- Adam Jahns at The Athletic quotes new defensive coordinator Allen Williams.
- Jahns also gives his opinion on the state of the Bears pass rush.
- Jahns answers your questions:
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune gives his thought on the Bears new offensive line coach.
- Biggs again on roster building.
“When you look at the tape, you don’t have to be a football aficionado to go, ‘You know what, the way that dude plays, he likes ball.’ Roquan [Smith]likes ball. Roquan loves ball,” Williams said. “And when you have a guy that loves ball and you’re as smart as he is … I remember him coming out at the combine even as a defensive backs coach, his reputation preceded him. He was a guy, they said, ‘Hey, he’s quick-twitch, he’s fast, he’s instinctive, he’s a leader.’ So when you have a guy like that, that’s a guy that you want in the middle of the field and that’s a guy that you’re looking forward to getting to know, that you’re looking forward to coaching.”
What stuck out to me here was the “that’s a guy that you want in the middle of the field” bit.
There’s been some debate about whether you’d want smith as a middle linebacker or on the weak side. Lovie Smith’s defenses were designed to funnel runners to the weak side line backer to make the tackle.
Smith could probably do well at either position. But it sounds like Williams might have the middle in mind for him.
It doesn’t make sense for the Bears to part with Khalil Mack or Robert Quinn this offseason. First, their contracts make that difficult. Secondly, they’re still productive pass rushers when healthy. And finally, their replacements aren’t on the roster — and it’s possible they won’t be after free agency and the draft.
If the Bears are really going to play a defense closely based upon the one that former Bears head coach Lovie Smith ran, then its notable that Smith’s defense depended critically upon getting pressure from the front four without the aid of the blitz. With both Mack and Quinn playing to their potential, they could have one of the best pass rushes in the league. It’s always true that you can’t have too many pass rushers. But I’d it’s possible, it’s going to be even more true here.
In other words, I wouldn’t pencil any names in for a big deal. Plenty of teams operate this way, though. Former Bears GM Ryan Pace tried to stay out of what he once called the “treacherous waters” of free agency. All it takes is one more team to drive up the price on a player’s contract, including in the second and third waves of free agency. Pace often set price parameters. If negotiations went outside them, he would back off, but there were always exceptions — Mike Glennon, for example.
The problem was that Pace often set those parameters way too high. Agents used to jump for joy when they found out that Pace was interested in a client because they knew he’d fallen in love with him and that space would over pay.
It was perhaps the biggest factor in Pace’s downfall. He let his aggressive nature take over and it caused him to make mistakes that agents and other general managers took advantage of.
The team on Wednesday announced the hiring of offensive line coach Chris Morgan. He was the interim line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season and the top guy in Atlanta for a good stretch. He’s rooted in the outside-zone scheme and once worked in Washington alongside Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur and Mike McDaniel. The connection to new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is through LaFleur.
This seems to support the notion that the Bears will be running a scheme similar to the on described by former Green Bay offensive coordinator and new Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett indicated that the scheme in Denver would start with the outside zone run and work play action passes in off of that. It sounds like a good plan to me.
There’s plenty of time to get into how the Bears will stack up needs, but one thing that will be explored as free agency and the draft approach — if Eberflus is going to lean on his adapted version of the Cover-2 defense — is a real need for a three-technique defensive tackle.
In 2006 when Lovie Smith took the Bears to their last Super Bowl I was appalled by the decline in the performance of the defense after defensive tackle Tommie Harris suffered a season ending knee injury. Neither he nor the defense every really recovered.
One Final Thought
Biggs continues with a really interesting quote from Poles about how wants to go about fixing the Bears offense.
“So when I mentioned the Bengals, they took a different approach. I was critical of it, but at the same time, it’s worked out pretty good, right? The main (point) is support the quarterback. If that means giving him weapons or giving him linemen, I’m an O-line guy so I believe it starts there. But I’m not going to be blind to the fact that if there isn’t the right players (at one position), then maybe we’ve got to go a different direction.”
That’s an interesting point. The Bengals went into the draft in April weighing the idea of getting the top receiver on the board in [wide receiver Jamar] Chase or the top offensive tackle in Penei Sewell to protect [quarterback Joe] Burrow. The Bengals offensive line was deficient in Burrow’s rookie season, so it would have been an easy decision to invest on the line. They went with Chase. Sewell went two picks later to the Detroit Lions, who are badly lacking skill-position talent on the outside.
“I would have started up front,” Poles said. “The beautiful thing is we can learn from these teams to say there are more ways to do it than doing just what I said. Just learn. And it should get teams like the Bears excited that if we do things the right way we can make those steps and be a championship-caliber team.”
Poles isn’t giving away his strategy ahead to free agency and the draft but he’s sharing his vision for turning around a moribund offense. If the right players aren’t there on the line, or a clearly superior one is available at another position, he will have to pivot. But talk to Poles about the Bengals and their fast ascent to a grand stage and the conversation turns back to the offensive line. That’s worth remembering.
It certainly is.
The Bengals undoubtedly did the right thing here. Chase is a star, the type of number one receiver that everyone wants. But would he be the same type of player with the Bears? I’m not so sure.
It isn’t just the fact that former head coach Matt Nagy’s offense so evidently didn’t work last year. For 40 years the Bears have won with defense while struggling to generate points on offense, particularly in the passing game. At what point do you accept that’s who you are and that is the way that you are going to have to win?
The Lions are in the middle of a long rebuild. And I guarantee you that head coach Dan Campbell wanted to start that slow climb that is ahead of him by building a running game first. I would contend that in that respect, Sewell wasn’t a bad pick for them.
When I look at the Bears and not just where their current strengths lie, but where their strengths have traditionally lied, I’m not too sure going the same route would have been a bad thing for them either.