Bears need to avoid Oakland-like tension

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Bears need to avoid Oakland-like tension

Buddy Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk.com has an excellent summary look at the goings-on in Oakland with the Raiders search for a new general manager. It is a scenario the Bears desperately need to avoid but appear to be skirting dangerously close to similarly thin ice.

The nub of the situation hinges around Hue Jackson, coming off his first year as head coach and now involved in the process of selecting his boss -- much the same as Lovie Smith now is for Jerry Angelos successor.

The name on the front-burner there is Green Bay football operations director Reggie McKenzie, who is a leading name in the Bears deliberations, sources have confirmed for CSNChicago.com.

The problem is that Jackson has had a direct line to team ownership and now the organization is looking at bringing in a GM. But where will that individual fall on the org chart visavis Jackson?

Chairman George McCaskey has been explicit in delineating the lines of authority. The GM in consultation with the president and ownership selects the head coach -- except that now the head coach is in consultation for the hiring of the general manager, exactly backwards from the way it should be and the Bears lay it out.

Mike cites some very clear examples where a dysfunctional coach-GM relationship has blown up the franchise (Kansas City, San Diego).

What makes the Oakland situation worth watching in Chicago is that former Green Bay personnel guru Ron Wolf, now an agent of sorts for McKenzie and a consultant on matters NFL, is involved. One take is that McKenzie has been slow to move toward the Oakland job because of interest in Chicago. But the Bears job only opened on Tuesday, and that was a huge surprise around the league, so McKenzie may only now be taking his long look at Chicago.

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”