Full Disclosure: I love Blues music. As we get ready for a new Bears season around here, let me introduce you to what you’ll see from me after every game. 1 Bearbon for the best thing I saw during the week, preferably smooth with a nice finish. 1 Scotch that burns the back of the throat but doesn’t stop you from loving it. We’ll then raise a beer to a player, play, incident, or whatever else I feel deserved it. Lastly, I’ll leave you with a song from the Jukebox (did I mention I’m old?). I’m also looking for your songs on our socials and will feature some of your suggestions during the season.
Let’s get started. Our Bearbon this week is an obvious one: Justin Fields and DJ Moore. Every comment and video coming out of camp shows us a connection that can only make every Bears fan excited. It looks like Justin has a number one that is earning his trust and can make plays no one on the roster from last year could make.
Up until a couple of days ago, the scotch burning my throat was the lack of pass rush. Now the burning is relatively mild with O line depth. The two young tackles will struggle at times and having depth or solid veteran presence around could help them. Cuts around the league may set up a few options here.
I debated for whom or what I should raise a beer. Claypool playing well and with intensity (see the scuffle with Ejax) could have been it. The pickup of Ngakoue was definitely a contender. But in the end, I settled on Ryan Poles finally going out and getting the much-needed pass rusher. I have contended that Poles’ process matters more at this point than his results. With this signing, he has attempted to plug every hole from last season. I know they won’t all work out and a Super Bowl is not in the cards but the process of self-scouting, saving resources for 2024 and a little luck should see Chicago contend for at minimum the division next year. At the very least, Poles looks to have assembled a team we’ll want to watch every week this year.
The jukebox this week introduces you to the song this column is named after. I’m also looking for songs that represent your win total prediction for the year. Put me down for 8 but hit us up on any of our socials with your own prediction.
The Bears have began their run with some expectations that are much higher than last season. General Manager Ryan Poles and Head Coach Matt Eberflus have brought in many talented players from free agency and through the draft that will helps the Bears moving forward. It was a roster that needed some talent and when they take the field you will see the difference. There are a few players that I have been keeping an eye on at camp. One of these players are in a contract year and have a ton to prove and two others that are draft picks that would not surprise me if they are day one starters.
The first player I want to talk about is wide receiver, Chase Claypool. The veteran was traded to Chicago during the middle of the season last year for a second-round pick. A player that Ryan Poles is taking a chance on since he traded the top pick of the second round. Claypool has all the talent in the world to be a very productive player and help quarterback, Justin Fields. During his rookie season, he posted 11 touchdowns with Pittsburgh but ever since, the numbers and productivity has gone down. Yes, Claypool came in at a weird time last season and learning the new playbook is difficult. Yet, questions still remain about his lack of motivation and being a team player. I look for him to take a big step and try to get to where he was during his rookie year. The Bears already have two solid wide receivers in DJ Moore and Darnell Mooney. Adding a productive Claypool will help the offense a ton.
The next player I am keeping my eye on is the second-round draft pick from this past draft cornerback out of Miami, Tyrique Stevenson. This is a draft pick that Ryan Poles moved up to grab. The Bears have not been able to put together a good duo at cornerback for some time. Hopefully Stevenson can help change that. The rookie has all the intangibles to get the starting job. Corners are not very tall and surprisingly Tyrique is a good size. During OTAs, there were rave reviews about him and his playmaking ability. So far so good in the early stages of camp.
The third and final player is former Florida Gator, Grevon Dexter that plays defensive line. Dextor was also a second-round pick this past draft. Grevon is a big body but can move with the best of them. Along with Stevenson, Dexter has had a lot of high praise. Another position on the Bears where they hav been pretty weak since Akheim Hicks was in Chicago. Dextor can be a guy that can plug the hole but do not be surprised if he gets after the quarterback.
There will be a lot of buzz these next six weeks at Halas Hall with the additions they have made and optimism around the organization. It’s going to be fun as camp continues to roll on.
4 storylines stood out when I looked at the Bears’ schedule. Some are about where they’ll be by that point in the season, while others are literally a century old. Here’s how I think they’ll turn out.
