Tagged in: Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy returning to calling plays on offense

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy has ended any expectation over who will call the team’s offensive plays in 2021.

The former NFL Coach of the Year confirmed on Friday that he will handle playcalling duties after temporarily ceding the responsibility to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor for a time last season.

“I’m going to be the one calling the plays this year, and so I know that you’ll probably be asking that, so we can just let you know that from the front end,” Nagy said on a Zoom call.

Last year, the Bears struggled to find any rhythm on offense until a late-season three-game winning streak lifted Chicago to a wild-card playoff berth.

The Bears concluded the 2020 season ranked near the bottom in most offensive statistical categories.

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However, Nagy expressed enthusiasm over Chicago’s acquisition of veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who is the team’s new starter after former second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky signed with Buffalo in free agency.

Veteran Nick Foles is penciled in as Chicago’s No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.

“Some things will be a little bit different (on offense),” Nagy stated.

“There’s going to be some things that Andy likes that Mitch and Nick hated, and vice versa. But we’re going to work together to figure out what that is. So you know, as a personnel department, as Ryan Pace as the GM, myself as the head coach and a coaching staff, when we collectively came together and said, hey, when you go through free agency and you look at everybody that’s available, it was really a consensus for us to get Andy in here and move forward as the starting quarterback.”

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Andy Dalton says Chicago Bears told him starting quarterback job is his

The Chicago Bears apparently won’t have a quarterback competition. That job goes to Andy Dalton.

The former Cincinnati and Dallas QB stated he has been assured the top spot is his and he won’t be competing with veteran Nick Foles.

“They told me I was the starter,” Dalton said Thursday. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. So every conversation I’ve had has been that, so that’s the assurance that I’ve gotten.”

A three-time Pro Bowler, Dalton agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $10 million deal. He can earn an additional $3 million in bonuses.

Dalton’s arrival is a big letdown for fans hoping the Bears would swing a blockbuster trade with Seattle for Russell Wilson. He is aware the reception he is getting is about as warm as a Chicago winter.

“Obviously I know there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m coming in from the outside,” Dalton said. “A lot of people don’t know a ton about me and are gonna get to learn a lot about me while I’m here. That’s all I’m worried about and so, I’m here now.

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“Hopefully everybody gets a chance to see who I am as a player, as a person, see what we’re gonna be able to do with this organization. I’m excited about the opportunity. Obviously there’s been a lot of talk, but I’m not worried about any of that.”

Dalton said he was in “constant contact with everybody” as the Bears tried to obtain Wilson from the Seahawks.

He was thrilled when it became clear there would be no trade, because he wanted to come to Chicago.

“When it wasn’t happening and this worked out for both of us to come together and for me to be a part of this team, I was ecstatic because I was hoping that was gonna be the case,” he said. “I knew everything that was going on.”

Dalton has thrown for 33,764 yards, 218 touchdowns and 126 interceptions over nine seasons with Cincinnati and one with Dallas. He led the Bengals to the playoffs his first five seasons after they drafted him out of TCU in the second round in 2011, but never won a postseason game.

He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and in 2014 and 2016. He set several Bengals passing records, but in more recent years, the offensive line deteriorated. So did the cast around him. His results suffered, too, and the Bengals released him in late April after drafting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick.

Dalton then signed with Dallas as a backup in early May. He wound up playing in 11 games and made nine starts with Dak Prescott suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5.

The Cowboys concluded 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.

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New Orleans Saints bring back QB Jameis Winston on 1-year deal worth up to $12 million

Quarterback Jameis Winston now has a chance to become Drew Brees’ successor with the New Orleans Saints.

Just one day after Brees revealed his retirement, Winston and the Saints reached agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $12 million, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The former No. 1 overall NFL draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner spent his first five seasons as a starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before signing a one-year deal in New Orleans last summer to try to revive his career as the Saints’ backup.

Although Winston played sparingly, the Saints were impressed enough to bring him back to compete with Taysom Hill for the starting job this year.

Sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that the Chicago Bears were serious suitors for Winston in Monday’s free-agency process before he picked the Saints.

The Saints will have to carve out a bit more salary-cap space before the beginning of the new league year on Wednesday. They started the offseason nearly $100 million over the cap but had whittled that figure down to around $10 million by the start of this week.

