Bears

Long-term futures of Cutler, Urlacher not necessarily secure

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Long-term futures of Cutler, Urlacher not necessarily secure

General Manager Phil Emery has used the phrase franchise quarterback when talking about Jay Cutler. His new coach artfully avoided that Cutler characterization on Thursday.
Hes a guy who really loves football, Marc Trestman said, creating a vague feeling of damning faint praise.
Longtime quarterbacks mentor Trestman did say that he cant wait to get my hands on Cutler, with the consensus in the room being that Trestman was speaking as a coach and not someone with hostile intent because of too many interceptions.
Cutler was not the only franchise player whose future was left in question by Trestman, who skirted questions about individual players by generally stating that he and Emery had not gone into enough depth yet.
With Lovie Smith gone and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli choosing to leave rather than work as a member of Trestmans staff, the future of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher moves from questionable to doubtful. Make that very doubtful after Trestman would say only that he had a sense of Urlacher as a Bear in the past.
I have a feeling that this guy has been a great player for this team, Trestman said. I recognize certainly what hes meant to this locker room, and to the fan base of the Chicago Bears. When we get done meeting with the media well begin to try to answer some of those questions and Phil will educate me to that.
Cutler screening
When Trestman was going through the interview process that culminated in his being named the 14th head coach in franchise history, Emery wanted input from Cutler.
Specifically, Emery wanted Cutler to meet with Trestman and come back with a sense of Trestman on four points: communication (can the guy be talked to easily?); poise (does the guy present as a head coach?); articulation (can the guy explain his football schemes and ideas?); and is he a leader (no explanation necessary).
Cutler was not involved in the final decision but Trestman received his quarterbacks endorsement. Then again, so did Mike Martz, although Martz went to Nashville to meet with Cutler, whereas Trestman was at Halas Hall for his Cutler meeting.
Trestman met with Cutler in years past, helping prepare him for the NFL Scouting Combine. But the Cutler he met with this week was not the same one he encountered before Cutler had ever thrown an NFL pass.
Hes a different guy, Trestman said. Hes in tune to where he is and where he wants to go. He understands his strengths and his weaknesses, and he wants to go forward.
I cant wait to get my hands on him and go to work with him, and I think hes ready. And were going to try to put a system of football and put people around him that can help him be the player that he wants to be.

Brian Urlacher misses Top 10 of all-time Bears list

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AP

Brian Urlacher misses Top 10 of all-time Bears list

Brian Urlacher played his way into the pantheon of Bears linebackers and the Hall of Fame over his 13-year career in Chicago, leaving no question he belongs among the all-time greats.

Where he stacks up with the best of the best in team history is still up for debate.

Hall of Fame writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson ranked the top 100 players in franchise history for the team’s official site, and Urlacher fell outside of the top 10.

Urlacher came in one spot ahead of fellow legendary linebacker Mike Singletary, but the greats of pre-merger era earned many of the top spots on the list.

Dick Butkus came in second to only Walter Payton, while old school legends Bill George and Bulldog Turner ranked seventh and eighth, respectively.

It’s difficult to compare linebackers that played 50 years apart, especially when stacking them up with players at other positions.

Urlacher is still near the top of the list of the best Bears ever. They just have so many all-time greats, the likes of Dan Hampton, Richard Dent and Jimbo Covert just don’t have a spot in the top 10.

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Eddie Jackson’s pitch for the Bears hits home with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: ‘It’s just like Bama’

Eddie Jackson’s pitch for the Bears hits home with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: ‘It’s just like Bama’

Six years ago, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix recruited a three-star wide receiver recruit named Eddie Jackson to play his college ball at Alabama (Jackson, of course, played for Nick Saban as a safety). In March, it was Jackson who was recruiting Clinton-Dix, this time to play for the Bears. 

He did so with a simple message: “It’s just like ‘Bama.”

And from there, “I was ready to sign,” Clinton-Dix said. 

The friendship between Jackson and Clinton-Dix developed in Tuscaloosa and continued after Clinton-Dix became a first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2014. But Clinton-Dix didn’t decide to sign with the Bears — on a cheap one-year prove-it deal — just because of the opportunity to team up with one of his friends. 

Jackson and quarterback Mitch Trubisky chatted with Clinton-Dix on his visit to Halas Hall back in March and offered another critical pitch centered around coach Matt Nagy. 

“I told him coach Nagy is one of those coaches, he lets us be us, go out there and have fun with swag,” Jackson said. “But he knew it. He was like man, I know, I’m a fan of y’all, I’ve been watching. He was on board.”

Jackson and Clinton-Dix combined for 14 interceptions since the beginning of the 2017 season, though Clinton-Dix left the Green Bay Packers via a midseason trade last year with a reputation for missing tackles (for what it’s worth, Clinton-Dix missed one fewer tackle than Adrian Amos did in 2018, per Pro Football Focus). The Bears see Clinton-Dix’s one-year deal as a win-win for all parties: The Bears get a starting safety with proven past production and playoff experience, while Clinton-Dix slides into one of the league’s most talented defenses with an excellent opportunity to rebuild his value on the free agent market in 2020. 

“I always like to focus on the positives guys have,” safeties coach Sean Desai said. “He’s shown that he’s a highly instinctual player, he’s shown that he’s got good ball skills and good range and those are traits that we’re going to develop.” 

Jackson and Amos forged a strong relationship on the back end of the Bears’ defense the last two years, with good communication between the two helping accentuate each player’s strengths. A thought here is replacing Amos with Clinton-Dix will help ease the transition for Jackson, given his friendship with his new safety mate. But there’s more that goes into a good safety pairing than a strong friendship. 

“They gotta build that communication,” Desai said. “It’s different to speak a personal language off the field and then a football language on the field. So that’s what we’re all building.”

Still, a good off-the-field relationship with Jackson got Clinton-Dix in the door at Halas Hall. And the Bears hope it can be an important part of the league’s best defense in 2018 holding on to that title in 2019. 

“I’m just glad to be on the back end with him, man,” Clinton-Dix said. “This is a special defense and I’m glad to be a part of these guys.”