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The State of Bears Nation – Cut Down Day

The Chicago Bears Final 53

Roquan Smith looks to dominate in 2021

Last Men Standing

The Chicago Bears made their final cut down. The 53 man roster is set. While there were a few surprises many other names on the list made sense for what the Bears want to accomplish this year. Let’s dig into the Chicago Bears’ final cut and explore how this roster shapes up throughout the NFL.

Surprising Cuts

Every year there are players that become fan favorites. This off-season was no different for the beloved bears. Well, I appreciate Rodney Adam’s story, he is a player that has been kicked around the league for the last four years in the fact that he made the Bears final cut show just how well he played throughout practice and the preseason.

Since making the final cut Rodney Adams was waived so the Bears could pick up Breshard Perriman. Adams was then retained on the practice squad so the good fortune story will continue. I’m not a big fan of Breshard Perriman, he is now on his sixth team in seven years. But he does bring what the Bears lacked all of last year; speed.

The Bears now have legitimate speed on the outside. With Darnell Mooney, Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin, and Breshard Perriman, the Bears now have one of the fastest wide receiver groups in the NFL. Whether or not this will translate to them making the jump until the top 10 offenses time will tell.

One thing is certain Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace looked at their team from 2020 and said we need to add speed. The speed on the outside will help Allen Robinson and Jimmy Graham in the underneath passing game. Once Justin Fields is inserted the Bears will have the best deep ball quarterback they’ve had since Jay Cutler. This could become an explosive unit.

Rookie Cuts

Some of the surprising cuts that took place on cut down were the late-round rookies the Bears picked up in the 2021 draft. Thomas Graham Jr., Dazz Newsom, and Charles Snowden were all cut to make room for the final 53 man roster. Fortunately for the Bears, all three cleared waivers and were able to land on the practice squad. They now have a solid practice squad where they can continue to develop young talent and use in case a COVID-19 outbreak hits, or other injuries occur.

Thomas Graham and Dazz Newsom are intriguing prospects but it is rare to see so many rookies being cut on the final cut-down day. Even though they were fifth and sixth-round draft picks respectively there was enough talent where I believed they would make the final 53 man roster.

Thomas Graham coming off of a COVID-19 opt-out hasn’t played football in almost 2 years and it was clear that he needs time to develop. Dazz Newsom was a victim of an early injury that cost him valuable playing time in practice and in preseason games. He was unable to make his mark over some of the faster veterans the Bears brought in and the Bears released him. It will be interesting to see what happens to Newsome. He has talent and could be a piece for the Bears down the road.

I was happy to see Charles Snowden clear waivers. As an undrafted rookie free agent, Snowden shows the type of ability necessary to get to the quarterback. It was evident that Snowden needs to bulk up, define his craft, and continue to be a professional NFL athlete. Snowden will be an intriguing prospect toward the end of the 2021season or going into next year.

Last Man Standing

What is shocking is how thin the bear secondary is after all cuts were made. After all of the dust settled the Bears only had four cornerbacks on the squad. The surprising cut was veteran Desmond Trufant. He missed time for personal reasons and was nicked up; as he has been the last few years of his career. Desmond was seen as an immediate low-level fill-in for the departed Kyle Fuller. The Bears 53 man roster only contains four cornerbacks.

The four Cornerbacks are Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley, and Xavier Crawford. That doesn’t seem ideal. I imagine the Bears are scouring the waiver wire and reaching out to veterans that were cut. As of right now though, the Bears secondary is highly suspect.

This is a major area of concern for a team that made the playoffs last year and will be an area with laser focus from fans and pundits alike. The Bears made the puzzling move to cut Kyle Fuller. That decision seems even more foolish looking at the Bear’s final roster. The Bears must be comfortable with the lack of depth, but playing against Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson with the current crop of corners seems to be a recipe for disaster.

Jaylon Johnson showed promise last year, but his shoulder is a concern as he has been dealing with it since his college days. With the Bears so thin in the secondary, one injury could lead to troubling times. They are relying on the front line to get more pressure on the quarterback this year, however, if Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn continue to regress the bear secondary can be in for a whole lot of trouble.