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Winston, who turned 27 in January, went 28-42 as a starter with Tampa, completing 61.3% of his passes with 19,737 yards, 121 touchdowns and 88 interceptions. He displayed some dynamic highs and lows during that tenure — especially in 2019. That year, he led the league with 5,109 passing yards but also became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season.

Turnovers have been Winston’s biggest hurdle, with a league-high total of 111 from 2015 to 2019.

When the Buccaneers elected to move on to Tom Brady, Winston decided to try to revive his career in New Orleans. He signed a one-year deal worth just $1.1 million plus incentives because he said he wanted to get a “Harvard education in quarterback school” under coach Sean Payton and Brees.

Winston didn’t get much on-field experience in New Orleans behind Brees and Hill. But Winston did make his best play of the season when he completed a 56-yard touchdown pass on a trick play in the Saints’ playoff loss to his former team. Winston was 7-of-11 for 75 yards in the regular season with no touchdowns or turnovers.

Payton made it clear after the season that the Saints wanted to re-sign Winston and let him compete with Hill for the starting job following Brees’ retirement. Payton stated Winston was “fantastic as a leader” in addition to his arm talent.

Winston was suspended for the first three matches of the 2018 season after an eight-month NFL investigation ended that he engaged in detrimental conduct in March 2016 by touching a female Uber driver “in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.” A settlement was reached in a separate lawsuit.

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Chicago Bears hire former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as senior assistant

Mike Pettine did not have far to go to find his next job. The Chicago Bears hired the former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator as a senior defensive assistant Wednesday.

Pettine spent the past three years running the Packers’ defense but was not kept after he let his contract expire following the 2020 season.

The Packers ranked ninth in total defense last season under Pettine, but a defensive breakdown at the end of the first half in the NFC Championship Game on what coach Matt LaFleur called “a flat-out miscommunication” between him and Pettine on what the call should have been on Tom Brady’s 39-yard touchdown pass with one second left in the second quarter ultimately led to LaFleur’s decision to move on from Pettine.

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The Packers hired Joe Barry to substitute Pettine.

Pettine, 54, never signed a contract extension that was offered to him after last season, meaning he was in the final year of his deal, a source told ESPN after the season, making it a cleaner split.

Most coordinators and position coaches always have two years on their deals with the Packers, but Pettine preferred to go into the last year of his contract and see how things played out.

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that Bears coach Matt Nagy was leaning toward hiring a senior defensive assistant to aid new coordinator Sean Desai. In Pettine, the Bears not only will have an experienced defensive coordinator but also a former head coach (Pettine coached the Browns in 2014-15).

The Bears promoted Desai, who had been their safeties coach, to replace Chuck Pagano, who retired after the season.

The Bears on Wednesday also promoted Mike Snyder from offensive quality control coach to offensive quality control/assistant quarterbacks coach and moved Henry Burris from Bill Walsh Coaching Fellow to offensive quality control coach.

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New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas likely to have multiple surgeries on ankle

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas is likely to have surgeries on the torn deltoid and other injured ligaments in his ankle that plagued him all campaign, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

The expectation is that Thomas would be recovered in time for summer OTAs under a normal offseason calendar, the source said.

Thomas first suffered the high ankle injury in the final minutes of Week 1 and missed a total of nine games in the regular season. But the source said he knew it was likely Drew Brees’ last season and didn’t want to miss out on trying to win a Super Bowl with him.

Thomas often wouldn’t practice all week, yet would still play in games, at much less than 100% and with pain medication, the source said. The coaches told him that, even as injured as he was, they were much better off with him than without him.

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Thomas went on injured reserve from Weeks 15-17 to try to get as healthy as he could for the playoffs. He returned with five catches for 73 yards and his first touchdown of the season in the wild-card playoff victory over the Chicago Bears.

However, he had zero catches on four targets in the divisional round playoff loss to Tampa Bay — including a near-touchdown in which his knee was ruled out of bounds.

Thomas also missed Weeks 2-8 after first suffering the injury, then being disciplined for one game for a practice altercation that included him punching teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and then suffering a hamstring injury during his recovery.

