Roquan Smith

How Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith will be critical to the Bears' defensive transition 

How Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith will be critical to the Bears' defensive transition 

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — As the Bears’ transition to Chuck Pagano’s scheme kicks into high gear during training camp, they do so with the benefit of two inside linebackers who the team’s best player believes can be All-Pros in 2019. 

“You can say that's a large task for those guys,” outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. “But I don't think it will be.”

Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith are the nerve center for the Bears’ defense, and in 2018 were one of the league’s best inside linebacking duos. From a communication and leadership standpoint, it’s hard to think of a better player to have leading that Vic Fangio-to-Pagano switch than Trevathan, a seven-year veteran who won a Super Bowl four years ago and had a strong 2018. 

From a pure talent standpoint, having Smith in the middle of this defense is, of course, massive. And that’s not discounting Trevathan’s own athletic skills (he had two interceptions and over 100 tackles last year) and Smith’s football I.Q. and leadership. 

“(Smith) wants to be great,” Trevathan said. “That’s why we fit so well. We can play off one another. We both can run, we both can hit, we both like this game of football, man.” 

Smith and Trevathan worked well together in 2018 despite Smith holding out of all of training camp, then getting injured shortly after signing his rookie contract in mid-August, leading to him participating in about one and a half preseason practices. While on one hand the success enjoyed by Smith (and Mack) last year is a mark against the importance of training camp, the Bears do believe having Smith and Trevathan grinding together in Bourbonnais will have a positive impact. 

“They got some of that last year that they didn't have in training camp, but now, learning Chuck's defense and how that's going to go, any communication that they can get is going to be beneficial,” coach Matt Nagy said. “They both know each other now, their strengths and weaknesses. And they're both different. You got one savvy vet, you got a young guy coming in that is so hungry to be greatest ever to play the position so they mix well together.”

Smith, for what it’s worth, dismissed any talk of him being an All-Pro — “That's high praise but I'm just trying to be the best version of myself whether that's All-Pro or not,” he said — but his drive to be great isn’t in question. He’ll probably get more All-Pro and Pro Bowl buzz than Trevathan this year. 

But don’t discount Trevathan’s impact on the Bears. He was the vocal leader of the NFL’s best defense in 2018 and started all 17 of his team’s regular season and postseason games. The 30-year-old — and free-agent-to-be after this season — is a vital part of what made the Bears’ defense great in 2018, and remains a critical reason why those around this team believe there won’t be a drop-off with a new coordinator in 2019. 

“In my mind, I believe that I am All-Pro,” Trevathan said. “I might not have been there, but in my mind to this team, to my brothers, I want to practice and show up in games like a pro. My mentality is that I’m a pro. If that happens, I’m not worried about that stuff. I’m worried about getting my team better, getting my guys better. 

“That stuff will happen. And Khalil knows what he’s talking about. He’s been to the Pro Bowl, so if he said that, I know that for sure.” 

And now, a very scientific debate into just how fair all the Bears' Madden Ratings actually are

And now, a very scientific debate into just how fair all the Bears' Madden Ratings actually are

It’s Madden Rankings Day, which can be a blessing I guess but certainly feels like mostly just a curse. You can see where each and every Bears player landed right here, or just take a look at this here tweet: 

Now let’s quickly break this down into tiers, going from Fair to Debatable to Honestly What Gives Madden: 

FAIR 

Khalil Mack (99) - Extremely fair! 

Eddie Jackson (91) - Inarguably fair! 

Eddie Goldman (85) - Most likely fair! He does not get much love because Akiem Hicks happens to be like, one of the most underrated defensive tackles in football, but Eddie Goldman is a starting caliber player. We’ll allow it! 

Leonard Floyd (77) - Probably fair! Floyd grades out in the mid-to-high 80’s when it comes to Speed, Acceleration, and Agility, and sags behind a bit when it comes to Awareness and Strength; that’s sort of always been the book on him. If he finishes the season at a 77, though, it probably didn’t go well. But for now, this feels fair.

Eddy Pinerio (66) - Fair for no reason other than the Bears’ kicking battle probably deserves a D. Sorry, Eddy. 

