Bears

Players bought into the motivation

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Players bought into the motivation

The news of the New Orleans Saints having a 'bounty system' that paid bonuses for injuring players on opposing teams shocked the NFL world on Friday. Former Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and the team could be facing major penalties by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Former NFL safety and CSNChicago.com Contributor Matt Bowen played for two seasons with the Washington Redskins under Williams and checked in on SportsNet Central on Saturday to discuss this issue with Chris Boden.

"I was involved in it and I'm not saying it's right, but I also know how it works. It's going to get a little embellished over the next couple days, couple of weeks.

Bowen continued: It's a practice that's been going on for a long time. I would say if you question all 32 teams you would find a little of this in every NFL city."

Bowen talked about the players deserving the blame just as much as the coaches.

"It was mostly player run. I'll take the heat myself as a player. It was something we organized mostly ourselves. I don't think it's a good practice, but I bought into it. It was a motivational tool, all those things are motivational tools; try to get a pick, try to get a big hit and you got rewards for that on the field."

Boden brought up a good point and asked Bowen: If Greg Williams was a great motivator than why were bounties even necessary?

"The bottom line here is I think we all bought into the motivation. From coaching to the players, we all thought about it as more as a way to get more production on the field. Whether that was that big hit, a game changing interception, whatever it was. We used it that way and we kind of advanced the motivation ourselves."

With concussions and season-ending injuries running rampant in the NFL, Bowen explained how violent the game is and how everyone's jobs are the line.

"I don't think it has any place in youth football, high school or college. Defensive football, whatever level you're playing at, you have equipment on. You're going to go after people. You tackle hard, you hit hard, you finish ball carriers to the ground, that's how you play and if you got a little extra incentive in the NFL, so be it. That's how it works."

"Live I've said many times before. This isn't a very nice game. It's a violent game, it's controlled violence, but there are those situations where as a player you kind of toe that line a little bit because it's the business of winning. That's what it is. This isn't everyone gets a trophy, this is win or you lose your job, coaching staffs lose their job as well."

In Week 2 against the Saints, the Bears saw Earl Bennett leave the game with a chest injury. Bennett would go on to miss the next five weeks. In that same game, Gabe Carimi was lost to a season-ending injury. Bowen gave his input on if he thought New Orleans targeted any of the Bears' players.

"No, because I wasn't down in New Orleans. I don't know if they were still doing it or not. Now I do. Now I look back, I'm sure there were guys that were targeted. Target wide receivers, go after Jay Cutler a little bit."

Finally, Bowen was asked if he had any idea what the punishment for Williams, former teams and current players that participated would be.

"I think the NFL is going to come down hard and I agree with them. Coach Williams is going to have to stand up and take the punishment. You might see a loss of draft pick, suspension, fine, whatever it may be, the NFL is going to try to make an example of it and I don't blame them. They need to correct this and this a good way to do it."
Do you agree with Bowen's comments? What do you think the punishments for the Saints and Gregg Williams should be? Let us know in the comment box below.

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

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USA Today

Why 'Turbo' Taylor Gabriel fell in love with the slow-paced game of golf

Plenty of NFL players will use the league’s mandated five-week summer break to play a little golf as a way to relax and recharge for the grind of training camp and regular season. But you won’t find many players who take golf more seriously than Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. 

Which is a little ironic on the surface, right? Gabriel’s nickname is “Turbo,” after all. 

“Yeah, that’s very weird when I think about it,” Gabriel laughed. “It’s not a sport to where you’re running and jumping, and I wouldn’t say not doing anything really athletic — it’s more mental than anything. 

“But I feel like it kind of helps me football-wise in the sense of kind of focus. Like dialing in on that swing, keeping that same swing rhythm pattern, not getting too frustrated after I just sliced a drive or go O.B. on the driver. So it’s helping me.”

Gabriel had played sporadically earlier in his life, and said his father golfs, but didn’t get hooked by the sport until last April while watching Tiger Woods win the Masters. He bought his first set of nice clubs after that remarkable weekend in Augusta and frequently posts videos of his swing to his Instagram account.  

So it’s become a serious hobby of his — “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t practice,” he said. It’s also something he and his wife do together. 

Though he admitted his wife is a better golfer than he is. 

“She’s not trying to crush the ball, she’s not trying to do too much, but she keeps that consistent same rhythm, same swing, same follow-through every time,” Gabriel said. “Me, I might see the hole is probably 180 (yards) out, I mean, I just want to crush it on the green. And that’s when everything goes wrong.”

Still, for someone who’s only been seriously golfing for about two months, that Gabriel said he can consistently hit his drives 240 yards is rather impressive (being an exceptional athlete, certainly, has to help). But this isn’t some casual love affair with golf — it’s a legitimate way for Gabriel to take his mind off football while staying sharp mentally and doing something he’s quickly grown to genuinely enjoy doing. 

“It’s relaxing, just playing 18 holes — I’m a walker, I like walking,” Gabriel said. “Eighteen holes kind of figuring out your swing, what you did wrong, you know what I mean, just being on the golf course, relaxing, the atmosphere. But at the end of the day I’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve been hitting them pretty straight, I’ve been putting them pretty good, so I guess I’m catching on quick. 

“But every time I ask a golfer, I mean, how long did it take for you guys to get a consistent swing, they say 20 years. I mean, I got that to look forward to.”  

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

It didn’t take the Bears long to see how valuable Khalil Mack is to their defense, elevating the group from the moment he first stepped on the field.

He’s been among the league’s best outside linebackers since he first broke out in 2015, and the analytics back up the eye test.

He was the highest edge defender on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 50 players in the NFL, and their “wins above replacement” metric shows why.

It’s Mack and Von Miller, then everyone else.

“Foremost, Mack is a slightly more complete player than Miller when it comes to defending the run,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “Yes, run defense is significantly less important than an edge rusher’s ability to disrupt the quarterback, but with so little difference between the players, everything gets put under the magnifying glass.”

Over the past four seasons, both players have exactly 49 sacks, although Mack missed two games over that span. The Bears outside linebacker has the edge in interceptions, forced fumbles and tackles for loss, most coming with a lower quality defense around him than what Miller has had in Denver.

It’s no surprise Ryan Pace was willing to trade multiple first-round picks to make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. He’s the best in the league.

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