Bears

Grizzled and experienced: Bruce Arians

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Grizzled and experienced: Bruce Arians

One of the hottest coaches and biggest names Bears general manager Phil Emery has on his head coaching list is Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinatorinterim head coach Bruce Arians, whom Emery is scheduled to interview this week.
Arians has a long coaching history with some of the greatest coaches that helped build the great game of football. Arians played quarterback for Virginia Tech, finishing his senior season as team MVP in 1974 before embarking on his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Hokies one year later.
Arians has come a long way since running the Hokies wishbone offense, where he only completed 53 of 118 pass attempts (44.9) for 952 Yards, 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions during his MVP season. Quite a turnaround from when he played and when now compared to Arians' latest quarterback project, first round pick Andrew Luck, who just broke the rookie record for most pass attempts in a season (627).
Arians was actually accused of throwing the ball too much when he served as Steelers offensive coordinator for five seasons, from 2007-2011. While coaching quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Arians helped win three AFC North Division titles, two AFC Championships and Super Bowl XLIII. Arians served as wide receivers coach when the Steelers won Super Bowl XL under Bill Cowher.
Under Arians' direction, Pittsburgh became known as a passing team where Roethlisberger averaged 247.4 net passing yards per game from 2007-2011, ranked eighth in the NFL and fifth in the AFC. Roethlisberger also became the first quarterback in Steelers history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. This same offensive unit in 2009 had two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher, which were also Steelers firsts.
Steelers ownership wanted to get back to their trademark of running the football, and it was rumored Arians was too close in his relationship with Roethlisberger. They live close to one another in Georgia and would play golf two-to-three times a week in the offseason. Roethlisberger is on record stating Arians was a father figure to him during some difficult times off the field.
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Arians is a hard-nosed coach who rides his players to succeed. He demonstratively denounces those who question his ability to run the football. I run it when the defense dictates we should run it, he told me during the SirusXM NFL training camp tour in Anderson, Ind. this past fall. Its hard to argue his point, as Arians Temple Owls led the nation in rushing while he served as their head coach from 1983 to 1988.
A little Paul Bear Bryant must have rubbed off on Arians when served on Alabamas staff, but plenty of former Indianapolis offensive coordinator Tom Moores genius certainly has. Moore was the Colts offensive coordinator who was given the job of breaking in Peyton Manning into the NFL. His offenses and their success speak for themselves. They are quarterback-driven, where the entire playbook is at the quarterback's fingertips at the line of scrimmage. Who served as Peytons quarterback coach under Tom Moore in Indianapolis? None other than Bruce Arians.
Arians is more than capable of being a head coach and reigning in quarterback Jay Cutler. His job as interim head coach for the Colts while Chuck Pagano recovered from leukemia this year speaks for itself. Some worry about longevity as Arians was thinking about retirement before Pagano threw him a life line to tutor Andrew Luck. Arians is a lifer and why Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson is trying to fatten Arians contract to finish what he started in Indianapolis. On a funny note, Bears fans may have to put the earmuffs on during an Arians press conference... he's old school!

Trey Lance to the Bears? This 2021 mock draft thinks so

Trey Lance to the Bears? This 2021 mock draft thinks so

Barring some kind of career-year from Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles, the 2021 NFL Draft will likely center around quarterback for the Chicago Bears. And while that's not necessarily good news for Bears fans, it could be worse. Next year's draft class will have a handful of quality quarterbacks with first-round grades.

In the latest mock draft from The Draft Wire, the Bears spend their first-round pick on North Dakota State darling, Trey Lance. The FCS standout is the apple of Draft Twitter's eye during the first wave of summer scouting, with some respected draft analysts like The Athletic's Dane Brugler ranking him ahead of Ohio State star, Justin Fields.

The Bears use the 12th overall pick in this mock on Lance. By the time April rolls around, and assuming Lance stacks another productive season on top of his remarkable 2019 performance, it's unlikely he'll be around outside the top 10.

Lance threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and a remarkable ZERO interceptions in his first full season starting for the Bison. But that's not all; he ran for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns, too.

At an estimated 6-3 and 224 pounds, Lance checks all the early boxes for a franchise quarterback prospect. If he does end up leapfrogging Fields for QB2, he'll be a top-five pick.

But here's the catch: we just don't know enough about him yet. His 2019 season was fantastic, but it's the only one he has on film. And it was against FCS competition, which makes his projection to the NFL more difficult. It's a slippery slope to use Carson Wentz as an example to support Lance's ability to make the jump to the pros. Players like Wentz are the exception; they're few and far between.

It's only July, and the mock draft landscape will change multiple times between now and April. But if Trubisky and Foles fail to deliver in 2020, all mock drafts will have the Bears picking a quarterback. The only question is how high will the Bears be picking in Round 1, and which quarterback (if any) falls to their selection.

Cody Whitehair says he's excited to begin training camp at center

Cody Whitehair says he's excited to begin training camp at center

Cody Whitehair is comfortable and excited about playing center in 2020, a position that isn't new for him but also wasn't deemed his full-time home until midway through last season.

With 2020 training camp scheduled to begin in two weeks, Whitehair is feeling good about his season outlook now that he's back to being the quarterback of the offensive line.

"That's where I feel the most comfortable," Whitehair said on Bears All-Access. "Obviously I'm a team guy and I'll do whatever they ask me to do. If it happens to be where they need me to play a different position, whether that be July 28 when we come in the building or, you know, whenever that may be, you know I'm always down for it."

Whitehair has always been a team-first guy since joining the Bears as a second-round pick in 2016. The former collegiate tackle began his career at center before flipping to guard and then back to center last season. He played 561 snaps at center and 508 at left guard in 2019.

"But you know just being comfortable at that position and being played there for as long as I have in the NFL it's really exciting to be able to be there to start the season again," Whitehair said.

Whitehair will be counted on to keep the offensive line in sync and on task, especially in the run game.

"You want your offense to be able to count on that run and especially in obvious situations," Whitehair said. "You know, that's where an offensive lineman has really got to be, you know, at his best whether that be obvious pass or obvious run.

"So it's something we take pride in and in the run game everything starts up there upfront and making sure we can get a hole open for those guys in the backfield because when we do that we're going to be dangerous."

The Bears' offensive line was recently ranked 22nd in the league by Pro Football Focus with the caveat that they could become one of the NFL's 10-best units if it returns to the level of play we saw in 2018. Whitehair was a big reason for that productive season, and he logged all 1,139 of his snaps at center that year.