Bears

Angelo fallout: Who, or what, next?

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Angelo fallout: Who, or what, next?

The departure of Jerry Angelo from his post as Bears general manager wasnt an end; it was a beginning.

The exact genesis of the move will be difficult to ferret out but it carries a clear fingerprint of George McCaskey, who took over this season as Bears chairman. It was not the result of any power struggle between Angelo and coach Lovie Smith, sources said. Smith and coaches were stunned when the news hit on Tuesday morning.

An interesting note was provided by NBC colleague Peggy Kusinski (@NBCChicago), who confirmed that McCaskey has gotten together with Blackhawks major domos Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough and topic of conversation was change.

Well, this would be change.

Wirtz was at the forefront of a revival and makeover of the Blackhawks image after the passing of Wirtzs father Bill. Whether or how much that played into McCaskey decisions regarding Angelo shouldnt be dismissed.

Any message regarding change certainly will not be lost on Lovie Smith, who is coming back as head coach with two years remaining on his contract at 5.5 million per.

Beyond Smith, however, are immediate trickle-down questions within the organization. Angelo let go of pro personnel head Bobby DePaul and college scouting chief Greg Gabriel and hired Tim Ruskell, a friend and longtime colleague. The move saved money but Ruskell is expected to be gone with Angelo.

Cliff Stein, senior director of football administration and general counsel, is expected to remain in primary charge of negotiations.

Type of target

Because of draft problems that have largely defined Angelos tenure, look for the Bears to go strong for a personnel guy rather than a business facilitator.

NFL sources dismissed thoughts that Bill Cowher could be lured out of his network analyst job (thats where the Bears found Mike Martz) and into Halas Hall. However, Cowher had a long run of success with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Rooney family, close friends of the McCaskeys.

Same with Bill Polian and son Chris, out in Indianapolis. Polian was the chief architect of the four Super Bowl teams fielded by the Buffalo Bills under owner Ralph Wilson. Wilson also was very close with the McCaskeys.

More as the day plays out.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”