Bears cut ties with Jeremiah Ratliff, sign DL Ziggy Hood


Bears cut ties with Jeremiah Ratliff, sign DL Ziggy Hood

Last offseason, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio cited Jeremiah Ratliff as the one defensive lineman at the requisite performance level needed in the developing defensive scheme. On Thursday that relationship crashed to an acrimonious conclusion as the Bears terminated the contract of the four-time Pro Bowl lineman.

In his place the Bears signed Ziggy Hood, a veteran of six combined seasons with Pittsburgh (2009-20013) and Jacksonville (2014). Hood was the Steelers’ first-round pick (32nd overall) in the 2009 draft. Prior to the 2014 season Hood had signed a four-year contract with Jacksonville, worth $16 million and with $5.5 million guaranteed.

Hood suffered a foot injury in September and had been on the Jacksonville reserve/injured list. He was released Thursday after passing a physical.

Ratliff’s release comes in the wake of reports of a heated confrontation with general manager Ryan Pace on Wednesday, to the point where team security personnel and Lake Forest police were summoned and Ratliff escorted from the premises. The exact nature of the incident was not known, nor whether it was what precipitated or resulted from Ratliff’s release.

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The move ostensibly saves the Bears no money, since the remainder of Ratliff’s $1.235 million had been guaranteed.

Ratliff played 41 snaps in the loss at Detroit last Sunday and was initially credited with 3 solo tackles. He was nursing a severely cut finger after the game but his release came as something of a surprise after his starting both the Kansas City and Detroit games.

“We felt moving forward without Jeremiah was in the best interest of our team,” said Pace. “We appreciate his contributions and wish him well. We are also excited to be able to add Ziggy Hood to our roster.”

Ratliff had missed the first three games this season due to a suspension arising out of an off-field DUI incident in 2014. Coincidentally, Ratliff had suffered an ankle injury during the Cincinnati preseason game and was still recovering from that in week four, causing him to miss the Oakland game.

Ratliff’s exit projects to increase the load for rookie nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who also played 41 snaps at Detroit, and others. Ratliff was working in both base 3-4 alignments and as one of the two defensive tackles in the Bears’ nickel sub package, along side Jarvis Jenkins inside and with Pernell McPhee and Willie Young outside.

Mitchell Trubisky establishing durability standard; Bears not quite taking shots back at John Fox


Mitchell Trubisky establishing durability standard; Bears not quite taking shots back at John Fox

Probably bad luck to mention this:

Mitchell Trubisky’s start last Sunday against the Detroit Lions was his 21st in a row, passing Jay Cutler (20) on the list of most consecutive starts by a Bears quarterback in the past 40 years. Among quarterbacks since George Halas retired, Trubisky can pass Vince Evans’ 26 (1980-81) and match Jim Harbaugh’s 28 (1991-92) if he starts the remaining 2018 games, but will need next season to catch Bob Avellini’s 42 (1975-78).

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If there was an underlying frustration in the wake of John Fox being ousted as Bears coach, it might best be described as a shadow of disappointment at what might have been. Or should have been.

“This may sound weird,” said left tackle Charles Leno, “but with the guys we had last year, moving on to this year, you knew the culture was changing. We just had to click. We have got a great group of guys in here, I'm talking all across the defense, all across the special teams. Great group of guys. We just needed an extra push.

“Matt [Nagy] brought this.”

Leno is qualified to render an opinion. He has been through three head coaches in five NFL seasons, drafted under Marc Trestman, becoming a starter under Fox, and then came this year under Matt Nagy. Meaning: Leno was inside Halas Hall when the organizational culture plummeted under an offensive coach, started to improve under a defensive coach, then stalled and now has undergone a culture re-launch.

Whether the culture has changed with winning, or the winning is a reflection of the change in culture is largely academic to a team that is 6-3 after a second three-game win streak in its season. But the winning has produced – and resulted from – a buy-in that was absent on the offense under Dowell Loggains the past two seasons.

“We got the right head guy in here,” Trubisky said. “Coach Nagy is definitely leading the charge and we just have the right guys in our locker room to change the culture around.

“Just the belief and the trust in each other and coming to work every day, putting the work in and then just going and executing it on Sunday to be able to produce wins. It's a great vibe around the building now. The culture has definitely changed and there's a better vibe around the city in how people view the Bears and how they see us.

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So-what award?

How much Trubisky knows about Georgetown coaching legend John Thompson, or the poetry of Rudyard Kipling, is difficult to pick up in a press conference. But the young quarterback subscribes to some of their thinking.

Thompson placed zero stock in awards that were voted on, vs. something that was won. Kipling’s poem “If” offered a guide to some level-headed thinking, famously noting that:

“If you can keep your head when all about you
         Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
         But make allowance for their doubting too… .

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
         And treat those two impostors just the same…

…you’ll be a Man (or NFL quarterback), my son.”

Trubisky on Wednesday was awarded the honor of NFC offensive player of the week, the week after he was roundly ripped by certain national NFL writers. He wasn’t particularly fazed by the negative and he wasn’t especially interested in the positive, either.

“I don’t know, really,” Trubisky said. “You get recognized, it’s cool, but people talked so bad about me last week, so why should this week be any different?

“So I got recognized for playing well."

Cody Parkey's practice at Soldier Field attracted news helicopters

Cody Parkey's practice at Soldier Field attracted news helicopters

If there was any doubt that the Bears are the most popular team in Chicago, allow the events of Wednesday to serve as further evidence.

After hitting the upright an astonishing four times in Sunday's win against the Lions, Bears kicker Cody Parkey practiced at Soldier Field Wednesday night. That's not the crazy part.

The Bears kicker taking to Soldier Field to practice on a weeknight drew multiple news helicopters. Both WGN and ABC 7 got footage of a kicker practicing.

Earlier in the week, Parkey said practicing at Soldier Field "can't hurt." Now that he went through with it, we can find out if he thought the extra reps ahead of Sunday night's game against the Vikings were worth it.

Who knows how this Bears this season will end, but the Bears are certainly back in the spotlight of the Chicago sports scene.