Dear Ryan Pace: Please, bring back Allen Robinson

Allen Robinson, New York Giants

At the beginning of the off-season, many wondered if Chicago Bears superstar wide receiver Allen Robinson would be suiting up for the team again in the 2021 season. Ultimately, Allen Robinson signed a franchise tag tender worth $18m, keeping him in Chicago for one more year to many fans’ surprises. So the question was no longer will Robinson stay in 2021, but will a contract be negotiated for the 2022 season?

The deadline to negotiate a contract from a franchise tender is July 15th. As of writing, it is July 5th. That means the Chicago Bears only have 10 days to negotiate new terms with the best wide receiver and offensive talent on their roster.

Is there any hope?

Honestly, not a whole lot. The Bear’s front office has been tranquil when asked about negotiations, and Allen Robinson hasn’t indicated that things are going over smoothly. When asked on an episode of NFL Total Access on Wednesday, Robinson stated, “We’ll see.” Not exactly what Bears fans had hoped to hear.

It’s not all bad

Robinson has numerously reiterated his commitment to the team and this season. Continuing in his talk with NFL Total Access, Robinson reaffirmed his commitment to the 2021 season, “How can I help put this team, how can I help put this offense in a better situation than we were in last year?”

Robinson will certainly assist the offense in reaching new heights. His talent is noteworthy. PFF ranked Robinson the 4th best receiver in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. However, it is crucial to note he has achieved this level of play with inconsistent and bottom-tier quarterback play. Insert Justin Fields.

The Bears must retain Allen Robinson.

With Fields in town, the Bears need to find a way to keep Robinson. The cap situation is unforgiving, and the organization was forced to release their pro-bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller in March. Regardless of how painful it may be, successful teams in today’s league have a dynamic duo between mobile big arm quarterbacks and incredibly athletic wideouts. I commented on this earlier last month. It would be a waste to bring in Justin Fields, pair him with Allen Robinson for a year, and then toss Robinson to the curb.

So please, Ryan Pace. Bring A-Rob back. We need him. Justin Fields needs him.

The Chicago Bears can finally have alternate helmets- time for new uniforms?

The NFL officially announced last week that the restrictions regarding alternate helmets would be lifted beginning the 2022-2023 season. Upon hearing this news, the NFL’s fanbase released a collective, “IT’S ABOUT TIME.” Chicago Bears fans, however, immediately began thinking. What changes could the Bears make to their uniforms?

With the popularity of alternate jerseys running amuck in the NBA, becoming a norm in the NHL, and gaining traction in the MLB, it was only a matter of time before the NFL embraced the ability to create new and unique ways to market their franchises. Unfortunately, the only thing standing in the NFL’s way in creating new aesthetic uniforms was an outdated and rather head-scratching uniform regulation regarding helmets. In 2018, the league rule allowed more than one uniform option per club. This rule, however, limited the clubs to no more than one helmet option.

This created monstrosities such as the awful 2017 Los Angeles Ram uniforms. However, the club designed and implemented new jerseys. The Rams were stuck with the helmets designed for Los Angeles to complement jerseys designed for St. Louis.

How could the Bears use this new rule?

Let me begin by saying this; the Bears neither need nor should change their standard uniforms. The Chicago Bears uniforms have stayed relatively consistent since the 1950s, it’s a classic, beautiful design that needs no altering. However, a new alternate wouldn’t hurt.

The Bears have had their fair share of alternates in the past decade, with the eye-catching 100th-anniversary fit, return of the orange jerseys, and my personal favorite, the thick orange lettering of the 1940’s monsters of the midway throwback.

Though these uniforms were exciting additions to the Bears classic look, the only uniform that has substantially changed the Bears helmet design is the 100th-anniversary fit, or the occasional white “C” logo as a call back to the 1960s.

Ranking the 25 best logos in the history of the NFL | For The Win
A logo used by the Chicago Bears from 1946-1973

As a fan and a person who has a passion for design, the Bears need to take this new regulation and run with it. Imagine a white helmet with the orange jerseys or a throwback with the logo that carried the Bears from 1946 to 1973. I’ll admit it, I’m obsessed with this logo. I’m not the only one either. This writer from USA Today considered it the greatest logo in NFL history. 

With the possibility of having two helmet designs, the Bears can create a “City” edition, like Nike does with the NBA’s alternate uniforms. Although I’m not a great fan of the City designs, and as a charter franchise of the NFL, the Bears have added more to the city than the city has added to the Bears.

What do you think? What alternate would you like to see?

The Chicago Bears Might Have a Cornerback Problem

The Chicago Bears front office had a fantastic offseason. From high praise at the draft to some solid free agency signings, there seemed to be little holes in Ryan Pace’s plan to ensure the survival of his tenure as general manager. However, as we rapidly approach the regular season and begin to look at the rearview mirror, hindsight begins to kick in. The Bears brought in talent to fill several gaps on the roster yet didn’t fill the most glaring hole: the vacuum left by Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller’s departure. For all the great work the Bears did in the 2021 offseason, one has to wonder, what is the front office thinking in their handling of the cornerback position?

Fuller’s departure from the Bears had to happen. Unfortunately, Pace had little to offer Fuller to keep him in Chicago as an extension would cause a $20M cap hit and the organization was struggling, shrinking cap space. As a result, Fuller was officially cut from the organization on March 20th, 2021.

When you let one of the best talents on your roster go, common sense would reason that you look to replace that talent. To replace Kyle Fuller, the Bears brought in Desmond Trufant. You read that correctly. In a free-agent cornerback market that carried affordable talents such as Desmond King III, Malcolm Butler, Breshaud Breeland, and Xavier Rhodes, the Bears brought in Desmond Trufant on a 1yr $1.075M deal. I won’t take our cap space as an excuse to bring in a different talent as none of the names listed signed a contract above $4 million.

Scheme Fits

Fuller is a textbook zone cornerback. Finding an abundance of success under Vig Fangio’s secondary zone schemes, things were a bit different when Chuck Pagano came into town. No, the Defense didn’t see that much of a change, but the personnel did. The Bear’s current cornerback room is very much “man” oriented. For example, former Steelers and second most veteran cornerback Artie Burns primarily dominated man coverage during his time at the University of Miami. Still, he struggled in heavy zone schemes in Pittsburgh.

Rookie standout Jaylon Johnson and Bear’s 6th round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft Thomas Graham Jr. also excel at man coverage.

Desmond Trufant has played both man and zone effectively, although he struggled in a man-heavy scheme last year in Detroit. At the same time, Kindle Vildor struggled at man coverage but found his step in zone.

There’s an interesting mix of coverage strengths in this group of cornerbacks. Some speculate that new defensive coordinator Sean Desai will blow up the previous regime’s zone schemes for man coverage. However, considering the Bears’ talent at the safety position, It may not be a terrible idea to rely on Trevis Gipson and Eddie Jackson more. Regarding Desai’s defensive scheming, Jackson saw shades of Fangio. It is any fans or analysts guess how Desai schemes his secondary – that is until we see it in action.

The Bears are resting a lot of confidence in Jaylon Johnson and the young core of cornerbacks assembled on the roster. Bringing in Trufant was most likely nothing more than a move to add a much-needed veteran voice to assist the development of potential prospects. Regardless, we must hope that these prospects can develop quickly, as the Bear’s schedule in 2022 has them facing off against a selection of the league’s best passing attacks.

Wrapping it up

Fuller is gone. Our lockdown outside zone corner is back with Vig Fangio and that amazing group of cornerback talent in Denver. The current arms race in the NFL is centered on speed at the wide receiver position and lock down ability at the cornerback position. The Chicago Bears have the second cheapest cornerback room in the NFL. Hopefully, this low financial risk with a high potential reward pays off shortly. However, if it doesn’t, and the Bears secondary struggles to perform, it will not be surprising if the cornerback position is the Bear’s top priority entering the 2022 off-season.

The Chicago Bears’ wide receiver competition is heating up

darnell mooney, bears

The wide receiver position and the Chicago Bears are generally not on good speaking terms. In the last decade, the Bears only had two household names: Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The talented duo assisted the Jay Cutler era Bears, with both ranking in the top 10 in total receiving yards in the franchise’s history. After their departure, however, the Bears were left with few options at the position. It would be three seasons until the Bears found an answer to their wide receiver dilemma.

In 2019, Ryan Pace brought in former Jacksonville Jaguar Allen Robinson as one of the biggest free-agent signings of the year. Robinson, fresh off of an ACL injury, Robinson was looking to make teams pay. Ryan Pace and the Bears, fresh off of a 3-13 record, looked to give their young quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) some weapons. Pace then brought in speedy slot receiver Taylor Gabriel, a flex tight end in Michael Burton, and drafted a running back that would turn out to be game-changing in the passing game in Tariq Cohen.

