Bears

With Khalil Mack, the Bears can be the top five defense they hope to be

With Khalil Mack, the Bears can be the top five defense they hope to be

All offseason, the Bears’ mantra on defense was about continuity. Searching for that word among the thousands said by defensive players during training camp turns up a ton of results. 

That’s why this group of coaches and players was so confident it could improve from being a top-10 defense to a top five one this year despite Roquan Smith being their only major offseason addition. 

How about a preseason addition, though?

As Ryan Pace moved through an aggressive offseason in which he established that defensive continuity and overhauled the weapons around Mitch Trubisky, the one blind spot he left looked like outside linebacker. Veteran Sam Acho was retained, Aaron Lynch was brought in on a one-year prove-it contract and Kylie Fitts was taken with a sixth-round flier. The hope, as it seemed before Saturday morning, was that Leonard Floyd — club on his hand and all — would make a huge leap in Year 3 and provide the Bears with the edge rushing spark they desperately needed. 

Floyd could still do that. But Saturday morning’s reported blockbuster trade for Khalil Mack netted the Bears a guy who’s established as one of the NFL’s best pass rushers. And so, your Week 1 defense will now look like this:

        Akiem Hicks        Eddie Goldman        Jonathan Bullard
Khalil Mack            Danny Trevathan        Nick Kwiatkoski         Leonard Floyd
Kyle Fuller            Adrian Amos            Eddie Jackson        Prince Amukamara

Eventually, of course, Smith will take over for Kwiatkoski as the Bears’ starting inside linebacker, adding more speed and athleticism to this defense. 

Continuity is great. Having Hicks and Goldman play next to each other for another year and retaining the entire starting secondary from 2017 is a positive. Trevathan knows Fangio’s defense like the back of his hand. 

But to be great, the Bears’ edge rushers had to be better. They just got a whole lot better on Saturday.

It's easy to imagine Mack and Hicks lining up on the same side of the field to terrorize an offensive line, with Goldman dutily hoovering up a double-team on the interior. That could then trigger Floyd into a one-on-one matchup to get to the quarterback. Applying more pressure on Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford and the rest of the quarterbacks the Bears face should help generate more takeaway opportunities for Fuller/Amos/Jackson/Amukamara.

In short: The possibilities are there for the Bears to become the top-five defense they thought they could be before acquiring Mack. 

Mack by the numbers

A few quick notes to get to know Mack:

— His 79 total pressures in 2017, per Pro Football Focus, were tied for second in the NFL last year behind only Denver’s Von Miller (83). For comparison, the Bears generated 88 pressures as a team during five preseason games this year. 

— Mack was one of six edge rushers to have a PFF grade of 90 or higher, with his 90.2 grade ranking sixth. 

— In 2016, Mack was PFF’s highest-graded edge rusher (92.3) and had a league-best 96 total pressures, 10 more than the second-highest total. 

— Mack was behind only Seattle’s Michael Bennett with 82 pressures in 2015, and his 16 sacks and 91.8 grade both led the league. 

— Only Atlanta’s Chandler Jones has more sacks since 2015 than Mack, who has 36 1/2. Miller (34 1/2) and Aaron Donald (30), the previous two highest-paid defensive players before Mack is expected to take that mantle, fell short of his total. 

Javon Wims pretended to be a fan and discussed Week 14 injury with driver

Javon Wims pretended to be a fan and discussed Week 14 injury with driver

Javon Wims left the Bears' Week 14 victory over the Cowboys in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury.

The severity of the injury was unknown at the time, but fortunately, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Friday that it's "nothing major."

Saturday afternoon, Wims posted a rather comical exchange between himself and a car driver (presumably an Uber driver, though that's not confirmed), wherein he discussed his injury as if he was just another fan. 

"Nah he's not too bad," Wims assured the driver, after the driver said he hoped Wims wasn't seriously hurt. "I think he'll be alright... You know, I was at that game, so I saw him walk off. He walked off pretty gingerly, but it looked like he was okay. 

"That kid got a bright future ahead of him, he got all the intangibles," Wims continued. 

The two shared a laugh when Wims revealed his true identity. Wims' status for next week's matchup with the Packers isn't clear at the moment, but it's nice to see him making lemonade out of lemons for the time being.

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NFL fines Lions, Matt Patricia for violating Injury Report Policy before Week 10 game against Bears

NFL fines Lions, Matt Patricia for violating Injury Report Policy before Week 10 game against Bears

The Lions fought admirably in their Thanksgiving day loss to their Bears — even without starting QB Matthew Stafford, who missed the game with a back injury.

With third-stringer David Blough under center, Detroit hung around all game, but were outdone by a late Mitch Trubisky game-winning drive, falling 24-20.

In the moment, Stafford's absence was a surprising development. Now, according to a report by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Lions organization, head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn are all facing fines for not properly updating Stafford's status in advance of the game:

It's insult to injury for a team currently in the basement of the NFC North at 3-8-1. Two victories over the Lions over a span of four weeks helped spark Trubisky and the Bears to the late-season surge they're currently enjoying.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.