Bears

Don't blame Bears for Hurd situation

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Don't blame Bears for Hurd situation

What if the reason the Bears didnt find out that Sam Hurd was a drug figure of note was becausehe wasnt?

The knives didnt take long to come out for GM Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith after the Hurd case popped on Thursday. Nothing was really known beyond information contained in the federal complaint detailing Hurd activities that generally commenced in late July, but critics were declaring that there were ample indicators that the Bears should have picked up on.

An interesting rush to judgment. If you dont like Angelo or Smith, especially after a three-game losing streak, it's easy to drill them, facts optional. (If you dont think there is agenda journalism, youre not playing close enough attention. But thats getting off point here).

I had a long chat on Friday with Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.coms PFT Live! Mike, an attorney himself, had some seriously interesting perspectives that start with some basic common sense, which is the first thing to go in hysteria reactions.

The fact that, in the 24 hours-plus since the story broke, no one is reporting anything about the scope or breadth of the operation suggests that there was no operation, Mike wrote.

Heres the overall:

If Hurd was an operation before July, when the Bears signed him, no one in the Bears, Cowboys, NFL or government appears to have known it.

If he wasnt an operation, what exactly were Angelo, Smith and the Bears supposed to have known?

Once Hurd became or was aspiring to operation status, since July, what were the Bears supposed to have done if in fact details of a covert operation were shared with them?

More on that in a bit.

Mike and my mutual conclusion, based on the complaint and other considerations, was that the real indications are that Hurd wasnt a drug kingpin at all, but that he wanted to become one and was taking his first big steps toward it (http:tinyurl.com77sahy2).

Which doesnt exonerate Hurd of even a shred of his alleged actions. It does, however, point in a different direction with respect to the Bears.

Some points of perspective

Big time? How big?

One thing that jumped out at us immediately was the clumsiness with which Hurd handled the situation of the 88,000 found in a vehicle registered to him and driven by an apparent associate, who said the money belonged to Hurd.

As I recounted to Mike, a longtime friend working for an airline told me of how a mule carrying money for a suspected drug operation very calmly denied that a briefcase containing 125,000 in cash even belonged to him. He just walked away from it when authorities opened it and questioned him.

If Hurd was Pablo Escobar, he walks away from the car and the money.

According to the complaint, Hurd was talking to undercover officers about the massive amounts of cocaine and marijuana that he would need. He wasnt already doing business at those levels; he had huge plans but he wasnt there yet, albeit because his supplier couldnt get him what he needed.

Hurd clearly was wanting to take a big step, based on the federal complaint. But every sign so far says he hadnt taken it by the time the Bears signed him. And if there were earlier steps, they hadnt tripped any bells in Texas or Illinois.

Telling the Bears?

The Feds appear to have been onto Hurd for some time, based on information in the complaint. The Bears have former FBI and police officers comprising most of their security staff, including Director of Security and Safety Services Tom Dillon, a former SWAT team member.

Dillon and NFL security people have contacts and sources. The only available information right now says that the law was tracking Hurd since July since he became a Bear, not before by more than a day or two.

Should the authorities have given the Bears information on a covertsting operation? Not if they want it to remain covert. If the Bears, whod already made their deal with Hurd, were tipped off, should they cut Hurd immediately? And alert him in the process that something big was up? A difficult spot to be in, even if officials had apprised the Bears of what was being done, which we clearly dont know at this point.

So, should the Bears

Hurd does not appear to have been enough of a drug player to have registered on federal or NFL radar in Dallas, where he was for the last five years. Five years.

Maybe the lockout and the fact that the Cowboys werent bringing him back moved Hurd to start thinking about life, such as this would have been, after football.

Whatever, there is nothing to indicate that Angelo was lying Friday when he said, there was nothing we found that would create a flag or alert or real concern in Sam Hurds case.

Best evidence is that Hurd was still not a big player when the Bears signed him. As far as him being even a fringe drug player, Dallas didnt know; the NFL didnt know; the Bears didnt know. If someone has more than just opinion that they did or should have, trot it out.

After they signed him, Hurd still wasnt a player. And whatever he was, as I mentioned before, the nature of the investigation sets this outside the parameters of a simple background character check.

Throw in a lockout that put more than a few limits on information flow for teams and players, and you have an interesting environment.

