Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
With the Robert Quinn trade, how many draft picks do the Bears now have in next year's draft?
With the Bears acquiring a fourth-round pick from the Eagles in exchange for defensive end Robert Quinn Wednesday, they now have seven selections in the 2023 draft. They have their own choices in every round but the sixth. The previous regime traded their 2023 sixth-round pick to the Dolphins last October in exchange for receiver/return specialist Jakeem Grant. The Bears obtained a 2023 sixth-round selection from the Chargers as part of a package for outside linebacker Khalil Mack, but they sent that choice to the Chargers in exchange for back-to-back picks in the seventh round of this year's draft that they spent on safety Elijah Hicks at No. 254 and punter Trenton Gill at No. 255.
Statistically, how much better has Cairo Santos been in his last few seasons with the Bears? And what do you think accounts for him resurrecting his career after a few seasons where he bounced around to different teams?
Cairo Santos has made 91.8 percent of his field goals (67 of 73) over the past three years with the Bears, a fairly significant improvement over his first six NFL seasons when he connected at an 80.6 clip (108 of 134). The No. 1 difference—and this is coming directly from Santos—is his health. He made 84.8 percent of his field goals (89 of 105) over his first four NFL seasons with Kansas City, but then suffered a groin injury that plagued him for the next few years. As you mentioned, he bounced around, kicking briefly for the Bears in 2017 before short stints with the Rams, Buccaneers and Titans. After being named NFC special teams player of the week after hitting all four field goals he attempted in Monday night's win over the Patriots, Santos detailed how being healthy has fueled his resurgence:
"After I tore my groin in Kansas City, it took me about two, almost three years to really feel comfortable, because I like to take short steps that kind of require a little bit more explosion out of my leg being a kicker. So when I went through the injury kind of rehabbing, I tried to change my technique to kind of use more momentum, like longer steps, so I could use more of my body, changing the foot position. I was trying to use more quad than adductor. That's not who I was that gave me success in Kansas City, but I was trying to find ways that I could stay in the league and keep getting opportunities. But it wasn't my consistent self. So really I made the change. I watched a lot of tape back from Kansas City and made that change, and I've been consistent and I feel like I've been that person again. Going through the injury and trying to keep my name in the loop in the NFL and getting workouts and making teams without exposing my groin, I think that caused me to be inconsistent and not have the production that I had early in my career and that I'm having now."
It seems like the Bears defensive linemen have been doing a great job of deflecting passes at the line of scrimmage. Is that something the coaching staff emphasizes?
If pass rushers can't get to the quarterback, yes, they are taught to put one of their hands up to try to deflect the ball. As you mentioned, that skill was definitely on display in Monday night's win against the Patriots, with tackle Justin Jones deflecting two passes and ends Dominique Robinson and Trevis Gipson getting their hands on one apiece. The one that Robinson deflected resulted in an interception by Roquan Smith. I asked special teams coordinator Richard Hightower about the coaching points involved in deflecting passes at the line and here's what he said: "I would hope that as we go we'll be sacking the quarterback and not tipping [passes], but I will take the tipped balls because our motto is, 'if it's a tipped ball, we're going to get an interception because we have collective bodies to the football.' So that is a good thing. But you're rushing and then you're having to feel or a sense of where the quarterback is and you're always aiming at that point. And then when you feel that that ball is coming out, I don't want guys to jump. I do want them to get a ball-side hand up. But we don't want to jump because sometimes while you're in the air bad things happen. So we just want to get a hand up and see if we can tip the ball. The guys did that. They did a great job of that last week."