Both Pro Football Focus and CBS Sports recently revealed their top players for the 2017 season, but Jordan Howard only made one of those lists.
Howard was a notable snub left off PFF’s top 50, but he’s not the only Bears player with a case:
Even though the Bears are in the midst of a tedious rebuilding project, GM Ryan Pace has brought in a handful of high quality players at positions the team had been lacking in recent years. Jerrell Freeman provided an instant upgrade at inside linebacker, while fellow free agent addition Josh Sitton, as well as 2016 second-round draft pick Cody Whitehair have solidified the interior offensive line at guard and center, respectively
Maybe finishing with a strong grade for a second straight season will nudge some of these players up the list in 2018. However, I’ll venture to guess finishing better than 3-13 would help each of their cases.
The Bears have a talented – and proud – group of outside linebackers, and Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes the group is out for redemption in 2017. Health will be a factor for this group, which lost 25 games between Lamarr Houston (14), Pernell McPhee (7), and Leonard Floyd (4). The combination of McPhee and Floyd produced some powerful late-season pass rush, so it’ll be worth keeping an eye on to see if they can do it again – but for an entire season.
If the Bears pass rush’s bite is as big as its bark, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will be a happy man. Over at the Chicago Tribune, Rich Campbell writes about the importance of the season ahead – as it is the final year of Fangio’s contract. Fangio and head coach John Fox were reportedly at odds this offseason with Fangio rumored to be on his way out at one point, but things apparently have been smoothed over enough for him to return for his third season. His defenses have been better than what was produced by Mel Tucker, but they haven’t found the consistency needed to carry what has been, at times, a bland offense.
Have you seen the New England Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl ring? If not, you should. Makes me wonder what a Bears Super Bowl ring would look like. How about we find out sooner, rather than later.
In that vein, Las Vegas oddsmakers have unveiled their most likely Super Bowl matchup – which features the Patriots. But if you’re hoping for a Super Bowl XX rematch, it doesn’t project to happen in 2018. Vegas sees a Cowboys-Patriots Super Bowl on the horizon for Super Bowl 52, which would be a ratings bonanza for NBC.
Perhaps we’ll look back and see that this season’s OTAs were a springboard for something special: