Bears

Is Bill Polian the answer for Bears?

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Is Bill Polian the answer for Bears?

It seems strange to say, but Jerry Angelo is not the Bears GM.

After years of banging the pots and pans in the streets clamoring for the team to fire Angelo, now Bears fans have to shift their energy to who they actually want to replace him at his old desk.

Of course the decision will ultimately be made by the McCaskeys and not the fans, but that doesnt mean campaigning for a new GM should be frowned upon.

Since the Colts fired Bill Polian and his son Chris on Monday, lets see if they would be a good fit in Chicago.

The elder Polian helped build championship caliber teams in Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis over the past few decades. After spending 14 years with the Colts, owner Jim Irsay said the team needed to move on.

Would the 69-year-old Polian want to continue his career in another NFL front office? Would his son be along for the ride? CSNChicago.com's John Mullin says immediate speculation has centered on Polian.

Two very important questions that would need to be answered before the Bears can even make an offer.

The Daily Herald made a great comparison with how the Blackhawks brought in Scotty and Stan Bowman to run the show.

Sustained success is hard to duplicate, but Polian has a history of repeatedly doing well at the NFL Draft. He has built solid organizations from top to bottom, which is exactly what the Bears need.

Polian would have to be able work around the fact that Lovie Smith is staying put as head coach, similar to how Angelo operated his first year with Dick Jauron entrenched in 2001.

If the McCaskeys are looking for an individual who helped build winners in a variety of different ways, Polian may be the perfect pick.

From 1986-1993 Polian was the draft wizard who assembled a Bills team that reached the Super Bowl in four consecutive seasons. In 1994 he moved on to become the key cog for the expansion Carolina Panthers, an organization that arguably had the greatest meteoric rise in NFL history by reaching the NFC Championship game in only its second year of existence.

After four years in Carolina, Polian was tasked with turning the 3-13 Colts into a winner. Enter Peyton Manning. Polians first draft pick in 1998 was surrounded by talent year after year and the team would shortly turn into a perennial powerhouse. Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders and Robert Mathis are just a few of the many draft gems Polian polished off during his 14 years in Indianapolis.

The Bears have more talent in place than any one of Polians previous three stops. In Chicago the Bears have used free agency and trades to form most of its nucleus. Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are among the very few draft success stories that still remain intact.

Elite stars Julius Peppers and Jay Cutler have been brought to Chicago to win now. The big problem is that they were supposed to be a quick fix to cover up the fact that a solid foundation wasnt built by the front office.

Now the Bears must bring in an experienced contractor to help support the cracked foundation that lies beneath millions of dollars of investments on the top floors of the Chicago Bears estate. If Polian is the guy for the job he will start by doing what hes always done best, drafting instant impact players in April.

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack appears in line to play Sunday with Tom Brady, Patriots looming

Khalil Mack participated in the Bears’ final practice of the week on Friday, clearing the way for the edge rusher to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Friday that the Bears expected Mack, who hasn’t missed a game in his career, to play after suffering an ankle injury early in Week 6’s 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Mack is officially questionable for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. 

Mack had little interest in discussing his ankle with the media on Friday, passing on answering questions about his readiness for New England. Coach Matt Nagy, though, said he thought Mack “looked pretty good” during practice on Friday. 

Mack didn’t record a sack against Miami and was held to just one pressure, per Pro Football Focus. The Dolphins’ gameplan was to commit plenty of resources to stopping Mack, but he wasn’t effective even when he had one-on-one pass rushing opportunities as the game went on. 

“He was (affected),” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I can't put a percentage on it, but he definitely was.”

Having Mack available — even if he’s not full strength — will be critical for the Bears’ defense to have a chance at keeping Tom Brady from lighting up the scoreboard. The key for the Bears will be to generate pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback without blitzing, which is something Fangio’s defense was successful at prior to Sunday’s wacky loss to the Dolphins. 

Brady’s passer rating is 138.4 when he’s blitzed, per Pro Football Focus, while when under pressure his rating is 87.2. That’s still pretty good, but it’s worth noting that all of the six interceptions he’s thrown this year have come when he hasn’t been blitzed. And only one of the eight sacks he’s taken has come when he’s been blitzed. 

The point being: If the Bears feel like they have to start blitzing to generate pressure, they can expect Brady to pick them apart.  

“You could say all of that but ultimately (Brady’s) a gamer,” Mack said. “He’s going to take those hits, and you gotta be able to deliver them but also have coverage over the top. It’s going to be real important for us.” 

The good news for the Bears, perhaps, is that New England’s tackles have struggled at times this year. Left tackle Trent Brown has allowed 17 pressures in 234 pass blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus (about one in every 14 snaps). And starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is out with a concussion, giving way for backup La’Adrian Waddle, who’s allowed eight pressures in 78 pass blocking snaps (about one in every 10). 

So the opportunities will be there for Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks and the Bears’ pass rush to affect Brady on Sunday.

A bigger injury concern?

While cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) was a full participant in Friday’s practice and will play Sunday, slot corner Bryce Callahan suffered an ankle injury during Thursday’s practice and did not participate Friday. He’s officially questionable for Sunday. 

Callahan “did his ankle,” Nagy said, toward the end of Thursday’s practice, and he felt worse as the day went on. Nagy characterized Callahan’s absence from Friday’s practice as “precautionary.”

Callahan’s availability may be more of a pressing concern than Mack’s, given how well the Patriots’ offense has played since slot receiver Julian Edelman returned from a four-game suspension to begin the season. While his numbers aren’t eye-popping (11 catches on 16 targets, 111 yards, 1 TD), New England’s offense has scored 38 and 43 points in his two games back. 

“Brady has always had a guy in the slot that he’s comfortable with; whether it be (Wes) Welker, (Danny) Amendola or Edelman,” Fangio said. “It’s a big part of their offense. They haven’t missed a beat, but I really think it’s helped their offense and played a big part in them basically averaging 40 points in the last three weeks. I really appreciate and respect how good of a player he is and has been.”

If Callahan isn’t available, Sherrick McManis could be the next man up at slot corner. 

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

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USA Today

The Way We Hear It: Khalil Mack will probably play after all

The Bears are back in Chicago and Tom Brady and the Patriots are in town! With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Pats matchup: