In case you missed it

Nagy reshuf­fles coach­ing staff; gm pace adds foles to com­pete with tru­bisky

Chicago Sun-Times - - BEARS BEAT - BY MARK POTASH | mpotash@sun­times.com | @markpotash

Wel­come back, foot­ball.

Af­ter an awk­ward and dif­fi­cult off­sea­son for the en­tire NFL be­cause of the coro­n­avirus quar­an­tine, the Bears are sched­uled to be­gin train­ing camp Tues­day. It won’t be busi­ness as usual, with COVID-19 pro­to­cols to max­i­mize player safety al­most cer­tain to cause hic­cups. The pre­sea­son sched­ule al­ready has been elim­i­nated; and ac­tual prac­tices likely won’t be held for three weeks as play­ers get back into foot­ball shape af­ter a “vir­tual” off­sea­son away from Halas Hall.

But to many NFL fans, any foot­ball is a re­turn to nor­malcy and will be wel­comed. And in that spirit, here is a catch-up re­view of the Bears’ off­sea­son since a 21-19 vic­tory over the Vik­ings — re­mem­ber that? — con­cluded a dis­ap­point­ing 8-8 sea­son:

Ch-Ch-Changes . . .

Af­ter quar­ter­back Mitch Tru­bisky and the of­fense flopped when they were sup­posed to take off in 2019, coach Matt Nagy over­hauled his of­fen­sive coach­ing staff, fir­ing three as­sis­tant coaches, with a pre­sumed em­pha­sis on im­prov­ing the Bears’ 27th-ranked run game.

Of­fen­sive line coach Harry Hi­e­s­tand was re­placed by Juan Castillo, who coached with Nagy in 2010-12 on Andy Reid’s staff with the Ea­gles. He last was in the NFL in 2018 as of­fen­sive line coach of the Bills.

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mark Hel­frich was re­placed by former Ben­gals of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Bill La­zor, who was the Ben­gals’ of­fen­sive line coach in 2017-18.

Tight ends coach Kevin Gil­bride was re­placed by Clancy Barone, who was the of­fen­sive line coach on the Bron­cos’ Su­per Bowl win­ning team in 2015. He was last in the NFL in 2018, as the Vik­ings’ of­fen­sive line coach.

Nagy also hired former Jaguars of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor John DeFilippo as quar­ter­backs coach and moved quar­ter­backs coach Dave Ragone to a new po­si­tion of pass­inggame co­or­di­na­tor. DeFilippo was the Ea­gles’ quar­ter­backs coach when they won the Su­per Bowl in 2017.

Ad­di­tion­ally, as­sis­tant spe­cial teams coach Brock Olivo was re­placed by Brian Ginn, who was the Bears’ of­fen­sive qual­ity con­trol coach last sea­son. And se­nior of­fen­sive as­sis­tant Brad Chil­dress de­cided to leave the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Tru­bisky vs. Foles

Gen­eral man­ager Ryan Pace af­firmed his be­lief in Tru­bisky in his an­nual sea­son-end­ing news con­fer­ence. “Mitch is our starter and we be­lieve in Mitch and we be­lieve in the progress that he’s go­ing to con­tinue to make,” Pace said.

As it turned out, it was a soft en­dorse­ment and Pace ul­ti­mately showed his hand. The Bears not only traded for Jaguars quar­ter­back Nick Foles but later ac­knowl­edged that Tru­bisky and Foles would en­gage in an open com­pe­ti­tion for the start­ing job. The Bears also re­struc­tured Foles’ con­tract — turn­ing the four-year, $88 mil­lion deal he signed with the Jaguars in 2019 into a three-year, $24 mil­lion con­tract, with $21 mil­lion guar­an­teed.

The Bears also de­clined the fifth-year op­tion on Tru­bisky’s rookie con­tract — even Tru­bisky un­der­stood that move. “I felt like the way I played didn’t merit that,” he said.

Surg­eries

Tru­bisky had surgery on his left (non­throw­ing) shoul­der in Jan­uary and pro­claimed him­self “100 per­cent” on a pod­cast with former team­mate Chase Daniel in April.

Line­backer Ro­quan Smith had surgery on his torn pec­toral mus­cle that he suf­fered against the Cow­boys on Dec. 5. An­thony Miller had surgery on his left shoul­der for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son af­ter he was in­jured on a kick­off against the Vik­ings in the sea­son fi­nale.

The Bears ex­pect all three play­ers to be ready for train­ing camp. De­fen­sive end Akiem Hicks (el­bow) and line­backer Danny Tre­vathan (el­bow) avoided surgery and are ex­pected to be ready for train­ing camp.

Ex­ten­sions

Pace has ag­gres­sively re­warded pro­duc­tive play­ers, so it was no sur­prise that safety Ed­die Jack­son signed a four-year, $58 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion through the 2024 sea­son. The deal made Jack­son the high­est paid safety in the NFL at $14.6 mil­lion per sea­son.

Tre­vathan, who turned 30 in March and is com­ing off surgery to re­pair a dis­lo­cated el­bow that forced him to miss the fi­nal seven games in 2019, signed a three-year, $24 mil­lion ex­ten­sion.

Wide re­ceiver Allen Robin­son was the most ob­vi­ous ex­ten­sion can­di­date af­ter his stel­lar sea­son — 98 re­cep­tions for 1,147 yards and seven touch­downs — mag­ni­fied his value. But it hasn’t hap­pened yet and Robin­son is set to en­ter the fi­nal year of his three-year, $42 mil­lion deal in 2020.