Fast forward to 2021. Only Allen Robinson and Tariq Cohen remain. Draft picks like Anthony Miller in 2018, and Darnell Mooney in 2020 have established a foundation of talent at the position. Fortunately, the Bears were able to retain Allen Robinson on the franchise tag. However, with the deadline to agree on a contract extension rapidly approaching on July 17th and no negotiations occurring, it appears that this could be Allen Robinson’s last season in Chicago.

Heading into the 2021 NFL draft, the wide receiver position lacked depth on the Bears’ roster. So, a week before the draft, the Bears brought in Marquese Goodwin.  Goodwin, who opted out of the 2020 NFL season, is known for his explosive speed. In fact, Goodwin is such an explosive athlete that he performed in the 2012 Summer Olympics for Team USA in the long jump.

As of April 28th, the first night of the NFL draft, the Bears’ WR room looked like this:

Allen Robinson

Darnell Mooney

Anthony Miller

Marquese Goodwin

Javon Wims

Riley Ridley

Jester Weah

Thomas Ives

Khalil McClain

Rodney Adams

When the Bears traded up to pick star quarterback Justin Fields, it only became inevitable that the Bears look at the wide receiver position to assist their young quarterback. However, it wasn’t until the 6th round that the Bears took a wide receiver off the board – Dazz Newsome, the talented athlete out of North Carolina. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken collarbone requiring surgery but is expected to return in time for the pre-season.

A few weeks later, the Bears announced they added more speed to the position, with the addition of Damiere Byrd. Byrd has elite separation ability and complements Justin Field’s deep ball accuracy.

As rookie minicamp started, the Bears brought in Chris Lacy for a tryout. Liking what they saw, they signed him to a deal as well. Unfortunately,  Chris Lacy’s time at the Lions was relatively uneventful, and he’s little more than a depth piece.

As of June 22nd, the Bears’ WR room looked like this:

Allen Robinson

Darnell Mooney

Anthony Miller

Marquese Goodwin

Damiere Byrd

Dazz Newsome

Rodney Adams

Chris Lacy

Javon Wims

Riley Ridley

Jester Weah

Thomas Ives

Khalil McClain

Putting it all together

This WR room is much bigger than it was at the beginning of the off-season, which is good. The Bears have options. Anthony Miller was on the hot seat entering the off-season, and some still believe he sits on the bubble. With this year being a contract year for Miller, he will have to prove to the front office that he deserves an extension. I’m convinced he will get what he wants.

The Bears currently have thirteen wide receivers on the roster, and teams will typically carry six into the season. Meaning seven of these names will no longer be Chicago Bears when September rolls around.

Realistically, the Bears didn’t bring Marquese Goodwin and Damiere Byrd in without expecting them to be on the full 53-man roster. I also don’t see how Jester Weah or Riley Ridley out talent them onto the roster.

For those familiar, I already think the connection between Fields and Robinson will set the league ablaze. But I also think that Anthony Miller will take the next step into his progression and that Damiere Byrd will have a breakout season with Fields arm talent.

Now we are ways away from the 53-man roster deadline, but I’m comfortable in sharing my projected roster after the Pre-season ends.

My Projected WR Room as of August 31st

  1. Allen Robinson
  2. Darnell Mooney
  3. Anthony Miller
  4. Dameire Byrd
  5. Marquese Goodwin
  6. Dazz Newsome

But what are your thoughts? Who gets cut? Who’s the #3? Let me know.

Is Eddie Goldman Returning to the Chicago Bears?

eddie goldman, bears

A month back, I wrote an article regarding the things I was excited about in the 2021 season. One of those things was to see the return of nose tackle Eddie Goldman. So when I heard the news that, out of all of the Chicago Bears 2020 defensive starters who reported for mandatory OTA’s, Eddie Goldman was the lone “no-show,” I was disappointed, to say the least.

Goldman’s impact on the defensive line cannot be understated. With Goldman’s presence in 2018 and 2019, the Chicago Bears had the 1st and 9th best-run defense in the NFL, respectively. With Goldman opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, the defense slipped to 18th. A considerable decline.

What are the Bears saying?

