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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.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

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USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20. 

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start from new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."