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2018 Off-Season Report
Last season the Bears were four quarters away from bringing the Lombardi back to Chicago. The NFC North champs seemed like a dark horse from early on. In a fierce division tucked inside a competitive conference, very few would have pegged the Bears as the eventual NFC champions. But here things stand a few months later, an NFC title banner in tow, and a chip on the shoulder after a loss in the big game. Let's take a look at what the Bears have been up to, and what to expect in 2018.
Additions and Subtractions
Heading into the off-season, the Bears front office had a primary focus and began dealing with it right out of the gate: the secondary. Chicago was ranked dead last in passing yards allowed last season. Dead last. Sure, you can try to make excuses and come up with logical reasons to not put the blame fully on the defense. "Well, the Bears were ranked sixth in points per game. Opposing offenses had to air it out to keep up..." Please. There's no good excuse for allowing almost 300 yards a game through the air. Let's put it into perspective... since the GZL merger only one other team has allowed that many passing yards per game. One. The Bears brass knew they had to plug up a hole, so they did. As soon as the off-season hit, Tampa Bay placed former 1.1 pick CB Morris Claiborne on the block after running into salary cap issues, and the Bears pounced. Claiborne is about as elite as they come, and will instantly change the face of the Bears' secondary. But Chicago didn't stop there. They also brought in CB Jimmy Smith in a trade out of Detroit. Smith is the complete package, a physical freak and fantastic in coverage. While Smith doesn't have time on his side, he still has plenty left in the tank. His addition alongside Claiborne might give the Bears the scariest CB combo in the entire GZL. If Rex Ryan can't improve their pass defense with these two in his arsenal, you can guarantee he'll be working elsewhere in 2019.
A noticeable trend in Chicago's moves this off-season is pivot away from developing youth, and a realigned focus on pure talent. In the past several years the Bears have acquired picks and have been almost exclusively building through the draft. Overall, the team is young and learning. Perhaps it was a taste of the Lombardi, or the back-to-back NFC North titles, but the Bears are clearly leaving a development phase and seem to be in a "win now" mentality. It wasn't just the acquisition of veteran studs like Claiborne and Smith. It was almost every acquisition. For the first time in years, the Bears traded away picks, or opened up their pocket books, in order to bring in veteran talent. And boy did the talent come...
The Bears also said goodbye to a few players this off-season, most noticeably WR Jessie Hendricks who was traded to Tampa Bay in the Claiborne deal. Hendricks quietly put up great numbers in his three years with the Bears, reaching over 1,000 receiving yards every season. With the glaring hole at CB, and freak WR Mike Evans ready to take WR1 control, the Bears felt confident that letting Hendricks go wouldn't hurt them. And with the arrival of WR Kenny Britt and WR Percy Harvin (and his mega contract) it seems safe to say that Collin Klein should be just fine.
The other two notable losses this off-season would be CB Vontae Riggins and OLB Calvin Hamilton. Riggins was clearly expendable after Claiborne and Smith arrived, and the Bears shipped him to Green Bay for essentially a 1st & 2nd. There were also reports that Riggins' musical career had taken too much of his focus off of football, and there were locker room rumblings that he was more concerned about Instagram tagging JayZ and Beyonce than learning the playbook. He saw very little field time aside from kick return duties. The loss of OLB Hamilton may be the one that stings most long term, however. With the resigning restrictions in place, the Bears knew that Hamilton would hit the market as Match Eligible, and decided to move him now for something rather than risk lose him later for nothing. He was traded to Carolina in exchange for their 2019 1st Round pick. OLB Jonathan Casillas will fill Hamilton's role fine this year, but at 31 he is clearly not a long term solution.
For the first time in several years, the Bears had mostly a quiet draft. By the time the clock started they were armed with only a few picks to their name. Here are their selections...
1.28 CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
IEO fell in the draft for purely one reason: his height. At 5'10" he is hardly matchup proof. But he brings elite athleticism and smarts to the table, and could easily find himself at 99SPD/90AWR heading into his third season in the league. With the Claiborne/Smith combo entrenched as starters for the next couple of seasons, Ifo won't be rushed in and will have time to adapt to the GZL. The Bears had a greater need for young stud OL, but went BPA with their first pick in grabbing a special talent like IEO.
2.28 WR Alton Steele
Steele had a very productive collegiate career at Appalachian State, and broke the school record for receptions mid-way through his senior year. Originally slated as a late 1st Round prospect, he had his draft stock tank after a poor 40 time at the combine despite putting his strength on display. Though he lacks polished athleticism and elite stature, Steele has fantastic hands and should be able to contribute in moving the markers.
QB Travis Sullivan
A solid backup quarterback was high on the Bears need list heading into the off-season. The Bears had no real hope in pulling out a Super Bowl win when QB Collin Klein went down with an injury in the first half. Enter Travis Sullivan. Sully (as his teammates call him) impressed scouts on his Pro Day with accurate passing and solid mechanics. He also had the highest Wonderlic score out of any other QB in the class. Sullivan was never considered franchise QB material though, due to his lack of arm strength. But in a system that can allow a guy like Collin Klein flourish, Sully may have found his perfect fit.
It's fairly easy to say that the Bears improved this off-season. They gained more firepower than what they lost, and will even enter next year armed with two 1st Round Picks. The question now remains will the new additions mesh on the team and will the coaching staff continue to fire on all cylinders, improving on the issues from last season. Only time will tell, and in a division as tough as the NFC North literally anything is possible.
Good luck and goodnight. And for those of you Chicagoans who missed it, here is our very own Jadeveon Clowney gracing the cover of last month's Sports Illustrated...
-Jensen Watson, Bears Beat Reporter, SB Nation
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 01/08/2015)||Replies - 4 :: Views - 42|
|Bears Press Conference Scheduled|
|Before these get out of control, we will schedule one, too. Post questions for myself and for Bill Belichick below. He may show up if he is in a good enough mood.
