Taylor Gabriel wants to play with an edge and a chip on his shoulder:
We like chips on shoulders. pic.twitter.com/FCZAmlTsbc
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 25, 2018
I can dig it.
- The addition of Gabriel (along with Allen Robinson and Trey Burton) has made an offseason winner out of quarterback Mitch Trubisky, writes Gregg Rosenthal. After a rookie season where it felt like Trubisky was running a rudimentary offense just to get the basics of playing the position down down, he will get a fighter’s chance because of GM Ryan Pace’s memorable offseason. Things feel a little bit different this year as opposed to last because Pace put a focus on signing players who can fit roles in an offense that should do more under a new head coach and coordinator. It’s a clean slate for all parties.
- It’s not just the receivers who will make a difference in the offense. Having a more reliable kicking game could do wonders for Chicago. Some kudos from former NFL front office guru Gil Brandt, who writes the Miami Dolphins are going to miss kicker Cody Parkey. The Bears made a more-than-competitive offer for Parkey, who is now one of the league’s 10-highest-paid kickers. Parkey made 21 of 23 field goal attempts last year and has an 86.4 percent career success rate. The Bears have ranked in the bottom half of the league in field goal attempts in each of the last two seasons, but it will be nice to have someone who is more reliable than Connor Barth was during his time in Chicago.
- On the other end of the leaderboard, the Chiefs ranked first in the NFL in field goals made and attempted in 2017. And back in 2016, the team ranked in the top 10 in makes and attempts. Matt Nagy’s offense is clearly set up to create more scoring opportunities than what was previously run in Chicago. More opportunities with better skill position players and a more accurate kicker should help the Bears escape from the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to scoring in 2018.
- All things considered, it should come as no surprise the Bears are popping up as a team believed to be the most improved thanks to their free agency. Around the NFL writer Marc Sessler mentions the Bears among the five teams who have improved the most so far. The expectation is that the Bears will be fun to watch on offense with new coach and coordinator directing a young quarterback who will be throwing to some proven receiver options who still have upside. Putting Taylor Gabriel in a role like he had in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in Atlanta and giving Trey Burton nearly double the snaps he had while in Philadelphia could unleash an innovative offense.
- Of course, it’s not all perfect. Sessler also notes how the Bears have lost some key defensive players in free agency. Starters and key role players such as Willie Young, Pernell McPhee, Jerrell Freeman, Christian Jones, and Mitch Unrein will be missed in one way or another. It’s less than ideal to lose significant pieces like that, but if the Bears find suitable replacements in the draft and supplement the defensive core with some solid depth, there won’t be much to complain about on the defensive side of the ball. Clearly, the Bears are putting a ton of stock in Vic Fangio getting the most out of his group.
- Realistically, one (if not more) of these free agent signings isn’t going to live up to the lofty expectations set at their feet. This train of thought isn’t limited to the Bears, as it happens every year. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited about what has been done or what might be to come, but it’s worth knowing that some things might not turn out as planned. With that in mind, Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report runs down one offseason move that could end up being regrettable for each of the NFL’s 32 teams. For the Bears, it might be the four-year contract signed for tight end Trey Burton. Burton doesn’t have much playing time or starting experience under his belt, so it’s fair to note the Bears are taking something of a shot in the dark on Burton. Chicago is investing in what they hope Burton can do, rather than what he has done in the past. Free agency always has its risks, and clearly this is one the Bears’ brass was willing to take.
- Speaking of tight ends, this is kind of neat:
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 24, 2018