Bears

A little more on this whole CutlerO-line thing

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A little more on this whole CutlerO-line thing

The brouhaha over Jay Cutler saying that the offensive line is a concern until things sort out at the tackle and guard spots probably wont subside until the Bears go maybe five straight games averaging, oh, say 130 rushing yards and more than a rushing TD a game, and only have Cutler sacked maybe once a game.

Oh, wait. That already happened, the last five games of Cutlers season last year ending with the thumb injury vs. San Diego.

Never mind.

Brian Davis over at Yahoo Sports took a different tack on the Cutler comments, suggesting first that you really listen to the interview. Good suggestion.

As Ive said previously, Cutler said that there were concerns until its sorted out where players will be, how well Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams are coming off season-ending injuries, and seeing how JMarcus Webb works out (which should be worth watching if only because hell have a season and an offseason at left tackle, where he only started playing after the lockout last year).

Carimis return is expected well ahead of training camp. And the overall tackle situation already was upgraded when it was obvious early this offseason that Chris Williams was going back to his more natural position of tackle. Thats already an upgrade from Frank Omiyale, the swing tackle last season.

Which of Webb or Williams emerges as the starter or the swing tackle is what camp and preseason are about, but since both have played right and left tackle, this is a considerably stronger position than it would have been with a rookie going into development at this point.

Cutler did not trash his offensive line. Period. Any more than the linemen saying quarterback is a concern until they see that Cutler is all the way back from his broken thumb.

One interesting point of Cutlers comments was that the linemen still need to block even without Mike Martz making the calls. This is evincing concern that they wont? Isnt that obvious?

Cutler is a proven contrarian in his media moments. Not necessarily contentious, but if someone says, the new system under Mike Tice should help, shouldnt it? Cutlers obvious response is that, hey, it doesnt mean you dont still have to block.

But for what its worth, for those who didnt see the Martz light and realize it wasnt at the end of a tunnel but rather an oncoming train:

Before Martz arrived in Detroit, Jon Kitna was never sacked more than 37 times in any of nine previous NFL seasons. With Martz, Kitna was sacked 63 times in 2006 and 51 times the next year, his two seasons under Martz. That was with an offensive line containing three No. 1 draft picks and a No. 2.

This isnt new stuff. And neither is the obvious that the Bears offensive line has to pass-protect on third-and-8.

But if you dont like Lovie Smith, you dont like anything he says about his personnel. If you didnt like Jerry Angelo, whatever he did about the offensive line -- the one that had something to do with the Bears being No. 9 in rushing yards (10th in yards per carry) for the year and sixth in scoring when Cutler was hurt -- was bad.

That just didnt happen to be what Cutler was saying. You heard what you wanted to hear.

Charles Leno, Jr. on Harry Hiestand: 'He's getting us better'

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USA Today

Charles Leno, Jr. on Harry Hiestand: 'He's getting us better'

Chicago Bears left tackle Charle Leno, Jr. has outplayed expectations after joining the Bears as a seventh-round pick in 2014. General manager Ryan Pace rewarded Leno for his play with a four-year, $38 million extension last offseason, committing to the former Boise State product as the Bears blindside protector for the immediate future.

Leno joined his teammates at the team's annual Bears Care Gala on Saturday and said new offensive line coach Harry Hiestand is going to make the group better.

"We love Harry, let's just get that out of the way," Leno told 670 the Score's Mark Grote. "Harry is a great coach. I saw what he did for guys that he coached in college and the guys that were before us here in Chicago. He's getting us better."

Hiestand's efforts at Notre Dame produced four first-round picks: Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley, Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey. He brings a no-nonsense coaching style back to Chicago, where he last served under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. 

STANKEVITZ: In Harry Hiestand, Matt Nagy hits a home run on his first swing at Bears' coaching staff

Leno enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017. His 80.4 grade from Pro Football Focus was the best of all Bears linemen and his highest overall mark over the last four years. He finished 15th among all tackles graded by PFF last season.

Regardless, Leno still has to impress his new coach just like every other offensive lineman on the roster. The Bears haven't added any competition for Leno, but his fate as the team's long-term answer at left tackle could be decided by Hiestand.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”