Bears

First look at Bears’ new 3-4 has a touch of 'Where’s Waldo?'

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First look at Bears’ new 3-4 has a touch of 'Where’s Waldo?'

Bears head coach John Fox said earlier this offseason that one of the reasons he, a 4-3 coach virtually his entire career, liked the 3-4 scheme because it made it difficult to tell who was rushing the quarterback. (Seeing it live for the first time on Tuesday, he wasn’t kidding.)

Fox also said all offseason that he was holding off on position decisions and assignments until he had time to see his 2015 Bears “on the grass,” meaning the practice fields of Halas Hall.

That process began in earnest on Tuesday with the start of the team’s first minicamp, this one voluntary. And if observers weren’t sure who was rushing the quarterback, they were even less sure of even who was where.

[MORE BEARS: Matt Forte passing up Bears voluntary minicamp]

Which underscored Fox’s overall point.

While considerable attention will be focused this offseason at what happens with certain individuals and positions – Tim Jennings’ No. 1 cornerback spot, whether Kyle Long is a guard or tackle, how will Jared Allen, Shea McClellin, Willie Young and others will fit a totally new scheme – conclusions were in very short supply.

Rules prohibit getting into specific personnel packages, schemes, plays and such. But even without limits on putting out what the team considers competitive information, suffice it to say:

[MORE BEARS: Fuller, Forte honored at Piccolo awards]

Jeremiah Ratliff is the only defensive lineman listed as “NT” on the Bears’ roster. He won’t be attending the three-day camp. Ego Ferguson was mentioned by GM Ryan Pace as a nose tackle, but Ferguson was all over the three-man defensive line on Tuesday.

Asked whether he was a nose, five-technique, end, tackle, what? Ferguson laughed: “Just say, ‘defensive lineman.’”

So was Will Sutton. So was Jarvis Jenkins. So was Allen.

Fox said that McClellin would start out at one of the inside linebacker spots. McClellin did. So did four other linebackers, in multiple permutations.

[SHOP: Get your official Bears NFL Draft hat]

You get the point.

And as far as how well former 4-3 players fit generally into the new scheme:

“I think there's enough carryover that other than OLB vs. DE, I mean that's just alphabet, it's the same job description in my experience,” Fox said. “Whether a guy's been a holdover, I mean, I kept coaches on this staff, so I don't really buy into all that. You try to find good human talent at all levels, upstairs and downstairs, and you go about your business.”

Did Patriots owner Robert Kraft crush Bears' hope for Tom Brady?

Did Patriots owner Robert Kraft crush Bears' hope for Tom Brady?

The Bears are one of the first teams mentioned when speculation about where New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could play in 2020. The Bears are the most quarterback-needy club that also has a chance to make a Super Bowl run with a player like Brady under center, so it's logical to assume the soon-to-be free agent will at least entertain the idea of playing home games at Soldier Field next year.

Much of what happens with Brady will come down to how the Patriots view the 42-year-old (he'll be 43 at the start of next season). If all things are equal, and New England makes him a fair offer to come back, it's likely Brady would return to the only franchise he's ever played for. And if owner Robert Kraft's recent comments are sincere, it's more than likely that he will.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Kraft, who was in New York City on Tuesday, was asked by TMZ reporters whether the Patriots will re-sign Brady this offseason. His response? 

"We plan to," Kraft said.

Well, there you have it, right? If the Patriots plan to re-sign Brady, then the Patriots are going to re-sign Brady; assuming, of course, you believe what Kraft is saying in January before New England's decision-makers have had enough time to assess their quarterback situation with, and maybe without, No. 12 under center.

Brady is coming off of one of his worst seasons as a pro, which is saying something considering he's been playing for two decades. His completion percentage was the lowest it's been in six years, his yardage total was the second-lowest in the last 10 years, and his 24 touchdown passes were the fewest he's thrown in a season since 2006. 

It's natural to wonder whether Father Time has finally caught up to him. Maybe, however, his down year was a result of lacking talent at wide receiver and tight end. Regardless of the reason, his 2019 campaign has called into question where he'll be in 2020.

But there are those three words Kraft said — 'we plan to' — that can't be ignored. At the very least, Bears fans can't get their hopes up. The Patriots tend to get what they want, and if they want Brady back in 2020, they'll have him.

Bears showing strong interest in Dayton TE Adam Trautman

Bears showing strong interest in Dayton TE Adam Trautman

Add Dayton tight end Adam Trautman  to the growing list of tight ends the Bears have met with at the 2020 Senior Bowl.

After confirming Purdue's Brycen Hopkins and Vanderbilt's Jared Pinkney spent time with Bears scouts (in the case of Pinkney, nearly 35 minutes), Trautman told NFL.com's Chase Goodbread that Chicago's scouts have expressed a strong interest in his skill set.

"They're interested in me," Trautman said of the Bears. "They tell me they like what they see."

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of 2020 NFL offseason

Trautman had one of the best lines of the week when he said he prefers driving opposing defenders into the ground against their will over scoring touchdowns, and at a well-built 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, he has the perfect physical makeup to project as a guy who will do that on the next level. He needs development in that area of his game (run blocker), but his 'want-to' is half the battle.

Trautman wasn't the best tight end this week, but he was far from the worst. He's been consistent, and for a team like the Bears who are searching for a tight end who can be relied on as a second-level target for whoever is playing quarterback in Matt Nagy's offense, Trautman's consistency will be viewed as a plus.

Trautman had 916 yards and 14 touchdowns for Dayton in 2019. Scouts wanted to see whether he could handle the jump in competition at the Senior Bowl, and he's answered that question with a resounding yes.

He projects as a Day 3 pick with upside to develop into a starting quality tight end.