Bears

Bears continue commitment to special teams, re-sign Sam Acho

sam-acho-bears-0328.png

Bears continue commitment to special teams, re-sign Sam Acho

Few teams struggled as badly on special teams last season as the Bears through the early games. But by the year’s end, those units had righted themselves, and the organization’s feelings about special-teams play has been reflected in retaining of all four top special-teams tacklers this offseason.

The latest was Sam Acho, who agreed to a one-year deal on Monday after finishing fourth on special teams with eight tackles in addition to starting seven games at outside linebacker and totaling 60 tackles, good for fifth among defensive players.

“We started off (2015) about as bad as you can start and realized that our guys out there on fourth down were slow people,” coach John Fox said at last week’s NFL owners meetings. “And those are the things that you figure out.

“So we made a lot changes in the season — guys that were covering kicks that were a whole lot faster than what we originally picked the team for. We actually pretty played pretty decent on special teams — I don’t know if anybody on the outside thinks that— and we will get better. But there’s a certain talent that it takes — and speed is one of them — to play fourth-down defensive players.”

So far this offseason that Bears have re-signed Sherrick McManis (No. 1 with 17 tackles) to a two-year deal and Chris Prosinski (No. 3, nine) for one year, in addition to tendering a qualifying offer to Josh Bellamy (No. 2, 10) earlier this month.

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

Acho signed a one-year Bears contract last year after four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He held one of the starting outside-linebacker spots through much of the offseason, lost his job to Jared Allen after becoming ill, then regained the position after Allen was traded to Carolina. The pass rushing of Lamarr Houston and Willie Young cut into Acho’s playing time but not his desire to return as a member of coordinator Vic Fangio’s defense.

“I just love seeing things grow, and I love seeing change happen,” Acho said as last season concluded. “And especially change for the better. So I’d love to be a part of that change.”

Acho has started 39 of his 66 career games over five seasons with the Cardinals (2011 through 2014) and Bears (2015), producing 172 tackles, 13 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, three interceptions, nine pass breakups, eight forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries (two on defense and one of his own teammate’s on special teams). The University of Texas product has also collected 22 tackles on special teams. In one postseason contest with the Cardinals, Acho registered seven tackles, including a strip-sack that was recovered by Arizona’s defense.

Acho finished his first season in Chicago with three tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup in 15 games.

WATCH: Bears share video of post-game celebration after win over Cardinals

bears_are_lit.jpg
USA TODAY

WATCH: Bears share video of post-game celebration after win over Cardinals

The Bears are in first place in the NFC North for the first time since 2014, and they’re enjoying it. The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings were both upset in Week 3, so an ugly win over the Arizona Cardinals was enough to put Chicago at the top.

Even though they were on the road, the Bears were still able to celebrate their victory with a disco ball dance party in the locker room and smiles all around.

The team shared a video of the post-game celebration, and it’s easy to see how much they cherish every win they can get.

The video also shows a locker room speech from Matt Nagy, and he specifically pointed out Eddie Jackson for his strong performance.

The second-year safety intercepted Sam Bradford and almost had a pick six off of Josh Rosen, but it was called back due to an offsides penalty on the defense.

The Bears know they still have a lot more work to do, but they’re going to enjoy this week’s win a little longer and then get back to work for Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Peter King includes Khalil Mack as MVP candidate in latest edition of 'Football Morning in America'

mack_fmia_post.jpg
USA TODAY

Peter King includes Khalil Mack as MVP candidate in latest edition of 'Football Morning in America'

When Peter King, the former Sports Illustrated columnist now with NBC Sports talks (or writes), you listen. 

Monday, King published the Week 3 edition of his "Football Morning in America" column. The in-depth piece has 16 sections, including "MVP Watch," featuring five players in the hunt to win the NFL MVP.

This week, King listed Bears linebacker Khalil Mack third in his MVP watch, offering a glowing review for the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"Bears are 2-1 and an Aaron Rodgers miracle from 3-0. And Mack has four sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception," King wrote. "Think what he’ll be like when he actually knows the defense."

Yeah, that will do.

In his first three games with the Bears, Mack has posted absolute video game numbers, as King notes. Imagine what the linebacker's numbers could be by the end of the season if he is able to stay healthy.

Mack is clearly an early candidate to win the 2018 Defensive Player of the Year. If he continues to play at such a high level, winning the NFL MVP award is not out of the question.