Bears Eyeing Major Staff Changes?

While the Matt NagyRyan Pace regime showed early issues, the Bears did not produce a losing season until the fourth and final year of that partnership. Although circumstances are a bit different for Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles, the team is in a worse spot than it was during the previous duo’s run.

The Bears have now lost 13 straight games, and their defense has cratered under Eberflus, a defensive-oriented head coach. Alan Williams, the defensive coordinator who followed Eberflus from Indianapolis, lasted only 18 games with the team. Inappropriate conduct on Williams’ part is believed to have occurred, and the Bears’ defense has taken significant steps back since Eberflus arrived. While the Bears have gutted the nucleus that helped Mitch Trubisky pilot the team to two playoff berths, it finished last in points allowed in 2022 and ranks 31st this season.

Following Williams’ exit and Justin Fields making comments about the coaching staff’s role in his struggles — a point the third-year QB attempted to walk back — Poles addressed the state of the team. The Bears are early in the Poles-run rebuild, but a new president — ex-Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren — is in place. A growing suspicion exists in league circles Warren is already considering rebooting the operation, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes.

Fields ranks last in QBR, sitting nearly six points behind Zach Wilson, through three games. The Poles regime did not draft Fields, who threatened to break Lamar Jackson‘s single-season QB rushing record last season, but has a clear stake in his future. The Bears traded away the No. 1 overall pick, showing a belief in Fields over an investment in the likes of Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. Chicago should be well-positioned for the 2024 draft, holding their own pick and Carolina’s. Another QB investment may be necessary, but it will be worth wondering if this regime will be in place to make the picks by then.

One GM told La Canfora that Warren has seen enough to know change needs to take place. The Bears do not fire coaches in-season, and it would represent a quick trigger to dump Poles so early in his rebuild effort. But two-and-done coaches are standard practice in the NFL. Quick GM hooks are less common, though these moves have taken place in the recent past. The Jets dropped John Idzik after his second season, while the Texans canned Brian Gaine midway through his second offseason.

Warren arrived in January, succeeding longtime team president Ted Phillips. The latter was in his final months on the job when Poles and Eberflus were hired, and La Canfora notes Bill Polian played a lead role in the hires. The Bears have kept their organizational workflow in place from the Phillips era, with Warren stationed as the buffer between ownership and the football ops department. Warren would have the power to fire the second-year GM-HC duo and lead the next search. Not directly in charge of the Bears’ football ops, Warren is believed to have a role on that side.

The Bears have not had a two-and-done HC since Marc Trestman, who was fired after the 2014 season. Trestman also stands as the Bears’ only two-and-done period since the 1970 merger. Trestman went 13-19. Poles should be considered on safer ground, but Eberflus — now in place as the Bears’ defensive play-caller — should certainly be viewed as a hot-seat occupant given recent developments.

Saints Sign QB Jake Luton, Release WR Tre’Quan Smith From IR

The Saints are adding some much-needed depth at the quarterback position. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, New Orleans is signing quarterback Jake Luton off the Panthers practice squad.

[RELATED: Saints’ Derek Carr Suffers AC Joint Sprain]

Luton spent most of the 2022 campaign on the Saints’ practice squad, so he’s plenty familiar with Pete Carmichael’s system. Luton was waived by New Orleans back in May and caught on with the Panthers. He was among the team’s final cuts but eventually signed on with Carolina’s practice squad.

The former sixth-round pick has turned into a true journeyman despite being in the league for only three-plus seasons. Luton has spent time with the Jaguars (two stints), Seahawks, Dolphins, Saints, and Panthers. The quarterback’s resume consists of three starts with Jacksonville as a rookie. The Jaguars went 0-3 in those three contests, with Luton completing 54.5 percent of his passes for 624 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions.

While the Saints “dodged a bullet” when it came to Derek Carr‘s injury on Sunday, the quarterback is still expected to miss some time with a AC joint sprain. Carr has been deemed week-to-week, although he hasn’t officially been ruled out for Week 4. With rookie fourth-round pick Jake Haener still serving a suspension for failing a drug test, Jameis Winston was the only healthy QB on the Saints roster before today’s move.

