On the Run, Blocking Takes a Village, NFL Celebrates Int’l Women’s Day, and Other Bears Bullets
It was fun to have meaningful baseball on television last night with the World Baseball Classic returning. And I’m looking forward to seeing team Puerto Rico this weekend in Miami. Getting to visit family will be wonderful, too. I love how baseball brings us together.
Although, I know how baseball can split us Bears fans apart in Chicago. But, hey, that’s a conversation for a different day.
- The tag deadline is in the rearview mirror. And while some of the last-minute deadline beaters (lookin’ at you, Saquon Barkley) threw a wrench in the Bears fulfilling my dream offseason, at least we now have some clarity going into free agency. Clarity is good, even if it feels fleeting at times. Defensive tackle Daron Payne is off the board, but at least there are other intriguing D-line options — both in free agency and the draft. Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard also getting the tag treatment changes the RB dynamic. More on that later today. Patrick’s tag tracker at BN NFL has a rundown of the action. You’ll want to keep tabs on BN NFL as a whole now that I’m thinking out loud.
- Of the trio of backs who were on the cusp of hitting the market, Barkley was the most intriguing fit. Barkley would’ve been the most dynamic non-QB skill-position player to hit free agency. Instead, he remains in New York. Who holds that title now? Is it Pats WR Jakobi Meyers? Does Odell Beckham Jr. or Mike Thomas have a claim to the crown? It’s just not the deepest group of offensive-skill guys. This isn’t to say there aren’t worthwhile options. But there aren’t any that had Barkley’s profile or potential.
- Barkley was the football equivalent of the siren song of a temptress. In a world that churns and burns through backs, Barkley was potentially the exception to the rule. A true three-down back whose contributions catching passes out of the backfield could’ve been helpful to a Bears offense that had one of the worst passing games in football last year. But that path is cut off with Barkley getting the tag. C’est la vie. The Bears’ running game was fine without Barkley in 2022 and could still be fine in 2023. Although, I’d like to be more than “fine” in that area. And I’d like for the ground game’s success to be less driven by Justin Fields’ excellence. However, we’ve got time to sort through those details.
- If you’re looking for running back help in the free agent market, Field Yates has some names for you:
- Finding the perfect run-game fit isn’t easy. It’s almost as if you need to find a back who is comfortable enough not to be a starter, but can do that job when called upon. Threading the needle there isn’t a walk in the park, but it is doable. Especially with Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy being able to point to how he used Khalil Herbert *AND* David Montgomery last year. That could be a nice selling point to any number of backs looking for a solid role.
- Upgrading the blocking wouldn’t hurt matters. Da Bears Blog’s Johnathan Wood has taken a look at tackles and guards, as well as the trio of center, tight ends, and receivers as part of the blocking scheme moving forward. Sometimes, we view the blocking aspect primarily through the lens of what happens in the trenches at the line of scrimmage. But it takes a village to get the blocking game right. And when you’re getting contributions from the backs, receivers, and tight ends, things tend to work better.
- With that in mind, I expect the Bears to target receivers and tight ends who can contribute positively as blockers. As for backs, I think they’ll target someone who can excel catching passes in space while also chipping in as a pass protector. Anyone have options in mind?
- There will be ample chatter regarding Orlando Brown Jr.’s potential fit with the Bears after the Chiefs decided not to give him the Franchise Tag. There was an expectation that he was going to get it, but that never became officially official. So, now, Brown is about to hit the market. And I’m not sure there is a more polarizing high-profile player. Because, on the one hand, that résumé (four Pro Bowls while playing two different positions for two teams) is nothing to sneeze at when looking for OL help. But on the other hand, Brown might not be GM Ryan Poles’ type:
- I’ll say this: I won’t say one way or another that Player X isn’t a fit. The NFL offseason’s unpredictability keeps me from tweeting in absolutes. However, I feel as if there is a general consensus among some folks that Brown isn’t a fit based on an athletic profile from a half-dozen years ago and what we can surmise from what OL the Bears were targeting last year. And, to an extent, that makes sense. But I’m just not sure that line of thinking will apply for every player (be it someone in free agency or the draft).
- Hey, that’s some good news:
- I still have an interest in what the Illinois product can bring to this offensive line. Whether it is as depth or a starter is something his development will determine. Frankly, I’m just happy to see a positive report on the health front.
- Does this NFL free agency class have a Dansby Swanson?
- The NFL has a Twitter thread celebrating International Women’s Day:
- Here’s hoping the league backs that talk up with some action. Football is for everyone, right?
- This Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? re-boot isn’t hitting the same:
Poles Strikes, Trade Fallout, More About Moore, Draft Pick Update, Fan Reaction, and Other Bears Bullets