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 12/19/2014)||Replies - 9 :: Views - 99|
|Bears Involved in First Big Trade of Off-Season|
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 12/15/2014)||Replies - 0 :: Views - 30|
|Bears Playoffs: Clowney Calls Out GM Patel|
Mel Kiper's 2021 Mock Draft
Bears' defensive end phenom Jadeveon Clowney is pissed, and he wants you to know. "I couldn't be more excited to face the Cardinals this week. We'll see just how 'lazy' I really am," Clowney quipped in a press conference this week. He is referring to the Cardinals GM Adarsh Patel's comments back in the spring during the GZL Draft. Patel considered the Bears using such a high pick on Clowney a "head scratcher" and called Clowney "fragile" and "lazy", also alluding that his stamina concerns will lead him to coming out "every 3-4 plays." Jadeveon led the GZL in sacks during the regular season, tallied two more in the Wildcard Round, and is a front runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
"It still stings that I didn't go 1st overall in the draft, to be honest. I still have a lot still left to prove. I've only just begun," Clowney continued during his press interview. He concluded by apologizing to Christian Ponder, saying that any pain he endures on the field this Tuesday he can thank his GM for.
-Jensen Watson, Bears Beat Reporter, SB Nation
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 11/24/2014)||Replies - 3 :: Views - 45|
|GZL Player Spotlight: CB Vontae Riggins|
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 07/19/2014)||Replies - 7 :: Views - 97|
|Bears Draft Recap (w/ audio)|
The Bears Draft: Day One
1.4 DE Jadeveon Clowney
The man. The myth. The legend. Clowney will enter the league as possibly the best pass rusher in GZL, and will only get better. He's a once in a generation player. Some mocks had him going at 1.1. Did I mention the Bears had no LE on roster when the draft opened? Perfect combo of value and need.
1.9 WR Mike Evans
There's a lot of debate on the best WR in this draft class, but it's hard to argue that Evans isn't a monster. He will become the only 6'5" 95SPD wideout in the league, with Megatron finally in his twilight years. Evans will be able to stretch the field, or move the sticks. Did I mention he's tough as nails? He's quite the ideal WR1. We all saw what he did for Johnny Football's career. We can all now hear Collin Klein rejoicing off in the distance.
1.31 CB Vontae Riggins
The Bears entered the off-season with a depleted CB corp. They are also on the heels of a miserable season in stopping opposing pass offenses. The front office brought in some heavy vet presence like Vontae Davis and Greg Toler, but it was clear they needed some youth for the future. After passing on Stonewall and Gilbert in the Top 10, the Bears found some value in the late 1st. They moved up from 2.7 to take Riggins, who has a decent ceiling to become a solid corner in GZL. He's got the smarts and athleticsm. He was also a phenomenal kick return specialist at Florida.
Rounds 4-7 to come.
-Betsy Green, Bears Beat Reporter, SB Nation
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 07/02/2014)||Replies - 5 :: Views - 93|
|Bye Bye Brady, Hello Cam & Rex|
And just like that, Tom Brady's stay in Chicago is over. Brady spent his first year as a GZL coach with the Bears as their Offensive Coordinator and helped elevate QB Collin Klein's career to a new level. But just like a rat who gets a whiff of some rotting cheese, Brady has fled the scene in chase of the almighty dollar and a Head Coach position. He will man the helm for the New Orleans Saints. Have fun in that humidity, Gisele.
But no matter. In to take his place at OC, is long time coach Cam Cameron. CC spent the last three seasons in Tennessee, and brought the Titans to the playoffs all three years. Respect.
On the defensive side of things, Al Harris was shown the door after a pretty pedestrian 2016 season, including being ranked nearly dead last in stopping the pass (though that Stafford guy didn't help, either). So in steps Rex Ryan, who needs no introduction. Despite being long time rivals, Rex jumped at the opportunity to coach under Bill Belichick. "I've already lost tons of weight. Why not lose some of my pride, too?" Rex stated during a press conference this week.
Belichick. Cameron. Rex.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't $%#@*& lose.
-Betsy Green, Bears Beat Reporter, SB Nation
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 06/11/2014)||Replies - 4 :: Views - 66|
|Bears Clinch NFC North and Bye Week|
NUTSHELL NEWS: PLAYOFFS!
::Bears clinch the NFC North; it is their first division title since 2010::
::This will end a four year playoff drought::
::Bears also secure first round bye::
::Team MVP, QB Collin Klein, is hopeful to return to the field for the first playoff game after dislocating his elbow in Week 13::
::QB Matt Schaub helped keep the playoff push momentum going, winning 2 out of 3 games as the starter since Klein's injury. Rumors indicate Schaub would like to remain in Chicago next season, currently happy with his role on the team::
::Will the Belichick/Brady combo continue to find success in the post-season? Divisional Round here we come::
-Jensen Watson, Bears Beat Reporter, SB Nation
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 04/30/2014)||Replies - 7 :: Views - 61|
|Chicago Bears: Update from Camp (sponsored by DONRUSS)|
Looking Back, Looking Forward
2015 proved to be an interesting year for the Chicago Bears. After starting the year at 7-3, things looked promising. Led by the rookie halfback Bronze Pittman, the Bears were able to put up points and control the clock. They were on top of the division, and even had a two game lead over the favored Packers. But suddenly something shifted, and the Bears got quickly off-track. Inconsistent quarterback play by Jay Cutler led to a stalled rushing attack, and thus a stale offense. The Bears' D gave up over 30 points consistently, and the team went on to lose 5 straight. They finished the season at .500, and missed the playoffs (though just barely) for the fourth consecutive year.
They were bright spots, however. WR Jesse Hendricks was able to string together a respectable rookie season (76 Receptions, 1000 Yards) and was the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. HB Bronze Pittman also excelled in his rookie year, despite cooling off later in the season. He rushed for over 1400 yards and 7 touchdowns. Veteran CB Zachary Bowman had a career season, and led the league in interceptions with 11. He was also a consideration for GZL Defensive Player of the Year, a title that was eventually given to Vikings' MLB Luke Kuechly. Bowman's fantastic season led to a big payday, when Washington lured him to town to the tune of $10M.
When the dust settled from aches and pains of 2015, the Bears' front office decided to not shake things up too much when it came to the coaching staff. Offensive Coordinator Terry Shea was shown the door, after only spending one year on the payroll. More than likely the collapse of the offense during the back half of the season was to blame. The Bears then brought in HoF QB Tom Brady to helm the offensive playcalling, reuniting him with his long time coach, and friend, HC Bill Belichick. The highly publicized move was praised in Chicago, and brought back some hope heading into the 2016 offseason.
Notable Offseason Additions
QB Collin Klein
Acquired: Trade - Oakland
Cost: 2nd + 3rd
It was clear the front office wanted to make a change at QB, after Cutler's disappointing efforts continued, and the clear fact that he would never become a mentor. Enter Collin Klein. The young journeyman will call Chicago his third home, despite only being in the league two years. He has top tier awareness and accuracy, but his lack of arm strength has been his Achilles heel. The Bears' front office was excited about the addition, though, as they feel they have the future of the franchise on board, and he came at a discount price. "Collin will likely finish his 3rd season at 98AWR/97THA. And we didn't even have to spend a 1st?"
HB Arian Foster
Acquired: Free Agency
Despite finding their bell cow in Bronze Pittman, the Bears looked to Free Agency to bolster their backfield. Even though he has lost a step, Foster was easily the best running back in the open market, and will make a hefty tandem alongside Pittman for the 2016 season.
QB Matt Schaub
Acquired: Free Agency
After the Cutler trade (which we will talk about later), the Bears went on a hunt for starting caliber QB who could be leaned on in the event that Klein isn't able to click in Chicago. After nearly pulling the trigger on a few trades, the head office got wind that Matt Schaub would not be returning to Indy and would become an unrestricted free agent. Having ample cap room, the Bears figured they could land him, and did. Schaub has the ability to win, and could possibly push Klein for the starting job.
CB Cary Williams
Acquired: Trade - Carolina
Vet CB Williams spent a good amount of time on the trade block, and it seemed Carolina was eager to get him off their books. Due to their ample cap room, the Bears were able to get Williams on the cheap for just a 7th Round pick. While Williams is not a long term solution, is mix of decent height/speed/awareness will mean he should find playing time this season.
WR Roddy White
Acquired: Free Agency
The Bears' deep pockets brought in another Pro Bowler in WR Roddy White. Roddy still has the ability to play at a high level, and will serve as a mentor to the young wideouts on the team (most importantly 1st Round Picks, Jesse Hendricks and Billy Crockett).
CB DeMarcus Van Dyke
Acquired: Free Agency - Match Eligible
Lacking any corners who could keep up with deep threats, the Bears went heavy after Van Dyke. DVD is in a small group of corners who have his rare blend of height and speed. While he still lacks the awarness to be a shutdown corner, the front office believes that DeMarcus will be worth the development put into him.
Notable Offseason Subtractions
QB Jay Cutler
Reason: Trade - Jacksonville
Acquired: Future 1st
After the acquisition of Collin Klein, Jay Cutler was placed on the trade block. A week later, Cutler was removed due to lack of interest. Perhaps it was his lack of a mentorship capability. Within hours of his removal from the block, however, Jacksonville swooped in waving their future 1st. A deal was instantly struck and Cutler (and a future 3rd) was shipped off to the Sunshine State. It was an end of an era in the Windy City. Cutler has been at the Bears' helm since the GZL merger, and brought them to a Super Bowl appearance in 2010. Most Chicagoans will tell you that they are glad Cutler is gone, however, and are looking forward to this new chapter. The only downside to his departure is the fact that GM Laurenson must now change his signature banner.
OLB Akeem Ayers
Reason: Trade - Cincinnati
Acquired: Current 2nd + Future 2nd
Ayers is one of those players who is good at everything, but not really great at anything. Since being drafted in the 1st Round of 2012, he has quietly done his duty with little fanfare. He hasn't been bad, but he hasn't really made his mark yet. Being in a contract year, the Bears decided to let him move on to greener pastures as they had no intentions on resigning him. They were able to land 2.1 and a future 2nd, which they felt was a good deal considering a decent OLB crop in the draft class.
2016 Draft Recap
1.18 - WR Billy Crockett
6'1" | 94SPD | 65STR | 95AGI | 97ACC | 76CTH | 92JMP
The target here was WR. The Bears knew that in such a deep WR class, 1.13 should guarantee them a stud. Crockett will be a perfect compliment to possession receiver Jesse Hendricks. While Hendricks is the big bodied guy who can move the chains, Crockett is the one will spread the field. Collin Klein rejoice.
2.1 - TE Cris Jones
6'4" | 83SPD | 75STR | 85AGI | 87ACC | 85CTH | 72BTK | 55RBK
The Bears saw their 3 targets go in the 5 spots before them here, so decided to go with what they thought was the best player on the board. Jones is possibly the best pure pass catcher in the entire draft, including WR. He has the physicals to be a gamechanger and the skills to make an impact immediately. He will likely be mentored by TE Greg Olsen over the next season or two before starting full time.
2.9 - OG Byron Coles
6'4" 328lbs | 63SPD | 94STR | 62AGI | 81ACC | 75PBK | 84RBK
Offensive line is a weak spot on the roster, and was a target here in the draft despite not the strongest of OL classes. Coles is more of a project and will have to fight to start his rookie season. He is a physical specimen and is second only to freak OT Michael Millen in this draft class. His pass protection needs a lot of help, but there's no reason to think that he could be a Pro Bowler several seasons from now.
2.25 - RE Marc Thomas
6'4" 293lbs | 81SPD | 78STR | 77AGI | 84ACC | 65TAK
Thomas is the poor man's Amos Houston. He is a bit slower and a touch weaker than Houston, though he is much larger than the 1.5 DE (and also not an injury risk). While Thomas will never be a complete stud, he fills a big need for the Bears and has the chance to start from day one.
3.15 - OLB Shyrone Mills
6'2" 246lbs | 82SPD | 71STR | 82AGI | 83ACC | 85TAK
Mills is very similar to OLB Ayers who was traded away this offseason. He is solid all around, but not anything super special aside from being a proficient tackler. He will fill the hole at ROLB for the upcoming season.
5.17 QB Mark Cameron
5.30 DT Mike Weiss
6.10 LE Marco Baker
7.3 LOLB Raymont Clarke
link: KLEIN vs SCHAUB
This will be the battle to watch and will likely rage into the regular season. Because of his youth, and the hope that he can be the long term solution for the position, it's expected that Collin Klein will be the starter in Week 1. However, the Bears want to win and compete in the division, so expect Schaub to be given a chance very quickly if Klein struggles.
link: COLES vs WARFORD
OG Larry Warford is in his RFA tender year, and will be fighting for his place on the roster beyond the 2016 season. Rookie Byron Coles trumps Warford in the physical department, but is sloppy at pass protection. Due to his youth and upside, we expect Coles to be the starter. If he fails at keeping Klein (or Schaub) upright, we could see him benched by midseason.
After a less than inspired 2015 season, hopes are running high again in the Windy City. Punctuated by new quarterbacks, a Hall of Fame offensive coordinator, a Pro Bowl free agent haul, and a respectable draft, the Bears are primed and ready to face off in the tough NFC North. Every division game will be key this year, with the only true goal being a playoff appearance to end the 4 year postseason drought.
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 12/31/2013)||Replies - 5 :: Views - 63|
|Brady & Belichick; Bears Acquire New Starting QB?|
When deciding where to start his coaching career, Tom Brady says the choice was crystal clear. This past week the Hall of Fame quarterback signed on as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears. Brady will be reunited with head coach Bill Belichick, whom he spent his entire professional career playing for. "Despite all our years together, I know I still have plenty I can learn from Bill. I'm excited to get going." After another disappointing offensive output this season, the Bears hope that Tom can help ignite the team's passing attack. Brady and his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, were spotted house hunting in the Lakeview area days after the announcement of his hiring.
The Bears then made their first bold off-season move, days after the Brady signing, by trading for Raiders' QB Collin Klein. The two year pro has yet to find a place in the league, after originally being drafted by the Bengals before being shipped to Oakland. For a player his age, he has excellent pocket awareness (92) and boasts elite accuracy (94). But Klein saw his draft stock plummet, after a poor pro day where he seemed to prove his doubters right, truly exposing his lack of arm strength. The Bears gave up 2nd & 3rd round picks to acquire Klein. GM Laurenson claims that keeping their "1st round pick was important", and they feel they got good value on Klein. "We feel confident that Klein can be the future of this franchise. Whether he starts this year, or next, I think he is capable of having the keys handed to him." GM Laurenson has never shied away from smart QB's with weak arms, and has had success with them before. It's unclear if current incumbent, Jay Cutler, will be with the team come Week 1, as early reports are saying he is on the trade block. Head coach Belichick declined to comment on issue.
-Jensen Watson, Bears Beat Reporter, SB Nation
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 12/15/2013)||Replies - 1 :: Views - 54|
|Bears Blog: Jacoby for Cheap, Pittman calls out Le'Veon Bell|
Jacoby on the Cheap, Pittman Calls Out Bell
There's nothing like starting off the season by bringing in a reality television star. Especially when you can do it cheap. The Bears got a helluva deal just before the pre-season began, when the Patriots decided to part ways with tall speedster WR Jacoby Jones. Jacoby became more of a household name recently, when he competed on the latest season of Dancing With the Stars. Despite not winning the competition, he was considered a fan favorite for his somewhat zany personality. In the land of football, Jacoby has notched over 1000 yards every year since the GZL merger, aside from a down season in 2013. He is 6'3" and has the wheels to get behind the defense, and not to mention soft hands and decent smarts. New England amnestied Jones at a time when many teams were trying to figure out their salary cap situation, so the Bears were able to swoop in and get him at the discount price of a 5th Rounder. "We were prepared to pony up a 3rd, or possibly even a 2nd, to bring in Jacoby," confessed head coach Bill Belichick at a recent press conference. "Getting his kind of talent for a 5th Round pick is robbery." Jones entered the end of training camp at the top of the depth chart, and will start opposite rookie WR Jessie Hendricks.
The Bears were able to go 3-1 in the Preseason, despite QB Jay Cutler missing the majority of it due to an MCL sprain. The credit can somewhat be attributed to rookie HB Bronze Pittman. Bronze was considered by many to be the best rusher in the draft, but slid to 1.18 after HB Le'veon Bell was selected before him ten picks earlier by the Miami Dolphins. Bronze looked like he was playing with a chip on his shoulder as he rushed for 357 Yards (6.05YPC), 6TD's, and 0 Fumbles, over the course of the Preseason. "I wanted to earn my starting role. I wanted to show what I can do. Sky's the limit. This is the only the beginning. Coach couldn't keep me on the sideline even if he wanted. Unlike some other guys, I wanted to play the preseason," Pittman stated after the Bears' last game this week. When speaking of 'other guys', he was undoubtedly referring to Le'Veon Bell, the HB selected ahead of him, whom did not play a down in the Preseason. We expect the Pittman/Bell debate has only begun, and may take seasons to play out.
In other news, Jay Cutler is likely to be ready to play Week 1 after an intense recovery program on his MCL. Rumors are also indicating that Cutler's agent and the franchise have begun talks for a contract extension. Even with regression looming, the strong armed QB should have the tools to start for another 4-5 seasons. This is quite a turnaround, considering that early reports indicated that Cutler was on his way out when new GM Laurenson took over in the front office several months ago.
The Bears face off against the St. Louis Rams in Week 1.
-Jensen Watson, Bears Beat Reporter, SB Nation
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 07/19/2013)||Replies - 4 :: Views - 79|
|2015 Bears TC|
Chicago Bears: The Full Report
2014 proved to be another lack luster season for the Chicago Bears. They found themselves sitting at 7-9 at the end of the year, now three seasons removed from sniffing the playoffs. With a new GM entering his first off-season with the franchise, the Bears wasted no time in getting a fresh start.
The off-season kicked off with the front office letting both head coach Jack Del Rio, and offensive coordinator Brad Childress, walk away from expiring contracts. To make it a clean sweep, GM Laurenson fired the remaining coaches as well. Del Rio is now the defensive coordinator in New England, while Childress is calling offensive plays in San Diego.
Windy City residents were wondering who would take the reigns heading into the 2015 season, and many wondered if Mike Martz might return to Chicago, this time as head coach. Instead, the Bears’ front office were able to lure the infamous hoodie away from the Florida humidity. Bill Belichick, who had spent a year as the DC with the Bucs, agreed to a 3 year deal to lead the Bears.
“I’ve very excited to return as a head coach, and begin my tenure in Chicago. The city of Tampa has been wonderful, but there’s only so much heat one can take,” Belichick joked at the press conference announcing his signing. The seasoned coach’s defensive prowess is a great fit for the Bears, who have a long history of boasting a stout D.
Once the head coach situation had been settled, the front office began the off-season with the intent of shaping the roster to the new management’s style.
The Bears stayed rather quiet in the trading bonanza this off-season, after shipping off big names like CJ2k and Johnny Knox back in the regular season. There were a couple small moves, however.
After putting the full court press on the Seahawks’ veteran OG Logan Mankins, only to have him stay in Seattle, the Bears picked up 3-4 potential starters in Free Agency. Most will only be on the roster this one season, but hopefully will help keep the team competitive.
THE 2015 DRAFT
Those inside the organization knew this would be the highlight of the off-season. The Bears were maxed on draft picks, and had more than a handful inside the first two rounds.
There was speculation that the Bears would take an HB at 1.13, and apparently that was the original plan. It was believed that Bronze Pittman and Le’Veon Bell were the names being considered, but when tall-glass-of-water WR Jessie Hendricks was still on the board, the Bears decided to shift their gameplan. They took the Florida State wideout at 1.13, hoping to eventually give Cutler an elite target to throw to. The Bears were to pick again at 1.24, but when the Bucs were shopping 1.18 and Bronze Pittman was still on the board, Chicago made a last second trade to move up and snag the halfback. Pittman possesses a fairly special blend of strength and speed, and has the skill set to start right away. With two big needs met (WR, HB), the Bears were able to take a bit more of a BPA approach to the rest of the draft. When they were on the clock at 1.28, the organization was eyeing three offensive linemen (OT’s Perry Lawrence and Menelik Watson, and C Will Figgins) who they thought had tremendous value at that point in the draft. Taking a gamble, the Bears traded out of the pick and down to 2.9, while picking up a future 2nd from Tennesssee. The risk paid off, as Figgins was still on the board. The Bears selected him at 2.9 and added the best Center in the draft to their roster. At the end of the 2nd Round, the Bears had 2.32 and 3.3 coming up. Their two targets were CB Antonio Smith, an average athlete but a great football mind, and DE Terry Bailey, who the Bears were excited about possibly moving to DT. Bailey was the more special player, but the Bears felt that the possible skew that came with 3.3 could possibly better serve him than Smith, so yet again the team gambled and took the CB first, hoping that Bailey would stick around for a few more picks. Sure enough, Bailey was still available at 3.3 and the Bears snatched him up. Some insiders are pointing this out to be one of the steals of the draft. The rest of the Bears picks were mostly late round roster filler. TE Dion Sims was drafted in the 5th and may be able to slip into the TE2 spot due to his height, acceleration, and skill set.
While this may not be the best team draft in the league from this season, it’s probably safe to say it’s one of the better drafts Chicago has had since the GZL merger, and will be a good foundation for the team to build on under this new management system.
As the rookies arrived to begin camp in Chicago, most eyes were on HB Bronze Pittman and DT Terry Bailey. Pittman reported to camp 10 pounds heavier than he was at the combine, and yet somehow became not only stronger, but quicker too. Pittman credited an insane off-season training program he developed himself along with his trainer, which he is humbly naming the “Fit Pitt System”. He apparently is actually in discussions with an undisclosed fitness company about adapting his regimen to a DVD program. Look out, Tony Horton.
Terry Bailey showed up at camp in fine form, as well. Looking even better than he did on tape, coaches are saying Bailey must be benefiting from a solid skew. With the decision to move inside to DT, he has been given the green light to put on a few pounds and bulk up. When asked how he intended to do so, Bailey answered quickly with a smile, “Pequod’s,” no doubt referring to the deep dish pizza joint in the DePaul area on N. Clybourn Ave. After bulking up and receiving some attention on his strength training, Bailey will look like a speedier Sheldon Richardson, helping cement him as one of the steals of the draft.