De­par­tures

The Bears cut four vet­eran starters — cor­ner­back Prince Amuka­mara, wide re­ceiver Tay­lor Gabriel, out­side line­backer Leonard Floyd and tight end Trey Bur­ton. Amuka­mara signed with the Raiders (one-year, $1.2 mil­lion). Bur­ton signed with the Colts (oneyear, $910,000). Floyd signed with the Rams (one-year, $10 mil­lion). Gabriel is un­signed.

Guard Kyle Long, see­ing the writ­ing on the wall af­ter sud­denly be­ing put on in­jured re­serve af­ter play­ing ev­ery snap against the Raiders in Week 5 last sea­son, an­nounced — some­what am­bigu­ously — that he was re­tir­ing from foot­ball. And cor­ner­back Ha Ha Clin­ton-Dix signed a one-year, $4 mil­lion con­tract ($2.5 mil­lion guar­an­teed) with the Cow­boys.

Other con­trib­u­tors who have left: De­fen­sive line­man Nick Williams (Li­ons); line­backer Nick Kwiatkoski (Raiders); line­backer Aaron Lynch (Jaguars); quar­ter­back Chase Daniel (Li­ons); and line­backer Kevin Pier­reLouis (Red­skins).

Bye, bye Bour­bon­nais

The Bears an­nounced in Jan­uary they would con­duct train­ing camp at their re­cently ex­panded fa­cil­i­ties at Halas Hall in Lake For­est, abruptly end­ing their 18-year stay at Olivet Nazarene in Bour­bon­nais.

Free agency

The Bears were hardly flush with cash in free agency and pin­pointed two po­si­tions to splurge on. They signed pass rusher Robert Quinn (five years, $70 mil­lion, $30 mil­lion guar­an­teed); and tight end Jimmy Gra­ham (two years, $16 mil­lion, $9 mil­lion guar­an­teed).

They also signed wide re­ceiver Ted Ginn (one year, $1.2 mil­lion) to re­place Gabriel’s speed el­e­ment; safety Tashaun Gip­son (one year, $1 mil­lion) to re­place Clin­ton-Dix; tight end Demetrius Har­ris (one year, $1.6 mil­lion) to com­pete with Adam Sha­heen; guard Ger­main Ifedi (one year, $1 mil­lion) to com­pete with Rashaad Coward for Long’s right guard spot; and kicker Ramiz Ahmed (three years, $2.3 mil­lion, no guar­an­tee) to com­pete with in­cum­bent Eddy Pineiro.

Other sign­ings: line­backer Barke­vi­ous Mingo (one year, $1.1 mil­lion); de­fen­sive tackle John Jenk­ins (one year, $1 mil­lion); cor­ner­backs Artie Burns (one year, $1 mil­lion) and Tre Rober­son (two years, $1.3 mil­lion, $75,000 guar­an­teed); safety Jor­dan Lucas (one year, $1 mil­lion).

The Draft

The Bears did not have a first-round draft pick be­cause they traded it to the Raiders to ac­quire Khalil Mack. (The Raiders used the 19th over­all pick to draft Ohio State cor­ner­back Da­mon Ar­nette.) Still, the Bears drafted two pre­sumed first-year starters in the sec­ond round in Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet (No. 43) and Utah cor­ner­back Jay­lon John­son (No. 50).

Their other five picks were in the fifth round or later: Tulsa out­side line­backer Tre­vis Gip­son (fifth round) Ge­or­gia South­ern cor­ner­back Kin­dle Vil­dor (fifth); Tu­lane wide re­ceiver Dar­nell Mooney (fifth); Ten­nessee State of­fen­sive line­man Lachavi­ous Sim­mons (sev­enth); and Colorado of­fen­sive line­man Ar­ling­ton Ham­bright (sev­enth).

UFA sight­ings

The Bears’ list of un­drafted free agents in­cluded one par­tic­u­larly no­table name: Buf­falo line­backer Ledar­ius Mack, the younger brother of Khalil Mack. Other in­trigu­ing sign­ings in­cluded Ken­tucky wide re­ceiver Ah­mad Wag­ner, a col­lege bas­ket­ball player at Iowa, and Yale guard Di­eter Eise­len, a former South African rugby player.

Ap­pre­ci­a­tions

The Bears lost three no­table mem­bers of their fam­ily this off­sea­son.

Michael McCaskey, a grand­son of George Halas who served as pres­i­dent, CEO and chair­man of the board, died at 76 of can­cer on May 16.

Rosey Tay­lor, a two-time Pro Bowl safety who starred on the Bears’ 1963 NFL cham­pi­onship team, died at 82 on May 29.

Ryan Wet­night, a tight end who caught 172 passes and nine touch­downs in seven sea­sons with the Bears from 1993-99, died of can­cer at 49 on May 1.

Earl Thomas, a tight end/wide re­ceiver who led the Bears in re­cep­tions in 1972 and 1973, died at 71 on July 4.

Awards

De­fen­sive line­man Nick Williams (vet­eran) and run­ning back David Mont­gomery (rookie) were voted by team­mates as win­ners of the Brian Pic­colo Award — on the 50th an­niver­sary of Pic­colo’s tragic death in 1970.

Wide re­ceiver Robin­son was named the Bears’ win­ner of the Ed Block Courage Award, also voted on by team­mates. ✶

MATT LUDTKE/AP

Mitch Tru­bisky will have to beat out Nick Foles to re­tain the Bears’ start­ing QB job.

Nick Foles

AP

Ed­die Jack­son be­came the high­est paid safety in the NFL af­ter sign­ing a four-year, $58 mil­lion ex­ten­sion.

AP

The Bears added former Cow­boys pass rusher Robert Quinn (above) to re­place Leonard Floyd.

AP

Re­ceiver Allen Robin­son, who is en­ter­ing the fi­nal year of his three-year deal, hopes to get an ex­ten­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.