Bears

Bears: Jeremiah Ratliff reportedly shoved a coach under Marc Trestman's watch, immediately named captain

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Bears: Jeremiah Ratliff reportedly shoved a coach under Marc Trestman's watch, immediately named captain

It's no secret that former Bears head coach Marc Trestman didn't exactly run a tight ship during his two-year tenure in Chicago.

If Trestman's 13-19 record wasn't enough to show why he's no longer with the Bears, a bizarre story surfaced Wednesday morning that further proved that.

The Bears released Jeremiah Ratliff last week after an ugly incident at Halas Hall that saw the veteran defensive lineman get escorted out of the building by security after getting into a heated confrontation with GM Ryan Pace.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

However, this wasn't the first time that Ratliff had a similar outburst during his time in Chicago.

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman detailed a similar incident that Ratliff had with the Bears last season. 

What you may not know was that something similar happened last year with Ratliff and the Bears. It was a scary and bizarre moment.

In the last week of the season, on a Friday, according to a player who witnessed the entire incident, Ratliff showed up to practice and was behaving belligerently toward players and coaches. The coaching regime, then led by Marc Trestman, would not allow him to practice.

Ratliff went ballistic, this player said, and was asked to leave practice. He departed but later returned. Practice was stopped and most players went off to the side while a small group of players and coaches tried to calm Ratliff down and get him to leave.

It didn't work initially. Ratliff destroyed the game clock on the practice field, smashing it and kicking it. Later, he shoved an assistant coach to the ground. While all of this went on, Trestman never intervened. He just stood off to the side and watched.

And this is the most incredible part. The uber-enabling part. Not only was Ratliff never punished by Trestman...he was named one of the captains the next day. The entire locker room was incredulous.

Trestman justified making Ratliff a captain by saying he brought intensity, but no player bought that. That move, the player said, led to Trestman officially losing the locker room. Trestman was fired soon after.

Wow. No wonder why Virginia McCaskey was "pissed off" following the season.

Pro Football Focus: Bears could be surprise playoff team in 2018

Pro Football Focus: Bears could be surprise playoff team in 2018

There's a lot of optimism about the Chicago Bears in 2018  because of the incredible offseason had by GM Ryan Pace. It started in free agency with several big-name additions on offense and continued in the NFL Draft with the selection of Roquan Smith, arguably the top all-around defender in the class.

Pace now finds himself in unfamiliar territory. He's entering a season with actual expectations. While those expectations vary, one thing is consistent: Improvement is expected.

According to Pro Football Focus, Chicago should end up challenging for a playoff spot.

No less than five additions on offense this offseason could make key impacts for the Bears, including wide receiver Allen Robinson who was one of the NFL’s best in 2015 before a down year in 2016 and essentially missing all of 2017 through injury. He’s joined at the position by Taylor Gabriel, who had three touchdowns on throws 20 yards or further downfield in 2016 and rookie Anthony Miller, who was tied for fourth among wide receivers in this draft class with 19 missed tackles forced on receptions. Add in tight end Trey Burton, who had three touchdowns from just 16 targets when lined up in the slot and rookie offensive lineman James Daniels from Iowa and it’s easy to see why this offense led by Mitchell Trubisky has the potential to trend upwards big time in 2018.

The Bears were one of five teams PFF listed as a surprise wildcard candidate. The road to the post-season will be challenging, however. Not only do all of the new pieces have to gel, but they have to do it while playing in one of the toughest divisions in football.

The NFC North could have three teams -- not including the Bears --  playing in January. The Vikings may be the most talented club in the NFC and the Packers will always be a contender with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. The Lions have some vulnerability, but they've had more success than Chicago in recent seasons.

Still, Pace deserves credit for winning the offseason.

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

NFL owners voted for sweeping changes to the kickoff play Tuesday, a decision that presents a new challenge for Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Player safety was the focus of the rule change. Collisions will be reduced and the play will look more like a punt than the traditional kickoff fans have become used to. Here's a breakdown of what's coming in 2018:

With less contact and physicality in the play, Tabor's game planning will be tested. Kickoffs won't require as many power players like the ones traditionally seen in the wedge block. Skill players like receivers, running backs and tight ends could be viewed as more valuable special teams pieces, as was suggested by NFL Network's Bucky Brooks.

Tarik Cohen could become even more lethal under the new rules. If kick returners end up with more space to navigate, Cohen will improve on the 583 return yards he managed as a rookie. He'll conjure memories of the recently retired Devin Hester.

The ability to contribute on special teams is critically important for players on the roster bubble. It'll be interesting to see if the Bears apply the approach suggested by Brooks. If they do, undrafted players like Matt Fleming and John Franklin III suddenly have more value and a better chance to make the team. 

For a complete breakdown of the new kickoff rule, click here.