Bears

Danny Trevathan continues to shine as transition to Chuck Pagano's defense presses on

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USA Today

Danny Trevathan continues to shine as transition to Chuck Pagano's defense presses on

Danny Trevathan continues to shine as transition to Chuck Pagano's defense presses on

It only took Mark DeLeone two minutes to get chills after meeting Danny Trevathan for the first time earlier this year. 

The Bears’ new inside linebackers coach knew about Trevathan from his days with the Kansas City Chiefs, while Trevathan was part of a Denver Broncos team that won a Super Bowl. DeLeone spent time watching the Bears’ defense last year, too, for a simple reason: “As a defensive coach in the NFL last year for another team, you watch this defense.”

But the impact of Trevathan's presence is magnified when seeing it up close. 

“He’s just a special personality,” DeLeone said. “I think when he’s on the field, the other 10 guys, they all look to him. He’s such an unbelievable leader, a charismatic person.”

Trevathan may not be the most well-known player on a defense that returns three All-Pros (Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller) and has other stars/first-round picks populating every unit (Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Roquan Smith). But no defensive player’s words carry more weight than those spoken by Trevathan. 

Most importantly, Trevathan communicates play calls to his teammates as the so-called quarterback of the defense. As someone entering his eighth year in the league and the owner of a Super Bowl ring, there isn’t much he hasn’t seen. And that’s helped him handle the transition from Vic Fangio’s language and concepts to Pagano’s language and concepts — which, in turn, helps his teammates iron out some of the wrinkles caused by that coordinator swap. 

“You just go watch him in the meeting room, you watch him in walkthroughs, you watch him through Phase 1 and Phase 2 and now at practice here, they’re talking all the time,” Pagano said. “Whether he’s in the huddle and they’re taking reps with the first unit or he’s on the side taking mental reps, they’re talking all the time. That communication is outstanding.”

Beyond making the transition from Fangio to Pagano’s scheme a little less complicated for the rest of the team, Trevathan’s presence as a leader on the Bears carries importance. It’s the same reason why DeLeone got chills after hearing Trevathan talk back in the winter. 

“They respect him, and he commands that respect,” Pagano said. “He’s one of the hardest working guys out here. He knows the system inside and out. He’s one of the first guys in. He’s the last guy to leave. He commands that respect. He does a great job from an accountability standpoint, a leadership standpoint, where he’s gonna hold himself accountable. But then in the right way, he can bring people along with him and hold each other accountable, hold his teammates accountable.”

Trevathan’s future beyond 2019 with the Bears, though, is murky. He’s in the aforementioned last year of his contract and will turn 30 next March, shortly after he’s scheduled to enter free agency. Roquan Smith could, theoretically, take over the communication duties within the defense next year — when the Bears, importantly, may hit a cap crunch. 

But Trevathan may prove to be difficult to replace, if the Bears were to go that route, for all the reasons laid out above (he also had over 100 tackles last year). For now, though, he’ll continue to play a massively important role in keeping the league’s best defense atop the NFL in 2019. 

“Four years here, man, it feels great,” Trevathan said. “I still feel like I got plenty more in me.”

Bears lost the Nick Foles trade according to one prominent NFL writer

Bears lost the Nick Foles trade according to one prominent NFL writer

Every city needlessly hates on the national media, but it feels like Bears fans are going to blow a fuse if another prominent NFL writer comes out and rains on Ryan Pace's expensive parade. The latest? ESPN's Bill Barnwell, who weighed in on the recent Nick Foles trade in a column on Wednesday afternoon. You can read the entire thing right here, though he hits on the trade right from the top. In particular, it's the contract that Barnwell takes issues with: 

There's nobody else on a veteran contract like this in football. Foles has most of his third year guaranteed, and when players get three guaranteed seasons, they're usually being paid like superstars. Borderline starters like Foles rarely get more than one guaranteed year on their deals. He is essentially guaranteed to get top-level backup money for two years and what will be mid-tier backup money in the third. That's not necessarily a bad deal in itself and it's much more in line with Foles' established level of play than his prior deal.

