In lieu of a regular “State of the Organization: Bears” edition for yesterday, today this space will review the Bears’ moves to get them down to the mandated 53-man roster. Saturday was all about cut-down day across the NFL. Hundreds of transactions were made by NFL teams yesterday. For most teams Saturday was not the end of their transactions prior to the start of the regular season but we have an idea of how teams expect to attack the season as well as an approximate composition of NFL rosters. In regard to the Bears, there is a hopeful emphasis on “approximate” for reasons which will soon be apparent if they are not already.
To begin, let’s briefly examine the Bears’ roster moves from Saturday:
De’Vante Bausby, CB – Flashed early in training camp and preseason before getting banged up. Likely candidate for the practice squad.
Ben Braunecker, TE – Injured for most of training camp and the preseason. If healthy may be signed to practice squad.
Daniel Braverman, WR – First Bears draft pick to be waived prior to the regular season since 2012. Just never looked like a potential contributor receiving or returning. Another practice squad candidate.
Taveze Calhoun, CB – Failed to impress.
B.J. Daniels, WR – Got a chance on returning duties but blew it.
David Fales, QB – The Bears were only going to keep 2 QBs. Likely headed to the practice squad again.
Khaled Holmes, C – Lost the backup C job to Cornelius Edison.
Kevin Peterson, CB – Maybe a practice squad candidate.
Patrick Scales, LS – Lost LS competition to Aaron Brewer.
John Timu, ILB – Lost out in numbers crunch at ILB. Most likely going to be signed to practice squad.
Jason Weaver, T – Bears liked their other options better. Practice squad option.
Terry Williams, NT – Didn’t show enough versatility or effectiveness to stick.
Ego Ferguson, DE – Never really fit in the 3-4 scheme.
Danny Mason, OLB – Didn’t play much prior to injury.
Pernell McPhee, OLB – Bears may have a serious issue with McPhee. Is his knee ever really going to be right?
Marquess Wilson, WR – Has he showed enough to make the final roster if healthy?
Rob Housler, TE – Never seemed in serious contention for a roster spot barring injuries.
Marc Mariani, WR – A mild surprise, especially after Braverman was waived. Mariani didn’t necessarily merit a roster spot on his own merits, but this move leaves the Bears with only one real slot receiver.
Tony Moeaki, TE – Kind of surprising just because he offered some experience behind Zach Miller and he flashed at times during the preseason. Maybe the Bears decided one injury-prone, receiving-only TE was enough.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB – Surprising simply because of his value on special teams. Plus, even though he wasn’t terribly effective, he did offer a different look from the rest of the Bears’ backfield.
Shelley Smith, G – Sure.
Garry Williams, T – Some thought he would be kept over Mike Adams.
None of these moves was particularly surprising. Nor will the Bears be any worse without these players on the roster. With the possible exception of one or two of these players it’s difficult to say that anyone who was waived or cut did enough to earn a roster spot and was inexplicably moved on. The only potential concern which arises from this list is where is becomes apparent the Bears have placed themselves at a deficit. Such deficits become clearer when the initial 53-man roster is accounted.
Jay Cutler – Well, yeah. Hopefully he can build on, or at least maintain, the efficiency displayed last season.
Brian Hoyer – Finally looked comfortable in the final preseason game. There was never really any question he was the backup.
Ka’Deem Carey – If healthy he will most likely compete for carries behind Langford with Howard all season. Has also showed more on special teams.
Jordan Howard – Looked in the final preseason game like he deserves a shot at more touches. Will probably get his chance once Carey gets injured.
Jeremy Langford.- Solidified the #1 RB spot during the preseason. Makes for the 3rd power back on this list.
Paul Lasike – It will be interesting to see if the Bears actually keep a FB on the roster all season.
Joshua Bellamy – Flashed downfield in the preseason and is one of the team’s best special teams players.
Alshon Jeffery – #1 WR if he stays healthy. If it becomes apparent he will not sign a long- term extension, or the Bears decide they don’t want him to, will the team try to trade him?
Cameron Meredith – Even though he looked good in the final two preseason games it’s still a little surprising he made the team over Mariani. The coaching staff must think he can contribute on special teams.
Eddie Royal – The only slot receiver left on the roster. Will he actually be healthy?
Deonte Thompson – Has been hurt but must be close to returning. Could be able to add some dynamism to the Bears return game.
Kevin White – Needs to show development and be a legitimate #2 option.
Khari Lee – Solely a blocking TE who hasn’t done much in a Bears uniform. Makes the most sense to have kept him because the Bears used a draft pick to obtain him.
Zach Miller – A good receiving option when healthy. Will he be healthy?
Greg Scruggs – Another blocking TE, who until training camp was a DE. The Bears must be planning to run the ball…a lot.
Mike Adams – Little surprising he made the cut ahead of Williams. Team must like his upside once he is fully healthy and shakes off the rust.
Cornelius Edison – Really struggled when given extended snaps in the preseason. Have to believe the Bears are looking at reinforcements on the waiver wire.
Ted Larsen – Maybe would be a fine backup G/C, but he should be a starter at neither. If he remains as such the Bears are going to have real problems.
Charles Leno Jr. – Solid at LT. Would like to see better power at the point of attack.
