Angelo: No decision on Lovie's long-term future

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Angelo: No decision on Lovie's long-term future

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
2:28 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The inescapable other shoe that comes to mind when word of Miami offering Jim Harbaugh 8 million to coach the Dolphins is whether or not that will drive the Bears to get a contract extension done with Lovie Smith before the bar for coaches who actually have done something in the NFL spirals upwards on the Bears.

General Manager Jerry Angelo and the Bears aren't going to be rushed. Angelo isnt ruling out adding years to the one more Smith has on his deal, but Smith already is at 5.5 million and the Bears arent desperate, like the Miami Dolphins are.

Desperateness drives people to do things they maybe normally wouldnt have done, Angelo said Thursday. Its a supply and demand business but we dont let that rule our thinking. We can only look at what we do, our parameters, how we build and how we go forward with our philosophy...

Well have a plan in place when the time comes.

But the specter of a work stoppage has frozen some teams planning, it was a factor in Smith being brought back for the 2010 season, and the Bears simply have no reason in the current market to extend a contract already in the upper echelon of coaching salaries.

After describing the current Bears team as not the most talented but the best team hes had, Angelo put on hold any public declaration of direction with respect to Smiths situation.

That is understandable and the right course. Angelo created a mess for himself when he said late in the 2001 season that he and the Bears would be working to extend the contract of Dick Jauron. While that may have been a strategy to make any subsequent impasse appear to be on Jauron, it also committed to the Bears to a course that became distasteful for them after the Bears proceeded to lose in the divisional playoff round following a bye week.

The indication now is that the Bears will wait at least until after the playoffs before moving, or not, on Smith.

The one thing weve done a pretty job of and I know its clich-ish but clichs are there for a reason we have really focused on each and every week, Angelo said. I think thats critical in football. Weve really stayed that course and we will continue to stay that course. When the seasons over, and hopefully thats not going to be for a while, then we will address all those things.

We always do what you need to do to take care of your business and Im going to leave it at that. Right now our focus is on this upcoming game and finishing the job.

Lovie performance appraisal

Smith in all likelihood was gone if the Bears had not reached this postseason or at least turned in a playoff-grade record where it was no fault of their own that they did not reach the playoffs.

But along with the 11-5 record, Smith restored something important for the organization.

In our business, its all about credibility and I felt we lost some credibility, Angelo said. We did. It just goes with the territory. We werent getting the job done.

But in terms of how I felt about Lovie, how I feel about the staff, Ive always felt good about that. But the bottom line is the bottom line. Youve got to win football games; youve got to win your division. That s what creates credibility. Its not personality. Its not how I feel about anybody. That is the bottom line. And thats how credibility is. Its not a testament to your character, its a testament to your wins and youve got to win football games and we all understand that.

What about you, Jerry?

At least one report has circulated that Angelo himself would step down from his post after this season, particularly if the finish comes with a Super Bowl ring. Not so.

I dont know why thats important to anybody, Angelo said. Ive heard it; its no big deal. The only one thats happy to hear that is my wife. But thats not going to happen. Im very fortunate to be here and as long as Im blessed with health, Ill continue to do what I love and thats being part of football.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears Camp Shorts: Leonard Floyd debuts, front-7 goes on the attack

Bears Camp Shorts: Leonard Floyd debuts, front-7 goes on the attack

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Leonard Floyd, sidelined by illness almost as soon as Thursday’s first practice began, was in full pads on Saturday, with coaches limiting his workload and with the kind of mixed results usually associated with rookies.

The rush linebacker, working primarily with the No. 3 defense, set a defensive edge and flashed in a stop of running back Senorise Perry. But Floyd struggled in some of his pass drops and followed a play fake and lost containment on one quarterback rollout in team sessions.

Floyd likely dropped some pounds over the course of week with a stomach virus but “Leonard is exceptionally quick and explosive,” said coach John Fox. “We saw that on tape as a college player and all through the OTAs. A lot was made of his weight but that takes care of itself. He’s just a good football player”….

[RELATED: Bears agree to extension with Willie Young]

…The defense has wanted more pass rush from its down-linemen and has seen just that from Akiem Hicks in the early camp going. Hicks overwhelmed rookie guard Cody Whitehair with a bull rush in a two-man pass-protection drill, and Hicks again was in the face of quarterback Jay Cutler during team sessions, combining with Mitch Unrein for one simulated sack and breaking in solo for another.

“Somebody told me [Cutler] said, 'Do that in pads,'” Hicks said of his Friday encounter with the quarterback. “He said that yesterday when I got him and then today I got him in pads, and he didn't say much”….

Lamarr Houston was involved in the first dust-up of camp as he and guard Ted Larsen engaged in post-whistle hostilities. But the rush linebacker also was involved in myriad impact plays ranging from coming clean for a simulated sack in pass-rush work to stacking up two different run plays in team...

For Willie Young, Bears contract extension more than just a simple business transaction

For Willie Young, Bears contract extension more than just a simple business transaction

BOURBONNAIS — Sometimes football is just a business. Sometimes it’s that and a lot more.

For Willie Young, the business side was taken care of late Friday night when the Bears added two years to his contract, projecting him as a Bear through the 2018 season.

The emotional side was still being taken care of on Saturday, when a former seventh-round draft choice was able to step back and realize what effectively a third NFL contract means to someone who was passed over time after time in the draft and never expected to be much.

“I’m slightly speechless right now but excited,” said Young, someone rarely at a loss for words.

“It means a lot,” Young said after a long pause, reflecting on how seventh-round picks rarely even make teams. “All the teams that passed me over ... My big thing is who I am and what the name on my back stands for.”

