their file, I imagine it’s important to separate one season from the subsequent.
I additionally assume a number of the expectations for this season have been completely out of whack. For some, it was as if the departure of Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers and the NFC North was a transparent lane to supremacy within the division. The actuality is there was quite a lot of visitors within the Bears’ method and so they’ve taken some detours on a path they hope results in sustainable success.
There are quite a lot of components that can must be thought-about. How is the group taking part in? More particularly, how does the group carry out within the second half of the season? Is there a way the Bears are extra aggressive within the again half of the schedule? The group is within the midst of a stretch now with 4 of 5 video games on the street. Eberflus and Poles inherited quarterback Justin Fields and there are some well-documented points for the offense. How a lot does the teaching workers inheriting a quarterback who hasn’t labored out up to now weigh within the choice? Would Poles want a brand new head coach or possibly an offensive-minded head coach within the chance he plans to draft a quarterback within the first spherical?
I don’t put an entire lot of inventory in midseason public backings of head coaches by GMs. Poles isn’t going to undercut his coach with half a season remaining. That wouldn’t be productive forchemistry within the constructing orthe hope the teaching workers can get extra out of the roster. I might think about personal conversations between Poles and Eberflus are extra pointed. It’s what Poles says about Eberflus and the workers on the finish of the season that actually issues.
I think about the Bears figured they might be higher than 3-7 via 10 video games. Probably not a ton higher record-wise, however a bit bit. It’s fascinating to marvel what the tenor could be proper now if the group was 4-6 and had not squandered a 28-7 lead late within the third quarter to lose to the Denver Broncos again in Week 4 at Soldier Field. But we may play the what-if recreation all day lengthy. The backside line is Poles goes to guage the path he believes the franchise is headed in when the season is full and customarily that course of places a bit extra weight on how issues have been trending within the closing months of the season.
When Nate Davis returns does Lucas Patrick or Cody Whitehair go to the bench? — @stephenclapp1
There have been a few questions on what the road will seem like when Davis, who has missed the final 4 video games with a excessive ankle sprain, returns to motion. My guess is there’s a respectable likelihood Davis shall be labored again into follow this coming week, however we must see. The group modified its schedule for this week, switching a Monday walk-through to a follow, however the first harm report of the week is not going to be launched till Wednesday afternoon. If Davis makes stable progress this week maybe he will get some taking part in time on Sunday at Detroit. The Bears lately rotated Braxton Jones in at left sort out when he returned after lacking six video games with a neck harm.
The first query: the place does Davis play? There are two choices. He may return to proper guard and Jenkins may shift again to left guard, the place he was slated to play all alongside this yr. Or the Bears may preserve Jenkins at proper guard and transfer Davis to left guard. My hunch — only a guess — is that they swap Jenkins again to the left aspect and have Davis play proper guard. Davis was a proper guard beforehand in Tennessee and Jenkins at the least has some latest time spent on the left aspect.
Patrick is my guess to stay at middle with Whitehair most likely changing into a reserve. If the Bears felt greatest about having Whitehair at middle, he’d most likely be there proper now and he had some hiccups taking part in the place earlier this season. I don’t know if Davis is again within the fold this week, he’s missed a complete of six video games this season, however earlier than lengthy the group ought to have its 5 greatest linemen on the sphere.
The Bears have been in a position to lengthen the contracts of Montez Sweat, Andrew Billings and Cole Kmet. Yet, Ryan Poles has been unable to increase the contract of Jaylon Johnson, although Poles usually sings his praises. What is the hang-up? Money? Length of contract? Perhaps Poles’ feedback publicly don’t replicate his emotions about Johnson in personal? All of the above? — Jim A., Plymouth, Minn.
Every negotiation for a contract extension takes on a lifetime of its personal. It’s not like there’s an meeting line and so they simply crank these items out. The Kmet deal was one thing the Bears obtained happening early within the offseason. That was a precedence for them. A deal for Johnson on the time most likely didn’t make quite a lot of sense for both aspect.
For Johnson, he wasn’t coming off a banner season in 2022 and the shortage of ball manufacturing was a difficulty if he was going to sit down down on the negotiating desk. Johnson additionally modified illustration throughout the offseason. For the Bears, it most likely didn’t make quite a lot of sense as a result of Johnson had missed a while and, like I stated, there was an absence of manufacturing. That’s what the top-tier cornerbacks get, proper? So, developing with a typical floor to hammer out a deal was most likely going to be tough and Johnson was proper to attempt to improve his worth this season. So, we’re speaking a couple of shorter window of time now when the edges have truly accomplished some work on the difficulty. The Billings’ deal was modest — he obtained an $8 million, two-year extension — in order that’s most likely not related to this dialogue both. As far as Sweat, Poles needed to signal him in an effort to not be staring down a scenario on the finish of the season the place he was going to have to make use of the franchise tag.
