Tasks at hand for Chicago Bears during bye week
The Chicago Bears' 3-2 record heading into their bye this weekend certainly isn't the worst thing in the world.
It's just not what most hoped for or expected heading into the season, and even less fulfilling knowing all they had to do was defeat the middling Oakland Raiders in London to take their break at 4-1 and tied for the NFC North lead.
Still, for the players there is nothing to do but rest their bumps and bruises and spend a lot more time than usual staring in the mirror.
For coaches and scouts, however, there is no rest for the weary, and what they are able to get done and the decisions they make in the next few days will dictate whether these Bears are destined for even greater things than last season's surprise success.
Task No. 1 is to determine, if quarterback Mitch Trubisky can't be back behind center against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 20, is Chase Daniel still the best option to keep his spot warm?
Heresy, you say, Tyler Bray, released Wednesday morning but likely to be re-signed to the practice squad, was never meant to be more than an emergency vest.
Perhaps, and I won't be surprised if coach Matt Nagy is similarly incredulous when I ask him the question as soon as I get the chance.
But what Nagy must consider -- again, only if Trubisky continues to be unable to go -- is the fact that the untested journeyman Bray appears to clearly have the biggest arm of the three. and realistically how much worse would he likely be than Daniel was in London?
Next up, what to do about the offensive line?
While most folks focus on former all-pro Kyle Long, Charles Leno is the bigger problem at the moment. Multiple major penalties per game should be a one-way ticket to the XFL.
Leno can do better. But the big question has to be, is 60 minutes on the sidelines against New Orleans watching ex-Saint Cornelius Lucas carry his water a better option at the moment and the best possible shock therapy to jolt Leno back into blocking people without getting flagged?
The Long situation is more troubling.
Kyle is struggling right now, but only he knows if it's because he is hurting and the problem is temporary, or the accumulation of abuse he suffered over the last three seasons has left permanent damage that will keep him from ever being the phenom he once was.
If it's the former, some time off with either Rashaad Coward or Ted Larsen, if he's able in his spot, is the way to go until Long is healthy.
But if it's the latter, a benching now probably means the end of his Bears career, and Nagy and company had best be certain where they're going before they play that card.
Should Long resurface later as a stud in a locker room elsewhere, it would be a very bad look for the Bears.
Right now the Bears just aren't very good at tight end, where newcomer J.P. Holtz is the only one of the five on the roster who has flashed recently.
Trey Burton will be fine if he can get 100 percent healthy, but giving Holtz a lot more of Adam Shaheen's reps has to be a consideration.
The unsatisfactory play up front has shielded the running backs from scrutiny. David Montgomery has shown a few real sparks, but we have to assume the club will try to design more options for Tarik Cohen to put him in space, and they certainly should look at the film of Cordarrelle Patterson's four running back starts in New England last year and consider whether they should be using him in the same way, because it worked for the defending champs.
Lastly, we have to assume defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is done for the foreseeable future -- and possibly the year -- obviously a huge loss.
If Bilal Nichols is close, his upside is still titillating, while Eddie Goldman and Roy Robertson-Harris are really good and Nick Williams appears to be solid depth.
But it is time for general manager Ryan Pace and Co. to be scouring the streets to see if there's veteran help out there for depth that is a step up from Abdullah Anderson and Jonathan Harris.