Other players working on improvement:
Due to the young roster the Bears are fostering, there are mostly clear cut starters at each position. However, there’s always room for a little training camp drama.
NICKEL CB - Antonio Smith vs. Dominique Foxworth
Ahh, experience versus youth. Foxworth has had a long career and is possibly in his final season of being able to do anything on the field. He’s easily the smartest corner on the Bears’ roster, but he’s also the slowest. Smith has the the physical edge, from height to speed to strength. He’s also a better tackler than Foxworth, despite being rookie. We will give the edge to Smith for those reasons.
WR DEPTH BATTLE - Riley Cooper vs. Arrelious Benn vs. Greg Jennings vs. Stephen Williams
This is where the real drama begins. 1st Rounder Jessie Hendricks will secure a starting spot, but the depth chart after him is very cloudy. If the coaching staff wants more height alongside Hendricks, then either Cooper (6’3”) or Williams (6’5”) are the choices. If they want a bit more speed, then Jennings will be the starter. Benn has neither elite speed nor height, but he is an extremely strong wideout who is not easy to jam at the line. I could see this battle playing out into the regular season, honestly. Our guess is that Greg Jennings will be too good (and expensive) to sit and he will start alongside Hendricks in Week 1. That will leave Cooper, Benn, and Williams to fight it out for the WR3 spot. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see whichever WR’s don’t make it high enough on the depth chart get traded out of Chicago early in the season.
There are reasons to be optimistic in Chicago. It’s been awhile since the team witnessed a solid draft, and the team is in good cap shape moving forward. Jay Cutler has the skills to succeed, and is slowly being given the tools to do so. MLB Philip Bryant will be entering his 4th season in the league, and will already be at mentorship level in terms of his awareness. He will be leading a young defense with a solid LB corp, and a promising secondary. The defensive line may the team’s biggest weakness, but with new additions Mathias Kiwanuka and Terry Bailey, and Belichick’s knowledge, hopefully it will not stunt the team’s success.
We are optimistic that this team will eventually become contenders, which will be a tough task being in a division with the Packers. But the difficulty is what makes it rewarding.
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 07/04/2013)||Replies - 2 :: Views - 63|
|Bears - 2015 Draft Recap|
With the first draft as GM of the Bears, I wanted to straddle the line between value and need. I had a few key positions I wanted to address, and was happy with how things turned out. Made a few draft day trades, and was able to pick up a future 2nd in the middle of picking of players. Hopefully this class will be a good foundation for making the Bears potential division favorites down the line.
1.13 :: WR Jessie Hendricks
Was definitely coveting the 6'5" wideout, but with all the hype around him and his high presence in mock drafts, we gameplanned him to be gone and were fairly shocked when he slid to us. With a little work, he will be an elite target for Cutler to throw to.
Mentor: Greg Jennings
1.18 :: HB Bronze Pittman
Bronze was the #1 HB on our board, as we like him just a touch more than Bell. The plan was to take him at 1.13 but had to let him pass when Hendricks was still there. When he was still sliding at 1.18, we made a move up for him in a trade with the Bucs. Bronze will get the keys to the starting position from day one, with MJD spelling him.
Mentor: Maurice Jones-Drew
2.9 :: C Will Figgins
Figgins is the complete package. A couple mock drafts [1, 2] had him almost cracking the Top 10. We nearly took him at 1.27, but decided to trade down to this pick and pick up a future 2nd, crossing our fingers that he would still be there. And he was.
2.22 :: LOLB Calvin Hamilton
Hamilton is possibly the fastest LB in the draft, and fills a big hole at LOLB after shipping off Bryan Kieth to Detroit. Hamilton will start from day one, and will add a different dimension to the LB corp along side Akeem Ayers and Philip Bryant.
2.32 :: CB Antonio Smith
The smartest CB in the draft at 2.32? Yes, please. In fact, he's the smartest CB in any GZL draft class in the past 3 seasons. Sure, his height (6'0") and speed (90SPD, 92ACC) aren't elite. But he could be 80AWR by the start of his 2nd season.
Mentor: Dominique Foxworth
3.3 :: DE Terry Bailey
One of the drafts' biggest Day 1 steals? Bailey will be moved inside to DT, where he will look similar to DT 1st Round'ers, Sheldon Richardson and Sylvester Williams. Highly stoked on the pick for its value and need, as we require help on the interior of our D-line.
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 07/01/2013)||Replies - 16 :: Views - 190|
|Bears Hire New GM: "No One is Safe"|
|Forum Discussion (by B_Laurenson on 02/17/2013)||Replies - 4 :: Views - 61|
|Bear Growlz 2013 TC Edition (draft)|
|Forum Discussion (by M_Brotherton on 07/13/2012)||Replies - 1 :: Views - 45|
|2011 Season Review
Week one started with a loss to the Detroit Lions, and coming off a Super Bowl appearance it looked like the Bears age was starting to kick in. It looked early like keeping the veterans together for another run was a bad move by GM Diroll. With some minor tweaks the Bears went on a tear and won ten games in a row. Their streak was ended by the division rival Packers and their record stood at 10-2 (Best in the league at that point). Coming into week 14 the Bears set their sights for the playoffs. Suddenly QB Jay Cutler went down with an injury. Cutler was having a terrific season and was key to the success. While out injured, RB Matt Forte picked up the slack. In Cutler absence Forte ran for 149, 137, and 206 yards in consecutive games. Cutler was sorely missed however, and Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn't get the offense moving like Cutler. Cutler was healed come the playoffs but he was still struggling with his injuries. The Bears lost the division to the Packers and had a wild card weekend match-up with the hungry 49ers, who won going away.
