Today is National Signing Day or College Football’s Draft Day. Each high school recruit is given a ranking on a star scale with 5 stars being the highest. Then each school is graded by the number of recruits they signed and the number of stars those recruits were given, similar to Draft Day grades. Many times, the star ratings end up meaning nothing. For example, JJ Watt was a 2 star recruit out of high school and many 5 star recruits go undrafted in the NFL.
Throughout the years, the Bears have drafted some 5 recruits and currently have 3 on the roster.
In this week’s episode, Jordan and I review the Bears’ disappointing loss to the Panthers in Week 5, discuss why Lamarr Houston should sit out a few plays on Twitter and preview this weekend’s game against the Falcons.
Jordan was in Carolina for the game, so he talks about what the atmosphere was like in the stadium — when the Bears were winning 21-7 in the first half, and when he had to walk shamefully from the stadium after the Bears’ collapse.
If you have a suggestion for a guest you’d like to hear on the show, or if you’d like to ask a Bears question and have it answered on the podcast, reach out to us via Twitter.
FiveThirtyEight released yesterday its NFC North preview, which forecasts the Bears to have a 39 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 25 percent chance of winning the division.
(The Packers’ odds are 55 percent for the playoffs and 41 percent for the division.)
The Bears portion of the preview highlights something Bears fans already know: Devin Hester is the best punt returner in NFL history.
This graphic explains it visually:
Add to this an NFL-record 13 touchdowns (the previous record was 10), and it’s hard to argue for anyone else being better than Hester. Now in Atlanta, Hester is currently tied with Deion Sanders for the most non-offensive NFL touchdowns in history.
The whole story is worth a read. But be warned: It won’t help you get over the fact that Hester is no longer a Bear.
The Chicago Bears signed on Monday return specialist Darius Reynaud, a 29-year-old veteran who started his career in Minnesota and spent time with both the Titans and Jets last season.
With Eric Weems released and Chris Williams still on the mend from a hamstring injury, there’s an opportunity for Reynaud to seize the kick returner role. Will he be able to take advantage?
Last season, Reynaud finished 19th in the league in yards per kick return (23.9) and 25th in yards per punt return. In 2012, he was 26th in yards/kick return (23.4) but fifth in yards/punt return (13.2).
For comparison’s sake, here’s how Reynaud stacks up in recent seasons against Devin Hester, whom the Bears released after last season, and the league leaders in kick return average:
While Reynaud will compete for a roster spot — perhaps at the expense of someone like Michael Ford? — it’s unlikely he’ll make Bears fans forget about Hester.
With Chicago Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais, Ill., only one month away, we look at this year’s Top 5 Training Camp battles. Not like the scuffle between Lamarr Houston and Martellus Bennett during OTAs, but actual position battles.
1. Strongside linebacker
The main battle will be between the Bears’ 2013 second-round pick, Jon Bostic, and the 2012 first-round pick, Shea McClellin. From everything I’ve seen and heard, Shea looked the part at OTAs, but Bostic has been working hard this offseason as well. I expect this battle to go all the way to the third preseason game before anyone is named a starter.
2. Free safety
This position just got a little more interesting with the Bears signing five-time Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson. However, Wilson is 34 years old and has had some recent injuries. Chris Conte’s inconsistent play and last year’s breakdown against Green Bay pushed the Bears to sign M.D. Jennings, who started all 16 games last year for the Packers. The Bears also drafted Brock Vereen in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Vereen has been the starter in OTAs, but with Wilson signing and Conte coming back from shoulder surgery, I expect all four players to have a legitimate shot at starting.
3. Kick returner
When Phil Emery decided not to re-sign Devin Hester, it immediately created a competition for this role and some big shoes to fill with an unknown player trying to replace the greatest returner in the NFL. Possibilities on the current roster include Michael Ford, Eric Weems and Terrence Tolliver, but I think Michael Spurlock, Armanti Edwards and star CFL kick returner Chris Williams have the best chance to win the job.
4. Backup quarterback
We were all looking forward to have Josh McCown as Jay Cutler’s backup again this year, until Lovie Smith took him down to Tampa Bay. Last year’s third-string QB, Jordan Palmer, is the favorite to now win the job. Palmer had some shoulder issues in OTAs which caused the Bears to sign former Panthers’ second-round pick Jimmy Clausen. The Bears also drafted David Fales in the sixth round. I still think it will be Palmer’s job, who learned the system last season, but anything could happen in Bourbonnais in July.
5. Long snapper
This will not be as exciting as the other positions, but it will still be a battle after Patrick Mannelly retired from 16 seasons at the position. Brandon Hartson and Chad Rempel will be the two players fighting for the job, unless someone else is brought into camp.
It’s been another busy offseason for Phil Emery and the Chicago Bears. Just about every possible scenario has played out this offseason with the four main special teamers.
Adam Podlesh was released
Devin Hester signed with Atlanta
Patrick Mannelly retired
Robbie Gould signed a 4-year extension in December 2013
Special teams coach, Joe DeCamillis, will be in his second year with the team, but will have a lot of work to do this year with almost all new faces. There will be a lot of players trying to make it on the 53-man roster with these special teams’ spots. Players like Chris Williams, Tress Way, Pat O’Donnell, Michael Spurlock, Armanti Edwards, Chad Rempel, and Brandon Hartson will all have a lot to prove in Bourbonnais when the pads come on.