I’ve spent too much time this morning wondering what we could do to make the Pro Bowl skills competition as entertaining as last night’s Home Run Derby. Maybe all it needs is a dash of Tarik Cohen? We’ll put a pin in that one for later.
- Jordan Howard is entering his age 24 season and already has two 1,000-yard rushing campaigns under his belt. And yet, ESPN’s NFL Insiders show the Chicago Bears’ lead back no love:
43 of our NFL Insiders voted.
Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25. pic.twitter.com/fEvmMRsont
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 16, 2018
- Howard is a bit of a throwback. His running style is reminiscent of the star ball carriers from days gone by. Unfortunately, I think that, coupled with his poor pass-catching skills, has gone a long way to hurt him in running back rankings. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal ranks the league’s starters, where Howard checks in at No. 15. It’s a respectable ranking, but I figured Howard would be closer to the fringes of the top-10 ahead of the likes of Kenyan Drake, Joe Mixon, and Dalvin Cook.
- I can’t help but think that Howard’s case would look better if he hadn’t spent the last two years playing in Dowell Loggains’ system under the ultra-conservative John Fox. NFL analyst Brian Baldinger shares some video analysis that gives me enough of a hint of optimism that the change in scheme (and addition of new talent) will come together to form something special:
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) July 14, 2018
- Sometimes, I’m not sure what excites me more – new talent or scheme change. But I do know that it’s fun to read about talented players coming to Chicago because of the scheme. An interesting tidbit from Matt Eurich of 247Sports, who notes that Taylor Gabriel had the Bears high on his free agent wish list because of Matt Nagy and what he did with Tyreek Hill. “Not too many offensive coordinators can get the tendencies and get those dudes open,” Gabriel said. “But Matt Nagy has had experience with that, so they were my No. 1 choice in free agency.” Now that’s high praise!
- I can’t honestly remember a time where offensive players cited scheme and coaching as reasons to come to Chicago, but I’m here for it.
- The Bears’ offense isn’t the only unit hoping to have a return to glory. Let’s not overlook the special teams phase of the game when it comes to areas in which the team needs to show improvement before we start putting together a path to the postseason. Over at 670 The Score, Greg Gabriel breaks down the special teamers heading into training camp. One of the bigger camp storylines that figures to play out over the next two months is the punting competition between incumbent Pat O’Donnell and undrafted free agent rookie Ryan Winslow. The Bears re-signed O’Donnell after testing the free agent waters and coming up empty, but it was only for one year. The team’s addition of Winslow after the draft and O’Donnell’s one-year deal suggests this could be a true open competition, which feels like a rarity these days.
- SI.com’s The MMQB dives into the world of NFL ownership and brings you everything you want to know about the folks running your favorite franchise. My favorite nugget will always be that George Halas purchased the team for $100 in 1920.
- Well, this is certainly noteworthy:
Players can be fined $40k per day for every day of training camp they holdout, but Bears can't fine Smith because he's not under contract https://t.co/HxjeBV8eiF
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) July 16, 2018
- I’m happy that Robbie Gould is happy. Gould was Mr. Reliable for most of his Bears tenure before a late-career slump (fueled by some untimely injuries?) came right before the team decided to part ways. But to hear that the 49ers locker room is a better place right now than any other locker room comes as something of a surprise. Gould told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle: “This is probably the best locker room in my 14-year career that I’ve been a part of.” I felt as if the Bears had some strong locker rooms when Brian Urlacher was the leader, but now I’m curious to know if the natural divide between offense and defense led to some tense times.