Bears Rumors

Bears Interview George Edwards For DC

While the Bears will not top their Mike Singletary defensive coordinator interview for candidate popularity, they reached out to a former NFC North DC this week as well.

The Bears requested an interview with Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards, and the former Vikings DC met with Bears brass, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Edwards worked in Minnesota for six seasons but spent the 2020 campaign on Mike Nolan‘s staff in Dallas.

The Cowboys had one of the worst defensive seasons in franchise history in 2020 but interviewed Edwards to replace Nolan, Hill adds. Dan Quinn, however, ended up landing the Dallas DC gig. Edwards, 53, has been an NFL assistant since 1998 and has held two defensive coordinator posts — in Buffalo and Minnesota — since 2010.

While Mike Zimmer played a major role in the Vikings ranking as a perennially stout defense during Edwards’ tenure, his top lieutenant played a key part in those units’ success as well. Minnesota’s defenses finished in the top 10 in points allowed in each of Edwards’ final five seasons. The Vikings took a considerable step back this season, though their defense lacked the talent of previous years.

Chicago has assembled a growing list of Chuck Pagano replacement options in recent days. Edwards and Singletary join internal candidates Jay Rodgers (D-line) and Sean Desai (safeties), ex-Cardinals and Giants DC James Bettcher and Colts DBs coach Jonathan Gannon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Interview Mike Singletary For DC Job

The Bears’ defensive coordinator search ratcheted up in stature this week, now involving one of the biggest names in franchise history. Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary met with Bears brass about their DC position this week, Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic report (subscription required).

Singletary has not coached in the NFL since being the Vikings’ linebackers coach during ex-teammate Leslie Frazier‘s Minnesota stay (2011-13), but he brings head coaching experience and quite the legacy with the Bears. The middle linebacker on their storied 1985 Super Bowl squad, Singletary earned first-ballot Hall of Fame status after his 12-year Bears career concluded.

Most recently, the ex-49ers head coach worked with The Spring League last year and as head coach of the Alliance of American Football’s Memphis Express in 2019. Singletary, 62, served as an advisor with the 2016 Rams as well. But the Chicago legend’s most notable coaching work obviously came with San Francisco.

Singletary went 18-22 with the 49ers, rising to their head coaching role in 2008 and staying through the 2010 season. While the overall results were mixed, Singletary did oversee the 2009 squad’s defense to a top-five ranking. Prior to presiding over Patrick Willis‘ early-career work, Singletary coached the Ravens’ linebackers for two seasons. The first of those, 2003, featured Ray Lewis following in Singletary’s footsteps by winning Defensive Player of the Year acclaim for the second time.

Chicago lost two-year DC Chuck Pagano to retirement and has assembled a short list of replacement options in the days since. Singletary joins internal candidates Jay Rodgers (D-line) and Sean Desai (safeties), ex-Cardinals and Giants DC James Bettcher and Colts DBs coach Jonathan Gannon.

Bears Interview James Bettcher For DC Job

After sitting out this season, James Bettcher is drawing interest for a potential third defensive coordinator job. The Bears are interviewing the former Cardinals and Giants DC on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Chicago lost two-year DC Chuck Pagano to retirement and has assembled a short list of replacement options in the days since. Bettcher joins internal candidates Jay Rodgers (D-line) and Sean Desai (safeties) and Colts DBs coach Jonathan Gannon.

The Giants employed Bettcher as their defensive play-caller from 2018-19. His most recent defense ranked 30th in scoring. Bettcher, however, would oversee a more talented unit in Chicago. In Arizona, Bettcher fared better. The veteran assistant was 3-for-3 in helming top-10 total defenses with the Cardinals. Even before Chandler Jones‘ 2016 arrival, the Cards ranked in the top 10 in both yards and points defensively in their 13-3 2015 season. Before his five-year run in Arizona — as a position coach and then the Cards’ DC — Bettcher coached under Pagano with the 2012 Colts.

Bettcher used a 3-4 defense as his base look in both New York and Arizona. The Bears deployed this alignment in base sets under Pagano and Vic Fangio over the past six seasons. Chicago’s defense has ranked as a top-10 DVOA crew since 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Interview Jonathan Gannon For DC

  • The Bears need a new defensive coordinator with Chuck Pagano retiring, and obviously with Matt Nagy being an offensive mind it’s a crucial role for Chicago. They’re starting to sift through candidates, and the team has put in a request to interview Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon for the job, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic tweets. Gannon isn’t the highest profile candidate, as he was a quality control coach as recently as 2017 until he was hired to be DBs coach on Frank Reich’s inaugural Colts staff in 2018. We’ve also heard that current defensive line coach Jay Rodgers and safeties coach Sean Desai are internal candidates to succeed Pagano.
  • New Falcons coach Arthur Smith will surely be running the team’s offense, but it sounds like he’s planning on hiring an offensive coordinator still. We also heard over the weekend that Bears passing game coordinator Dave Ragone was an early favorite for the OC role, but he’s apparently not the only contender. Atlanta has interviewed Panthers receivers coach Frisman Jackson for the job, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Jackson spent five years with the Browns as a player in the early 2000s, and was the Titans’ receivers coach in 2017 when Smith was coaching tight ends there, so he’s got that connection working for him. He then went to Baylor before following Matt Rhule from there to Carolina.