Packers Bookend the Season
The longest rivalry in the league finally takes a turn from Bears fans being annoyed by Aaron Rodgers twice a year. There is real mystery around what Jordan Love can be. If you ask Packers’ twitter, he’ll be walking on water and delivering sermons from mounds by week 3. The logical answer is he’s essentially a first year QB who will have first year struggles even if he’s a future hall of famer (author’s note: he’s not!). If the Bears’ defense can make things difficult for him, he could really struggle. Unfortunately, with all the new faces at Hallas Hall, there is some gelling happening there too. Verdict:Bears keep it close week 1 but come up short. Justin Fields leaves us with sweet treat at the start of the season.
Chiefs week 3, Chargers Week 8
Even the most optimistic of Bears fan, can’t expect that a win against KC is a lock. After 2 weeks of the new look squad, this will be the measuring stick for progress. The next big test comes 5 weeks later with the Chargers who many expect to be around deep into January. This second test will be crucial in telling us whether things are working or not. A blown out by KC won’t be shameful, not competing in week 8 will say the progress hasn’t gone well. Verdict:Bears lose by double digits week 3. They cover the spread in week 8.
Panthers week 10
The successful tank from last season and the offseason trade brings this gem of a scenario: a double win. If the Bears win, it adds to their W column and brings them closer to a higher draft pick. Add to that, DJ Moore revenge factor and a primetime slot and you’ve got a feature stage for the Bears to ball out. Verdict:Bears win with Moore seeing the endzone at least once.
Post Bye Week Opportunity
The bye week for the Bears comes in week 13. Coming out of the bye, opponents are the Lions, Browns, Cardinals, Falcons and Packers. The hype on the Lions is as high as ever but the other 4 teams do not appear to be world beaters. Arizona is a mess and may be a competitor for a top 5 pick. The Browns may be good but by this point the Ravens will have broken them. Atlanta will struggle all year. As I said above, I expect the Bears to be a competing squad by then that beats Green Bay. Verdict:I look at those five games and see a floor of 3 wins with upside all the way to 5. I don’t expect this will be a playoff year but look for that Bears logo during the “In The Hunt” segments.
We didn’t hear much from GM Ryan Poles directly during the Bears’ draft weekend, but his actions spoke pretty loudly.
First and foremost, Poles told us the Bears are not Super Bowl contenders, yet. In reviewing what experts had to say about the draft class, it stood out that Wright, Dexter, Stevenson, and Pickens all have a high potential ceiling. They are not finished, ready to be perennial all pros. In other words, they’re not finishing pieces to the meal. They’re the prep work you do the day before the banquet.
Confidence is high in the coaching group. If you pick unfinished players, you have to have the staff to help them meet that high ceiling. Poles had to see players like Kyler Gordon and Braxton Jones and been satisfied with their growth from week one to the end of the season. I’m sure he saw the “misses” like Velus and Borom but counted them as the price of taking the high-ceiling prospects.
Poles showed discipline to a T. Poles has a type I want to coin as measurably athletic with no character issues. Using RAS (Relative Athletic Score), the Bears’ entire draft class was judged to have elite grades. The days of going by feel on a player who didn’t test well are going if not gone. Bears coaches saw Jalen Carter’s film and met with him. I can only assume but the character had to be the determining factor in passing on him.
He feels solidly entrenched as the Bears’ GM for a long time. What Poles has going is not a short-term project but it’s obviously one Bears’ executives are buying into. 2 first-rounders will bring another shot of high-level talent next year along with some of the cap space rolling over from this year. My best guess is that 2024 is when he sees contention as a goal.
Most importantly, Poles showed us that there is a concerted plan in place. There is no panic when mistakes are made. There is no reaching for players. There is no listening to the criticism of the “experts”. There is no spending cap space or draft capital before it’s time. Poles has a vision for the franchise that he’s going to see through and all of us fans will go along for the ride. Hopefully, it’s not one that has us regretting the Miller Lite and hot dogs at the end.
The St. Louis Battlehawks mounted a miraculous comeback on Sunday led by quarterback A.J. McCarron, who threw two touchdowns and converted a three-point attempt to wide receiver Austin Proehl in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. St. Louis took advantage of a rule that allows teams to attempt an offensive play on fourth-and-15, as opposed to kicking an onside kick after a touchdown. By converting on that fourth and forever, the Battlehawks managed to keep momentum in their favor, and wound up with an 18-15 victory in their season opener on the road. St. Louis struggled to contain quarterback Jack Coan and the San Antonio Brahmas from completing intermediate throws downfield, but the defense proved to be stout in red zone territory.
Quarterback Ben DiNucci of the Seattle Sea Dragons solidified a connection with former NFL standout wide receiver Josh Gordon in Sunday’s loss to the D.C. Defenders. DiNucci and Gordon connected six times for 74 yards and a trip to the end zone, but received little to no help from their teammates on the defensive side of the ball. Seattle’s defense allowed two different quarterbacks on the opposing team in D’Eriq King and Jordan Ta’amu to score touchdowns. The Defenders exposed weaknesses in the Sea Dragons’ defense, as King and Ta’amu used their dynamic rushing attack to move the ball into scoring position late in the contest. Despite controlling the game with what was once a double-digit lead, Seattle’s inability to protect the football in the second half led to a 22-18 final score in favor of the home team.
The Battlehawks are back on the road Thursday night at Lumen Field against the Sea Dragons, who are desperate for a victory in front of a raucous home crowd. Lumen Field is notoriously known for its loyal fan base on Sundays at Seattle Seahawks games, and there will likely be a palpable energy inside the stadium for the city’s first home XFL game since 2020. St. Louis will be forced to shut down a talented wide receiver in Gordon, who is quite possibly the most accomplished professional athlete across the entire league. The Battlehawks proved their ability to fluster San Antonio’s backfield in week one, which should translate nicely to their matchup against Seattle, as DiNucci prevented his team from success by turning the ball over twice on Sunday night. If McCarron manages to connect with his litany of offensive weapons early in the game, St. Louis can cruise into their second consecutive victory before making the trek to our nation’s capital in week three of this young XFL season.
With the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine being played a few weeks ago, it is the perfect time to give my first Chicago Bears 2023 Mock Draft. This mock will consist of seven rounds, trades, and insight into why certain picks were made.
*Bears trade pick one to the Colts for picks 4, 35, 79, 2024 first, and 2024 second*
4. Will Anderson Jr EDGE Alabama 6’4” 245
Reasoning: Will Anderson is a can’t-miss pass rusher who will have an immediate impact on this Bears’ defense the moment he steps on the field in Chicago. Anderson possesses a lot of great characteristics including his high IQ, pass-rushing skills, strength, speed, and block shedding. Anderson didn’t put up insane sack numbers at Alabama in 2022 but he lived in the backfield with 59 QB pressures.
35. Cody Mauch OL North Dakota State 6’6” 302
Reasoning: When it comes to Cody Mauch he is a guy that jumped up draft boards and could even land himself in the first round with a good performance at the Senior Bowl much like Trevor Penning in 2022. Mauch is one of those nasty and fierce linemen that you hear coaches rave about. Mauch, who is listed as a tackle by PFF, has the ability to get kicked inside and play guard opposite Cody Whitehair.
*Bears trade pick 54 to the Chiefs for picks 62 and 100*
62. Jalin Hyatt WR Tennessee 6’0” 184
Reasoning: It is no secret that the Bears have a lot of holes with a major one being the wide receiver position. Hyatt would come in and join Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool as the Bears’ top receivers. A core that’s already loaded with speed would get even more with Hyatt’s ability to take the top off of a defense.
64. Keeanu Benton DT Wisconsin 6’4” 315
Reasoning: After a couple of picks on offense it’s time to jump back to defense and continue to address the front seven. Benton may not have as big of an impact right away like Will Anderson but he will give the Bears some more depth at an important position.
