O-Line Woes Continue, Re-Thinking the Claypool Trade, Velus Bounces Back, Fields Still Shines, and Other Bears Bullets

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O-Line Woes Continue, Re-Thinking the Claypool Trade, Velus Bounces Back, Fields Still Shines, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

I’ve hit that point in the fantasy football season where — despite my team having a winning record — I’m caring less about the squad each week because the bye weeks are really throwing my team point totals for a loop. What can I do that I haven’t already done? Perhaps this is one of those times where Trader Lu needs to make an appearance.

  • Save for that final offensive drive when Justin Fields was put in harm’s way for no good reason; yesterday was a good one for the Bears. Even still … I can’t shake how losing stinks — even if it is for the greater good of long-term team building. Maybe it hurts more after watching the Bears lose while witnessing the quarterback get bludgeoned, and needing extra medical attention after the game. Then seeing QB1 discuss his pain in detail after the game makes it feel a whole lot worse. All eyes will be obsessively watching for updates regarding Fields’ injured left shoulder. That much we know.
  • There will be ample conversation regarding what the team should do with Fields. We’ll have those discussions when the time comes to cross those bridges. HOWEVER, it might be as simple as this: If Fields is hurt, he’ll sit. This coaching staff should be smart enough not to put Fields in harm’s way (again). And if he is healthy, he’ll play. He should play (if healthy). Don’t get me wrong. I understand the idea of bottoming out for that draft position. And I want to protect Fields, too. But Fields still needs to grow as a passer and quarterback. Yes, Fields made gains during the offseason, training camp, and preseason. But we also know his most significant developmental strides have come during the season. I doubt that’s a coincidence.
  • Want to feel better about the Bears? Well, at least they’re not as dysfunctional as the Jets right now. Let’s check in on who’s up next for Chicago’s football team:
  • That’s a lot happening in New York — and that’s before we take into consideration how the Jets lost on a punt return touchdown scored with just 5 seconds left in the game. Remember, friends: Things could always be worse.
  • Imagine where the Jets would be if they had the highest-graded QB from the 2021 NFL Draft class:
  • I bet the Jets see the Bears defense as an opportunity to get on the right track. Especially if they happen to come across this stat:
  • On the one hand, seeing the Bears give up fewer than 30 points on Sunday was refreshing. It was the first time that unit had done that since the win against the Patriots. But on the other hand, that defense has so much work to do — particularly in the trenches. The Bears got no sacks on Marcus Mariota and got home on just one quarterback hit. That’s it!? One stinking hit. And just three tackles-for-loss against Falcons ball carriers, too.
  • I’ll say this on the defense’s behalf: I appreciate Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams dialing up blitzes. You have to do something when nothing else is working. But it is painfully clear that this defense isn’t equipped to defend while sending the house. Part of me thinks the Bears should reel it in instead of bringing the heat. But a bigger part of me wants to go back to my Madden NFL video game roots and send the Engage Eight on any given down and distance. Can’t hurt. Could help.
  • Get to know these college football standouts: Alabama edge defender Will Anderson and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. I fully expect to hear the Bears connected with those specific players in myriad mock drafts drawn up between now and NFL Draft weekend.
  • Speaking of NFL Draft weekend, the Chase Claypool trade is going to be a point of contention moving forward:
  • That pick the Bears sent to the Steelers currently sits at 34th overall. Tankathon has it as the second pick of the second round. Maybe I can spin it by noting that just three wideouts go off the board in Round 2 of that particular mock draft. And because those players tend to take a few years to get situated anyway, it probably made sense to use that pick on a player who could fill an immediate need right away. Whatever it is, I hate that I’m trying to find a silver lining in this Claypool situation. Especially since there isn’t an easy one to grab onto at the moment.
  • This swap figures to come under fire now and in the not-too-distant future. But I still understand why GM Ryan Poles made the move. It can be explained simply as it was more valuable to trade a second-round pick for 1.5 years of Claypool and the ability to iron out an extension if things work out than it was to wait until the offseason and overpay a player in free agency who might be gone in that same time span. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
  • Here is some good-ish news: Claypool’s snap share was up to 42% against the Falcons (after being in the low 30s last week). But the bad-ish news is that he was still behind Darnell Mooney (81%) and Equanimeous St. Brown (72%) in playing snaps. I get that he is still new and learning the playbook, but Claypool needs to be in that Mooney range of snaps. Not just to justify sending away what is turning out to be premier draft capital. But also, to help Fields in his development as a passer.
  • Velus Jones Jr.’s 55-yard kick return was one of the most encouraging things to come from yesterday’s game:
  • Of course, I would’ve loved to see Jones get more involved in the offense. And it would’ve been more reassuring had he not briefly fumbled with the handling of the kick. But Jones ran like someone who got the messages that came with being a healthy scratch in consecutive weeks.
  • Even with Jones’ big return, safety Jaquan Brisker continues to be the most productive of the Bears’ Day 2 picks:
  • There was nothing funny about right guard Michael Schofield’s performance. Starting (again) in place of Teven Jenkins, Schofield had two costly penalties (a false start and a hold) on a day when the Bears offensive line allowed four sacks once the Falcons realized Chicago’s unit had no idea how to block twists and line stunts up front.
  • And yet, I still laughed at this:
  • Looking through the snap count via Pro Football Reference and I see that Jenkins didn’t even get any special teams reps. What was the point in activating him again?
  • I’d say that the ground game blocking was good again, but those numbers are deceiving. Because even though it was nice to see David Montgomery find paydirt again with his first touchdown since Week 7, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. And the non-Fields ball carriers came away with just 75 rushing yards. That won’t cut it.
  • But, hey, at least maybe that offensive performance will keep would-be pursuers of Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy away for the time being. Don’t get it twisted. Teams will still kick the tires on Getsy. You simply can’t ignore the in-season turnaround made by the offense (and Fields, specifically). But that game serves as a reminder that Getsy still has work to do as a play-caller. Some of the situational decisions were non-sensical at best (most notably, giving Fields designed runs while he was dealing with hamstring camps late in the fourth quarter).
  • OK, what in the world is happening in the NFC North?
  • Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker — a pair of pitchers who have led me to fantasy glory in recent years — are reportedly on the Cubs’ radar. More from Michael at BN:
  • What a moment for Marian Hossa:

Author: Luis Medina

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