What’s the hang-up? Money. I imagine Poles when he talks about Johnson in a constructive mild. But the 2 sides must see if they will discover a determine that is sensible. Johnson is taking part in with harm danger and with every week that goes by, he will get nearer to the opportunity of changing into an unrestricted free agent in March. That is the place he can maximize his worth. Yes, the Bears may probably contemplate the franchise or transition tag.
Remember, Poles stated he felt the group was close to a contract settlement with Johnson proper earlier than the commerce deadline earlier than issues took a flip and the participant requested permission to hunt a commerce. Poles granted that most likely partially as a result of he respects Johnson. I wouldn’t write off the opportunity of issues finally getting accomplished. The higher Johnson performs with seven video games remaining, the extra leverage he may have. Just keep in mind, no two negotiations are alike.
Arguably the perfect O-lineman proper now could be Teven Jenkins. Seems like an necessary piece for the longer term. Hear any speak about extending him now that he’s in Year 3? — @play_hurt
Jenkins is not going to be eligible for a brand new contract till after the season. He’s performed very properly since coming back from a calf harm sustained in coaching camp and has performed 100% of the snaps in 5 consecutive video games. That is notable as a result of Jenkins had achieved that solely six occasions within the first 37 video games since former GM Ryan Pace traded as much as draft him within the second spherical in 2021.
Offensive line coach Chris Morgan has to really feel actually good about how Jenkins is performing proper now. He’s a robust man with the athleticism to climb to the second stage. He’s displayed greater than sufficient potential for the Bears to need to embody him in long-range plans, however the sturdiness and harm historical past goes to provide the group cause to need to see extra. For an extension to be an possibility for Jenkins within the offseason forward, it’s crucial for him to complete the season sturdy and wholesome. Between again, hip, stinger and calf points, he’s missed quite a lot of soccer. If he performs properly the remainder of the way in which, I may simply see the Bears placing contract talks on a to-do checklist. From my vantage level, it’s a bit untimely to begin excited about paying Jenkins. He’s gotten in a groove. He’s proven the power to play on both aspect as a guard. Let’s see how he does within the closing few months.
What is your opinion on the present state of the Bears gamers within the locker room? Are they nonetheless constructive or is it beginning to come off the rails from frustration? — @palmer0224
They gained final outing and obtained a pleasant weekend to relaxation up so I feel they’re in an honest spot proper now. There have been one or two days earlier within the season after I felt the temperature within the locker room was getting actually chilly. In the aftermath of the brutal Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos, when the group was 0-4, it appeared like issues could possibly be headed south when simply gauging the vibe across the group. I distinctly keep in mind leaving the ability with that in thoughts.
But the subsequent day I used to be there, there was a bit buzz and electrical energy within the locker room and the Bears went out and drilled the Washington Commanders on a brief week. Since then, whilst there have been extra unhealthy losses to the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Chargers, the group has appeared fairly upbeat. It’s a younger roster and that helps on this regard. Ultimately, what issues is how the group is acting on the sphere and the Bears must be higher. I don’t sense there’s a team-wide stage of discouragement that’s hindering progress proper now.
A season-and-a-half into Ryan Poles’ regime, how a lot nearer or farther away are the Bears from taking the NFC North? — @mmesq11
The Bears are in the identical spot they have been when Poles was employed in January 2022, in want of a quarterback who can constantly carry out at a excessive stage. It’s almost unimaginable for any franchise to be a contender with any regularity till that place is solidified with a top-tier quarterback. It’s essentially the most tough place to play in skilled sports activities and fixing the riddle has been unimaginable for the Bears for the longest time. Until the Bears get this discovered, the remainder is window dressing. Maybe that sounds harsh however that’s the NFL as of late and it has been for a very long time.
Poles has turned over the roster and made it a lot youthful. He’s gotten the group in a wholesome wage cap place, one that ought to stay that method for the foreseeable future. But the Bears aren’t going to routinely be within the combine within the North or be capable of problem for larger and higher issues once they have the third- or fourth-best quarterback within the division.
