And. Here. We. Go.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) July 27, 2017
Training camp is officially under way with the first practice of the year, and the Bears are already providing bits of intrigue for the third year of the John Fox Experience.
First, Fox told us that this is the most competitive team the Bears have fielded in his time in Chicago. Then, both he and his boss, GM Ryan Pace, relayed their optimism about a healthy start to camp after an injury plagued 2016. And then what happened? Well, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee was put on the physically unable to perform list late last night as he continues to recover from knee surgery.
Other than that? A quiet start in Bourbonnais:
- Three years in to the Ryan Pace Era, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes the team is being built in the image of the New Orleans Saints – who happen to be Pace’s former employer. Even though New Orleans is coming off three straight 7-9 seasons and have just one playoff appearance since 2012, the Saints represent an example of how a functional team can be built. From 2009 to 2013, the Saints made the playoffs four out of five times, while winning a Super Bowl, and fielding one of the most potent offenses in the game. For the Bears to mimic that kind of rebuild, they will need Trubisky, tight end Adam Shaheen, running back Tarik Cohen, and wide receiver Kevin White (among others) to reach their potential – and sooner, rather than later.
- Akiem Hicks seems to be happy playing with the Bears and even offered up the idea of ending his career in Chicago. And if Hicks is to continue his career with the Bears, it’s going to come with quite the pay raise. Brad Biggs hears that Hicks is seeking $10 million per season, which seems to be a fair price to ask for when taking into consideration some of the other recent extensions signed by defensive linemen. If all else fails, the Bears could slap Hicks with the franchise tag in the offseason, and the cost (based on last year’s number) won’t be that much higher than his current asking price. Hicks’ 85.5 rating at Pro Football Focus put him 12th among interior defenders in 2016.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune writes that Fox wants more out of the passing game in 2017. Don’t we all? Last year, the Bears used three different starting quarterbacks and finished 19th in completion percentage, 25th in quarterback rating, tied for 24th in touchdowns, and threw the fourth most interceptions. All in all, it was a miserable year if you had to line up under center and sling the pigskin for the Bears in 2016. No wonder a complete overhaul of the position was necessary. Getting the offense up to par is one of the biggest challenges the Bears face in camp, and not just because of the uncertainty at quarterback with Mike Glennon not having started since 2014. The Bears have many new faces on the offensive side of the ball, including six new receivers, three new running backs, two new tight ends, and new position coaches at running back, receiver, and offensive line.
- In case you missed it, Pace reiterated that Glennon will enter the year as the starter (Adam Hoge), and that Mark Sanchez will open camp as the No. 2 quarterback (JJ Stankevitz) with Mitch Trubisky providing the competition behind him. This leaves the possibility of Trubisky moving into the backup role in an out-of-this-world best-case scenario. Fox already hinted at how he planned on splitting the reps between three quarterbacks before changing course and mentioning the team had four quarterbacks in camp.
- As if the Bears didn’t have a cluttered wide receivers room, Pro Football Talk reports the Bears were interested in signing free agent Lucky Whitehead before the New York Jets snagged him in a waiver claim. Whitehead was waived by the Cowboys after a warrant was issued for his arrest and a missed arraignment … but it turns out the cops had the wrong guy. Dallas didn’t wait for things to unfold before cutting Whitehead, allowing him to get a fresh start with the Jets.
- In other Bears representation news, Jaye Howard – who signed a one-year deal after being let go by the Chiefs in the offseason – has changed agents and hired David Canter, according to Brad Biggs.
- After seeing how Mitch Trubisky reacted to his Madden rating, I would be curious to see how Jordan Howard felt about where he ranked in this year’s version of the iconic video game. Howard’s 85 overall rating put him in a tie with six other running backs, according to Bryan Wiedey of the Sporting News. Only five players at the position earned a 90 rating or better, led by Le’Veon Bell’s 97. Ezekiel Elliott, who Howard hopes to topple in the race for the rushing crown, earned a 90 rating.