In the Driver's Seat for No. 2, Do You Miss Any Ex-Bears? Happy Birthday Butkus, and Other Bears Bullets

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In the Driver’s Seat for No. 2, Do You Miss Any Ex-Bears? Happy Birthday Butkus, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

Yours truly is back from California after a day of safe travels. Sorry for not bringing the sunshine and 70-degree temperatures with me. I was told that it couldn’t fit in my carryon.

  • Baker Mayfield was in Los Angeles all of a few hours (give or take) before taking the reins of Sean McVay’s Rams offense. The result? A comeback from a 13-3 halftime deficit led by Baker, who orchestrated a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to lead the Rams to a 17-16 win against the Raiders.
  • Welcome back, Baker:
  • So much for Josh McDaniels and friends righting the ship and making a playoff push.
  • But more importantly, for us, is that Mayfield’s efforts in the Rams win were helpful in the Bears’ own tank efforts. Behold, the updated tank standings:
  • The short version of a long story: The worst the Bears can do, if they lose out, is draft third. I’m not privy to every NFL Draft tiebreaking detail just yet. I’l try to sort through it all in due time. But for now, Chicago’s football team is in a good position to get a premier pick in the upcoming draft. And that is what matters most.
  • I thought a QB change might’ve been coming in Atlanta when the Bears and Falcons squared off. Instead, it took until December for ATL’s football squad to make the call to bench Marcus Mariota in favor of Desmond Ridder. The thinking here has to be that Atlanta wants to take an extended look at Ridder before it dives into this quarterback class. For what it’s worth, Atlanta owns the 11th pick. And it could shoot up the draft boards with games against New Orleans, Baltimore, Arizona, and Tampa Bay coming up. A slide into the top 10 could make the Falcons a possible worthwhile trade partner. Perhaps we’ll see a situation where Ryan Pace (as a chief front office assistant behind GM Terry Fontenot) nudges the Falcons to trade up. What if Pace can help Poles’ Bears rebuild? Wouldn’t that be something?
  • Remember when the Falcons drafted a tight end with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft instead of Justin Fields?
  • Speaking of the NFL Draft, one of college football’s best receiver prospects is throwing his name in the ring. ESPN’s Pete Thamel reports North Carolina’s Josh Downs is forgoing the Tar Heels’ bowl game after declaring for the NFL Draft. Downs is Pro Football Focus’ WR4 and is someone whose production Trevor Sikkema believes feels QB-proof.
  • And I think I can see why someone would come to that conclusion based on highlights like this:
  • Downs could sneak into the end of the first round. However, Downs seems likely to be an early second-round pick. Moreover, he would’ve been the type of prospect I would’ve been banging the table for had the Bears not traded their second-round pick for Chase Claypool. Whoops.
  • Jason Lieser (Sun-Times) explores if the Bears miss any of their many departures from the 2021 squad. For me, the answer is no. And even after going through the names, the answer remains a firm no.
  • Don’t get me wrong. I miss watching Khalil Mack play. And his seven sacks would be a welcome sight around these parts right now. But the cap space and Jaquan Brisker are pieces to a future puzzle. Akiem Hicks has played in just six of the Bucs’ 12 games this year. Pro Bowl returner/part-time receiver Jakeem Grant Sr. hasn’t played since suffering an Achilles tendon tear during the preseason. A 2018-20 version of Allen Robinson II would’ve made life so much easier for Fields and this offense. But he hasn’t been that guy since landing in Los Angeles. Overall, it’s a resounding no. The Bears needed wholesale changes. And rather than a slow burn, GM Ryan Poles opted for the full rip of the band-aid. In the end, I think all parties will be better for going through the breakup.
  • Celebrating Dick Butkus’ birthday today by sharing one of my favorite clips:
  • A tremendous story in three tweets:
  • Still waiting for all of the shortstop dominoes to fall:
  • Some good news on the Blackhawks health front:
  • When it comes to Bulls basketball, Alex Caruso is a breath of fresh air:

Author: Luis Medina

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