In the first part of this series concerning the #3 pick, I gave a full examination of the defense. It is what Chicago Bears football is (or is supposed to be) about. There were not many surprises on the defensive side. Most of what I wrote was common knowledge. The offense however, gave a few hints that provided optimism for not just the draft, but the 2017 season as well.
Kool-Aid® drinkers unite under this article, as the hope for a playoff-push (yes, you read that right) in year 3 of the rebuild is found here! With honest evaluation I can proudly say that; barring another debacle in the injury department; the 2017 Bears roster is unequivocally a step above last year’s roster.
Before the stones are removed from bibles and the judges’ robes donned, please read to find why I have such hope in seemingly the darkest of times.
Dowell Loggains (still) heads up the offensive side of the ball. Last year his play calling at times indicated he was fervently seeking to show his inexperience. He was often outmatched and outgunned by opposing defensive coordinators. To be fair, he really is inexperienced as it was his first flight as an NFL offensive coordinator. However, Loggains has had time under several successful NFL coaches. Sean Payton, Kyle Shanahan and Adam Gase to name a few. In fact, while Gase received the credit for Cutler’s 2015 season, it was Loggains who was the QB coach that oversaw his preparation and production.
Fun fact: How many former QB’s are on the Bears offensive coaching staff? The answer, 4. Loggains himself was a QB, along with Dave Ragone, Ben McDaniels, and John Dunn. The latter 2 have 25 years of coaching experience between them, and all 4 coaches have; at some point; helped an underwhelming QB reach his potential. Loggains helped Jake Locker to his best season ever in 2013, prior to Locker breaking in half – again. Ragone worked with Kirk Cousins in 2015 to his best season numbers. McDaniels helped our own QB1, Mike Glennon to his best season in 2013. Finally, Dunn ran the prep meetings and playbook analysis for Matt Flynn in his last season at LSU. If there is a coaching staff that can get the best out of Glennon, this is the team. For this reason alone, I find that the front office's plan of rolling with Glennon over Cutler is a good choice and will elevate our team as a whole.
Coaching Personnel Preference
QB – This is a coaching staff that has truly made chicken poop into chicken salad over the course of their careers. But it even extends to the head man himself. Fun fact: John Fox’s first offensive roster he helped to build? 1996 St Louis Rams. Bonus fun fact: Who was the QB chosen to lead said team? Tony Banks. It is true that while he didn’t have full decision-making authority, and he was brought in as a key component to rework their defense, he still had the responsibility of the offense. List of John Fox QB’s: Tony Banks, Rodney Peete, Jake Delhomme, Vinny Testaverde, Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, and Peyton Manning. This is an entire staff that doesn’t seem to put a high priority on the QB position.
Current Roster: Mike Glennon is their type of guy. Pace *may (see exception below) draft a 3rd round QB or later, but looking over this staff tells me that Pace is looking to replace the staff next offseason and draft his man at that time.
RB – Fox loves the ground game. Loggains is sure to be reined in a bit this year. Howard is REALLY good. Better still is the current RB coach for the Chicago Bears, Curtis Modkins. His resume reads like a good fantasy novel. I really see Howard taking his game to the next level under his command. He is also the reason I believe Loggains will be tempered more this year.
Current Roster: Howard is the bell-cow, without a doubt. I could see them drop either Carey or Langford and invest a mid-late round pick here if Modkins feels the need.
WR – The loss of Alshon Jeffrey. The injuries to Kevin White. The hiring of Zach Azzani. None of this bodes well for the Bears passing attack. Azzani comes with a resume to match that of Marquess Wilson, underwhelming. The positive, there is plenty of potential to be good. If Azzani is better than he appears, we will have a good young core that we can build on and around. If Azzani is as bad as he appears, then the air attack will continue to give us a case of the blahs; which is still better than a case of the dropsies which was had last season.
Current Roster: Kevin White, Cam Meredith, Markus Wheaton, and Kendall Wright are most likely the starting 4. Unless a BPA falls and hits them square in the face, I see more UDFA’s in our future.
TE – Something John Fox routinely tried to do during his tenure at Carolina was improve the TE position. In fact he drafted a TE every season until he landed Dante Rosario and Gary Barnidge. Both of these TE’s are a nod to what his preference is. He looks for good receivers that may lack inline blocking, but can chip well. Most importantly, they have to have good hands for traffic in the red zone.
Current Roster: Zach Miller fits the bill, but is oft-injured. Look for the Bears to add a TE in rounds 2-3.
OL – Fox runs the zone scheme for rushing, relying on OL’s that are extremely fluid in the hips (Leno) or can use overwhelming strength when their hips are a bit stiff (Massie). Any NFL coach worth his salt consistently is seeking out the next man up.
Current Roster: BPA that is routinely addressed. No direct need, but they will draft an OL at some point, even if it’s a guard.
As previously stated, Pace seems to have an affinity for athletic guys that offer high risk, high reward in the first round. Rounds 2-3 are safer picks at BPA. But after looking at the current staff and what the draft looks like I have no doubts that Pace is using Fox and his current (offensive side only) regime to stabilize the waters, build a more complete team, and will be replaced next offseason with his guy as he drafts QB1.
The 4 former QB’s on the current staff. That is a LOT of voices to ignore at pick #3, #36 and #67. They may just sway the tide in the war room into drafting a QB, perhaps too soon.
QB: ? odds. With everything already mentioned, this is truly the dark horse of the Bears war room. I view it as his 2nd or 3rd option in this draft. It gets a potential 2nd option only because the noise from the assistants, need for the fan base, and overall monetary value push it there.
RB: 6 to 1 odds. Pace may not be looking here, but he certainly wouldn’t ignore it if the circumstances were right. Let’s say he trades back to 11 & 32 with the Saints. If he does, and his #1 RB is still on the board, he may add another thoroughbred to the stable.
WR: 100 to 1 odds. Pace just won’ go here with #3. He just won’t?
TE: 4 to 1 odds. Pace prefers athletic playmakers. Fox loves TE’s. I think it’s his 4th option overall due to relative value in the pick, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. After all, the highest TE ever drafted was Ron Kramer (4th overall) by the green bay packers.
OL: 1,000 to 1 odds. Weak class. No need. If he went OL at #3, Faber-Castell may have a record month for new #2 pencils sold.
Players on the top of Pace’s Board: O.J. Howard would be at the top of the board for the offensive side and will most likely never see the #3 pick. The heated quarterback discussion should the draft fall Garrett/Thomas will take the #3 pick. It is then that Watson/Kizer/Mahomes would all fit the bill. Athletic, boom or bust potential. I don’t believe they have any of them rated higher than Howard, but, before you dismiss the possibility of Kizer being drafted ahead of Howard, read this fanpost by powertool, http://www.windycitygridiron.com/2017/3/30/15123166/pace-plans-to-get-kizer.
Up Next: Special Teams and Final 1st Round Strategy for Ryan Pace.