Ugly games like the one in Seattle tend to create vacuums where surprising things happen. Here are a few updated bold Chicago Bears predictions.
Undrafted Jones will supplant McClellin at strong side linebacker
Inconsistency usually comes when a player is forced to switch positions as Shea McClellin has for the Bears, going from defensive end to strong side linebacker. However, his issues may go beyond simple inexperience. Too often he appears overmatched when blocked and seems to lack the required strength to make regular tackles. No one disputes his athleticism or speed, but it takes more than that to excel on the strong side.
Meanwhile, it has been conspicuously quiet regarding another athletic linebacker on the depth chart. Christian Jones was expected to go in the third round of the draft but due to a faulty drug test he ended up an undrafted free agent. Luckily the Bears were able to pick him up. Jones is lauded as a physical tackler with great athleticism and game speed. He can flip his hips to drop in coverage but also can rush the passer. So far he has been quiet in the preseason, yet nobody doubts for a second that he will make the roster. That is how talented he is. Best of all he’s a natural fit for the strong side. He may not be ready quite yet, but before long don’t be surprised if the rookie pushes McClellin to the bench.
Paul Pasqualoni replaces Mel Tucker at defensive coordinator
Mel Tucker is treading on thin ice. His defense has looked overmatched throughout most of the preseason, just like it was last year (30th overall, 32nd stopping the run and rushing the passer). Head coach Marc Trestman gave him a second chance to set things right but even his patience has limits. Tucker is very much on the hot seat. Not just because of the units’ play either. Now he must realize the Bears have what they didn’t last year: his replacement on the coaching staff.
Defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni is highly experienced, having been a defensive coordinator in Dallas. He is familiar with the job and notable for being very disciplined and demanding of his players. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch for him to step up and take over if Tucker falters. When it will happen is debatable, but it’s only a matter of time at this point..
Josh Morgan holds off Santonio Holmes for third receiver spot
Everybody was ready to anoint the #3 receiver job to Santonio Holmes the second he signed his contract with the Bears. It’s understandable given his successful history. However, people were quick to forget that he was arriving late to the game, while forgotten addition Josh Morgan has had the advantage of learning the playbook from the start of the off-season. Thus far the discrepancy has showed. Holmes had one catch for seven yards in Seattle. Morgan had three for 46. His production has steadily increased since week one, a surefire sign that he’s grasping the offense and gaining a connection with Jay Cutler. Holmes may be the more accomplished receiver, but Morgan stole the job before he ever really had a chance.
Phil Emery will raid a practice squad or make a trade before season
One thing fans have come to know about GM Phil Emery is he never stops looking for a way to improve the roster, regardless of the time of year. He signed Jeremiah Ratliff late in the 2013 season, traded for Dante Rosario at the start of the season from Dallas and swiped David Bass off the Oakland Raiders practice squad. Nobody ever knows when its coming, but it always does. So with the roster still in need of tweaking, especially on defense, look for Emery to stay aggressive with cuts being made and the waiver wire filling up.
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