Bears: Fangio settled on just one D-lineman at this point for 'Wave' approach


Bears: Fangio settled on just one D-lineman at this point for 'Wave' approach

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — The intrigue playing out at linebacker in the Bears’ emerging 3-4 scheme — Jared Allen at linebacker? Shea McClellin? Christian Jones? — is being matched or exceeded by the position competitions going on in front of that group, the defensive line that is the starting point for a successful defense.

Linebacker, the question mark in the scheme appears to be considerably further toward resolution, however, than the defensive line.

Rookie nose tackle Eddie Goldman is getting more time with top units. Ego Ferguson has settled into the new scheme nicely, moving from a 4-3 nose tackle to a potential five-technique working farther from the ball.

[MORE: Soldier Field session Saturday more than just another practice for Bears]

But right now the positions and reps taken at those positions are only prelude to what happens once the preseason games begin. Because right now the Bears have exactly one defensive lineman they are sure of.

“Well, we need to find our D-line,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on Friday, adding, “coaches don’t pick the team, the players do.

“Somebody’s got to step out and be an obvious pick as to who’s the starters, who makes the team. Right now we have one really good player in Jay Ratliff. The other guys are fighting for that second, third, fourth, fifth and potentially sixth spot. There’s a good fight going on right now.” 

Not just the “who” is still in question. So also are the “how many” and the all-important “where” developments. No longer are the Bears breaking the defensive huddle and having the predictable front four putting hands on the ground.

Offensive lines are conventionally established based on “the five best guys will play.” The 4-3 lines similarly were “the four best guys will play,” with rotations as needed.

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The Bears need those positions after Ratliff to fill in because they are part of a “wave” philosophy.

The three best, “they'll start,” coach John Fox said. “If you look at most defenses in this league, the backup offensive linemen very rarely play unless it's an injury situation or an emergency. Not really the same case on the defensive line.

“Generally speaking. It's more of a ‘wave’ of D-linemen really on most defenses in the NFL now. There will be 5-6 guys that will be there. We'll refer to it as a wave. I think generally speaking, how it will develop with us yet I'm not sure until later, but that's something that Lord willing we get to.”

Trubisky or not, Matt Nagy should be the lead voice on future Bears QB decisions

USA Today

Trubisky or not, Matt Nagy should be the lead voice on future Bears QB decisions

The play of Mitch Trubisky in his season-and-a-half under coach Matt Nagy is, for better or worse, an unfinished work. Whatever the final result, after this season or the next, the latter of which looming as a decision point on a long-term contract for Trubisky, the Bears may be best advised going forward to make Nagy the decision-maker on quarterback calls rather than GM Ryan Pace.

Pace owes his head coach a leading voice and vote in finding a quarterback (or two) in the Bears’ 2020 draft and/or offseason. Because a simple NFL fact is that Matt Nagy deserves a chance to develop his own quarterback, not simply have his tenure defined by a quarterback (Trubisky) that he inherited.

Plus, Nagy has arguably better credentials and experience for quarterback evaluations than Pace.

Nagy learned his craft from Andy Reid, whose head-coaching career began in Philadelphia with the 1999 drafting of Donovan McNabb. Reid also drafted four more quarterbacks during McNabb’s run, including A.J. Feeley (2001) and Nick Foles (2012), as well as bringing in Michael Vick to deepen the depth chart.

When Reid went to Kansas City (and brought Nagy with him) in 2013, the first thing he did was to trade for Alex Smith from San Francisco; Reid (and Nagy as QB coach) groomed Smith into a three-time Pro Bowler. But while Smith was being brought along, the Chiefs also drafted three more quarterbacks in the four drafts following the Smith trade. The third of those quarterbacks was Patrick Mahomes, whom Nagy had a one-year hand in developing before taking the Bears job.

Pace, who said at the outset of his GM reign that ideally the Bears would be able to draft a QB every year, has largely ignored the quarterback pipeline, as noted previously. Trubisky has been the only quarterback among Pace’s 32 picks over five drafts.

Nagy has been involved in acquisitions of Nick Foles, Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. Pace’s efforts have been toward Marcus Mariota (the Titans wanted too much for the 2015 No. 2 slot), Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon and Trubisky. Regardless of how Trubisky develops or doesn’t through the rest of 2019, Pace owes his coach a leading place in the quarterback-selection process from start to finish.

The search for depth or an upgrade from Trubisky may circle back to Mariota, who has now been benched in Tennessee and has never been the same player after suffering a broken leg in late 2016. Mariota played for Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich at Oregon and obviously had high grades from Pace coming into the NFL.

Trubisky is largely the same QB he was for John Fox

Trubisky may yet prove to be the solution for the Bears quarterback situation. But results over his three – not just the two in Matt Nagy’s system – seasons say he is pretty much what he looks to be.

The cliché narrative, never particularly refuted by Trubisky, was that the young quarterback was shackled by a combination of John Fox’s conservatism and Dowell Loggains’ supposed incompetence. Two points suggest otherwise:

One, is that his first brace of coaches knew Trubisky’s limitations, both in general as well as those from simply being a uber-green rookie with only 13 college starts. Trubisky was deemed to have accuracy issues in the mid and deeper range, which has repeatedly proved to be the case, as recently as Sunday.

The second is that, in 2017 after his first three rookie games getting settled in, Trubisky in fact threw slightly more passes (31.3 per game) over his final nine starts under Fox/Loggains than he did through his 14 starts under Nagy in 2018 (31.0).

Parenthetically, in those first three in 2017, a governor was in place, with Trubisky throwing 25, 16 and 7 passes. The Bears also won the latter two. 

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Kurt Warner has no idea what the Bears are doing on offense

USA Today

Kurt Warner has no idea what the Bears are doing on offense

With the city of Chicago still reeling from the Bears recent 36-25 loss against the Saints, everyone from NFL analysts to your co-workers are offering up their hot takes on how the Bears offensive game, particularly QB Mitch Trubisky, could do better.

Kurt Warner, an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with an illustrious history, took to Twitter to give his two cents on why the Bears offense is struggling.

After twelve years in the NFL, taking both the Rams and the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, Warner might just know a thing or two about offense. However, Warner seems just as confused as the rest of us as to what’s not clicking for the Bears. Here’s what Warner had to say.

We all feel you, Kurt. It’s been a struggle to watch indeed. He later goes in to respond to comments in the thread, defending the much maligned Trubisky by saying that he is not the only thing wrong with offense this season.

It will be interesting to see how the Bears respond to this painful loss and the recent bought of criticism. Matt Nagy insists the team is drowning out all outside noise and focusing on their game, but we’ll see if this loss was the wakeup call the team needed when they face off against the Chargers in Week 8. 

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