The Chicago Bears are 4-10 entering Week 16, and it’s clear changes need to be made (and lots of them!).
But while we’ve already spent some time talking about the impending coaching change and the soon-to-be obsessive search (look at all these wonderful candidates!) for John Fox’s replacement, we’ll also have to get into the roster changes that’ll take the Bears to the next level.
Fortunately, Brent Sobleski (Bleacher Report) has already gotten us started, by listing the starter who most needs to be replaced next season for all 32 teams. For the Bears, Sobleski says it’s wide receiver Kevin White.
Though I’ll understand if it’s difficult for you to call White a starter – Chicago has played 2,961 snaps since the start of the 2015 season, but White has been unavailable for 80 percent of those plays. So the Bears don’t so much need a replacement for White, as an actual quality player on the field.
And don’t let his upside blind you, the Bears can’t continue to bank on him to be on the field, at least, according to Sobleski:
White’s absence created an even bigger void among the league’s worst wide receiver corps, especially with Cameron Meredith likewise sidelined for the year. However, the Bears can’t bank on White, who has 21 receptions in three seasons, to become their No. 1 pass-catcher. Instead, they should undergo a massive overhaul to provide quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with far better receiving options.
Agreed. But unfortunately, it’s not like White isn’t the only problem.
Outside of Kendall Wright, who’s got the best grade of active Bears receivers, all of Chicago’s wideouts have graded out as “poor” in 2017. Indeed, pretty much none of Pace’s buy-low candidates have paid off: Dontrelle Inman (57.9), Josh Bellamy (51.4), Markus Wheaton (46.8), and Tanner Gentry (45.6). If there’s a silver lining, I suppose it’s that Pace and the front office must know how badly they need help at the position (please tell me they know that), but I don’t think that was much of a secret anyway.
Sure, Cameron Meredith is expected to return in 2018 after missing the 2017 campaign with a season-ending knee injury. But, it would be risky to put a bulk of the wide receiver workload on a player coming off a serious injury who has just one standout season under his belt.
The Bears definitely need to upgrade that position with healthy and productive players (via the draft, free agency, or otherwise). Counting on White to bounce back from another season-ending injury would only set this offense back more and be a mistake for Chicago.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.