The Chicago Bears under GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus have embraced the long view. They are content letting the stars of the present go in favor of the future. Poles believe building through the draft is the only way for this team to win championships. Eberflus believes he has the coaching style to fit this mentality. It isn’t a bad thing. The only problem is that such a process takes time to see results.
That is what makes the upcoming training camp later this month so interesting. Many answers are waiting for the Bears once they can finally put the pads on. It wouldn’t be a surprise to think that some of those answers could lead to significant roster-related decisions. Here are some bold predictions on what will happen over the next 30-45 days.
Chicago Bears have plenty of possible surprises waiting.
Braxton Jones maintains his grip on the starting left tackle job.
It isn’t a new story. The Bears’ offensive line is a work-in-progress. Multiple positions up front remain unresolved. Arguably the most concerning is left tackle. Their best option going into the off-season looked like Larry Borom, a career right tackle out of college who plays some left as a rookie. That changed when the team elevated Jones to the first-team offense during spring practices. It seems crazy to think it will stay that way. Fifth round rookies don’t start at left tackle unless something is wrong. In truth, the odds favor it staying that way because Jones has far more experience on the left side than anyone in contention for the job.
— Sky Kruse (@KruseSports_) December 21, 2021
Teven Jenkins gets kicked inside to right guard.
Right now, the former 2nd round pick is embroiled in a battle for the right tackle spot with Borom. That makes sense considering he played his entire college career there. However, his ongoing demotion to the second-team offense raises concerns about how the Chicago Bears coaches view him. They may not be impressed by what he has to offer at tackle. Draft experts raised concerns about his average length and foot speed. That is why a move to guard makes the most sense. Those problems won’t be as prominent inside, and he’d be able to use his power and nastiness to great effect. It may not happen immediately, but the shift will come within the first two weeks.
Robert Quinn gets traded before camp wraps up in August.
After skipping OTAs and mandatory minicamps, some wonder if the 32-year-old Pro Bowler plans to extend his holdout into training camp. Robert Quinn sees the writing on the wall. The Bears are rebuilding and nowhere close to a Super Bowl run. With so few prime years left, he can’t afford to stick around if he wants to finally get that elusive ring. He is likely urging the organization to trade him elsewhere. Poles hasn’t obliged yet, but he is listening to offers. Expect an unforeseen injury to force the hand of another team to come strong for Quinn’s services before opening day in September.
— Talking The Line Sports Media™️ (@TalkingTheLine) August 21, 2021
Caleb Johnson swipes the strong-side linebacker job.
Matthew Adams is the favorite on paper to be the starting strong-side linebacker. He knows Eberflus’ defense better than anyone, having played in it for years. However, his actual on-field performances weren’t anything special. That leaves the door open for somebody else to take the job. During the preseason, Johnson stood out a lot last year and became an immediate force on special teams. He has the size for a strong-side linebacker along with good instincts. Considering how competitive he is, it isn’t a stretch to think he’ll outperform Adams when the competition gets serious.
Ryan Poles signs a notable free agent to fill a starting role.
Don’t expect the Chicago Bears to sign any further free agents until camp begins. They seem content with the roster they’ve put together. At least for now. Once the pads go on, they’ll start getting answers on what they have. Often in these situations, when a team is rebuilding, they quickly discover that certain positions don’t have a realistic option on the roster. So the GM goes hunting for a proven free agent to help fill the void. Whether on the offensive line, at wide receiver, or linebacker, don’t be shocked when Poles makes a late addition to the team that ends up starting.
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