It was funny reading reports Wednesday night concerning Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. They were, to quote Pro Football Talk, almost spontaneously and simultaneously about the Philadelphia Eagles being interested in Kelly for their vacant head coaching position. The Eagles' interest was so piqued that they interviewed Kelly following the BCS Championship game. As I stated before -- and tweeted out more than a month ago -- Kelly was on NFL radars. A coach with one losing record in 23 years of coaching does not go unnoticed.
MORE: Miller: Kelly, Saban among possible Bears candidates
But all of a sudden the media was caught with their pants down regarding a candidate they did not take seriously. Now reports have Kelly returning to South Bend. This, of course, is after Kelly during the week, leading up to the game, stated his only interest was Notre Dame. Love him or loathe him, Kelly has won wherever hes coached; that is why he is of NFL interest.
Speculation runsamokin the media, where reporters were quick to link the Browns, Bears, pretty much any head coaching vacancy on the planet to Kelly as most teams seem to interview the same candidates. Its called slap-it-out-there journalism and hope it sticks. It normally is camouflaged as fact with an unidentified source to provide validity because, is anyone really going to check anyway? The writer sure isnt going to reveal any source.
As I have written before, Bears GM Phil Emery is not a newbie to scouting players and coaches. There are plenty of files regarding both. The Bears, and every other NFL team, have walked weekly through the Irishs door in South Bend, Cincinnati, or Central Michigan to scout players and coaches. General managers and scouts are present every college weekend to scout talent of interest. It is not regulated just to the young men running around on the field. How coachs delegate, their decision making, and sideline demeanor is all scouted, assessed, and filed.
An NFL presence is even greater if universities are located in proximity of an NFL team. For instance, the Bears are in proximity to Northwestern, Illinois and Notre Dame. They have had plenty of opportunity to converse with Kelly, along with the Cleveland Browns, who are also within proximity and searching for a new head coach. Contact for interest and interviewing a candidate are two completely different actions.
For instance, Jon Gruden is still the number one coaching candidate on my Chicago Bears head coaching list. No one in the media has indicated Gruden as a serious candidate. After all, interviewing only seems to be what counts among the media. I wonder if Grudens been contacted though...hmm...
It's long been rumored, but on Wednesday things became a bit more official: the NFL will reportedly cut the 2020 preseason in half:
Shortening the preseason has been a topic of conversation around the league for a while now, but a new urgency has been attached to the idea because of the ongoing the COVID-19 pandemic. As states continue struggling with rising infection rates, beginning the season on time looks more and more unlikely. The NFL has already altered their season schedule to accomodate for a delayed start or early-season interruption.
It's especially bad news for the Bears, who were planning on using all four preseason games to determine whether Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky would win the starting quarterback job. Without half their preseason games (they'd lose games against Cleveland and Tennessee), things obviously become much trickier.
In talking to various trusted football minds around the NFL recently, two common thoughts come up when discussing Bears rookie pass rusher Trevis Gipson:
1. He should have been drafted in the fourth round.
2. He was playing out of position at Tulsa.
It’s very possible that the latter impacted the former. The Bears traded up in the fifth round to draft Gipson at No. 155 overall and they’ve been very decisive with their plan for him – he’s going to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in Chicago.
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Many of the “tweener” pass rush prospects in the NFL Draft play in different fronts in college than they do when they transition to the NFL. In Gipson’s case, he played in a three-man front at Tulsa, but was used more as a five-technique on the line of scrimmage. With the Bears, he’ll be in a base 3-4 defense, but playing a different position on the edge.
You don’t have to watch a lot of tape to understand why Bears general manager Ryan Pace and defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano want to use Gipson on the edge. At 6’6 ⅜” and 261 pounds, he has an 81 ¼” wing span that can’t be taught and his lengthy frame doesn’t give him a lot of leverage when he lines up in tight spaces on the line. He’s better off using that length on the edge and, in my opinion, his best college tape came when he was lined up wide.
Realistic rookie expectations: Gipson is a bit of a project because he’s switching positions and he certainly hasn’t been helped by COVID-19 shutting down offseason practices. But the Bears aren’t asking him to start right away. They have Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn to rush the passer. Gipson has the talent to contribute as a rotational player and perhaps he can provide an occasional spark off the bench. His college production doesn’t lie. Gipson had 12 sacks and 24 tackles for loss in his final two seasons at Tulsa.
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