BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – They left amid spats of acrimony and frustrations but on Wednesday, perennial Pro Bowl’ers Olin Kreutz and Brian Urlacher were welcomed back as honored guests, along with former teammate James “Big Cat” Williams.
The three were popular with fans while they were playing and no less so on Wednesday, if the calls from the stands and sidelines to the three were any indication.
Kreutz left the Bears for the New Orleans Saints 2011 after a contract impasse during training camp, both sides convinced that their positions in talks were right. Kreutz found, however, that he had lost his passion for the game and quit the game six weeks into the New Orleans season.
Urlacher retired after a rupture in talks with then-GM Phil Emery that found the two sides irreconcilably split. Since then, Bears Chairman George McCaskey has reached out to Urlacher and former players with the intent of healing old wounds.
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Williams said he had talked on more than one occasion with new coach John Fox and liked the change in culture. Fox himself has been in favor of mending broken relationships from the day of his hiring as Bears coach.
“I’ve had a relationship with Brian before I came here so I think that always helps,” Fox said. “He and I have a friendship already. I’ve encouraged him to be around more, to come around. He’s wise. I’ve seen him a couple times socially this offseason and he was out here with one of his sons today so I’ll encourage that.
“I like alumni people, people who have been in the seats these guys have been. I’m sure they’re happy they’re not out there practicing right now...or at least they’d mention that. But they’ll be encouraged to be around, Brian included.”
The Los Angeles Rams pulled off a blockbuster trade for Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey Tuesday night, sending two first-round picks (2020 and 2021) and a 2021 fourth-round pick for the superstar defender.
It's the second trade the Rams have accomplished in one day. Los Angeles shipped CB Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for LB Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick earlier on Tuesday, completing a makeover in their secondary that will have a direct impact the Chicago Bears this season.
The Bears travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in Week 11 as part of a brutal five-game stretch coming off of their bye week. Ramsey makes it even worse.
The Rams had little choice but to pull off a mega-deal like this. They're entering Week 7 with the 19th ranked pass defense and an underwhelming 3-3 record, a far cry from the expectations for last year's Super Bowl runner-up.
Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense will have their hands full on November 17. The combination of Aaron Donald on the defensive line and Ramsey in the secondary is as intimidating as any defensive duo in the NFL and is capable of destroying even the smartest and most efficient passing attacks. And that's not exactly Chicago's pass offense so far.
Trubisky, who's expected to return from a left shoulder injury Sunday against the Saints, hasn't proven this season that he's capable of staring down the barrel of a Donald-Ramsey alliance. It will be a ridiculously difficult challenge for a quarterback who's still finding his way as a pro.
Ramsey has missed the last three games for a variety of reasons, most of which appear as tricks to remain healthy in anticipation of a trade. He's a two-time Pro Bowler and has nine interceptions from 2016-2018.
Now, Ramsey is an opponent on Chicago's 2019 schedule.
The Bears didn't play last week, but did that stop them from falling in Power Rankings across The Web? It did not! Going into the bye on a loss never fails to stoke the panic. Here's what they're saying:
NBC Sports Chicago -- #16
Their power rankings slide is because of how well other teams performed Sunday; Chicago doesn't feel like a top-15 team when compared to the rest of the NFL.
NFL.com -- #9
The Bears do have a player who's good at all that stuff when given a chance -- that would be running back Tarik Cohen, who already had nine such "big plays" through five games a year ago. In 2019? He has just one, despite being healthy and available each week. Bears coach Matt Nagy needs to get Cohen involved.
ESPN -- #16
Their vertical passing attack is limited with Mitchell Trubisky or Chase Daniel at quarterback. The offense has been equally ineffective on the ground. Chicago has gained eight or more rushing yards on just 10 running plays through five games.
Bleacher Report -- #10
Chicago had best make good use of this week off and get things figured out. Four of the team's next five games after the bye are against teams that made the postseason a year ago, including trips to face the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams.
Sports Illustrated -- #17
A Vikings win this week and strong starts from the Lions and Packers suddenly raises the stake Sunday’s game against the Saints. Unfortunately, New Orleans has a similarly great defense and a much better offense than the Bears.
CBS Sports -- #13
They come off the bye looking to generate more on offense. But it was the defense that also had some issues in London. That unit needs to pick it up as well.
USA Today -- #14
Coming out of bye, club currently just outside playoff picture hits brutal stretch with just two of final 11 opponents currently below .500.
Yahoo Sports -- #11
The Bears have only two games left against teams who are currently under .500. They face the Chargers and Giants, who are both 2-4 and not totally incapable. If the Bears make it back to the playoffs, it’ll be impressive.
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