I’m looking forward to the highlight video of the Bears’ top runs in 2018 being twice as long as they were last season. Alas, we’ll settle for 96 seconds of some of the Bears’ best work in the ground game from 2017:
- Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich is the one top assistant hired by the Bears this offseason who doesn’t have any NFL experience. Still, Nagy saw “a perfect fit” in Helfrich for the Bears offense moving forward. “Not just the run game and the things that they do off of that, but just knowing how to develop quarterbacks and handle quarterbacks,” Nagy explained. “It’s such an important position in this league and it’s a delicate position that has to be done the right way. It was a slam dunk the second I knew he was interested and got to talk football with him and people skills. It was a no-brainer.”
- Helfrich’s extensive history as a quarterback whisperer of sorts likely helped his cause more than anything. He coached quarterbacks at Boise Sate (1998-2000), Arizona State (2001-05), Colorado (2006-08), and Oregon (2009-12). The Bears’ coaching staff under Fox didn’t have much experience with quarterback development, but with Nagy, Helfrich, and the expected return of Dave Ragone, the Bears are in a better spot to develop Mitch Trubisky than they were at this time last year.
- Over at Scout.com’s Bear Report, Jeremy Stoltz breaks down film from Nagy’s first two drives as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. The personnel will be different when Nagy does his thing with the Bears, but the aggressive approach after being gifted good field position is encouraging. Kansas City put up 31 points in a loss, but Alex Smith posted a 135.9 rating, threw for 366 yards, and four touchdowns as a more vertical offense led to a better offensive showing than the Chiefs had grown accustomed to.
- Even though he was passed over for the Bears’ head coaching job, Vic Fangio was comfortable enough with Nagy and the team’s overall direction to stick around, writes Chris Emma of CBS Sports Chicago. Fangio explored his options as a free agent, but never closed the door on a return to the Bears. After playing the waiting game and watching potential landing spots hire other coordinators, Fangio returned after finding Chicago to be a comfortable situation for him.
- It would have been understandable had Fangio chosen to go elsewhere. For the second time in four years, Fangio was passed up for a head coaching job for a relatively inexperienced candidate each time. But Fangio said he doesn’t take it personal and doesn’t think he’s less qualified despite not getting the promotion to the top of the coaching ranks. Now, Fangio returns to a defense that ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense and yards allowed, but could be doing better.
- New Special Teams Coach Chris Tabor shared an interesting nugget during Thursday’s press conference:
Chris Tabor said the #Browns did not scout Tarik Cohen before the draft last year. “He did not come across my desk."
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) January 18, 2018
- Tabor got a first-hand look at Cohen during the Browns’ regular season meeting with the Bears in Week 16 and it shows that the new guy can’t wait to get his hands on Cohen to mold him into an improved return specialist. Cohen struggled at times in the return game, which was to be expected from a rookie who wasn’t asked to be a special teams performer at North Carolina A&T. Tabor has experience getting the best out of return specialists, most notably Josh Cribbs.
- Cribbs was a three-time Pro Bowler for the Browns in 2007, 2009, and 2012. He was also a first-team All-Pro nominee in 2009, a year in which he racked up 1,542 kick return yards and scored four return touchdowns — including three kickoffs. Cribbs picked up 12,169 return yards (punt and kickoff) and scored 11 touchdowns in eight years with the Browns. While he didn’t get the kind of offensive snaps Cohen received as a rookie, it’s OK to dream on Cohen parlaying his skills into a Pro Bowl appearance or two in the years to come if Tabor’s tutelage pays dividends.
- Also, this is one heck of a comp:
Tabor on #Bears returner Tarik Cohen: "I think he's a dynamic player." Calls him a young Darren Sproles. Says he was afraid of him when he played against Cohen Dec. 24.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 18, 2018
- Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic zeroes in on the Bears’ top four position needs heading into the 69th Senior Bowl. Wide receiver is at the top of the list, but needs at cornerback, edge rusher, and offensive line (guard/tackle) also project to be positions of need at this time. Free agency can (and ultimately, will) change things. But this gives us a clearer picture of what the team’s most immediate offseason needs will be.
- We discussed a number of the top wide receivers who will participate in the Senior Bowl next week. And while the Bears don’t have the advantage of coaching in it this year, there will be players plucked from this group who will be immediate contributors for some teams.
- Steve Palazzolo recently shared Pro Football Focus’ second mock draft, which features one Senior Bowl participant going first overall. As for the Bears, PFF’s Palazzolo sent Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams to Chicago with the eighth pick. To be clear, PFF’s mock draft are based on what they would do as a given team’s general manager and not what they think or hear will happen. Through that lens, a case can be made for Williams as a top-10 pick and the first offensive lineman off the board. Even though Williams was limited to just 332 snaps because of an injury, he’s been a stellar in pass protection and a strong lead blocker in the running game. Considering Bobby Massie has just one year left on his deal, it would make sense for the Bears to make the tackle opposite of Charles Leno Jr. a strength and further improve the offensive line in front of Trubisky and Jordan Howard.