Offensive Line Woes 

Another area of concern is the offensive line. Coming into the season the Bears cut both of their starting tackles and looked to upgrade through the draft and through cheap NFL veterans. The Bears “lucked” out landing 39-year-old Jason Peters off the waiver wire after realizing Taven Jenkins’ back was going to require surgery. The offensive line will soon be tasked with protecting their franchise quarterback. A problem the Bears have not had in 80 plus years.

Projecting the Bears’ offensive line left to right: Jason Peters, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, James Daniels, and Germaine Ifedi. This is not one of the better lines in the league. A mediocre line at best, offensive line coach Juan Castillo has his work cut out for him. It is very likely one of the worst lines in the NFL.

There is enough talent on the offensive line that the Bears can figure it out but I do believe it’s going to take a few weeks for the offensive line to gel. This is the reason Matt Nagy feels comfortable with Andy Dalton going into week one on the road in LA to play a fearsome pass rush with Aaron Donald and Company.

What does it all mean?

The biggest takeaway from the Bear’s final cutdown is the added speed on offense. They decided the rebuild around Justin fields. This is the correct decision. The Bears want to become an offensively-dominated unit. They believe they now have a franchise quarterback in Justin fields and when you have a franchise quarterback the defense tends to suffer. That is normal. NFL teams can’t pay everyone and the trend is to pay the QB, pay to protect him, and pay his playmakers. Pay a few great defensive players but churn out guys every year and reload in the draft.

Salary Cap Concerns

With huge salary cap implications coming from both Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, as well as an inevitable contract extension for Roquan Smith, the Bears have a lot of money tied up in players that will need to be productive this season. Eddie Jackson will also have to show he’s worth being one of the highest-paid safeties in the entire NFL. Sean Desai will need to get Eddie Jackson back in a position to succeed where he can be a playmaker flying all over the field and causing havoc for opposing offenses.

The biggest question mark will undoubtedly be the Bear’s secondary. A major cause for concern was the lack of pass rush on the Bears in 2020. The effort from Tevis Gipson was promising in the preseason. All indication looks like he may have taken a major step from his freshman to his sophomore season. This is encouraging. The Bears are going to need to get to the quarterback. Pressure bursts the pipes. But if they don’t look out. This Bears defense is highly suspect and it’s going to take every bit of Justin Fields developing into the franchise quarterback the Bears believe he can be for the Bears to be competitive in 2021.

Ryan Pace And Matt Nagy

Bears fans are upset about Ryan Paces’ press conference, where he gave his patented non-answers. The Bears are rolling with Andy Dalton until they aren’t. Who knows when the inevitable switch to Fields will take place. Unless the Bears win early and often, the switch will take place sooner than later. The Bears can’t afford to go 4-13 or 5-12. The playoffs may not be the determining factor for management to keep both Nagy and Pace, but it should be.

The truth is Ryan Pace has not been a good GM. Most GMs would have been fired after the Mitch Trubisky debacle. He got a second chance and the writing is on the wall. Unless a complete disaster happens in 2021, both Pace and Nagy will be extended. If they haven’t been already. But, for now, this is Pace’s team. Like it or not and he made some tough decisions on a cut-down day and Bears fans will have to hope for the best.

The Dream is Gone

Cut-down day is tough for hundreds of players throughout the league. Dreams are dashed in an instant. I always sympathize with the players that have been cut. Ever since I was a little kid there were certain players that I cheered for. Rodney Adams is on a long list of preseason heroes who balled out but found themselves on the waiver wire.

I’m hoping the Rodney Adams story will be one of redemption. Many of these players already play with a chip on their shoulder. They have talent but for a variety of reasons, they don’t make the final cut. The Bears’ final 53 man roster is interesting. The Bears always find a way to make things interesting. Most NFL teams do.

Final Thoughts

This is not one of the better rosters in the NFL. If Justin Fields plays as well as he’s shown, it won’t matter. Great quarterbacks elevate average talent. The Bears were a playoff team last year this roster suggests they will not be a playoff team in 2021. One thing is for sure, the Bears should be fun, fascinating, and interesting in 2021. This should be the year of Justin Fields, the year of hope. This season will see fans wanting more throughout the entire 2021, and end with the hope of continued success in 2022.

Written by Keith James

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