Bears’ front seven mix points to need for Vic Fangio creativity


Bears’ front seven mix points to need for Vic Fangio creativity

Every bit as interesting this weekend as the Kyle Long saga is what decisions that Bears coaches and GM Ryan Pace made within the team’s defensive front seven, collectively the obvious tipping points for a must-be-better defense in 2015.

The Bears at this point will be going into the Green Bay game next Sunday with just five defensive down-linemen. One of those (Cornelius Washington) is a bulked-up marginal 4-3 end whose chief value is projected on special teams.

They also begin Packer week with nine linebackers, high even by most 3-4 measures. But there’s the interesting point. The Bears are a hybrid 3-4 scheme under coordinator Vic Fangio, but how much time will they be in a true 3-4, or even can they be?

Coach John Fox has said that 60-70 percent of NFL snaps are in nickel/passing personnel. A looming issue for the Bears will be forcing teams into passing situations. The Bears appear at this point to be considerably better equipped to play those, although when you don’t stop the run, you don’t get to rush passers.

[MORE: Long at RT? Jeffery back? Fox says wait and see]

Strictly coincidentally, the Packers after cutdowns also left themselves five defensive linemen and nine linebackers for their 3-4 scheme. And they, like the Bears (Jeremiah Ratliff), also have a reserve/suspended lineman, two actually (Datone Jones, Letroy Guion).

For comparison purposes, all five Packers down-linemen are 310 pounds or bigger. Of the Bears’, only Eddie Goldman and Jarvis Jenkins have that kind of mass.

[MORE: Bears announce 10-man practice squad]

The problem is that of the Bears’ nine linebackers, only Lamarr Houston and Pernell McPhee are bigger than 257 pounds. Green Bay linebackers aren’t especially huge, but the threesomes in front of them are, and one of them is Julius Peppers (287).

Which suggests that as their defensive roster is constituted, the Bears are significantly more staffed to rush the passer than to stop a power running game. Which is perhaps not insignificant given the hammer-backs coming up with Green Bay (Eddie Lacy) and Seattle (Marshawn Lynch).

The No. 1 word used by his players to describe Fangio is “creative.” He is renowned for blitz variations, part of the reason Fox, a career 4-3 coach, has switched to a 3-4 preference. With the nine-player pool of linebackers, most of them with pass-rush credentials, “creative” may be a survival skill.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.

Prince Amukamara and CDW surprise teens at MSI event


Prince Amukamara and CDW surprise teens at MSI event

This past Saturday, Prince Amukamara provided a great surprise when he showed up during a graduation ceremony to honor high school seniors who had been a part of the Museum of Science and Industry's (MSI) "Welcome to Science" initiative.

Students listened to brief speeches from CDW Vice President of Networking, Digital Workspace and Security Solutions, Bob Rossi, a number of Bears employees and Amukamara. 

Students engaged in open discussions on how they can further their dreams with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  And through a donation from CDW’s Tech Fore! Kids program, students got perhaps the biggest surpise of all, as they were provided new laptops. CDW continues to help enable the MSI the opportunity to work with youth and further their interaction with STEM.

CDW Tech Fore! has done previous work with Chicago Bulls College Prep, and other schools and Boys and Girls clubs over time. The MSI's program looks to provide a diverse array of teens the chance to dive deeper into what it takes to have a career in science. On top of this, students are able to collect service leearning hours while simultaneously furthering their leadership and public speaking skills.