The team wasn’t done making moves today. According to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football, the Saints have released wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith from injured reserve. The former third-round pick was a productive member of New Orleans’ receivers room for five seasons, hauling in 131 receptions for 1,764 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also got into four playoff games, collecting another two scores.

Smith inked a two-year, $6MM extension with the Saints prior to the 2022 season, but with Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed stealing snaps, Smith had one of the least productive seasons of his career, finishing with 19 catches for 278 yards. Smith landed on injured reserve after final cuts, meaning he only needed one more week before he could be activated. Ultimately, it sounds like the Saints didn’t see a future for him in New Orleans, and the receiver is now free to sign (and immediately play) elsewhere.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/26/23

Today’s practice squad moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: S A.J. Finley

New England Patriots

  • Released: CB William Hooper

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Geron Christian is back in Houston for his second stint with the team, as the lineman started eight of his 14 appearances for the Texans in 2021. The former Washington third-round pick spent the 2022 campaign with the Chiefs, where he mostly played on special teams in his 10 games.

A pair of notable running backs found jobs today. Deon Jackson joined the Browns practice squad after getting cut by the Colts last week. The RB started Week 1 for Indy, and he ultimately finished his stint with the team having collected 504 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in 27 games. Meanwhile, Jeremy McNichols is heading to San Francisco after having spent the past two seasons as one of Derrick Henry‘s backups. The former fifth-round pick got into 30 games between 2021 and 2022, collecting 655 yards from scrimmage.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/26/23

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

The Chargers officially placed Mike Williams on injured reserve today, opening a roster spot. The front office didn’t take long filling his spot on the depth chart, snagging receiver Simi Fehoko from Pittsburgh’s practice squad. The former fifth-round pick spent the first two seasons of his career with the Cowboys, where he hauled in three catches in 10 games. The Stanford product also had a significant role on special teams during his time in Dallas.

Roy Lopez looked to be entrenched in Houston’s defense for the foreseeable future, with the former sixth-round pick starting 29 of his 33 appearances between 2021 and 2022. However, after collecting only 67 tackles and two sacks across those two seasons, he was waived/injured by the Texans at the end of the preseason. The defensive lineman caught on with Arizona’s practice squad late last week.

Patriots Place DT Daniel Ekuale On IR

After suffering an injury during Sunday’s win over the Jets, Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale will miss at least a month. The team announced that they’ve placed the defensive lineman on injured reserve. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Ekuale tore his biceps, an injury that will keep him off the field for at least four games.

After bouncing between the Browns and Jaguars to begin his career, Ekuale has found a home in New England in recent years. After getting into seven games with the Patriots in 2021, Ekuale appeared in 15 games for the team in 2022, getting into about one third of the team’s defensive snaps. The defensive tackle ultimately finished last season with 14 tackles and a pair of sacks.

Through the first three games of the 2023 season, Ekuale was seeing a similar role as he did in 2022. Pro Football Focus currently has the defensive tackle graded 50th among 128 qualifying interior defenders, although the site did give him a top-20 grade for his run defense.

Fortunately for the Patriots, the team isn’t in desperate need for defensive line help. Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy will continue to soak up most of the snaps in the middle of the defensive line, and the team could get creative with Christian Barmore. Sam Roberts also saw a bump in snaps once Ekuale exited Sunday’s game.

Panthers S Xavier Woods To Miss “Extended Time”

The Panthers are down another key defensive back. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, safety Xavier Woods is set to miss “extended time” while recovering from a hamstring injury.

[RELATED: Panthers To Place CB Jaycee Horn On IR]

It’s uncertain exactly how much time Woods will miss, but a source told Fowler that the safety could be sidelined for four-to-six weeks. Woods has generally stayed healthy during his career, missing a total of six regular season games through his first six seasons in the league.

The former Cowboys sixth-round pick turned into a reliable starting safety during his time in Dallas, starting all 44 of his appearances between 2018 and 2020. Woods joined the Vikings for the 2021 campaign and proceeded to have a career year, finishing with a career-high 108 tackles, 10 passes defended, and three interceptions.

