John Fox vacation message to Bears: Stay out of the news


John Fox vacation message to Bears: Stay out of the news

As the Bears wrapped up the last of their pre-training camp practices, beginning with three voluntary sessions in the days prior to draft in late April and on through this week’s mandatory minicamp, coach John Fox made it apparent that he will not be looking over their shoulders in the six weeks between now and the July 29 start of Bourbonnais camp.

But he also made it clear that he doesn’t want to hear of miscreant behavior from a team still in its formative stages.

“I’ve been saying for a long time and I said it again today: ‘I don’t want to read about you unless you win the lottery,’” Fox said, smiling, sort of. “Just make good decisions and that’s no different off the field than it is on the field. You’re trying to play smart, tough and better-conditioned football, and same thing off the field.

[MORE BEARS: Practice absences can’t be helping Bears learning curve]

“You hope you don’t see your head of security or your PR guy on your phone over the break. But I think these guys have conducted themselves well and will continue to moving forward.”

Wide receiver Eddie Royal played for Fox in 2011, Fox’s first and Royal’s last with the Denver Broncos. Royal came in under Mike Shanahan in Denver, then played for Norv Turner in San Diego in 2012, followed by Fox’s former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who replaced Turner in 2013 and coached Royal last year as well.

Royal has some perspective on Fox’s handling of this team.

“He’s the perfect guy for our team, exactly what we need,” Royal said on Thursday. “He’s firm when he needs to be but also laid back at the same time. He’s a proven winner.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

The final minicamp did not necessarily leave Fox and his staff wishing there was more time to handle installations of schemes on offense, defense and special teams. His opinion is that players can be over-practiced.

But he does know what can happen once players scatter across the country away from the structure that the team provides.

“I’ve got four children and every time they leave the house it’s the same feeling,” Fox said. “Not comparing [players] to children but it’s a big responsibility and I expect them to conduct themselves well whether it’s on or off the field.” 

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”