Bears

Miller: Bears need "Homeland Security"

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Miller: Bears need "Homeland Security"

How many clichd times do we hear professional athletes say I dont want to be the guy to let the team down? In a weeks span, two former Dallas Cowboy players have basically derailed any realistic shot of the Bears making the playoffs. In my opinion, they may have also answered some recent questions concerning Bears GM Jerry Angelos consideration of retirement. One Cowboy who the Bears signed is veteran running back, Marion Barber, who doesnt know his main assignment when executing the four minute offense. The other would be Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd who allegedly spent more time lining up drug deals than any effort exerted playing for the Bears. Honestly, you cant make this stuff up!

It was absolutely astonishing to witness the lack of awareness that Barber displayed last Sunday against the Broncos because I love the guy! He has always played physical and was a devastating blocker in Dallas on third downs, but the bigger question is why would Dallas draft the running back position on three different occasions with Barber on the roster? Just to remind Bears fans, Dallas drafted Felix Jones in the first round of 2008's draft, Tashard Choice also in 2008, and DeMarco Murray this past April. Dallas had already drafted Julius Jones in 2004 in the first round out of Notre Dame, the same year they drafted Barber. Why draft the position subsequently that high when Jones and Barber should have been coming into their prime?

Hurd is a completely different situation. I can speak from experience that you can be in the same building as a co-workerplayer and be shocked with what their life entails. I have had the opportunity to play with some great players. One of them was running back Bam Morris, prior to his stint with the Bears; I played with him in Pittsburgh. I believe head coach Bill Cowher, my teammates, and the Steelers organization loved the player, but hated the baggage. Bam ultimately spent time in federal prison for his transgressions. Bam has since come clean acknowledging how many teammates, coaches, and organizations he let down, but why is history repeating itself?

It begs the bigger question currently facing the NFL and its 32 organizations about protecting the brandshield of the NFL. Every team conducts its business differently concerning background checks, medical competitive advantage, and adding inherent risk which explains the success or failure of every NFL team. Organizations will take note of Hurd realizing they need to do even more.

The timeline suggests the Bears honestly did not know the transgressions of Hurd. This is with the help of former FBI agents employed by the NFL. But I will say this: the team may want to employ a higher integrated power specifically related to protecting the Bears brand so this debacle does not repeat itself again. Homeland Security! I will have to do more research on how Homeland Security is affiliated with the NFL, but I do know of universities that have been so proactive with Homeland Security in terms of background checks concerning employees; background checks so in-depth that on game day, they know every outsourced employee in their stadium. Many were denied. How do the Bears not know everything about an employee that is within the building seven days a week? Better yet, why is the organization letting the team and coaching staff down? Too clich, I guess.

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

All week, reporters at Halas Hall tried to get Matt Nagy and the Bears to compare who they were during Week 1’s game against Green Bay to where they are now. And all week at Halas Hall, Matt Nagy and the Bears wouldn't bite. 

“We're both different. They're a little bit different, we're different,” Matt Nagy said. “They did a great job both as players and their coaches, so like I said yesterday, it feels like a while ago and that's why you play. You have a 16-game season and in division you get two chances. We'll just do everything we can to put it behind us and try to be better.” 

Different might be an understatement. Gone are Kyle Long and Bobby Massie. The Starting-Center-James-Daniel experiment is over, and Mike Davis is playing in the NFC South now. Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton – though the latter didn’t play in Week 1 – are on IR, too. Normally, losing two starting tight ends, a ‘starting’ running back, and the entire right side of the offensive line means you’re spending the last month of the season scouting for 2020. Instead, the Bears head to Lambeau Field on Sunday with a path to the playoffs still in front of them. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now. We’re a different team,” Mitch Trubisky said. “There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. 

“I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Perhaps the biggest difference between Week 1 and Week 15 has been the play of Trubisky, who looked like he was headed for a clipboard in 2020 before regaining his form over the last month or so. His comfortability in the offense is night and day compared to some of the struggles he went through during the first half of the season. If you ask him – which, duh, we did – he’ll tell you he’s felt the most growth off the field. 

“I just would say mental toughness, the ability to block out things on the outside,” he said. “Adversity, obviously, early in the season with people talking on the outside and then having to play through injuries and stuff, and just coming together closer as a team. My teammates having my back, that really gives me the most confidence.” 

The 14-week turnaround isn’t all about confidence, as Nagy 202 has morphed into something not expected but effective nonetheless. The running game has stabilized and they’ve found successful plays out of 4 WR sets – even if one of those receivers is Montgomery/Tarik Cohen. In Week 1? Montgomery had six rushes and the Bears ran two plays out of 10 personnel. Nagy said that he thought something clicked on Trubisky’s touchdown pass to Ben Braunecker against the Lions. 

“There's something there,” he said. “We felt it a little bit in the Chargers game, we just weren't effective in the red zone. But because we won the [Lions] game it magnifies it a little bit more … And then we just kind of started putting things together and I think over time we've just felt like it's just started to click. I don't know if it's specifically one play or not but that's probably my best guess.” 

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as the team prepares for what Nagy calls a “cat-and-mouse” game against Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who perhaps knows Trubisky better than any other opposing coordinator in the game. 

“Coach Pettine has done a great job throughout his career of being almost tendency-free,” he said. “And they’re even better now with how they deploy those guys, and it’s kind of a perfect, perfect storm of scheme and talent, and the guys on the back end help them out too.” 

The Bears are playing with a looseness that might come from essentially being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but oddly, it continues to work for them. And when you have to go play Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau with your season on the line, you don’t question what works. 

“I love it. You want to go against the best all the time,” said Akiem Hicks, who was taken off IR and will start on Sunday. “If you’re a true competitor, you want the best competition.”

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

With Doc Rivers, Patrick Beverly and the Los Angeles Clippers in town to face the Bulls, you knew the question was coming. Both Rivers and Beverly are from Chicago and not shy about their affection for the city. 

"Do you and Pat talk about coming to Chicago?" a reporter asked, during Rivers' pregame media scrum, Saturday night.

"We talk about Chicago, probably every single day," Rivers said with a hint of a smile. "We talk about the Bears the most."

That led to Rivers rapid-fire addressing a number of ruminations on the current state of the Bears, including his respect for head coach Matt Nagy.

"I’m a big Bears fan. A big Nagy fan. I think he’s a terrific coach," Rivers said. "I just do, every once in a while you get a feeling about someone, and I have that about him."

High praise coming from Rivers, the 13th-winningest coach in NBA history and an NBA Finals champion in 2008 with the Boston Celtics.

Now, he coaches the third-winningest team in the league in the Clippers, but he still finds time to keep up with current Chicago affairs.

"[Beverly and I] talk about everything with Chicago. We talk about the dominance of Proviso East [Rivers' high school alma mater] over Marshall [Beverly's alma mater], and every other team. He doesn’t like that conversation very much," Rivers said.

He added that he even contemplated driving down for the Bears' Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football (the Clippers were in town for a game with Milwaukee that Friday).

And as for tomorrow's crucial division game against the Packers, Rivers made his position abundantly clear.

"Well, you know what I think," Rivers said, when asked for a prediction for the contest. "Are you kidding me?"

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