Bears moving into next phase of the post-Jeremiah Ratliff period


Bears moving into next phase of the post-Jeremiah Ratliff period

The second phase of the fallout from the Jeremiah Ratliff incident is coming, not necessarily in form of the investigation by the NFL into circumstances surrounding the incident and Ratliff’s behavior, although that is yet to play out.

Before all of that, the Bears face the prospect of dealing with an NFC North division rival — the Minnesota Vikings — and one the great runners in NFL history — Adrian Peterson — with not only a depleted defensive line, but also a battered offensive line. That latter looms as significant if only because the best defense against Peterson always has been to keep him and any Minnesota offense off the field.

All of which becomes exponentially more difficult if the Bears are unable to dominate or at least achieve stalemates on both lines of scrimmage. Center Hroniss Grasu was limited all week in practice with a neck injury and three other of the Bears’ top eight offensive linemen were on the final injury report. Grasu and left tackle Jermon Bushrod ended the week as questionable and are considered longshots to be active against the Vikings.

[MORE BEARS: John Fox not concerned about another Jeremiah Ratliff incident]

“I’m not really worried about our guys,” said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. “They’re going to do what we ask them to do and do it to the best of their ability. We just have to make sure we get a hat on a hat.”

The same applies on defense, where the absence of Ratliff becomes a two-fold issue. One is the loss of a serviceable defensve lineman. Ratliff had to be helped off the field late in a Week 6 loss to the Detroit Lions, which was mentioned as a neck injury but he was a highly regarded teammate and the starting nose tackle the past two games after his return from a suspension and an ankle injury.

The other issue is simply that the defensive line has been thrown back into a de facto state similar to what it was early last offseason with the Bears looking at players in different roles in a changing defense.

Defensive tackle Will Sutton, the Bears’ third-round pick in the 2014 draft, has more games (19) in a Bears uniform than all the other current defensive linemen combined. Because of personnel packages, rookie nose tackle Eddie Goldman has started three of the Bears’ six games. But he now becomes an even more pivotal figure with Ratliff gone and the Bears in desperate need of being able to be stout in the interior so that linebackers and safeties are able to attend to their assignments involving Peterson as well as account for the running ability of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

“[Goldman has] been performing better the past few weeks,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “I don’t know if there is a hidden benefit [to Ratliff and tackle Ego Ferguson leaving, Ferguson to IR] for him. He’s been playing a lot. It’s not like he’s going to get more playing time because of that. He’s been doing well here the last few weeks so we’ve been pleased with his progress.”

Goldman’s football role model was none other than Ratliff. The next measure of the rookie’s progress comes Sunday when the Bears are in dire need of him to become what Ratliff once was.

Sports Illustrated predicts Bears will finish last in NFC North in 2019

USA Today

Sports Illustrated predicts Bears will finish last in NFC North in 2019

If not for upset Colts fans following the retirement of Andrew Luck, the Twitter mentions of Sports Illustrated writer Andy Benoit would be a war zone of angry Bears fans who read his NFL predictions for the 2019 season.
In the latest print edition of the magazine, Benoit projects Chicago to finish 7-9 this year — last in the NFC North.
His NFL predictions don’t have a web version as of yet, but he sees the Minnesota Vikings winning the division and taking the No. 3 seed in the playoffs at 11-5. The Green Bay Packers finish second at 10-6 with a wildcard spot, and even the Detroit Lions end up ahead of the Bears at 9-7.
Benoit’s analysis is based on expecting a step back from Chicago’s defense that led the NFL in 2018. He also foresees “mixed results” from Mitchell Trubisky during his second season in Matt Nagy’s offense.
Benoit ranks the Bears quarterback, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends all outside of the top 20 position groups in the NFL, with the offensive line ranking 10th. He still likes the front seven as the best unit in the league, but he sees the secondary as average at No. 17.
He’s not the first analyst to forecast regression for the Bears this season, but not many have gone as far to put them at the bottom of the division after last year’s 12-4 breakout.
The pitchforks and torches may fly off the shelves faster than Sports Illustrated magazines in Chicago this week.

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Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano ‘will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan’

USA Today

Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano ‘will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan’

The entire NFL is still reeling from the Andrew Luck’s bombshell decision to retire from football.

The story that overshadowed the Bears third preseason game in Indianapolis has the whole league reacting to the bold move from one of the most talented quarterbacks in the game.

Former Colts head coach and current Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano issued a statement Sunday on the player he drafted No. 1 overall in 2012.

“Our friendship extends well beyond player-coach and I wish him, his beautiful wife Nicole and their growing family nothing but the best,” Pagano said. “I will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan.”

Pagano and Luck combined to go 43-27 over five seasons together. The head coach saw his quarterback through abdomen and shoulder injuries that eventually cost him the entire 2017 season and led to Pagano’s departure.

Luck, of course, was by his coach’s side when he battled Leukemia in 2012.

The quarterback’s retirement ultimately comes down to his health, and Pagano knows better than anyone how Luck battled through issues the last seven years.