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Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush answers subscribers' Bears/NFL/Life questions in every newsletter:
Any areas besides special teams where we could suggest Bears still have even a slight (or larger than slight) depth problem? Submitted by Hyper Pony
You never have enough talent anywhere, but the Bears are definitely short on proven talent at tight end and offensive tackle.
While Trey Burton is a great piece and a real asset to Matt Nagy’s scheme, he is a "move" tight end, a necessity for "12 personnel" — which I expect we’ll see a lot more of this year — but still by definition a No. 2. The Bears don’t have a clear starter at the position, and while there is still good reason to hope Adam Shaheen can be that guy, there are also many questions about him.
Ben Braunecker is a solid TE3, but that appears to be about it, which is why UDFA Dax Raymond seems like such a sure thing to make the club.
Still, depth, and even more so starting talent, are a big question mark.
Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie are both fine, but neither is special. As much as I love Leno for being a great teammate, leader, presence in the locker room, etc., and as much credit as he deserves for how far he’s come as a seventh-round pick out of Boise State, he’s just not as good or dependable on the field as people want to believe.
Massie is better than he gets credit for — at times very good in the run game but average at best in pass protection.
And the backups are ...? Bradley Sowell is a guy, valuable because he can play anywhere on the line, but if either Leno or Massie missed extended time, you couldn’t feel that comfortable with Sowell as a starter — especially on the left side.
I know the Bears are fascinated by Rashaad Coward — and so am I — but we haven’t seen him play.
They need more competition at tackle.
What will the Bears do with Javon Wims?
What do you think of Javon Wims putting on some pounds and converting to tight end? Seems to me he's probably not going to be better than a 3rd or a 4th WR option, but could be a regular tight end with some work. Thoughts?
It’s easy to see why Javon Wims is on so many folks minds with the additions of Cordarrelle Patterson, Marvin Hall, Riley Ridley and Emanuel Hall, so I’ll lump these two questions together.
Obviously, Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson and Riley Ridley are locks for this year’s roster, and we should be 98.9 % sure Taylor Gabriel is, too. He could be a cap casualty now that there’s some redundancy to his speed factor at the position, but I doubt it seriously. He did a very nice job last year and is more likely a cap casualty next year, which seals up five spots this season at wide receiver. The Bears would probably prefer to carry just five since Tarik Cohen will line up as a wideout fairly regularly, too, but they could carry six. With Kevin White and Josh Bellamy gone, that likely leaves only one spot for Wims, Marvin Hall and Emanuel Hall.
Wims is an interesting prospect for the Allen Robinson role, but Robinson won’t turn 26 until the end of training camp, so if he’s healthy it’s tough to find the best fit for Wims in Matt Nagy’s offense. Wims did some nice things late in the season last year when he was active, but not so much that you’d say, 'OK, he’s definitely a part of the future.'
So the question becomes who the Bears most likely can get to the practice squad. Marvin Hall isn’t eligible, and Emanuel Hall would never make it — if they cut him, another club will claim him and give him a roster spot.
Unless the rookie from Missouri disappoints and just doesn’t look to have an NFL future, my best guess is Wims will be an odd man out, waived on the final cutdown and then the Bears will hope he clears waivers and they can get him back to the practice squad.
As far as tight end, I’ve never heard anyone with the Bears suggest it as a possibility, and honestly I have no idea what kind of blocking skills he has or what kind of appetite he has for blocking.
He certainly could add 10 pounds, maybe even a little more in the weight room, but it would be at least a year-long experiment — maybe even two — and one they’d want to conduct on the practice squad.
Even as strictly a "move" tight end in the primary Trey Burton role, unless they were to commit to it right now going into OTAs, it seems highly unlikely. And even if they did commit right now, it’s impossible to see them using a roster spot this year to conduct that experiment.
My guess is Wims is either playing for someone else this year or on the Bears practice squad, but let me emphasize it’s just an educated guess. Once OTAs start and we see how they’re using him, we’ll have a much better feel for what his future is likely to be.
What kind of stats do we need to see from Mitch this year to feel comfortable that he is on the path to being the franchise quarterback ? Submitted by Christopher Bonner
Will Mitch be any more accurate this year? He’ll need it if the Bears want to take the next step. Submitted by Jason McGuire
Chris and Jason, let me try and get you both answers on the Mitch subject.
I don’t think there is a fixed set of numbers that identify a franchise quarterback, but a few minimums you’d be looking for: at least a 4:1 TD-INT ratio —and 5:1 might be necessary — a 65 or better completion percentage, at least a 7.75-yard attempt average and a minimum of 4,000 yards passing – 250 yards per game.
To accomplish all of that, Trubisky will certainly have to be more accurate — and more specifically, more accurate throwing from the pocket.
Ryan Pace talked about accuracy being one of Mitch’s greatest assets when he drafted him, but through 26 NFL starts, Trubisky has been impressively accurate when throwing on the run but concerningly inaccurate, at times, when throwing out of a clean pocket, obviously the opposite of what you’d expect.
It is a lot easier to improve on the latter, so that’s a good thing, and based on what I’ve seen of Trubisky’s smarts, competitiveness and work ethic, I think there’s an excellent chance he will improve his accuracy.
If I could tell you whether he can get it to a franchise QB level, some team would have to give me a GM job.
Who is the projected starter opposite of Hicks in base 3-4 packages? Submitted by Christopher Bonner
Chris, the Bears won’t release their first official depth chart until the Tuesday prior to the first preseason game, and that will change radically over the succeeding four weeks, but it’s safe to say that right now that job is a competition between Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris and Bilal Nichols.
It gets a little complicated because Robertson-Harris and Nichols both can and will also line up on the nose in relief of Eddie Goldman, while Bullard really needs to be out wider.
Based on what we were seeing at the end of last season, I think there’s a good chance Nichols takes that job and shares reps with Robertson-Harris — both there and on the nose behind Goldman — while Bullard ends up third on the depth chart, if he survives the final cut this year.
I loved Bullard coming out of Florida and thought he was a steal in the third round, but that was as a three-technique in a "40" front. He really isn’t well suited for the "30" front.
Not a football question but are you still doing this during [670 THE SCORE] midday show? Honestly haven’t been able to listen to them cuz I usually break at work from 12-1. Submitted by Mike Hall
Mike, thank you for asking, it’s very nice of you. I believe the plan is for us to resume our regular Wednesdays and Thursdays at Noon sometime in August, but during the “offseason” I only visit with Bernstein and McKnight around events like the combine and draft or as news dictates it.
I am scheduled for my regular Tuesdays at 5:00 with Mac & Parkins, but we’ve missed that three of the past four weeks because of other breaking news. The best answer I can give you for now is we will get back to it all, but I doubt it will be on a consistent basis until late July or August.