Names may change but not the bigger point of Bears vs. Packers


Names may change but not the bigger point of Bears vs. Packers

The highlighters are more than apparent in Thursday’s Bears-Packers game. Clay Matthews. Jay Cutler. Julius Peppers. Kyle Long. Pernell McPhee. Aaron Rodgers. Matt Forte.

But there are no small parts in theater, only small actors, and so many games turn on the supporting characters who the moment elevates or finds wanting, whether Chris Conte, Randall Cobb or whomever.

Adding a touch of intrigue to Thursday’s Bears-Packers game is the sprinkling of players, one or two or three of whom likely will play major roles and who weren’t even around for game one back on Sept. 13.

“Typically in your breakdown your game with them in there, if you’ve played them up to this point, even though it was a long time ago. I saw jersey numbers in there for us that I didn’t hardly remember,” coach John Fox said.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

For instance, the Bears started a nickel package that included Alan Ball opposite Kyle Fuller, and Sherrick McManis as the third corner played 92 percent of the snaps that game as the Packers schemed to put the Bears in nickel personnel.

Christian Jones played every defensive snap in game one; the past couple games he has been platooned with Jonathan Anderson in nickel and played just 42 of the Broncos’ 69 snaps.

The names that’ve changed are less important than the trend line they represent as the Bears make changes to upgrade on the fly, which is the underlying point of 2015, the strategic goal that meshes with the tactical objective of winning football games.

“It will be my first time going against [the 2015 Packers] physically,” said cornerback Tracy Porter, who was inactive the first two weeks this season with a hamstring strain. “I took all the necessary notes on these guys, knowing what they like to do… . We’ve had enough games since we’ve played those guys the first time to get a feel for what we wanna do. It’ll just be another game for us.”

[MORE: Perspective more important than specifics for Bears]

Probably not entirely the case, anymore than Denver was just another game for Fox. But the only way to become king is to dethrone the king, and the Bears do get that.

“I know it would mean a lot to the city of Chicago,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “It would mean a lot to this locker room. But we play 16 games; every opponent is important to us. I don't think we're in a situation right now where we can pick and choose who we want to win and who we want to lose to. Every game we need to win at this point.”

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.