Happy game day!
Here is an empty stadium pic to celebrate the occasion:
- Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles was arguably the biggest winner of the Monday Night Football triumph against the New England Patriots. Beating Belichick in the house that he and Brady built to start the week was grand. So … how about taking Jerry Jones’ Cowboys down at his own crib to put a cherry on top of the month of October?
- Justin Fields was the star of MNF. But, as as often is the case with the Bears, the road to victory began with the defense. And for the Bears to be successful today, it might all start with second-round picks Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker making all sorts of splash plays. Each came up with their first NFL interception last week, which leads Courtney Cronin (ESPN) to frame Gordon and Brisker as the ignitors of a resurgent Bears defensive backfield. You’ll get no argument here. After all, this is what it was supposed to be. If the plan was to take best player available — even at the expense of drafting players at a bigger position of need — then Gordon and Brisker were needing to be immediate starters and impact players. So far, so good.
- Brisker has been a baller from the get-go. So much so, ESPN’s Field Yates refers to him as a “foundational piece” for this defense. This is high praise:
- And after a slow start, Gordon seems to have it in gear. Check out this in-season turnaround:
- Gordon and Brisker aren’t the only rookies showing out of late. Braxton Jones — Poles’ rookie fifth-round offensive lineman selection — continues to play the role of serviceable left tackle option. And I’d argue he is making a case to be The Guy going into next year. As it stands right now, the Bears have three rookie starters who are making positive strides. And none of them were first-round picks. Just wait until Poles gets his hands on a pick that could land him a high-impact, high-upside first-round talent.
- I’m really digging Braxton Jones as a developmental tackle. It hasn’t alwasys been pretty, but there are signs of life:
- The Jones pick was giving off Charles Leno Jr. vibes from the get-go. And to this point, the comp feels on the nose. Before we get too ahead of our skis, Jones still has 10 games to play this season. There will be ups and downs. But there’s been so much to like from a player who went from fifth-round pick to starting left tackle by playing his way into that role. It’s not as if it was handed to him. Let the kids play and see how things go from there.
- This would be something if Jones became an elite left tackle. Heck, I’m openly rooting for it now:
- It sure would be nice to get rookie receiver/returner Velus Jones Jr. going in the right direction. Jones played a season-high 13 offensive snaps on MNF, but was most known for being a decoy (h/t Adam Hoge). There is still room for Jones to grow, but he’ll need to earn some touches after a pair of muffed punts in recent weeks have altered his developmental plan for the time being. Jones has been taken off punt returns for now, but a player with his skill and speed needs to get the ball in space. It’ll be up to Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy
- Dominique Robinson could be the next rookie to make a splash. Robinson, another Day 3 pick by Poles, could be in line to start in place of Robert Quinn (who was traded earlier in the week). The rookie sure sounds ready to take on his next challenge:
- Hmmm. I hadn’t really thought of the Matt Eberflus Revenge Game factor as he returns to Dallas, where he first made a name for himself as a defensive assistant at the NFL level. But Gabby Hajduk (Chicago Bears) sets the scene for the coach’s return to Big D.
- The NFL Trade Deadline is coming THIS TUESDAY. Unfortunately, that means Roquan Smith trade rumors aren’t going away any time soon:
- Poles and this front office are in a tricky predicament when it comes to Roquan. On the one hand, it doesn’t take much to envision Smith as a defensive centerpiece and leader for the next great Bears team. But on the other hand, does anyone really want to deal with another offseason of drama? The Franchise or Transition Tag could be a useful tool, but that doesn’t guarantee anything other than a path to contentious contract conversations. It doesn’t need to be this way. But if last year’s happenings were any indication, any type of tag will be met with pure silliness.
- I’m unsure if Zeke not playing is good or bad for the Bears. It’s not as if he has been the same player he was before securing his long-term mega-extension with the Cowboys. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Ezekiel Elliott isn’t expected to play. In his place, Tony Pollard — who is averaging 5.6 yards per attempt over 22 games since the start of the 2021 season — gets the nod. Maybe Roquan can force a few fumbles and drop a hard hit (or two) and really nudge the Bears toward making a strong extension offer.
- There is some intersting back-and-forth between The Athletic’s Dane Brugler and a fan regarding some upcoming WR prospects. The give-and-take begins with this tweet:
- Later in the thread, Brugler chimes in to say that there are some NFL scouts who don’t believe Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba isn’t a first-round lock. In other words, JSN could fall out of the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft altogether. We’ve been following Smith-Njigba’s prospect stock since the end of the the 2022 NFL Draft because of Bears needs at the postion and a variety of ridiculously early mock drafts sending him to Chicago. And while we know better than to put too much stock into late-October prospect buzz, this is notable enough for us to share and briefly discuss right now. At minimum, we’ll use this opportunity to put a pin in it and re-visit when the time is right.
- Making a creamy chicken noodle soup sounds like a good idea as temperatures settle into a true autumnal feeling. You can check out my friend Jim’s recipe here.
- This is as suspect as the time MLB looked the other way when Yadier Molina’s chest protector was extra sticky for no good reason:
- I’m bookmarking this for later consumption:
- The Blackhawks took an “L” last night, but one of their prospects put the biscuit in the basket in a beautiful way:
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