1st and 10: It’s time for Jaquan Brisker to play football
Bears offer safety to rookies Jaquan Brisker the opportunity of a lifetime. He may want to take advantage of it.
Brisker, a second-round draft pick (48th overall) from Penn State, has pretty much gotten a starting job since the day he stepped foot on the Halas Hall training ground.
He doesn’t have to learn. There’s no veteran starter he’ll have to beat. With Eddie Jackson starting at free safety, the only other safeties on the list are special teams / fringe players – Dane Cruikshank (four career starts in four seasons, all with the Titans last year), DeAndre Houston-Carson (three starts in six seasons, all with the Bears last year), Michael Joseph (three defensive snaps in three years) and four rookies. The Bears have made it clear: Brisker’s future is now.
Not only that, but Brisker has the advantage of joining Matt Eberflus’ defense on the ground floor, which puts him on a par with the veterans. He has less experience, but he also has less to unlearn. He really couldn’t ask for a better opportunity as a second-round draft pick.
It would be up to him to be there from the start and to continue this momentum. Instead, he was one of the first to keep his contract – he missed the early days of the rookie introduction because his agent is negotiating with the Bears over unsecured third-year money .
Welcome to the NFL, Jaquan Brisker. It is an imperfect compensation system. With the shortness of the average NFL career, players deserve to capitalize on their early success more than the NFL currently allows. But holding on for more in that first contract is usually counterproductive – for the player and the team. Superstars can often get away with it. But Brisker is a second-round draft pick. There’s value in being there early on – especially for a player who has the opportunity that Brisker has.
It is true that Roquan Smith’s A 29-day rookie in 2018 hasn’t changed his NFL arc significantly. But he was the eighth overall pick in the draft. And you can also argue that there was a cost. If Smith could have played more than eight snaps in the 2018 season opener, perhaps the Bears defense wouldn’t crumble in the second half of a 24-23 loss to the Packers. If the Bears win this game, maybe they go 13-3 and get a first-round bye and don’t have to face the Eagles in the wild-card round and by Cody Parkey double-doink never happens. Maybe.
Smith ultimately fired the agent who retained him over an issue that, predictably, didn’t play out: the possibility that the Bears would void the guaranteed money in his rookie contract if he was suspended for one or more games. Smith did not say why he dumped his agent. But it is almost certain that there were no winners in his resistance. There are rarely.
2. Roquan was the only obstacle for the Bears since the introduction of the rookie salary grid in the 2011 collective agreement. Before that, the list of Bears recruits to keep since the end of the Ditka era has a common denominator: they all ended up with disappointing:
Cedric Benson (2005), David Terrell (2001), Cade McNown (1999), Curtis Enis and Alonzo Mayes (1998) and Rashaan Salam and Pat Riley (1995).
In fact, from 1995 to 2001, four Bears first-round picks stood (Salaam, Enis, McNown, Terrell) and two didn’t (Walt Harris, Brian Urlacher). The five who held on with 82 combined starts in the NFL. The two who signed on time had 367 (Urlacher 187, Harris 180) — with Urlacher in particular making it a stated priority to be at camp on time.
Probably just a coincidence, but maybe not.
3. How long Robert Quinn will be a bear remains to be seen — assuming he shows up for training camp after sitting out the entire on-court portion of the offseason schedule.
Unless the Bears become a surprise playoff contender in 2022 — stranger things have happened in the NFL — the Bears are better off without Quinn than they are with him. They are clearly in reconstruction mode after Ryan Poles erased the list of most veteran players he inherited Ryan Pace. And Quinn was taking shots of development players – perhaps an intriguing rookie Dominique Robinson. And he could help them win games that drop them in the draft order.
And have no illusions – while Eberflus officially plays to win them all, getting a top 10 is almost as much a part of a rebuild as it is a development. Justin Fields. An amicable divorce between the Bears and Quinn — eventually — is likely part of the plan.
4. All eyes will be on Fields when camp opens on Wednesday, but also at left tackle – where the rookie Braxton Jones began at the veteran mini-camp, with larry borom at right tackle and 2021 second-round pick Teven Jenkins the odd man as the second team’s right tackle.
“Top five will play” is a football cliché, but it has rarely been more legitimate than with this Bears team. Borom and Jenkins have played both tackle positions and either could end up at right guard. Center LucasPatrick could play right guard. right guard Sam Mustipher has been the Bears’ starting center for the past two years. left guard Cody Whitehair — a six-year-old starter — made the Pro Bowl at center in 2018.
The Bears could open with Borom-Whitehair-Patrick-Mustipher-Jenkins from left to right. But every position is open, and don’t count the rookies getting a real shot.
