Bears

Bears to meet with four GM candidates

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Bears to meet with four GM candidates

Bears President Ted Phillips said on the day that he fired general manager Jerry Angelo that the Bears wanted to stay with their philosophy of being a draft-driven organization. That means college talent evaluation and that is a clear thread running through the
first batch candidates scheduled to be interviewed as Angelos replacements:

The list as released on the teams website ChicagoBears.com:

Phil Emery, Kansas City Chiefs director of college scouting;

Jason Licht, New England Patriots director of pro personnel;

Jimmy Raye III, San Diego Chargers director of player personnel;

Marc Ross, New York Giants director of college scouting.

All four have direct experience with college scouting, past or present. Weve always been a philosophically draft-driven team, Phillips said. I think its been shown that thats been successful at a lot of places. Id like to be able to keep that philosophy intact if we can.

Current Bears director of player personnel Tim Ruskell is on the interview list as well. The team has not closed the search process and said via the website that there could be additional candidates.

Teams typically pursue candidates in order of priority. However, the Bears search pattern in the 2001 hiring of Angelo developed a list of 10 candidates, with three finalists being culled from the initial group.

Ross and Licht are with teams still in the playoffs.

Emery came into the NFL in 1998 as an area scout for the Bears under the late Mark Hatley. He stayed on when Angelo was hired in 2001 and scouted for the Bears through 2004, when he left to become the Atlanta Falcons director of college scouting.He has been the Chiefs college scouting director for the last three years.

Licht was with New England from 1999-2002, starting as a college scout. He moved to the Philadelphia Eagles as assistant director of player personnel in 2003 and then vice president of player personnel from 2006-2007. Licht was with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008 and returned to the Patriots in 2009.

Raye joined the Chargers in 1996 as a college scout and was San Diegos director of college scouting from 2000-2007 before moving into the player personnel directors spot. He is the son of Jimmy Raye II and was under consideration in 2009 for the GM job at Kansas City, having gotten into NFL front-office circles initially with the Chiefs in 1995 as an assistant offensive quality control coach.

Ross was interviewed by the Indianapolis Colts for their GM post, a job subsequently taken by Ryan Grigson, also under consideration by the Bears at the time. Ross began with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997 and became the NFLs youngest (27) college scouting director in 2000. He joined the Giants in 2007 and ran his first college draft in 2008.

Former college scouting director Greg Gabriel was a member of the Giants college scouting department for 16 years prior to joining the Bears under Angelo.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?

Two reasons why the Bears could finally start stacking wins

Two reasons why the Bears could finally start stacking wins

The Bears winning a road game against a perennial playoff contender, one with a winning record coming in – that’s great.

Winning in Baltimore with a rookie quarterback in only his second NFL appearance – that’s terrific.

Generating more takeaways than giveaways and netting points from them – that’s just outstanding.

And now what?

Because too often under John Fox the Bears have posted a victory and failed to have it mean much of anything because of what followed a week later – a largely self-inflicted loss. The Bears have not posted consecutive wins since midway through the 2015 season, and even then proceeded to unravel on by squandering opportunities sitting squarely within their grasp.

Why should this time be any different? Because if it’s not, and the Bears again fail to stack even one win on top of another, then a dominating performance against the Baltimore Ravens (leaving out special teams, which surrendered in two plays more points than the defense did in 14 entire Baltimore possessions) becomes another meaningless afternoon in the overall for a team determined to reinvent itself.

Coaches typically divide seasons mentally into quarters, and clearly in Fox’s mind, Sunday was part of a different quarter from the 1-3 first quarter. “Really it takes almost four games, it’s almost like the preseason anymore, where you kind of get it figured out,” Fox said. “So just developing that confidence, usually good things have to happen to gain that confidence. And we did some good things.”

But the Bears have done “some good things” in games past and it becomes much ado about nothing, sound and fury signifying less than nothing. So again: Why should this time be any different?

Two reasons, actually. Neither absolute, but neither very complicated, either.

Reason No. 1: Trubisky

Without making too much out of one individual player, the chief reason arguably lies in the person of Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback who already has palpably changed the psyche of a previously languishing team.

“The team didn’t make nearly as many mental errors this week because of his patience,” said wide receiver Kendall Wright, who supported Trubisky with a leaping catch of 18 yards to set up the game-winning field goal.

Unlike Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer and 2016 Jay Cutler, each of whom won one game and one game only over the past 22, Trubisky delivered the ball security of Hoyer with added impact that none of his predecessors did manage, or arguably even could have managed.

Put simply, the Bears do in fact have a quarterback who even at this point appears able not only to make plays as drawn up, but also to create something out of nothing or at least avert catastrophe.

“Mitch made some great plays,” Fox said. “I mean, if you look at the snap over his head in the end zone, there’s probably only five or six or seven quarterbacks in this league that could get out of that. I go back to the touchdown pass to Dion [Sims, tight end]. He flushed [from the pocket], we adjusted and he dropped a dime in the end zone for a touchdown. And the play obviously at the end where more than likely if we don’t get that, we’re probably punting, the play he made to Kendall. I think Mitch played outstanding… .

“Those are really good decisions. It beats six interceptions, for sure. There’s a 3rd-and-3 play in the red area, low red, sprint out to our left. It wasn’t all perfect but he did the next best thing and that’s throw it away. So those are really, really good decisions that I think sometimes the casual or un-casual fan does not see.”

The noteworthy element in Trubisky’s game was the impact achieved by a Bears quarterback who completed all of eight passes. The reality is that Trubisky doesn’t need to attempt more than 20 passes a game (including the four sacks his protection allowed, which absolutely needs to be fixed).

For perspective purposes: Ben Roethlisberger in his first two seasons averaged 17.4 and 15.9 passes per game. The Pittsburgh Steelers reached the AFC Championship game and won the Super Bowl in those two seasons, running an offense that was just short of 60 percent runs.

Reason No. 2: Mistake reduction

A mistaken notion as to how improvement happens is the belief that it comes from just getting better and better, skill sets rising to the loftiest heights.

Not necessarily. Anyone who has had the good fortune of working their golf handicap down knows that the stroke reductions come less from suddenly adding 30 yards to drives or developing a draw on a 200-yard three-iron, than from eliminating the fluffed pitch shots, the approach shots pushed into traps, the drives into the woods. Cut down the mistakes and good things happen.

So it is with the Bears, who effectively lost the Minnesota game by allowing a 58-yard TD run by Jerick McKinnon, and sealed it with a poor Trubisky pass on a possession with a chance to tie or win. They lost the Atlanta game simply by dropping passes. They aren’t as good as the Green Bay Packers – at least not until Trubisky reaches full extension and proves to be a challenge to Aaron Rodgers.

But only in the Atlanta near-miss did they self-destruct with fewer penalties (four) than they did at Baltimore (five). Sunday was the first time since Atlanta that they threw zero interceptions. And the defense limited the Ravens to three third-down conversions out of 18, one indicator of fewer breakdowns on the most important down.

“As long as we eliminate those mistakes that we’ve been making,” Fox said, “we’re gonna be right there going into the end of the game.”

The Bears have had positive spikes in the past and then collapsed; even after winning three of four in late 2015, the inept home losses to San Francisco and Washington were arguably a tipping point in the Fox era.

The point next Sunday against Carolina is to determine if the Bears are through with their one-and-done ways.