NFL Combine brings out 'bests' in everyone – just ask them


NFL Combine brings out 'bests' in everyone – just ask them

INDIANAPOLIS – During his interviews at the 1999 NFL Scouting Combine, UCLA quarterback Cade McNown unabashedly told teams, including the Bears, that they would be sorry if they didn’t draft him (insert joke here). A year later Tom Brady warned teams they would regret it if he weren’t drafted by them (insert new joke here).

[MORE: Lack of seeming elite QBs in NFL draft could bode well for Bears]

At the Combine preceding the tackle-rich 2011 draft (Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Nate Solder) Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi declared from his podium that he was the best tackle in the draft, which did not find a lot of traction before the Bears took him at No. 29. (Badger defensive end J.J. Watt did, however, go No. 11, suggesting that the NFL was more impressed by whom Carimi couldn’t block in practice than by whom he could).

Every year the selections of the NFL teams will tell players which of them the league regards as the “bests,” overall or by position. That doesn’t stop the requisite declarations of primacy in the meantime, some ranging over entire sections of the draft:

On how the entire defensive-line class will go down in history:

“The best I’d say. In five years from now, I’d say it beats the J.J. Watt and Marcell Dareus [2011] class. That’s what I’ll say.” - Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson.

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And within that class:

Best overall:

“I do believe I’m the best player in the draft.” - Joey Bosa, Ohio State.

Others stayed generally within their position groups:

Best Quarterback:

“I’m confident I’ll be the best quarterback in the draft.” - Jared Goff, Cal.

“Just being able to operate in the pocket, being able to get the ball from under center, and just our concepts I would say is what makes me the most pro ready.” - Connor Cook, Michigan State

Best tackle:

“I just think I’m the best.” - Laremy Tunsil, Mississippi.

“I always feel like I'm going to be the best.” - Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame

Of course, any other answers might be the surprising ones: “I think as a player if you don’t believe that,” Bosa added, “then there’s kind of something wrong.”

AP writers vote Matt Nagy for 2018's best coaching job

AP writers vote Matt Nagy for 2018's best coaching job

It may only be Week 15, but Matt Nagy's already winning awards. 

Earlier today, Nagy was chosen as "having done the NFL’s best coaching job in 2018 in voting released Friday by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press." 

AP football writer Howard Fendrich explained the decision, saying,″(Nagy’s) overseen a total turnaround of the Bears in just his first year as an NFL head coach, taking a team that hadn’t finished above .500 since 2012 and turning them into the best of the NFC North. He’s an offensive guru who learned from former boss Andy Reid, and Chicago’s play calling has been creative and fun — and overcome limitations at the QB spot to be good enough to let a superb defense lead the way.”

Nagy's led the Bears to a 9-4 record in his first year as head coach, with a chance to win the division if the Bears can beat the Packers this weekend. 

Nagy came in ahead of Pete Carroll, who finished in 2nd place. Andy Reid, Nagy's mentor in Kansas City, rounded out the top 3. 

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Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

USA Today Sports Images

Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

A thought here after watching Thursday night’s Chargers-Chiefs tilt, which featured eight flags for either defensive pass interference or defensive holding...

As the NFL makes it harder for defensive players to play defense (and as TV ratings go up), the Bears are one of the cleanest teams when it comes to their opponents’ passing game. They rank second among teams with only eight combined defensive holding and defensive pass interference penalties: 

1. Dallas (5)
2. Chicago (8)
3. Oakland (10)
4. Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers (11)
6. Arizona, Indianapolis (12)
8. Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Houston, Philadelphia (13)
14. Cincinnati, New York Jets, Seattle, Tampa Bay (14)
18. Baltimore, Pittsburgh (15)
20. Los Angeles Rams (16)
21. Buffalo, Minnesota, New England (17)
24. Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, San Francisco (18)
29. Atlanta, Miami (20)
31. New Orleans (23)
32. Kansas City (36)

The Chargers entered Thursday night’s game tied with the Bears with eight holding/pass interference penalties, but where whistled for three during the game — and not all were clear fouls, either. And that kind of stuff can be annoying for defensive players around the league to see. 

“100 percent,” Bears safety Eddie Jackson said. “.. .I’ve seen some things, I’m like come on, man. But there’s some things you can’t control. Control what you can control, and that’s go out there and play ball and to the best of your ability try not to hold or get a flag for pass interference called on you.”

Jackson credited four members of the coaching staff with the Bears’ ability to avoid holding/interference penalties: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson and quality control assistant Sean Desai. From teaching proper technique for being told what to watch out for, this is a well-coached group. Only cornerback Prince Amukamara — who’s usually in press coverage, subjecting him to the most contact — has been whistled for multiple interference or holding flags this year (he actually has half the Bears’ total, with four). 

“It’s a combination of both (coaching and technique) I would say,” coach Matt Nagy said. “The players, technique-wise is a big part of it. You’ve got to be really disciplined in that area. And then I think the other part of it is with the coaching is making sure that they’re watching to make sure to see where they’re at with it. So far, to have that, you want that overall as a team to be the least penalized, specifically in that area, that’s always a good thing.”

Consider it another feather in the cap of the league’s best defense: Even when passing-oriented rule changes and tweaks supposedly make it harder to play defense, the Bears largely haven’t suffered for it. 

“It’s more difficult for the referees, too,” Nagy said. “It’s difficult for them. It’s difficult for the players. There’s some subjectiveness to it. But you gotta try to not be too grabby.”  

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