He concluded the regular season with 40 catches for 438 yards and zero touchdowns in seven games — just one season after setting the NFL record with 149 catches in 2019. He did, however, have two games with nine catches and more than 100 yards receiving during Taysom Hill’s four-game stint at QB while Brees was sidelined by injuries of his own.

Thomas’ 510 career receptions are the most by a player in the first five seasons of his NFL career.

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Chuck Pagano to retire, while Chicago Bears likely to retain Matt Nagy, Ryan Pace

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has decided to retire, league sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

The Bears are likely to keep head coach Matt Nagy and general manger Ryan Pace, sources said.

Pagano, 60, spent just two seasons in Chicago after a six-year run as head coach of the Colts. He was hired by the Bears on Jan. 11, 2019, to replace decorated defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos.

In Pagano’s first season, the Bears’ defense lead the NFC in points permitted per game (18.6) and ranked second in the conference in net yards per game (324.1).

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Chicago’s defense again appeared to be the club’s strength in the early parts of the 2020 season, but the group’s performance leveled off as the year wore on. Chicago ended the regular season 15th in run defense and 11th versus the pass as the Bears (8-9) backed into the playoffs in Week 17.

Chicago was eliminated from the postseason by the New Orleans Saints in a 21-9 loss Sunday in the Superdome.

In six seasons as head coach of the Colts, Pagano went 53-43 in the regular season and 3-3 in the playoffs.

The fates of Nagy and Pace had been unclear after the Bears lost eight of 11 to end the year and concluded 1-7 versus playoff teams in 2020.

Nagy — named NFL Coach of the Year in 2018 — has guided the Bears to two postseason berths in the past three years. Pace just completed his sixth year as Chicago’s general manager.

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Houston Texans S Justin Reid (hand) out for season

Houston Texans starting safety is our for the remainder of the 2020 NFL campaign thanks to a hand injury sustained versus the Chicago Bears in Week 14.

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Houston Texans, 2020 threw another curveball their way. Starting safety Justin Reid will now miss the remainder of the NFL season thanks to a hand injury sustained against the Chicago Bears in their 36-7 loss at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Reid seemed to injure his hand during the first half on Sunday, heading to the locker room late in the half before returning to play out the game. 

No stranger to playing through pain, Reid had shoulder surgery last offseason and had played through what the Texans described as “wrist and shoulder injuries” during both of the past two seasons.

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Houston’s 2018 third-round pick out of Stanford, Reid has been a starter since day one.

A vocal team leader and outstanding safety, he should be a key component in this defense under the next general manager and head coach.

Looking to the more immediate future, this loss leaves the Texans without their top two defensive backs, after losing cornerback Bradley Roby to a suspension on November 30th. 

This is rough news for a secondary that is also without team captain and backup safety Michael Thomas who was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral after their Week 10 loss to the Cleveland Browns. 

As a result, Houston’s starting secondary will probably consist of Eric Murray and Lonnie Johnson at safety, with Vernon Hargreaves and Phillip Gaines at cornerback – Assuming Gaines is healthy after missing Week 14 with a knee/shoulder injury. 

The Texans now head to the Indianapolis Colts looking to bounce-back from last week’s upsetting performance in Chicago and avoid losing to their AFC South divisional rival for the second time in three weeks

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New York Giants adding Devonta Freeman on 1-year deal

The New York Giants are signing former Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman after losing Saquon Barkley for the campaign.

Freeman and the Giants agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, Freeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

Freeman is projected to sign the contract Wednesday morning, practice with the Giants later Wednesday and could play as soon as Sunday.

“Devonta turned down more money from other teams because he likes the opportunity with the Giants best,” Rosenhaus told Schefter.

Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee in Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. Dion Lewis played every snap in his absence.

Freeman, 28, spent the first six years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons (2015-16) and has averaged 4.2 yards per carry throughout his career. But Freeman had 656 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 184 carries (3.6 average) last season. The Falcons let him walk as a free agent this offseason and instead signed Todd Gurley.

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Freeman had other chances this offseason.

He turned down a deal that could have been worth $3 million with the Seattle Seahawks and recently visited with the Philadelphia Eagles.

