Bears

No Spare Bears looming on horizon

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No Spare Bears looming on horizon

Saturday, March 12, 2011Posted: 2:25 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

To answer one very big question right away: No Spare Bears.

The last time there were lost games in the NFL was 1987, when the records show that only one game was lost from a 16-game schedule. But the cost to the Bears was far, far worse.

This current situation, fortunately, is not on track to be a repeat. Lovie Smith will be spared the dilemma that severely hurt Mike Ditka.

Spare Bears was a phrase that came into the Chicago sports lexicon when the Bears brought in replacement players for the ones who were walking picket lines. The replacement players around the league included Erik Kramer, later a Bears quarterback; Mike Hohensee, who subsequently coached the Ditka-owned Chicago Rush; and Sean Payton, who went on to coach the New Orleans Saints to a win in last years Super Bowl but was a Spare Bear in 87.

This time is completely different.

The current situation is a lockout. Owner-induced. The 1987 situation was a strike by the Players Association. Games in Week Three were canceled.

But while Buddy Ryan, whod moved on by then to coach the Philadelphia Eagles, was contemptuous of the replacement players he was handed, Ditka cost himself dearly with his players when he declared, The real Bears are the ones wearing uniforms on Sunday.

In fairness to Ditka, he was working for a chief executive (Michael McCaskey) who many believed was looking for a reason to rid himself of Ditka and put his own stamp on the franchise. And Ditka quietly campaigned to have the names of replacement players included in the media guide just like everyone else who wore a Bears uniform.

But his declaration irreparably tore the fabric between his players and him.

Its like a marriage, Dan Hampton told me. If you find your wife is cheating on you, you can stay together, but itll never be the same again.

The current impasse, with its yet-to-play-out legal machinations, will engender hard and hurt feelings at some levels. But it wont be a repeat of 1987.

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.

Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

The first phase of the 2020 NFL offseason will kick off on March 18 when the signing period for free agency officially begins. Teams can negotiate with free agents beginning on March 16, and the Bears are expected to be among the cluster of clubs searching for upgrades at several key positions.

GM Ryan Pace is likely to focus his free-agent budget on a veteran quarterback, help along the offensive line, and the secondary where players like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Prince Amukamara face uncertain futures. There's also the tight end problem, which Pace can use free agency to land a quick fix.

This year's free-agent class his headlined by high-upside yet risky players. Many of the top names are coming off of breakout seasons but have resumes of underwhelming production.

Here's a look at the top 30 free agents scheduled to hit the open market.

Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

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USA TODAY

Kyle Long looking forward to 'seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch'

Former Bears offensive linemen Kyle Long appeared on The Rap Sheet and Friends podcast hosted by NFL insider Ian Rapoport and he didn't shy away from questions about Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Long, while stating that he understood the questioning and criticism that Trubisky faces, still believes in him.

"The Bears have won with Mitchell Trubisky."

Indeed Mitch was the starter for 14 games of the Bears 12-4 season before this year's 8-8 disappointment. The issue was Trubisky's play was of course, as he didn't show any noticeable improvement in 2019 after tossing 24 touchdowns in 2018. "We all regressed this year, but unfortunately heavy lies the head that wears the crown, and Mitch is the captain," Long said. 

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise, and he’s young. He’s so young."

Long seems excited by the idea of Chicago's hires, saying that new faces could have quite the positive effect on Trubisky’s game "I’m looking forward to seeing what another set of eyes from a coaching perspective can give Mitch. It’ll be cool to see.”

This offseason the Bears have brought in a new offensive coordinator (Bill Lazor), quarterbacks coach (John DeFilippo), and promoted former quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone to passing game coordinator. Bears head coach Matt Nagy, similar to Long, has faith in Trubisky developing, especially in regard to Ragone. In December Nagy said, “I think I know Mitch better than anybody in this building, except maybe Dave Ragone.”

Long certainly seems to miss his teammates though he clearly has no regrets about his decision. He and Trubisky definitely share a bond that will last long beyond their playing days. “I love the kid, he’s a great friend obviously, a teammate, but I’m looking forward to seeing him develop.”

Similar to the message delivered by the Bears’ front office, Long was in full support of Trubisky throughout the entire interview.

"Mitch is the quarterback. He’s also suited to take the stuff that he’s gotta deal with, and that’s what I love about Mitch. He can deal with the noise...”

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