Mike made one more point: In the day-plus thats gone by since this first broke, nothing really notable has been added. One report was that a double-digit list of involved players was out there, but that was shot down subsequently.

Knocking Angelo, Smith or the Bears for not having a better backup quarterback is one thing. Bashing them for not knowing about a drug situation with what is known at this point something else altogether.

Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

The 2019 college football regular season is over, which means the 2020 NFL draft season is right around the corner. Underclassmen are declaring by the day, all-star rosters are filling out and, of course, mock drafts are being published.

The really unique thing about the Bears in 2019 is how fluid their likely NFL draft needs have been. A few weeks ago, quarterback would've topped the list. Now? Not so much. Tight end, a position that's been non-existent in Chicago's offense all year, suddenly has two players (J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted) who've garnered some excitement.

Seasons like this year make trying to pinpoint which direction GM Ryan Pace will go in April's draft extremely challenging. According to the Draft Wire's latest three-round mock draft, the Bears will grab help for the secondary and offensive line in Round 2.

Their first selection (as of the start of Week 15) comes at No. 45 overall from the Raiders. Chicago uses that pick on Utah cornerback, Jaylon Johnson.

It's hard to argue this projection. The Bears may have a bigger need at cornerback by the time the draft rolls around than they do right now if they decide it's time to part ways with veteran starter Prince Amukamara. Chicago needs to make some difficult salary-cap decisions this offseason, and moving on from Amukamara would free up roughly $9 million in cap space. 

Johnson (6-0, 190) will be part of the second wave of cornerbacks to get drafted this year. He isn't a first-round talent, and barring an elite showing at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, he should be available in the middle portion of the second round.

The Bears land offensive line help at No. 50 overall in this mock draft via Tennessee's Trey Smith.

A former five-star recruit, Smith's talent is undeniable. It's first-round worthy. His medicals, however, are not.

After dealing with blood clots in his lungs in 2018, Smith returned to action this season and was once again a dominant force. He projects as an interior player in the NFL and would be an ideal target for a Bears team that needs to add more talent at guard in their effort to replace longtime starter, Kyle Long.

Smith's medical history is likely to push him into Day 3, however, at which point he'll qualify as one of this year's best value selections.

Sunday is Matt Nagy's chance to prove the Bears' changes are for real

Sunday is Matt Nagy's chance to prove the Bears' changes are for real

Matt Nagy thinks about the Packers a lot. 

He thinks about his first career game as an NFL head coach, at Lambeau Field, and how he’ll “never forget that day, that game, for so many different reasons.” 

He thinks about his first NFC North title, which was clinched when Eddie Jackson intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the end zone, avenging the season’s earlier loss.

And he thinks about Week 1 of this season, when millions of eyes tuned in on Opening Night to watch a supposed Super Bowl contender score three points, at home, in a loss to the Packers. 

“I try not to remember too much of that,” he said. “That was a rough one.”  

It just so happens that, this week, everyone else is thinking about the Packers too. On the surface level, it’s the 200th meeting in one the league’s most storied rivalries, and a pivotal game in this year’s race for the second Wild Card spot. There’s Aaron Rodgers, who Nagy called, “competitive as hell.” There’s a talented-and-maybe-underperforming defense, with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith on the edges creating matchup nightmares for an offensive line that’s undergone more change than anyone. 

“We knew what kind of players they were,” he added. “They’re not unknown anymore.” 

If you wanted to get esoteric, there’s a great redemption narrative to Sunday’s game too. The Packers came into Chicago and exposed the Bears’ starters – who, you’ll remember, sat out the preseason. Things would get worse – so much worse – but the book was out on Nagy’s Bears, and it took them three months to recover. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now,” Mitch Trubisky said. “We’re a different team. There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Things have been different than Week 1, even if you couldn’t say that until Week 12. Nagy has admittedly found a better rhythm as a play-caller, and many of the issues that plagued the Bears in Week 1 haven’t been an issue lately. The tight end room is producing, they’re shifting through personnel groupings less, and the run game has stabilized – all vital components of the offense that best suits the 2019 Bears. It’s not what Nagy envisioned, but 202 ended up being formative in ways he never expected. 

“I feel like a better coach going through this for the players, for my coaches and just the way we communicate,” he said. “The honesty, the belief in one another; going through this is important and it'll help me in the long run, to be able to handle these type of situations when they arise again.”