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Why is the team at the bottom of the NFL Power Rankings? How will Justin Fields’ progress be measured? – Denver Post

As the Chicago Bears prepare to open the season Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field, readers want to know why the Bears are disrespected in NFL circles and which rookies are about to make immediate escapes. Brad Biggs answers these questions and more in his weekly Bears Q&A mailbag.

The Bears are ranked 32nd by NFL Network. Are we missing something in the pre-season that other people are seeing? — @bwohlgemuth

More than a few people were caught off guard by the league’s media arm ranking the Bears last in a preseason power rankings with @jon4835 asking why are the Bears “getting bad preseason national reviews?”

There are a handful of factors that contribute to the Bears being at or near the bottom in a handful of power rankings (Pro Football Talk had the Bears No. 30). The Bears cleaned up the house after being bad last season and the prevailing thought among many outsiders is that new general manager Ryan Poles is pretty much torn down before rebuilding.

The highest-paid player on the roster, Khalil Mack, was traded and the Bears made no costly additions through free agency. They were also without first-round picks and while the Poles were left with 11 draft picks in total, eight were in Round 5 or later. There are big questions about the offensive line and wide receivers, and while there’s an abundance of optimism locally about Justin Fields, outside, I think a lot of people are saying they want to see him. to believe it. The Bears have changed their defensive schemes and probably don’t have all the pieces they’re looking for yet. Add it all up and that’s how you end up near the bottom of a power ranking.

The upside here is that the Bears will be able to play the respect card all they want and accurately note that most doubt them. A lot of coaches like to hammer home the idea that a team isn’t getting what it’s due. Power ratings change as quickly as the wind, and if the Bears can pull off a few wins early in the season, they’ll edge closer to the middle of the pack, where the majority of teams end up being lumped together unless they’re really good. or especially bad.

Hometown optimism has been on the rise since the preseason finale in Cleveland when the first-team offense scored three touchdowns in the first half. It was a great performance from Fields and the offensive line did a good job. It really is the basis for the majority of positive vibes because the offense hasn’t been very effective in the previous two exhibitions and it was an awkward effort for most of training camp.

If the Nationals who tinker with power ratings overlook this Cleveland exposure, it’s easy to see why the Bears are in the league’s bottom quarter or worse. Ultimately, the ranking is going to tell you where that team should be ranked and how it should be rated. There are 17 games to play.

Which of the rookies do you expect to shine from day one to the end of the season? — @just_acy

I feel like it’s a bit of a cop to respond to safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon because they’re obvious picks like the team’s first two picks, but both seem ready to have an immediate impact. Brisker has a great combination of size, strength and reach and could become a fan favorite before mid-season. Gordon has the athletic traits to handle the lunge and is a good size for the position as well.

Brisker and Gordon are just two of 15 rookies on the 53-man roster. It would be a huge development for the organization if left tackle Braxton Jones, a fifth-round pick, shines from start to finish of the season. I’m not sure what to expect from Jones, but he has an incredible opportunity ahead of him. Velus Jones Jr. should be an impact on special teams, if not on offense as well, and I think linebackers Jack Sanborn and Sterling Weatherford could be assets for special teams.

How do you think the Bears plan to use Alex Leatherwood? Is he the swing tackle as opposed to Riley Reiff? — @ jgarcia3290

I think you are a bit premature with the question. I imagine it will take at least a few weeks for the coaches to work with the newcomer and for Leatherwood to familiarize themselves with the playbook so that he is considered for the game day roster. The Bears are going to be limited to one padded practice a week, so I think it’s going to take a little while for the former Las Vegas Raiders first round to pick up speed.

Leatherwood projects as a right tackle or guard, in my opinion. Could he put you through a game at left tackle if something happened? Sure. But if the Bears really need a left tackle, I think they’d look to Reiff for help.