With this information in mind, Bears fans’ concerns are valid and should be shared. Rumors about Goldman retiring have been a topic of discussion on Twitter. I’m not one for “sources tell me,” so instead, I focus on what the coach has to say.

When pressed on Goldman’s absence, head coach Matt Nagy called it unexcused, stating, “Obviously when someone is not in minicamp, that’s probably what a lot of people will think and start wondering what the deal is — and that’s natural.” Nagy then finished his comment by sharing a tinge of optimism as he looked towards training camp, “We fully expect him there.”

The longest-tenured Chicago Bear and defensive captain Danny Trevathan told reporters his belief is that Eddie Goldman will return. Trevathan stated, “Eddie Goldman loves his job…I know he’s going to be here.” He then continued to give fans some insight regarding Goldman, “he’s been working his tail off, he looks totally different… he loves the Bears. He’s going to come ready for work.”

Things are looking a little sus.

I want to believe Nagy and Trevathan, but I cannot ignore the offseason acquisitions the Chicago Bears made regarding the defensive tackle position. Bringing in talent like Khyris Tonga and former Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Mike Pennel, one must wonder if the Bears are collecting collateral if Goldman does not return.

In the event Goldman does not return, Pennel and Tonga are more than adequate replacements. Pennel has hopped around the league, being drafted by Green Bay before spending two years with the New York Jets and then the Kansas City Chiefs. His career-best season occurred in 2018 with the New York Jets. He brings reliable veteran experience alongside the rookie from BYU Khyris Tonga.

Off-seasons are always shrouded with question marks. Fortunately, we’ll have our answer on July 15th when players are called to report to training camps.

Did The Chicago Bears Create The NFL’s Newest Dynamic Duo?

New York Giants, Sam Beal

It appeared that the Chicago Bears’ offense was destined to fail heading into the 2021 offseason. After abysmal showings in 2019 and 2020, there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. In April, there were questions on who would be Chicago’s QB1 entering 2021. Would Allen Robinson return for the 2021 season? Are the Bears adding depth at the wide receiver and tight end positions? What is going on doing with the offensive line?

Fortunately, we got answers to these questions. First, the Chicago Bears found a way to keep Allen Robinson around for the 2021 season by getting the talented wideout to sign his franchise tender, show up to training camp, and play an active role in the organization. Then in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bears added potential franchise quarterback Justin Fields, stud tackle Teven Jenkins, and a mountain of a guard in Larry Borom.

Considering Allen Robinson’s elite talents and a solid quarterback option in Chicago for the first time in well over 80 years, is the NFL about to be put on notice?

The NFL has a long history of dynamic duos between QBs and WRs. A quick history lesson will bring up parings such as Steve Young/Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman/Michael Irving, and Peyton Manning/Marvin Harrison. These duos broken defenses and electrified fanbases, picking up win after win on their ways to the Hall of Fame.

Allen Robinson and Justin Fields could be that next great QB-WR duo. Here’s why:

Allen Robinson is a top 10 wide receiver in the NFL, I’ve been saying it, and I’ll continue to say it. PFF is even willing to call him the 4th best WR in the NFL in their 2021 rankings. His stats speak for themself. He literally sits in the top 10 categories for every recorded metric, outside of touchdowns, by PFF in the 2020 NFL season. Unfortunately, Robinson isn’t as high profile as Julio Jones, Deandre Hopkins, or Davante Adams. His lack of profile stems from poor quarterback play throughout his entire NFL career.

Now, imagine with me what will happen when we pair Allen Robinson with the most accurate college quarterback ever recorded. I think we get a sweet symphony of offensive production that the Chicago Bears haven’t heard since the 1980s.

Don’t expect Justin Fields to run out in Week 1 and connect with Allen Robinson for astronomical numbers. I’m excited, but I understand the current QB situation in Chicago. It might be a while until we see Justin Fields and Allen Robinson connect for big plays. Furthermore, Robinson might not return to the Bears in 2022 if negotiations don’t produce a contract by July 17th.

Allen Robinson’s return to Halas Hall this offseason may indicate his belief that Justin Fields can spark this offense’s needs. The winds seem to be changing in Chicago. For the first time in my lifetime, I can look at the offense this team has built and be proud.

Do you think Allen Robinson and Justin Fields can be the next great QB/WR duo? Let me know in the comments section below.

