Bears

The Bears' offensive line was not the problem with their run game in 2018

The Bears' offensive line was not the problem with their run game in 2018

The Bears and Kyle Long agreeing on a re-structured contract not only had the benefit of saving a little under $3 million in cap space, but it also meant the team’s starting offensive line will remain intact in 2019. 
 
That’s the same offensive line that was one of the NFL’s better pass-protecting groups in 2018, allowing the NFL’s fewest pressures and second-fewest sacks, per Pro Football Focus. Keeping that continuity in front of Mitch Trubisky is important — he felt comfortable with his offensive line, and Matt Nagy trusted that group to keep his quarterback clean. 
 
“We fully understand some of these bookend defensive ends that we’re going to be seeing here in the future and the direction of speed and talent that goes on on that front, so you better have those edges protected,” Nagy said. “We have two guys right now that we feel really good with on the edges. Credit goes to Ryan (Pace) and his guys for building that unit there now. And then also for Mitchell, it’s that trust factor for him, that confidence in knowing all the communication that goes on that front line of how to do things.”
 
But working to keep Long and right tackle Bobby Massie, who signed a contract extension in January, underscores something else about the Bears’ offensive line: The team believes those five returning players are the right guys to block for a running game that lagged in 2018. 
 
The Bears could’ve blown up the right side of their offensive line, releasing Long and letting Massie walk in free agency, if they weren’t convinced they had the right personnel for the run game there. That wasn’t the case. 
 
From a cost standpoint, rebuilding the right side of the line would’ve been an expensive move, though, one that could’ve wound up costing the team more than the $9.4 million cap hit for which Long and Massie combine. Money, certainly, is a factor here — but the Bears, too, wouldn’t have committed nearly $10 million in cap space to two guys they didn’t think could contribute to fixing their inconsistent run game. 
 
Nagy may tweak his scheme a bit, but the Bears largely showed what they’ll be in 2018: A team that wants its running backs to run inside zone with speed and decisiveness, while also being comfortable catching passes out of the backfield. What it’s not: An offense that’s designed to get its running backs 20-25 carries per game, which is where Jordan Howard generally finds his groove. Nagy listed vision and the ability to make defenders miss as key traits he wants out of a “hybrid” running back, which doesn’t exactly describe Howard. 
 
So the Bears will move forward feeling confident in their scheme and offensive line when it comes to the run game. Nagy, notably, lavished praise on offensive line coach Harry Hiestand at the NFL Combine, too, believing that his teachings can make the group of Massie, Long, Cody Whitehair, James Daniels and Charles Leno Jr. better in 2019. 
 
“They believe in what he teaches them,” Nagy said. “He’s hard on them, but yet he loves them. They understand watching film how can they get better. You see that with every one of our guys right now.”

Under Center Podcast: State of the Bears: Defense

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: State of the Bears: Defense

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan are back with their training camp preview of the Bears' defense, looking at if it's fair to expect this group to take a step back without Vic Fangio (2:00) or if it's possible to repeat as the league's No. 1 defense (10:00). Plus, the guys look at which players the Bears need to improve to remain one of the NFL's best defenses (15:15), debate if Leonard Floyd can be better (20:00) and look at the future of the defense as a salary cap crunch looms after 2019 (25:00). 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: 

NFL.com apparently thinks that Matt Nagy is a very average head coach

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USA Today

NFL.com apparently thinks that Matt Nagy is a very average head coach

NFL.com recently ranked all of the league's head coaches, because the football season may end but creating content never will. 

The top tier consists of all the usual suspects ... except for the guy that literally won the league's award for best coach last season

Matt Nagy came in at 14 on this list, and not even the highest-ranked NFC North coach. The reasoning is a tad suspect; here's what they had to say

Matt Nagy more than delivered in his first year as the Bears' head coach, taking Chicago to the postseason for the first time since the 2010 season. What's interesting about Nagy is that his side of the ball is offense, and prior to getting hired by the Bears, he was known for his work with quarterbacks in Kansas City. Yet, it was Vic Fangio's defense that did most of the heavy lifting to get Chicago to the playoffs. A head coach does much more than run one side of the ball, though. In fact, some of them don't do that at all. They run the office, in some respects. Nagy clearly set a tone in the building, so to speak, which should not be taken lightly. Nor should Nagy's work with Mitch Trubisky, who showed improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. Why is Reich ahead of Rivera but not Nagy? Well, Nagy has yet to achieve postseason success and had stronger personnel than Reich did in 2018.

Is this fair? Probably not! But is this important? Definitely not! Still - give your incumbent COY some more love, NFL. Club Dub! Yelling boom! The visors!