After Lovie Smith? Bears have issues to consider

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After Lovie Smith? Bears have issues to consider

Bears management would not have jettisoned head coach Lovie Smith without a plan in place for his successor. The first indication of Smith being done in fact came in the form of other teams receiving permission forms from the Bears, requesting clearance to interview members of their staffs for the top field job in Chicago.

FOXs Jay Glazer first reported that Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was among those on the Bears short list. Other names, including some from successful college programs, will be surfacing.

But the issue is not automatically as simple as deciding on a candidate and making a lucrative financial offer. The Bears can interview coaches with current playoff teams but it is a busy market, with six other coaches already fired and their organizations looking for replacements.

A lot of things we dont know, said quarterback Jay Cutler. A lot of things are up in the air right now. I dont think were going to have a clear idea of whats going to happen in the future and what direction were going to go until we get some coaches.

Taking offense

Smiths problems finding a coordinator to direct the offense failed four times, three of them over problems involving Cutler: Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice. None was able to build a sustainable program around Cutler, or in Tices case, Cutler and Brandon Marshall.

Cutler and Marshall are still here, Cutler with just one year remaining on his current contract. It will be something of a significant surprise if GM Phil Emery goes forward with a long-term extension (or even a short one, for that matter) for Cutler, whom he regarded as a franchise quarterback back when the Bears were winning.

Unlike Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis (Andrew Luck), Andy Reid in Philadelphia (Donovan McNabb) or even Dick Jauron in Chicago (Cade McNown), the new Bears head coach will not come in with a high draft choice and option of getting the quarterback of his choosing.

Given that Smiths successor is expected to be from a background on offense, this may be very significant.

The Bears do not draft until No. 20 this year and already have Cutler, 30 next season, in place.

Change isnt always a bad thing, Cutler said. Sometimes, it can be good. The prospect at the time was unfavorable, but ... no one really wants to change or think about changing. Now that its upon us, weve got to be positive about it. It is what it is.

Weve just got to keep moving forward, and whoever it is, weve got to make the most of it.

Problems ahead on defense?

The next Bears head coach will come into a situation where many of the elite core players on the defense are on the veteran side of age 30. Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman were both voted to the Pro Bowl.

More significantly, the Smith-Rod Marinelli defense was typically termed the Cover-2 but in fact was a simplified system that worked well with a particular type of player.

It has been a 4-3 scheme that places a premium on speed over just size. Where the 4-3 scheme of Dick Jauron-Greg Blache was a two-gap system using massive down linemen (in 2001 the starting ends were 290 pounds and the tackles 340 and 360) who controlled blockers and kept them off linebackers.

Smiths system has flourished with speed rushers: Super Bowl ends Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye were 260 pounds and three-technique Tommie Harris was 285.

The current Bears roster is not staffed with the quantity and type of linebackers or sized defensive linemen to switch to one of the versions of a 3-4 now in use.

Who knows? said defensive end Corey Wootton, who had a solid season in 2012. I might have to gain 20 pounds.

Personnel policies

Brian Urlacher is not expected back after a year that began with him sitting out training camp with knee problems and sitting out the last four games with a hamstring problem.

His replacement, Nick Roach, is not a gimme at this point.

My contract is up as well, Roach said. Its just a part of the NFL, and its going on all around the league today. Thats the part of the league that people dont like if youre associated with it.

Henry Melton was voted to his first Pro Bowl but is an unrestricted free agent and expected to command a bank-shaking contract. Whether it is from the Bears is what the next couple of months will determine.

Bears Talk Podcast: Reacting to acquisition of QB Mitch Trubisky

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USA TODAY

Bears Talk Podcast: Reacting to acquisition of QB Mitch Trubisky

In the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bears traded up to No. 2 overall and drafted QB Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. Chris Boden, Alex Brown, and Hub Arkush sat down and talked about the moves made by Ryan Pace and what this means for the franchise's future. 

Also, hear from Trubisky himself speaking at the podium in Philadelphia as well as his former Tarheel Head Coach, Larry Fedora on what the signal caller can bring to the Bears. Finally, listen to the full podium availability of Pace after day one of the draft.

Listen to the Bears Talk Podcast below.

Bears will not have quarterback competition: ‘Glennon is our starter’

Bears will not have quarterback competition: ‘Glennon is our starter’

The Bears’ aggressive decision to trade up and draft Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 pick won’t create a quarterback competition this summer and fall, general manager Ryan Pace said. 

Pace made it clear that Mike Glennon, who the Bears signed in March, will be the team’s starting quarterback when they open the 2017 season Sept. 10 against the Atlanta Falcons. 

“There’s no quarterback competition when Mitch gets here,” Pace said. “Glennon is our starting quarterback. We’ll focus on Mitch’s development and Mike Glennon winning games for the Chicago Bears.”

Both Glennon and Trubisky, though, are no strangers to quarterback competitions — and coming out on the wrong side of them. Glennon, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lost his starting job midway through the 2013 season to Josh McCown, then permanently was relegated to backup duty when Jamies Winston was picked first overall in 2014. 

Trubisky, too, was unable to beat out Marquise Williams for North Carolina’s starting quarterback job in 2014 and 2015, only taking over after the graduation of Williams, an undrafted free agent who didn’t stick on an NFL roster. Pace pointed to Williams having “chemistry” within the Tarheels’ offense, though, which powered North Carolina to an 11-win season in 2015. 

Pace said the Bears don’t have a timetable for when they expect Trubisky to take over as the team’s starter. But given Glennon’s contract is structured so the Bears could cut him for $2.5 million next year — bringing his guaranteed money to $18.5 million — there could be an opening for Trubisky as soon as 2018.

It’s worth noting, too, that it’s rare for quarterbacks in the same range as Trubisky to not play in their rookie years. The last quarterback drafted in the top 10 to not start a game their first year in the league was Tennessee’s Jake Locker (eighth overall) in 2011. And the last time a quarterback effectively was benched his entire rookie year was 2004, when fourth overall pick Philip Rivers appeared in two games and attempted eight passes for the San Diego Chargers.

But the Bears won’t plan on Trubisky taking playing time away from Glennon this fall, and feel they have an ideal situation set up to develop their highest draft pick since the AFL-NFL merger. 

“I talked to Mike tonight, he understands the competitiveness of our business at every single position,” Pace said. “Mike also understands he’s our starting quarterback. Mike’s been here working hard all the time, already developing leadership with his teammates. I’m extremely excited about Mike Glennon this season and I’m extremely excited about adding Mitch to our roster.”