Chicago Bears Biggest Questions at TE entering the 2021 Season

cole kmet, bears

Recently, the folks at PFF released their annual tight end rankings in preparation for the 2021 NFL Season. Zero Chicago Bears out of the 32 position players listed. Considering that at this point last year, the Bears had a whopping TEN tight ends on the roster, you would assume that at least one of them would make the cut, right? Wrong. Whether you like General Manager Ryan Pace or not, you cannot deny his spotty record when it comes to tight ends. Consider the failed Adam Shaheen project, and numerous attempts at finding long-term option fans were rewarded with Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, and Demetrius Harris.

With Jimmy Graham’s future clouded in mystery, Cole Kmet being used as a swiss army knife, and Demetrius Harris just being there for a couple of plays before being cut, this Bears fan is wondering the following questions:

#1 What are we doing with Jimmy Graham?

Jimmy Graham anchored the Chicago Bears’ red zone offense in 2021, leading the league in touchdowns amongst tight ends in the 2021 season with seven. Graham seemed to have an age-defying season with the Bears after following up a disappointing season in Green Bay that saw him haul only three touchdowns. If Graham can continue his dominating performance in the red zone, why would the Bears be willing to part ways so soon?

Salary Cap. The Chicago Bears currently have the second-worst cap situation in the NFL, with only $219,852 sitting in the bank. According to Overthecap, Jimmy Graham’s contract currently costs the Bears $10M. Cutting Graham after June 1st would free $7M in space.  Deciding whether or not Jimmy Graham is worth the $10M in cap space must be a top priority for Ryan Pace and the rest of the Front Office.

#2 Are we going to let Cole Kmet shine?

Chicago loves Cole Kmet. Cole Kmet loves Chicago. Bears fans want to see the hometown kid shine in the national spotlight. I think Cole Kmet has every tool necessary to take a major step forward in 2021. Kmet is an ideal “Y’ tight end, but his athleticism allows him to play in the flex if he wanted to. Nagy seemed to have taken a slow and steady approach in introducing Kmet to the NFL, relegating his abilities to the “H,” essentially an extra blocker. However, as the season progressed, fans could see a little more of what Kmet has in his repertoire.

Cole Kmet could benefit from his new QB, Justin Fields. Bears fans need not forget that the current QB/TE dynamic duo of Mahomes/Kelce. Matt Nagy crafted the relationship between the league’s most fearsome QB/TE duo. It’s a bit of a stretch, but with Nagy’s coaching history and the similar skill set of both Fields and Kmet to Mahomes and Kelce, we very much could be witnessing the birth of a new dynamic duo in Chicago.

Ultimately, Kmet needs to be used more in the passing game. If the Bears are confident he has taken the next step, they might feel comfortable releasing Jimmy Graham. I’m predicting that if we see a Graham release, we will see more of Kmet.

#3 Are we going to get help?

We love to throw names around from a fan’s perspective and pretend that they fit into our offensive scheme. Fortunately, as I state above, we have a head coach who loves tight ends. The Bears relied heavily on 11-personal in 2020, meaning one tight end and one tailback. In fact, 56% of all play calls were in this personnel scheme, according to Sharp FootballStats. This reliance on the 11 personal stayed steady. A small increase in the 12 personal (adding an extra tight-end) occurred in the second half of the season.

With this in mind, if Nagy doesn’t scheme for multiple tight-ends, what’s the point of having so many? Obviously, we would need a solid backup if Cole Kmet gets injured. But do we need to stack for talent at the tight-end position when the offense relies on one?

J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horstead remain on the roster. Both players are solid “H” tight ends. Ideally, I hope to see Kmet and Graham used as passing options while Holtz and Horstead are used primarily as blockers.

All in All

The Chicago Bears sure have some work to do in the TE position. I hope we see Graham stay, and I think his performance in 2020 can continue into 2021 if he’s willing to play. His cost is worth the potential reward in a basic cost-benefit analysis. Regardless of performance this season, I’m confident the Bears will draft a TE in the 2022 NFL Draft. Names to watch in this college football season are; Charlie Kolar (Iowa St.), Jalen Wydermyer (Texas A&M), Isaiah Likely (Coastal Carolina), and Jeremey Ruckertt (Ohio St.)

