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Take 2, unlocked: Which Bears belong in Pro Bowl?

December 7, 2018

Pro Football Weekly GM Hub Arkush and senior Bears reporter Bob LeGere discuss whether Matt Nagy deserves Coach of the Year honors. Do you like what you see? Consider a subscription and get50 percent off your first month.

Pro Football Weekly GM Hub Arkush and senior Bears beat reporter Bob LeGere discuss which Bears are deserving of Pro Bowl honors:

ARKUSH: Bob, I’m not a fan of the Pro Bowl. If there is a game in any major professional sport that’s a bigger waste of time, I don’t know what it is. But making the team — not added as first, third or fifth alternate — is perhaps the second-greatest honor a player can receive after being voted All Pro.

It’s an honor that has mostly escaped the Bears in recent years. It won’t this year, and one way to be sure is for folks to vote at Official 2019 Pro Bowl Ballot. It’s actually pretty quick and easy. If the voting ended tomorrow, Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith and Prince Amukamara would all be Pro Bowlers (strictly based on the fan voting), but Hicks, Smith and Amukamara are in very tight races. My question is: Which Bears are worthy of being Pro Bowlers this year?

LEGERE: Yes, Hub, you are correct, the Pro Bowl is a joke. They may as well play flag football. With so many of the top players bowing out because of injury, participation in the Super Bowl, or lack of interest, the honor has become more and more meaningless. But Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson are worthy; and Tarik Cohen should get strong consideration as a return specialist.

Mack is a no-brainer because he can take over a game, although he’s also had a couple games as a Bear that left me unimpressed. Hicks should also be a slam-dunk, and I expect him to make it this year after playing impressively in prime-time games and playing with more consistent effort than in the past. Fuller laid the groundwork last year with an exceptional bounce-back season, and he’s got six picks. Jackson’s defensive scores cannot be ignored. He’s a game-changer.

ARKUSH: Bob, I don’t think there’s any argument about Mack, Fuller, Hicks and Jackson, and the returners are always a little hard for me to nail down, but you can certainly make an argument for Cohen. The other guys who I think absolutely merit consideration are Danny Trevathan, Eddie Goldman, Amukamara and Bryce Callahan.

It’s a bit of an off year for cornerbacks, and with eight being picked, the Bears certainly won’t land three, but as dominant as Fuller’s been, Callahan and Amukamara have both had excellent moments too, and I think at least one should get a nod alongside Fuller. I get all the Roquan Smith love, but honestly, Trevathan has had the more complete and more consistent season. Lastly for the Bears, while it won’t happen this year, I think more folks have to start spending more time talking about Goldman, who’s played well enough to be a Pro Bowler this year but won’t get picked because most folks don’t even watch the nose tackle. But Goldman’s had an outstanding season.

LEGERE: I would lump Trevathan and Amukamara together: very good players on a very good defense, but probably not Pro Bowlers. But I agree, Trevathan is the better player than Smith, who has had a fine rookie season but is far from a finished product and still has some occasional lapses in coverage and tackling. Goldman suffers the same fate as all nose tackles – no discernible statistics to which voters can point. The league doesn’t have a statistic for occupying blockers and creating opportunities for others, which is what Goldman has done exceptionally well this year.

As Bears D-line coach Jay Rodgers points out: “When backs see that big body in there on a running play, they go a different direction, and someone else makes the tackle.” Callahan is under the radar but shouldn’t be, as his play at nickel has been outstanding. With more emphasis on throwing the ball, defenses are in nickel way more often than not, so that position deserves to be acknowledged.

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