79. Luke Wypler C Ohio State 6’3” 300
Reasoning: We head back to offense here by taking a center at 79. If the Bears really want to show people that they are buying into Justin Fields they have to invest in the offensive line. Wypler is one of the top centers coming into this class alongside Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz.
*Bears trade pick 100 to the Saints for picks 115, 188, and 2024 sixth (via Phi)*
103. Andrei Iosivas WR Princeton 6’3” 200
Reasoning: Iosivas is a player who will fly up draft boards in the coming weeks. His blistering speed and his lack of dropping passes will stick out to teams between both the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
115. Cade Stover TE Ohio State 6’4” 255
Reasoning: Cole Kmet has been a serviceable tight end for the Bears and had a really solid 2022 campaign but you always need that second guy. Stover has the ability to make huge plays but also is a very solid blocker.
137. Henry To’o To’o LB Alabama 6’2” 228
Reasoning: The emergence of UDFA Jack Sanborn was really nice to see after Ryan Poles and the Bears traded disgruntled ILB Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens. To’o To’o would be a very nice complement to Sanborn and would also boost a very weak LB position.
*Bears trade 150 to the Bengals for picks 165 and 248*
165. Darrell Luter Jr DB South Alabama 6’0” 190
Reasoning: While DB isn’t necessarily a hole in the defense it doesn’t hurt to add depth to it. Luter would be a nice fit alongside Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon. Luter would most likely be competing with Kindle Vildor for more reps but would be a solid addition to this defense.
178. Travis Dye RB USC 5’10” 200
Reasoning: With the uncertainty of David Montgomery’s future with the Bears it is safe to say running back may be a position of need. Dye really started to stick out to me when I was watching film on USC WR Jordan Addison. Dye’s ability to find open holes and change direction on a dime is impressive and a major reason why I think he would be a good fit with the Bears.
188. Ali Gaye EDGE LSU 6’6” 265
Reasoning: Gaye wasn’t the most technically sound pass rusher but has those athletic traits that everyone wants from a pass rusher and can easily get coached up to being a solid role player.
199. Justin Shorter WR Florida 6’4” 223
Reasoning: Shorter was the number one ranked wide receiver in the class of 2018 but hasn’t lived up to the hype. Shorter has the ceiling to be a WR4 or maybe even a WR3 so there is some upside to taking him at 199th overall.
220. Jake Moody K Michigan 6’1” 210
Reasoning: With Bears kicker Cairo Santos being a little shaky in 2022 it doesn’t hurt to bring in competition via the draft. Moody was 29/35 on field goals with a long of 59 yards. Having a guy that can consistently nail kicks from 50+ yards is huge when it comes to field position.
248. Dorian Thompson-Robinson QB UCLA 6’1” 205
Reasoning: Obviously QB isn’t a need for the Bears but having a backup with the same play style as Justin Fields helps tremendously by keeping the offense in rhythm. Look at a team like the Baltimore Ravens who were able to keep the offense in sync while Lamar Jackson was out with a knee injury.
To recap the draft the Bears turned their current eight 2023 picks into 14 picks in the 2023 NFL draft while also adding 3 picks (Colts first and second along with the Eagles sixth) in 2024. This class would fill a lot of needs the Bears currently have while also adding more competition at other positions like the entire offensive line, cornerback, and kicker.
Q: Do you think Chase Claypool will make a big enough impact to help the Bears win some games this year?
A: I think he could bring a nice element to this offense. The problem with winning games isn’t the Offense, it’s the Defense. Chase Claypool brings the size and speed element the Bears were missing. I’d like to get some more 50-50 balls to Claypool.
Q: What percent of snaps do you see Chase Claypool playing next week?
A: First game he was at 35 percent of snaps. Second game it dropped a little to 31 percent. Getsy and co, have continuously said that this offense requires a lot from the receivers. Claypool is into his 3rd week of this new offense. I expect him to get around 50 percent.
Q: I can’t decide if edge or O-line should be the first need addressed in the draft. Do you like one or the other with the Bear’s top pick in the draft next year?
A: I think you have to go off the prospects available on your big board. I would go with the following in order. Will Anderson – edge, Jalen Carter – 3tech, Myles Murphy – edge, Peter Skoronski – LT, Bryan Bresee – DT, Quentin Johnston – WR, Jordan Addison – WR. The Bears have too many weaknesses on this roster to not take the best available at every position except QB.
Q: Do the Bears add another weapon at WR? Or maybe trade back with a team needing a QB?
A: Yes, the Bears have to add more weapons in the WR room. We need playmakers bad at the WR position. I would love it if we traded down with a QB-needy team. Teams like the Colts, Saints, Panthers, and maybe a shocking Raiders. Receivers I would want are as followed. Quinten Johnston, Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njiba, Jordan Addison, Kayshon Boutte, Jalin Hyatt, and Josh Downs. A late down guy Keylon Stokes from Tulsa.. only because we have the same last name. Another bonus late-round guy, the 6’6 Jalen Sample from Minnesota State, depends on his 40 times, he might need to switch to TE.
Justin Fields took another step Sunday. Accounting for 314 yards and 4 total TDs. He continues to elevate those around him. He set a record for the longest run by a Bears QB last week (61-yard TD run). He broke that Sunday breaking off a 68-yard TD run, breaking away from Lion’s corners and safeties. Truly impressive what Justin does on the ground.
Jack Sanborn might just be that dude. 11 total tackles, 9 solo, and 2 sacks, also had a very nice Interception called back on a bs call. The Bears were again screwed by refs, Jaylon Johnson pressed a guy at the line of scrimmage put his hands on the receiver’s shoulder pads, and got called for hands to the face. I can’t wait to see Jack continue to develop. He played high school football in Lake Zurich went to college in Madison Wisconsin and was a UDFA, who is now starting for the Bears.
Cole Kmet’s breakout continues. Another great story, Cole is from Barrington Illinois, die-hard Bears, and a Cubs fan. Per QB1, Mr. Justin Fields ” Cole has always had it physically, he has grown the last few weeks mentally”. Cole Kmet was never going to be Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews. He is a classic Y TE, hand in the ground, good blocker who runs nice routes for easy completions for QB1.
Jaylon Johnson got torched yesterday. I don’t remember him getting targeted in a game this much since his rookie year. Jaylon wants to be the best corner in football, you have to be better than Sunday to even be close to that discussion. Cornerback is a very hard position, you get respect on your name and then barely get targeted. When that happens you lose some of your skills because you don’t get targeted. I still have faith in Jaylon. Let’s bounce back shut down ATL and get a pick next Sunday. Keep your head up Jaylon.
The whole defensive line minus Justin Jones. No one generates pressure. Trevis Gipson’s breakout season was supposed to happen, but he’s taken steps backward. Dom Rob still needs more reps, but man our pass rush and run d are brutally bad. We get pushed back at the point of contact. The only way we get pressure is to blitz an LB or DB. Need to see someone other than Justin Jones take a big step. Speaking of Justin Jones, he’s been a menace in the run game, need him to step up in the pass rush though.
The entire receiver room. No one gets separation. No one bails out the QB with a nice catch. Where is Chase Claypool? Where is Velus Jones Jr. ? Where is N’Keal Harry? You invested a 2nd, 3rd and 6th round draft pick into those guys and Velus and Harry were healthy scratches. I’m sick of EQ, yes he blocks well, but he runs bad routes and has stone hands. I’d like to see the Bears come out next Sunday with the WR room looking different. Mooney, Claypool, Pringle, Velus, Harry, and Pettis should all be activated and involved in the offense this week.
We are officially past the midpoint of the 2022 NFL season let’s take a look at a few guys that could potentially be Chicago Bears next season. As you may remember I wrote a similar article last year and it was one of my favorites to write because the draft season is by far one of the best parts of the NFL season.
