I was going to save this for an Around the League post to be shared later, but this is too good to not share now:
There's a little sign on the wall near where @TomBrady signed his contract with the @Buccaneers & if you zoom in, you see it looks like the one on the right. Good rules to live by. pic.twitter.com/ON2Q3DkKpG
— Mike Sando (@SandoNFL) March 20, 2020
Life can be so simple sometimes. But there are times when things can be so complicated, stressful, and trying, which makes it difficult to do the little stuff. The sign in the background seen in Tom Brady’s image makes simple requests. Be respectful. Be honest. Be responsible. Be grateful. Be kind. Let’s try to do that in these times that can be tough for others.
- Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic delivers a must-read story of the day:
Bears TE Ben Braunecker has been getting a lot of texts and calls lately.
That’s what happens when there’s a pandemic and you’re the rare NFL player who spends his offseasons studying infectious diseases.
My Q&A with the Harvard grad https://t.co/8KC4Y9toK4
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) March 21, 2020
- Ben Braunecker was a three-year starter at Harvard who earned team captain honors as a senior. Braunecker was named to the Associated Press, Walter Camp, STATS, AFCA Coaches All-American teams, and earned All-Ivy League first-team honors during his final year on campus. He also majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology, which makes him a go-to source as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be the top news story. This Q&A with Fishbain and Braunecker opened up a window to a side of a player I never expected to be interested in reading. So give it some of your time today.
- Perhaps we’ll get more stories like this as we move forward through the offseason. Left guard James Daniels graduated from Iowa as a Biology major. Inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe was pre-med at Western Kentucky. These aren’t the only smart guys around the NFL. Perhaps hearing from them right now would be helpful in the big picture.
- The Bears are donating $250,000 to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund. Good start, guys. Every bit helps.
- Martin Penn (Bleacher Report) ranks the worst moves of the first wave of free agency. Unsurprisingly, the Jimmy Graham signing checks in among the worst of the worst. That’s not something Bears fans are going to want to read, especially knowing the franchise’s needs at the tight end position. As Penn writes, Graham’s deal doesn’t feel like the best use of cap space for a team that was limited in that area. And for the first time in his career, Graham won’t have a future Hall of Fame quarterback throwing the pigskin in his direction. For this deal to work out for the Bears, Graham will need to elevate his game to another level. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if a player coming off two decline years as he enters his age 34 season can have that bounce back. But they play the games on the field and not on a computer so we can find out.
- The Bears aren’t alone in doing moves that look whack at the outset. The Lions (OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai) and Packers (LB Christian Kirksey) also have signings that make Penn’s not-top-10 list. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have two such signings. That doesn’t seem ideal.
- On a more positive side of the ledger, PFF doesn’t completely hate the Nick Foles trade. In the transaction analysis, PFF writes: “Foles has shown high-level play at times, namely the 2017 postseason run with the Philadelphia Eagles where he recorded 90.0-plus grades in the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl. That’s what the Bears will be trying to capture in Matt Nagy’s system.” And while there are doubts Foles becomes a steady above-average starter, PFF views he is an upgrade from Mitch Trubisky.
- Sigh. Ben Linsey (also of PFF) lists the Bears among the losers of this early stretch of free agency. And that’s despite the admission that the Foles deal “isn’t terrible.” So what gives? The other moves are what put the Bears in PFF’s “loser” category. The Graham signing doesn’t look like a smart one from PFF’s perspective, as Graham has produced sub-60 grades in each of his last two seasons. The site isn’t fond of the Robert Quinn signing, with Linsey writing “they gave a five-year $70 million deal to an edge rusher who hasn’t produced play warranting that kind of money since 2013.” Ouch.
- Seriously, this hurts to read:
Jimmy Graham cost the Bears more than the Steelers paid Eric Ebron. Neither is great, but one is 26 years old and was decently productive two years ago. The other is … neither of those things.
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) March 20, 2020
With the recent signings of Eric Ebron (cheaper), Melvin Gordon (same money), it's very fair to ask what the heck was Pace thinking with his Graham signing earlier in the week… #Bears
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) March 20, 2020
- A team with minimal cap flexibility at the outset of the new league year isn’t making good use of the space it created. Again, these are criticisms Bears fans don’t want to be reading if they are looking for encouragement regarding the 2020 campaign … but they are valid.
- Ryan Pace’s decision-making and asset management has rightfully come into question at the start of free agency. Michael did a good job fleshing out some points on the matter here.
- Covering the Bears has a different look these days:
- Thanks, Nick:
Thank you, Chicago. pic.twitter.com/qEQL18iN04
— Nick Kwiatkoski (@nkwiatkoski27) March 21, 2020
- If it felt as if Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was on the field at all times, that’s because he pretty much was:
No player has played more defensive snaps than Ha Ha Clinton Dix (3,985) over the last four seasons (since 2016).
The rest of the top 5: Eric Weddle (3,947), Antoine Bethea (3,898), Bobby Wagner (3,875) and Malcolm Jenkins (3,840) https://t.co/j5dsZ5yv4o
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 20, 2020
- Clinton-Dix was on the field for 1,067 snaps last year. Only Kyle Fuller (1,070) had more among Bears defenders.
- Perhaps a fun offseason challenge might be to find the handful of snaps Clinton-Dix wasn’t on the field for, then figure out what happened on those plays.
- Looking at the Bears’ snap counts via Pro Football Reference, I notice that Kyle Fuller played on 80 special teams snaps last year. That’s 19.2 percent, which feels like a lot for a team’s top coverage corner. No full-time starter played more special teams snaps than Fuller. Clearly, Fuller is good at some aspect of special teams. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have received as many snaps in that department as he did in 2019. Even still … I’d be curious to hear a reason as to why that was the case, because it doesn’t feel right to have a player of Fuller’s importance playing that many special teams plays.
- I had a ton of fun writing about The Michael Jordan Shrug Game over at BN Bulls:
Throwback Game 2: Michael Jordan Shrugs Off the Entire Portland Trail Blazers Organizationhttps://t.co/KOt6nr1zeX
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) March 20, 2020
- Over in his Cubs Bullets, Brett reminded me of the awesomeness of “Where’s Waldo” books.