Bears

Bears notes: Are James Daniels, Cody Whitehair headed for a position swap?

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USA Today

Bears notes: Are James Daniels, Cody Whitehair headed for a position swap?

PHOENIX — Matt Nagy hinted Tuesday the Bears could have James Daniels and Cody Whitehair swap positions on the interior of their offensive line, moving Daniels to center and Whitehair to left guard. 

It was a noticeable change in tone from Nagy about where both those players may best fit on the offensive line. In the days and weeks after the Bears drafted Daniels in the second round of 2018’s NFL Draft, Nagy was adamant Whitehair would stay at center despite Daniels starring at that position while in college at Iowa. Whitehair, while being a steady presence at center for the last three seasons, began his pro career as a guard before a last-minute switch to center after the Bears signed Josh Sitton a few days before the 2016 season began. 

“We’re kind of in the middle of that right now looking at how they played at those particular positions — not just those two, but everybody,” Nagy said. “And so we’re going to stay open to that and if we feel like it’s going to be better to switch somebody we’ll do that, and if we don’t then we’ll stick with where we’re at.”

If the Bears do execute that switch, it would represent the only change to their starting offensive line from 2018. All five regular starters are returning this year, with Daniels and Whitehair being joined by tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie and guard Kyle Long. 

Harry Hiestand’s group was one of the league’s best pass-protecting offensive lines, though the Bears frequently struggled to run the ball with any consistent success. Perhaps swapping Daniels and Whitehair could be a way to help generate improvements on the ground. 

Organized Team Attendance 

Nagy said the Bears expect all their players to show up for the team's offseason program, which begins April 15, and into OTAs in May. Only one player — wide receiver Anthony Miller (shoulder) — who expected to participate in the voluntary shorts-and-helmets practices of OTAs. 

Nagy cited that 100 percent attendance as another sign of the strong culture permeating Halas Hall. 

“They’ll be there,” Nagy said. “Again, that’s who we are. I’m not worried about one guy not showing up.”

Comp Pick USA

The Bears haven’t been awarded a compensatory draft pick — given to teams who, essentially, lose more important players than they sign in free agency — since 2009, but that could change in 2020 with Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan landing sizable contracts with the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos, respectively. 

Part of the Bears’ comp pick drought has been because of an aggressive approach to free agency. The team could’ve, perhaps, received a 2018 comp pick after losing Alshon Jeffery to free agency in 2017, but instead signed Mike Glennon, Prince Amukamara, Markus Wheaton, Dion Sims, Quintin Demps and Kendall Wright, among others. 

The other issue has been, simply, the Bears haven’t had many good players recently. And when their own good players did become free agents, the team’s roster wasn’t healthy enough to let them sign elsewhere, nor was their cap maxed out to prevent them from being brought back. 

That changed in 2018, and the departures of Amos and Callahan, as well as guys like Josh Bellamy, Kevin White, Eric Kush and Bryan Witzmann signing elsewhere, could help trigger an end to that comp pick drought. OverTheCap estimates the Bears could receive fourth- and fifth-round picks for Amos and Callahan, though Pace cautioned that the formula to determine the awarding of those picks is complicated and subject to change. 

Still, as the Bears move forward, the top of their roster — Mitch Trubisky, Eddie Jackson, etc. — will get more expensive. And staying competitive while allocating a significant amount of cap space to a few players is massively helped by drafting well. Adding a few comp picks in the future will give the Bears more spins of the wheel as they look to add cheap, productive talent to their roster. 

“We kind of knew going into free agency that was a possibility,” Pace said. “Now there’s things that take place and they’re even talking about tweaking some of the — the equation’s complicated enough. One of the things I think is those guys have to be on those teams for 10-plus games, for example, so you’re never really set until the season unfolds. 

“But it’s something we’re mindful of. I think a lot of the good clubs, you see the Rams doing it, they figure out a way to take advantage of that system and for us the key is to continue to draft well and we’ll be in a position for these compensatory picks.” 

London Calling

While Nagy said he hasn’t made any decisions yet on the Bears’ travel plans for their game in London against the Oakland Raiders, it sounded like he’s leaning toward having his team have a shorter across the Atlantic Ocean. Nagy cited the Kansas City Chiefs’ trip to London in 2015 — when he was the team’s quarterbacks coach — for which the team left the United States for England on Thursday, held a practice Friday and played the game Sunday. 

Other teams have opted to leave earlier and hold more practices in England. It’s worth noting that Doug Pederson — the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator in 2015 — had the Philadelphia Eagles fly to England the Thursday before their Sunday game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in 2018. 

