Bears

View from the Moon: A Super Bowl in March?

386877.jpg

View from the Moon: A Super Bowl in March?

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011
7:18 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A Super Bowl in March? It could just about happen.

CSNChicago.com spent some time with an NFL player rep talking over some of the dizzying details of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The result was a few new perspectives on whats on the table, and what the upshot could be.

One was simple calendar math and the Super Bowl. If the 18-game season being sought by the NFL owners comes to be, you add two weeks to the season for those games. Fold in a second in-season off week and now youre adding three weeks. Owners are offering Labor Day plus the second off-week, but thats pretty much what the players already have most years.

The 2010 Super Bowl was played Feb. 6. Last seasons was on Feb. 7. Add three weeks to that and you are just about into March.

What also happens is that offseason programs usually begin in March, meaning that recovery time, whether from offseason surgeries or just general healing, loses almost a month.

A nasty domino chain.

The consensus does seem to still be that nothing will settle by Mar. 4 and probably not until right up against the season itself. The NFL walking out of a negotiating session last week isnt definitive in any respect except that people looking to get something done arent walking out of meetings.

Staff stuff
Offensive line coach Mike Tice was expected to be in play for job openings this offseason after the job he did through the Bears 2010 season. The Tennessee Titans, under new head coach Mike Munchak, have interest in Tice as offensive coordinator, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune on Sunday.

The Bears would need to give permission for Tice to interview, given that he has one year remaining on his Chicago contract and that this is not for a head-coaching job.

This puts the Bears, and Tice, in an interesting situation. Lovie Smith is a supporter of staff getting opportunities, and assistants Chris Tabor (special teams) and Eric Washington (defensive line) already have moved to new gigs.

But Tice is a core member of the current Bears staff and had considerable support to become the Bears offensive coordinator before the decision was made to hire Mike Martz. If the Bears arrow continues to point upward, Tice very likely has a future in Chicago. He was an integral part of the in-season turnaround by the offense and already has considerable clout in game-planning.

Oh, and Munchak was the Titans offensive line coach before Jeff Fisher left this offseason.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

david_montgomery_terms.jpg
USA Today

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

The Bears were pleased with what they saw from their overhauled running back room during non-padded OTA and minicamp practices during the spring, but consider that an incomplete evaluation. 

David Montgomery, in particular, impressed with his quickness, athleticism and route running. Nothing Mike Davis showed dissuaded the team from believing in the free agent signing’s untapped potential. Positive things were said about seventh-round pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. and second-year undrafted free agent Ryan Nall. 

The only running back returning from 2018’s unit is Tarik Cohen. But while Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and the Bears’ talent evaluators did their homework on their new players, they won’t really get to see what they have until the pads come on in Bourbonnais (Nagy expects the first padded practice of training camp to be Sunday). 

“I know (Montgomery) kept asking coach, ‘when do we put the pads on?” Pace said. “And so we’re to that point. One of his greatest strengths is his contact balance and his ability to break tackles, and now we’re at a point where that can be showcased.”

It’s one thing for a rookie to stand out during OTAs and minicamp. Tight end Adam Shaheen did two years ago, bodying up NFL-caliber defenders to make some impressive plays in those non-padded practices. But he faded when pads came on in training camp and didn’t play a significant role in 2017’s dour offense. 

The Bears believe Montgomery’s ability to break tackles — he forced the most missed tackles among FBS running backs in 2018 with 99, per Pro Football Focus — will translate to the NFL, giving their ground game a dimension it didn’t have in 2018. Jordan Howard avoided 22 tackles on rushing attempts last year, 28th in the NFL and nearly half the total of Kareem Hunt. Hunt appeared in 11 games (five fewer than Howard) before the Kansas City Chiefs released him after video surfaced of him pushing and kicking a woman; Montgomery’s style of play has favorably been compared to Hunt’s.  

As for Davis, Pace said: “I think I feel like he’s a little bit under the radar right now. Mike’s had a great offseason and we’re fortunate to have him. That’s a strong room — we talk about the receivers, we feel the same way about the running back room. And Mike Davis is a real important part of that.”

The Bears feel like Montgomery, Davis and Cohen leading their running back room will allow them to be less predictable and more efficient on offense. Last year, Howard carried the ball two-thirds of the time he was on the field, while he was targeted with a pass on just six percent of his plays. Yet no skill position player (except Mitch Trubisky, of course) was more involved in the Bears’ offense last year — 33 percent of the Bears’ total plays involved Howard. 

All three of the Bears’ top running backs in 2019 will be expected to catch passes out of the backfield as well as running the ball with a blend of efficiency and explosiveness. We’ll begin to find out this week in Bourbonnais if Pace’s overhaul of that corner of his depth chart will produce the results the Bears’ offense needs. 

Confirmed: Vic Fangio is still grumpy as hell

usatsi_12833638.jpg
USA Today

Confirmed: Vic Fangio is still grumpy as hell

Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is starting his first (overdue) season as an NFL head coach. 

It's his first time running the show, making the rules, etc. One particularly important rule that Fangio has emphasized to start the year? Music has no place on the football field! 

Fangio won't be playing music during practice because, as noted Grump Bill Belichick can attest to, if you're having fun, you're not getting better. Here's his rationalization: 

"There's no music in games. And when it comes to the point where we need to simulate crowd noise in practice, which we will do, it will be noise. It won't be music," said Fangio, via NFL Network's James Palmer. "Noise, by definition, sounds annoying. Music sounds nice."

He's not wrong - music DOES sound nice. That's about where he stops making much sense, though. 

Vic Fangio: still kinda grumpy!