Bears

Bears happy for Adrian Amos, see ‘win-win’ in signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 

Bears happy for Adrian Amos, see ‘win-win’ in signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 

The Bears’ defense, in all likelihood, is in a healthy enough place where losing Adrian Amos won’t deal a serious blow to its chances of success in 2019. Replacing him with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will help mitigate his loss, sure, but good teams are able to move on from good players and not be severely affected. 

That’s how the Bears are approaching Amos leaving for the Green Bay Packers on a four-year deal with $12 million guaranteed. They’re the team that drafted and developed Amos into a guy worthy of that contract — they just weren’t going to be the team to give it to him. 

“The first thing for Amos is it's almost one of those deals where you're proud,” general manager Ryan Pace said at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix last month. “You know, you draft a guy where we drafted him (fifth round) and to see him grow as a player and the contract that he got, awesome for him.”

It might help Pace be proud of and happy for Amos, too, given the Bears could wind up with a 2020 compensatory draft pick for losing him to the Packers. The Bears haven’t had a comp pick since 2009. 

Additionally: Replacing Amos with Clinton-Dix on a cheap one-year deal — his cap hit in 2019 is $3.25 million, the 20th highest on the team, per Spotrac — sweetens the deal. It was clear Clinton-Dix wanted to play for the Bears, which stands as a benefit of the team’s best season in eight years. 

“We just felt like here’s a great opportunity for him coming to this defense and this city and this organization,” coach Matt Nagy said. “And it’s a great opportunity for us where it could fill a role at that spot — two guys that played together at Alabama, with Ha Ha and Eddie (Jackson) — and it could be a win-win situation.”

Nagy wasn’t the only one to call Clinton-Dix’s deal a “win-win” for all parties involved. Pace used that phrase, too: The Bears provide a good opportunity for Clinton-Dix to rebuild his value on the free agent market after a relatively disappointing 2018; in turn, the Bears are able to replace a solid starter with an inexpensive player who has some good traits and the right mindset entering 2019. 

“A lot of times if it gets to that point (where the agent and player) can say hey, I want another bite at the apple if I play well and sometimes it's financially advantageous for us too,” Pace said. “And hey let's just be honest, usually these one-year deals, they are very motivated and he has the right makeup and character to come in and play well. And he fits well into the defense and obviously the familiarity with Eddie Jackson, I think that helps a lot too.”

Clinton-Dix and Jackson go way back — Clinton-Dix hosted Jackson on his recruiting visit to Alabama — which could help mitigate the loss of Amos from a communication and trust perspective in the back end of the defense. Clinton-Dix and Jackson, too, have 22 interceptions in their seven combined NFL seasons. 

Amos going to Green Bay and Clinton-Dix going to Chicago may be a win-win for all parties, not just the Bears. The Packers added an assignment-sound, rock-solid player in the back end of a defense that needed those traits; the Bears were happy to see a former fifth-round pick develop into being the kind of guy deserving of the contract he got from the Packers, and then were pleased to replace him with a proven playmaker on a cheap one-year deal.

So while fans of each team will continue to argue about which of their former players is worse, in reality, both teams are pleased with how they addressed safety in free agency. Still, that the Amos-Clinton-Dix pseudo-swap happened will help ratchet up the intensity in the Bears-Packers rivalry ahead of Sept. 5’s centennial season opener at Soldier Field.

“It’s fun,” Nagy said. “It’ll be, I’m sure, a little bit of a storyline as we get into that Week 1 game. It’ll look funny seeing him that uniform. I’m sure it’ll look the same for the Packers fans with Ha Ha.”

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Bears' WR tandem shows elite upside despite Week 15 loss to Packers

Bears' WR tandem shows elite upside despite Week 15 loss to Packers

The Bears' Week 15 loss to the Packers brings to an end any far-fetched hope that Chicago would complete a miraculous late-season turnaround and sneak into the playoffs as an NFC wild-card team. And while there's still a chance the Bears can finish 2019 above .500, the theme of this year will be disappointment.

There will be plenty of time to nitpick the 2019 Bears and identify what went wrong to derail a club with Super Bowl aspirations over the summer. For now, though, it's worth pointing out a positive development from Sunday's loss that advanced a recent trend of production in Chicago's passing game.

