A collection of Chicago’s best burgers is exactly what I needed to properly start my day:
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) July 12, 2021
• Over at The Athletic, they’re counting down the NFL’s 100 best players to ever suit up. Not unexpectedly, Iron Mike Ditka shows up and makes the cut:
Richie Petitbon played in the NFL for 14 years and coached for another 16. “The best player I’ve ever been around,” he said, “was Mike Ditka.” He's No. 96 on our top 100. https://t.co/LfQTRmi3DJ
— Dan Pompei (@danpompei) July 11, 2021
• It’s wild to think about who Mike Ditka was as a player when you know him only as a coach and personality. But then you find yourself looking back and learning about how he was a game-changer at the tight end position. It almost makes me wish I was around to see Ditka’s entire career arc. Instead, I’m digging learning something new about him as a player with each look-back like the one above. All this to say that I wish it were possible for Cole Kmet to soak up everything he could learn about playing tight end from Ditka, the player (not so much Ditka, the larger-than-life personality).
• I’ll never pass on an opportunity to share old school, black-and-white pics:
• Five Pro Bowl appearances. Two first-team All-Pro nominations. A 1,000-yard, double-digit touchdown season as a rookie tight end, en route to winning the AP Rookie of the Year award in 1961. Four years being in the top-10 in receptions. Three seasons in which he finished the year in the top-10 in receiving yards. Te résumé is as good as it gets, my friends.
• Some love for the Bears’ top TE:
If Cole Kmet takes over the FULL-TIME Tight End role in Chicago this year…
He’s. Going. To. Explode. Book. It.pic.twitter.com/gihu4BqYCN
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) July 11, 2021
• I’m curious to see how the Bears plan on using Kmet and Jimmy Graham. On the one hand, I wonder if keeping Graham for the 2021 season is something that will stunt Kmet’s growth. But on the other hand, Kmet out-snapped Graham handily down the stretch. That’s a good thing if you believe in things such as passing on the torch. But Graham still out-scored Kmet in the touchdown department. And Graham out-targeted Kmet inside-the-20 during a second-half stretch in which Kmet was taking at least 70 percent of offensive snaps while Graham was north of 50 percent just twice. That could be a sign Kmet simply isn’t at where he needs to be in order to settle into his role as a significant red-zone threat. Perhaps this is where Graham’s leadership can help shine a light to guide Kmet on where he needs to go.
• Some interesting perspective from NFL insider Adam Caplan, who tweets this regarding the Allen Robinson II contract situation in Chicago: There’s been a difference of opinion on his value (has been that way for a few years). Terrific player, but the team doesn’t value him (by money) as other teams would.
• Now I’m wondering if the influx of Day 2 and Day 3 talent that comes by way of the NFL Draft is so good at the receiver position, the Bears don’t think it’s worth paying someone like Robinson. I suppose that recent history suggests it is more valuable have depth, variety, and excellence at multiple receiver spots. And if enough teams believe in that, then we’ll see fewer big receiver contracts. Moreover, we could be seeing teams trend toward treating the receiver position like running backs. Much like there are so many talented rushers, there are waves of gifted pass-catchers out there developing. Even still … the Bears are a franchise that can’t afford to think that way. Not with how they have scouted, drafted, and developed receivers over the years.
• Tickets for Bears Family Fest, which is just 22 days away, go on sale tomorrow:
The 2021 @meijer Chicago Bears Family Fest is happening August 3rd! 😁
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) July 12, 2021
• This tweet spoke directly to me:
Every couple weeks, I forget he’s on the Bears. Mostly because it seemed totally impossible for so long. Then I remember, and I’m in a good mood for the next hour. https://t.co/hfVUJLrNW4
— Robert Mays (@robertmays) July 11, 2021
• It’s never too early to take a peek at who could be available in next year’s draft class:
If the #Bears can’t re-sign Allen Robinson, they could to his replacement in the 2022 draft.
Indiana’s Ty Fryfogle is a Day 2 wide receiver who would fit that ‘X’ receiver mold. Physical boundary weapon with strong hands and stellar ball skills. pic.twitter.com/vXUV4dJED2
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) July 11, 2021
• Months after feeling the good vibes on NFL Draft night, I’m feeling good about the Cubs’ first-round pick. This feels weird, but I’m willing to see where it goes:
I write this morning about, who else, new Cubs prospect Jordan Wicks. Some thoughts on each part of his game, which I think does offer the Cubs some low-hanging fruit for developmental enhancements, but a floor built around a plus-to-better changeup.https://t.co/sNkO24InxA
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) July 12, 2021
• Patrick Kane won an ESPY over the weekend, which reminds me that those are still a thing.
• Timing is everything when it comes to an extension for Bulls star Zach LaVine, who wants negotiations to “play out the right way.”