Bears Twitter Q&A: Looking long-term at left tackle, quarterback

SHARE Bears Twitter Q&A: Looking long-term at left tackle, quarterback

Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. takes on Lions DE Ziggy Ansah. (AP)

The Sun-Times’ experts can answer your Bears questions all week on Twitter. Here’s a sampling of Tuesday’s queries sent to @adamjahns, who responds with more than 140 characters:

Good question. The vibe I get is that the Bears have gone from surprised by Leno in 2015 to wanting more from Leno in 2016. Overall, he’s failed to meet their higher expectations. That’s not to say that the Bears are done with Leno. It means he’s been inconsistent. One week you don’t hear his name called and then one week he’s getting beat by someone named Preston Smith (the Redskins’ second-year outside linebacker). The Bears didn’t add serious competition for Leno last offseason. That should change next year when Leno is the final year of his rookie contract.

It’s no secret that Howard is the Bears’ best offensive threat. Teams are loading up to stop him. When Alshon Jeffery was suspended, opponents stacked the box without major concerns in coverage. Cam Meredith’s emergence helped only so much. Here’s another problem: the Bears defense can’t stay off the field because of their own problems. In the last six weeks, the Bears have allowed 940 yards on the ground. In those six games, the Bears are allowing 6.1 yards per carry. That’s more than Howard’s impressive season average of 5.1 yards per carry. The Bears have needed quarterback Matt Barkley to throw because they’ve been behind, too. The Titans had a 21-7 lead at halftime in Week 12. The Packers led 27-10 in the third quarter in Week 15. And the Redskins jumped out to 14-0 lead in the first quarter last week.

It’s important for the Bears to not overdraft the position, which happens frequently. The scouting world has plenty of concerns about the 2017 class of quarterbacks. It lacks an Andrew Luck-like prospect. There isn’t a Jameis Winston to debate taking over a Marcus Mariota, either. Picking the wrong quarterback too early can be devastating for franchises. In 2014, Blake Bortles (No. 3, Jaguars), Johnny Manziel (No. 22, Browns) and Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32, Vikings) were drafted in the first round. The Raiders selected Derek Carr at No. 36. What happened in 2013 was worse. Jake Locker (Titans), Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars) and Christian Ponder (Vikings) were drafted in the first 12 picks. There will be some special defenders for the Bears to consider early in the 2017 draft. The Bears can’t pass up a potential Day 1 in starter in favor of a quarterback with question marks.

General manager Ryan Pace has been targeted in his approach to free agency. He didn’t pay top dollar for cornerback Tracy Porter, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee or inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, but all four players are valuable, productive players. When they play, the defense is markedly better. But you’re right in saying that the secondary needs help. The Bears’ low number of takeaways is an example of why. Here’s one player to watch: Chiefs safety Eric Berry. He’s still scheduled to be free agent, and he’ll get big money. But he’s worth every dollar. He’s still young; he has inspiring backstory; and he’s extremely productive on the field. Berry would be a Norman-type signing.

Pace has said himself that it would take at least three draft classes to overhaul his roster. One more year to sign his type of players in free agency helps, too. Year 3 always should have been considered the appropriate season to measure what Pace is building.

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