With the No. 19 pick the Bears had an opportunity to address the clich need constantly ascribed to them: offensive line. Stanford guard David DeCastro, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, Georgia guard Cordy Glenn andIowa tackle Reilly Reiff were all available (Glenn and Martin still are, going into Day 2). The Bears passed.That was the right non-call.The Bears certainly dont need ratification here, but offensive line was not a primary need and shouldnt have been the No. 19 pick unless one of the available blockers was appreciably better than McClellin or the other edge rushers on the board. Consider:-- Forget the total sacks of a season. Its meaningless for the 2011 Bears. Jay Cutler was sacked 23 times in his 10 games and only 12 times over the final eight. The 10-game rate is about what Aaron Rodgers (2.4 per game) and Tom Brady (2.0) endured, and the arrow was clearly pointing up when Cuter broke his thumb.-- The Bears rushed for 2,015 yards last season. That includes six games without their starting quarterback and defenses knowing Caleb Hanie was not going to beat them. And that includes 4-34 games after Matt Forte went down with his knee injury.-- And three different Bears backs had 100-yard rushing games. Marion Barber ran for 108 yards at Denver. Kalil Bell rushed for 121 against the Packers.-- Think Mike Martz wasnt part of the problem? Of Cutler's 23 sacks, 14 came in the first three games when the playcalling breakdown was 128 pass plays vs. 51 runs: a 72-28 ratio. At Green Bay, the Bears ran 42 times and passed 28. Josh McCown was not sacked. At Minnesota (pitting JMarcus Webb against Jared Allen, in that dome) the backs carried 21 times and McCown threw or scrambled 29 times and was sacked on the other seven pass plays.The lasting impressions of the Bears offensive line were formed in that nine-sack first half against the Giants in 2010, the mystery game-planned first couple of games last season, and the Minnesota game.Those dont tell the full offensive line story. The full story was there in the first round Thursday.
Bears GM Ryan Pace struck gold with his signing of Jerrell Freeman last offseason.
Freeman, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bears last March, was graded as the NFL's No. 1 inside linebacker in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.
Freeman's 93.8 overall grade was PFF's third-highest defensive grade behind Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald (95.6) and Oakland Raiders standout edge rusher Khalil Mack (93.9).
Here's what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about Freeman's historic 2016 season:
One of the most impressive pure statistics any player amassed this season came from Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He made 40 tackles in coverage while missing only one tackle attempt. That ratio is insane, and it’s the best we’ve recorded since 2012. That’s about the only exciting stat, though, as the Bears’ front-seven desperately missed a fully-healthy Pernell McPhee for a good portion of the year.
Despite Freeman's outstanding season, he was left off of PFF's All-Pro Team for 2016. Although he was ranked ahead of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (91.6) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (92.9), PFF likely omitted Freeman due to him missing four games with a PED suspension.
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In his first season with the Bears, the 30-year-old Freeman led the team with 110 tackles (the next highest total was Harold Jones-Quartey's 78). Freeman also finished with a team-high 7 tackles for a loss.
Check out a snapshot below of Freeman's PFF metrics from last season:
If there's any doubt about Freeman's play falling off after serving a suspension, he put that theory to rest. Freeman's second-best game grade came in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings (3.5). Freeman also had a positive grade (1.4) in his first game coming off the suspension against the Washington Redskins in Week 16.
"People know me," Freeman told the media after returning from suspension. "People know who I am. People know what I'm about. I wouldn't do that on purpose. I made a mistake and that's what it is. It's not like I was going out of my way to do something (illegal). But it happened. It's my fault and I take responsibility for it."
Bears Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard will have a new positional coach in 2017.
According to ESPN's Adam Caplan, the Bears are expected to hire former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins as their running backs coach.
Before joining the 49ers in 2016, Modkins served as the Detroit Lions running backs coach from 2013-15. Modkins broke into the NFL as a running backs coach with Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. After serving one year in Kansas City, Modkins left for the same job with the Arizona Cardinals in 2009. The following season Modkins took a promotion with the Buffalo Bills, becoming the team's offensive coordinator from 2010-12.
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Modkins will be reunited in Chicago with reported new Bears offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn. The duo worked together for three seasons with the Lions from 2013-15.
The Bears were in need of a new running backs coach after Stan Drayton departed to take an associate head coaching job under Tom Herman at the University of Texas.