Sadly, the news came down today that 2nd year wide Receiver Kevin White has another fracture to the same leg he had a fracture in last year. The hits just keep on coming.
Over my 30+ years of watching the Bears, seems like they used up all their good fortune in 1985. They had a nice run in 2006 that ended with a Devin Hester kickoff return for a TD in the Super Bowl vs the Colts. Since then, it has been a journey of ups and downs for the franchise.
In 2013, they parted ways with Lovie Smith, one year after letting Jerry Angelo go. Moves that had to be made at the time. George McCaskey promised the Bears had higher standards, expectations, and goals. The focus was multiple championships. Something the Bears haven’t done since the owner, George ‘Papa Bear’ Halas patrolled the sidelines. He got one when he hired Mike Ditka to take over, and Lovie Smith’s 2006 team was the only Super Bowl appearance since then.
Fast forward to 2016, 3 coaching and GM tandems later, the Bears seem to be regressing instead of progressing. The news about Kevin White is particularly devastating, and damning for new GM Ryan Pace. White was his first draft pick, #7 overall in 2015. He allegedly worked himself so hard getting ready for the draft that he sustained a stress fracture in his leg. The Bears originally reported it as a “shin injury” or shin splints. White never did get on the field in 2015 as the Bears chose to “shut him down” late in the season when they could have brought him back.
I think this was another mistake, as the year was basically a loss. White would essentially be a rookie in his 2nd year as a pro. He battled injuries in training camp leading up to the start of the 2016 season. The progress has been slow. Many fans and media members were waiting to see signs of the boasted 4.3 speed White posted at the NFL combine. Some speculated that it could be White struggling to learn the playbook. You can’t play fast if you don’t know where you are going.
The Bears tried hard to get White the ball. It started in the preseason. Short passes, designed to give him an opportunity to run after the catch. That didn’t happen. His last two games, he caught 6 passes in each. Nothing fancy. Some nice grabs. Still no sign of that explosive speed. Unfortunately it all came to an end on Kevin’s last reception. He limped off the field after getting tackled by 3 defenders. The hit didn’t look too bad, but the NFL is unforgiving. You could see White was disappointed when he made it to the sidelines and immediately got medical attention.
I’d say it was his number, but honestly, this goes back decades. Rookie Rashan Salaam was a highly rated player coming out of Colorado. He had a great rookie season. After that he was a bust. Later on, we learned he smoked his opportunity away, literally. A couple years later the Bears drafted Curtis Enis, a powerful running back out of Penn State. He was on his way to a very productive rookie season when he snapped his ACL. A number swap, and a personality swap later, and Enis was done as a Bear. His former coach, Joe Paterno would be quoted as saying Enis was a “con man”. In 2003 Jerry Angelo selected Rex Grossman as the future Bears QB. Rex tore his ACL in both knees in back to back seasons. He still managed to steer the Bears to their only Super Bowl appearance since 1985. Jerry Angelo’s last big move as the Bears GM had them trading for Jay Cutler from Denver. You can be the judge if that move was a wise one or not. I still say it was a good move at the time.
I don’t know what the future holds for the Chicago Bears, or for Kevin White, but right now it’s not looking too bright. They are currently 1-3, but they are sustaining injury on top of injury. They are probably 2 more drafts away from being competitive, and that is if they start hitting on some of the players they have already drafted. So far, White is looking like a bust. Leonard Floyd is struggling. I’m hoping the tides will turn.