Change is coming to my alma mater’s men’s basketball team, and I couldn’t be happier. Because while I respect Barry Hinson for getting Southern Illinois out of a mess, not getting to one postseason tournament during his tenure as the Salukis’ head coach was disappointing and a new voice was needed.
So if you see me around town wearing a big grin on my face, it’s because I have hope for SIU basketball for the first time in a long time.
- The Peanut Punch is pure art:
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) March 8, 2019
- One of the most entertaining things about the NFL (as a whole) is that every season features a handful of surprise teams who seemingly come out of nowhere to have breakthrough seasons. But where there are teams on the rise, there must be teams on the decline … and Marcus Mosher of Bleacher Report believes the Bears are on their way back down to earth in 2019. Mosher cites the first-place schedule, projected defensive regression without Vic Fangio, and a step back in the number of takeaways. These will be familiar talking points for anyone wanting to bet against the Bears, but I simply can’t wrap my mind around accepting them at this time. Not when the Bears have 9 of 11 defensive starters returning, an offensive unit whose collective arrow is still pointing up, and an accomplished defensive coordinator taking Fangio’s place. If the Bears were losing more key pieces and were filled with regression candidates on the roster, I’d be more concerned … but I’m not even close to that point yet. Remember, the Bears were projected to have the eighth-hardest schedule in 2018 (and we all know how that turned out).
- Khalil Mack is going to sack regression so hard it’s going to miss the entire next season:
Khalil Mack finished the 2018 season with the fourth-highest pressure rate among edge defenders pic.twitter.com/952HVioIvO
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 9, 2019
- Offensively, there is still so much untapped upside and potential. The following starters on offense are 25 or younger: Mitch Trubisky, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and James Daniels. Meanwhile, seasoned vets such as Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, Charles Leno Jr., and Cody Whitehair are all in the 26-28 range. This group is primed for a breakout if everything clicks during OTAs in spring and training camp this summer. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
- I’m not going to let it bother me that a post centered around possible regression didn’t leave open a window that the Bears could improve. After all, the offense didn’t perform to expectations as it was operating in its first year under Matt Nagy. There were growing pains, highs, and lows. But if the pains are a thing of the past, then we’ll likely see improvement if the Bears can limit their lows. One area the team can improve is at running back, as NFL.com’s Marc Sessler notes this position group could see upgrades in the offseason. And while it’s unlikely the Bears are clearing the deck to make a pitch for free agent stud Le’Veon Bell, the Bears are positioned to round out the group with a draft pick who has the upside of taking the reins from Howard after the 2019 season when his rookie contract expires.
- For what it’s worth, former league scout Greg Gabriel thinks the Bears should avoid Le’Veon Bell altogether. Schematically, Bell is a fit. He can run between the tackles, break off chunk plays with outside runs, and is always a threat to catch passes out of the backfield. But because the Bears have a tick more than $18 million in salary cap space and other needs elsewhere, Bell is far from a perfect fit.
- I thought one of the splashier things the Bears could have done was sign safety Eric Weddle, but the Rams put an end to that scenario. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports the two sides came together on a deal worth up to $12.5 million. Weddle’s addition wouldn’t have counted against the compensatory draft pick formula and his deal is going to chew less cap space than re-signing Adrian Amos. It’s a good deal for the Rams as the rich get richer.
- Matt Nagy made a believer out of Bears legend Mike Singletary:
HoF LB and Memphis Express HC Mike Singletary told me he was excited to see what Matt Nagy did in 2018 in Chicago: “I thought he did a great job. I thought the head coach came in, really set a precedent in terms of we’re going to win, we’re going to take it to the next level …”
— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) March 8, 2019
- Mike Glennon is living a charmed life:
Glennon has had a terrific two year run earning $21M for four starts between the Bears and Cardinals
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) March 8, 2019
- Glennon’s biggest contribution to the Bears was the $2.5 million in credited cap space for this coming year. Here’s hoping GM Ryan Pace puts it to good use.
- STOP HOARDING ALL THE KICKERS, SAN FRANCISCO:
The #49ers have signed K Jonathan Brown.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) March 8, 2019