Chicago Bears Breakdown: Sam Mustipher is a quality center with solid upside

When the Chicago Bears lost left guard James Daniel in a Week 5 Prime Time victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many fans and analysts wondered who would step up and anchor the position. A few weeks later, center Cody Whitehair was sidelined with a calf injury. Wouldn’t you know it? Shortly after that, right guard Germain Ifedi joined the COVID-19/reserve list. It didn’t stop there as another addition to the Injury Reserve came in the form of Bobby Massie. 

After the injury bug left the Offensive line in shambles, only Charles Leno was left standing among the line that started the season for the Bears in Detroit Week One. These conditions forced the Bears to reach into practice squad reserves, calling on former Notre Dame Center Sam Mustipher into the starting lineup. What happened next shocked the fanbase. Mustipher provided a solid and consistent option in week eight against the New Orleans Saints only to injure his knee, sidelining him for two weeks. His return performance in week ten against the Detroit Lions gained him the starting spot to close out the season.

Sam Mustipher: the 2021 starting center

In preparation for the 2021 season, I’m anticipating that Sam Mustipher will return to the starting center role. Sam, as centers often do, has become a leader on the offensive line. He has also developed a great relationship with running back David Montgomery. Considering his position on the roster, I think Sam Mustipher receives the tape breakdown he deserves. So here we go. Here is a rundown of Sam Mustipher, his areas of strength, and places where I think he can improve. 

The Breakdown

The guiding questions

In an analysis of interior offensive linemen, here the questions I ask while watching the film. How quick is he off the ball? Is he engaging defenders with his hands before his body? Does he hold the block throughout the play? Is he being tossed around? Is he throwing the defender around? Are his feet constantly moving, or is he pretending to be a tree in the local school play?

PFF Grading

To begin with Sam Mustipher, I find a solid and reliable option at the center position. According to PFF, he delivered 334 snaps in passing plays and only allowed one sack in the seven games he started. That would place him T-19th amongst centers in the league. His PFF grade in the running game is 63.4, not a bad place to be for a former practice squad member.

Clean snaps?

The primary function of the center is to snap the ball to the quarterback cleanly. In his seven starts, I could not find a particularly egregious snap. I would find an occasional slow or off-target snap in the shotgun. But it is nearly impossible to remain 100% consistent at the position, especially after bashing heads with linemen for three quarters. 

Impressive second-level athleticism

The first thing you notice about Mustipher is his athleticism. His ability to jump off his snap is something that every center needs to succeed in professional football. His ability to snap and get upfield to engage in the second level of defenders is a strength that cannot be understated.

In the video provided, I give two examples of Mustipher’s ability to engage with linebackers, removing them from the play. Mustipher has this unique ability to adjust on the fly. Although his defender has him on his heels, Mustipher twists his body to tie up the defender, buying the play enough time to leave the line of scrimmage. Mustipher having to rely on this ability is not ideal. I would prefer to see a lineman that completes the block using both strength and athleticism. Still, honestly, if it does not cost yards, it is not something that must change. 

A need to improve his strength

On his overall strength, we find a need for improvement. In Week ten against the Lions, there were about ten or so plays where he gets flat-out beat. Do not expect Mustipher to pancake a defender; instead, he is a textbook example of the fundamental blocking technique. His hands are close to his chest before punching out to grab onto the defender’s chest. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo told reporters in December that Mustipher added 15 pounds by the end of the season, commenting, “He was about 305 or so, and now he’s 320 pounds. There’s a difference.” 

Blitz adjustment

To take the next step, Mustipher has to be better at adjusting to blitzes. The center’s secondary function is to read blitz packages and call protection audibles on the line. The clip provided shows Mustipher recognizing blitz in the A gap, yet his left guard Alex Bars doesn’t pick it up in time. Mustipher does not have a problem peeling off defenders. His ability to engage and re-engage is one reason he continues to play the position. Former starting center and current guard Cody Whitehair thinks he has quickly remedied this issue. In December, Whitehair stated, “You know, he’s done great with I.D-ing everything, getting us all on the same page.” 

Conclusion

Centers are tasked with a lot, and Mustipher does it all well. I don’t consider him a pro-bowl future Hall of Famer on these past seven games alone. I think he has too many issues regarding blitz schemes, and his strength is nothing to write home about. But I think he has the potential to be a solid long-term starter. 

