View from the Moon: Happy Chico landing

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View from the Moon: Happy Chico landing

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
3:26 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Ron Riveras sometimes-discouraging search for a job as a head coach finally is coming to a happy ending as the former Bears linebacker succeeds John Fox as head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Rivera was let go by Lovie Smith in 2006 after a successful stint as defensive coordinator and he had interviewed over the intervening years for top jobs in Dallas, Arizona and elsewhere.

Rivera worked as San Diego Chargers linebackers coach in 2007 and moved up to defensive coordinator in 2008, answering any questions about whether a 4-3 linebacker and coach could work with a 3-4 scheme.

The kind of coach Chico is and will be is pretty much out there on the record. Everywhere hes played and coached, hes won. Period.

But theres always been one snapshot of Chico that has stayed with me.

Back in 1993 when Dave Wannstedt was coming in as Bears coach, changes were obviously coming. One day out in the back of old Halas Hall, sometime in late June when nobody was around after a conditioning session, Chico was there late, snapping balls to a ball boy standing 13 yards away.

What are you doing? I asked Ron.

Learning a new trade, he said, laughing. New regime, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Chico never became a long snapper. What he did do, however, was do what he had to do. He worked in as an analyst for WGN, then he worked as an unpaid quality control coach for the Bears, just to get experience around coaching.

The Eagles took a chance on him in 1999 and the late Jim Johnson hired him to coach linebackers. Philly went to three straight NFC Championship games and eventually Rivera landed on Lovie Smiths staff in 2004 as coordinator.

It really wasnt Smiths first choice; that was Rod Marinelli, whom the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wouldnt free up. Pro Personnel chief Bobby DePaul knew Chico from Philadelphia, which helped get Rivera in the door and he ran with the opportunity.

Hes still running with it. Good for a good guy who was always willing to do what he gotta do.

New kids

Teams are best served when they dont look past the game in front of them but the Bears front office doesnt have that luxury.

An early analysis is that the Bears will address, among other positions, defensive tackle in the coming offseason. Accordingly they signed Tank Tyler to a reservefutures contract Monday, picking up a veteran with 19 starts and 47 NFL games between 2007, when he was a third-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Also signed was wide receiver Onrea Jones, an undrafted free agent out of Hampton College who made the Houston Texans practice squad in 2007 and has been with San Diego, Green Bay, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals

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 challenged to replace coaches involved in three all-rookie selections

Bears challenged to replace coaches involved in three all-rookie selections

As a sign of good things to come, three Bears were selected to the NFL's all-rookie teams. But there's a negative thread running through the honors of linebacker Leonard Floyd being named to the rookie defensive team, and the selections of center Cody Whitehair and running back Jordan Howard to the rookie offensive team.
 
The concern lies not in the players or the personnel department under GM Ryan Pace that designated them for drafting. It is in the fact that the position coaches for all three rookie standouts are all gone from the staff of coach John Fox.
 
Finding talent is difficult enough. Developing it is the crucial next step in the football process, and what was evident in the rookie years of Floyd, Whitehair and Howard was that each developed into NFL-grade players with some very solid coaching.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
 
Offensive line coach Dave Magazu was not brought back, reportedly in favor of former Miami Dolphins assistant offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn, as reported by Sirius XM radio and Sporting News.
 
Stan Drayton, who coached Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State, then Howard this year, left for the University of Texas.

Outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt appeared to be exiting for the New York Jets, although sources report that the deal may not go through.
 
Coaches can't create talent but they can certainly foster and maximize it. Replacing the mentors of their three top rookies from arguably the best draft class since 2004 (Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Bernard Berrian, Nathan Vasher) now becomes a talent search in its own right.

Accolades keep pouring in for Bears' 2016 rookie class

Accolades keep pouring in for Bears' 2016 rookie class

The 2016 NFL Draft could be one that will define Ryan Pace's tenure as GM of the Bears.

Just last week, Jordan Howard became the second rookie running back in Bears franchise history to be named to the Pro Bowl since Gale Sayers in 1965.

The PFWA released their 2016 All-Rookie Team on Tuesday, and Bears center Cody Whitehair, linebacker Leonard Floyd and Howard all made the list.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Howard, the Bears' fifth round selection (150th overall) out of Indiana, set the rookie franchise record with 1,313 rushing yards on 252 carries and 6 touchdowns. Howard also had 29 receptions for 298 yards and one receiving touchdown.

Floyd, the No. 9 overall selection out of Georgia, registered 33 tackles, 7 sacks and 9 quarterback hits in 12 games.

Whitehair, a second-round pick out of Kansas State, started all 16 games at center for the Bears after spending the majority of the preseason at guard.

The Bears (tied with the Chargers) had the second-highest number of selections behind the Kansas City Chiefs.

Check out the complete 2016 PFWA All-Rookie Team below:

Offense

QB – Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
RB – Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys; Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
WR – Sterling Shepard, New York Giants; Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
TE – Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers
C – Cody Whitehair, Chicago Bears
G – Joe Thuney, New England Patriots; Laremy Tunsil, Miami Dolphins
T – Jack Conklin, Tennessee Titans; Taylor Decker, Detroit Lions

Defense

DL – Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers; DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers; Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs; Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB – Jatavis Brown, San Diego Chargers; Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears; Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons
CB – Vernon Hargreaves III, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars
S – Karl Joseph, Oakland Raiders; Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons

Special Teams

PK – Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints
P – Riley Dixon, Denver Broncos
KR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
PR – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
ST – Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs