The Chicago Bears had a bad 2016 season, followed by a press conference that seemed as scripted as a presidential address filled with rainbows and optimism from the front office. But we’re not buying all of that, right?
I’m not buying the heaping serving of optimism that Ryan Pace and John Fox decided try and sell us after they were dealt a healthy dose of humble pie in the form of a 3-13 season, but here are a few bold predictions as we look forward to the 2017 season.
The Bears Will Acquire a Quarterback Outside of the Draft
The Chicago Bears will look to right the ship this offseason, and hold the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft this April, and the overwhelming consensus of Bears fans would love to see the Bears select the quarterback of the future with that pick. But what if the Bears, pulled a very Bears like move and didn’t take a Watson, or a Kizer on day one in April?
I think that with the Bears possessing a substantial amount of money to spend this offseason, and there are some very good quarterbacks already holding a clipboard on an NFL sideline that the Bears could pursue, and in turn, use their third overall pick to address one of the many other gaping concerns across the roster.
The Bears could trade for Jimmy Garappolo from the New England Patriots, or for an even more reasonable return price tag they could look at A.J. McCarron of the Cincinnati Bengals who showed flashes of a starting NFL quarterback in 2015 when he filled in for the injured Andy Dalton down the stretch. Of course, the Bears could always look at Tyrod Taylor if he becomes available via free-agency, and that is a surprisingly attractive idea as TLS Bears Columnist Nick Petrusevski wrote on Monday evening.
Alshon Jeffery Has Played his Last Game With the Chicago Bears
Oh Alshon, I was a huge fan of you a couple of years ago when you were making your name along side Brandon Marshall, and even showing the Bears brass that you could be the new number one wide-out in Chicago. Not so much anymore, now an injury-riddled question mark with a potentially lofty price tag this offseason.
In 2014 Jeffery was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team, and awarded the NFL’s Most Improved Player honor on the strength of an 85 receptions, 1,133 yards and 10 touchdown season. A season later in 2015, a finish on the IR in December and just 54 receptions and 807 yards over nine games earned you a franchise tag, and another chance at becoming the Bears big money number one receiver.
In 2016, the nagging injuries remained persistent, and then came the four game ban for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs policy. Jefferey recorded just 52 catches for 821 yards and two touchdowns in 2016. So after winning the NFL’s Most Improved Player Award in 2015, Jefferey has caught 106 passes for 1,628 yards and six touchdowns in his last 21 games spanning the course of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The Bears could let Jeffery walk this offseason, and use the money that they would have had to spend to give him a long-term deal, and bring in free-agent talent to improve a secondary in need of a lot of help moving forward.
Jordan Howard Will Lead the NFL in Rushing in 2017
Jordan Howard was filthy good in his 2016 rookie campaign. The former Indiana Hoosier was buried behind Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey to begin the season, and still finished behind only fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott in the race for the NFL’s rushing crown with 70 less carries than Elliott.
At his average of 5.2 yards per carry from 2016, if Howard would have received 70 more carries, which would have been accomplished easily if he was playing significant time in the begin of the season, he would have finished the season with an additional 364 rushing yards and would have surpassed Elliot for the league lead.
One thing that John Fox did get right at the season-ending press conference last week was his admission that Howard was underutilized in 2016, and his promise that Howard will see significantly more carries in 2017. With the Bears being a team that will likely have a young quarterback in the wings, and a stop-gap quarterback under center to begin the 2017 season, it’s highly conceivable that Howard will get that extra 70 carries and then some next season. If Howard gains yardage at the same clip that he did in 2016, the NFL’s rushing title could be in the bag for him.