Bears

Difficult to find common thread in departures of multiple Bears assistant coaches

Difficult to find common thread in departures of multiple Bears assistant coaches

NFL rosters undergo upheavals and turnover on an annual basis. NFL coaching staffs undergo their own changes, obviously when a fire-hire happens at the head-coach level, but also in some surprising situations – in this case, the Bears.

The Bears have seen five assistant coaches exit John Fox's staff since the end of the disastrous 3-13 season, the latest being wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson this week, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune. This follows departures of the team's running backs, outside linebackers, assistant DB's and offensive line staffers.

A 3-13 season creates different types of internal goings-on. But while once the hot topics were whether Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio would return for a year three, those two have remained in place while others under them have split.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

If there is a common thread through it all, that thread is difficult to find. "Jumping ship" may be the convenient thought but not the accurate one, since O-line coach Dave Magazu and safeties coach Sam Garnes were not tendered contract extensions. And Stan Drayton wants to become a college head coach, so left the Bears to become associate head coach and run-game coordinator for the University of Texas.

Johnson, who was widely praised for his developmental work with Cam Meredith and Kevin White, had signed just a one-year contract with the Bears in what appeared to be a step to get back into the NFL from a disappointing stint as a college head coach (Tulane). Assistants typically sign two-year contracts but Johnson left himself an out to explore other options in the NFL.

The situation does raise questions of continuity as Fox heads into a pivotal third year after consecutive losing seasons for the first time in his career. What it really does, however, is keep the personnel work under GM Ryan Pace at a premium: Because of what they had in place player-wise, the Bears lost defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan after the 1985 season, replaced him with Vince Tobin and a different mindset, and proceeded to set the NFL record for fewest points allowed.

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

It seems like an annual talking point at this time in the offseason: Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman is one of the best yet most underrated players in Chicago. His performance in 2019 continued that career narrative. 

Goldman finished the year making 15 starts with 29 tackles and one sack. He earned the eighth-highest Pro Football Focus grade among all Bears defenders and remained the consistent run-stopping force in the center of Chicago’s defensive line. 

To be fair, Goldman wasn’t as dominant as he was in 2018, when his 89.1 PFF grade was one of the best at his position in the NFL. But in terms of his role with the Bears, he’s irreplaceable. 

Goldman is entering the third year of a four-year, $42 million contract and will quickly become a source of contract negotiations once again. If he has another strong season in 2020, GM Ryan Pace will have little choice but to lock him up on another extension. Sure, that seems like it’s way down the road, but big-time defensive linemen get paid big-time contracts; Pace has to be prepared. There are currently six defensive tackles making at least $14 million per season.

Quality nose tackles are hard to find. They don’t fill up the stat sheet and rarely do they ever become league-wide superstars; but the Bears’ defense simply wouldn’t possess the upside it does without Goldman anchoring the defensive line, and that remained true in 2019.

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

Bears Season in Review: Eddie Goldman

It seems like an annual talking point at this time in the offseason: Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman is one of the best yet most underrated players in Chicago. His performance in 2019 continued that career narrative. 

Goldman finished the year making 15 starts with 29 tackles and one sack. He earned the eighth-highest Pro Football Focus grade among all Bears defenders and remained the consistent run-stopping force in the center of Chicago’s defensive line. 

To be fair, Goldman wasn’t as dominant as he was in 2018, when his 89.1 PFF grade was one of the best at his position in the NFL. But in terms of his role with the Bears, he’s irreplaceable. 

Goldman is entering the third year of a four-year, $42 million contract and will quickly become a source of contract negotiations once again. If he has another strong season in 2020, GM Ryan Pace will have little choice but to lock him up on another extension. Sure, that seems like it’s way down the road, but big-time defensive linemen get paid big-time contracts; Pace has to be prepared. There are currently six defensive tackles making at least $14 million per season.

Quality nose tackles are hard to find. They don’t fill up the stat sheet and rarely do they ever become league-wide superstars; but the Bears’ defense simply wouldn’t possess the upside it does without Goldman anchoring the defensive line, and that remained true in 2019.