Bears Grades: John Fox & Co. push all the right buttons


Bears Grades: John Fox & Co. push all the right buttons

Whatever John Fox and the coaching staff did in the job of keeping a slumping team from quitting, bottle it. The Bears were spiraling down after three losses, had played themselves out of the postseason, had nothing to play for big-picture, and were starting four rookies on defense in addition to another on offense (center Hroniss Grasu) in addition to several other starters who were ticketed for fill-in duty when this season started.

Instead the Bears halted their skid with play marked by some creativity mixed in with a style of urgent, physical play that has been missing too often.

“It was awesome,” said linebacker Pernell McPhee. “We’ve got talent all around the field and we have a lot of young guys that have talent and it showed today. The two inside linebackers played a lot, the two rookie safeties. We have some special young talent on this team.

“That’s what we need. When people lock in on older guys, we need the young guys to step up. And they did it all year. They answered the bell. It was fun out there today.”

[MORE GRADES: Bears show off their own three-headed monster]

The roster youth also figured into a number of schematic advances.

The Bears showed a two-back I-formation with Ka’Deem Carey lined up as a fullback in front of Jeremy Langford, but with Carey bursting out left for a one-yard touchdown flip from Jay Cutler as Langford cut the nearest rusher to Carey. The play was executed precisely but also conceived with personnel that forced the Buccaneers into bigger personnel in a goal-to-go situation, against which Carey had a decided speed advantage.

Offensive coordinator Adam Gase use of three running backs in their myriad looks and packages kept a good Tampa Bay defense off balance, with Langford working as a blocker and Carey used in goal-line situations despite a smallish stature (5-10, 208 pounds).

“’Jerm’ [Langford] hit the dive with it against Detroit for his first touchdown,” Carey said. “So we put it back in the playbook and Jerm had a little success, so we put him in the backfield for the defense to get a little trickery, and then I just slide in there.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Special teams had a breakdown in punt protection but generally bottled up the Tampa Bay return game. The defense was hit for 142 yards in the fourth quarter but 80 of those came on a final drive with the Bears comfortably up by two scores.

Run fits against Doug Martin and the Tampa Bay run game were generally effective, holding the Bucs to their second-lowest rushing total (104) in the last 11 games. The three takeaways, all three by rookies, were the most since the three against the Detroit Lions in game six.

“[Takeaways are] one of the more critical statistics other than winning or losing,” Fox said. “I think we were plus-three on the day. I think all of them were rookies. Jonathan Anderson was responsible for one, [John] Timu recovered [two] and then Harold Jones-Quartey had the one interception that was key. That was down in minus-territory [in the Bears end zone]. Those are always big, to be on that side of the turnover margin and that helped us win today.”

Moon's Grade: A

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.

Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:

Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85). 

Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.

Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.