'Win one for theLovie?'


'Win one for theLovie?'

Lovie Smith wont be confused with Notre Dame legend Knute Rockne in terms of demeanor or success rate. Indeed, where Rockne once supposedly urged his team to win one for the Gipper, in memory of former teammate George Gipp (played by Ronald Reagan, you may recall), Lovie Smith has kept himself decidedly out of the hokey motivation business.

MORE: Keeping Score -- The Marshall Ratio that failed

His reasoning: There already is enough stress flying around the locker room and Halas Hall without injecting concerns about his own contract future. Besides, his is a veteran team that has felt all year that its time is now.

More than just for Lovie, you want to win it for us, said linebacker Lance Briggs. Win it for us. If youve enjoyed your time here in Chicago and the way that Lovie has treated you and us together and this camaraderie that we have, then win for that.

If Lovie is not here, that goes -- that goes with him. Ive enjoyed every moment of being here, here in Chicago. And I dont intend on that changing.

RELATED: Lessons beyond Bears' own Pro Bowl'ers -- Draft very, very well

Reaching the playoffs would be a massive boost for Smiths chances of returning for a 10th season as Bears coach. But players have their own motivations beyond helping Smith stay employed in Chicago.

It would mean the world to me to get to the postseason, said wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Yeah, Im hungry for that.

Could a new head coach be coming to Bears/Packers rivalry?


Could a new head coach be coming to Bears/Packers rivalry?

Will 2018 be the final season of the Mike McCarthy era in Green Bay?

Albert Breer of MMQB made an appearance on Boston's 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday. During a segment of "Toucher & Rich," Breer said if the Packers (4-5-1) do not make the playoffs, 2018 will be McCarthy's last season as Packers head coach.

“Yes, I think it’s one of those situations where there’s friction between the quarterback and coach and part of it is I think Aaron has been frustrated for a while about the amount of help that he’s been able to get," Breer said. "McCarthy clashed a little bit with the front office over getting Aaron that help because he wanted to bring in veteran players.

"When Ted Thompson was still the general manager there, and he was until January, there were issues as far as, ‘Is he listening to me?’ And they changed things, to their credit, like to some degree this offseason; they bring in Jimmy Graham, they sign Muhammad Wilkerson, they were more aggressive with veterans.

"There’s just the feeling there, I think, that the time with Mike McCarthy has sort of run its course. When they initially hired McCarthy, that was after Ted Thompson kept Mike Sherman for a year and that’s the point they are now with a new general manager, Brian Gutekunst.

"You think after this year, there’s probably a decision point coming and it feels a little bit to me like Andy Reid at the end in [Philadelphia]. Mike McCarthy is not a terrible coach, but maybe everyone could use a fresh start.”

Let's face it: Aaron Rodgers and McCarthy have been on a reign of terror in the NFC North and NFC as a whole since McCarthy became Packers head coach in 2006.

Under McCarthy, the Packers have made the postseason nine times, including eight with Rodgers under center. As the Packers head coach, McCarthy is 19-7 (including the postseason) against the Bears, winning the last five matchups between the two rivals.

Of course, Rodgers deserves a ton of credit for the Packers' success against the Bears, though McCarthy's influence cannot be ignored. Breer said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could be a candidate to replace McCarthy as Packers next head coach.

"Two years ago, Josh McDaniels was in the [49ers'] coaching search until the very end," Breer said. "And one of the things the Niners were looking at was pairing different people together.

"When Josh McDaniels was in the running for that Niners job...the guy who at the time had emerged as the front-runner for the general manager job...and who had blown the Niners away was a Packers personnel man named Brian Gutekunst, who now is the (Packers') general manager."

McDaniels has previous head coaching experience with the Broncos in 2009 (8-8) and 2010 (3-9). He notoriously changed his mind last offseason after agreeing to become the Colts' head coach, choosing to stay with the Patriots instead.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.

Can consistent playing time lead to Bears' LG James Daniels improving?

USA Today Sports Images

Can consistent playing time lead to Bears' LG James Daniels improving?

As the Bears search for a fix to their lagging running game, a solution could be developing within their offensive line. 

Second-round pick James Daniels’ season has been divided into thirds so far: He didn’t play in the Bears’ first three games, then split reps with Eric Kush in the next three, and now has played every snap in the Bears’ last three games. While Daniels felt that soft landing of sorts, in which he rotated in and out on a series-by-series basis, was beneficial, getting consistent playing time has, in turned, help make him a more consistent player. 

“It’s taught me that I need to focus on my technique because I’m not good enough, I’m not big enough or strong enough to just block people without any technique,” Daniels said. “When I’m in the games I just need to be super-focused, dialed in on the play, on the snap count and what my job (is) and how I need to do it, just things like that. 

“… It’s just taught me to be better — of course, everybody I block, I have to be super focused. In college, you could get away with stuff. But here you can’t get away with it.”

Daniels, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades, had his best game of 2018 last week against the Detroit Lions. While it didn’t result in the Bears’ getting much out of their running backs — Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 36 yards on 18 carries — the Bears did see what he was able to do in that game as a step in the right direction. 

“His consistency is good,” coach Matt Nagy said. “He’s learning. He’s a kid that I think Harry (Hiestand) right now is doing a good job of making him understand that there are going to be times where you’re going to be beat but making sure that he improves in those areas. Leverage-wise, one of his strengths is when he does lose leverage or maybe misses a block a little bit he can recover well.”

Perhaps it’s unfair to single out Daniels here, though that comes with the territory of being a second-round draft pick. But the Bears’ interior offensive line hasn’t had personnel consistency, lurching between five combinations of guards in nine games: Kush and Kyle Long played the first three games, then Kush and Daniels rotated opposite Long for the next three. Daniels and Long started against the Jets, then Long got hurt, leading to Kush and Bryan Witzmann rotating at right guard with Daniels starting at left guard against the Bills. Sunday’s game against Detroit was the first time since Week 3 that the same two players — Daniels and Witzmann — played every snap of a game at left and right guard. 

The point here being that the interior of the Bears’ offensive line hasn’t been settled for almost two months. Consistent playing time for Daniels could help settle it, so long as he continues to grow with those regular snaps. 

“Just being totally confident in what he's doing — we believe 100 percent in that guy,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “And just being completely convicted and confident at what he's doing and then the second is experience. For some guys, the first thing has to happen before the confidence comes. We need that to kind of, whatever it is, believe it before you see it type of confidence is hard sometimes for a young player.”