Bears

Angelo: Bears unlikely to land big fish

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Angelo: Bears unlikely to land big fish

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011
Posted 5:15 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

INDIANAPOLIS The Bears spent much of last year working through a fire drill on the offensive line, between injuries, necessary changes and whatever else was dealt to coach Mike Tice. Finally things settled with Frank Omiyale at left tackle, JMarcus Webb at right, Chris Williams at left guard, Roberto Garza at right and Olin Kreutz at center.

NEWS ALERT: Bears extend Lovie Smith's contract

That group settled in place after the off week and there followed a turnaround of eight wins in 10 games prior to the NFC Championship game. All was then peaceful in the Kingdom of Bear O-Line.

Now the prospect is growing that none of the five positions that took so long to settle will have the same starter in 11 that finished 10.

Kreutz is an unrestricted free agent and can be re-signed at some time barring a lockout. But the Bears are high on the potential of Edwin Williams at center and no other position up front is by any means set.

READ: Lovie believes core is in place

What the goal is is get your five talented players playing at the same time, general manager Jerry Angelo said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. Thats what we want to do. Does that mean Chris Williams is a tackle or a guard? We cant determine that yet. Do I have a preference? Not really, only because hes been exposed to the guard position so weve seen some things, just like Frank Omiyale. Weve created some versatility on the offensive line.

Coach Lovie Smith, he of the new two-year contract extension and the ultimate decision-maker on position assignments, concurred. Williams may be a right tackle. Or a right guard. Webb will get a long look at left tackle. And the Bears have offensive line as a high priority in a draft that has some quality and depth in that area.

There are very few positions that I would say that were set, Smith said. I dont think you make those types of statements at this time. I think what you do in all seasons, you look at all the different options. You look at the best combination at a lot of different positions.

Moneyball

The Bears have been one of the NFLs major players in big-ticket free agents for many years, contrary to the mistaken notion that they will not spend money on talent.

Muhsin Muhammed (30 million). Julius Peppers (91 million). Bryan Cox from another era. Trading draft choices for and then extending Jay Cutler.

But with the salary cap expected to decline slightly and a major investment having been made last year in Peppers, Brandon Manumaleuna and Chester Taylor, the Bears are not expected to be making a huge deal in the market, whenever NFLNFLPA negotiations establish that there is one.

Can we get the big fish? Angelo mused. I dont know. I havent seen the bait yet, and until I know how much bait we can put on the hook, I dont know that we can get the big fish. Thats going to be determined once we have a clear understanding of where the cap is.

"The reality is that it is difficult to land the guy in free agency two years in a row. Nearly 500 players are potentially going to be some form of free agents this offseason but again signing a franchise-level player is a difficult thing to do, Angelo said. You dont want to come out every year having to spend big chunks of money on one player. Thats not the goal. But if its a unique situation and we determined that signing Julius Peppers last year was a unique situation.

I think that was really an aberration of free agency. We thought he was a special player. Obviously, he was a fit. He was a need. And we felt like that was the right thing. So were not going to get stuck in a philosophy where we miss the big picture. Thats not really something we set out to do each and every year.

In some situations it will make sense to pursue one player at all costs as the one that will put a franchise over the top. The Dallas Cowboys did that with defensive end Charles Haley, whom Jimmy Johnson called the final piece that propelled the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s.

The Bears were within seven points of reaching the Super Bowl. A conclusion might be that they are one player away but that is not the thinking upstairs at Halas Hall.

I dont really want to do that, Angelo said. I think when you start doing that you mis-calculate, you mis-evaluate your football team. Ive seen teams do that. Ive been part of teams that have done that. That hit or miss rarely hits. So we dont want to get into that mindset. Theres got to be a plan in place.

We dont want to go into it where, Hey, its that one guy. Thats desperate. The quarterback position, thats different. Thats totally different. The value of that position speaks for itself. We did a lot. We were very aggressive because of that position. We all understand the value of that position. Take that position out of it, its not something where I feel like were one player away. Were not one player away. We need to get better at positions. We need to upgrade, create more competition, and then weve got to come together as a team.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller has quickly become a fan favorite on social media. He has the confidence and swagger found in most top wide receivers and it comes through on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Miller was one of 40 players in attendance at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere where he not only learned about the business and marketing side of football, but also suited up in his Bears gameday uniform for the first time. Of course, he shared the moment on Twitter:

Panini America, a sports collectible company, snapped a picture of Miller with fellow rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (Falcons) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (Steelers):

Miller has become something of a standout for the Bears despite not playing a single snap. He's expected to have a big role in an offense that has several new pieces and roles that are up for grabs.

Miller will compete with former first-round pick Kevin White and free-agent addition Taylor Gabriel for reps opposite Allen Robinson. Miller has the necessary skill set to play as both an outside receiver and in the slot which should give him an even greater opportunity to be on the field quite a bit.

The Bears first three draft picks are all vying for starting jobs in 2018. Roquan Smith (first round) is a lock to start next to Danny Trevathan and James Daniels (second round) will start at guard. Miller should make it three-for-three in a draft class that could end up the best of Ryan Pace's tenure.