Bears

Bears' rationale for drafting Floyd says as much about Pace as it does Floyd

Bears' rationale for drafting Floyd says as much about Pace as it does Floyd

Hidden in all Bears GM Ryan Pace’s descriptors of the skills belonging to No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd was one even more revealing about Pace himself.

Four times within the span of about 10 minutes Pace referred to “tape” when discussing Floyd, while specifically referencing that while workouts are important, they factor into evaluations far, far less than what a player shows up doing in games, not drills.

Where former GM Phil Emery spoke constantly about measurables, Pace has brought the conversation back to what he, scouts and coaches saw on film – on more than one occasion.

Re. Floyd’s lack of big sack numbers at Georgia:

“You know when you watch the tape: They move him all over. He’s such a versatile athlete, so he playing inside linebacker one snap and the next snap he’s in nickel running down the field with a slot receiver. And then he’s rushing. You see him at all these different positions.”

Re. Floyd failing to bench press at his Pro Day:

“I think at his Pro Day he had a stomach virus. But I’m telling you: When you see this guy on tape… .”

Re. Floyd not finishing or doing every Combine test:

“For some guys, workouts are important and you can see their speed, change of directions, hips. But some guys, the athleticism is so evident on tape. The workouts matter but you’ve just got to be careful with it.”

Re. Floyd’s apparent lack of bulk and strength:

“You see it on tape: You don’t see guys getting into him. Guys that I think struggle against the run, they let offensive linemen get into their chest and get engulfed by blocks. He doesn’t do that. He plays with such great separation, he keeps that from happening.”

Indeed, the tape and not the measurable or even the stats has served the Bears very well. In the 2004 draft the Bears used the No. 14 pick to select Tommie Harris. The Oklahoma defensive tackle was the 2003 Lombardi Trophy winner as the nation’s best defensive lineman or linebacker with a resume of four sacks (Floyd had 4.5 last season) and 34 tackles that season.

Harris became the Bears’ most dominant defensive lineman of the decade and three-time Pro Bowl selection before his career succumbed to knee issues.

Sounding suspiciously like Pace, ''if you watch film, you'll see that I'm disruptive,'' Harris told the Athens Banner-Herald, ''All people care about is statistics. I've never been about stats.''

Evidently, neither is Pace.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”