While it’s always exciting to get information about first official pieces of news regarding your favorite football team as it signifies game one getting closer and closer, it doesn’t mean it’s as significant as it may feel. It’s like the first day of camp when you see your players move into their dorm rooms at Olivet Nazarene University carrying their big screen televisions into their tiny rooms. While it’s significant in that football is nearly at hand, there is no real news to report other than large men moving into small quarters. This is exactly what the release of the Bears first official depth chart is.
If you look at the depth chart it basically lists the incumbents, top free agent signings, and longest tenured Bears at the top of the list and the most significant rookies right below them usually based on nothing but draft status. This is definitely the case with the Bears first official depth chart of 2017.
Probably the biggest indicator of its insignificance is the listing of Mitch Unrein as the starting left defensive end. He’s a player who I feel may not even make the final cut. Currently, Jaye Howard Jr. is listed as Aikem Hicks’ backup but anyone with a small inkling of knowledge about the Bears knows that Jaye Howard is likely the starter opposite Hicks at Right Defensive End once the season officially starts. I think as the season progresses guys like Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris (who isn’t even listed as the third string) can have a lot to say about whether they get the majority of the snaps over Howard with their play. However, to begin the season I think most would agree it to be a foregone conclusion Howard and Hicks are your starting Defensive Ends.
Another area on the depth chart to not read much into at this stage is at Safety. Adrian Amos is listed as one of the starters and Chris Prosiniski as his primary backup. 2017 Fourth round pick Eddie Jackson is listed with the fourth-team, and he has had a very good camp. And the former Alabama captain is in the mix for the starting free safety spot. The kid has been a camp star while both Amos’ and Prosiniski’s spots on the roster are far from foregone conclusions.
In other observations of mine, I also see no situation where the Bears carry only three tight ends. I see them carrying four and to this point, I see Zach Miller, currently listed as Dion Sims backup and number two on the depth chart, as being in real trouble making this roster. When healthy Miller is a valuable weapon in the passing game and a very good blocker, and a great teammate and mentor to the younger guys on the roster.
However, if those younger guys like Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker show they can do the same kinds of things as Miller, the Bears can save some money by cutting Miller and keeping all their young inexpensive prospects at the same time. I even see MyCole Pruitt being a part of this team as a practice squad player if indeed he is still eligible. This would also likely eliminate the need for a fullback as the Bears pretty much wasted a roster spot on Paul Lasike last season who barely was on the field.
If Miller is waived, I see him in going to Miami under his former offensive coordinator and Miami’s current head coach Adam Gase, where he can be an outlet weapon for his good friend Jay Cutler who both had an excellent on field rapport with each other as well. It would be a soft landing spot for a great person and someone who has been a good soldier for the Bears organization. Hell, they may even make a deal for him for a late round pick to ensure he doesn’t get picked up elsewhere.
I would also question the Quarterback depth chart at this point too. While Mike Glennon is nearly a lock to be the starter (he’d have to have an epic meltdown to lose the starting job) it is in question whether or not they’ll carry three Quarterbacks on the 53 man roster to start the season. It certainly is possible as the Bears have a million dollars committed to Mark Sanchez whether he makes the team or not. Also, Connor Shaw who is still practice squad eligible and familiar with the system was cut earlier during OTA’s but called back only because of an injury to Sanchez. However, he is well liked by the Bears brass and they still have yet to cut him indicating they probably plan on reinserting him to their practice squad should he pass through waivers.
The Bears have not kept more than two Quarterbacks on the roster since this regime led by Ryan Pace and John Fox took over. However, with the injury issues they had in the past and the need for Mitchell Trubisky to get some of the basics down, (namely taking a clean snap from under center), the Bears may be reluctant to insert Trubisky in as a starter early in the season should the need arise.
Quarterback is definitely a position that requires close monitoring and is a big decision for this regime. Do you burn a roster spot for someone who may not even play and cut a player you liked as a developmental guy, or do you go with two quarterbacks and have Shaw on standby on the practice squad should an injury occur? There is also the possibility Shaw doesn’t even make it through waivers to get on the practice squad.
At current it certainly seems as though Sanchez will make the roster. However, his status could change if the Bears are comfortable with Trubisky’s progress enough to start him later in the season, and he is elevated to the primary backup forcing Sanchez down to third string. The most certain thing about the first depth chart release is there is nothing certain, and the most certain thing is there will be changes in its order and personnel before the start of the season.