With the Cubs out of the playoffs and the Bears on a bye, I was hoping to open myself to new things this weekend – specifically my neighborhood’s Apple Fest. And then I woke up with a cold. Here’s hoping the combination of chicken noodle soup and orange juice is a winning combination.
- Here’s an updated to-do list I can get behind:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 6, 2018
- Not only did the Bears enter the bye week on a high note, they have done so while generating a ton of buzz. NFL.com analyst Dan Hanzus lists the Bears becoming an NFC power among the early season surprises. The arrival of Khalil Mack has elevated the team to new heights, with Hanzus making note of Prince Amukamara comparing Mack’s presence to what LeBron James brings to the basketball court in making everyone around him better. Comparisons don’t get much more favorable than that.
- Here is a different way to visualize the Mack effect:
The Bears before Khalil Mack and the Bears after Khalil Mack. https://t.co/upWxI8BKBY
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) October 6, 2018
- Mack and the defense are making the Bears must-see-TV, with The Ringer’s Riley McAtee putting the Bears at No. 3 on the Watchability Rankings. The Bears are one of just two three in the top-10 whose quarterback who hasn’t either made the Pro Bowl or won a Super Bowl. The others are the Browns (led by 2018 No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield) and Chiefs (quarterbacked by that Patrick Mahomes fella). The Bears can’t get much better as far as watchability is concerned, but getting the offense on the same level as the defense would cement their spot near the top … wouldn’t it?
- In that vein, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes about the offense kicking it into gear as it plays catch-up with the defense. What was described as a work in progress in the first three weeks took major strides in Week 4. With a bye week of preparation, it would nice to see the offense stack quality performances the way it has put one win after another during the active three-game winning streak.
- Calvin Ridley is off to a hot start as a rookie, but look who joins him among the highest-graded rookie receivers:
The highest graded rookie wide receivers so far this season. pic.twitter.com/Egy0dJt86C
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 6, 2018
- It won’t be long until the offense becomes a reason you’ll want to turn into Bears football because this group has too much talent to not produce. Now, I won’t go as far as to expect six passing touchdowns per week, but the revamped Bears offense should push across some points here and there. One of the biggest playmakers is Tarik Cohen, who must be accounted for whenever he steps on the field. Patrick Finely of the Chicago Sun-Times explores why Matt Nagy could do more with Cohen than he did with Tyreek Hill in Kansas City.
- The Cohen-Hill comps are inescapable, but fun to think about because putting dynamic players in a position to make plays is actually fun. But here’s the thing, Cohen won’t be Hill (he doesn’t play nearly as many snaps as a pure No. 2 wide receiver) and Hill won’t be Cohen (he isn’t a running back by trade) … and that’s perfectly fine. This is worth noting as we move forward: Cohen has seen a slight increase in playing time (his snap percentage is up from 36.4% to 39.9%) and had his most productive game of the year in Week 4. I’m curious to see how much more the Bears can do with Cohen, who spent his offseason working out as a wide receiver and dabbled in different positions in OTAs. This is the ground floor of something special and we have 12 more games to see how it all unfolds.
- This is worth noting:
Scouts from the Colts, Saints, 49ers, Dolphins, Raiders, Panthers, Falcons, Bears, Jets, Titans, and Steelers will be in attendance at the Auburn/Mississippi State game. Big crowd on hand to see Jarrett Stidham, Jeffery Simmons, Montez Sweat and many other potential prospects.
— J Reid (@JReidNFL) October 5, 2018
— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) October 5, 2018
- There is a ton of first-round talent to be watched this weekend, but the first thing to pop into my mind was the Bears’ recent ability to find quality talent from power conferences outside of the first round. Eddie Jackson (Alabama, 2017 4th round), Jordan Howard (Indiana, 2016 5th round), Jonathan Bullard (Florida, 2016 3rd round), Cody Whitehair (Kansas State, 2016 2nd round), Adrian Amos (Penn State, 2015 5th round), and Eddie Goldman (Florida State, 2015 2nd round) come to mind as major contributors who weren’t first-round picks. And because the Bears don’t have one of those in each of the next two years, it will be important for this hit rate to continue.