Tillman chillin' in the Pro Bowl, too


Tillman chillin' in the Pro Bowl, too

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, one of the three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award to be announced Saturday, enjoyed his first-ever trip to the Pro Bowl. He hung out with his family and took it easy off and on the field, just like the vast majority of players on the AFC and NFC squads.

It was one of those great Griswold family vacations in Hawaii, Tillman said, with reference to the Chevy Chase movie classic about a family vacation. It was an experience. I definitely had a blast and look forward to going to more. Every player should experience it at least one time with your family.

And as far as the game itself, Tillman was a teeny bit sheepish. The hitting was minimal, putting the Pro Bowl alongside the NHL and NBA all-star games. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went so far to say that some players embarrassed themselves with the pulled punches.

Even New England head coach Bill Belichick wasnt saying it was a hard-played event. What Im going to say wouldnt be probably what I should say, Belichick began, which of course served to get the attention of everyone in the room. What it was and what it used to be are different.

No argument there. Tillman was honest about it.

Certain plays definitely looked bad, he agreed. We could have played a little bit harder than what we were playing. Ill admit no ones going out there to play like a playoff game in that playoff atmosphere.

But WE, and Ill say we, could have played harder on certain plays. We took off on a few plays.

Tillman was drafted in 2003 by Jerry Angelo, fired last month as general manager. Tillman was sorry to see him leave but understands how the operation and business work.

I was one of Jerrys kids," Tillman said. "Not to be funny but I was one of the guys Jerry drafted so from that standpoint I got a contract through him. He was good on his words with myself. What George McCaskey or Ted Phillips do upstairs, thats what they get paid to do.

Its a business, its a process, and Im sure one day I might get cut before I retire. So Im sure he didnt take it personal.

Check back for more on Tillmans Payton MOY status.

Hall of Fame to honor Butkus, Dent, Hampton, Sayers at Bears-Vikings game

Hall of Fame to honor Butkus, Dent, Hampton, Sayers at Bears-Vikings game

It will be a special evening for a handful of legendary Bears on Monday night.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will honor Dick Butkus, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Gale Sayers with a Ring of Excellence in a halftime presentation during the Bears-Vikings game at Soldier Field.

The Ring of Excellence is one of three symbols that represents Pro Football Hall of Fame status. The Gold Jacket, the Bronzed Bust and the Ring of Excellence will all be on display during the presentation.

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Each former Bear will wear their Gold Jacket and the four Bronzed Busts will be temporarily removed from the Hall of Fame for the ceremony.

Monday marks the second of three seasons in which the Ring of Excellence will be presented to the Hall of Famers.

Check out photos (provided by the Chicago Bears) of each ring below:

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Call it variations on a theme. The Bears on Monday night will face not only the Minnesota Vikings, but also Sam Bradford, the latest quarterback opponent that hints at possibilities in the Bears’ own future far beyond what was once the norm.

That norm is what can reasonably be expected from a new quarterback, one coming into a new system, new environment, even a new league, and having near-immediate success. Quarterback changes can involve upheaval of staff, personnel and even franchise identity, as the Bears can confirm based on their last eight years with Jay Cutler.

The experiences in Dallas, Minnesota and Philadelphia point to the kinds of quarterback transitions the Bears may be in search of after the 2016 season.

Bradford arrived in Minnesota via trade just eight days before the season opener, yet has proceeded to post the best results of his career: for completion percentage (67.5), interception percentage (0.6 percent; 7 TD’s vs. 1 INT), yards per attempt (7.4) and rating (100.3, vs. a previous best of 90.9).

More important, without the Vikings’ starting left tackle (Matt Kalil) and running back (Adrian Peterson), Bradford has the Vikings leading the NFC North and tied for the NFC lead at 5-1.

“[The Vikings] had the misfortune of losing their quarterback, they go out and make a bold move to get him and they haven’t missed a beat offensively,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “He’s been getting better and better.”

This all holds particular relevance for the Bears, who saw Brian Hoyer step in and deliver four straight 300-yard passing games, something he’d never done in his career and no quarterback in Bears franchise history had done. Cutler’s personal best was two straight, for purposes of comparison.

The Bears are expected to have a new quarterback in some form or other next year. In the meantime they have been victimized by two rookie quarterbacks already this season (Carson Wentz, Philadelphia, and Dak Prescott, Dallas). The experience of Bradford, Prescott and Wentz, all new in 2017 to their situations, suggests chances of dramatic improvement over the Bears’ recent history with Cutler, for example.

“A good quarterback can influence the guys and make guys around him better,” Wentz said. “So it’s one of those things where the quarterback usually gets too much credit and too much of the blame as well. It’s just kind of the nature of the position.”

Prescott and Wentz were 2016 draft choices and had offseasons and training camps with their respective teams. Bradford had none of that, yet began his year throwing 130 passes without an interception.

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How that happens may be illustrative for the 2017 Bears. The Vikings traded for Bradford, a one-time starter for the Rams and Eagles. But because of the late-offseason timing of the deal, necessitated by the season-ending leg injury for Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford had to be eased into the new offense.

“I think that’s honestly one of the bonuses of coming during the regular season,” Bradford said on Thursday. “Obviously it would’ve been nice to have some practices in training camp. But once you get into the regular season, it’s not like you have the whole playbook in each game plan. Each game plan is very specific for that week’s opponent, so it’s considerably less than would be in your training-camp installs.

“So I think that helped a little bit. But as far as it being cut down, the volume wasn’t so much cut down as how the plays were called, naming some concepts with some things I was familiar with. That really helped me.”