[MORE: Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension]

Young was able to call his family and give them the news, “We’re going to be in Chicago a little while longer.”

Just as his entry into the league was shaky, his tenure in Chicago was seldom secure before this weekend.

When Young signed with the Bears in the 2014 offseason, leaving the Detroit Lions, he did so assuming that he was coming in as a starting defensive end. That changed when the Bears landed Jared Allen to position opposite Lamarr Houston. That season ended nevertheless with Young leading the Bears in sacks (10) before suffering a torn Achilles late in the season.

Allen was traded away last season, giving Young a job opportunity as he was coming back from Achilles surgery. Trouble was, the defense Young was returning to had changed completely, and Young was now a linebacker, now with coverage responsibilities and playing in situations.

Despite that second major change from what he’d expected, Young still managed 6.5 sacks, second on the Bears. That, combined with his work through the offseason to date, convinced the Bears that he was more of a fit than even he perhaps thought once upon a time.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The result was a two-year contract extension agreed to late Friday night and added to the final year (2016) Young had from his initial Bears contract which locked him up only through the end of this season.

“It feels good to reward somebody that’s worked as hard as he’s worked and overcome the injury last year, and the leader that he is out there mentoring our younger players,” said GM Ryan Pace. “I feel really good about it. It’s good for our locker room, it’s good for our team.”

Where he once struggled to fit in – and was not reluctant to say so – Young now is securely ensconced as one of the starting outside linebackers in the Bears’ 3-4 scheme. When the Bears go to a 4-3 in nickel situations, Young lines up as the defensive end he had been for his career.

“There’s not a big difference [between 3-4 linebacker and 4-3 end],” said coach John Fox. “I think that [‘don’t call me a linebacker!’] was a little tongue-in-cheek. Some guys up to a point have had their hand on the ground, it’s a little bit of an adjustment. But there’s way more carryover They are involved in coverage a little bit more but I think he’s adapted to it quite nicely actually.”

With Ted Larsen, Bears O-line doesn't yet need SOS call

With Ted Larsen, Bears O-line doesn't yet need SOS call

The story from about five years ago goes like this: Ted Larsen and his girlfriend were out on the water, deep sea fishing, when they heard a Coast Guard warning about three kayakers in distress. Realizing the location was relatively nearby, Larsen immediately headed to the area, found the trio, and pulled them aboard before any other help could get there.

The Bears offensive line isn't in nearly as much distress, but after the retirements of veterans Manny Ramirez and Nate Chandler before they would even play a game for them, along with Kyle Long going down on with a calf strain in Thursday's opening practice of training camp, the former Buccaneer and Cardinal may be an important lifeline on Dave Magazu's unit.

"We gotta get some depth there. We have very little depth," Larsen said earlier this week in Bourbonnais. "The guys we do have are good. I think it's just finding the five best guys we have and throw them out there. There's competition everywhere, obviously besides Kyle, so...I'm ready to play whatever position. I've started ten-plus games at every position inside. Wherever they need me to help the team out, I'm ready to go."

Which he wasn't back in June, missing the last half of OTAs and the entire three-day mandatory minicamp with a calf strain of his own. Long was on the sidelines Saturday watching practice without the boot he'd been wearing the previous two days in hopes of speeding the healing process. And while the team's encouraged it's not a long-term injury, flashbacks of Alshon Jeffery's struggles that began with a calf strain a year ago will force them to proceed cautiously.

[MORE: Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension]

As a result, Larsen's stepped in for Long at right guard when the original plan was to have him compete with second-round pick Cody Whitehair and Hroniss Grasu (who have one season of NFL experience between them) at left guard and center, respectively. In his six-year career, Larsen's started 34 games at left guard, 13 at right guard, and ten at center.

"As the unit gets better, the whole team gets better. I'm not scared of any rookies or younger guys. I've played a lot of games, some playoff games. We all have experience in this league. Whoever's out there is out there, whether I'm playing center and helping Cody, or I'm helping Grasu, or whatever it is. You don't want guys to play worse, you want `em to play better, so when you're in there, you're playing at a high level."

The Bears struck on the opening day of free agency to sign Larsen's Arizona teammate from the last two seasons, Bobby Massie, to become their new right tackle. Two weeks later, Larsen followed.

"It's a program on the rise," the 29-year-old explained. "Bobby had signed here.  We played together and it was just another opportunity to come in on a one-year ($1.65 million) deal. It's kinda what I wanted. Play well, have a chance to start, and be on a competitive team."

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The deal came a day after Ramirez originally signed and a month before Whitehair was drafted and Matt Slauson subsequently cut. Things have changed again since then, and for a team adapting to more of a zone-blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, cohesion and communication and comfort is crucial before the regular season starts.

Larsen originally played alongside Willie Young as a defensive lineman at North Carolina State before being switched to the other side of the line his junior season. Larsen was a sixth-round draft pick of New England in 2010, but was subsequently cut. Young was a seventh-rounder by Detroit that year. As Young earned a two-year contract extension Saturday, Larsen hopes to prove his worth to the Bears this season, as well. While avid fisherman Young reeled in a new deal, Larsen shares the same off-field passion, part of the reason he was around to help rescue those kayakers.

"We actually were on a flight to Fort Lauderdale this offseason, same day. He was actually going to fish somewhere else and I was going to the (Florida) Keys. It's definitely a mutual interest, same for Bobby Massie - he's another big fisherman."

Who's the best?

"I dunno," Larsen answers. "We just do it for fun."