Vote Fields, Keep Braxton Cooking, Finding Balance Between Winning and Draft Positioning, and Other Bears Bullets

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Vote Fields, Keep Braxton Cooking, Finding Balance Between Winning and Draft Positioning, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

I’m not going to let yesterday’s unlucky run in an attempt to get Taylor Swift tickets slow me down today. Nope. Sure won’t!

  • Not only is Bears QB Justin Fields up to be voted into the Pro Bowl Games, he is up for a major award this week. It is the second consecutive week Fields is up for the FedEx Ground Player of the Week award:
  • Fields produced 147 yards on 13 carries and scored another pair of rushing scores. Cincy’s Joe Mixon was last week’s winner after scoring four ground scores for the Bengals, but probably should’ve been disqualified for his icky end-zone celebrations. But to each their own, I guess. You can vote for Fields here. And while he might have a healthy lead now, you could help him secure it with your vote. Choose wisely.
  • Here, you can see why he is up for nomination (again) because this isn’t just a one-time thing:
  • I can’t help myself but ask this: Why does it feel like there are more concerns about Fields (listed at 6-3, 228 pounds on the Bears’ official website) than there are about Josh Allen (6-5, 237 on the Bills site)? OK, so there are a few inches and some pounds here and there that make a difference. But both players have athletic builds that allow them to take (and deliver!) hits as runners. Maybe it’s because Allen has a few more years of experience under his belt. I guess that is understandable. And perhaps some of it has to do with Bears fans wanting to protect Fields at all costs. I suppose that is fair. But I feel as if something is missing from the conversation. And I just can’t quite put my finger on it.
  • The Bears might have the most exciting ground attack going in the NFL, but it’ll take a hit over the next four weeks with Khalil Herbert going on IR. Herbert went down with a hip injury late in the Bears’ loss to the Lions last week, which is painful on its own. But that Herbert went down after a kickoff has me wanting to rage. Herbert has been an important part of the offense’s success and has been getting a steady number of carries (even after David Montgomery’s return from injury). And when someone is breaking off 6.0 yards/carry as a main piece of your offense, they probably shouldn’t be risking it on special teams. But we had the Bears putting Herbert on returns the last two weeks — only to see it backfire in a way that reminds us the risk isn’t always worth the reward.
  • Sigh. This wouldn’t even be a point of conversation if Velus Jones Jr. was playing better and not in the doghouse. Two consecutive weeks of being a healthy scratch for the Bears rookie third-round receiver-slash-return specialist should be seen as (at best) a wakeup call or (at worse) a bad sign. It isn’t a good thing when a team that needs receiver help and aid in the return game has an in-house option who was a Day 2 pick last April who is a game-day inactive despite being healthy. It is moments like this that remind me why I bang the drum for usable depth and the never-ending roster churn for the bottom third.
  • The Jack attack ain’t whack:
  • Did the Bears get a draft weekend steal on the UDFA market? It’s early. But the early returns are pretty darn nice.

I’m not advocating for the Bears to reel off seven in a row to end the season and make a fluky push for a wild-card spot. With the defense getting flambeed every week, there’s no shot of the unimaginable happening.

The losses will come.

But what I’m advocating is for the Bears to walk a tightrope. To win some close games down the stretch and get Fields and other members of this young core much-needed experience in winning games.

  • There is value in winning. No one can deny this. But it’s not as if there is scientific evidence that proves losing now will prevent these Bears from winning later. Even still … you’d like to see the Bears who you think will be on future contenders lead this team to a surprise win to build their confidence moving forward.
  • Take left tackle Braxton Jones as an example. Jones is a rookie left tackle who has had his ups and downs, which are expected. He didn’t have a particularly great final series in pass protection. But what if an alternative scenario played out there for the Bears and he sprung a block that allowed Fields enough time to scan the defense and deliver a big play that led to a game-winning touchdown or field goal. Would we bemoaning the loss of a Tank Win? Or would we be highlighting a player showing a moment of development that directly led to a win? Just something to chew on.
  • I shared some other Braxton thoughts here:
  • To be clear, I’m not here to preach about building a “winning culture” when I’m discussing the value of winning. Instead, for me, it’s more about finding Bears players who will play useful roles NEXT YEAR thriving down the stretch. Ideally, to the point where the front office has a better idea of how to go about using the assets at hand to reinforce the roster in an aggressive manner. We, as a collective, fully expect the Bears to be vigorous from a team-building standpoint. They have no reason not to be (given that they’ll have north of $100 million in available cap space and a first-round pick at their disposal). But getting clarity by way of the performance of any number of players who are part of this core moving forward is preferred. And if a win comes with it, so be it. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to this team.
  • It would be nice to see the Bears defense pick it up. Not just for their own stats and our sanity, but also to help from a donation standpoint:
  • Good news: The NFL on FOX No. 2 crew of Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, and Pam Oliver are on the call for Sunday’s Bears-Falcons game, via the Trib’s Brad Biggs. What might not be good news is that first-year referee Tra Blake leads the officiating crew. The last few weeks of refereeing have been frustrating from a Bears fan’s point of view. And I’m not sure a ref in their first season getting this week’s Bears game is going to make us feel any better. But I don’t think it can be worse than what we’ve gotten in recent weeks. It just can’t be.
  • From the “Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time” department, the Arizona Cardinals signed former Bears offensive lineman Rashaad Coward to their active roster. Coward has been bouncing around the league since leaving the Bears, with stops in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and now Arizona. But he was a starter for the Cards in last week’s game against the Rams. Maybe more starts are in his future? (PFT)
  • Because I know there is a segment of you who care, here’s what the College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings look at Week 12:
  • Seeing Alabama out of the top spot is weird. But I love the fresh blood teams like TCU, Tennessee, and a re-born USC bring to the mix.
  • How can you not love MACtion?
  • Let’s have a conversation about Corey Crawford and the Hockey Hall of Fame:
  • That’s a lotta points:
  • The Cubs’ pursuit of shortstop help reminds me of when the Bears were kicking the tires on all sorts of pass rusher options before the 2018 season. The arrow was pointing up for those Bears, but there was a feeling that the group needed an extra nudge. Hopefully, the Cubs’ pursuit ends with a Khalil Mack type of acquisition (that ideally comes well before the end of training camp). More Cubs shortstop rumors here:

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Author: Luis Medina

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