Last offseason, Colts pro-bowl guard Quenton Nelson stayed in the Chicagoland area to assist Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars prepare for the season. Suppose Mustipher continues to train with talent such as Nelson and continues to develop. In that case, I may be biting my own words. I hope I end up doing so.

Watch for yourself:

Chicago Bears: Top 5 things to be excited about for the 2021 season

Ladies and gentlemen, after what seems like an eternity we have arrived. The offseason is entering rookie training camps, and OTA’s are around the corner. After what I can call an absolute home run of a draft, the Chicago Bears have created a ton of buzz about the 2021 season. Statistically, however, the Bears have the 3rd toughest schedule, according to CBS Sports, with a collective opponent 2020 win rate of .550. The schedule appears to be designed with rookie quarterback Justin Fields in mind, as those crafty heads up at NFL HQ slated a majority of the Bears primetime match-ups towards the latter half of the season. You know, just in case Head Coach Matt Nagy pulls the plug on the Dalton experience and throws Fields into the mix.

With all this being said, this season is shaping up to define the direction of the franchise for the next 3-4 years. I don’t foresee the Bears marching into Sofi Stadium in early February, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a plethora of people and developments to watch this season. From returning talents like James Daniel and Eddie Goldman to the continuing development of Darnell Mooney and David Montgomery. This season is sure to excite any fan. Here are the top 5 things to be excited about as a Bears fan heading into the 2021 NFL season. 

#5: The boys are back in town – Linemen win games

When burgeoning talent DT Eddie Goldman announced his decision to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season, it felt like being hit by a truck. I imagine that’s what opposing Centers and Guards felt as he tore through offensive lines with ease in 2019. I understand the decision though the game is just that – a game. Personal health and family safety will always be more important. I can only hope Goldman picks up where he left off, completing a key tandem with Akiem Hicks anchoring our rush defense.

Another returner this season is pro-bowl OL utilityman, James Daniel. This one gets me excited. After suffering a season-ending pectoral injury in week 5, Bers fans saw a carousel of line-men attempting to stabilize the front 5. Surprising breakout performances by former practice squad members Alex bars and Sam Mustipher indicate the front three interior linemen positions have both depth and talent on the roster. Daniels’ return also signals a much-needed return to stability. 

Bears GM Ryan Pace clearly made improving the Offensive Line a top priority in the off-season. Bringing in Elijah Wilkinson in Free Agency, re-signing Germain Ifedi, and trading up in the second round to steal Oklahoma State stud Teven Jenkins, while selecting Missouri big man Larry Borom in the 6th. Charles Leno and Bobbie Massie will not be returning to Chicago this season. Honestly, I’m not all that upset about it.

Jenkins will most likely get the starting nod at the left tackle spot. This leaves the Right tackle spot an area for competition. Offensive life coach Juan Castillo told reporters that “Larry Borom will compete with Germain Ifedi at RT, but Ifedi will line up at RT to start the season.” That leaves the rest of us wondering if Daniels lines up at center as he did in 2019, or at guard allowing Sam Mustipher to continue his hot play. Regardless of the endless possibilities on the interior offensive line, it looks stacked. David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen (also returning from injury) are sure to eat up the run game with James Daniel’s return to the line.

#4: This is Desai’s world, we’re just living in it 

There’s a new defensive sheriff in town, and his name is Sean Desai. A branch off the ole’ Vic Fangio tree, Sean Desai is a defensive secondary scheme savant. I love Chuck Pagano, an amazing man with an amazing story. But his secondary schemes did not play well to the secondary talent acquired under the Fangio years. After the 2018 Bears Defense dominated the league, the 2019 & 2020 Bears rewarded fans with a step back in just about every metric.

Under Desai, I strongly think the Bears defense is in store for a return to form. Desai is not only an actual professor, holding a Ph.D. from Temple University and teaching classes at Lake Forrest College, but he also schools offenses with his secondary schemes. Doc Desai’s ability to educate and communicate with players lead to his glowing review from DB Prince Amukamara. As Chicago Bears reporter with the Chicago Tribune, Brad Biggs reports, “Amukamara credits Desai for the first pick-six of his career.”

Look, I still believe Eddie Jackson is a top 5 safety in the NFL. I hope he lives up to his reputation this year under a defense that will be built on the backs of the Bears secondary. Losing Kyle Fuller may throw a wrench in Desai’s plan, but young products like Jaylon Johnson and Kendel Vildor will continue to establish themselves as dominant forces. In a schedule that features quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Matt Stafford, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Russell Willson, and more. A staunch pass defense will be a necessity if the Bears hope to see success. 

