For the first time since 1998-99, the Chicago Bears did not have a player named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster.
While the Bears do have multiple Pro Bowl-caliber players, none of them deserved a return trip to the NFL’s annual all-star game, set for Jan. 31 in Hawaii.
Arguably the best athlete on the roster is Kyle Long, who burst onto the scene with two consecutive Pro Bowl appearances at right guard. But the Bears moved Long to right tackle before Week 1, an experiment that has produced both highs and lows. Long is talented enough to play offensive tackle, but his transition has not been seamless.
In recent weeks, Long has come under public fire for allowing sacks versus Washington and Minnesota, but coach John Fox gave the third-year offensive lineman a vote of confidence Monday.
“I think it is a new position -- I think that’s well documented -- one that I’ve seen him operate at a very high level against some pretty good players,” Fox said. “Again, it’s just about that consistency thing. We’ve had that issue, not just with Kyle Long, but with our whole football team.”
Still, Long is not yet at Pro Bowl level at tackle. But that could change in the future.
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, however, did put up Pro Bowl-worthy numbers (54 receptions for 807 yards and four touchdowns) when healthy in 2015. But Jeffery’s biggest problem is that he has appeared in only nine games due to a variety of injuries. Jeffery is now dealing with another hamstring problem that could jeopardize his availability for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.
The Bears feel confident both Long and Jeffery are among the best players in the conference, but neither one had an especially memorable season.