Bears

Shea McClellin getting best opportunity with new Bears staff

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Shea McClellin getting best opportunity with new Bears staff

One member of the Bears’ former coaching staff described linebacker Shea McClellin as “just sufficient,” a barely adequate NFL player but nothing special. Lovie Smith once refused a directive to move McClellin to middle linebacker.

The incoming Bears staff already has a considerably higher early opinion of the 19th overall pick of the 2012 draft.

“I think he’s got a chance to be a good inside linebacker,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who knows something about “good inside linebackers” from his years with the likes of NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis and others. “We’re going to give him a full opportunity and full chance to learn the position so we can evaluate him and see if that’s a good spot for him.”

[MORE: Kevin White faces stiff rookie expectations from Bears, NFL]

Coach John Fox earlier said that McClellin would be going to inside linebacker, and McClellin has been slotted as one of the starting inside linebackers, alongside free agent signee Mason Foster, in the early offseason going. Whether McClellin holds onto the position when Lamarr Houston and Jonathan Bostic return from injuries is a position competition worth watching through the offseason.

“He’s got good size, he’s got good athletic ability, I think,” Fangio said. “He has been hindered, I think, by being moved around. To no fault of anybody’s, just the way it goes.”

Coincidence or pure chance perhaps, but Fangio named McClellin and linebacker Christian Jones right after mentioning cornerback Kyle Fuller as a individuals he could build upon. Obviously the likes of Pernell McPhee, Antrel Rolle and a couple of others are far higher in the “building block” hierarchy but the implication was that McClellin has made a better early impression, on film and on the field, with this staff than he had with his previous one.

When the Bears finally gave up trying to force-fit McClellin into a defensive end position, moving him to linebacker last offseason was viewed as a much-needed do-over. And it was, to an extent. McClellin was credited with 84 tackles by Bears performance accounting, good enough for fourth on the Bears.

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But McClellin’s total of 32 solo tackles tied for ninth, and while former GM Phil Emery consistently posited that McClellin had a much greater rate of creating disruptions and impact, it was not apparent to most observers and analysts.

The team in fact elected not to exercise the fifth-year option on McClellin’s rookie contract, meaning he comes out of contract after the current season.

Now it appears that McClellin is getting perhaps his best chance at NFL success, fittingly perhaps in the very scheme – 3-4 – that most evaluators considered best for him prior to his being drafted in 2012. As a double irony, his chance is coming, not under the GM that drafted him and had a vested interest in his success, but rather an entirely new coaching and front office.

“You know, when he came out of college he was a versatile guy, he played a lot of different positions and maybe now it’s time to lock him down into hopefully an inside linebacker spot,” Fangio said. “But if it doesn’t work out, maybe we move him back out, but I want to see him at inside linebacker for awhile… .

“I think he’s got good instincts. He’s got some size, he can run, I think he can be a good blitzer from in there. So just a little bit of everything.”

Soldier Field to host drive-in movie screenings through July

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NBC Sports Chicago

Soldier Field to host drive-in movie screenings through July

You're probably not going to be able to watch the Bears at Soldier Field any time soon, but next week you'll be able to watch a movie there! That's kind of the same! 

That's because a program called 'Chi-Togther' "will provide Music Entertainment and Movie Screenings each night that will also include carpool-style concerts plus food and beverage options for all ages."

The event will be held in Soldier's South lot, and anyone who signs up will get a free popcorn! Honestly, it's worth it  just to get out of the house and grab yourself some free kernels. 

Movies being screened include Groundhog Day, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Fast and Furious (hell yeah). Also Shrek. 

12 greatest Chicago Bears wins in Soldier Field history

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USA TODAY

12 greatest Chicago Bears wins in Soldier Field history

The Chicago Bears franchise celebrated 100 years of football last season but there are a few more notable anniversaries on the horizon.

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Bears football at Soldier Field. And the columned stadium itself, which opened in 1924, is nearing the century mark.

While the franchise played a vast majority of their home games at Wrigley Field in its early years, a smattering of contests took place at the lakefront facility. The first of which was a 10-0 win over the Chicago Cardinals on Nov. 11, 1926. 

The Bears moved away from Wrigley Field after the 1970 campaign, landing at the AstroTurfed Soldier Field the following season. The team’s first game there — as official tenants — gave the franchise a positive jolt. A late Kent Nix touchdown pass gave the Bears a 17-15 victory over coach Chuck Noll’s Pittsburgh Steelers in front of a capacity crowd. The win was one of the bright spots in an otherwise pedestrian 6-8 season.

Alas, there were better days ahead.

Let’s take a look back at the 12 greatest Bears wins at Soldier Field:

12 greatest Bears wins in Soldier Field history