Bears pass protection at risk of second Aldon Smith nightmare


Bears pass protection at risk of second Aldon Smith nightmare

He’s baaaacckk.

The last time the Bears saw linebacker Aldon Smith he was abusing tackles Gabe Carimi and J’Marcus Webb on the way to sacking former Bears quarterback Jason Campbell 5.5 times in a 2012 blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Smith added seven quarterback hits and four tackles for a loss, plus two forced fumbles. One game later Carimi was out of the lineup and two games later he was a guard.

That was the last time the Bears saw Smith — until Sunday.

The No. 7 pick of the 2011 draft — which put him under the direction of then 49ers coordinator Vic Fangio — signed with the Oakland Raiders this offseason after serving a nine-game suspension last season, and being released in August by the 49ers following a DUI arrest.

[MORE BEARS: Jay Cutler practices again, says he's 'day-to-day']

The problem for the Bears is that the problem is not just Smith. The Raiders used the No. 5 pick of the 2014 draft for rush linebacker Khalil Mack, creating the same kind of pass-rush peril that Smith and Justin Smith brought to bear in the 2012 humiliation of the Bears.

John Fox saw Mack up close twice last season as coach of the Denver Broncos.

“I saw him last year as a rookie,” Fox said. “He’s a tremendous young player. That’s why he was such a high selection. He’s got great speed off the edge. He converts speed to power as well as anybody. He’s an outstanding player.”

The 49ers put Carimi, Webb and the protection schemes in distress by flipping Smith back and forth, changing sides, and the Raiders are doing the same with Mack and Smith. Depending upon who lines up where, Mack or Smith will be the problem right in front of novice tackle Kyle Long.

“They do a good job of rotating those guys,” Long said. “If Aldon Smith’s off the field, then Khalil’s on the other side and they bring somebody else in. They have a lot of options and when you have good edge rushers it gives you a lot of options.”

[MORE BEARS: Bears vs. Raiders brings old coaching friends head-to-head]

The Bears’ situation may move from difficult to dire if left tackle Jermon Bushrod is unable to play or even hampered. Bushrod, bothered by back issues, could not finish the Seattle game and has not practiced this week because of what are now listed as concussion and shoulder injuries.

Without Bushrod the left side of the protection against Mack, Smtih and whatever else coach Jack Del Rio and the Raiders devise will fall to Charles Leno, Jr., who was unable to hold down the right tackle spot to coaches’ satisfaction this preseason.

“All these guys know they are one play away from being the starter,” Fox said. “It doesn’t matter which position you are talking about. That’s why you keep 53 men. You have 46 in uniform on Sundays. We’ll address that as the week wears on.”

Mitch Trubisky on A-Rob: 'He's starting to look like the old Allen Robinson'

USA Today

Mitch Trubisky on A-Rob: 'He's starting to look like the old Allen Robinson'

The news surrounding Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson has been nothing but positive as the team kicks off training camp on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.

First came coach Matt Nagy, who said Robinson is physically and mentally ready to go after the receiver's recovery from a torn ACL last September. Then it was quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who said Robinson is getting back to his playmaking form.

"He got healthy and he's starting to look like the old Allen Robinson," Trubisky said Thursday. "He has great hands, we know he will go up and get it.

"He can be a really special player for us."

Trubisky described Robinson's traits, ranging from his ability to create separation to his knack for the acrobatic catch, with giddy excitement. In fact, Trubisky used the word 'excited' several times when discussing the Bears upcoming season.

Chicago kicks off training camp practices on Friday, with the first padded session slated for July 21. Robinson will finally have a chance, on the field, to turn excitement and anticipation to performance and production.

Ryan Pace calls Bears' offseason 'aggressive' and 'energizing'

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Ryan Pace calls Bears' offseason 'aggressive' and 'energizing'

The Chicago Bears won the offseason. At least, that's what the national opinion seems to suggest.

General manager Ryan Pace may not have read all the news clippings, but he offered his thoughts on the job he and the front office accomplished since January 1.

"It's been aggressive, a lot of work has been done, very exciting and energizing," he said at Bears training camp from the campus of Olivet Nazarene University Thursday. "There's a lot of new pieces and it's really neat to see the assets come together."

Pace and his team certainly did do a lot of work. The Bears made headlines in free agency with the signings of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton, three players expected to provide a huge boost to the Bears' passing game.

In addition to what he did on offense, Pace exercised his option with the transition tag placed on Kyle Fuller and matched the Packers' offer for the ascending cornerback. It was a big-money deal that showed players in the locker room he's willing to reward hard work and effort. It also showed the fans that he wasn't going to let the Packers steal a homegrown talent.

It didn't stop there. Pace strengthened the defense even more with the selection of linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of April's NFL Draft and gave the offense yet another weapon in the second round when he traded up to select Anthony Miller, a receiver who could challenge for a starting job as a rookie.

Yeah, it's been an aggressive few months.

And let's not forget the biggest change of all: Matt Nagy.

Pace's tenure as Chicago's GM will likely be defined by the last few months. He invested in his hand-picked quarterback and made his first "real" coaching hire after a few years of experience on the job. He'll sink or swim with those two decisions. He knows it, and he went all-in this offseason.