The decision for 2011 was keeping the veterans and make a run for the Super Bowl. In doing so GM Diroll decided against trading Julius Peppers and Lance Briggs who were on the block early in the year. In doing so, the team was log jammed with multiple players contracts coming to an end. 33 in total. That left the Bears with over seventy million in cap space, more than any other team in the league.
Re-Signings: Jay Culter and Matt Forte were the top two priorities going into the offseason, both were paid. Cutler got a five year deal worth well over sixty million total and Forte was franchise for over nine million this year. The team is working with Forte to work out something long term. MLB Brian, Urlacher and K Robbie Gould received interest from other teams in free agency but were both brought back. LB Lance Briggs, SS Daniel Manning, and LB Pisa Tinoisamoa among others were also resigned.
Free Agency - Signings: The Bears team believes they are still not far from serious Super Bowl contention, so the intention was to use every bit of cap to have the most competitive team. The teams top target, Andrew Whitworth OT, was signed for 26 million over three years. He will most likely play on the right side. The protection of Cutler is the most important aspect of the Bears chances to win, and Whitworth has proven he's more than capable with 177 pancakes and 2 sacks given up in two years with the Bengals. The second target, WR Bernard Berrian, was vital because of the loss of Randy Moss. Berrian was given six million on a one year deal, a high price to pay, but the Bears didn't want to miss out on the speedster. Between Knox and Berrian there are plenty of deep threat options available to Jay Culter this year.
Free Agency - Lost: As expected before the free agency period hit, Julius Peppers, a very physically gifted DE was highly sought after. GM Diroll was clearly not interested in re-signing him sighting his lack of production in the previous two years. "Julius has all the tools, but he's been coasting for too long," Diroll said prior to free agency. It was clear unless there was a major bargain to be had it was Peppers time for a change of scenery. He was given 24 million over three years to join his teamate from last year DT Tommie Harris. Harris, a pro bowler, had eight sacks on the year but the Bears weren't entirely interested in paying large money to a pass rushing DT. The truth is in the stats and the Bears were 28th against the run last year which was their weakness all year.
WR Randy Moss
To the Seahawks for
4th round pick
ROLB Brandon Johnson
- Moss is all but out of gas at this point in his career. His large contract cleared more space for free agent signings and the 4th rounder netted them LT Jessie Carroll in the draft. Johnson provides depth
CB Charles Tillman
To the Redskins for
3rd round pick
- Tillman started and played CB1 last year, but its clear at his age that he's lost more than a step to keep up with the wide receivers in the league. The 3rd round pick netted MLB Philip Bryant, who the Bears are excited about.
WR Devin Hester
4th round pick
To the Chargers for
WR Arrelious Benn
CB Kelvin Hayden
3rd round pick
- Hester will be sorely missed as a return and slot man. He was a treat to score anytime it touched his hands, but was expendable because of the need for another CB. Kelvin Haden fills that and will play opposite of Zackary Bowman. Benn is a youngster with better size than Hester and will play slot this year. The 3rd round pick netted DE Ricky Elmore, who will start.
The Bears owned a pick in the first, second, and three in the third. The thought of moving up was always in mind, but GM Diroll decided that it was best to hold out and use all the picks to gain a shot of youth into an aging team.
1.24 - OLB Akeem Ayers: The Bears were holding out for DT Stephen Paea and OLB Chris Carter, but they were both taken prior to 1.24. Ayers was number three on the Bears board and they were more than happy to have him, as WR Torrey Smith was next in line to be drafted. Ayers has prototypical speed, size, and tackling for a rookie linebacker. He should be solid for years to come. He will get the nod from day one.
2.24 - C Ulysses Wasson: The Bears threw around the idea of drafting WR Alshon Jeffery, a large target with good speed, but their were too many pressing needs to take a WR. Wasson possess great strength and decent blocking abilities, while his speed and acceleration are not deplorable.
3.11 - MLB Philip Bryant: Here's the big one, the steal. Bryant came on the Bears radar in the East vs. West game where he kept showing up in the backfield. With Brian Urlacher on his last leg, it was time to look for a replacement. Bryant came as a bit unknown, but looks to be better than touted. He's very quick and has good strength. Years down the road this will be the gem of the Bears draft.
3.19 - Ricky Elmore: This pick came with a bit of confusion from GM's across the league. At 3.11 the Bears passed over DE Jabaal Sheard and Elmore was next on the list. Elmore is the stronger prospect, which is what the front office is looking for.
3.24 -FB Robert Hughes: With no fullback on the roster, Hughes will start from day one. Hughes was not on the radar, but in a last second decision the Bears couldn't pass up his unique speed at the fullback position.
4.3 - LT Jessie Carroll: Carroll was considered at picks 3.19 and 3.24, and the Bears were more than happy to snap him up in the fourth round. He has a good strength and blocking abilities for a rookie. He's a bit slow for a tackle, so look for him to get time at guard.
5.24 - SS Deandre McDaniel, 6.24 -LG Justin Boren, 7.24 - DT Greg Fletcher: Taken for depth reasons.
Offseason Training and Conditioning
The Bears focused on rookies Philip Bryant and Ricky Elmore, while also trying to strengthen RB Matt Forte and WR Johnny Knox for a long season, where they will be heavily depended upon.
Training:: 2 Points
MLB Philip Bryant +1SPD (79 SPD) +1ACC (85 ACC)
Conditioning:: 10 Points
HB Matt Forte +5INJ (86 INJ)
WR Johnny Knox +5INJ (88 INJ)
Body Diet:: +/-20 Pounds
MLB Philip Bryant +10lbs (242lbs)
DE Ricky Elmore +10lbs (265lbs)
Center - Geoff Hangartner vs. Ulysses Wasson
- Hangartner came over from the Bills prior to last season and played well, giving up only one sack and getting 49 pancakes. Wasson is similar physically, and the common thought is he'll get the playing time to gain experience.