Where do you think Lucas Patrick will start? —@william20852834

Patrick returned to training on Monday for the first time since breaking his right thumb on July 28. He’s operating in a small cast and given how much time he’s missed and the way the line has been working recently, I don’t think he’s plugged into the starting lineup. against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for him to crack the ball as long as he is wearing a cast. I think the answer to your question will be determined after seeing how the line performs in the first games of the season. If a player is clearly struggling inside, Patrick is likely to slip into the lineup quickly.

The Bears’ second receiver at the end of the year will be _____? — @rradulski

That’s a good question. Darnell Mooney is the overwhelming favorite to lead the team in receptions and receiving yards, and wide receiver Byron Pringle and tight end Cole Kmet should be productive on the passing offense. If Pringle is healthy he should be able to catch 50 or more passes and I think Kmet should have some growth last season when he caught 60 passes for 612 yards. Provided he’s healthy, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be near 80 receptions and likely be around 900 yards with more production in the red zone, where he’s been largely ignored in 2021. .

Justin Fields’ growth is the top priority this season, but how do you measure that growth? Is it just going to be the eyesight test to see if he’s processing things and making better decisions? — @dawestley

This is an excellent question and I asked myself the question. It will probably be as much about an eye exam as it is about numbers and statistics. Does it show command of the offense? Is he progressing as a pocket passer? Does it keep turnovers, especially those resulting from poor decisions, to a minimum?

I asked former Bears quarterback Jim Miller and NFL analyst Ross Tucker almost the same question at the start of training camp, using their answers in the 10 Thoughts Coming Out of the Game column. preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Coming back, this is what they said:

“I don’t want to get into any cliches about progressive enhancement, but I like how they use it,” Miller said. “I think they will take advantage of his skills. They will have the RPO angle of the attack. They’re going to do a boatload of chili roll stuff — half a roll of playful action. They’re going to do a lot of bootlegs. They will make quarterback draws, RPO influence, and they have to manage the ball well.

“I think everyone understands everything that Bill Lazor learned later in last season and I think they’re going to build on that. I think if you see that gradual improvement. I see the improvement that he’s got already done. His footwork? He worked really hard on it and he watched a lot of other guys’ tapes. Probably (Luke) Getsy gave him a lot of Green Bay stuff that he watched. His footwork legs is much better, even the way he positions his feet. He’s more poised to throw the ball. But the talent just oozes from him. He’s so special. But they have to provide it to him. If you see gradual improvement each week where turnovers are reduced, if you see him improving in the situational game where he makes his adjustments and improves each week, there is a lot to be excited about.

Tucker said it would be “any kind of improvement”.

“Any clear improvement would be a success in my mind, especially with how limited they are around him,” Tucker said. “I’m not going to put numbers on that, but it’s almost like the famous (Supreme Court) saying, ‘I don’t know how to define pornography but I know what it is when I see it.’ I feel like we’ll be able to see his mastery of attack. How often does he run for his life and how often does he quickly get rid of the ball? That’s a big, big thing – how fast does the ball get out of his hand and turnovers.

“If he doesn’t have a lot of turnovers and gets the ball out quickly, it will be considered a success, regardless of the team record or the stats, because they just aren’t very good around. him. You can argue that they have the worst receiving corps and the worst offensive line in the NFL. It’s almost hard to believe and unconscionable that a first-round quarterback is going into his second year and you could say that is what surrounds it.

How is the pitch shaping up for Sunday’s game? — @skeet_sparkles

Efforts to establish an all-new playing surface at Soldier Field are well underway. I expect the peloton to be pretty good on Sunday.

Is Velus Jones ready for Week 1? — @cmgolfs17

The Tennessee rookie speedster has missed significant time over the past three weeks with an undisclosed injury but was on the court Monday, and that bodes well for his availability on Sunday. Given how much time Jones has been missing, his role in attack could be reduced somewhat, but I see no reason why he wouldn’t be an option in the second leg for special teams coordinator Richard Hightower.

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