5. “A breath of fresh air” is a common, almost clichéd theme. of very first training camp when a new regime follows failure, and that should be especially the case in this one, as the players embrace the change towards Poles and Eberflus.
The Pace/Nagy era not only ended well, but the much-vaunted culture they cherished seemed to fade into a facade at the end of last season. Not much will be settled in this training camp — it’s Bears vs. Bears and preseason games are more ghost boxing than dress rehearsals these days. But when week 1 begins, a Bears theme will prevail – change is good.
6a. Just have conventional quarterback dynamics will be a solid anchor for the new coaching staff to at least set the tone of proficiency during Eberflus’ first training camp as head coach. Fields, the franchise’s potential quarterback, is No. 1. Trevor Siemian, a capable backup with starting NFL experience, is No. 2.
Tricky quarterbacking situations in training camp have hampered the past two seasons under Nagy on many levels. In the 2020 COVID-19 camp, Mitch Trubisky coming off a stagnant 2019 season competing with a veteran Nick Foles for the starting job – with Trubisky an unconvincing “winner”. In 2021, Andy Dalton was the designated starter ahead of rookie Fields in an ill-fated learning plan mistakenly modeled on the Alex Smith – Patrick Mahomes pattern with heads.
Fields has yet to prove he’s the quarterback the Bears are looking for. But the path to success is clearer than it has ever been.
6b. You can’t overlook the importance of luck and timing in the success of any NFL general manager or coach. Pace’s tenure got off to a bad start in 2015 when his first-round pick, wide receiver Kevin Blanc, started his first training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with a shin injury he suffered in OTAs and ended up missing the entire season.
Every year, it seemed, the Bears opened camp missing a key player: Pernell McPhee (PUP) in 2016 and 2017; The resistance of Roquan Smith in 2018; by Eddie Goldman opt-out in 2020; and Tarik Cohen (PUP) and second draft pick Teven Jenkins (back surgery/injured reserve) last season.
We’ll get a first indication of how lucky the Poles and Eberflus are early on when training camp opens on Tuesday.
7a. The Bears open this training camp with only 27 players remaining of the 63 players (active roster/injured reserve) the Poles inherited from Pace – including 12 of the 23 players who have started eight or more games in 2021.
That’s a pretty aggressive turnover. When Pace was hired in 2015, he still had 42 of the 63 players he inherited. Phil Emery, including 16 of 23 players who started eight or more games in 2014.
7b. Start again from the beggining : The Bears have three players with six combined Pro Bowl berths — Quinn (2013, 2014, 2021), safety Eddie Jackson (2018, 2019) and White Hair (2018). Pace’s first team in 2015 had 11 players with a total of 24 Pro Bowl berths.
7c. Only one of these players is not a Bear: Willie Wright, Jayson Stanley, Auzoyah Alufohai, Tyrone Wheatley, Jr., Lamar Jackson, John Rysen.
8. Pick to Click: Keep an eye out for rookie wide receiver Kevin Schaa, a 5-10, 166-pound undrafted free agent from Liberty. Shaa ran a 4.38 40-yard sprint with a 38-inch vertical jump and has good hands and a nose for the ball. He would likely get lost in the shuffle in a more established group of wide receivers. But he thinks he has a pretty good look here, with only Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle the only locks on the roster and a very open-minded coaching staff on the whole roster.
Play with the quarterback Malik Willis – a third-round pick by the Titans – Shaa caught just 28 passes (for 516 yards) last season at Liberty – but six of them attempted touchdowns and he averaged 18.4 yards per socket.
9. Josh McCown, ex-bear of the week: Packer Safety Adrian Amos was named the 40th-best player in the NFL in Pro Football Focus’ ranking of the NFL’s Top 50 Players entering the 2022 season.
Amos, a fifth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2015, has been solid if not spectacular in four seasons with the Bears. He’s been just as steady in three seasons with the Packers since signing a four-year, $36 million contract in free agency in 2019 – breaking 25 passes and six interceptions and emerging as a team leader.
From Sam Monson of PFF: “Amos is one of the most underrated players in the game and has a real argument… as the best safety in the league or at the very least, one of the best. He has never had a bad season in the NFL, recording seven pass breakups and three interceptions last year. He has missed less than 10% of his tackle attempts in each of his last three campaigns.
Let the record show that there were few tears shed when Pace let Amos go. bears signed Ha ha Clinton-Dix to replace Amos in 2019 and it was considered an upgrade.
10. Bearometer: 6-11 —against 49ers (L); at Packers (L); against the Texans (W); to the New York Giants (L); at Vikings (L); against commanders (W); at Patriots (L); to the Cowboys (L); against dolphins (W); against the Lions (W); at Falcons (W); at NY Jets (L); against Packers (L); against Eagles (L); against invoices (L); to Lions (L); against the Vikings (W).
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