Chicago Bears

Sense of stability evident among Bears hierarchy going into pivotal year of major unknowns

Sense of stability evident among Bears hierarchy going into pivotal year of major unknowns

Specifics such as whom the Bears will draft at No. 3, or 36, or somewhere in between weren't going to be gleaned from this week's conversations with Bears Chairman George McCaskey, GM Ryan Pace or head coach John Fox. But more interesting, and important, too, are some the the more strategic takeaways from visits with the hierarchy most involved with Bears football fortunes.
 
More significant than anything regarding a player or position is the stability of the core, meaning Pace's and Fox's position under McCaskey. Because that ultimately affects draft choices, signings and myriad elements extending beyond the 2017 season. And some of all that involves understanding McCaskey's vision and history.
 
Realize: Pace was McCaskey's second GM hire in barely three NFL years. The first one of Phil Emery was an abject failure, as was the accompanying coaching hire. The absolute last thing McCaskey wants to be forced by circumstances into doing is replacing another general manager. Brother Michael lost his berth as president due to making the NFL's charter franchise into a laughingstock because of a botched coaching hire; Brother George has no wish to continue the kind of high-level turnover that both reflect, cause and perpetuate dysfunction, and losing.
 
Against that backdrop, one trail of breadcrumbs leads to a strong sense that Pace is secure in his job, barring something going epically wrong. McCaskey was clear that he approved of and likes the direction the Bears are moving under Pace, to the point of having Pace in a video directed to the fanbase. If Pace were on some sort of hot seat, McCaskey and the organization do not make him a short-term face of the franchise while they hope for a player to emerge as that "face."
 
McCaskey could not put a whole lot more pressure on Pace than the latter gets as part of his job and wanting to stay in Chicago for more than football reasons.
 
"Keep building through the draft," McCaskey said during the recently concluded owners meetings. "I told Ryan he should get ripped every time around this year, this time of year ever year for not being more active in free agency. And that's because we're developing our own guys and rewarding our own guys."

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The breadcrumbs from there lead to Fox's situation. Start with the thought that coaches operate for the present and GMs for the future. Not exactly true; GMs balance present and future.
 
But every indication, verbal and otherwise, has been that Fox was very much on board with the major makeover at one spot in particular — quarterback — and a coach with down to possibly a final season pounds the table for win-now material, particularly at that position. And when the Bears didn't re-sign Brian Hoyer this offseason, which may not have appeared to be benchmark non-move but was, at least one Bears coach was apoplectic at not staying a course with a quarterback who delivered 300 passing yards and zero turnovers in his brief Bears "career."
 
Fox, however, was clearly comfortable with giving the quarterback wheel a spin with Mike Glennon, and ultimately so is his staff. Because it is part of program plan.
 
Consider this scenario: The Bears rebound to a respectable seven or eight wins; not spectacular but the NFC North is the only division in either conference to send two teams to the postseason , meaning that Fox's Bears likely put up a couple wins over good teams, which can be construed as the "progress" that McCaskey referenced this week.
 
Meanwhile, Pace has a third draft with impact players, the Kevin Whites, Eddie Goldmans and others come back from injuries, the Bears go into the 2018 offseason and land Kirk Cousins or have Glennon be what they'd hoped, and the Bears are what McCaskey envisions: a challenger with an arrow pointing up.
 
All theoretical or hypothetical, but Pace has a plan that McCaskey knows and endorses, and best guess is that he gives his GM, and coach, time to have it play out.
 
"We have confidence in Ryan and John," McCaskey said, imposing only "progress" and "results" as his conditions. "We want to build through the draft. Ryan said that in his interview when he said he was interested in coming to the Bears. And we like how he has stuck to that plan."
 
Maybe that was the most significant tell; McCaskey has seen progress apart from the record: "Yeah," he confirmed. "Yes sir."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: John Fox hasn't decided who will get first-team QB reps on Sunday

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: John Fox hasn't decided who will get first-team QB reps on Sunday

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Phil Rogers (MLB.com) and Anthony Herron (670 The Score) join Kap on the panel. 

John Fox hasn’t decided who will get reps with the first-team in Sunday’s all-important third preseason game? Could Mitch Trubisky get a look with the ones?

Javy Baez hustles and scores the winning run for the Cubs. Is his the most entertaining athlete in Chicago? Plus will Nicky Delmonico still be on the White Sox in a few years when they are ready to contend for the postseason?

Listen to the full epidsode here

For Mitch Trubisky and the Bears' QBs, things remain status quo...for now

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USA Today Sports Images

For Mitch Trubisky and the Bears' QBs, things remain status quo...for now

Is there a way for Mitch Trubisky to take first-team snaps in Sunday’s all-important preseason game No. 3 without slighting Mike Glennon?

“I think probably not,” coach John Fox said. “… We’ll evaluate that and see where that goes.”

That’s not a definite answer, but Fox also didn’t totally dodge the question posed to him after Monday’s practice at Halas Hall. And it doesn't mean the Bears won't necessarily still give Trubisky some first-team work. 

Fox, though, stressed earlier in his press conference that he and his coaching staff haven’t talked about what the plan will be for Glennon, Trubisky and Mark Sanchez Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. 

“We’re very, very early,” Fox said. “We’re not even into preparation for the Titans yet. We’ll meet on that. We’ll talk, and we’ll keep you guys posted.”

Trubisky, as expected and for the second consecutive game, was the third Bears’ quarterback to take the field Saturday night against Arizona, taking over for Sanchez after the veteran backup played one series. Whether or not Sanchez plays on Sunday is another question, but the 2,285 passes he’s attempted in his seven-year career (compared to 630 for Glennon and zero for Trubisky) mean the Bears feel comfortable cutting into his snaps to give more to Glennon and/or Trubisky. 

Testing Trubisky — who’s largely played with and faced third and fourth stringers — with running a first-team offense against first-team defense could provide an important evaluation in his development. Fox, though, has said that getting Trubisky reps, no matter with what team, is the most important thing the team can do for his growth during training camp. 

Trubisky was hit hard a few times against Arizona behind the Bears’ third-string offensive line and played mostly with undrafted rookie Joshua Rounds as his running back. While he made a couple of poor throws — Tanner Gentry’s offensive pass interference probably prevented an interception — he finished his night having completed six of eight passes for 60 yards with a touchdown. 

“I thought again he showed good toughness,” Fox said. “I think he took a couple shots. They did a couple things different we hadn’t seen, as far as (our) protection. But I thought he showed good accuracy, probably mainly a couple decisions that he’d probably change. But I thought all in all he did well.”