I long for the days when the Bears will again be playing for the right to hoist the George S. Halas trophy:
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) January 17, 2018
It’s been far too long …
- Instead of prepping for a title run, the Bears find themselves gearing up for scouting season. After all, if you scout better talent, draft it, sign it, and groom it, you can also watch it grow into something that can make a postseason push sooner, rather than later. John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago writes about the lessons that can be learned from the NFL’s Divisional Round of the playoffs. To be the best, you have to beat the best. But since the NFL is a copycat league, it’s often that the league’s best serve to inspire the also-rans to do better in the years to come.
- One of the most interesting nuggets unearthed in Mullin’s piece is how the postseason teams have built their receiving corps. While it’s logical (and a popular idea, to boot) that the Bears would use the eighth pick on a receiver, it’s worth nothing that Stefon Diggs (fifth round), Tyreek Hill (fifth), and Antonio Brown (sixth) were late-round picks. Rob Gronkowski and Alshon Jeffery were second-rounders. Travis Kelce was a third-round choice, and so on. There is often talent to be had throughout the draft, so this handful of names should serve as a reminder that player development after draft day will be key to the Bears’ success moving forward.
- Also noteworthy: Adam Thielen was an undrafted free agent. That definitely didn’t go unnoticed by Bears wideout Tanner Gentry over the weekend:
— Tanner Gentry (@Tanner4Gentry) January 15, 2018
- Keeping with the wide receivers theme, Chris Emma of CBS Chicago explains what could be an aggressive plan to make changes at the position this offseason. It’s likely we’ll see subtractions, starting with Markus Wheaton whose injury issues were among the reasons he struggled in 2017. And while the team could re-sign leading receiver Kendall Wright or Dontrelle Inman (who were Trubisky’s favorite targets), Emma writes Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins (who will most likely get the franchise tag from the Rams), and Allen Robinson should pique the Bears’ interest in free agency.
- He also names draft prospects such as Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, SMU’s Courtland Sutton, Florida State’s Auden Tate, and Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown and possible targets.
- The receivers room was going to have a different look with an offensive-leaning head coach, a new system, and new coaches in the room. But it’s up to GM Ryan Pace to find the right fits for the roster. Pace has drafted just two receivers since arriving in Chicago. Can you name them? I’ll save you the time and trouble: Kevin White (1st round, 2015) and Daniel Braverman (7th round, 2016). At a minimum, Pace has to attack the receiver position in 2018 with the same vigor he did with quarterback in 2017. Preferably, the free agent receiver gives better results to that position on the field than what Mike Glennon did at quarterback.
- Brad Biggs’ mailbag is always full of nuggets and/or tidbits, and this edition is no different. Biggs expects the Bears to add rookies and experience to their mix of receivers via the draft and free agency. The Bears tried to dip into a higher end of the free agency pool in 2017 before settling on Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, and Victor Cruz. Biggs notes Kenny Stills and Ted Ginn Jr. “took significanlty less money elsewhere” rather than sign with the Bears.
- Perhaps having Mitch Trubisky under center could help turn the Bears’ free agent fortunes. The Bears’ quarterback situation when free agency opened last year was a tough sell after parting ways with Jay Cutler and committing to Mike Glennon on what was essentially a one-year “prove it” deal. With Trubisky in tow, there is a sense of stability that could make the Bears a more attractive situation.
- Retaining Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio was a boon for Matt Nagy and the Bears, so keeping his staff in tact keeps the good news coming on the defensive side of the ball. Alex Marvez of Sporting News tweets Linebackers Coach Glenn Pires and Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Roy Anderson are both returning to the staff. Pires has more than 20 years of NFL coaching experience and will enter his fourth season with the Bears, while Anderson returns for a second year in Chicago.
- With Fangio and Anderson back in the fold, I’m curious what that could mean for Kyle Fuller’s future. Fangio and Fuller seem to have a close relationship that was built over the last two seasons, as it appears Fangio’s tough love approach helped push Fuller’s arrow into the right direction. Fuller was a key member of the Bears defense, and while he didn’t come up with as many interceptions as he possibly could have, there is no possible way to downplay his value to the defense in 2017.
- Even though Eagles Quarterbacks Coach John DeFilippo didn’t get the Bears job, he might have done enough to secure a second interview elsewhere:
Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo remains a strong candidate for Cardinals head coaching job, per source, expected to get 2nd interview once season over. Impressed in Bears HC process.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 16, 2018
- In other coaching news, the Texans are interviewing Packers assistant Darren Perry for the team’s open Defensive Backs Coach position. Perry, who had a nine-year playing career with the Steelers and Saints before jumping into the coaching world, has coached Packers safeties in 2009 and interviewed to be the team’s defensive coordinator before that job went to Mike Pettine.
- Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports the Dolphins have hired away Lions Defensive Line Coach Kris Kocurek, who has been with the team since 2009. Kocurek served under Jim Caldwell and Jim Schwartz, which means his move to Miami reunites him with Ndamukong Suh, the fearsome defensive lineman who signed with the Dolphins in 2015. Kocurek becomes the third defensive assistant to depart Detroit, joining Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin and defensive line assistant Matt Raich.
- Odell Beckham seems to be excited about the Giants’ expected hiring Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur:
God really works in mysterious ways….let the journey begin…. I’m geeeked https://t.co/3tbOTPcSl1
— Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) January 15, 2018