Defensive Stars Shining, Bourbonnais Prep, Racing Odds, Traylor Throwback, and Other Bullets

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Defensive Stars Shining, Bourbonnais Prep, Racing Odds, Traylor Throwback, and Other Bullets

Chicago Bears

When I used to work nights and weekends, I learned the best time to go grocery shopping was in the middle portion of weekday mornings and afternoons. But I have since learned that shopping after 10 p.m. on a Friday isn’t half-bad either. Of course, my biggest challenge is not to over-shop when I know I’m going out of town in a few days. It’s a challenge I’ve yet to conquer in my 32 years on this planet. Oh well, there is always next year!

  • I’m old enough to remember when the Bears wouldn’t get a sniff on top-100 player lists, but it’s good to see them finally getting some well-deserved pub. Four Bears defenders landed on Pete Prisco’s list of 100 best players in the NFL. Khalil Mack (5th overall) checks in as the highest-ranking Bear and the second-best pass-rusher in the league behind Denver’s Von Miller. Following Mack on the list are defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (48th), safety Eddie Jackson (67th), and Kyle Fuller (69th). Not only is that a nice collection of defensive talent, it’s a testament to GM Ryan Pace’s eye for evaluation and deal-making skills. Hicks was brought in as an under-the-radar free agent signing in 2016, Jackson was drafted in the fourth round in 2017, Fuller was re-signed to a nifty multi-year deal after the 2017 season, and Mack was acquired via trade just before the start of the 2018 campaign. Finding core players through various avenues is what good front offices do. It’s as simple as that, my friends.
  • Some quick math shows the Bears are scheduled to play against 46 of the top-100 players this season. Here is a team-by-team breakdown of the best players the opposition will be throwing at Chicago: Packers (5), Vikings (3), Lions (2), Chargers (8), Cowboys (7), Chiefs (6), Saints (6), Rams (6), Eagles (5), Broncos (3), Raiders (2), Giants (1). That feels like a lot, but it’s cool. Bring it on!
  • I suppose it’s worth noting that neither Bryce Callahan nor Adrian Amos checks in on the top-100 list. Those two players figure to be key losses for the Bears, but neither is a top-100 type in Prisco’s eyes. Then again, neither are replacements Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Buster Skrine.
  • Last year’s Bears defense was an all-timer, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics. In fact, the 2018 Bears defense was one of the best ever in the eyes of the analytics-based insiders. And yet, I’m a little worried about the secondary — if only because a site whose metrics grade sizes up with the eye test suggests the Bears downgraded at two key spots. Even though Amos has graded out at an elite level in recent years, Clinton-Dix is a fair replacement for Amos because of his durability and strong floor. The Skrine experiment is one that could swing the pendulum, especially since offenses are forcing opposing defenses into nickel packages more often than ever. Skrine had the second-worst coverage grade int he slot (52.3), gave up the most slot touchdowns (5), and allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a robust 128.2 passer rating when targeted. Yikes. Good luck fixing that, Chuck Pagano.
  • On the bright side, PFF warns you not to take the Bears’ receivers lightly in 2019:

  • I think of the Bears’ running back competition as being less of a battle and more of an three-headed attack, with this guy bringing the home-run hitting power every football team craves:

  • John Franklin III is running for the gold (and some cash) today, so let’s check out some odds:

  • Plan your trips to Bourbonnais accordingly:

  • In the words of the late, great Dick Enberg: “Oh my!”

  • Big Cat Williams’ play this season stood out to me as a young fan. His mauling style as a right tackle made me interested in offensive line play, so this piece by Lester A. Wiltfong Jr. (Windy City Gridiron) really took me back.
  • I miss NFL Street:

  • How much fun would a team starring Mitch Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Kyle Long, Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson, and Taylor Gabriel be in this game? Off the charts!
  • NBA free agency opens up tomorrow afternoon and our friends at BN Bulls will be on it, so give them a follow on Twitter and a like on Facebook!

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.