Updated 2021 NFL Draft Order

With the Divisional Round in the books, the 2021 NFL Draft order is mostly complete. The Rams, Browns, Ravens, and Saints now have their draft spots locked in, though the Rams’ first-round pick belongs to Urban Meyer and the Jaguars. The Rams traded those rights to Jacksonville as a part of the Jalen Ramsey blockbuster.

Here’s the updated draft order, through the top 28:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Texans)
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. San Francisco 49ers
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets (via Seahawks)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams)
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints

Bears DL Mario Edwards Suspended Two Games

Mario Edwards will be looking for a new home this spring, but the veteran defensive lineman won’t be able to suit up for the beginning of 2021. Edwards has been suspended for the first two games of next season, a source told Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s for a PED violation. It certainly won’t help Edwards, who’s set to be a free agent, find a decent contract. He played a good amount for the Bears this season, notching around 25 percent of the defensive snaps in a rotational role across 15 games. He finished the year with 17 tackles, six for a loss, and four sacks to go with one pass defended.

The Florida State product was drafted 35th overall by the Raiders in 2015, but never lived up to his draft status. He didn’t standout as a rookie, then missed almost the entire 2016 season due to injury. He started 14 games for the Raiders in 2017, but was waived before the 2018 campaign.

After spending one year with the Giants, he signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Saints in March of 2019, and had three sacks with them in a similar rotational role. Cut back in September, he was picked up just a few days later by Chicago. Still only 26 (for another week), he should get picked up by somebody this offseason despite the looming suspension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jay Rodgers On Bears, Others' DC Radars

  • In hiring Arthur Smith, the Falcons almost certainly have their offensive play-caller in place. But they have identified a Smith right-hand man in Bears passing-game coordinator Dave Ragone. The Chicago assistant has emerged as an early favorite to become Atlanta’s OC, with ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler tweeting a Smith-Ragone partnership running the Falcons’ offense has a “good chance” of happening. Ragone has been with the Bears since 2016.
  • Now that Chuck Pagano has retired, the Bears are on the lookout for a new defensive coordinator. Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers and safeties coach Sean Desai stand to be the top internal candidates to succeed Pagano, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). Rodgers served as D-line coach under John Fox in Denver and followed him to Chicago in 2015. Rodgers’ contract expires next week, and Rapoport notes he is expected to be a DC candidate for other teams as well in the coming days.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/15/21

Here are the latest reserve/futures contracts given out:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

  • QB Kyle Sloter

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

This year’s NFL GM carousel figures to be more active than usual. The Falcons, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and Jaguars are all on the hunt for a new front office leader. And that’s only the official list. The real tally shows six clubs looking for a GM, since the Washington Football Team is expected to install a GM to work alongside head coach Ron Rivera. By mid-January, we could easily see a couple more jobs opening up — that’d put ~25% of the NFL on the market.

We’ll keep track of the GM candidates for each club here, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make general manager changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here’s the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (7:02pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Bears Expected To Retain Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy

The Bears will need to hire a new defensive coordinator, but their power structure is otherwise expected to remain in place.

Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are expected to stay on in their respective roles, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Pace has been with the Bears since the 2015 season, hiring Nagy in 2018. The results have been mixed, and one fateful draft decision has largely defined this era of Bears football, but it appears ownership is content after a second playoff berth in three seasons.

Pace’s decision to trade up to No. 2 overall and draft Mitchell Trubisky has proven to be one of the modern draft’s premier missteps, with Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson becoming superstars fairly quickly while Trubisky struggled. The Bears declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option, and Nagy benched the embattled starter in September. However, the Bears turned back to their young passer late this season and managed to make the playoffs despite a six-game losing streak. The Saints then dispatched the NFC’s No. 7 seeded-squad in a game that saw the Bears gain just 140 yards prior to a garbage-time drive.

While Pace did well to build a championship-caliber defense — trading for Khalil Mack, signing Akiem Hicks and drafting Eddie Jackson and Roquan Smith — Chicago’s offenses have capped that unit’s relevance. The Bears lost DC Vic Fangio after the 2018 season and will now be searching for a successor to the retiring Chuck Pagano. Chicago’s defense has ranked in the top 10 in DVOA over the past three seasons, but some of its key players — Mack, Hicks, Danny Trevathan and Robert Quinn — are either north of 30 or will be by the 2021 season.

Nagy earned Coach of the Year honors in 2018, with the ex-Chiefs OC elevating Trubisky considerably that year and ending a seven-season Bears playoff drought. The Bears finished fourth in the NFC North in each of the three Pace-John Fox seasons, but their 2018 slate did not prove to be an indication of an imminent ascent. The team has gone 8-8 in each of the past two years and has ranked no higher than 22nd in scoring or total offense in that span, despite the 2020 playoff berth in an expanded postseason.

It is not certain if Nagy will have a new quarterback to work with in 2021, but is does look like the young head coach has done enough to earn a fourth season in Chicago. The team still has Nick Foles under contract for 2021 but will add another starting-caliber passer — via Trubisky extension or via outside acquisition — ahead of next season. The Bears have also featured little in the way of proven weaponry outside of Allen Robinson, who is a free agent. Pace’s work reassembling Chicago’s offense this offseason will go a long way toward determining his and Nagy’s long-term futures.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.