I’m going to grill the heck out of something this afternoon. And if I can score the necessary ingredients, I’ll try and make some s’mores, too.
• Pro Football Focus released its list of the NFL’s best players from the 2010s. It’s a comprehensive group of 101 stars, which features more players with Bears ties than I expected. The five players in PFF’s top 101 who suited up for Chicago’s football team are Charles “Peanut” Tillman (88th), Greg Olsen (81st), Josh Sitton (68th), Brandon Marshall (61st), and Khalil Mack (17th).
• So, the good news is that we, as Bears fans, have been treated to some quality football players over the past 10 years. The bad news is that they haven’t stayed around long enough to impact the team as much as possible. Olsen barely makes the cut, as his only year with Chicago in the 2010s was in 2010. Sitton was in Chicago for two years, both of which were shortened by injuries. Marshall spent four years with the Bears during the 2010s, making him the second-longest-tenured player in this group. And Marshall was darn productive, too. Two trips to the Pro Bowl a first-team All-Pro designation, two seasons with 1,200+ yards and 10+ touchdowns. It’s a shame things couldn’t work out for longer.
• Remember when this tag team was a thing?
• On the other side of the ball, Tillman was as productive for the defense as Marshall was for the offense. From 2010-14, Tillman came away with 14 interceptions, 20 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, and scored five defensive touchdowns in 58 games. What a star.
• Saturdays are for throwbacks, so here’s Mic’d Up Tillman from a long time ago:
• And then there is Mack, the star of stars whose ranking at No. 17 makes him the highest rated player on PFF’s list to suit up in Chicago. Mack did most of his damage during the last decade as a member of the Raiders, but there is no denying his impact in Chicago. His acquisition before the 2018 season single-handedly changed the outlook of the NFC North, and his presence as a leader on a super-charged defense gives the Bears a fighting chance so long as he continues to thrive as a pass-rusher. Here’s to Mack making PFF’s next all-decade team. And here’s to hoping he won’t be the only Bears player on it.
• While we’re in look-back mode, Thomas Jones has a revelation about the mid-2000s Bears that comes as a bit of a surprise:
Kyle was the best QB we had. At least when I was there. But he didn't get a chance to develop. As a rookie in 2005 he made plays & didn't turn the ball over while we ran the ball at will, play great defense & special teams. He lost his confidence when he was benched for Rex. https://t.co/6NaWdNm8NV
— Thomas Q. Jones (@thomasqjones) May 15, 2020
Yes. I think Kyle was a natural leader with a strong arm, heart & good instincts. As a team we rallied behind him in 2005 and he fed off of us. I think he could've developed into a really good QB. When you get benched as a rookie for no reason it can really hurt your confidence.
— Thomas Q. Jones (@thomasqjones) May 15, 2020
• Jones believes the Bears messed up with how they handled the Rex Grossman-Kyle Orton saga, adding that he thinks Orton could have developed into “a really good QB” had he been given the time to develop properly. And because Jones makes a valid point about how Orton played smart football with good instincts, only to be benched at the first sign of trouble once Grossman got healthy, I can see where he is coming from with his perspective.
• Remembering that Orton had a 3,800-yard, 21-touchdown year in his age 27 season with the Broncos (in his first year in Denver) makes me wonder if the Bears missed an opportunity to groom a home-grown QB. I don’t think Orton would’ve been a world-beater, but he was a perfectly cromulent signal caller who could have made the most of being surrounded with the talent at hand. Then again, I’m not sure we’re having this conversation if the Bears front office would have been wise enough to arm Jay Cutler with an offensive line and adequate weapons upon arrival.
• The next time the Bears draft a QB-of-the-future type with an early round pick, their first priority after the selection should be to build out his offensive line. After that, play-making weapons who can crush it at all levels. One would think this would be common knowledge, but recent history shows it’s not what Chicago’s front offices have done when making a QB investment. It’s not what they did with Cutler or Mitch Trubisky. But it’s something they should do moving forward.
• A 3-D printer for 19% off at Amazon today? Intriguing. #ad
• Back to the present day:
We can't wait either. pic.twitter.com/3N37j79zBz
— Bears Talk (@NBCSBears) May 16, 2020
• If things are on the up-and-up this fall, it would be an honor to see that game in person at Lambeau Field. Keeping my fingers crossed there.
• It would be neat if the Cole Kmet experience turns out to be a good one. But for that to happen, there’s one apparent hurdle he’ll need to clear:
Bears HC Matt Nagy on Cole Kmet: "He will know this playbook inside out. What he will have to understand and learn is NFL defenses."
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) May 15, 2020
• Now that he is retired, I think Kyle Long dunk highlights should be the responsibility of our friends over at BN Bulls:
— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) May 16, 2020
• Speaking of the Bulls, here is some hope for the future in the form of an under-utilized big man:
The Bulls May Have Found Themselves a Certified Steal in Daniel Gaffordhttps://t.co/sDf4CoeqFN
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 15, 2020
• A COVID-19 and Sports Update:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 16, 2020