Nagy said he wants to allow his players some time to soak in London, but that certainly won’t be the primary goal of the trip. 

“It'll be 90 percent football and just a sprinkle (of other activities),” Nagy said. “We're over there on a business trip, that's why we're there. But at the same time it's great culture for the guys to see and be a part of and some guys have never been over there. That's a part of life. If you can balance it and make sure you do it the right way, I'm good with that.”

Lastly, the best thing we saw this week...

… By far was Andy Reid’s Bitmoji, which Nagy shared with a group of Chicago-based media during the league’s coaches breakfast Tuesday morning. Specifically, the Bitmojis we saw were of Reid's character in a Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirt and him chowing down on a sizable stack of pancakes. 

Nagy, too, has a Bitmoji, and lamented the social media platform not having a visor option to put on his avatar, which looks like this:

Behind Enemy Lines: Looking at where the Bears fall in their opponents’ schedules

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USA TODAY

Behind Enemy Lines: Looking at where the Bears fall in their opponents’ schedules

Week 1: Packers at Bears (TNF / NFL Season Opener)

It’s NFL Opening Night. Really not much else to say here. The Packers do host the Vikings in Week 2, so there’s that.

**10 days off**

Week 2: Bears at Broncos

No shortage of juice for the Broncos here. On top of Vic Fangio getting the opportunity to take down his former team, it’s the Broncos home opener. There’s also some ridiculous stat out there about the Broncos being something like 75-2 in Week 2 at home or something (*Not the actual stat, it’s buried in TweetDeck somewhere), so this one will be tough.

Week 3: Bears at Washington (MNF)

 

Washington’s schedule

Week 1 at Eagles

Week 2 vs Cowboys

Week 3 vs Bears MNF

Week 4 vs Giants

Week 5 vs Patriots

So Washington hosts the Bears in the midst of facing all three of their divisional opponents in the first four weeks of the season. I don’t know what it means, I just know I found it interesting. Worst case scenario for the Bears is that Washington is (more than likely) 0-2 and needs to throw the kitchen sink at the Bears to “save” their season on Monday Night Football. But then there’s this: Washington is 2-14 on Monday Night Football since November of 2008.

Week 4 Vikings vs Bears

 

Vikings Schedule

Week 3 vs Raiders

Week 4 at Bears

Week 5 at Giants

Week 6 vs Eagles

Divisional games aren’t typically let down or look ahead spots and that certainly holds true for both teams here. I’d watch out for that Giants game in New York sandwiched between the Bears and Eagles if I were a Vikings fan though.

Week 5 vs Raiders in London

 

Raiders Schedule

Week 2 vs Chiefs

Week 3 at Vikings

Week 4 at Colts

Week 5 vs Bears in London

Week 6 BYE

All bets are off for these London games. The Khalil Mack trade revenge game certainly should be a Bears win, and after facing a murderers row of the Chiefs, Vikings and Colts, the Raiders could be limping across the pond.

Week 6  BYE

Week 7  Saints vs Bears

 

Saints Schedule

Week 6 at Jaguars

Week 7 at Bears

Week 8 vs Cardinals

As JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and I talked about on the Under Center podcast I actually think it’s a good thing the Bears are facing a likely Super Bowl contender coming out of the bye week. Last season, they faced the Dolphins and Giants coming out of the Bye, and the extended post-Thanksgiving break respectively and they lost against bad teams. No excuse for not getting up for this game. And as you can see, there’s nothing to distract the Saints from the defending NFC North champs.

Week 8   Chargers vs Bears

 

Chargers Schedule

Week 6 vs Steelers

Week 7 at Titans

Week 8 at Bears

Week 9 vs Packers

So the Chargers were 7-1 on the road last season, but I think their road success and their 12-4 record come back to earth in 2019. Last season was their first season winning 10+ games since 2009. And we saw the real Chargers (not) show up against the Patriots when it mattered most in the AFC Divisional Round. Give me a healthy dose of Philip Rivers throwing a temper tantrum after Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks combine for the Bears fourth sack of the day.

Week 9 at Eagles

 

Eagles Schedule

Week 7 at Cowboys (SNF)

Week 8  at Bills

Week 9 vs Bears

Week 10 BYE

Week 11 vs Patriots

The already tall task of avenging last season’s double doink playoff heartbreak gets even tougher with the way the schedule falls for Jordan Howard’s new team. Having the Patriots looming could have been advantageous for the Bears, but this being the Eagles’ last game before the bye nixes any chance Doug Pederson’s team will be looking past the Bears and ahead to a Super Bowl LII rematch. Big game at a big point of the season for both teams.

