BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Johnny Knox was heading off for a go at the Bears conditioning test on Wednesday. The slightly built wide receiver knows he has a challenge in front of him, coming back from spinal fusion surgery to repair a back injury suffered against the Seattle Seahawks last December.
But he is resolute about his chances to return to 100 percent at some point -- Oh yeah. Most definitely I will and as far as challenges, hes already met the biggest one of all.
That was the fear. He beat that once and hes convinced he will in the long run.
It was frightening at first, Knox acknowledged Wednesday. But I had a lot of great people surrounding me, keeping me positive. Ive been positive since Day 1 and Im going to stay that way.
Right now, Im just small, setting small goals and taking a little bit at a time. At first, I knew it was going to be hard to run but now Im running better than I thought I would. Im getting my weight back a little bit more. Doing heavier weights in the weight room. Im doing good.
Knox is expected to be placed on the active PUP list, meaning he can come of the reserve list at any time. But that would represent just a holding pattern, in his thinking, and hes faced a lot worse in the seven months since the injury.
Honestly, theres been days like that where Ive been down but for the most part, I always stay positive, stay motivated, Knox said. Thats why Im out here today, getting better.
Back in 1992 the Dallas Cowboys were in draft deliberations around the No. 17 spot of the first round, looking for upgrades on defense. A scout made a suggestion that they target Ohio State defensive end Alonzo Spellman, one of the most physically imposing (6-4, 280 pounds) players and best athletes in that draft.
Coach Jimmy Johnson responded, "Tell me about the production."
Came back the answer: Three years at OSU, nine total sacks.
"Oh, please!" Johnson scoffed, calling in cornerback Kevin Smith and leaving Spellman to the Bears at No. 22. Spellman had several respectable seasons but never more than 8.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons.
As investment advisers counsel, past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future results. But past performance can be, and an axiom in NFL personnel rooms is, look at the film.
CSNChicago.com is doing that as the NFL Scouting Combine approaches (Feb. 29) along with free agency and the start of the league year and its trading window. It becomes an increasingly relevant exercise to look at the intricacies behind some of the key players and positions the Bears will be addressing through the upcoming weeks. CSNChicago.com previously looked at the need to evaluate quarterbacks from the intangible standpoints first, then the measurables.
Using Jay Cutler as an object lesson for how immense physical skills have questionable correlations to immense NFL performance, a look at one aspect of quarterback "film" warrants more attention than the measurables that command a disproportionate share of attention and scrutiny.
It has been Cutler's single biggest issue through his eight Bears seasons, was a reason why coaches once wanted to stay with Josh McCown instead of returning to Cutler following a Cutler injury absence, and why Brian Hoyer played his way into prominence in the discussion of 2017 Bears plans. Adam Gase went from offensive coordinator to hottest head-coach prospect in no small measure because he managed Cutler into better ball security.
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But the point here is less Cutler – expected to be traded or released within the near future – than the level of ball security in the available options beyond Hoyer.
So, look at the film:
The widespread drooling over a possible trade with New England for Jimmy Garoppolo. The best thing in Garoppolo's favor is that he has been a Patriots backup to Tom Brady. Garoppolo, drawing distant comparisons to a Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and other past experience-lite quarterback options, has thrown 94 NFL passes without an interception, which is impressive until matched against Hoyer's 200 last season without an interception, for comparison purposes.
But evaluating Garoppolo against the coming chief draft competition – DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson – suggests comparing apples to apples, meaning college ball security, since that's all the kids have to this point.
Garoppolo vaulted up draft boards (to New England's second round) on the strength of an Eastern Illinois senior season with 53 touchdown passes vs. nine interceptions, against chiefly FCS opposition. But in his first three seasons Garoppolo threw for 65 touchdowns and was intercepted 42 times.
Kizer? In his two Notre Dame seasons, 47 touchdowns, 19 interceptions.
Trubisky? 30 touchdowns last season, six interceptions. Including his two years as a North Carolina backup, 41 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
Watson? 90 touchdowns, 32 interceptions in three Clemson seasons, the last two as Tigers starter.
Garoppolo put in four college seasons, but has a little of the Trubisky/Flynn/Cassel, one-year-wonder feel.
Kizer and Watson have more starting seasons, but the Watson intangible of getting his team to two national-championship games speaks to another level of "intangible."
GM Ryan Pace will incorporate heavy input from coach John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. Coaches love ball security. Garoppolo? Watson? Trubisky? Kizer?
Look at the film.
In this edition of the BearsTalk podcast, CSN's Chris Boden, Sun-Times Bears beat writer Patrick Finley, and CSNChicago.com's Scott Krinch discuss the Bears' approach to the two-week window opening to franchise-tag Alshon Jeffery again, the risk/reward in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or drafting a QB (and how high to draft one), Scott's 2.0 mock draft, plus the workers' compensation controversy the team found itself in last week and the club's decision to raise ticket prices.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: