Peter King provided a sliver of hope for the 2017 season when he said the Chicago Bears are a well-quarterbacked season away from being a pleasant surprise in 2017.
Several things need to go right for this to happen, including…
- …The team receiving positive contributions from unexpected areas. Perhaps a breakout season from Roy Robertson-Harris would fall under this category. The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs writes Robertson-Harris could be a diamond in the rough on the Bears’ defensive line. Robertson-Harris was an undrafted free agent out of UTEP last year who spent the year making the transition from outside linebacker to defensive end, bulking up to 285 pounds in the process. Robertson-Harris will have his work cut out for him when training camp begins. Even though the Bears didn’t draft a defensive lineman, they added two players in free agency, and still have hope that 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard can bounce back in 2017.
- Over at Bleacher Report, Gary Davenport unveils every NFL team’s best-kept secret. For the Bears, that would be second-year linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. A fourth-round pick in 2016, Kwiatkowski was thrust into increased action because of injuries to Danny Trevathan and a suspension to Jerrell Freeman. Kwiatkoski struggled at times, but played well enough for head coach John Fox to continue trusting him as a middle linebacker in his 3-4 defense. He’s not the best athlete, but Kwiatkoski makes up for that with an aggressive, hard-nosed style that endears himself to coaches and fans alike. If he can take a step forward in 2017, he could provide a boost to a defense looking for a spark after an injury riddled 2016.
- Signing wide receiver Victor Cruz was a low-risk move with moderate upside at a position of need. However, ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson points out the team still has plenty of unanswered questions at the position, even after the signing. The Bears do not have a proven go-to receiver, leaving the team hoping for another breakout season from Cameron Meredith and some surprises along the way. Including Cruz, the Bears have added four free agent receivers who could vie for a significant role in the passing game – especially if Kevin White is unavailable for any extended amount of time.
- While the Bears create a position battle by loading up on potential slot receivers, Ryan Switzer – who was Mitch Trubisky’s favorite target at North Carolina – was one of college football’s most reliable receivers in that role:
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 26, 2017
- We are gearing up for fantasy football season, so we’ll be keeping our eyes open for pieces like this from ESPN, which provides an early look at the 200 best players for PPR leagues this coming season. Running back Jordan Howard was ranked 15th in PPR leagues, but broke into the top-10 of non-PPR leagues. Cameron Meredith is the only Bears player to crack the top 100, ranking 87th overall. Two other Bears players are listed in the top-200 with receiver Kevin White (134) and tight end Zach Miller (193) sneaking in right before the cutoff.
- Staying at ESPN, the network has hired Chip Kelly as a studio analyst who will provide insight on college and professional football. Kelly was one of college football’s best coaches at Oregon, but his style of play never fully translated successfully in the NFL. A few of Kelly’s former assistants from his year with the San Francisco 49ers have made their way to the Bears, including Curtis Modkins (running backs), Roy Anderson (defensive backs assistant), and Derius Swinton (assistant special teams).