Wide receivers Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller each eclipsed 100 receiving yards against the Packers and continued to provide the Bears with a look at what could emerge as one of the best receiver tandems in the NFL next season.

Miller caught nine passes for 118 yards and a touchdown while Robinson secured seven catches for 125 yards. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky targeted the duo a total of 29 times in the game.

"We are just trying to make plays," Robinson said Sunday after the game. "Anthony Miller is a very competitive dude. He makes plays when he gets his chance. So for me I am just trying to do the same thing; make plays and give our offense a shot to move the ball and score some touchdowns.”

Robinson's big afternoon brings his season totals to 83 catches, 1,023 yards and seven scores. It's the first time A-Rob has gone over 1,000 receiving yards since his breakout 1,400-yard season in 2015.

Miller, who was an afterthought in the passing offense for the first month of the season, now has career-highs in receptions (50) and yards (649). He's averaged 86 receiving yards per game over the last five weeks.

Trubisky's stat line has benefited quite a bit from Miller's recent surge, too. He's averaging 298 passing yards per game over the last four weeks, which spread across an entire season would total more than 4,700 yards.

It's OK to be frustrated with how 2019 turned out for the Bears. The season got off to an unbearably slow start and didn't come anywhere near the lofty expectations fans had when training camp broke. But it's become very clear over the last several games that the Bears have a strong foundation for an explosive passing game in place with Robinson and Miller.

The goal in 2020 should be to make sure the explosive duo is unleashed much sooner in the season.

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Even if it's for only one game, Akiem Hicks' return proved he's the heart of the Bears

Even if it's for only one game, Akiem Hicks' return proved he's the heart of the Bears

When he speaks with the media after games or practice, Akiem Hicks is rarely at a loss for what to say. The defensive tackle isn’t one to mince words, a personality trait that suits him well as one of the Bears’ most vocal and unquestionable leaders. That’s why it was so surprising when he couldn’t properly express how much pain he was going through during the Bears’ 21-13 loss on Sunday afternoon. 

“I would hate to describe it. I guess just imagine bones, doing that, moving a little bit when you don’t want it to,” Hicks said, mimicking the bone-on-bone agitation he felt by aggressively rubbing the knuckles of his two fists together. “That’s part of the game.” 

Hicks made his much-anticipated return on Sunday afternoon, and his impact was felt almost immediately. On the Packers’ first play of the game, Aaron Rodgers dialed up a deep ball to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had a step on his man. Hicks got a great jump on the ball, getting in Rodgers’ line of sight and hitting him right as the quarterback uncorked the heave. It would fall a few feet in front of Valdes-Scantling’s outstretched hands. It was one of two QB hits and four tackles Hicks was credited with on the afternoon. 

“I mean, I’ve been saying that Akiem is the juice, man,” Prince Amukamara said. “He brings the juice to this team. His leadership on the field and off the field. You can even see him and Eddie [Jackson] have a thing where they just feed off each other. We appreciate him coming back.” 

Hicks’ impact on other defensive players was a heavily-discussed topic all week, but it centered more on how he would free up Khalil Mack (one tackle) and Leonard Floyd (one tackle) to create havoc. Instead, it was Jackson who led the team in tackles (6). 

“It was huge, man,” Jackson said of Hicks’ return. “He gets us fired up.”

Hicks clearly struggled with the injury from the get-go. He was taken into the medical tent by trainers on two separate occasions, and at that point wasn’t sure if he’d be able to get back into the game. 

He wouldn’t elaborate on what specifically was going on, only mentioning that the training staff did a terrific job working on the fly to make sure he stayed in the game.

“There’s a lot of doubt in that moment,” he said. “You’re in the medical tent, so you’re just trying to figure out what’s going on. And so, they did their best to make sure I was able to play, and I was able to go back out and finish the game, so kudos to our team.” 

Now that the Bears have been eliminated from playoff contention, how the team treats Hicks’ final two games of 2019 will be something to watch for. When asked if he planned on being out there for games against Kansas City and Minnesota, Hicks smiled and chose his words carefully. 

“I love football.” 

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