Bears

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Patrick Finley at the 2020 Pro Bowl and offered a glowing review of Bears quarterback coach, John DeFilippo, whose addition to Chicago's coaching staff is expected to bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky, the Bears' incumbent starter who's entering a make-or-break offseason with the team.

“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’

“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”

DeFilippo was the Eagles quarterback coach for two seasons (2016-17) and played an integral part in Wentz's development between his rookie and second seasons. Under DeFilippo's tutelage, Wentz went from a solid rookie season to an MVP-worthy campaign in 2017. It's also noteworthy that DeFilippo managed to get the best out of veteran Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz after a season-ending injury. Foles went on to enjoy a miraculous Super Bowl run.

DeFilippo certainly has his work cut out for him with Trubisky. The former second-overall pick has looked like an average starter (at best) through 41 regular-season starts and regressed mightily in 2019. Blame for his regression has been shared among the offensive line and play-calling, but he deserves much of the criticism too. His mechanics were sloppy, his accuracy was lacking and he just didn't play with the kind of downfield killer instinct Nagy wants from his starter.

Nagy's end-of-year comments about Trubisky needing to learn how to identify coverages didn't create much confidence in his near-term trajectory, either.

But that's why DeFilippo is in town. And if Cousins' comments prove to be true, then we may be on the precipice of a breakout season from Trubisky.

Or maybe DeFilippo will be the tie-breaking voice that allows the Bears to move on if Trubisky's struggles continue.

No easy answers: How Matt Nagy, Bears will try to fix run game

No easy answers: How Matt Nagy, Bears will try to fix run game

Let’s start with a pop quiz: 

You’ll get the answer near the bottom of this article. Anyways, let’s get to it: 

There’s no simple fix for the Bears’ run game in 2020. There’s not much room to dramatically improve the offensive line, with 80% of its starters returning. David Montgomery isn’t going anywhere. A new tight end or two may help a bit, but the point is, the core of this offense that averaged 3.7 yards per carry in 2019 (fourth-worst in the NFL) will be back in 2020. 

So the only place for the Bears to really go in search of a run game fix is with their coaching. And Matt Nagy’s firing of offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride Jr. and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand (and replacing them with Bill Lazor, Clancy Barone and Juan Castillo) felt like a tacit acknowledgement of where the problem can be fixed. 

In talking about not having a run game coordinator, the first name Nagy brought up was Castillo, who previously coached with Nagy for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

“(Castillo’s) expertise in football is second to none,” Nagy said. “And so I have a lot of respect for him and how he does things. Just the last several weeks that we've been together talking scheme-wise, it just feels really good. I just appreciate a lot of simplicity of where he’s at and the consistency too. So it will be fun to get going on that.”

It’s notable the only coach Nagy hired this winter who he’d previously worked with was Castillo, who’s had stints as a run game coordinator/offensive line coach with the Eagles (1998-2010), Baltimore Ravens (2013-2016) and Buffalo Bills (2017-2018). Perhaps Nagy believes he’ll be less likely to abandon his run game if he has more trust in the guys overseeing it. 

Barone, too, has coached tight ends all over the league but also has experience as an offensive line coach, including with the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos a few years ago. Lazor’s experience is with quarterbacks but the Cincinnati Bengals did rank eighth in rushing yards per play (4.7) in 2018, his last year as offensive coordinator there. 

“I’m doing a lot of listening and I think now is the time to do that so we can collaborate, figure out what went wrong last year and let’s fix it,” Nagy said. “Let’s be about solutions.”

Those solutions, though, are neither simple nor obvious. Remember that question at the top of the article? Here’s the answer: 

A (David Montgomery running from the shotgun): 115 carries, 478 yards, 4.2 YPC, 3 TD

B (David Montgomery running from under center): 127 carries, 411 yards, 3.2 YPC, 3 TD

The Bears’ run game needs a complete overhaul, not just a few tweaks, and there’s not a clear solution with the roster currently in place. Can Castillo & Co. give Nagy the run game he needs, and then can Nagy trust it on gamedays when he’s calling plays? 

We’ll find out in September, but those are two of the most important questions for this team to answer in 2020. 

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The Bears won't be the only team in the NFC North going after TE Austin Hooper

The Bears won't be the only team in the NFC North going after TE Austin Hooper

It's like the Kyle Fuller thing all over again! 

The Bears haven't been subtle about their desire to improve at tight end this offseason, and they've already been connected to Austin Hooper, one of the best free agents available. 

Though what would free agency be without a little bit of drama? A new report today suggests that the Bears aren't even the only NFC North team trying to sign the two-time Pro Bowler: 

Since Hooper is, you know, very good, it's not surprising to hear that the Bears aren't alone in their pursuits. But the idea of losing out on a top-tier tight end, only to watch him torch the Bears twice a year, is spooky for fans who just want something to be optimistic about. How juicy! The impending bidding war will be riveting.