#3: From cubs into Bears – Offensive Prospects 

The 2021 Chicago Bears roster is full of 2nd and 3rd years players poised to become household names.

David Montgomery went on a tear ending the season, with over 100 yards in three out of six games. Finishing the 2020 season with just a hair over 1000 yards, I am confident we will see another 1k yard season in 2021. I’m putting my money around 1400. Expect Monty to continue his elite ability to break open-field tackles. His vision is one of the best in the league and I can’t wait to see him put defenses on notice. 

Darnell Mooney What another mid-round steal for Ryan Pace. This kid is fast, has elite hands, and is first among rookie WR’s in broken tackles according to PFF. Any rookie that buys a Juggs machine with his first paycheck then proceeds on to drop only one pass after being targeted 98 times in a season is good in my book.  His speed and route running abilities will be a feature of this offense as Justin Fields establishes himself as QB1. Mooney has a knack for burning nickel corners and getting behind safeties. Fields has a knack at throwing incredibly accurate deep balls. Let’s hope Jalen Ramsey can keep up this time. 

Anthony Miller — This one is a controversial take, a bit spicy if you will. Miller has every tool needed to be an elite slot in the NFL. He just hasn’t taken the next step. With his career on the line, I think he has every reason to do it this year. There’s valid concern around Miller’s maturity. After his late-game ejection against the Saints, many called for the Bears to ship him off during the season. I think it was a wise decision by the front office to keep Miller on staff. As wide receiver coach Mike Furrey stated, “There’s a small increment in improvement so he’s done great, he’s been in our rooms, no issues.” Drafting speedy slot Dazz Newsome also sends a blunt message to Anthony Miller, saying “we have a replacement, let us know when we need to put him in.”

#2: The Packers? What is going on over there? 

How does it feel to have talent surrounding a big question mark under center? That’s what being a Bears fan has felt like for the past three decades. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to play in Green Bay, and I don’t blame him. The team is refusing to let him walk, and I don’t blame them. Regardless of what happens, I have to admit this has all been extremely amusing. If Blake Bortles becomes QB1 for the Green Bay Packers, this will be one fun show to watch.  

#1.5: Getting to see live football again

My first live Chicago Bears game was in the 2015 preseason against the Kansas City Chiefs. We got blown out. But seeing Cutler, Jefferies, and Howard live was amazing. It’ll feel even more amazing to see Justin Fields and this talented unit out on the field again. There’s nothing quite like being at a Football game. I can’t wait to go back. 

#1: Fiel- I mean the Rookies. 

Pace’s trade with the New York Giants to move up to pick #11 and snag Justin Fields was the shot of adrenaline the Bears fanbase needed. After two consecutive years of letdowns, it seems like the Front Office has finally started listening to the fans. This was Ryan Pace’s best draft as GM. No contest. Pace was able to steal early-round talent late in the draft with picks like Khalil Herbert, Thomas Graham Jr., and Dazz Newsome. He filled needs in the Offensive Line with Maulers like Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom.

I’m stoked to see Justin Fields on Soldier Field. Also, these UDFA’s are fantastic as well. Charles Snowden, an early-round talent, went undrafted. The 6’7”, 240 lb monster of a man is listed early as a defensive lineman. To all the rookies, if you ever end up reading this. Take a breath. Welcome to the greatest city on Earth. Congratulations, and get ready to play some Bears football. 

Altogether, buckle up Bears fans. Though we may not win a ton of games, this team is poised to turn heads. I haven’t been this excited about a season since, well, honestly I can’t remember! 

New York Giants trade back in 2021 NFL Draft First Round

New York Giants

The New York Giants have traded down in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants have traded down to the 20th overall pick in the first round with the Chicago Bears. The Giants received pick 20, pick 164 (fifth-round), a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2022 fourth-round pick.

Dave Gettleman, general manager of the New York Giants, was notorious for never trading down in the draft. Tonight he made his first trade down to 20 overall. The Chicago Bears traded up to 11 overall to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

The Giants missed out on DeVonta Smith and pivoted towards moving down in the draft to gain extra draft capital. Now, the New York Giants have additional capital in this year and next year’s drafts. Barring any more unforeseen trades, Giants will be on the clock at 20 overall.