Bears

Bears 'building' their way out of Halas House of Horrors​​​​​​​

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USA TODAY

Bears 'building' their way out of Halas House of Horrors​​​​​​​

As far as the Bears winning a Super Bowl, hiring Matt Nagy as the head coach was very arguably not the most important thing that happened on January 2018. The “story” has deep roots, reaching back thousands of years in China in ways that may make Nagy the beneficiary of matters beyond his offices, beyond football, in fact. More on all that shortly.

The Bears matching up with – and losing to 23-16 – the Carolina Panthers and coach Ron Rivera occasioned a 15-year flashback involving the former Bears linebacker and defensive coordinator, one with more than a little relevance for the coming days and months.

Training camp ’19 will wrap up on Sunday and the Bears make their way back to Halas Hall. That may or may not be a good thing if they are set on winning a Super Bowl.

Because it was Rivera, a devoted student of the ancient Chinese discipline of feng shui that traces back more than 60 centuries, who warned that the Bears would never win a Super Bowl with Halas Hall as their epicenter. The reason lay in the bad feng shui at Halas Hall, feng shui being the study of the environment, places, people and time, and how those elements interact. It those elements are in conflict and essential energies impeded, buildings and their occupants – read: football teams – have problems.

Sure enough, in the 20 years since the Bears moved from their old Halas Hall (where they did win a Super Bowl) to the new one over near I-94, they have reached one but lost that one along with playoff games the other four times they did get to postseasons. The old Halas Hall, in east Lake Forest, was dedicated in 1979, the year the Bears drafted Dan Hampton. The new Halas Hall was dedicated in 1997, the year they traded for Rick Mirer. In 2018, when a near-total Halas Hall makeover was starting, the Bears drafted Roquan Smith. Just sayin’….

This isn’t just some Chico Curse, or Rivera being grumpy after leaving in 2007.

Cliff Notes summary of the Bears-feng shui problem because there’s really quite a bit involved: The design and materials of Halas Hall as originally designed have a negative influence on chi, the core energy so central to the Far East thinking that runs through and binds people and all things together. Chi must flow in, easily through and around a structure or even a room, based in part on its furnishings. Through the end of the Dave Wannstedt years, the Dick Jauron era, most of the Lovie Smith tenure, and certainly through the regimes of Marc Trestman and John Fox, very little has flowed easily in Halas Hall spaces “blocked” in feng shui context.

Bad feng shui can cause “serious health problems,” according to tradition. From Curtis Enis to Erik Kramer to Curtis Conway to Cade McNown to Jim Miller and on and on and on, have many organizations had more health problems than the Bears?

Construction on the Halas Hall expansion began in 2018, the Bears’ healthiest season in years. Again, just sayin’….

Coincidence? James Bond correctly observed that "once is chance, twice is a coincidence, three times is enemy action." Or at least bad feng shui.

But now comes all the construction at Halas Hall, with the “addition” dwarfing the original building and, more important in Rivera feng shui context, facing the “right” direction. The main entrance to Halas Hall still faces west – not good – but feng shui says that the most favorable direction for a sports-industry business is to face northeast. The Bears headquarters have been expanded massively to the north and to the east.

The Bears may stand in Rivera’s way to a Super Bowl. But the ex-Bear would at least acknowledge that the Bears are finally at least facing in the right direction.

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The real point of first and fourth preseason games, which don’t involve much if any scheming or game-planning, is to see what teams have below the starters on their depth charts. O, in the Bears case, what takeaways are there for someone like their top rookie, running back David Montgomery?

· Montgomery, facing Panthers No. 2’s, flashed in the second quarter with the ball in his hands on five of the seven plays on the Bears’ first touchdown drive. Montgomery was targeted by the Bears in the third round of the draft, caught passes for 23 and 6 yards, the former a perfectly executed screen pass behind a clear-out block from right guard Ted Larsen. He added runs of 5, 5 and 7 yards, the last for the TD on a play that was stopped but the rookie bounced outside around left end and picked his way through a smattering of Carolina tacklers.

Preseason isn’t the least bit conclusive, and the fact that Montgomery flashed against the backups of a middling NFL defense doesn’t mean he mean he does that against the starters for a good defense. And the Bears don’t see a top-10 rushing defense until Minnesota comes to Soldier Field in week four.

But here’s the thing: If Montgomery DIDN’T present in this situation, that could be cause for some concern. But he did; on top of that, he turned in a TD-saving pursuit on a punt return.

