Bears

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

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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 CSNChicago.com 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.

Bears vs. Vikings, Week 11: How to watch, listen and stream

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USA TODAY

Bears vs. Vikings, Week 11: How to watch, listen and stream

First place in the NFC North is at stake tonight as the Bears host a Minnesota Vikings team coming off of their bye week. Chicago is looking to establish itself as a legitimate contender with a key divisional win.

Here’s how you can tune in to the game.

Game Information

Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) at Chicago Bears (6-3)

7:20 p.m. CT, Sunday, Nov. 18

Soldier Field, Chicago

Television

Sunday Night Football on NBC

Announcers: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth

Stream

Stream on NBC Sports

Football Aftershow on NBC Sports Chicago

Radio

WBBM 780 (Chicago)

Satellite Radio

National broadcast: XM 88
Bears feed: XM 225
Vikings feed: XM 226

Coverage on NBC Sports Chicago

“The Warm Up” — 15 minutes prior to every Bears game this season, host Laurence Holmes, along with analysts Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Matt Forte, will hold a special Facebook Live segment on NBC Sports Chicago’s official Facebook page — offering a game day preview featuring their expert commentary and predictions. 

Plus - Bears fans will have also an opportunity to have their questions answered by submitting their game day inquiries via the “comments” section on the live stream.

“3rd Quarter Sidecast” — At the start of the third quarter of every Bears game this season, fans will also be able to interact with the Football Aftershow crew via Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) as they watch and react to the first few series of the second half.

In addition, the “3rd Quarter Sidecast” will also feature more fan interaction as fans can post their thoughts and ask their questions to Briggs, Brown, and Forte.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.

Bears and Vikings have history of exciting matchups

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USA TODAY

Bears and Vikings have history of exciting matchups

The national spotlight will be on the Bears tonight as they host the Minnesota Vikings on NBC, and the primetime audience should be in for tightly contested matchup.

These two teams have a history of those.

Last year, Mitchell Trubisky made his first-career start in a similar situation under the lights at Soldier Field, but his late interception set the Vikings up with the game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left for a 20-17 victory.

The year before, Jay Cutler led the 1-6 Bears to a major upset over the 5-1 Vikings, also in primetime. It was Cutler’s first game back from injury, and he threw for 252 yards and a touchdown while Jordan Howard added 153 on the ground to win 20-10.

Back in December of 2013, Josh McCown threw for over 350 yards to lead Marc Trestman’s Bears to overtime against Matt Cassell and Minnesota. But Adrian Peterson’s 211 rushing yards proved to be too much as Blair Walsh hit the winning field goal in the extra period.

Chicago has had its share of game-winners against the Vikings too, like wide receiver Devin Aromashodu’s 39-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler back in 2009, one of his seven catches for 150 yards in the 36-30 overtime victory over Brett Favre.

The division rivals have met in the playoffs once in their 114 matchups, a 35-18 win for our own Dave Wannstedt. Steve Walsh connected with Jeff Graham for four catches and 108 yards to knock off Warren Moon and Cris Carter in the wildcard round.

This season’s Week 11 matchup could have its own playoff implications as the winner will sit in first place in the NFC North and take a potential head-to-head tiebreaker.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.