Chicago Bears

Former Eagles QB coach Bill Lazor hired as Bears offensive coordinator

Former Eagles QB coach Bill Lazor hired as Bears offensive coordinator

Nick Foles’ horse whisperer finally has a new job.

The much-traveled Bill Lazor, Foles’ quarterbacks coach during his historic, record-setting 2013 season, is the Bears’ new offensive coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Bears are Lazor's sixth organization in the last 10 years.

Lazor has been out of football since he was fired as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator a year ago this week.

In Chicago, Lazor replaces Mark Helfrich, who the Bears fired after the end of the season. Helfrich came to the Bears after he was fired at the University of Oregon, where he was Chip Kelly's offensive coordinator and replaced Kelly as head coach when Kelly was hired by the Eagles in 2013.

One of Kelly’s first hires when he got to Philly was Lazor, who had been offensive coordinator at Virginia the previous three seasons.

In his one year working with the Eagles’ quarterbacks, Foles had his big year — his first big year — with 27 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions and two more TDs in a playoff loss to the Saints.

His 27 touchdowns set a NFL record for most TD passes in a season by a quarterback with two or fewer interceptions. Tom Brady broke that record in 2016. He tied an NFL record when he threw seven touchdowns against the Raiders in Oakland.  
 
Foles in that one year with Lazor led the NFL in touchdown percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating with a 119.2 mark that remains the 3rd-highest in NFL history.

Lazor’s work with Foles earned him the offensive coordinator job with the Dolphins in 2014. His first year, the Dolphins ranked 11th in the NFL in scoring, their highest ranking since 2001. But after the Dolphins went 6-10 the next year, Joe Philbin and his entire staff were fired.

Lazor then spent a year coaching QBs with the Bengals before two years as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

In Chicago, he will work under head coach Matt Nagy, who had just been fired as part of Andy Reid’s staff when Kelly hired Lazor. But the two haven’t worked together.

Nagy and Lazor have one other thing in common: Both coached Foles. Nagy was the Chiefs' offensive coordinator in 2016, Foles' one year in Kansas City.

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Derrick Gunn's top NFL games to watch in Week 16

Derrick Gunn's top NFL games to watch in Week 16

Here are my games to watch for Week 16 of the NFL season:

BILLS at PATRIOTS — Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on NFL Network

Usually, New England has the AFC East wrapped up by now. They’ve won the last 10 straight division titles and 15 of the past 16. This season, the Bills are not ready to concede the title so easily. Back in Week 4, the Bills gave the Pats all they could handle, but Josh Allen threw three interceptions and left with a concussion. Buffalo is in the postseason party for the second time in three seasons, but for them that’s not enough; they feel they can take the division from New England. Two good defenses will be on display Saturday afternoon in Foxborough. Until further notice, New England is still king of the division hill. Buffalo will make a game of of it, but the Bills won't cash in.

RAMS at 49ERS — Saturday at 8:15 p.m. on NFL Network

The Rams are still licking their wounds from getting mauled by the Cowboys. Jared Goff has a bruised thumb on his throwing hand, but the word is he should be fine. The Niners are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Last Sunday they got tripped up by Atlanta. A mild setback, but San Fran can still win the NFC West (win out vs. Rams and Seahawks), and the No. 1 overall seed is up for grabs. The Rams are a big play offense with 66 pass plays of 20-plus yards, but the Niners have the defensive personnel to diffuse them. San Fran went on the road and won the Week 6 meeting between the two. The Rams' hopes of getting back to the Super Bowl will end in Santa Clara.

SAINTS at TITANS — Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX

What a season it's been for New Orleans. Drew Brees gets hurt, Teddy Bridgewater holds down the fort for six games, Brees comes back and becomes the new all-time leader in touchdown passes. His favorite target, Michael Thomas, is also on a record-setting pace, needing just 11 more catches to break Marvin Harrison's single-season reception total (143). The Titans lost a heartbreaker last week against Houston in a battle for first place in the AFC South, and it may have broken their playoff spirit. Tennessee is currently the seventh seed and needs help elsewhere. The Saints are on a mission, and unfortunately for Tennessee, this is not the season we remember the Titans.

CHIEFS at BEARS — Sunday at 8:20 p.m. on NBC

The Bears were making playoff noise having won three in a row until Green Bay officially put their postseason hopes in hibernation. So now, Chicago just wants to finish the season strong. K.C. has gotten hot at the right time. They are champs of the AFC West and winners of four straight. Patrick Mahomes is playing well but not at an MVP level (three INTs in his last four games), yet has weapons galore to choose from. The Chiefs' defense has been playing much better. K.C. will win its fifth straight and the Bears will fall one game below .500

PACKERS at VIKINGS — Monday at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN

Schedule makers knew what they were doing when they made this rematch a Week 16 heavyweight showcase. The Packers won the Week 2 preliminary bout. It's hard to figure out who these Packers are. Their offense is not explosive and their defense is generous, yet they’ve won 11 games. The Vikings went on the West Coast and demolished a Chargers squad that manhandled the Packers a few weeks ago. Aaron Rodgers is 13-8-1 as a starting QB vs the Vikes. In those 22 games, Rodgers has completed 67.9 percent of his passes, thrown 44 touchdowns, has six interceptions and a 109.3 passer rating. The Vikes' run game could suffer if Dalvin Cook (shoulder) is sidelined. Minnesota is the only unbeaten team at home in the league. They’ll make Green Bay pack it in this time to pull even in the standings. Which means the division outcome won't be decided until the final game of the season.

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NFL Week 15 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

NFL Week 15 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

Here are my games to watch for in Week 15 of the NFL season:

Bears at Packers — Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX
The Bears are growling again. They have three straight wins and are playing like a playoff team. The only problem is their many stumbles along the way have them at just 7-6, and currently the No. 8 seed in the NFC playoff pitcure. They travel to Green Bay with revenge on their minds, still remembering the season-opening loss to the Packers. That the Packers are 10-3 — currently the No. 2 seed in the NFC — is amazing in itself. Defensively, they stop either the run or the pass but never both in a game. Offensively, they don’t score a lot of points and rarely win impressively, but the bottom line is more times than not they have found a way to win. First-year head coach Matt LeFleur has his squad believing in his system. The Pack will rack up their 11th W at Lambeau.

Texans at Titans — Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS

One team is exciting by land, the other by air. Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins gives defenses fits weekly. Tennessee RB Derrick Henry is a battering ram. These two are currently tied for the lead in the AFC South but after getting blasted by Denver last week, Houston is still in control based on best win percentage in division games. The Titans are currently the No. 7 seed. Since QB Ryan Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota after Week 6, the Titans have won six of their last seven and four in a row. Houston has the capability of rising up for big games with wins over the Patriots and Chiefs, but the Titans are hot, and I’m going with the hot team at home. Side note: They'll meet again Week 17.

Vikings at Chargers — Sunday, 4:05 p.m. on CBS

The only thing the Chargers have left to play for is pride and the Vikings are jockeying for better seeding and a possible division title. Under Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have not fared well when traveling west, sporting a 1-6 record in road games played in the Mountain or Pacific time zones. Two of the Chargers' five wins have come against the NFC North. The Vikings' defense is starting to jell again and they’ll need cohesiveness on D because Philip RIvers' offense can light it up at any given moment. The Vikings know what’s at stake — it wont be easy, but they’ll find a way to get the job done.

Rams at Cowboys — Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on FOX

Don’t look now, but the Rams are starting to play like the team that represented the NFC in last season’s Super Bowl. They’ve won three in a row with the offense functioning like a well-oiled machine and the defense making plays. As for Dallas, fans are calling for heads to roll, starting with head coach Jason Garrett. They’ve lost three straight and haven’t beaten a quality opponent all season. With that said, they somehow still control the NFC East. They have the the talent all over the field, yet don’t have the wins to show for it. What should have been a promising season will be a disaster if they don’t find a way to rebound and make the playoffs. Sorry, Dallas, until you prove otherwise, you’re just not ram tough enough to win this one.

Bills at Steelers — Sunday, 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Just when it looked like Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin would have to endure his first losing season in Pittsburgh, his squad has risen from the ashes. A team that was 1-4 at one point is now 8-5, riding a three-game winning streak, and currently the sixth seed in the AFC. What’s even more impressive is that Tomlin is using his third QB of the season. Rookie free agent Devlin “Duck” Hodges has been on the winning side on all three of his starts. The defense has tightened the loose gaps and is playing 'Burgh ball. The Bills have been writing an incredible story of their own. They are currently the fifth seed and just one game behind New England in the AFC East. Buffalo is striving for its first 10-win season since 1999. It will also be Buffalo’s first Sunday night appearance in 12 years. Two good defenses in this one. Two teams hoping to move one step closer to solidifying a playoff spot. This one has the makings of a brass knuckles brawl with the Steelers delivering the final knockout blow.

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