Aikman Leaves Buck, On Fields in Focus and Future, Flipping to the 4-3, and Other Bears Bullets

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Aikman Leaves Buck, On Fields in Focus and Future, Flipping to the 4-3, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

We have made it to the time of year when I start dreaming about SIU finally breaking its lengthy NCAA Tournament drought.

Plays like this fuel the dream:

Nothing like landing on SportsCenter’s top-10 to get you feeling good about your alma mater’s basketball team.

•   NFL’s free agency period begins in 18 days with the start of the “legal tampering” period. That is a time where teams are allowed to speak with agents about their clients and lay the groundwork for deals that can’t be made officially official until March 16. But before we get to that point of the calendar, a different type of free agency is heating up. And while it doesn’t directly effect the Bears, it will have an impact on your viewing pleasure:

•   There will be changes with who you see on your football screen this fall. It begins with Troy Aikman reportedly leaving FOX to join ESPN’s Monday Night Football program. Aikman has been at FOX since 2001 and was Joe Buck’s sidekick since 2002. The Buck-Aikman tandem has been FOX’s “A” team broadcast and that duo has been behind the mic for six Super Bowls. Aikman’s move might not move the needle for everyone, but ESPN handing over what figures to be a significant chunk of change suggests the network believes adding him to its roster will sway some more causal fans in their direction.

•   Worth noting: The Bears have played six MNF games since the start of the 2018 season. Moreover, ESPN has featured Chicago’s football team on its signature primetime game at least once every year since 2016. That isn’t an accident. For better or worse, and in good times or bad, Bears fans tune in to watch Monday Night Football. By hiring Aikman, a known commodity and high-profile name, the World Wide Leader in Sports™ must expect more will follow.

•   And to think … Aikman’s move could be the first of many shake-ups in the industry this offseason. Amazon had been reportedly aiming to pair Aikman with Al Michaels, the voice of NBC’s Sunday Night Football whose contract ran up at the end of the Super Bowl. Maybe ESPN snagging Aikman was done in an attempt to woo Michaels away from his pending Amazon commitment? For what it’s worth, ESPN was hoping to bring Michaels into the fold last offseason. There was even chatter about a NBC-ESPN trade, but it never went down. Imagine trading for a broadcaster. Pretty wild!

•    More will come in due time, as there are so many questions to answer. Who pairs with Joe Buck? I’d hand the keys over to Greg Olsen, the former Bears tight end was solid in his first full season as a broadcaster. What does NBC do with its coverage? Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth appear to be a lock, but Drew Brees lurks as someone who probably needs time before they’re comfortable in the transition to media. Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick are still under contract at ESPN. What happens with them? Griese and Riddick have been good, while Levy tries hard to not sound out of place. It’ll be fascinating to watch. And if the Bears are good enough in the coming years, we’ll be seeing plenty of these primetime broadcasters on our television sets.

•   If the Bears will be in primetime more, it will likely be because Justin Fields grows into something special. Da Bears Blog has a full recap of Johnathan Wood’s seven-part series focusing on Fields’ development. I’d strongly encourage diving into that when possible.

•   Getting Fields some playmaking receivers would help matters. Perhaps this under-the-radar option makes sense:

•   Cedrick Wilson Jr. checks some boxes. He has size and speed, is a threat to make big plays even BIGGER with yards-after-the-catch ability, and has red-zone threat written all over his profile. That he could be a versatile cog in this system at a bargain price could make him an excellent value add. Good eye on Patrick’s part to unearth a potential free agent gem in a class that has a number of superb pass-catching options.

•   Or maybe a new-look defense keeps the Bears in the spotlight:

•   Before anyone asks, yes, Khalil Mack *AND* Robert Quinn have played in 4-3 base defenses. And both have previously thrived in those conditions. It’s almost as if elite talents can play in any scheme.

•   Books, pet care items, storage racks, and more are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   Hooray!

 

•   Here’s hoping the Blackhawks make a good decision:

•   Speaking of good decisions, I hope baseball makes a good one soon because I don’t want to miss out on games:



Author: Luis Medina

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