DEBATABLE 

Mitch Trubisky (75) - I get it - being told the starting QB of the team you root for may not be all that good is personally insulting on the highest level. It’s rude, and honestly how dare they. Did they even watch certain halves of Bears games?! Like Floyd, if Trubisky finishes the season at his current rating, Year 2 went sideways. 75 *does* seem to shortchange him a bit, but there’s also a pretty good argument to be made that this is right on. One might call it debatable! 

Roquan Smith (81) - He lead the team in tackles! And started in 14 games this season as a rookie! It’s the Awareness score (77) that’s keeping him in the low 80’s, which doesn’t seem accurate. 

Anthony Miller (75) - I get that he was hurt, but 75?! His Awareness (75) and Strength (68!) drag down what are otherwise high 80’s, low 90’s across the board. This blog boy’s personal opinion is that Anthony Miller is extremely for real and could easily end up as Madden’s highest-rated Bears WR when the season’s done. 

HONESTLY WHAT GIVES MADDEN 

Akiem Hicks (87) - Honestly what gives Madden? On the surface, 87 is not a bad score, and I have 18 years worth of report cards that would be happy to back that up. But Akiem Hicks is a 90+ player. Speed and Agility scores in the 60’s brings down his average, neither of which seemed to play a huge role in limiting his Pro Bowl level production. 87 for Hicks might be the most scoff-worthy score of them all. 

Cody Whitehair/James Daniels (81/77) - They’re viewed as the future of the Bears’ line, but realistically are way more the present. They’re also listed at the wrong positions, which, eye roll. I know that these aren’t entirely updated to reflect the present but come on guys, this switch was common knowledge back in March. Honestly Madden what gives?

Dax Raymond and Chase Daniel having the SAME rating (63) - Nothing against Dax, who will hopefully be terrific. But, mannnnn, that is disrespectful. An undrafted rookie getting the same ranking as a 9-year veteran who is, by most measures, considered one of the better backup QBs in the NFL. He’s certainly paid like it. 63! Put some respect on his name, Madden. What gives.

Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith bask in ‘linebacker heaven’ at Bears100 Celebration

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USA Today

Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith bask in ‘linebacker heaven’ at Bears100 Celebration

When Dick Butkus talks, you listen — especially if you’re a former first-round linebacker entering his second year in the NFL. 

So what did Butkus tell Roquan Smith this weekend at the Bears100 Celebration?

“Pretty much Butkus was like, ‘Just be violent. By all means be violent, that was his main thing,” Smith said. 

Otis Wilson, the linebacker who won a Super Bowl with the Bears in 1985, had similar advice for Smith. Though perhaps the lesson is more about being physical than being, well, that physical. 

“I probably wouldn't have a game check and then (would have to) give them some of my signing bonus,” Smith said, when asked how much money he’d stand to lose if he strictly followed Butkus and Wilson's advice. 

For Smith and Danny Trevathan, the opportunity to meet with Butkus, Mike Singletary and other former Bears linebackers had significant value. While Brian Urlacher backed out at the last minute due to some self-reported digestive issues, there still was a wealth of linebacking information and experiences congregating in Rosemont over the weekend. As Trevathan put it: “This is linebacker heaven.”

While Smith chatted with Wilson and Butkus — Smith won the collegiate Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker, his final year at Georgia — Trevahtan was able to pick the brain of Singletary. Trevathan had previously read one of Singletary’s books but hadn’t met him before this weekend, and said he can’t wait to apply the lessons he learned this upcoming season. 

“I just know that it’s going to carry over with us because we have so much respect for those guys, and anything they say, we’re zoomed in, we listen to everything that they’re saying because we know that they did it before,” Trevathan said. “And this ain’t no regular (person) talking. It’s somebody that really came in here, worked their tail off and actually reaped the benefits of it. So we know we have to go out there — the window of opportunity is so small.” 

While the Bears100 Celebration was ostensibly a fan event, with autograph tables and activities and merchandise for the thousands that came through the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center last weekend, it was much more than that. It was an opportunity for old teammates to re-connect and tell stories.  

And it was an opportunity for current Bears players to learn from the wealth of information possessed by the living Hall of Famers and hundreds of players who congregated in one place for a truly special weekend. 

“I’m rarely fanned out, but when I see those group of guys, just the foundation and the history that’s here — 100 years Celebration — yeah, I was definitely star-struck just to be around them,” Trevathan said. “And (getting) to have a conversation with them, talk about life, talk about football — those are the type of things you can’t really put a price on.”