A sixth-round pick out of Duke University for the Bears in 1998, the former long snapper currently holds the franchise records for most seasons played (16) and most games played (245). Since his retirement in 2014, Mannelly has served as an analyst for 670 The Score, where he appears weekly to give his take on what he’s seeing from his former team.
In a September 22 appearance on The Parkins & Spiegel Show, Mannelly, who was named one of the top 100 Bears of all time, was asked what he thought about the recent play of starting linebacker Roquan Smith, who whose “hold-in” and trade request are still less than two months removed.
Mannelly’s comments were pointed, but made a ton of sense.
Mannelly on Smith: He Looks Like He’s 10 Pounds Heavier
Smith, who leads the team with 20 total tackles (13 solo, one for loss), has earned a paltry PFF run defense grade of 42.1 through two games this season, and looked powerless to stop running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon in Chicago’s Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
When Mannelly was asked for his thoughts on Smith’s recent performance, the former special teams great says he thinks Smith could stand to shed a few pounds.
“He looks a little heavy,” Mannelly told co-hosts Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel about Smith. “That’s my opinion. He just looks heavy. Doesn’t look as fast, doesn’t look as quick, doesn’t look as decisive, and I really think that’s part of his hold-in. The more you play football, the more you get in football shape, as everybody always talks about, and that’s what I see. He just doesn’t look like the Roquan Smith we’ve seen the last couple years.”
Mannely pointed to the Packers game as a prime example.
“Last week was not a good week for him,” Mannelly added. “Normally what he can do if a lineman is coming out at him, he’ll either beat you to the point or run behind you, which you’re not supposed to do … but he’ll beat you to the point where the running back is going, and he’s not able to do that right now. I don’t know if that’s cause he’s heavy, (lack of) reps, whatever it is, but he just doesn’t look the same as he has in the past. My guess is, if you ask the strength coach Jim Arthur, he’s probably going to say that he’s 10 pounds heavier than he’s been in the past.”
Mannelly Says HC Matt Eberflus’ New Defense Likely Isn’t the Cause
Could Roquan’s slow start possibly be contributed to having to learn a new role in first-year head coach Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 scheme?
“No, I don’t think it’s that,” Mannelly said. “I think he’s just…he’s not slow. Roquan’s not slow, but he’s a tick slow for him, and I think what made him excellent was he could run under blocks and still make the tackle and get to whatever gap or whatever point he needed to get to … I just don’t see that little suddenness or quickness yet. I expected to be coming in the next couple weeks as he gets more in football shape.”
Bears fans hope he’s right, but it may take just a tad longer than that.
Smith has been battling a hip injury all week and is officially questionable Week 3 for the Bears’ game against the Houston Texans at Soldier Field.