Bears moving on without Jeremiah Ratliff, but it’s not easy


Bears moving on without Jeremiah Ratliff, but it’s not easy

The release of Jeremiah Ratliff left a void in the defense of the Bears. It also left a void in meeting rooms, the defensive huddles, everywhere that Ratliff was a presence both on and off the field.

“He was definitely a leader in this locker room,” said defensive lineman Will Sutton. “When ‘Rat’ talks, everybody’s wide-eyed, paying attention to what he has to say, because he’s done it. It hurts a little bit, him not being there, but we have [Pernell] McPhee and Antrel [Rolle] still giving guidance.

“It just hurts us on the D-line not having that main guy we can look up to.”

For several Bears, it was particularly personal.

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“That’s like my brother,” said linebacker Willie Young. “I learned so much from him – the mindset he brings to the game the energy and the enthusiasm that he plays with, you can’t replace that. Obviously he will be missed… .

“He taught me a lot for the two years we were together. I would like to have him back any day. I’m sure any team in the league would like to have that guy back — from a player standpoint, he’s even capable of being a freaking coach. His football IQ is just that high.”

[MORE: Bears need new defensive line core to form around young players]

Ratliff was signed in November of the 2013 season after an acrimonious end to his time with the Dallas Cowboys. After a promising five-game run with the Bears to close out that season, Ratliff was signed to a two-year extension in March 2014 and produced 6.5 sacks last season in 11 games, all starts.

All that came to a cataclysmic end last week when he was involved in a volatile series of confrontations with members of the organization after being adjudged in no condition to be at work. Last Thursday he was released.

“Yeah, I’m disappointed,” said coordinator Vic Fangio. “Any time you lose a good player you’re disappointed. Disappointed for him and disappointed for us.”

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

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.