Bears

Bears will not lament Lions replacing Ndamukong Suh with Haloti Ngata

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Bears will not lament Lions replacing Ndamukong Suh with Haloti Ngata

The Oakland Raiders of Al Davis went into the 1967 draft looking for an offensive lineman with a specific task: give the Raiders an answer to Buck Buchanan and Ernie Ladd, the massive defensive tackles of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders found Gene Upshaw, a Hall of Fame anchor at left guard to an offensive line on which Upshaw became the first player in NFL history to play in Super Bowls in three different decades.

When the Bears drafted Kyle Long, it wasn’t specifically to handle Ndamukong Suh, the Detroit Lions’ interior scourge of the NFC North. But Suh undeniably added a degree of urgency that resulted in the Bears drafting a guard at No. 20 of the first round. Among Bears offensive linemen, only tackle Chris Williams (No. 14, 2008) was selected higher in the 30 years since the Bears grabbed Jimbo Covert at No. 6 in 1983.

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But now Suh is a Miami Dolphin, and matchups do influence both drafts and position decisions. If Long is ticketed, as expected, for tackle after two Pro Bowl seasons at right guard – where he faced Suh twice a year – it won’t be because Suh isn’t on the schedule (other than the Aug. 13 first preseason game). But still.

In Suh’s place the Bears will see Haloti Ngata, an All-Pro run stopper acquired via trade from the Baltimore Ravens. But Suh has averaged 7.2 sacks per season; Ngata has never had more than 5.5 and the only time he hit that total was five years ago. Ngata, 31 this season, had two sacks last season, same as Bears rookie Ego Ferguson.

Ngata struggles?

Perhaps not surprisingly, Ngata’s transition has not been entirely smooth, either to Detroit or to a scheme change. He has been a five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle but is also 31, meaning that Jared Allen is not the only 30-something Pro Bowl defensive lineman in the NFC North trying to start over in a new scheme, albeit in opposite directions.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

Allen has been a career 4-3 defensive end. Ngata spent most of his early career in a Baltimore Ravens’ 3-4 and now finds himself in a 4-3 with the Lions.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the blame in the Bears loss to Miami?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who deserves the blame in the Bears loss to Miami?

David Haugh, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel. The Bears lose a rough one in Miami as Matt Nagy goes conservative at the end zone. Does the rookie coach deserve all of the blame? Dave Wannstedt joins the guys to discuss.

Plus the guys discuss the Cubs’ newest hitting coach/scapegoat, Brandon Saad’s upcoming healthy scratch and Bobby Portis betting on himself this season. 

Listen here or in the embedded player below!

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

The Bears defense was not its usual self in their overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The pass rush was minimal and tackling looked optional, and Brock Osweiler threw for almost 400 yards.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but a few individual defenders had success while their teammates struggled.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks made the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for Week 6 with a 92.2 overall grade.

He recorded seven tackles that resulted in a defensive “stop,” the most of any defensive lineman according to PFF.

Chicago’s next highest-graded player was cornerback Kyle Fuller (78.2), who intercepted Osweiler twice but also missed two tackles.

Offensively, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel led the way with a 76.9 mark. PFF credited four of his five catches coming against Dolphins cornerback Torry McTyer in coverage.

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Khalil Mack had the lowest-graded game of his career (47.8), while linebacker Danny Trevathan (29.9) and safety Adrian Amos Jr. (47.5) each had their second-worst games.

Some of the Bears’ best players were at their worst in Miami. They’re going to need to get their act together for the New England Patriots on Sunday.