Have you ever seen a rookie QB or backup QB on the Bears get ripped so badly in his first 4 begins who went 2-2? — @mkbaumbach
I don’t assume Tyson Bagent has been ripped. If people are ripping the undrafted rookie free agent, you most likely must re-evaluate who you’re leaning on for data or evaluation. Who are we evaluating him to? He had a brutal fourth quarter in opposition to New Orleans and apart from that, he’s been fairly steady for a younger quarterback being pressed into motion. Does he seem like a candidate to be the Week 1 starter in 2024? No. But he positive appears to be like like he may have a protracted profession within the NFL and I don’t know the place the ceiling is for him proper now.
The expertise Bagent has gained since Justin Fields went out with a dislocated proper thumb has been invaluable and if he doesn’t play one other snap this season, he’s going to have the ability to construct off the motion he’s gotten within the offseason. He strikes me as very process-driven and desirous to be taught and enhance at his craft. I feel Bagent has exceeded the expectations of just about everybody. Maybe not himself — he holds himself to a really excessive normal — however the group made an awesome analysis and moved to signal him after the draft. Credit the Bears for rolling with him because the backup regardless of paying P.J. Walker as a free agent too.
While I can recognize including a gifted move rusher to the roster, I query the timing given the state of the roster rebuild. Let’s not neglect that when the Bears added Khalil Mack in 2018, he considerably improved the protection and but they gained zero playoff video games within the time he was there as a result of they hadn’t discovered the QB place. In this league, nothing issues till you get the QB proper and it’s very tough to win with out good-to-great QB play. And in case you’re not profitable, you’re overpaying free of charge brokers and doubtless not getting their greatest efforts. Your ideas? — Chris M., Hermosa Beach, Calif.
I agree with just about the whole lot you stated with one exception. When it involves free brokers, you’re overpaying for them within the first wave of signings whether or not you’re profitable or not. Yes, the Bears misplaced each of their playoff appearances when Mack was on the roster and poor quarterback play was little question an enormous problem for the group. Poles made a calculated gamble when he traded for Sweat and I feel he most likely seemed forward to free company, noticed the expertise pool of edge rushers was most likely going to incorporate Danielle Hunter and a bunch of men who’re both previous their prime or third-tier defensive ends, and figured it was a transfer value making. I don’t assume there’s a defensive finish who appears to be like like a top-five choose or so proper now whenever you look forward to the draft. The Bears have been thirty second within the league in sacks when the transfer for Sweat was made and so they’re not going to get appreciably higher defensively till they will begin impacting opposing quarterbacks. Sweat goes to must be a stud for this transfer — the second-round draft choose the Bears gave up and the $98 million, four-year extension Sweat acquired — to repay. Poles is betting he’s simply that man and the move rush has definitely been higher in his first two video games. Great? Hardly. But undoubtedly higher. I’m assured the Bears will handle the quarterback problem within the first spherical of the draft. Whether they get it proper or not, we gained’t know for a while. But I fully agree, it is vitally tough to win constantly with out top-tier QB play.
I’m curious what the addition of Montez Sweat and the extension of Andrew Billings means for the teaching workers sooner or later. Do you assume these strikes point out that Matt Eberflus shall be again subsequent season? If they’re not, don’t these strikes drive the Bears to rent somebody who’s going to run a 4-3 protection going ahead? — Corey S.
I didn’t give any thought to the way forward for Eberflus and his workers when the contract extensions have been made. Sweat has the talent set to slot in any defensive scheme. Billings definitely may play the nostril sort out place in a 3-4 scheme and doubtless do very well if he added a bit weight to take action. These aren’t scheme-dependent gamers and the strikes by the entrance workplace don’t imply something in regard to the teaching workers, not for my part anyway.
Can you share your perspective on the constant points with particular groups? Why did the coordinator name out Velus Jones Jr. when he’s the one who continues to place him on the market? I imagine the Bears’ particular groups is ranked very low. Time for an additional coach to go, no? — @rgbears69
The Bears made Jones inactive for final Thursday’s win over the Carolina Panthers after he had 15-yard penalties in consecutive video games on particular groups. The 2022 third-round draft choose has had a very tough season and whereas he’s been stable on kickoff returns (27.2 common), he’s solely had six makes an attempt. Special groups coordinator Richard Hightower was trustworthy in his evaluation of Jones final week when requested concerning the face masks penalty at New Orleans that got here method away from the play. This wasn’t an incidental face masks that sometimes occurs on the level of assault. It was inexcusable and Hightower stated as a lot.
