For defensive players, rules change overdue


For defensive players, rules change overdue

The NFL owners meetings have addressed a number of rules changes, as per annual custom, and among them is one involving safety of defensive players, too often disregarded.

The concept of defenseless players is usually applied to receivers stretching to make a catch. But now it is being expanded to include defensive players against crackback blocks to the head and neck.

One of the loud grievances voiced by defensive players is how the preponderance of concern is given to the offense by a league seeking to protect points-producers. Now it is illegal to deliver a blow to the head or neck of a defenseless defender, to go with it being already illegal to deliver a crackback blow to the knees.

Overprotective? No. These are life-altering hits in a sport filled with enough of them already. And the league sends a statement to its defensive players that their safety counts, too, which a number of them have long seriously doubted.

Several other measures of note came up for decisions as well:

No more one-possession OT games. The playoff test for according both teams scoring opportunities in overtime was judged a success and now it will apply in regular-season games. A team can win outright with a kickoff return for a TD but not a field goal, without the opposing team having a possession to answer.

Replay for all turnovers. Turnovers are the single biggest determinant of game outcomes. Now they will all be given a look to confirm. Ideally that happens quickly but now it will commence without an unnecessary stall for coaches to hear from their own booths and throwing the red flag.

Replay stays with field officials. The notion was advanced to have all decisions reside with an official in the replay booth. The final call will stay with the referee on the field, where it ultimately belongs.

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

USA Today

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

Kyle Fuller caused a bit of a panic late Friday afternoon when a report dropped that he signed an offer sheet with the Green Bay Packers. For a few hours, the prospect — even if it was always unlikely — of the Bears losing their best cornerback to their arch rivals to the north loomed over Chicago. 

For Fuller, though, he said he barely had time to think about the possibility of cashing in on his breakout 2017 season with the Packers. The Bears quickly matched the offer sheet, officially announcing the four-year deal Tuesday that makes Fuller one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. 

“It was crazy not really knowing what to expect,” Fuller said. “I would have never expected it. But when (the Packers’ offer sheet) came, it was definitely something to consider, just on the business side of it. At the end of the day, how it all played out, I’m definitely happy.”

Fuller sounded like someone who took a more passive role to his quasi-restricted free agency that was set about when the Bears placed the transition tag on him, allowing them to match any offer sheet that he were to sign. Fuller said he didn’t know all the details of what was going on with offer sheets coming in and negotiations with the Bears.

“I kinda was just getting the information from (my agents) and going with the flow of everything and knowing that at the end of the day it would end up working out,” Fuller said. 

The $14 million average annual value of Fuller’s contract ranks fifth among cornerbacks, behind only Washington’s Josh Norman ($15 million), New York’s Trumaine Johnson ($14.5 million) Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes ($14.02 million) and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson ($14.01 million), according to Spotrac. 

Fuller said he considers himself a top-five cornerback in the league, and he played like someone who could wind up in that discussion in 2017. The 2014 first-round pick was one of four players to break up 20 or more passes last year, and he picked off two passes in December while providing excellent support against the run. 

“We could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “We feel he is an ascending player on our top 10 defense and we look forward to him having many more productive seasons here in Chicago.”

That's right, Chicago. John Fox is coming to a studio near you


That's right, Chicago. John Fox is coming to a studio near you

So apparently John Fox is getting bored.

The former Bears head coach who led the team to three consecutive last-place seasons from 2015-17 just signed with ESPN as a NFL studio analyst.

He’ll be getting paid to dish out insider information on players and what’s happening on the field — details that frustrated Bears fans could not get out of the often elusive Fox

This is great news if you had a void in your heart that only John Fox quotes could fill — especially in case his “We don’t know exactly what we’re doing” and "Sometimes it's hard to measure what's behind the left nipple"  hot takes weren’t cutting it anymore

But more importantly, Fox’s new position brings up a new burning question: What ex-Bear will be a better analyst?

What will the Fox say? Will he be able to muster more than 10 words out of Jay? The NFL season needs to get here sooner.