Bears

Lovie Not the Only Problem, Angelo Should Agree

Lovie Not the Only Problem, Angelo Should Agree

Monday, December 21st

This is what losing does to a football team. I am sure you all witnessed the build up to this point two weeks ago. Brian Urlacher makes some statements to Michael Silver that were printed on Yahoosports.com. They were candid, honest, and on point. Lance Briggs made some statements this past week that were honest, on point, and he said nothing which one would disagree. Head Coach Lovie Smith, finally, made some statements about this football team that are truthful and should be taken to heart. You only wish he would have made them earlier in the year. Maybe it would have sparked some emotion from his team and organization. Lovie's comments should not be misconstrued as a shot at just the players, but also at General Manager, Jerry Angelo. Lovie basically insinuated in his postgame presser that players are in the right position, but just not good enough to make plays. He clearly took a shot at Jay Cutler and his decision making. We must remember that Lovie was not on-board with the trade for Jay from the start. He constantly praised Kyle Orton, and knew a move at the QB position would effect his locker room.

A few weeks ago, Jerry shot the first arrow at Lovie's staff by stating " he was concerned why players were not farther along in their development ". This was Lovie's opportunity to respond and although short, enough can be extrapolated from his statements, that you clearly get his stance. A lot of moves are made above the head coach that affect the head coach in undermining his ability. I do not think Lovie Smith was consulted on giving Jay Cutler 30 million in new money to a player who was clearly under performing. If that is the case, I should have played worse during my Bears career. Moves to acquire DE Gaines Adams from Tampa, hopefully will be fruitful, but it is looking more and more like Jerry got taken in the deal or even more concerning, pro player scouting is feeding Jerry very poor evaluations for him to make decisions. They missed on Orlando Pace, Frank Omiyale, and trading Safety Chris Harris to Carolina. Now it looks bad for Jerry by paying Jay new money when he should have proven himself in this offense before ever being rewarded.

Everyone has a hand in this. Upper Management, Coaches, and players for not executing game plans. Lovie finally set the tone, and the gloves are off. Let's see how the team responds to his statements next Monday night. The McCaskey family will have the ultimate decision in the evaluation process. Their decisions can go in a lot of different directions. Lovie is owed 11 million dollars and is capable of coaching talented teams to the Super Bowl. Let's not forget, most of that talent was here before Jerry or Lovie.

Bears roster lacks veteran cut candidate

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USA Today

Bears roster lacks veteran cut candidate

The Bears battle for the 53-man roster doesn’t have many contentious positions entering training camp.

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy brought back largely the same roster from their breakout 2018 season, finding replacements for the few players gone in free agency.

Outside of kicker, the entire starting lineup is pretty much set for Week 1, and the main competitions to stick with the team are at the bottom of the depth chart.

It leaves the roster with no notable veterans that stand out as candidates to be cut. ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson was asked to name one for an article, and he couldn’t come up with any.

He mentioned Taquan Mizzell, who made the move from running back to wide receiver this offseason, but as Dickerson pointed out “Mizzell is hardly a well-known commodity around the league.”

Former third-round pick Jonathan Bullard hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but the Bears have seemed comfortable keeping him around in a backup role.

The Bears roster has very little fat to trim. The only other player who could potentially qualify is cornerback Sherrick McManis, since the team has so many young players at his position, but he’s been working at safety to increase his value, and he’s one of the team’s best special teams contributors.

The trim down from the 90-man roster shouldn’t have too many significant surprises, which is why so much of the attention this offseason continues to go to the kicker position.

Alex Bars is ready to take his shot with Harry Hiestand and the Bears

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USA Today

Alex Bars is ready to take his shot with Harry Hiestand and the Bears

Alex Bars was cleared to practice last week, allowing him his first chance to put on a helmet since tearing his ACL and MCL Sept. 29 while playing for Notre Dame. The undrafted guard was able to participate in veteran minicamp, allowing him to shake off some rust before his real push for a roster spot begins in training camp next month. 

Many speculated Bars would’ve been as high as a mid-round draft pick if not for that devastating knee injury. It didn’t take the 6-foot-6, 312 pound Bars long, though, to decide where he wanted to go after not being picked in April’s draft. Call it the Harry Hiestand effect. 

Bars played under Hiestand’s tutelage at Notre Dame from 2014-2017, and said he always wanted to wind up with the Bears to work with his former coach — just as 2018 top-10 picks Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey hoped to as well. 

“I remember talking about that, because they both wanted to play for him,” Bars said. “They understand where he can take you and how phenomenal a coach he is, so they both wanted that. And I’m just the same way.”

While Nelson transformed the Indianapolis Colts’ playoff-bound offensive line and McGlinchey showed plenty of promise with the San Francisco 49ers, the reunion of Bars and Hiestand carries some intriguing possibilities for the Bears. Bars has always had upside — he was a four-star recruit out of Nashville in 2014 — and getting to work with Hiestand may be the best way to tap into that potential. 

“He knows me very well, I understand his technique very well,” Bars said. “So having that connection, that player-coach connection all four years through college is huge.”

Hiestand called Bars after his injury last fall and offered some words of encouragement, which only furthered Bars' wish to play for his former college coach in the NFL. 

"That meant everything," Bars said. "He cares so much off the field as well as on the field. That’s who he is."  

Bars wasn’t able to participate in OTAs or rookie minicamp, but Hiestand doesn’t see that as putting him in a tough spot to make the Bears' 53-man roster. And there will very much be an opportunity for Bars to make a push during training camp, given 10-year veteran Ted Larsen only has $90,000 in guaranteed money on his one-year contract. 

It may not be the more eye-catching roster battle during training camp, but the Bears hope they can find interior offensive line depth through competition in Bourbonnais. And Bars, now cleared to practice, will get his shot. 

“He’ll have the chance because he’s smart, he understands the technique, he knows what to do,” Hiestand said during OTAs, when Bars hadn’t practiced yet. “He’s learning the offense even though he’s not doing it. But when we put the pads on that’s when you make or don’t make the team.” 

It’s often unfair — yet far too easy — to place high expectations on undrafted free agents. For every Cameron Meredith or Bryce Callahan who gets unearthed, there are dozens of anonymous players who struggle to stick on an NFL practice squad. 

But Bars is among the more important undrafted free agents on the Bears given his connection with Hiestand and the position he plays. While Kyle Long is healthy, he hasn’t played a full season since 2015, underscoring the Bears’ need for depth on the interior of their offensive line in the immediate future. 

And the Bears would save a little over $8 million against their 2020 cap if they were to make the difficult decision to cut Long in a year. If Bars develops into the kind of player plenty in the NFL thought he could be before his knee injury, that would make releasing Long a little easier to swallow at Halas Hall. 

For now, though, Bars is just hoping to make the Bears. Anything else is a long ways away.

“I’m excited to be here, thrilled for this opportunity and it’s all about productivity,” Bars said. “Just need to be productive and prove you belong on this team.”

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