The Chicago Bears who are currently slated to pick at number eighth overall, head into the offseason with eight total draft picks after acquiring two from the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore’s own second and fifth-rounder, and dealing their second to get wide receiver Chase Claypool away from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Peter Skoronski Northwestern OT (no. 5 on my big board)
Park Ridge Illinois’ finest and Northwestern’s top draft prospect Peter Skoronski is what the Bears need in the draft. Standing at 6’4” and 315 pounds Skoronski would immediately slide into the starting role at either left tackle or left guard as he does have interior flexibility. In the 2021 season, as a sophomore Skoronski played roughly 820 snaps while only allowing 12 quarterback hurries, six quarterback hits, and two sacks. Some of his strengths are that he has an insanely strong upper body which allows him to control his opponents. He gets off the ball super quick and prevents opposing linemen from blowing by him. Some of his weaknesses are that he ends up playing high which causes him to lose some leverage, which can be fixed in the NFL so it isn’t a huge problem.
Myles Murphy Clemson EDGE (no. 7 on my big board)
It isn’t a surprise that the Bears have been struggling defensively as of late. One way to fix that is by taking one of the best defensive linemen in this class which is Clemson edge rusher, Myles Murphy. Clemson runs a 4-3 defense similar to the Bears so he would be a nice scheme fit. Murphy is one of the two Clemson defensive linemen projected to go within the top 10. So far in his collegiate career, Murphy has a total of 106 tackles, 35 tackles for loss, and 18.5 sacks. The 20-year-old pass rusher already has an NFL-caliber spin move along with an intense bull rush. He would be a very good replacement for Robert Quinn, especially opposite a guy like Trevis Gipson. Now, some weaknesses we have seen in his game are that he struggles to shed off blockers while also needing to use his hands better as he lacks violence when using his hands and he doesn’t move laterally as ideally as you would like to see.
Jaxon Smith- Njigba Ohio State WR (no. 14 on my big board)
Smith-Njigba is one of the top wide receivers in this nation. While he has fallen down my rankings due to not laying much this season because of injury he still is a game-changer that will be taken super high in the 2023 draft. The 6’1” 200 pound wideout broke out on the scene last season in the Rose Bowl game against Utah where he put up a record-breaking performance of 15 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns. While he and Justin Fields did overlap at Ohio State they only connected for 10 receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. Smith-Njigba has a great ability to get himself in open space as well as having sure hands making him a favorite of his quarterbacks. One of the few knocks he has on him is that he drops the ball more often than you would like a top wideout to drop.
Quentin Johnston TCU WR (no. 12 on my big board)
TCU’s Quentin Johnston is my favorite wideout in this entire class. Johnston would be a great fit alongside both Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool mainly due to his size, 6’4” and 215 pounds, and his ability to get up and snag contested catches. He has been a key piece in the TCU offense and has helped the team tremendously to achieve a top-four spot in the Associated Press top 25. Currently, Johnston has 45 receptions with 650 yards and four touchdowns. I believe that Johnston has the highest ceiling in this class along with North Carolina’s Josh Downs. Some of the strengths he has are that he is a crisp route runner and can haul in some incredibly tough catches but he does come with negatives which include a very small route tree as well as not being a great blocker despite his size.
Paris Johnson Jr Ohio State OT (no. 8 on my big board)
Another potential Ohio State Buckeye to be a Bear is offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. Out of his 768 snaps in 2021 he only allowed 13 QB hurries, one QB hit, and no sacks. He comes in standing at 6’6” and 310 pounds. It is a tough choice between both he and Peter Skoronski as to who will be the first tackle off the board in late April. His strengths include he doesn’t quit on plays while also being a huge leader in that Buckeye locker room. Johnson also plays with nastiness which is a trait that Bears general manager Ryan Pace looks for in his offensive linemen. He, like all prospects, does come with weaknesses in his game; he can get impatient and start to play with a poor base and he also lets pass rushers get into him rather than delivering a punch to them.
On this week’s episode of BEAR FORCE ONE, Marty and Brian catch up on this week’s HUGE moral victory over the Miami Dolphins and Justin Fields’ NFC Player of the Week performance. The guys talk about the dumpster fire in Indy before breaking down this week’s matchup with Man Campbell and the Detroit Lions. Lastly, they brought it home with the Dick Butkus Tweet of the Week.