Kyle Long – Will he be healthy? If he has a tear in his labrum he will not be healthy all season, and that’s horrible for the Bears.
Bobby Massie – Would like to see better pass protection out of Massie, but provides good push in the running game at RT.
Amini Silatolu – Looks like a decent backup G. May have upside coming off injury.
Cody Whitehair – Would have been better if he could have been a backup G/C this season but serious lack of depth on the O-line forces the Bears to start him.
Jonathan Bullard – May be battling Unrein all season for snaps. Has looked like the rookie most ready to contribute this season and provide a good pass rush off the edge and inside.
Eddie Goldman – Looks good in the middle of the D-line.
Akiem Hicks – Good pickup at DE. Has looked like everything the Bears wanted him to be.
Will Sutton – Backup NT and can also play DE. Has made a decent transition to the 3-4. But may be one of the first casualties of the waiver wire.
Mitch Unrein – Solid at DE. Will compete with Bullard for snaps.
Cornelius Washington – May be the Bears best pass rusher on the D-line when he’s healthy. Except he’s never healthy. He does contribute on special teams.
Sam Acho – Too solid at OLB and too valuable on special teams to cut.
Jonathan Anderson – Beat out Timu for the last ILB position. His athleticism ultimately won out. Valuable special teamer.
Leonard Floyd – 3rd down pass rush specialist this season. Has shown more than just speed moves during the preseason but still looks raw. May have to contribute more than expected given Pernell McPhee’s injury issues.
Jerrell Freeman – Solid tackler and decent in coverage at ILB. Exactly as advertised.
Lamarr Houston – Will have to step up and be more consistent with McPhee out for at least the beginning of the season.
Christian Jones – Coming into training camp was almost certainly a cut, but he has improved immensely. he has also shown the ability to play inside and outside, as well as on special teams.
Nick Kwiatkoski – Probably won’t see the field much outside of special teams.
Danny Trevathan – Leader at ILB. Looks to still be getting comfortable in the system.
Willie Young – Provides good pass rush at OLB and has been surprisingly solid in coverage.
Adrian Amos – Still solid at S, but where are the plays?
Deon Bush – Showed flashes of playmaking before getting hurt. Should be primary backup at S if healthy and contribute on special teams.
Bryce Callahan – Probable starter at nickel CB if healthy.
Kyle Fuller – Will he be ready to go Week 1? Is he a #1 CB?
Jacoby Glenn – Most likely starter at CB opposite Tracy Porter if Fuller has to miss time.
Deiondre’ Hall – Shows ability in coverage but his technique is really raw. Will play special teams, but if the Bears have to rely on him for regular snaps at CB it probably won’t be good.
DeAndre Houston-Carson – Until he got extended snaps at S and showed something in the final preseason game looked primed for the practice squad. Special teamer.
Demontre Hurst – Good on special teams. Experience at CB and S. Beat out Bausby.
Harold Jones-Quartey – Looks improved over last season, but as with Amos, where are the plays?
Sherrick McManis – Special teamer who the Bears don’t want to play CB.
Tracy Porter – Decent enough #2 CB.
Chris Prosinski – Likely made the team because of his experience at S and on special teams.
Aaron Brewer – Won LS job.
Robbie Gould – Still shaky. Surprised there was no competition during training camp.
Pat O’Donnell – Same as Gould.
The Bears are so thin and so starved for depth almost everywhere. Offense looks bad. Defense can’t cover anybody. Special teams is shaky. Name a position group where you feel comfortable with their roster, as is. Name a position. You could say Kyle Long at RG, except he’s hurt. Cutler at QB? If he performs as last year, but if the OL and WRs continue to struggle that seems unlikely. You know what you’re getting out of Tracy Porter, but don’t you want more? Out of somebody else? Maybe you’re comfortable at ILB between Freeman and Trevathan. That’s it.
That really is it. And it’s not just that the position groups look questionable and individual talent is lacking. After this cut down to 53 you have to wonder about the composition.
Only 3 RBs? All of which are power backs. One of which (Carey) is going to be hurt. 1 slot receiver. And that one will be hurt. Only 8 OLs? 2 starters who have looked bad and should not be starters, 2 backups who were out of football last season and 1 (Edison) who you don’t really want playing. 12 DBs? Really trying to shore up special teams, are we? Maybe the numbers game helps on STs, but it won’t on the field. The Bears’ starters at CB (all hurt) you don’t necessarily want starting. Now it’s all guys with almost no experience and rookies. Maybe they’ll be good in the future but not now.
I didn’t mention anything specific on the Front-7, and that is the best spot on the roster, but there are still problems. There is no real backup at NT. Will Sutton is not a NT. Cornelius Washington will be hurt. What do the Bears do without their most impactful player, Pernell McPhee? Who fills that void?
But who should the Bears have kept that they didn’t?
This process highlights, once again, the roster problems the Bears have, and will continue to have. Even if the Bears are able to bring in free agents, like Trevathan and Freeman and Hicks, those players are filling gaps, not strengthening positions. Even if draft picks like Bullard and Hall end up as valuable contributors, that contribution is most likely not now, or at least not consistent. There were few, if any, surprises in any of the Bears cut because the roster was mostly set. Some backup positions and end of roster spots were up for grabs, but nothing of real importance.
At this point the Bears are really trying to be good. They’re trying to be less bad.