By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears have hit the midpoint of the 2017 season and are at it with a 3-5 record. There have been some good things and some bad things that have come out of the first eight games.
But one thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that the Bears’ arrow is pointing up.
The Mike Glennon experiment may be over, and it looks like it’s going to be Mitchell Trubisky’s team now. Glennon lasted all of four games and had a 1-3 record. Trubisky has fared better than Glennon with a 2-2 record, but he’s had a lot of help from his defense.
But one group he hasn’t gotten a lot of help from is his wide receivers. Hopefully, that will change when Dontrelle Inman is available. But even with Inman, the Bears still have a way to go in the passing game.
The offensive line has been both good and bad. There are some things to be happy and frustrated about with that group.
But overall, things are looking up for the offense. At least for their future.
Without further delay, here are the Bearsgab mid-season grades for each positional unit on the offense. We will assign individual grades to some of the players and then unit grades. The grading system for the players is based on a points system which on a 1-5 number system and goes like this:
And the grading system I will use for the units is by letter grade, and that should be self-explanatory.
So, without further delay, here are my unit and individual grades for the Bears offense.
The Bears have suffered a lot at the quarterback position. They thought that Glennon was going to be the short-term answer while Trubisky learned and grew in the offense but that did not happen. Glennon was so bad; the Bears had to put Trubisky in and start moving forward. While Trubisky has shown some promise, his growth has been stunted by the lack of talent at the wide receiver position.
Glennon is probably going to be gone next season unless the Bears want to keep him as a backup. The “out” clause in his contract doesn’t tie the Bears to him beyond this year. That would make it a clean break. Letting him go might make sense but then who will back up Trubisky?
Worrying about that is a long way away.
Trubisky will get better when the players around him get better and for now, he will learn and grow and eventually be the player the Bears hoped he would be.
Unit Grade-C- There is a lot of potential here and hopefully this grade will improve by the end of the season.
The Bears have gotten some good production out of their running backs this year although they might have been able to do more at times. Jordan Howard has played well but has suffered from two problems. The first is that he has fought through some shoulder problems and has struggled to stay healthy consistent. Second, Howard has dropped some critical passes and needs to work on his pass-catching skills. He must improve in that area.
Tarik Cohen was great to start but hasn’t done a lot since the first four games. Teams figured him out and he has been taken out by double coverage. Benny Cunningham does ok in relief and Michael Burton has been blocking well. We might see more of Cunningham if he can stay healthy, as the season goes on.
Unit Grade-B+ Mix in Howard’s pass-catching woes and Cohen being a non-factor recently and this group drops down to a B+. They are close to being an “A” group though.
All I can say here is yikes! This group has been called the worst in the NFL by some experts and they aren’t doing the Bears’ quarterbacks any favors. They have no star power here, no one to stretch the defense or even a true number one receiver. They need help and they got some with Dontrelle Inman, but we don’t know what we have with him just yet. Everyone else is poor to mediocre and hasn’t helped the Bears’ cause.
There are rumblings that Kevin White could come back off injured reserve. How can he help? We aren’t sure because he hasn’t played but at this point, anything or anyone is better than the current crop of wide receivers the Bears have.
Let’s see what the Bears do.
Unit Grade-D- This group needs some new blood. Let’s see what Inman can do.
This group isn’t going to be the same without Zach Miller. Dion Sims needs to pick up where Miller left off and be the guy that they thought he would be when they signed him as a free agent. So far, he has shown flashes but hasn’t lived up his lofty payday.
He needs to step up now.
Adam Shaheen needs to step up as well. Shaheen, a second-round draft pick, is nowhere near where the Bears need him to be right now. He needs to grow up and get things right.
With the injury to Miller, guys like Brown and Braunecker, if they call him up from the practice squad, are going to have to help as well. This group needs to step in and help give Trubisky someone to throw the ball too.
Unit Grade-C+ -When it comes to blocking, this group does a good job against the run. They need to become Trubisky’s pass-catching outlet and do more to help him out. Hopefully, they can do that in the second half of the season.
The Bears signed Charles Leno, Jr., to a big brand-new contract but he has not lived up to that lofty contract’s status. He struggles at times but he’s the best of what the Bears have at the offensive tackle position. He won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Bobby Massie has had his troubles but is all the Bears have at right tackle right now. Chicago must do something about that position during the offseason.
Charles Leno, Jr.-3.0
Unit Grade-C -There isn’t much to write home about with these guys. They have been average and will remain so.
Things have been a bit of a struggle for the guards this season. Both Kyle Long and Josh Sitton have been hurt and have missed time. The fill-in players, mostly tackles playing guard, have helped but they couldn’t be long-term solutions if needed.
Right now, Kyle Long has a hand injury and it’s not known whether he will miss any time. Josh Sitton is getting older by the game and may not be around after the season is over. There were even rumors that the Bears were taking trade offers for him before the trade deadline last week.
Still, they are the best the Bears have and hopefully they can step it up in the second half of the season.
Unit Grade-B- -If it weren’t for all the injuries here this would be a better grade, but this unit has struggled with health. Hopefully, they can play the remaining eight games together.
I am torn with what I see in Cody Whitehair. How could he be so good last year as a rookie but struggle so much this season? The Bears may want to move the undersized Hroniss Grasu in at center and possibly keep Whitehair as a reserve and let him learn, again. Is that a viable option?
Maybe neither Whitehair or Grasu are any good.
One thing is for sure though; the Bears must do something to help improve the center position because it’s almost cost them this season.
Unit Grade-D -Whitehair has regressed and Grasu has struggled to stay healthy. The Bears need some help here but it’s not coming this year. Let’s hope they can turn things around here.