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Bears: Windy City blues, or on the verge of competency in 2017?

Bears: Windy City blues, or on the verge of competency in 2017?
Published On: Mon, Aug 07
Dec 28, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears Jay Cutler (6) looks to pass against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears are staring down the barrel of competency. Its a low bar to clear but a big one for a team thats been in the cellar of the NFC North for three years in a row.

With the (very important) exception of the quarterback position, the offense doesnt look half bad. After his rookie season, its fair to call running back Jordan Howard a building block. The University of Indiana product went for 1,313 yards (5.2 per carry) and six touchdowns, ranking fifth among running backs in DYAR and tenth in DVOA. With 29 receptions, he also showed himself to be a capable receiver. That part of his game needs further development but was encouraging in Year 1.

Howard is running behind a good line as well. The Bears ranked inside the top 10 in adjusted line yards, power success and adjusted sack rate last season. Center Cody Whitehair " another rookie last season " was an instant success, ranking sixth at his position with an 85.9 PFF grade. The Bears have built their offensive line from the inside out, with two Pro Bowlers " Josh Sitton and Kyle Long " at guard. Sitton didnt slow down much last season, blowing just six blocks in 13 games, per Football Outsiders Almanac. Long was hit with the injury bug " along with seemingly half the team " but had a solid 78.2 PFF grade when healthy. Tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie are the least reliable players on the line, especially in pass protection. Leno blew 13 pass blocks and Massie blew 12 last season, per FOA. However, a big part of Chicagos offense is getting the ball out quickly. If the Bears continue to emphasize that " and given their quarterback situation they likely will " the negative effects of Leno and Massie could be limited.

Speaking of the quarterback situation, its time to talk about the elephant in the room. The Bears first tried to address it by handing Mike Glennon " who has thrown 11 passes in the last two seasons " $18.5 million in guaranteed money. That was stupid on its own, but the Bears went even further on draft night by trading a treasure chest of draft picks to move up to second overall, where they picked UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

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John Jenkins DT
Josh Sitton G
Tom Compton OT
Kyle Long G
Mitch Unrein DE
Danny Trevathan LB
Sherrick McManis CB
Dion Sims TE
Kyle Fuller CB
Akiem Hicks DE
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