Phillips to make a rash hire? Not likely

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Phillips to make a rash hire? Not likely

Always good to drop in and visit with Danny Mac and The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 every Thursday at 10, this morning with Lawrence Holmes in for Matt. Usually Lawrence and I are chatting Bears just turning our chairs around in the Halas Hall press room but this works.

The Bears GM search is obviously front-burner and an obvious variable here is Ted Phillips. The Bears president is directing the screening process and doubters will point to his not being a football guy and how informed will his choices be.

Im not sure how critical to be of that yet. A plus within the Bears organization is that since Michael McCaskey was moved out of the presidents chair, the front office doesnt meddle in football operations. Thats a good thing; it means you dont have Dallas, or Washington.

Whether Phillips acted impulsively or too quickly in dumping Jerry Angelo can be debated. But hes typically been thorough in business dealings, and it would be out of character for him to make a rash hire. He didnt in the case of Angelo and I suspect he wont now, and I would argue that there have been far worse GMs than Angelo with his four division titles and two trips to NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl qualifier.

Smiths involvement?

Mac and Lawrence wondered how involved Lovie Smith is in the process, and I have had no inklings that he has been a hands-on part of the interview process; hes not sitting next to Phillips in the interviews. He doesnt have that kind of juice at this point unless asked, which he will be for his opinion on each. Besides, hes got his own staffing issues to resolve as well as player evaluations.

On that score, Lawrence mused about the passing-game coordinator possibilities. Weve both been around receivers coach Darryl Drake enough to appreciate Drakes personality, which I see as a mesh with O.C. (for now, anyway) Mike Tice. And Drake was O.C. at Baylor at one time. So while Greg Olsen has the NFL experience as coordinator, if youre looking for a straight-shooter in what he thinks, hard to beat Darryl Drake.

Picking the championshipers

As for the weekends outlook, I thought the New York Giants were a better team than the Green Bay Packers even if I was surprised at the way Green Bay schemed on defense, or rather, failed to scheme. I dont think San Francisco will be as cooperative as the Packers, which is why I see Jim Harbaugh in the Super Bowl he never reached as a Bears quarterback.

And New England-Baltimore? How do you pick against Tom Brady in Foxboro? The Ravens got to their Super Bowl with a mediocre quarterback (Trent Dilfer) because Ray Lewis was in his pure prime, which hes not now. Well see this weekend.

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.” 

Bears Talk Podcast: How will the offensive line fare in 2017?

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USA TODAY

Bears Talk Podcast: How will the offensive line fare in 2017?

In this edition of the BearsTalk Podcast, JJ Stankevitz and Chris Boden discuss what should be a strength - the offensive line, and one member who has a lot on the line this season.

Plus, the guys pick some numbers for the 2017 season and predict whether or not the team or individuals will fall short or exceed them.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: