Earning Respect, Filling the Void at Receiver, Ranking The Starting QBs, and Other Bullets

The Chicago Bears’ season-opener isn’t the hot ticket one would expect for a lid-lifter against the defending Super Bowl NFC champions Atlanta Falcons:

It’s early, and things could change. But it appears as though Bears fans (or at least ticket buyers) are going to want to see some production on the field before investing what is the ninth highest average prices in the NFL to see a team coming off a 3-13 season.

  • While traveling down that vein of thought, tight end Zach Miller knows respect must be earned in 2017. While making a visit with the Mike Mulligan and David Haugh WSCR 670-AM, Miller said he knew about the challenges ahead – starting with the Bears’ Week 1 contest against the Falcons, a team that was painfully close to upsetting the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. “Respect is something you have to earn,” said Miller in his interview with Haugh and Mulligan. “We haven’t done much of that the last two years. That’s something you have to earn, and we’ll do that through our play. That’s kind of the only way you can do it. You can’t talk about it. You have to go out and do it.”
  • Miller is one of four tight ends on the Bears’ season-opening 53-man roster, and is head-and-shoulders the best (or at least, most proven) pass catcher in the group. Pro Football Focus graded Miller as the eighth best tight end in the league last year, despite playing a grand total of 511 snaps. Only two players in the top 10 (Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Eiffert) played fewer total snaps. More than 62 percent of Miller’s snaps came on pass plays last season, where he earned an 80.2 receiving grade that ranked him 14th at the position. But let’s not overlook his 73.8 run block grade, which was the eighth best at his position. Despite being rumored to be on the trade block this offseason, it looks like Miller will play a pivotal role in the offense this season.
  • How much of a role Miller figures to play is still to be determined, in part because the Bears still haven’t released an official depth chart. If you’d like to see how the Atlanta Falcons stack up, then Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune has you covered. Meanwhile, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets the Bears will release an updated depth chart on Wednesday. We’re still waiting for head coach John Fox to declare what the plan is for Mitch Trubisky’s development. After all, he was arguably the best rookie quarterback to take the field this season.
  • Wide receiver Markus Wheaton has made minimal progress since undergoing pinkie surgery during training camp. Still, some is better than none, and Patrick Finley notes that Wheaton is catching Nerf footballs as he works his way back from the injury. It was a rough go for Wheaton in his first summer at Bourbonnais, suffering a broken finger and having to undergo an appendectomy isn’t how he wanted to start his Bears career. But because it was just a finger injury, Wheaton should still be in playing shape whenever he is healed. The Bears need him back in the fold to potentially keep defenses honest and avoid sending running back Jordan Howard into eight-man fronts.
  • Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus tweets the Bears offense has a league-high 247 wide receiver targets that are unaccounted for from 2016, and no other NFL team is even close. Chicago’s front office did a ton of heavy lifting in the offseason in an attempt to add experience to make up for lost game snaps, but it’s possible the team didn’t do enough ensure stability at receiver. With Cameron Meredith out for the season and Alshon Jeffery in Philadelphia, the Bears have to find a way to fill the void of 917 receiving snaps left behind by that dynamic duo.
  • Bleacher Report’s Doug Farrar ranks the NFL’s quarterbacks heading into Week 1, and to no one’s surprise, Mike Glennon isn’t getting much love. The Bears’ signal caller ranks 28th, only Blake Bortles (Jaguars), Jared Goff (Rams), Josh McCown (Jets), and Scott Tolzien (Colts) are ranked lower. Even though Farrar points out Glennon executed Dowell Loggains’ offense well (especially in the second and third weeks after his disastrous debut), it’s also worth sharing there were times where Glennon looked a step or a second slow – which could be costly once the regular season comes around and the games really matter.
  • While we have quarterbacks on the mind, some of these matchups are just cringeworthy:
  • All things considered, these Week 1 matchups provide an idea why a team would be so desperate to trade draft picks to move up a spot and ensure the possibility of drafting a top-rated quarterback prospect.
  • We took a look at the Bears’ practice squad yesterday, and there’s already an update to be made. Brad Biggs reports the Bears added tight end Ben Braunecker to the group, terminated safety Chris Prosinski’s contract, and gave him an injury settlement.
  • There is a lot going on here. Still, #want:
  • written by

    Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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