A bunch of us at Windy City Gridiron have decided to do a round-table discussion and share our thoughts on the Chicago Bears vs Roquan Smith situation, broken down in a three-part series.
You can check out the first one right here, Who do you blame?
Part two can be found here, Who has more to lose?
And part three is below...
What does this do to the Bears’ season?
Lester: Smith may project to be a really good player, but he’s still just one of eleven, As much as the Bears are hopeful to get him on the field, they’ll adapt and move on without him. Vic Fangio has a next-man-up mentality, and his veteran defense will be fine if Smith remains home. Then again, his big play ability that he showed in college could be the potential difference in one game this season, and if that difference is between an 8 win season and a 9 win season, that could have postseason ramifications.
As you can tell, all the unknowns surrounding this situation has me unsure about the whole thing.
Patti: It’s either a small set-back, or a significant one. If neither Kwiatkoski or Trevathan miss time before Roquan is playing at a starter level, then it won’t be a big deal. If one of them is injured, the Bears will have a gaping hole in the middle of their defense that could have been filled with the stroke of a pen.
Eric: For me, that’s incalculable at this time. If his contact situation is resolved in the coming week(s), before the start of the regular season, then I do not believe it’ll affect much at all. However, if Smith’s holdout carries into the regular season, then there’s no doubt that will cause awkward tension between the players and upper management. It’ll also put Matt Nagy in a bind as the presumptive liaison between the roster and Ryan Pace’s staff.
Robert: I like Nick Kwiatkoski. I think he’s an adequate if not ultimately fine replacement level player. I don’t understand this narrative being painted that he can all of a sudden keep a definitively superior talent like Smith off the field for an extended period of time because of this holdout. He’s not that good. The Bears drafted Smith at No. 8 overall in April because he’s better, and he showed it by already getting starting repetitions in the spring. Kwiatkoski is still a relative liability in coverage, for example. I’ve seen it firsthand. Smith isn’t. The Kwiatkoski narrative is a Bears-driven story to attempt to pressure Smith to give in, bar none.
The Bears are unquestionably a worse team without Smith. The young linebacker was the lone major personnel upgrade they made to their defense in 2018 considering the lack of an edge rush upgrade. The more he doesn’t play, the more his often touted immediate impact isn’t felt. Part of Fangio’s unit taking the next step was having Smith at the helm. While the Bears may not be a playoff team even with Smith for a full 16 games, their defense is stuck in the mud at a status quo without his services. This is a transitional, progressive year for Chicago’s defense. They need their future defensive face getting as much time as possible to account for that next step.
Aaron: I don’t think it has a ton of impact. Smith is an impact player at a position that doesn’t require nearly as much camp time as a position like quarterback.
Realistically, the worst case scenario is that he misses all of camp (almost a certainty at this point) and maybe all of the preseason. This would result in him not starting week one but as we’ve seen the past few years, neither Danny Trevathan or Nick Kwiatkoski have shown they can play an entire season, which means at some point, Smith will get his chance to start.
The Bears are likely a better team with Smith starting week one but Kwiatkoski has shown he’s more than a capable starter.
Andrew: I personally was comfortable with Kwiatkoski heading into the offseason and that hasn’t changed for me. Smith was drafted with 2 solid players at his position already on the roster, 2 solid backups, and a fellow developmental draft pick. I’m not as high on Smith as virtually everyone else is, so to me, this isn’t that big of a loss. The biggest losers here are Smith’s teammates who have been busting their butts to prepare for a season that they believe they can compete. Anyone who assumes the other players won’t resent him, especially with how Kwiatkoski has played, is fooling themselves.
Josh: Almost nothing. The upgrade represented by a premier ILB (versus a competent ILB) in Fangio’s system is not that great, and even if Smith sits out the whole year to enter the draft, the pass rush and secondary are far more important to this defense. Meanwhile, this Bears team is actually going to go where the offense takes it. Would Smith be a nice addition? Yes. Probably. However, Smith was probably never going to win games single-handedly for the Bears as a rookie, and so the impact of his holdout will largely be on him. Meanwhile, lost in the shuffle will be the question of why a guy who is worth leaving on the sidelines now was worth #8 all along.
Jack: I suppose the upside is that players further down the depth chart have gotten a lot of tick, starting with Nick Kwiatkoski. But this is certainly not a good look for the Bears, and beyond the optics it’s not good, period. No matter the reason, no matter the culprit, you want your best players on the field, especially when they’re rookies. In a sport of inches, an out-of-condition, out-of-position or out-of-the-game Roquan Smith could end up making all the difference between a win or loss against Green Bay in week one.
The first two in this series can be found by clicking the links below.
Those are our takes. We all hope this round-table will be outdated as soon as it goes up, but we’re not going to count on it.