Beating the Sixers on Wednesday didn’t help the Bulls’ lottery odds, which is a bummer because they need all the luck they can get there. HOWEVER, I suppose the silver lining is that Zach LaVine going off for 39 points on 53.8% shooting is something on which Bulls fans can hang their hat.
The Bulls still have a ways to go before their rebuild resembles that of the Bears, but they are showing signs of life I didn’t think this team was capable of showing. No wonder we had a surprisingly optimistic vibe on the latest episode of Talkin’ Toros.
- “We were going to win the Super Bowl.” That was the message Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy had after the team’s dream season came to a crashing halt on Wild-Card Sunday. He believed it and his players believed it. And now that he and his troops have received a taste, they’re fired up for more. “I wasn’t sure, after a loss like that, how they were going to handle it,” Nagy said, via the Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer. “Because they are young. So are they upset and deflated and disappointed? Yeah, they are. But they were actually more positive and more (eager) to get back (to Halas Hall), which fired me up.” And now, I am fired up!
- The story of the Matt Nagy era isn’t going to end with Cody Parkey’s missed kick. In fact, I’d argue that page represents the first chapter in a bigger book that is still being written. The story is never about how one falls, but instead, it’s about how one gets back up and fights for another day. Nagy’s challenge is to pull himself and his team up from off the mat and make sure everyone moves forward. If they can do that, then Parkey’s double-doink will be nothing more than a footnote in Bears history.
- I guess the ultimate storybook ending would have Chris Blewitt buck the odds and nail the game-clinching field goal in each round en route to a Super Bowl title. Wouldn’t that be something? In case you missed it, the Bears are expected to sign the University of Pittsburgh product who is more known for his unfortunate last name and less for this pretty freaking awesome kick:
- Unless the Bears make a run at Stephen Gostkowski in free agency, they are steering toward an open camp competition. All things considered, that’s the right move and it would fall under the umbrella of leaving no stone un-turned. Competition breeds excellence and the Bears need plenty of both in 2019.
- Thinking of a kicking competition as a battle royale is fun. Royal Rumble (but for kickers) seems like an excellent idea. Someone pitch that to Vince McMahon for his XFL re-boot and make sure to credit me when it takes off!
- It’s a shame the Bears didn’t start this process earlier. Maybe this is just hindsight talking, but the team wasted the last two years under John Fox – which were developmental seasons for every other position group – on a veteran kicker with a short shelf-life. They could have been using that time to properly seek out the right long-term fit as a Robbie Gould replacement. Instead, the Bears sided with a veteran kicker the head coach and special teams coordinator were comfortable with on the roster. As is stands, Fox and Connor Barth are out of the NFL, while ex-Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers is serving in that role for the Arizona Cardinals. Hopefully, this misstep doesn’t hurt the Bears in the grand scheme of things.
- You want a good reason not to draft a kicker in the late rounds? I’ll give you four. Larry Mayer of the Bears’ official website points out that the only players picked in the fourth and fifth rounds of the last two drafts to make the Pro Bowl are Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson, 49ers tight end George Kittle, and Seahawks punter Michael Dickson. And yes, I do see the stud punter there staring me in the face. But I also see to All-Pros in Cohen and Jackson, as well as a stud tight end in Kittle. Because salary cap space is as tight as it is, the Bears would be wise to continue to try and unearth these late-round diamond-in-the-rough types and develop them into key cogs in the machine.
- JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago dissects what a top-heavy safety market could mean for Adrian Amos’ run in free agency. So many top-tier guys could possibly work in the Bears’ favor and drive Amos’ price down into a place where the Bears can bring him back without sweating the financial ramifications. Stankevitz also offers up an idea for contract structuring that would give the team some flexibility for an out that would be timed with the rising cost of Eddie Jackson’s deal. Seeing how the safety market plays out is one of those things we’ll be keeping tabs on in free agency for all the obvious reasons.
- It feels strange to say that I’m comfortable with the Bears not being mentioned all that often with players on the deep end in the free agency pool. I mean, who wouldn’t want a shot at these guys:
And now, the top players now scheduled to hit the open market next Wednesday include:
* RB Le'Veon Bell
* QB Nick Foles
* S Earl Thomas
* LB C.J. Mosley
* DE Trey Flowers
* S Landon Collins
* S Tyrann Mathieu
* OT Trent Brown
* DT Sheldon Richardson
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 5, 2019
- The Bears don’t have that much cap space, but they don’t need it in order to plug the holes on the roster. That’s a testament to how well GM Ryan Pace has drafted and how well free agency turned out last year. And it’s not like this team is releasing players from the roster just to get in under the salary cap. Would it be nice if the Bears had more cap space? Absolutely. No argument here. But this team doesn’t have a ton of glaring needs and that matters more than we might otherwise think.
- Ooh, a piece of candy. Nerds are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon today. Anybody hungry?