“It’s an unacceptable penalty,” Hightower stated. “And why? Because we pride ourselves on situational football. And in that situation, we could have had the ball at the 50-yard line against an outstanding punt returner. And that was a beautiful punt by (Trenton Gill) and beautiful coverage. And it’s unfortunate that we have to talk about that part of the play because that’s what happened.”
What do you assume he ought to say?
Jones was referred to as for truthful catch interference the week earlier than in opposition to the Los Angeles Chargers and the Bears felt like he might need been pushed. That’s an effort play anyway, and you reside with errors that occur in these conditions. A face masks penalty removed from the play is a psychological lapse.
The Bears haven’t been good on punt protection. They gave up too many returns of 20 or extra yards early within the season after which obtained hit for a landing by the Panthers. Opponents are averaging 14.7 yards per return. Punt returner Trent Taylor has been safe making the catch however hasn’t introduced quite a lot of juice. He has 14 truthful catches, 9 returns, a protracted of 14 yards and a mean of 8.8 yards. Kicker Cairo Santos has been excellent and is 4-for-4 from 50 yards and longer. Hightower must see if his unit can clear up some points which have plagued punt protection as a result of that may be a recurring problem. We’ll see within the weeks to return if Jones will get a shot however I might not be shocked in the event that they roll with Tyler Scott because the kickoff returner for some time.
It appears to me that Ryan Poles has, for the second yr in a row, made a giant deadline commerce to desperately attempt to support a group that’s rebuilding. Losing is a part of a rebuild. Both trades have been partially supported by the concept the Bears are getting a greater participant than could be obtainable within the draft or free-agent pool. Drafting properly, complemented with astute free-agent signings, is how this turns round. Badly overpaying for a large receiver and defensive finish is the way you delay the distress. Am I incorrect? — Bill
The Chase Claypool commerce didn’t work out. It’s method too untimely to say how the Montez Sweat deal shall be judged. I don’t disagree along with your basic premise right here however Poles is utilizing assets — draft picks and cap house/money — to reinforce the roster. Sweat wasn’t going to make it to the open market. If the Washington Commanders had traded him to the Atlanta Falcons he would have a shiny new deal and be getting Arthur Blank cash already. So, it’s not just like the Bears may preserve the choose after which go signal Sweat in March. The Bears nonetheless challenge to have a load of cap house to function in free company however the actual constructing must be accomplished via the draft. They’re going to personal two very excessive first-round draft picks. It’s not like they mortgaged a type of to prop up the move rush. Roster constructing, whether or not you’re a backside feeder or a perennial contender, is available in many various methods. Trading for a participant after which signing him to a brand new contract occurs to be one in all them.
Most severe Bears followers perceive they don’t seem to be professionally educated expertise evaluators however they nonetheless have their private eye take a look at when one thing appears fully apparent. In this case, it appears apparent that former undrafted faculty free agent Jack Sanborn is a greater linebacker than prized highly-paid acquisition Tremaine Edmunds, at the least on this protection. What are the Bears’ choices right here? — Dave N., Fishers, Ind.
Sanborn has performed very well the final two weeks. He had 9 tackles (seven solos) within the loss at New Orleans and adopted that up with seven stops (three solos) within the win over the Carolina Panthers. He has maximized his alternatives this season because the strong-side linebacker after which filling in for Edmunds with a complete of fifty tackles, three for loss, and an interception in opposition to the Kansas City Chiefs.
I lately spoke with a veteran scout who has watched the Bears this season and he was constructive about Sanborn, calling him a “role starter,” that means he’s the type of participant who might be plugged in and you’re snug with him within the lineup.
“Plays his butt off,” the scout stated. “Lot of pursuit tackles. Limited in coverage. Super instinctive. You just don’t want him in coverage.”
I feel that’s what might be misplaced right here. Sanborn has been busy across the line of scrimmage within the run protection however he doesn’t measure as much as Edmunds by way of athleticism and the power to play in house. Edmunds isn’t a downhill hammer as a linebacker so possibly he’s not displaying up in ways in which Sanborn is. I assume I might qualify this as a very good downside to have. The Bears know they will get high quality play out of Sanborn if he’s wanted for an even bigger function than being the Sam linebacker. Ultimately, they might most likely wish to see extra splash performs from Edmunds on condition that he’s incomes $18 million per season because the group’s largest signing in free company. I feel there’s a good likelihood Edmunds returns this week from a knee harm that sidelined him the final two weeks. We’ll see if he can begin being in on extra momentum-shifting performs.