Seventh-ranked Bears defense done with 'new' label


Seventh-ranked Bears defense done with 'new' label

During an interview with before the start of the season, John Fox was a realist about how he anticipated his first season as Bears coach playing out:

“Our first four games, and a little preseason, there’ll be a learning curve,” Fox said. “Whenever you have a new staff, it’s just not as well-oiled early. Going back to both places I’ve been (Carolina, Denver), it didn’t start great. By the time you finish that first year, then it consistently gets better because you have some core players that know your system.

“It doesn’t happen overnight, even from just the learning curve. Forget about the ability level; it’s knowing and understanding the system.”

Indeed, the “new” excuse was there for the taking when Vic Fangio was hired as Fox’s defensive coordinator: “The Bears are changing over to a 3-4 scheme” ... “don’t have all the players that fit it” ... “even the ones that might fit have to learn new teammates and Fangio’s system.”

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But after throttling the Raiders and allowing just 243 yards, the Bears rank No. 7 in yards allowed. They have allowed just two rushing touchdowns through four games and just two offensive touchdowns of any kind to Oakland and one to Seattle.

The Bears aren’t interested in the “new” label anymore.

“I don't think it's a ‘new’ defense,” linebacker Sam Acho said. “I think it was new in April, maybe in May, maybe even in June. But come August and September, it's not new anymore.

“This is our defense, we're taking ownership of it, and there's definitely areas we can grow and we can grow as unit, but it's not new anymore, it's starting to become our own defense.”

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Some of the early going, as Fox predicted, was rocky, for reasons beyond just orientation into the Fox-Fangio system. The Green Bay Packers are the No. 8 offense in yardage, the Arizona Cardinals No. 3. Before Sunday, the Oakland Raiders were No. 5. Arizona ranks No. 2 in scoring, the Packers No. 6, the Seattle Seahawks No. 11 before Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions.

But besides individual player performances, the confidence level in the Fox coaching staff is palpable. And with confidence comes success, and vice versa.

“Vic is just a great teacher, he understands the game,” Acho said. “It's almost like he wrote the book on defense and how it's played.

“Obviously everyone has their different mentalities, different styles of defense, but he just understands it and understands the game in a way that we can go out and play fast and play physical and he knows what it takes to win and play good defense and that's what we do.”

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.

Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:

Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85). 

Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.

Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.