Week 10 vs Lions

 

Lions Schedule

Week 9 at Raiders

Week 10 at Bears

Week 11 vs Cowboys

Week 12 at Washington

Week 13 vs Bears  (Thanksgiving)

Nothing jumps out from the Lions perspective here. Should be a ‘get right game’ for the Bears coming off IMO their toughest stretch of the season. There is some letdown potential with the lowly Lions dropped into this otherwise murderer’s row 5 game stretch.

Week 11 at Rams (SNF)

 

Rams schedule

Week 10 at Steelers

Week 11 vs Bears  (SNF)

Week 12 vs Ravens (MNF)

Super Bowl hangover anyone?? The Bears laid the defensive blueprint for how to beat the Rams – and the thing I can’t still get over: it’s great that a mic’d up Sean McVay realized the Patriots were using the Bears scheme early in the Super Bowl. But how did he not have a counter for it at that point? A team beat you this exact way? The Bears finish what they started a season ago by sending the Rams into a tailspin while Mitch cements himself as a household name.

Week 12 vs Giants

 

Giants Schedule

Week 11  BYE

Week 12  at Bears

Week 13 vs Packers

We’re doing this again are we? Huge letdown spot for the Bears against what should be a really bad team coming off their bye week and the Bears have a short Thanksgiving week looming. I don’t like it. Not even a little bit.

Week 13 at Lions (Thanksgiving)

 

Lions Schedule

Week 12 at Washington

Week 13 vs Bears  (Thanksgiving)

Week 14 at Vikings

We saw the Bears handle a brutal 85-hour turnaround from Sunday Night Football to Thanksgiving last season – so they’ve been here. Last year’s Thanksgiving game did actually come down to Kyle Fuller making a game-saving INT in the end zone at the end of the game. Definitely edge Bears but anything can happen on Turkey day.

**update! I found the Broncos stat!  51-8-2 in weeks 1-2 at home.  Carry on.****

Week 14 vs Cowboys (TNF)

 

Cowboys schedule

Week 12 at Patriots

Week 13 vs Bills

Week 14 at Bears (TNF)

Week 15 vs Rams

Getting funky with back to back Thursdays. The Bears did do this in 2014, losing against the Lions and Cowboys in that order as the Trestman era was coming to its Real Football Coaches of Chicago (in)glorious ending. For my money, I have this as the most pivotal game of the season. With 10 days off afterward, a win could propel the Bears into their crucial home stretch (and the playoffs) in the driver’s seat.

**10 days off**

Week 15  at Packers

 

Packers Schedule

Week 13 at Giants

Week 14 vs Washington

Week 15 vs Bears

Week 16 at Vikings

Week 17 at Lions

Well here’s some fun with schedules. The Packers finish with three straight against the NFC North. And they get to warm up for it with back to back games against the NFC East’s least. Does the Matt Nagy era come full circle from Lambeau heartbreak in the 2018 opener to cementing his second straight divisional crown in enemy territory?

Week 16 vs Chiefs (SNF)

 

Chiefs Schedule

Week 14 at Patriots

Week 15 vs Broncos

Week 16 at Bears (SNF)

Week 17 vs Chargers

Definitely a roll of the dice by the schedule makers to have the Andy Reid – Matt Nagy, mentor vs pupil, reigning MVP vs reigning top defense this late in the season. This game very well could mean nothing to either or both teams. But for everyone’s sake, let’s hope we all get the primetime early Christmas present of watching Patrick Mahomes vs the Bears defense with everything on the line.

Week 17 at Vikings

 

Vikings Schedule

Week 14 vs Lions

Week 15 at Chargers (SNF)

Week 16 vs Packers (MNF)

Week 17 vs Bears

Another fun schedule wrinkle where another NFC North opponents close with a division heavy final stretch. Normally I would have a problem with the Vikings getting to end the season with all three of their NFC North home games in the final month. But we saw what the Vikings did at home with their season on the line against the Bears in the final week last season, so I have my doubts as to whether they’ll even still be alive at this point.

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Legendary sportscaster Chet Coppock dies after car crash

Legendary sportscaster Chet Coppock dies after car crash

Legendary Chicago sportscaster Chet Coppock died on Wednesday due to injuries sustained in a car crash last week, his daughter confirmed in a post on Facebook. He was 70 years old.

"His passing is untimely, unexpected and painfully sad, but all we can do at this time is remember how lucky we were to have such a unique and creative trailblazer help shape into the adults we know he was so incredibly proud of," Lyndsey Coppock wrote.

MORE: NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan remembers Coppock and the impact he had on his career.

We'll have more reaction to Coppock's tragic passing later in the day.