The Bears roster is set. After the cut down period, waiver claims, and injured reserve designations, the Bears are ready to roll on the 2017 regular season.
Due to the injuries of Cameron Meredith and Lamarr Houston, many speculated that the Bears would focus on the wide receiver and outside linebacker positions during the waiver claim period. The Beard did claim a WR, Tre McBride, along with long snapper Andrew DePaola and running back Taquan Mizzell.
But before the wavier claims on Sunday, the Bears were hard at work finalizing their 53-man roster. And what does it tell us about this Bears team? Let’s take a look.
The Bears kept three quarterbacks, Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez and Mitch Trubisky. Glennon, who was signed this offseason, will be the Bears starter. It remains unclear who will backup Glennon. Trubisky got a lot more playing time in the preseason, but the Bears are still set on developing him off the field this season.
Sanchez was brought in on a low salary and to be a mentor to the young rookie Trubisky. The former first round pick spent last season in Dallas and was a close teammate and mentor to Dak Prescott. It is a credit to GM Ryan Pace for noticing Sanchez’s presence in Dallas thus bringing him to the Bears. In an important first year for Trubisky, it’s very important that he has all the help he can get.
The Bears preliminary kept five tight ends and and a fullback. The Bears ended up releasing TE Ben Braunecker to make room for their waiver claims, but the message is clear, the Bears are going to be a run-heavy team. Four tight ends and a fullback screams a lot of carries for the Bears backs. Teams could easily use a tight end out of the backfield, but the Bears obviously liked what they saw from FB Michael Burton in camp and the preseason.
Jordan Howard’s big rookie season leaves reason to believe he will pick up right where he left off. Howard lost some weight and worked on his speed this offseason. And if Kyle Long is ready to go Week 1, the Bears should have no problem running the football. I expect a lot of two TE sets this season, especially early in the year. Glennon has not been consistent with the deep ball and his receivers are not top notch guys. The Bears are going to be run heavy, 25-30 hand-offs a game because that is the strength of this team.
The one cut I was surprised by was DE Jaye Howard Jr. It was a hip injury and a failed physical that the Kansas City Chiefs let him walk. But the Bears took a chance on him and if healthy, he had a good chance to make the team.
The Bears were really thin at defensive end at the end of last season. Mitch Unrein and Akiem Hicks were about the only two proven players after the 3-13 season. Rookie Jonathan Bullard was inconsistent and battled injuries and Roy Robertson-Harris was on injured reserve.
The Bears did not draft any defensive ends in the NFL draft, meaning they had to do their work in free agency. And Jaye Howard became on of the top guys on the market. His hip was getting better as camp went on, but when he was playing in the fourth quarter vs. Cleveland, many knew he was not going to make the cut.
Roy Robertson-Harris and Jonathan Bullard were standouts in camp and the preseason. These two second year veterans deserve a lot of credit, especially Robertson-Harris who even with a strong camp was in question of making the final roster. In the end, Howard failed to make plays on the field, where Robertson-Harris and Bullard shined.
The Bears waiver additions are very intriguing. First, WR Tre McBride. We knew the Bears needed more depth at WR with the loss of Cameron Meredith. So, Pace brings 6′ 0″, 210 McBride who has spent his first two years in the NFL with the Titans.
McBride will have a defined role on special teams given his spot on the depth chart. He did have a big role in Tennessee last season and I’m sure it was one reason the Bears brought him in. It will be intereting to see how the Bears use him in the passing game, if any, right out of the gate.
“Good NFL size and physically dominated opponents when the ball was in the air. Makes circus catches look easy and appears fearless in the air. Elite high-point ability with outstanding body control, ball tracking and concentration.”– NFL.com draft profile on McBride.
The Bears other waiver claim was Taquan Mizzell, an undrafted rookie from Virginia. Mizzell was released by the Ravens despite some impressive play in the preseason. Mizzell was a playmaker at Virginia, his 195 career receptions are the second-most by a running back in ACC history. It will be interesting to see how he fits in the offense with rookie Tarik Cohen expected to do most of the third down work. Veteran Jeremy Langford, who missed all of training camp in Bourbonnais, did not do enough to make the final cut. And Mizzell appears to be more of a complete back, where Langford had limitations in his game.
This is Pace’s team. There are only four players left from the Phil Emery era, Kyle Long, Kyle Fuller, Charles Leno Jr., and Pat O’Donnell. The Bears have added 34 new players in the past two seasons, part of Paces roster overhaul to build a winning team and those who fit the culture.
And the best part of this whole process, the regular season is just one week away.