But the Giants offer Freeman the best opportunity for touches with Barkley lost for the campaign. They have Lewis and Wayne Gallman on the active roster. Veteran Rod Smith is on the practice squad.

“Wayne and Dion are definitely guys that will factor in,” coach Joe Judge stated Monday. “We’ll work to their strengths — they are two different types of backs. Both of them have a degree of toughness. Wayne’s got that long speed, get him ranging out and get him really moving.

Dion’s got that real good short-area quickness and burst to get going. He does a great job of finding small seams and getting through the hole. They are both different guys; we’re going to have to work with what they do well to give them an opportunity to be successful.”

Now add Freeman, who visited the Giants on Tuesday, to the mix.

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Chicago Bears reach 3 year extension with Tarik Cohen

The Chicago Bears and running back Tarik Cohen reached a settlement Saturday on a three-year, $17.25 million contract extension.

Cohen’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed the deal to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cohen was in the final year of his four-year, $3 million rookie contract he signed after the Bears selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft.

In June, the 25-year-old North Carolina native said the situation provided an extra layer of motivation heading into the 2020 campaign.

“It’s definitely a motivating factor being that this is the year,” Cohen told reporters. “I feel like I can’t put any pressure on nobody else. It’s all on me. That’s how I like to go about it. I just take it upon myself, anything else like, I want to win as a team. I feel like if we win as a team that is good for everybody’s individual success.”

The 2018 Pro Bowl selection has been a valuable dual-threat benefit for Chicago.

He entered his fourth NFL season with nearly as many catches (203) as rushing attempts (250), showcasing the team’s efforts to get him the ball in space to use his elusiveness and game-changing speed.

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“On top of being a Pro Bowl talent, he’s the ultimate captain, teammate and competitor,” Telesco said in a statement. “Quite simply, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. Mike’s played a major role in establishing the culture and standard we now have in our locker room and sets a tremendous example, especially for the younger members of our team.”

Fourth-year offensive lineman Dan Feeney is expected to substitute Pouncey as the starting center, with Forrest Lamp likely filling in for Feeney at left guard.

The Chargers, the third-most injured team last season according to Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost, are already without star safety Derwin James, who recently underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Fullback Gabe Nabers was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Thursday in a corresponding move.

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Las Vegas Raiders finalizing deal with CB Prince Amukamara

The Las Vegas Raiders are finalizing an agreement with veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

Amukamara, who has started 99 matches in his career, should compete for a starting job with Las Vegas at best and provide much-needed experience and depth at cornerback at the very least.

The Raiders return Trayvon Mullen, who started the last 10 games of his rookie season last year, and used a first-round draft pick, No. 19 overall, on Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette and a fourth-round pick on slot corner Amik Robertson.

Amukamara, who turns 31 on June 6, was released by the Chicago Bears on Feb. 21, as he was entering the final season of his three-year, $27 million extension signed in 2018. His cap hit was to be $8 million.

Amukamara spent three campaigns with the Bears, appearing in 44 of 48 games with 42 starts, and had three interceptions (all in 2018), 29 passes defended, three forced fumbles, a recovery and a defensive touchdown. In nine NFL seasons, he has 476 tackles and 10 interceptions.

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A first-round draft pick of the New York Giants in 2011, he was part of their Super Bowl team in his rookie year.

He also spent a season with the Jacksonville Jaguars before joining the Bears in 2017.

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock recognized before the draft that the Raiders needed to address the position, especially after an offseason agreement with free-agent cornerback Eli Apple fell through.

“We feel like we got a bunch of talented young kids that we don’t know enough about yet,” Mayock said. “Trayvon played really well the second half of the season. We believe that he’s going to be a starter for years to come. Isaiah Johnson was a fourth-round pick, a former wide receiver with all kinds of physical skill set. We love his traits. He got hurt early, we brought him back late. He’s a guy we can’t wait to see play. Keisean Nixon was a free agent out of South Carolina who made the team and played well on special teams. He’s a really competitive young man. And Dylan Mabin is another kid out of Fordham who got hurt and didn’t get a chance to show what he can do.

“So, we’ve got four or five young corners who we’re kind of intrigued by. Now, do we think that we need to get better there? Yeah.”

Enter Arnette, Robertston and, now, Amukamara.

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