Today is Election Day in Chicago and there is something about doing the civic duty that feels so right. Block Club Chicago has a roundup of everything you need to know about voting today. Good luck (and all that jazz).
- We’ll dive deeper into Daron Payne getting the Franchise Tag from Washington later today, but this bit of news took some wind out of my sails this morning:
- Fixing the offensive *AND* defensive lines are a priority for the Bears, but seeing Payne — the top option on the open market — go off the board before he could hit free agency stings a bit. However, it doesn’t totally sink the Bears’ plans. Interior defensive linemen such as Javon Hargrave (Eagles), Dre’Mont Jones (Broncos), Zach Allen (Cardinals), and Dalvin Tomlinson (Vikings) are still on track to hit free agency. I suppose Hargrave, Jones, and Allen could get tagged by their respective teams. And Tomlinson could work out a deal to return to Minnesota. But my larger point is that while Payne was the best option, he wasn’t the only one.
- Part of me is bummed that Georgia’s Jalen Carter (yet another DT option, albeit one who won’t be available to jump on board until draft day) won’t work out at the Combine. But this does give him some more time to rest, recover, and prepare for his pro day at Georgia. That one will be worth keeping tabs on when it comes on the calendar.
- Bears GM Ryan Poles spoke to the media this morning. And we’ll have a roundup later as he prepares to be the main character at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. One thing he mentioned is that the plan moving forward is to roll with Justin Fields as QB1. That makes sense. Also notable from that perspective is that he still plans on meeting with this class’ top quarterback prospects. Due diligence is important. And it reminded me of something I wrote about his predecessor, Ryan Pace, in 2020:
The reporting shows a disjointed organizational structure that didn’t have the necessary checks-and-balances in place to challenge the most important draft choice in the franchise’s modern history. This journey’s conclusion brings us to where we are today — desperately needing an organizational overhaul because of the failures of the past. Failures that aren’t solely focused on the short-comings of the player who was picked. Instead, failures that are rooted in organizational ineptitude and decisions made in one general manager’s hubris.
In the end, the grand takeaway should be that this can’t happen again. Any of it. Now is the time to modernize the organizational structure on the football side of things. Not just because they got the quarterback wrong, but because they put themselves in a position to fail. No front office bats 1.000. But organizations with better structure give themselves a better chance to clear the fences with the right swing.
- We don’t know what the end result of the Pace-to-Poles regime change will be. Isn’t that why we tune in every Sunday? But the early returns are a noticeable mindset change and a different order of operations. These aren’t the same old Bears. To me, that’s a good and important start. And one we shouldn’t take for granted.
- Dan Wiederer (Tribune) explores how Poles and the Bears front office can maneuver through the NFL Combine in search of maximizing what it has in the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. It is good to keep an open-minded approach this time of year. And it truly comes off like Poles understands that as he heads into this week. Knowledge is power. But the ability to apply knowledge and leverage it to your advantage is what takes organizations to the next level.
- Looking for more good reading as you bone up on the offseason? Of course! Kevin Fishbain (The Athletic) has an informative mailbag that might tickle your fancy.
- AHEM! I know which one I’m picking:
- Kinda, sorta interesting: The Lions are adding an alternate helmet in 2023 — and a new uniform combo in 2024. (Uni-Watch)
- Washington gave Carson Wentz his walking papers in a move that clears north of $20 million in cap space. Part of me is annoyed that the 2022 Bears lost to a Wentz-led team on Thursday Night Football. Admittedly, part of me will always be irked because I was there in attendance. But at least I was with good company is what I tell myself when I get too down about it. Also: without that loss, the Bears don’t get the No. 1 pick. So, in the end, the juice was worth the squeeze. Right? (BN NFL)
- Tab talks to a Blackhawks legend:
- At least Dalen Terry is bringing good vibes to the Bulls:
- As a Cubs fan and someone who enjoys the World Baseball Classic, this Seiya Suzuki oblique injury is a double whammy to my baseball sensibilities: