In this week’s edition of ‘Take 2,’ Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times and Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly give Bears fans some things to be thankful for this holiday season:
Fishbain: Well, Patrick, the holiday season is here and the Bears, like the last two Thanksgivings, don’t have much to be thankful for, do they? But this is a wonderful time to share with family and friends, watch football, eat food and do some cyber shopping. Let’s warm the hearts and souls of Bears fans with things to be thankful for this weekend. How about Jordan Howard? I know he was ineffective in the second half Sunday, but Bears fans have to be thrilled about a fifth-round rookie having a legit shot to rush for 1,000 yards. Plus with Jeremy Langford as a backup, that position is set for a while. Thanks, Ryan Pace!
Finley: Howard is the brightest spot on a dull team, for sure. Health permitting – and on this team, that’s a helluva caveat – he has a chance to rush for more yards than Matt Forte did in all but two seasons as a Bear. That’s amazing, particularly given the fact the Bears’ offensive line has shuffled between eight different guys in the past month or so. He and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd deserve votes on somebody’s rookie of the year ballot, right?
Fishbain: Poor Howard, he just had to enter the NFL the same year as Ezekiel Elliott, the obvious choice for rookie honors. Floyd will need to rack up a few more sacks and maybe a turnover down the stretch (assuming, of course, he can recover quickly from a scary neck injury) to stay in the DROY race with Joey Bosa. Sticking with the rookies, because Bears fans have to be thankful that 2017 will be better than this season, Cody Whitehair has quietly been pretty good at center. I imagine he’s a fan of Thanksgiving dinner.
Finley: And he was put in a horrible spot to start the season, learning center during the week leading up to the opener after the Bears signed Josh Sitton. After Whitehair, though, the Bears’ list of exciting, healthy contributors – Willie Young? The punter? – starts to look as thin as bad gravy. So here’s precisely who the Bears should be thankful for: Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Hendricks (but maybe not David Ross, who gets enough attention). Because in a lot of Chicagoans’ minds, and understandably so, the football season really didn’t start until the Cubs’ ended. And by then, it was Week 9.
Fishbain: The loudest cheer at Soldier Field this season may have been when they played ‘Go Cubs Go’ after the Bears upset the Vikings. They also can be thankful that there are only six games left, and the healthy players should be very thankful for that considering how many Bears are on injured reserve. We should wrap this up with some pumpkin pie, but I’m trying to find something that is dessert-worthy. Maybe that the Bears will be in position to draft the quarterback of the future?
Finley: The Bears haven’t drafted in the top three since 1972 so, depending on how your mind works, this year’s bottoming out is either the smartest thing they could do – or the low point of a broken promise to be competitive. It’s probably both. Bears fans dreaming of their next quarterback on the couch after dinner – thanks, tryptophan! – need to remember that drafting one is no sure thing. Here’s a list of first-round quarterbacks taken outside the top two picks in the past five years: Paxton Lynch, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, EJ Manuel, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden. Is there one keeper in there? Sorry to be a bummer, Kev, when you asked for something sweet. But during this season, it feels appropriate.