Right Guard - Ryan O'Callaghan vs. Jessie Carroll
- This one is toss up. O'Callaghan played decently after being signed off the street just prior to the opening of the 2011 season. He gave up 7 sacks, but is quite slow. Both Carroll and O'Callaghan are trained tackles but will battle to get a starting job at guard. The preseason will work this one out.
Outside Linebacker - Lance Briggs vs. Pisa Tinoisamoa vs. Akeem Ayers
- Two out of these three will be starters, one will be left out. Ayers and Briggs are the logical choices here. Briggs is very slow, but his awarness sets him apart from the other two. Ayers is the best all around player at this point and needs the play time. Tinoisamoa played surprisingly well last year, and can still keep up at age 31.
Projected Starting Lineup 2012
QB Jay Culter
HB Matt Forte
FB Robert Hughes*^
WR Johnny Knox
WR Bernard Berrian*
LT Chris Williams
LG Roberto Garza
C Ulysses Wasson*^
RG Jessie Carroll*^
RT Andre Witworth*
TE Greg Olsen
LE Cheta Ozougwu
NT Phil Taylor
RE Ricky Elmore*^
LOLB Lance Briggs
MLB Brian Urlacher
MLB Philip Bryant*^
ROLB Akeem Ayers*^
CB Zackary Bowman
CB Kelvin Haden*
SS Major Wright
FS Daniel Manning
NCB Brandon Harris
^ = Rookie
* = New starter
|Forum Discussion (by E_Diroll on 12/18/2011)||Replies - 4 :: Views - 73|
|Bears Bulletin - Edition 6|
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|Bears Bulletin - Edition 5|
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|Bears Bulletin - Edition 4 (Cutler Extended?)|
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|Bears Announce Video Contest Winner!|
Feedback is welcomed. I worked for quite a few hours on this.
|Forum Discussion (by E_Diroll on 08/25/2011)||Replies - 11 :: Views - 92|
1.30 - DT Phil Taylor - Taylor went later than expected, but much to the joy of the Bears. Desperate for a DT one fell right into their lap. Taylor is big and eats up space, not extremely quick but he's got room to grow.
2.19 - CB Brandon Harris - A stretch in the second round to say the least. The Bears were excited at Harris' speed, but he looks a bit undersized and unprepared to play. He'll get time to learn behind three quality CBs.
2.26 - LE Cheta Ozougwu - After a stretch for Harris the organization felt they needed another impact player. Ozougwu will play side by side with one of the best in the game, Julius Peppers. He's not flashy, but he'll be ready to play from day one.
5.31 - LG John Moffitt -Decent strength and playable blocking skills may show Moffitt some spot starts, but mostly will be relegated to a reserve role.
6.31 - LOLB Jason Johnson - Nothing special here. Could potentially be moved to MLB, but his weak tackling says otherwise. He'll be used mostly on special teams.
7.31 - WR Ryan Whalen - Signed for depth, he will fight to stay on the roster, hopefully he does something on special teams.
FS Major Wright has been working hard in the offseason to impove his speed. The second year safety looks to improve on his rookie season where he amassed 67 tackles, though he mostly played the SS spot while Daniel Manning played FS.
Both WR Johnny Knox and HB Matt Forte went down with injures in last years season. Knox was out a few weeks, but Forte went down for the season and was sorely missed. The coaching staff worked to improve their workout habits and core strength to keep them on the field.
Incoming picks Phil Taylor and Cheta Ozougwu are working with the strength and conditioning coaches this summer to add muscle to their frame. They're both shooting for a ten pound increase which should bulk up the defensive line and help with stopping the run
Franchise Tag: Lance Briggs OLB
Resign: Randy Moss WR
Both vital to the teams success last year it was hard to not bring them back. They are putting the Bears in awful position heading into the season because of their large contracts, but that's worth the price.
Free Agent Signing
Adam Goldberg RG - Will play opposite of Roberto Garza and replace Lance Louis until further notice.
|Forum Discussion (by E_Diroll on 06/19/2011)||Replies - 0 :: Views - 19|
|Bears Bulletin - Edition 3 (NFC Champs)|
|Forum Discussion (by E_Diroll on 05/31/2011)||Replies - 0 :: Views - 19|
|Bears Bulletin - Edition 2 (NFC NORTH CHAMPS)|
|Forum Discussion (by E_Diroll on 05/02/2011)||Replies - 3 :: Views - 41|
|Bears Bulletin - Edition 1|
|Forum Discussion (by E_Diroll on 03/21/2011)||Replies - 1 :: Views - 33|
|BEARS FRONT OFFICE|
|Head Coach||Mike Smith|
|Offensive Coordinator||Cam Cameron|
|Defensive Coordinator||Rex Ryan|
|Special Teams||F.Gansz Jr.|
|Michael Williams||WR||86||Out for season|
|Cris Jones||TE||99||Out for season|
|1||Sep 10||vs Buccaneers #5||
|2||Sep 17||vs Falcons #21||
|3||Sep 24||vs Titans #25||
|4||Oct 1||at Saints #11||
|5||Oct 8||vs Packers #7||
|6||Oct 15||at Colts #22||
|8||Oct 29||at Packers #7||
|9||Nov 5||vs Seahawks #9||
|10||Nov 12||at Panthers #26||
|11||Nov 19||at Lions #1||1:00pm|
|12||Nov 26||at Giants #20||4:00pm|
|13||Dec 4||vs Jaguars #32||9:00pm|
|14||Dec 10||at Vikings #2||1:00pm|
|15||Dec 17||vs Lions #1||1:00pm|
|16||Dec 23||vs Vikings #2||1:00pm|
|17||Dec 30||at Texans #14||1:00pm|