Bears cutting DL Jeremiah Ratliff just the latest part of culture change


Bears cutting DL Jeremiah Ratliff just the latest part of culture change

The unseemly circumstances this weekend involving Jeremiah Ratliff, in which police and security were called to Halas Hall after the veteran defensive lineman was involved in a protracted, escalating confrontation with team officials that included GM Ryan Pace, left the Bears with a difficult situation inside one of the pivotal position areas of any NFL team. The events also represented another clear indicator of the culture change within a previously troubled team that has been about establishing that new culture virtually since the end of the catastrophic 2014 season.

The details of the Ratliff incident, which will simply be described here as “ugly,” are less the point than the outcome.

From a purely football standpoint, the move to jettison Ratliff, coming less than a week after the team lost defensive lineman Ego Ferguson for the season with a knee injury, meant that the Bears over the past handful of months have lost three of their projected top four or five defensive linemen for 2015 (Ratliff, Ferguson, Ray McDonald). Ferguson’s case obviously is nothing like the other two, but the organization was clearly no longer willing to compromise rules and standards as it had not all that long ago.

[MORE: Bears cut ties with Jeremiah Ratliff, sign DL Ziggy Hood]

Ratliff had been involved in an incident at practice in the days before the Bears’ final game last season, in which sources said he came to work in no condition to work and was sent off the field. Yet he was one of the co-captains that Sunday as appointed by Marc Trestman. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall ignored the uniform order of the day, got into an acrimonious confrontation with assistant coach (and former Bear player) Chris Harris and was never disciplined.

The point was not how bad things had become (5-11 made that point more than eloquently). The point is what they have become, which began when Pace was hired away from New Orleans and made a trip to Denver for the second interview of John Fox.

The Bears traded away Marshall without any assurance that Kevin White or Amari Cooper would be available at No. 7 in the draft. They did not excuse Ratliff’s outburst in order to keep a defensive need area filled. Ratliff’s explosion reached the level of Fox, and he was having none of it. Players told that Marshall actually not one of a small handful of bad guys in the locker room last year, wouldn’t identify exactly who the bad eggs were, except to say that they are now former Bears.

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Changing the chemistry and culture starts at the top and that includes exorcising demons that threaten the greater good, regardless of some perceived football value. Ratliff was respected to the point of even rookie center Hroniss Grasu seeking out the veteran d-lineman for advice on his craft. Ratliff was rookie nose tackle Eddie Goldman’s football role model.

Actually, Marshall and Ratliff really do represent templates for being a Chicago Bear. Just not the kind of model they may have thought.

Under Center Podcast: What does it take to win a Super Bowl with David Diehl?

USA Today

Under Center Podcast: What does it take to win a Super Bowl with David Diehl?

Host Laurence Holmes discusses what does it take for a team to win a Super Bowl with Chicago product and 2 time Super Bowl champion David Diehl. They also discuss his ties to Chicago, his extensive Jordan collection, and what he would do if he fixed the Bears.

(3:10) - His connection with Brother Rice High School

(6:20) - Blocking for Eli Manning during the Super Bowl runs

(10:27) - Is Mitch close to being a QB you can win a Super Bowl with?

(12:40)- His favorite Bears of all time

(14:30) - Jordan collection

Listen to the full episode in the embeded player below:

Under Center Podcast


Is Marcus Mariota the most logical QB target for the Bears?

Is Marcus Mariota the most logical QB target for the Bears?

Bears fans are sick and tired of the quarterback conversation surrounding this team as we enter the most important two month stretch of the offseason. My Twitter timeline (and vicious replies) are evidence of that. 

Duly noted.

That said, it's an unavoidable truth that GM Ryan Pace has no choice but to do something at quarterback in free agency or the NFL draft. The most diehard Mitch Trubisky fan has to admit that. The former second overall pick hasn't developed into a franchise player through three seasons under center, and while the optimist would argue there's still time for him to become that guy, the realist is who must prevail when it comes to roster construction.

Marcus Mariota may be the perfect compromise. He doesn't have a resume that will immediately threaten Trubisky in 2020, but his sneaky upside combined with his youth and overall skill set is an ideal combination that could make him a long-term answer if Trubisky fails in the short-term.

According to Sports Illustrated, Chicago — and coach Matt Nagy — would be an ideal destination for Mariota, even if there's an inherent conflict of interest because both Mariota and Trubisky are represented by the same agent.

There are coaches out there—cough, Chicago, cough—who could slide him in easily under the guise that Mariota is a high-quality backup and develop him into a weapon under center who could take over when the starter falters.

Mariota, like Trubisky, hasn't lived up to the hype that he entered the NFL with back in 2015 when he was the second overall pick of the Titans. He's logged 61 starts and a career record of 29-32. He's completed just under 63% of his 1,110 career pass attempts and has 76 touchdown passes to 44 interceptions.

His stat sheet isn't impressive. His on-field play, at times, hasn't been, either. But he'd be an ideal reclamation project that the Bears can sell as the perfect backup even if the hope is for him to emerge as a starter.

There’s an advantage for QB-needy teams here who don’t want to deal with the public courting of Tom Brady, who don’t want to sacrifice mobility by signing Philip Rivers, who don’t want to roll the dice on every snap by signing Jameis Winston, and who don’t have the trade capital or cap space to go after someone like Nick Foles or Derek Carr.

Chicago won't be able to get into a bidding war for the bigger names like Tom Brady or even Teddy Bridgewater because of their limited cap space. Mariota won't command nearly as much to sign, and he's likely to get nothing more than a one-year commitment from a team hoping he can be like the guy who replaced him, Ryan Tannehill.

Of all the quarterbacks who've been pegged as a possible option for the Bears, Mariota feels like the most logical and, more importantly, cheaper targets who realistically could be lining up as Chicago's starter by Week 4 of the 2020 season.