He gives the Bears a C- for the deal, which isn't outrageous as much as it's the latest in an endless line of reminders what teams have to deal with when they get their QB evaluations wrong. The real kicker is giving the Jaguars an A- for "getting out of the Foles pickle." As for the blockbuster quarterback competition coming to Lake Forrest at some point in the future, Barnwell suspects that "the Bears still badly want Trubisky to win the job and traded for a quarterback who was just good enough to push him without being good enough to clearly push him aside." An exciting time to be a Bears fan! 

And if you think that's bad, you can probaly just skip over Barnwell's evaluation of the Jimmy Graham signing. Just keep reminding yourself that that C's do actually get degrees, or even concentrate on the B's he gave to the Robert Quinn and Germain Ifedi deals. Just don't read the Jimmy Graham blurb. 

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Why Bears made Robert Quinn their big signing in NFL free agency

Why Bears made Robert Quinn their big signing in NFL free agency

Only five players were guaranteed more money in free agency than Robert Quinn, whose five-year, $70 million deal with the Bears includes $30 million guaranteed. Somehow, general manager Ryan Pace and cap guru Joey Laine managed to land one of the biggest free agents of 2020 despite not having a ton of money to spend. 

But why Quinn and not a cornerback, safety, right guard, tight end or quarterback? The Bears entered free agency with true, glaring needs at those five positions. So it was not only surprising that the Bears landed a big fish, but also that it was Quinn. 

Meanwhile, Ryan Pace went bargain shopping with Artie Burns and Tre Roberson at cornerback, and Deon Bush/DeAndre Houston-Carson/Jordan Lucas at safety. See also: Germain Ifedi at right guard. Nick Foles and Jimmy Graham weren’t cheap, but also weren’t Teddy Bridgewater or Austin Hooper. 

RELATED: Adam Hoge's #10BearsThings

But looking at how free agency played out, the Bears’ call to go with Quinn (and jettison Leonard Floyd) does make sense.  

“We just feel like Quinn’s a proven pass rusher,” Pace said. “He’s got excellent edge speed. He’s got outstanding ability to bend the corner and I think we can take a position of strength on our defense and we make it even stronger and more dangerous when you add Quinn and you combine him with the players that are already up there, especially up front.”

The Bears’ 2020 defense feels like a bet on an elite pass rush covering for some potential deficiencies in the secondary. Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller are still there, but can a battle between Kevin Toliver II/Burns/Roberson/TBD draft pick produce a true starting-caliber corner? Or can Bush slide into a starting role next to Jackson after spending the last three seasons almost exclusively as a backup?

It’d be ideal for the Bears if the answers to those questions were yes. But what if opposing quarterbacks don’t consistently have enough time to throw because Mack, Quinn, Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris, etc. are wrecking things in the pocket?

There’s certainly a thought in some NFL circles that great coverage is preferable to a great pass rush — it’s worked well for the New England Patriots, after all — but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Not every team gets to have an in-his-prime Khalil Mack. The Bears do. Signing Quinn to help maximize Mack’s impact makes a lot of sense. 

The money makes sense, too. Quinn is guaranteed $30 million, sure, but his $6.1 million cap hit in 2020 ranks 32nd among this year’s free agent signings. That’s really how the Bears made this work — big-ticket cornerbacks James Bradberry and Byron Jones are in the top five of 2020 free agent cap hits, while Bridgewater’s $14 million bargain is more than double Quinn’s cost. 

So all those factors led the Bears to Quinn. This feels like the right kind of signing, one that’ll help give the Bears a top-five defense — even if there may still be some holes in the back end of it. Floyd wasn't cutting it, despite his run-stuffing and coverage skills. The Bears needed to make their pass rush better, and did with signing Quinn.

Good thing that coin flip (metaphorical or not) wound up on the Bears’ side of things. 

“It's always been a defensive kind of team what was always presented to me about the city,” Quinn said. “So that was always an exciting thing going into a town like that where they love to see defense. Points of 0 versus 100, you know. So that's always exciting, plus the talent they already have there. Who can't get excited to join up with guys like Mack, Fuller, (Akiem) Hicks, (Eddie) Goldman, (Danny) Trevathan?”

 

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