John Fox has joined the ranks of former Bears coaches to make the move to studio analyst and it didn't take him long to have an opinion on his most recent employer.
Fox debuted on NFL Live on Tuesday and was asked about the assets and challenges facing the seven new coaches in the NFL. First up was Matt Nagy and the Bears.
“He’s an offensive minded coach," Fox said of Nagy. "He did a wonderful job in Kansas City with that offense and that’s where the help is needed in the Bears, bettering that offense. I think the asset is the added weapons. You look at Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, the list goes on."
Fox wasn't really known for saying interesting things to the media in his time in Chicago. Now that he's part of the media, Fox has to dish on his former team.
As for what Nagy needs to improve with the Bears, Fox cut to the point on that.
“Their challenge will be their passing game," he said. "That’s where they were deficient last year. That will be how fast they can adjust.
“Just getting all those pieces in place to be more efficient in the passing game. Young quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, how efficient is he gonna be, how fast he can get used to those pieces?”
There's a lot of pressure on the Chicago Bears' pass rush this season.
The NFC North has suddenly become one of the league's most talented quarterback divisions with Kirk Cousins (Vikings) joining Aaron Rodgers (Packers) and Matthew Stafford (Lions). Chicago is the only team in the North without a proven veteran under center.
Leonard Floyd is the most gifted pass-rusher on the roster and the onus is on him to become the superstar sack artist Ryan Pace envisioned when he traded up in the first round in 2016 to select him. Floyd, combined with free-agent addition Aaron Lynch and veteran Sam Acho, have to deliver.
“Leonard Floyd has to stay healthy and have a good year,” Pace told The Athletic's Dan Pompei. “Aaron Lynch has to come on. Vic [Fangio] had background with Aaron Lynch, so that gave us a comfort level in signing him. There is upside there. He’s still a young player. He fits the defense and knows Vic. Sam Acho has been a consistent player for us."
Floyd has just 11 1/2 sacks through two seasons, both of which have been marred by injury. He's played in just 22 of a possible 32 games as a pro.
Pace didn't address the team's pass rush until the sixth round of April's draft when he nabbed Utah's Kylie Fitts. It seemed odd at the time that he waited so long to address one of the team's most glaring needs and there haven't been any veteran signings to sure up the group since the draft concluded. The Bears are one injury away from a serious problem at outside linebacker and are relying on a bunch of guys who haven't proven capable of playing a full season in their careers.
"We felt fortunate to get Kylie Fitts in the sixth round, and he has to stay healthy," Pace said. "You are never going to come out of the offseason and say we addressed everything, we’re perfect.”
The Bears invested most of their offseason resources into surrounding Trubisky with playmakers who can help him compete with his NFC North counterparts. The offense will be better.
But if Floyd doesn't have a breakthrough season, more pressure will be on Trubisky to score points -- and a lot of them -- to keep games close in the division. And that's not the kind of pressure the Bears are hoping Floyd creates in 2018.
Chicago Bears left tackle Charle Leno, Jr. has outplayed expectations after joining the team as a seventh-round pick in 2014. General manager Ryan Pace rewarded Leno for his play with a four-year, $38 million extension last offseason, committing to the former Boise State product as the Bears' blindside protector for the immediate future.
Leno joined his teammates at the team's annual Bears Care Gala on Saturday and said new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is going to make him and his linemates better.
"We love Harry, let's just get that out of the way," Leno told 670 the Score's Mark Grote. "Harry is a great coach. I saw what he did for guys that he coached in college and the guys that were before us here in Chicago. He's getting us better."
Hiestand's efforts at Notre Dame produced four first-round picks: Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey. He brings a no-nonsense coaching style back to Chicago, where he last served under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009.
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Leno enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017. His 80.4 grade from Pro Football Focus was the best of all Bears linemen and his highest overall mark over the last four years. He finished 15th among all tackles graded by PFF last season.
Regardless, Leno still has to impress his new coach just like every other offensive lineman on the roster. The Bears haven't added any competition for Leno, but his fate as the team's long-term answer at left tackle could be decided by Hiestand.