Retaining assistants could drive away Bears' head coach candidates

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Retaining assistants could drive away Bears' head coach candidates

When Phil Emery discussed the firing of Lovie Smith during his press conference on New Year's Day, the Bears general manageralso said he was open to possiblykeeping some members of the coaching staff.In recent days, there has been a feeling that Emery would maybeopt keep some members of the defensive coachingstaff. Several players have publicly stated their fondness for the scheme and the coaches they worked with on a daily basis. There are no doubt some good teachers on that side of the ball, most notably defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and secondary coach Jon Hoke.Retaining the defensive staff may look good from the outside looking in, considering the success they have had, but it istypically not a good way to move forward. There will be potential head coaches that willnot want the job if they are forced to keep current members of the staff.Everyone knows the Bears system defensively has worked and they have the personnel to fit it, and thatmany of the players are loyal to it . However, there are bigger issues with the arrival of a new coach.Head coaches want to choose their own staff. They want guys that they have worked or share the same philosophies with, not people forced upon them. The biggest reason is loyalty. If the defensive coaches are retained, who are they loyal to? Not the head coach, but thegeneral managerand front office that showed thatthey had the power to keep them at Halas Hall. A new head coach needs everyone on the same page. Think ofBill Belichick and Nick Saban--two coaches that have showed that long-term success is almost always predicated on everyone doing it one way, and only one way.Another problem involves the players. If the Bears keep Marinelli and others, the defensive players will favor the staff on their side of the ball and may not give full respect to the new head coach. If times get tough, who will they lean on? Certainly not the new guy. It's a sure-fire way to fracture a team and in many ways undermines what a new coach is trying to do. If the Bears want change, it has to be a full and complete change.If the Bears force their new coach toretain several assistants,it is likely there will be candidates that will remove themselves from consideration or view the job as less appealing. Why would an offensive coach,who hasworked withquarterbacks andserved asa coordinator, want to keep quarterbacks coachJeremy Bates--who may have a different style, set ofbeliefs and philosophy? No coach wants to begin a job feeling thathis hands are tied.

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”

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: