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Angelo in play: Jets talking to former Bears GM

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Angelo in play: Jets talking to former Bears GM

Former Bears GM Jerry Angelo has some familiarity with working out quarterback issues. So it probably shouldnt be a complete surprise that he is on a short candidate list for the GM spot with the New York Jets, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

Mehta tweeted Wednesday night that the Jets will interview Angelo on Thursday. According to Mike Florios roundup at ProFootballTalk.com, Angelo is part of a search process that includes Miami assistant GM Brian Gaine, San Diego director of player personnel Jimmy Raye, 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble and New York Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, one of the finalists for the Bears GM job that went to Phil Emery.

Let the info flow

The grumblings around the NFL that Phil Emery is using his coaching search to pick the brains of candidates are amusing. For a couple of reasons.

One is that anyone who fails to learn something from candidates being interviewed for a job is an arrogant idiot. Any candidate worth interviewing likely has some good ideas or he shouldnt be in the meeting in the first place.

And if the candidate doesnt know that he is going to divulge solid information, he also doesnt belong in the interview. If answering How would you fix Jay Cutler? or What would you do to fix the Chicago Bears offense? is giving away some sort of competitive information; if Phil Emery has to rely on relative outsiders for those answers, then Emery may not be the guy to be handling this whole thing.

If Emery doesnt already have an idea of how to fix the offense, he should have shared a cab to the airport with Lovie Smith.

But the second point here is that if that if any candidate is not savvy enough to do a reverse-brain-pick, then he is a dolt. If you dont have some good questions for your potential employer, you didnt prepare very well.

A serous candidate should leave his extensive session knowing what Emery will do with Brian Urlacher, Henry Melton and some other key individuals. He should have gotten from Emery an idea of what the Bears intend to do in free agency.

Information flows both ways. Indeed, what candidates might learn about the Bears could far more revealing than what Emery can draw out of them that might help the Bears.

Cause for pause

The death of Mirko Jurkovic late Wednesday to cancer was an occasion for pause. The former Notre Dame guard out of Thornton Fractional North High School was a ninth-round draft choice trying to make the Bears in 1992, and Mirko was one of the first people I met on the first day covering the Chicago Bears.

He didnt make the Bears from a draft class topped by Alonzo Spellman and Troy Auzenne and rookie free agents that included Ed OBradovich, son of Bears great OB, and Jim Schwantz.

Most fans wont really remember Mirko. But sometimes its worth stopping and giving a thought to people who trip lightly and briefly through our lives.

For the Bears' tight ends, there remains an adamant belief that a turnaround is coming soon

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USA Today

For the Bears' tight ends, there remains an adamant belief that a turnaround is coming soon

Matt Nagy has never been shy about the role tight ends play in his offense. The evidence is plain to see: Trey Burton is one of the team’s ‘adjusters,’ a label used for the handful of players that the Bears’ offense relies most-heavily on. Drafting Adam Shaheen with the 45th overall pick in the 2017 Draft is another example. 

Complimenting one with the other was supposed to open up the offense, with Burton operating as the “U” and Shaheen playing more of the traditional “Y” role. Instead, through the first quarter of the season, the pair has combined for 18 catches and 107 yards. Neither have found the end zone yet, and the longest reception from either of them has been 11 yards. 

“I wouldn’t say they’re playing poorly,” Bears’ tight end coach Kevin Gillbride said on Tuesday. “... but I don’t think we’re playing great. I think that we do have improvements to make. But again, I do like where their heads are at. They understand exactly where they need to improve, and how it’s going to help our team win.” 

The production needs to improve, but with the additions of Cordarrelle Patterson, Mike Davis, and David Montgomery, there are a few more mouths to feed this season. 

“We’ve added a lot of weapons as well,” he said. “You’ve got to find that groove as an offense as well. I think as an offense we’re still figuring that out. But there are a lot of people to deliver the football to. And that’s never a bad thing, you know.” 

Some of Burton’s issues are still health-related, as he’s working to feel normal again after dealing with groin issues all offseason. Coaches have been pleased in recent weeks with how Burton’s looked in practice, and feel the unit as a whole isn’t far from the production that’s been expected from them. 

“It’s hard to really put into quantitative terms,” he said. “But it might just be the speed with which we’re running our routes, the way that we’re getting in and out of breaks, the way we’re finishing on the backside of a zone scheme. The better footwork and pad level on a front side of a play. There’s a number of different things that have improved.” 

One byproduct from the unit’s lack of production has been gameday opportunities for J.P. Holtz, who has seen his snap count go (modestly) up in each of the last two games. For a group that’s looking for any type of spark, Holtz’s contributions in both the pass and run game haven’t gone unnoticed. His 16-yard reception against the Raiders was a season-high from a Bears’ tight end. 

“Adding JP to that mix has helped,” Gillbride said. “He’s shown up as far as having catches and things of that nature, because of toughness he’s shown in the running game that have now led to open completions. I mean, that’s the reality of it. It really is all interwoven.” 

It’s been an undoubtedly disappointing start to the season, and Gillbride has had to spend time in meetings making sure that his guys know how close to breaking through the group is. They’ve addressed their shortcomings as a whole, and through the last couple weeks have spent time focusing on the little moments that could have, as he said, turned a “two-yard run into a 40-yard run.”

“It’s not as far off as everyone’s making this out to be,” he added. “It’s really not.”  

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Khalil Mack is PFF's No. 1 pass rusher through Week 6

Khalil Mack is PFF's No. 1 pass rusher through Week 6

The Bears will be without one of their most important players on the team for the foreseeable future with the news that Akiem Hicks is headed to injured reserve, but fortunately for Chicago, this roster has enough talent on defense to survive the loss.

Khalil Mack, of course, leads the way. If the Bears can string together a bunch of wins over their final 11 games, Mack is having the kind of season that ill garner a few MVP votes. Pass rushers on Super Bowl contenders are at least worthy of the MVP discussion, and according to Pro Football Focus, no pass rusher is having a better year than Mack through six weeks of the 2019 season.

1. Khalil Mack, EDGE, Chicago Bears

Mack has been a force off the edge for the Bears in his second season in Chicago and leads all edge defenders with a 91.5 PFF pass-rushing grade through six weeks. From 191 pass-rushing snaps, he has racked up five sacks, two hits and 21 hurries.

There's more pressure than ever on Mack to perform now that Hicks is expected to be out until at least Week 15. Hicks has been Chicago's second-best sack artist since Mack's addition in 2018, and with little reason to believe OLB Leonard Floyd is capable of filling the pass-rush void, it's on Mack to continue playing like Superman. 

Mack, more than any player in the NFL, is capable of answering that challenge.

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