Bears

Mullin: Bears should be proud of their books

Mullin: Bears should be proud of their books

Saturday, March 26, 2011Posted: 11:30 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears have operated successfully for a long, long time, as long in fact as theres been an NFL and even a little before that. And if itll help advance the cause of an agreement between league owners and players, theyre willing to show those needing to know.

And this could be part of a building movement that breaks the stalemate that is threatening at least the NFL offseason, if not more.

Bears President Ted Phillips has aligned the Bears with the Dallas Cowboys (and the already publicly owned Green Bay Packers, plus the Denver Broncos potentially) as teams open to the idea of open books, something demanded by the players side as long as owners are asking for a 1 billion giveback to help teams with operating expenses.

If the league feels to get a deal done, they need to release financials, were on board, Phillips told the Chicago Sun-Times. Im actually proud of how we operate our club. We think we do a good job, revenue-wise and expense-wise.

The Bears have. Without violating confidences here, the Bears have been aware of the looming labor difficulties for a matter of years and they were managing expenses with an eye toward the future. So it was no surprise at all that the Phillips and the Bears were out front with the fact that they were not anticipating layoffs, pay cuts or some of the carnage that has nicked some teams.

And whats too often glossed over in the interest of keeping a good clich running, the Bears have done all of this without coming anywhere close to their Misers of the Midway misnomer. The Bears have spent money, not always on the right players or even coaches at times, but they have spent it.

Consider: Besides doing a new Lovie Smith contract with years in excess of 5 million, the Bears also have coordinators (Rod Marinelli, Mike Martz) in the 1 million range plus an offensive line coach (Mike Tice) in the upper echelon of his position pay grade.

More to the on-field point, in recent years they have done market or above deals with Lance Briggs, Jay Cutler, Tommie Harris, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher, some as extensions, like Smith. Muhsin Muhammad, John Tait.

The list of money deals goes on but you get the point. Phillips was the finance man under Michael McCaskey before succeeding him as president in 1999 (the year the Bears hosed down Phillip Daniels and Thomas Smith with signing mega-deals). The contracts done by GM Jerry Angelo and finance man Cliff Stein are known throughout the league as real deals, meaning ones without inflated final years that no one will ever see and force players to be cut.

Its easy to make jokes about the Bears and their money. Those jokes are old and years out of date. And no one should be laughing, least of all some of the other owners who are not remotely as effective financially as the Bears. As the McCaskeys have accurately stated over the years, their only business is football and the Chicago Bears. Theyre not Daniel Snyder (thankfully), nor have they ever aspired to be.

They can be and should be proud of those books.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Trubisky using flashcards to learn Bears offense

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USA Today

Trubisky using flashcards to learn Bears offense

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is preparing for his second season in the NFL, one in which he'll be running an entirely new offense, with a tried-and-true method of learning: flashcards.

“Quarterback play is how fast you can process,” Trubisky told the Chicago Sun-Times. “A lot of that is recollection. That’s exactly what flash cards are.

"You’re trying to learn and memorize, and to try to forget what you did in the past.”

Coach Matt Nagy is attempting to install an offense that took five years to master in Kansas City in his first offseason in Chicago. Its success or failure will circle directly back to how well Trubisky operates within its structure.

Despite its complexity, Trubisky feels more comfortable in Nagy's system than the one Dowell Loggains ran last season.

“It’s more complex, but it’s easier [to execute], as opposed to simpler but more difficult.

"That’s how I would describe it last year. Last year, there were probably less words, but they didn’t necessarily fit together. Or it was just more difficult to process. This year, it’s more complex but it’s easier to execute and memorize and remember because everything builds on something. You start with a base concept, and it gets more and more complicated.”

Trubisky's comments illustrate what makes Nagy a potentially special offensive coach. He's making a normally difficult process seem easy, and that's the kind of environment that will facilitate learning and execution.

“It’s just crazy to see. I feel like that’s how it should be done, because it’s a more advanced offense, but we were able to pick it up so quickly over the summer because of how they taught it. And how everything fits together."

Three questions for Bears ILBs: What kind of an impact will Roquan Smith make?

Three questions for Bears ILBs: What kind of an impact will Roquan Smith make?

Pre-camp depth chart

1. Danny Trevathan
2. John Timu
3. Joel Iyiegbuniwe

1. Roquan Smith
2. Nick Kwiatkoski
3. Jonathan Anderson

1. How good can Roquan Smith be?

Making sweeping observations from shorts-and-helmets practices in OTAs is often a fool’s errand, but Smith looked the part while running around the practice fields of Halas Hall after being drafted in April. His quickness and instinctiveness stood out — as they did at Georgia — and his football intelligence and work ethic were praised by coaches and teammates. 

“He’s learning well,” Trevathan said. “He’s doing a good job of learning. He’s learning the little things that you need to learn in this defense. Now it’s all about putting on a show and going out there and rocking.”

And that’s what’s going to be fun to watch in Bourbonnais: How does Smith play with the pads on? Chances are, the answer to that question will be “well,” setting the eighth overall pick on a path to being a mainstay of this defense for years to come. 

That’s not to say Smith doesn’t have plenty on which to work during training camp. But he left Georgia as a sort of “safe bet” in the draft, and nothing he’s done to this point has changed the view of him that he’s likely going to be a good one. 

2. Can Danny Trevathan stay healthy?

In terms of size and athleticism, Trevathan and Smith profile similar to NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, the inside linebacking tandem that was the spine of the San Francisco 49ers defense during Fangio’s time there. But for Trevathan and Smith to reach that lofty bar — or even to come close to it — Trevathan needs to be more available than he was his first two years with the Bears.

This isn’t questioning Trevathan’s toughness — far from it. That he returned for Week 1 of the 2017 season 10 months after rupturing his patellar tending (an injury that can be a career-ender) was impressive, and that he was immediately productive upon returning was even more extraordinary. But Trevathan missed three games in November due to a strained calf, and coupled with a one-game suspension and the seven games he missed in 2016, the 28-year-old has only played in 21 of 32 games since signing with the Bears. 

Trevathan is confident he can improve his production in 2018, given he wasn’t able to participate in last year’s offseason program practices. He’s entering his third year in Fangio’s defense and feels better prepared after going through OTAs and minicamps this year. It’s just now about him staying on the field to make sure that work pays off.

“I’m more comfortable with this defense, I’m more comfortable with the guys and the calls that we make,” Trevathan said. “I take pride in being correct and working my tail off and making the defense better. And the more that I can be out there — which I plan on being out there a lot — it’s going to help us tremendously.” 

3. How big a role will Nick Kwiatkoski have?

The Bears didn’t draft Smith because they felt like they absolutely needed to upgrade over Kwiatkoski, who’s acquitted himself well in 25 games since being picked in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. But Kwiatkoski has dealt with some injury issues, and for as solid a player as he may be, the Bears’ defense needed (and still needs) more great players. Drafting Smith gave the Bears a shot at adding a great player.

It also leaves Kwiatkoski in the same spot he was in a year ago, when the Bears entered the 2017 season with Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman as their unquestioned starting inside linebackers. Smith still has to earn that starting spot, but the safe bet is he will, relegating Kwiatkoski again to reserve duties.

And that’s a positive for the overall health of this defense, having a player good enough to start ready to play if needed. But it also raises this question: What do the Bears do with Kwiatkoski if he’s one of their four best linebackers, but isn’t one of their two best inside linebackers? 

So for the purposes of watching training camp practices, seeing if Kwiatkoski gets any reps at outside linebacker will be an interesting storyline to follow.