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Bears: Eddie Goldman may be final piece for new front seven

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Bears: Eddie Goldman may be final piece for new front seven

When Ryan Pace was hired as general manager, it was a first domino in a chain of change that was expected to go through a franchise-worst Bears defense like a tsunami. “Tsunami” actually might not be strong enough to describe what is playing out on that side of Bears football.

After Pace hired defense-based coach John Fox, and Fox added 3-4 guru Vic Fangio as coordinator, the organization set off on a path that right now projects to have new starters in potentially all seven defensive positions from the front-seven that finished the 2014 season.

First came the offseason signings: linebackers Sam Acho, Mason Foster and Pernell McPhee; then defensive linemen Jarvis Jenkins and Ray McDonald.

Add to that list the name of Eddie Goldman, the Florida State defensive tackle who at 6-4, 334 pounds projects to be the starting nose tackle between Jenkins and McDonald. The Bears invested a second-round pick, 39th overall, in Goldman, who comes to the Bears with slightly lower mileage because of playing behind veterans like Timmy Jernigan at Florida State.

[GALLERY: Meet the newest members of the Bears]

“This is a young player, third-year junior, two-year starter,” said general manager Ryan Pace. “When I think about the standout traits with Eddie Goldman it’s strength, stout at the point of attack, he’s very instinctive, he gets off blocks. I really like the pad level he plays with. Steps up in big moments.

“In the Clemson game this year, there’s three game-changing plays he makes to basically win that game for Florida State. This is a stout, strong nose tackle that anchors the center of your defense. I think he’s an ascending player.”

Goldman’s favorite player model in the NFL is Jeremiah Ratliff, who is the only defensive lineman listed as “NT” on the Bears’ initial roster. Now Goldman can be penciled in as Ratliff’s replacement, if not this year, eventually. Ratliff is in the final year of his two-year contract and entering his 10th NFL season at age 34 as of Aug. 29.

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But Ratliff should not be written off, has come back strong from injuries before and is valued by the new staff for precisely the versatility that lets him compete at both end and nose in the 3-4.

One scenario is Ratliff working as an end or at nose tackle in a rotation and in passing situations, given his pass-rush abilities which are far superior to either Jenkins or McDonald.

“He's so athletic,” Pace said. “He's versatile to do all that. He's got quickness, athleticism, balance. That's what I like about Jay a lot is his versatility. That will all sort out. But we'll get our best players on the field and Ratliff will definitely be out there and I like his position flexibility.”

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

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NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

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Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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