Bears

After Lovie Smith? Bears have issues to consider

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After Lovie Smith? Bears have issues to consider

Bears management would not have jettisoned head coach Lovie Smith without a plan in place for his successor. The first indication of Smith being done in fact came in the form of other teams receiving permission forms from the Bears, requesting clearance to interview members of their staffs for the top field job in Chicago.

FOXs Jay Glazer first reported that Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was among those on the Bears short list. Other names, including some from successful college programs, will be surfacing.

But the issue is not automatically as simple as deciding on a candidate and making a lucrative financial offer. The Bears can interview coaches with current playoff teams but it is a busy market, with six other coaches already fired and their organizations looking for replacements.

A lot of things we dont know, said quarterback Jay Cutler. A lot of things are up in the air right now. I dont think were going to have a clear idea of whats going to happen in the future and what direction were going to go until we get some coaches.

Taking offense

Smiths problems finding a coordinator to direct the offense failed four times, three of them over problems involving Cutler: Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice. None was able to build a sustainable program around Cutler, or in Tices case, Cutler and Brandon Marshall.

Cutler and Marshall are still here, Cutler with just one year remaining on his current contract. It will be something of a significant surprise if GM Phil Emery goes forward with a long-term extension (or even a short one, for that matter) for Cutler, whom he regarded as a franchise quarterback back when the Bears were winning.

Unlike Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis (Andrew Luck), Andy Reid in Philadelphia (Donovan McNabb) or even Dick Jauron in Chicago (Cade McNown), the new Bears head coach will not come in with a high draft choice and option of getting the quarterback of his choosing.

Given that Smiths successor is expected to be from a background on offense, this may be very significant.

The Bears do not draft until No. 20 this year and already have Cutler, 30 next season, in place.

Change isnt always a bad thing, Cutler said. Sometimes, it can be good. The prospect at the time was unfavorable, but ... no one really wants to change or think about changing. Now that its upon us, weve got to be positive about it. It is what it is.

Weve just got to keep moving forward, and whoever it is, weve got to make the most of it.

Problems ahead on defense?

The next Bears head coach will come into a situation where many of the elite core players on the defense are on the veteran side of age 30. Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman were both voted to the Pro Bowl.

More significantly, the Smith-Rod Marinelli defense was typically termed the Cover-2 but in fact was a simplified system that worked well with a particular type of player.

It has been a 4-3 scheme that places a premium on speed over just size. Where the 4-3 scheme of Dick Jauron-Greg Blache was a two-gap system using massive down linemen (in 2001 the starting ends were 290 pounds and the tackles 340 and 360) who controlled blockers and kept them off linebackers.

Smiths system has flourished with speed rushers: Super Bowl ends Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye were 260 pounds and three-technique Tommie Harris was 285.

The current Bears roster is not staffed with the quantity and type of linebackers or sized defensive linemen to switch to one of the versions of a 3-4 now in use.

Who knows? said defensive end Corey Wootton, who had a solid season in 2012. I might have to gain 20 pounds.

Personnel policies

Brian Urlacher is not expected back after a year that began with him sitting out training camp with knee problems and sitting out the last four games with a hamstring problem.

His replacement, Nick Roach, is not a gimme at this point.

My contract is up as well, Roach said. Its just a part of the NFL, and its going on all around the league today. Thats the part of the league that people dont like if youre associated with it.

Henry Melton was voted to his first Pro Bowl but is an unrestricted free agent and expected to command a bank-shaking contract. Whether it is from the Bears is what the next couple of months will determine.

Matt Nagy, Bears may be facing ironic end to 2020 preseason plans

Matt Nagy, Bears may be facing ironic end to 2020 preseason plans

Just when Matt Nagy actually wants to play his starters in preseason games, there might not be a preseason. 

Ironic, right?  

On Wednesday, Pro Football Talk reported what’s been anticipated for weeks: The NFL will cut its preseason schedule from four to two games. But, per NFL Network, the NFLPA hasn’t signed off on that reduction just yet – potentially because they’re hoping to not play any preseason games at all in 2020. 

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And why would the players want those games? All it’d be is another opportunity for team-to-team transmission of the novel coronavirus that’s still raging across the United States. And the NFL has very little monetary incentive to play these games, too, which would happen in front of empty stadiums and presumably don’t bring in much TV revenue anyway. 

So if playing these games would risk COVID-19 exposure – which is way more important than the next words you’re about to read – and wouldn’t negatively affect anyone’s bottom line, why play them?

Some coaches will argue they’re critical for getting players ready for the regular season. Nagy, up until this year, wasn’t among those coaches. Remember these tweets from last August?

“My biggest thing is I’m trying to do what’s best for the Chicago Bears, and every team is different, and that’s okay,” Nagy said last summer. “… We love where we’re at right now in regards to our starters. We feel really good about it.”

All the NFLPA has to do to argue against preseason games is point to how Nagy – as well as Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay – viewed the importance of those in the past. If teams felt prepared for the regular season without playing their starters in the preseason, why should that change in the midst of a pandemic? 

Nagy has since switched his thinking – this after a truly awful start on offense to the 2019 season – and committed to playing his starters during 2020’s preseason. Not only does Nagy need as many preseason games as possible to evaluate Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles, but he needs it for the rest of his offense to find an identity and rhythm quicker than they did last year (if they ever found one at all). 

So that means having Anthony Miller catch passes from both Trubisky and Foles in preseason games. That means getting the interior of the offensive line – whether it includes Germain Ifedi or Rashaad Coward at right guard – reps together in live action. That means getting Cole Kmet’s feet wet before throwing him into the deep end of the “Y” tight end position in September. 

“As we talk, that's one of the things that I look back at from last year that I'm not happy about that I made a decision to do in the preseason," Nagy said on the Waddle & Silvy Show in May. "Number one, I think it's good for them to have it, but number two it sets the mentality. 

“So that's not going to happen this year."

Except it might not happen. And probably shouldn’t. 

 

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Bears' Allen Robinson included in Big 10's All-Decade team

Bears' Allen Robinson included in Big 10's All-Decade team

Here's some fun news for your holiday weekend. 

Bears WR Allen Robinson has been named to the Big 10 All-Decade team: 

A two-time Big 10 receiver of the year, Robinson finished his three-year career at Penn State with 177 catches for 2479 yards and 17 touchdowns. Seven years after he went into the NFL, Robinson's name is still all over the Penn State record board. Currently, he's: 

- 3rd all time in receptions
- 1st in single season receptions (97 in '13)
- 3rd in single game receptions (12)
- 4th in receiving yards
- 1st in single season receiving yards (1432, '13)
- 2nd in single season TD's (11, '12) 

He's also one of two receivers in Nittany Lion history to catch three touchdowns in multiple games. Allen Robinson: underrated in the NFL, but now properly rated by the NCAA.