Kris Kringle isn’t the only one double-checking his lists this time of year.
The Chicago Bears have needs. Plenty of them. And to be honest, they’re not going to fill all of them in one offseason. Still, GM Ryan Pace is in a position to continue his rebuild by adding impact pieces throughout the roster. He’ll need to do just that in order to ensure his long-term presence in the organization’s plans.
Let’s take a moment and walk through Gabriel’s findings.
Can you imagine bringing back Mike Glennon for a second year with the Bears? I can’t, and neither can Gabriel, who says keeping Glennon as Mitch Trubisky’s very expensive backup isn’t a good idea considering the team’s needs elsewhere. Of course, that means the Bears will be on the hunt for another backup quarterback this offseason.
But if we’ve learned anything from 2017, the next Case Keenum is only one good scouting job away.
Considering Dak Prescott’s uneven play in 2017, there’s probably an argument to retain Mark Sanchez again. The dynamic has changed for the Cowboys’ second-year quarterback since Tony Romo isn’t in practice pushing him as the backup and Sanchez isn’t there to serve as his personal quarterbacks coach.
That sound you just heard was the collective thud of Bears fans slapping their palms to their faces, and exclaiming “duhhhh!” in one unified voice.
Gabriel sees receiver as the team’s most glaring need and says the current group lacks talent and believes at least one new receiver is needed. No argument here. Cameron Meredith and Kevin White are expected to recover from injuries in time for 2018, but the team can’t depend on White to be healthy and shouldn’t put the onus on Meredith as he returns to the lineup. That’s how the Bears ended up with this mess of receivers in the first place.
Kendall Wright is the only Bears receiver to earn an average grade or better via Pro Football Focus. In fact, Wright’s 78.3 grade is the 32nd best among 115 qualifiers. Dontrelle Inman, Josh Bellamy, and Markus Wheaton each grade out as “poor” and none have a grade better than 58. Wright seems to have built a rapport with quarterback Mitch Trubisky and — at minimum — can play the role of reliable slot receiver. And still, the Bears need a ton of help at the position.
Gabriel thinks the Bears need at least one offensive lineman and prefers it to be a tackle. Charles Leno Jr. has performed admirably at left tackle. His 82.0 overall grade is the 11th best among all tackles, while his run blocking (84.6) and run blocking (80.0) rank as the sixth best and 18th best among tackles by PFF’s standards. Leno Jr. struggles with penalties at times, but is still rounding into form and developing into a two-way tackle who could prove to be a relative bargain based on the extension he signed prior to the year.
Still, any team that can improve at that position should probably do so. Putting a tackle with upside on the other side of Leno Jr., no matter where he lines up, could turn out to be best for business.
If protecting the quarterback is believed to be a high enough priority to put tackle high on the needs list, pressuring the quarterback should be up there, too.
The Bears should look to upgrade the starting position and add depth after an injury riddled year that saw three starting edge defenders (Leonard Floyd, Willie Young, and Pernell McPhee) on injured reserve.
Chicago’s defense was at its best when it was getting after the quarterback with the front seven with the edge rushers playing a huge role. Since Floyd has gone down, however, that group hasn’t generated much of a pass rush – save for Lamarr Houston. More on him later today.
Gabriel believes it would be “prudent” of the Bears to draft a defensive back early. First, I like the use of the term prudent. Second, needs will pop up at the position in one way or another.
Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller are free agents when the season ends. Both could return for another tour of duty in Chicago, one could come back and not the other, or both could be gone. Bryce Callahan and Cre’von LeBlanc have played well inside, but neither is experienced enough on the outside to be handed a job there.
Marcus Cooper has been a major disappointment and has played more special teams snaps than defensive ones in each of his last nine games.