Cornerback Carousel, Boutte Problems, The Wildest College Football Finish, and Other Bears Bullets

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Cornerback Carousel, Boutte Problems, The Wildest College Football Finish, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears play football THIS WEEK. And not just any ol’ game of football. It’s the first game of consequence of the Matt Eberflus era. This is where the fun begins!

  • College football, which is often such a great appetizer before NFL Sundays, is oh, so back:
  • LSU’s defense forced a goal line turnover, then saw its offense march 99 yards to score a touchdown as time in regulation expired … only to see a blocked PAT derail dreams of overtime. Welcome to the SEC, Brian Kelly!
  • That kick definitely had football fans flashing back hard:
  • John Carney was third on the NFL’s all-time scoring list when he last played in the league. But people mostly remember him for this miss. Tough break, dude.
  • Also? Don’t you ever e-e-e-ever tell me special teams doesn’t matter. Bears fans should know better than that, so I’m not really worried about hearing someone dismiss that phase of the game’s value.
  • Ah, I see LSU receiver Kayshon Boutte already has an NFL-caliber receiver’s social media exploits down:
  • Boutte, one of college football’s top receiver prospects and a projected first-round pick, was mostly silent on Sunday against Florida State. He caught just two passes for 20 yards in what was an inauspicious season debut, to say the least. What’s worse is that the ESPN broadcast portrayed Boutte as having checked out after LSU’s quarterback missed some throws targeting him early. That’s not a great first impression for a soon-to-be draft-edible receiver. And especially when Josh Schrock (NBC Sports Chicago) notes that Bears GM Ryan Poles and Assistant GM Ian Cunningham were in attendance.
  • FWIW — I can see Matt Eberflus and the Bears’ defensive staff pushing for Jalen Carter to be their first-round selection. Dude is a wrecking ball:
  • Jaylon Johnson taking on a leadership role warms my heart:
  • Elsewhere in the secondary, NBC Sports Chicago’s Alex Shapiro writes about how Thomas Graham Jr. is striving to get healthy so he can reclaim that top nickel corner spot. I’ll be curious to see how the secondary shakes out. I’ll admit that I was under the assumption that Kyler Gordon would start outside, with Graham or Tavon Young in the slot. Young is on IR and Graham is starting the year with the practice squad. This appears to leave Gordon in the slot with a relatively important spot to fill on the outside. Maybe we’ll see a secondary where a healthy Graham and Gordon are regularly switching positions. Graham has experience playing outside from his rookie season. And Gordon was looking good in a nickel corner role. Perhaps this unpredictability could play into the Bears’ favor at the start of the year.
  • Am I worried that the Bears might be one cornerback shy of us seeing the secondary as an undeniable strength of this team? Yes. But am I intrigued to see how Kindle Vildor steps into a second chance to show he can stick it as a boundary corner? Also, yes. Although the jury is still out on Vildor, this is a golden opportunity for the third-year cornerback. Hope he is up for the challenge.
  • Jake Rill (Bleacher Report) name-checks Kevin King as a cornerback the Bears should kick the tires on as a free agent. Rill sees King, 27, as a potential depth piece for a cornerbacks room that doesn’t have enough of it. Then again, no one really ever has enough cornerback depth. A second-round pick by the Packers in 2017, King’s career has been uneven (at best) and disappointing (at worse). Other notable free agent options include Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes, A.J. Bouye, and Vernon Hargreaves (who was in for a workout earlier in the summer). But let’s be honest with each other for a moment. You do *NOT* want to be the team perusing the waiver wire for cornerbacks before Week 1 of the regular season.
  • On the other side of the ball, it sounds like new receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette could use some coaching-up. Smith-Marsette comes to Chicago off the waiver wire after a solid summer with the Vikings. Brad Biggs (Tribune) reached out to a scout to get the 4-1-1 on ISM, which came with a mixed bag. From the article:

“I touched base with a scout about Smith-Marsette, who said he has good burst and can sink nd separate in his routes. The scout said Smith-Marsette’s hands were only OK and that concentration and detail were bigger questions than ability. Sometimes when a young player is released and goes to a new team, it’s a humbling experience and ends up being a springboard to greater success. Perhaps that will be the case with Smith-Marsette.”

  • On the one hand, nobody’s perfect. After all, if Smith-Marsette didn’t have blemishes on his résumé, he wouldn’t have made it onto the waiver wire in the first place. But on the other hand, Smith-Marsette having “good burst” and separation skills makes him an intriguing option for Justin Fields to throw to this season. And that ISM was cut by one NFC North team, only to land on a chief rival, could make for a heckuva motivating tool. Frankly, Smith-Marsette fits in with the rest of the hungry Bears who have something to prove this year.
  • An old friend finds a new home, as ESPN’s Todd Archer reports former Bears left tackle Jason Peters is signing with the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad.

(Aside: Maybe the Bears can do with veteran OL Kelechi Osemele what the Cowboys are doing with Peters. A stash-now-to-play-later plan for an offensive line with some quality experience wouldn’t be the worse course of action for Poles as he continues to build out that offensive line. Osemele was working out for the team last week, but nothing has come of the appearance yet.)

  • Peters, 40, was a godsend for a 2021 Bears team that was a mess on the offensive line. The way I see it, the Cowboys probably saw what Peters gave Chicago last year and thought he could do it again for a Dallas squad that has issues of its own up front. What was your favorite moment of the Jason Peters era in Chicago? When he gave injury updates (which were previously treated as top-secret stuff) for his offensive line teammates? That time he kinda sorta tipped Matt Nagy’s hand? My favorite was when he revealed the ineptness of the prior regime’s coaching, game-planning, and evaluating with how it handled Lachavious Simmons’ emergency start. Peters wasn’t here for a long time. Or a good time. But it was an enlightening time.
  • Speaking of old guys, Albert Pujols homered in his last at-bat against the Cubs. Whatever. The prospects are coming along just fine:

Author: Luis Medina

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