Bears

Proposals for safety rule changes headline owners meetings

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Proposals for safety rule changes headline owners meetings

BOCA RATON, Fla. – NFL owners aren’t specifically trying to make theirs a kinder, gentler game, but a couple of proposals up for votes at this week’s owners meetings do take the league a little further in that direction.

Among the 19 proposals up for consideration from originators ranging from the league’s Competition Committee to the Baltimore Ravens are: banning all chop blocks; ejecting players guilty to two personal fouls of selected types in one game; expanding the definition of horse-collar tackles to include grabbing the uniform in the nameplate area; and moving the starting point after touchbacks on kickoffs, from the 20- to the 25-yard line – effectively giving a five-yard bonus to teams and returners who down the ball rather than attempt to run it out in hopes of bettering the start point at the 20.

Defensive players have long decried chop blocks, where a blocker hits a defender in the knees or back of the legs while the defender is already engaged elsewhere. Those blocks have been legal in clearly identified areas during a play but now would be banned entirely. The block also has typically drawn a fine regardless of whether the infraction was penalized at the time.

[MORE: The hand Dowell Loggains was dealt with the Bears]

Odell Beckham Jr.’s multi-play attack on Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman did not result in the New York Giants wide receiver being ejected. But it could now.

Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested during Super Bowl week that player ejections for two egregious fouls would be considered. The Committee is now suggesting that specific unsportsmanlike conduct penalties could lead to ejections:

  • Throwing a punch or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent, even though no contact is made.
  • Using abusive, threatening or insulting language, or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials or representatives of the league.
  • Using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams.

Ejections would not be automatic but the intent is to make clear that officials have that option, and it will not necessarily require two flags for that ejection.

And Peyton Manning may be gone, but he’s not forgotten, at least in the minds of former opponents. The Kansas City Chiefs have put forward a proposal that quarterbacks not be allowed to slide down, then get up an throw a forward pass, as Manning did in the Denver Broncos’ playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Baltimore Ravens did not like what they considered subterfuge by the New England Patriots.

The league is also considering making permanent the setup of PAT kicks from the 15-yard line as the line of scrimmage. If there’s an irony here, it is that one of the chief critics of the PAT as it previously stood was New England coach Bill Belichick, whose Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game after a costly miss from the new distance by All-Pro kicker Stephen Gostkowski – one of 71 such misses in the 2015 regular season.

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller has quickly become a fan favorite on social media. He has the confidence and swagger found in most top wide receivers and it comes through on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Miller was one of 40 players in attendance at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere where he not only learned about the business and marketing side of football, but also suited up in his Bears gameday uniform for the first time. Of course, he shared the moment on Twitter:

Panini America, a sports collectible company, snapped a picture of Miller with fellow rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (Falcons) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (Steelers):

Miller has become something of a standout for the Bears despite not playing a single snap. He's expected to have a big role in an offense that has several new pieces and roles that are up for grabs.

Miller will compete with former first-round pick Kevin White and free-agent addition Taylor Gabriel for reps opposite Allen Robinson. Miller has the necessary skill set to play as both an outside receiver and in the slot which should give him an even greater opportunity to be on the field quite a bit.

The Bears first three draft picks are all vying for starting jobs in 2018. Roquan Smith (first round) is a lock to start next to Danny Trevathan and James Daniels (second round) will start at guard. Miller should make it three-for-three in a draft class that could end up the best of Ryan Pace's tenure.

Ryan Pace ranked among bottom-third of NFL general managers

Ryan Pace ranked among bottom-third of NFL general managers

Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace is having what many believe is his best offseason since taking the job in 2015, but after three seasons and only 14 wins, he needs a big year in 2018 to justify the confidence ownership has in him. 

According to a recent breakdown of all 32 general managers, Pace ranks among the worst decision-makers in the league.

No. 23: Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears

There’s only so much you can accomplish in one spring. The problem is that Pace let himself accumulate so many needs to begin with. He needs Trubisky and Nagy to springboard a fourth-year turnaround. 

The rankings didn't include six new GM hires, which makes Pace's positioning even more troubling.

Even though the Bears haven't seen wins on the field, Pace has done a solid job through three draft classes and appears to have the right coaching staff in place. His first hire, John Fox, was a calculated move by a rookie general manager to have an experienced football guy to lean on. Now, several offseasons later, the team is starting to take on his identity.

Despite all the talent Pace has added through the draft and the slow but steady transformation of the team's overall culture, it's a win-now business and if his blueprint doesn't start producing more wins than losses, it will be hard to justify more time and patience for his plan to develop.