Bears

As #BowlesWatch hits fever pitch, why the Bears would want the ex-Jets coach to be their defensive coordinator

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As #BowlesWatch hits fever pitch, why the Bears would want the ex-Jets coach to be their defensive coordinator

Update, 2:30 p.m.: Todd Bowles, apparently, will indeed be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive coordinator:

*Original story is below*

Bruce Arians talked on the radio as if Todd Bowles had already agreed to be his defensive coordinator. A radio host in Kansas City tweeted that Bowles had agreed to be the Bears’ next defensive coordinator. #BowlesWatch officially became a thing barely two hours after the Broncos reportedly made their decision to hire Vic Fangio away from Chicago. 
 
The Bears are indeed considering Bowles to replace Fangio as their defensive coordinator, and Bowles does appear to be considering the Bears instead of the Bucs:
 
https://twitter.com/greggabe/status/1083055505461964800
 
The allure of the Bears is easy to see for Bowles: This was the league’s best defense in 2018, one stocked with loads of talent in every unit. He’s also friends with not only Matt Nagy, but the Nagy family — Nagy’s father and uncle coached Bowles in high school. Bowles and Nagy, too, coached together with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. 
 
For the Bears, though, Bowles would be a fantastic replacement for Fangio. It starts with the head coach’s trust in him, and that he’d be a natural fit for the kind of culture built over the last year at Halas Hall. 
 
“I have so much respect for him, what he does defensively, but on top of that, too, I think he’s such a great human being,” Nagy said in October. “He does things the right way. He treats people the right way. I like how he does things.”
 
Bowles’ defenses with the Jets regressed over time, going from No. 5 in defensive DVOA in 2015 to 21st, 18th and 21st from 2016-2018. Those Jets defenses had talent, like safety Jamal Adams and defensive lineman Leonard Williams, but not close to the across-the-board talent possessed by the Bears. 
 
But while Bowles was the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator — under Arians — in 2013 and 2014, his defenses ranked No. 2 and No. 7 in DVOA. The Cardinals ranked seventh and fifth in points allowed per game in those two years, too, pairing efficiency with success on the scoreboard. 
 
A thought here is that Bowles could be the ideal candidate to help this Bears’ defense avoid stagnating, or regressing significantly, with the loss of Fangio. He’s an aggressive, attack-oriented defensive mind and former defensive back who’s adept at scheming and calling blitzes, as Nagy explained last year. 
 
“They’re an aggressive defense,” Nagy said. “They like to bring pressure. That hasn’t changed with Todd. He’s always been that way. He picks and chooses when to do it. He knows good times to do it and then he’s got good players too that he can use with that.”
 
The prospect of Bowles figuring out different ways to use Khalil Mack with a full offseason of OTAs and training camp is surely tantalizing around Halas Hall. A former safety, he did some good things with Adams in New York and could help boost the play of All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson, though he’s a different, more rangy player than Adams. 
 
Bowles’ base scheme is 3-4, so he’s a good fit for the personnel the Bears already have in place (like defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, who signed a four-year extension in September). 
 
The ball, seemingly, is in Bowles’ court with interest from both Tampa Bay and Chicago. The Bears will have other quality options if Bowles does wind up re-uniting with Arians, but if Nagy is able to convince him to join him at Halas Hall, it would surely soften the blow of Fangio’s departure. 

Drew Brees injury: Bears likely to face Saints without Brees in Week 7

Drew Brees injury: Bears likely to face Saints without Brees in Week 7

The Chicago Bears got into the winning column Sunday with their miraculous last-second victory over the Denver Broncos, 16-14,  thanks to the right leg of kicker Eddy Pineiro. 

Pineiro's 53-yard strike with time expiring exorcised the Cody Parkey demons from Halas Hall and may have been exactly what was needed to jumpstart the 2019 season, one that includes a difficult stretch of games from Weeks 7 through 11.

The Bears will face the Saints (Wk 7), Chargers (Wk 8), Eagles (Wk 9) and Rams (Wk 11) in a five-game run that will probably determine whether this team makes the post-season. One of those games may have just become much more winnable, however.

Saints QB Drew Brees suffered a torn ligament in his throwing thumb against the Rams in Week 2, one that will require surgery and is expected to keep him sidelined for at least six weeks.

Assuming the timetable for his return is accurate, that puts Brees back on the field around Week 8 or 9; the Bears welcome the Saints to Soldier Field in Week 7.

While no one wants to see a player -- especially one of Brees' stature -- suffer an injury, it's certainly a change in New Orleans' lineup that will benefit Chicago and increase their odds of surviving that brutal mid-season run of games.

A Bears' offense lacking results needs to hope messy start to 2019 is an early-season mirage

A Bears' offense lacking results needs to hope messy start to 2019 is an early-season mirage

DENVER — Through two games, the Bears’ offense hasn’t shown any evidence of being better in Mitch Trubisky’s third year in the NFL, and in its second year running Matt Nagy’s scheme. 

If anything, it’s looked worse than it did in 2018.

Yes, the Bears won on Sunday, beating the Denver Broncos, 16-14, in what might’ve been a season-saving victory. But teams were 2-16 in 2018 when their quarterback passed at least 25 times and averaged fewer than 4.5 yards per attempt. Trubisky completed 16 of 27 passes for 120 yards on Sunday, good for a paltry average of 4.4 yards per attempt. The Bears were incredibly lucky to escape Colorado with a win.  

“We know we’re not where we want to be as an offense,” Trubisky said. “I’m not where I want to be as quarterback, but you use these games and these wins as momentum to keep getting better and finding ways to win and keep improving our skills.”

Papering over the issues that arose over the game’s first 59 minutes and 51 seconds was the clutch 25-yard strike Trubisky fired to an open Allen Robinson, which set up Eddy Pineiro’s game-winning 53-yard field goal as time expired. That play came on a do-or-die fourth and 15, and Trubisky climbed the pocket well and bought just enough time to connect with Robinson over the middle.

It was reminiscent of the connection he had with Robinson at the end of January’s wild card game against the Philadelphia Eagles, only this time, his kicker made the kick.

“I’ve always been taught that quarterbacks are evaluated by how they finish games and what they do,” Nagy said. “So, this is again one of those games that you saw where there just happened to be some more runs that went on. We tried to control Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, two guys that are real game changers. We wanted to make sure that we controlled them.

“We wanted to get back to throwing the ball a little bit, but when the time presents itself to throw the ball, we will do that. For me, I’m just proud that he made that throw at the end.”

The Bears’ offensive balance was monumentally better than it was in Week 1, with 28 handoffs standing against 27 drop-backs for Trubisky (those numbers don’t account for RPO decisions, but safe to say, Nagy’s playcalling was indeed balanced). David Montgomery looked better than his 3.4 yards-per-carry average may indicate, while a well-designed toss to Cordarrelle Patterson gouged 46 yards — easily the Bears’ most explosive play of 2019.

And credit Nagy and his offensive brain trust for scheming Miller and Chubb out of making an impact — Miller was invisible, and Chubb’s most notable play was a dodgy roughing the passer penalty that helped move the Bears closer to field goal range in the dying embers of the fourth quarter. Those two players accounted for 26 1/2 sacks in 2018, and the Bears’ offensive line can head back to Chicago feeling positive about the impact they made Sunday. 

So the Bears’ offense did show improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, though the bar was awfully low. And it still wasn’t exactly good Sunday — one touchdown and three field goals is not what this team needs if it’s serious about making the playoffs again, let alone reaching the Super Bowl.

The best-case scenario is that the Bears’ offense will be significantly better in Week 7 and Week 11 and Week 15 as it develops an identity. The Bears won an uninspiring 16-14 game against a bad team out west last year — Week 3 over the Arizona Cardinals — but at least before that they showed the ability to sustain a certain level of offensive competence.

Through two weeks, the most competent drive the Bears had was powered by nothing but running plays. Otherwise, this offense has been a mess.

Nagy and Trubisky have time to figure this out, especially with a suboptimal Washington side awaiting them a week from Monday. Few teams are lucky enough to form a season-long identity in the first four weeks of the regular season (remember when the New England Patriots lost to the Detroit Lions last September?) and the Bears can point to that fact as a reason for hope about this offense.

But right now, it’s all about hope. Because the results haven’t shown much of anything to provide hope.  

“Nothing in the NFL is easy at all, especially early in the season when you’re trying to figure out who you are,” offensive lineman Kyle Long said. “That’s why there’s 16 games and 17 weeks.”

 

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