Seahawks didn't sense any quit in blown-out Bears


Seahawks didn't sense any quit in blown-out Bears

By Josh Liebeskind

SEATTLE — One coach told this past week that if any quit was detected in a player, it would spell the end of his tenure on the team. Whether that means any of the Bears should be imminently concerned about their job security is to be determined.

If the Seattle Seahawks have a say in the matter, though, Bears players shouldn’t have to worry this week about losing their jobs due to effort-based issues; even with a 26-0 defeat in Seattle on Sunday.

Last year’s Marc Trestman-led team found it difficult to muster much response after suffering a big defeat. The 48-23 loss to Arizona last week gave the Bears an early season test of their ability to bounce back. While the result isn’t pretty, at least some opposing players felt it isn’t necessarily a direct correlation to effort.

“We kicked a lot of field goals, I think they felt like they were in it,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said. “A touchdown here, a turnover here, another touchdown, there’s a chance they can get back in the game. So I don’t think either team let up.”

[MORE BEARS: Shutout in Seattle: Bears offense flat in loss to Seahawks]

With all eyes on backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who was pushed into the starting role due to a hamstring injury to Jay Cutler, it was Matt Forte who stole the show early. Forte found a rhythm in the running game from the outset and had 64 yards on the ground at halftime.

By the time the Bears’ offense took the field in the second half, though, they faced a 13-0 deficit and all but abandoned the run game. Forte had two carries in the third quarter and gained only 10 yards on five carries in the second half.

“I believe they tried to just make sure he ran the ball and didn’t lose the game,” Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said. “I thought (Clausen) did OK. We just make sure that we stopped the run game and try to make the backup quarterback beat us.”

The key to slowing down Forte, whose yard average per carry decreased from 4.8 in the first to 4.3 in the second — and finished at 3.7 — was adjusting defensive schemes, Wright said. The Bears ran plays the Seahawks hadn’t seen, and it took an in-game defensive change to stop the Bears running attack.

[WATCH BEARS: Fox: Wasn't really a great way to start the second half]

Even with Forte’s minimal success, the Bears were unable to sustain a lengthy drive and didn’t advance the ball past the Seahawks’ 45-yard line. Clausen finished 9-for-17 for 63 yards with a third of his yards coming on one play. As the deficit grew larger and they were forced to throw the ball more, the struggles became evident — the Bears were out-gained in the second half, 246-37.

The Bears defense did their part to keep the team in the game, allowing only one offensive touchdown, but the lack of offensive production made their job all the more difficult.

“I thought our defense hung in there,” coach John Fox said. “We fought hard in the first half ... Then we just couldn’t generate anything. We flopped around a little bit running it early. We kept it close. But eventually you need to be able to do both (run and pass) pretty well in this league to succeed and win games.”

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

With Josh Sitton on his way out, what’s next for the Bears’ offensive line?

The first major move of Ryan Pace’s 2018 offseason hit on Tuesday, as NFL Network reported the Bears will not exercise Josh Sitton’s $8 million option for 2018. 

The move accomplishes two things for the Bears: 1) It frees up about $8 million in cap space and 2) Removes a veteran from the offensive line and creates a hole to fill, presumably by a younger free agent or draft pick. 

The 31-year-old Sitton signed a three-year deal with the Bears after Green Bay cut him just before the 2016 season, and was a Pro Bowler his first year in Chicago. Sitton played 26 of 32 games in two years with the Bears, but him being on the wrong side of 30 was likely the biggest factor here. If the Bears saw his skills eroding, releasing him now and netting the cap savings while going younger at the position does make sense. 

“Going younger” doesn’t guarantee the Bears will draft Notre Dame brawler Quenton Nelson, though that did become a greater possibility with Tuesday’s move. Nelson might be one of the two or three best offensive players in this year’s draft, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand knows him well from the four years they spent together at Notre Dame. 

There’s a natural fit there, of course, but a few reasons to slow the Nelson-to-Chicago hype train: Would he even make it to No. 8? Or if he’s there, is taking a guard that high worth it when the Bears have needs at wide receiver, outside linebacker and cornerback? Still, the thought of Nelson — who absolutely dominated at Notre Dame — pairing with Hiestand again is tantalizing, and Nelson very well could step into any team’s starting lineup and be an immediate Pro Bowler as a rookie. 

If the Bears go younger in free agency, Matt Nagy knows 26-year-old guard Zach Fulton (No. 25 in Bleacher Report’s guard rankings) well from their time in Kansas City. Fulton — a Homewood-Flossmoor alum — has the flexibility to play both guard positions and center, which could open the door for Cody Whitehair to be moved to left guard, the position he was initially drafted to play (though the Bears do value him highly as a center, and keeping him at one position would benefit him as opposed to moving him around the line again). There are some other guys out there — like Tennessee’s Josh Kline or New York’s Justin Pugh — that could wind up costing more than Fulton in free agency. 

Or the Bears could look draft an offensive lineman after the first round, perhaps like Ohio State’s Billy Price, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn or UTEP’s Will Hernandez. How the Bears evaluate guards at the NFL Combine next week will play an important role in how they go about replacing Sitton. 

The trickle-down effect of releasing Sitton will impact more than the offensive line, too. Freeing up his $8 million in cap space -- which wasn't a guarantee, unlike cutting Jerrell Freeman and, at some point, Mike Glennon -- could go toward paying Kyle Fuller, or another top cornerback, or a top wide receiver, or some combination of players at those positions (as well as outside linebacker). The Bears were already in a healthy place cap-wise; that just got healthier on Tuesday. 

Bears cut ties with linebacker Jerrell Freeman

Bears cut ties with linebacker Jerrell Freeman

The Bears began their slew of offseason moves by releasing inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Freeman, 31, signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Bears in 2016.

In his first year in Chicago he amassed 110 tackles in 12 games but was suspended four games for PED use. He played in just one game lsat season before suffering a pectoral injury that placed him on IR. He then tested positive again for a performance-enhancing drug, resulting in a 10-game suspension that bleeds over into 2018 for two more games, wherever he winds up.