Bears clearly thinking 'outside' the box at linebacker


Bears clearly thinking 'outside' the box at linebacker

Second in a series

Who’s in: Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee

Where do they fit? Sam Acho, Jared Allen, David Bass, Cornelius Washington, Willie Young

McPhee was the launch point of the Bears’ offseason personnel acquisitions. But he is far from the only significant move coming at outside linebacker, perhaps the single most important spot in the still-forming Bears 3-4 because of its pass-rush role in an NFL tilted toward enabling that style of offense.

Houston’s rehab from a torn ACL suffered at New England last year for the time being frees up reps for others who will be trying to secure a spot in the changing defense. Pending his recovery, Houston is one of the expected eventual starters, back at outside linebacker where he gained some experience while with the Oakland Raiders.

“What’s good about Pernell is his flexibility,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. “So you can say, ‘OK, he’s going to play 3-4 outside linebacker,’ but if we’re getting our best pass rushers on the field, he’s flexible enough to do multiple things. Just like Houston is.”

[MORE BEARS: Bears' lineup of 'bubble' players growing with each signing]

The fits of Houston and McPhee, however, did not stop the Bears from acquiring Acho, an emerging rush threat with the Arizona Cardinals before suffering a broken fibula early in the 2013 season.

With his combination of size and pass-rush ability, McPhee likely will lead the Bears D in snaps this year. But it may come at someone’s expense, and Allen and Young may move from starters in the Bears’ 4-3 of 2014, to situational tweeners in Bears’ 3-4 of 2015.

One notable trend in the OLB acquisitions is the sheer size: Acho is 257 pounds, McPhee 280, and Houston played last year in the 275 range. That translates into a mix of rush ability and strength at the point vs. the run, and none of Allen, Bass, Washington or Young fit that template.

Both Pace and head coach John Fox met with Allen, an Arizona resident, while they were attending the recent NFL owners meetings.

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Pace places a premium at OLB on pass rush, followed (in order) by setting the edge and then dropping in coverage. Allen and Young are likely restricted to situational pass rushing because neither is as much as 260 pounds.

“Physically, [Allen] had a rough year last year,” said Fox, who had hoped a year ago to lure Allen to the Denver Broncos. “In particular for big guys or really any position, your weight, your strength level, all those things physically have a lot to do with how you perform on Sundays.

“I think in his case he got pneumonia, he lost 19, 20 pounds, and in the middle of a marathon that is hard to recover from. That’s an analogy I use for a football season. So, I don’t know if it was his best season.”

Jay Culter and Kristin Cavallari to host private event this Valentine’s Day in West Loop

USA Today

Jay Culter and Kristin Cavallari to host private event this Valentine’s Day in West Loop

Former Bears QB and current reality TV husband Jay Cutler will be coming back to Chicago this Valentine’s Day. Cutler’s wife, long-time reality TV star Kristin Cavallari, will be hosting a private event at Uncommon James in West Loop and Cutler is coming along for the festivities. A must event for any fans of mid 2000’s football and MTV.

For $200 per guest, attendees will enjoy food and drink, a private shopping experience and a selfie station. The 3-hour event will also include a question and answer session with Cavallari and Cutler. There’s something for everyone!

Cavallarri is on the third season of her E! show “Very Cavallari” which follows her life and growing business. Uncommon James is a fashion, lifestyle and jewelry brand who opened their Chicago location last October. The flagship store is in Nashville, where Cavallari and Cutler reside with their children.

Cutler is seemingly less-interested in the spotlight than his wife. He isn’t particularly active on social media, with Cavallari posting pictures to an Instagram account for him, so any chance to hang out with the former Bears QB is a rare opportunity. According to Instagram, it looks like Cutler is becoming more involved with Cavallari’s business, designing and modelling a bracelet that doubles as a bottle opener. How very Cutler.

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Add jewelry designer to the resume @uncommonjames

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If you’re looking to convince skeptics to shell out for the event, here’s some incentive. According to, the average Bears ticket in 2014 during the middle of Cutler’s tenure on the team was $108 per person, not even including food and drink and access to whatever a selfie station is. So, you’re paying twice as much for a much closer look at Cutler (assuming the store is smaller than Soldier Field) and a chance to ask him and his wife a question! And food! Seems fair when you put it like that.

If you and the K-Cav to your J-Cut are looking for something to do together this Valentine’s Day, the event will be held at Uncommon James in the West Loop, 849 W Randolph St., from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on February 14th. 

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Mark Sanchez knows Mitch Trubisky and John DeFilippo, and he knows it's a great pairing

USA Today

Mark Sanchez knows Mitch Trubisky and John DeFilippo, and he knows it's a great pairing

New Bears' QB coach John DeFilippo knows a thing or two about coaching highly-drafted QBs. 

Back in 2009, DeFilippo got his first taste of life as a QB coach when his employer, the Jets, drafted Mark Sanchez with the 5th overall pick in that year's draft. 

What followed was Sanchez's best season. During a rookie campaign in which Sanchez became only the 2nd QB in NFL history to win multiple playoff games, DeFillipo coached the QB to career-bests in touchdowns (20) and yards per completion (12.5). 

Now at Halas Hall, the Bears are hoping he can work the same magic on their own highly-drafted QB. For what it's worth, Sanchez is buying in. 

"He’s a great offensive mind," Sanchez said. "Coach Nagy knows exactly what he’s doing with these hires. He understands what Mitch needs, how he needs to progress, how he needs to grow as a quarterback, and continue to make good decisions, continue to understand what defenses to make it difficult on him, and I know that John DeFilippo can help with that. He was a great resource for us as one of our assistants my rookie year in New York, had a ton of success in this league. He’s been around to plenty of places, lots of great experience, and all that experience is going to lend well in helping Mitch grow." 

Since his time in New York, DeFilippo has made stops in Oakland, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota, and most recently, Jacksonville. He was hired by the Bears back on January 16th, and will take over for Dave Ragone who was promoted to Passing Game Coordinator. 

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