· Rashaad Coward saw considerable time at right tackle. The converted defensive lineman was solid in pass protection early, the harder skill to master for any young lineman, through the first half. But he was beaten for two sacks in the third quarter, once on an outside move and the second on an inside-counter move. The Bears need depth at tackle, Coward has been a project worth watching, but whether he did not advance his case for the swing-tackle job against T.J. Clemmings, who worked at left tackle.

· Only a handful of defensive starters saw time Thursday, and the only starting linebacker was Roquan Smith, who promptly delivered a sack on a delayed blitz that buried Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen.

· Inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, starting in place of Danny Trevathan, had some struggles in pass coverage and with pursuit angles on run defense.

*                          *                          *

For the first time this writer can remember in almost 30 years covering the Chicago Bears, Chet Coppock was missing from the press box. Chet died in April of injuries suffered in an automobile accident in South Carolina.

This may only have been preseason, and Chet didn’t always make all the practice games. But Chet didn’t provide color; he WAS color. The last time we were here, for the January playoff game vs. Philadelphia.

Somehow the old place isn’t the same without’cha, Chester.

How the signing of CB Tre Roberson impacts Bears' depth chart

How the signing of CB Tre Roberson impacts Bears' depth chart

The Chicago Bears made their first free-agent move of the 2020 NFL offseason Tuesday with the signing of CFL cornerback Tre Roberson (Calgary). According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Bears will pay Roberson the biggest contract given to a CFL free agent since the Dolphins signed Cameron Wake.

Roberson, 27, played quarterback at Indiana and Illinois State before making the position change to cornerback prior to the 2016 NFL draft. He was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent and stuck with the team on the practice squad and on a reserve/futures contract until September 2017.

Roberson signed with the Calgary Stampeders in May 2018 and used his time in the CFL to develop and sharpen his craft.

Roberson appeared in 32 games over the last two seasons in Canada and enjoyed a breakout seven-interception year in 2019. He totaled 10 picks in his two-year CFL career.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Roberson's addition to the roster spells trouble for veteran Prince Amukamara. Already on shaky ground because of his hefty $10 million cap hit. The Bears can save $9 million against the salary cap if they decide to part ways with him this offseason. It's a difficult decision for GM Ryan Pace to make considering Amukamara has been one of the team's most consistent and reliable defenders over the last few seasons.

But the investment in Roberson suggests the Bears are ready for a change in the secondary. It doesn't mean Roberson is a lock to start in Chicago, but he's a talented and cheaper alternative to Amukamara, who's failed to record an interception in two of his three seasons with the Bears.

Pace may have been ready to move on from Amukamara even before adding Roberson. Kevin Tolliver, II, played well in relief of Amukamara last season and proved capable of at least spot starter's duty. He was signed by the Bears as an undrafted rookie in 2018 and has developed nicely over the last two seasons. He'll fight for a starting job in training camp regardless of whoever Pace adds to the roster. Toliver played 175 snaps in 2019 with all but three of them coming between Weeks 14 and 17.

There's also Duke Shelley, 2019's sixth-round pick who failed to make any significant contribution as a rookie. He played just eight snaps on defense and will enter a training-camp battle for an active roster spot this summer. His quest to the final-53 got a lot more challenging with Roberson in town.

Roberson's addition represents a strong and relatively aggressive start to the offseason for Pace. Bears defensive backs have been put on notice, too. Competition is coming.

Report: Bears land top CFL free agent Tre Roberson

Report: Bears land top CFL free agent Tre Roberson

The Bears have made an intriguing signing, landing the services of the much sought after CFL cornerback Tre Roberson. He was a hot topic this NFL offseason, a player most critics agreed was the No. 1 CFL free agent. 

Roberson has an interesting background. He originally came up through the ranks as a quarterback, eventually becoming the first true freshman to ever start at quarterback for Indiana University Bloomington. After transferring to Illinois State and playing the 2014 and 2015 college football seasons with the Red Birds, Roberson turned pro and ultimately went undrafted as an extremely under-the-radar prospect. 

Eventually, the athletic Roberson made the switch to cornerback. He didn't stick with the Minnesota Vikings after making their roster ahead of the 2016 NFL preseason, being a part of the final round of roster cuts. He made his way to the Calgary Stampeders in 2018, where he really started to make a name for himself at cornerback.

Roberson has a total of 95 tackles and 10 interceptions over his two seasons in the CFL, helping lead the Stampeders to a Grey Cup (CFL's title game) win. He chose the Bears over nine other NFL teams and according to NFL insider Adam Schefter, is expected to get the largest CFL-to-NFL compensation since the Miami Dolphins signed Cameron Wake. 

The Bears have made their first "splash move" and for the sake of Bears faithful, hopefully, this represents the first of many great additions to the Bears' roster.