Bears

Phillips to make a rash hire? Not likely

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Phillips to make a rash hire? Not likely

Always good to drop in and visit with Danny Mac and The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 every Thursday at 10, this morning with Lawrence Holmes in for Matt. Usually Lawrence and I are chatting Bears just turning our chairs around in the Halas Hall press room but this works.

The Bears GM search is obviously front-burner and an obvious variable here is Ted Phillips. The Bears president is directing the screening process and doubters will point to his not being a football guy and how informed will his choices be.

Im not sure how critical to be of that yet. A plus within the Bears organization is that since Michael McCaskey was moved out of the presidents chair, the front office doesnt meddle in football operations. Thats a good thing; it means you dont have Dallas, or Washington.

Whether Phillips acted impulsively or too quickly in dumping Jerry Angelo can be debated. But hes typically been thorough in business dealings, and it would be out of character for him to make a rash hire. He didnt in the case of Angelo and I suspect he wont now, and I would argue that there have been far worse GMs than Angelo with his four division titles and two trips to NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl qualifier.

Smiths involvement?

Mac and Lawrence wondered how involved Lovie Smith is in the process, and I have had no inklings that he has been a hands-on part of the interview process; hes not sitting next to Phillips in the interviews. He doesnt have that kind of juice at this point unless asked, which he will be for his opinion on each. Besides, hes got his own staffing issues to resolve as well as player evaluations.

On that score, Lawrence mused about the passing-game coordinator possibilities. Weve both been around receivers coach Darryl Drake enough to appreciate Drakes personality, which I see as a mesh with O.C. (for now, anyway) Mike Tice. And Drake was O.C. at Baylor at one time. So while Greg Olsen has the NFL experience as coordinator, if youre looking for a straight-shooter in what he thinks, hard to beat Darryl Drake.

Picking the championshipers

As for the weekends outlook, I thought the New York Giants were a better team than the Green Bay Packers even if I was surprised at the way Green Bay schemed on defense, or rather, failed to scheme. I dont think San Francisco will be as cooperative as the Packers, which is why I see Jim Harbaugh in the Super Bowl he never reached as a Bears quarterback.

And New England-Baltimore? How do you pick against Tom Brady in Foxboro? The Ravens got to their Super Bowl with a mediocre quarterback (Trent Dilfer) because Ray Lewis was in his pure prime, which hes not now. Well see this weekend.

Former Bear Greg Olsen randomly walks into marriage proposal, catches whole thing on video

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USA TODAY

Former Bear Greg Olsen randomly walks into marriage proposal, catches whole thing on video

Scenario: you're walking down the street and randomly walk into a marriage proposal. What do you do?

For former Bear and current Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, the answer was to capture the magical moment on video. 

Olsen was in Nashville this week to give a keynote speech at a healthcare conference. While walking back to his hotel on Thursday, he randomly stumbled into a marriage proposal. His first response: hit record on his phone and capture the whole thing on video.

"Did she say yes? I got it on video, dude," Olsen said emphatically. "I'm going to send it to you!

"She said yes and I got it all on video, and you don't even know me, but I'm going to send it to you."

The couple, according to the Panthers, is Max Harvat and Brooke Hartranft. The two were visiting Nashville for the week, but Harvat didn't necessarily plan the proposal. It was as much of a sporadic moment for him as it was random for Olsen.

"Oh my god, you're my hero," Harvat said to Olsen after the proposal.

As it turns out, Harvat grew up a Panthers fan. However, he had no idea that Olsen was the person recording the proposal in the moment, only happy that someone caught it on video. When he stood up, he realized who the mystery man was.

“When I stood up, I looked over and I started having a mini heart attack," Harvat said to panthers.com. "I was like, ‘I’m 90 percent sure that’s Greg Olsen from the Panthers!’

“I'm a huge Carolina fan. I was like, ‘Oh my God, you're telling me that Greg Olsen just recorded the whole thing?’ I was so excited. It was amazing."

The moment wasn't just special for Havrat and Hartranft, though.

"It's the best thing I've ever witnessed," Olsen said in the video.

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Bilal Nichols eyes an even bigger impact for Bears in 2019

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USA Today

Bilal Nichols eyes an even bigger impact for Bears in 2019

Even if Bilal Nichols repeated his 2018 performance in 2019, the Bears would be lauded for unearthing a solid rotational player with a fifth-round draft pick. But Nichols isn’t resting on his rookie accomplishments, and is aiming to be an even more impactful player on the Bears’ defensive line as he enters Year 2 in the NFL. 

“More consistent, more dominant,” Nichols said. “That’s the biggest thing for me right now.”

Nichols was a top-50 run defender in the NFL last year, as rated by Pro Football Focus — he made a “stop” on 8.7 percent of his run defense plays, ranking 44th in the league (PFF defines a “stop” as a play that constitutes a failure for the offense). For reference, Akiem Hicks ranked eighth at 13.3 percent, Eddie Goldman was 17th at 11.6 percent and Jonathan Bullard came in 40th at 9.1 percent. 

Nichols’ biggest “stop” came in the Bears’ narrow Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, in which he dropped running back Chase Edmonds for a three-yard loss on a third-and-two play inside Bears territory just after the two-minute warning. While Nichols debuted a week earlier against the Seattle Seahawks and recorded a pressure of Russell Wilson, that play against the Cardinals was critical in an important victory for the Bears. It also proved to Nichols that what he was doing was beginning to work. 

“That was really a situation where I had cut it loose and went,” Nichols said. “I knew what i was doing on that play, I knew the possible things I could get from the offense and that was just a situation where I cut it loose and just played football. And I happened to make a big play. 

“I can’t wait to do that this year.” 

Nichols, as he was figuring out how to form a routine and study opponents in the NFL after making the jump from FCS-level Delaware, played a shade under a third of the Bears’ snaps last year as part of a rotation that proved critical to the team’s defensive success. Hicks played the most snaps (780), followed by Goldman (552) and Roy Robertson-Harris (353). Nichols (328) pushed Bullard (298) to the bottom of the rotation, which helped keep members of Jay Rodgers’ unit fresh and at their most effective when they were on the field. 

The Bears’ defensive line is arguably their best and deepest unit, one which can collapse pockets and stymie opposing run games (the latter of which is especially important, given the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions’ renewed commitments to running the ball this year). Nichols was already a big part of it in 2018, and may be an even bigger part of it in 2019. 

“Last year, I was still trying to figure things out, still trying to figure the league out, figure myself out as a player,” Nichols said. “And now that I got everything figured out, I’m just able to go. I could just play and play fast and cut it loose.”