That performance earned the safety a three-year, $15.75MM deal from the Panthers during the 2022 offseason. Woods started all 15 of his appearances during his first season in Carolina, finishing with 86 tackles. He also started the Panthers’ first three games of the 2023 campaign, with Pro Football Focus grading him as the eighth-best safety among 85 qualifying players.

This is a tough break for a Panthers secondary that recently lost cornerback Jaycee Horn to a hamstring injury. That issue ultimately landed the starter on injured reserve. The team will have to dig deeper into their secondary depth with Woods set to miss time. Rookie fifth-round pick Jammie Robinson and UDFA D’Shawn Jamison round out the safeties depth chart behind Woods and Donte Jackson.

Latest On Raiders, Chandler Jones

The Raiders-Chandler Jones saga continues to unfold, and the veteran edge rusher said he has attempted to reach out to the team about why he is not presently permitted to play. Residing on the reserve/non-football illness list, Jones said he has tried to contact GM Dave Ziegler to no avail.

This turbulent month for the Raiders and their 2022 free agency acquisition has now involved Jones indicating he has been hospitalized. The 33-year-old defender wrote Monday night that the Las Vegas Fire Department officials transported him to the hospital “against my will,” according to’s Paul Gutierrez.

Jones social media posts, which have catalyzed his on-field hiatus, indicated he was transferred from the hospital to Seven Hills Behavioral Health Hospital last week. He said between five and seven Las Vegas Fire Department officials came to his home to inform him he was being placed on a “court hold” by the Las Vegas Police Department.

The former Patriots and Cardinals standout also wrote that the staff at the behavioral hospital “tried to force me to take meds & injections.” Jones also indicated the reasoning behind his alleged hospitalization came about because of his online activity.

I haven’t done anything wrong,” Jones said, via Gutierrez. “The police said people were concerned about me because of my posts online. I’m still confused on what I did wrong. I’m stuck here. I’m very sane. I’m to strong of a person to be mentally broken [sic].”

The Raiders placed Jones on the reserve/NFI list last week, moving him off the 53-man roster. While the team is open to activating Jones if the situation improves, it does not seem likely that will transpire in the near future. Jones also said he called Ziegler at least six times after being hospitalized, adding that he “wondered if [Ziegler] had me put in here, but he never answered.” The Raiders have classified this a private matter.

An incident involving Jones being locked out of the Raiders’ facility in early September, leading to him conducting a workout at a public gym, marked the beginning of his tirade against the team and its top staffers. Jones said he no longer wanted to play for the Raiders as long as Ziegler and Josh McDaniels were in charge. The $17MM-per-year pass rusher also said the Raiders sent a crisis team to his house not long after the initial round of posts. Recently, Jones added to this bizarre dust-up by saying owner Mark Davis is “holding a huge secret.” Raider players and others around the league have expressed concern for Jones’ health. The 11-year veteran has not practiced with the Raiders since the locked-door incident.

Jones signed a three-year, $51MM deal with the Raiders in March 2022. The team is not obligated to pay the former All-Pro while he is on the reserve/NFI list, but an offseason restructure converted most of his salary into a signing bonus. Jones is only tied to a $1.17MM base salary this season.

Falcons Place LB Troy Andersen On IR

The Falcons will be without one of their starting linebackers for a while. Troy Andersen is headed to IR, the team announced. The 2022 second-round pick has run into multiple health issues to start his second season.

After missing Week 2 with a concussion, Andersen returned to action against the Lions. But he has encountered shoulder and pectoral injuries. Indicating Andersen’s injury “didn’t look good,” Arthur Smith said a potential season-ending IR stay could be on tap. An MRI confirmed a severe injury, per the team website. It is not known if Andersen suffered a torn pec, an injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season.

Although teams have eight IR activations to use in-season, Andersen may not factor into this roster math. Andersen went down during the fourth quarter of the Falcons’ Week 3 loss to the Lions. Nate Landman, a 2022 UDFA, stepped in for Andersen.

Arriving as last year’s No. 58 overall pick, the Montana State alum joined a Falcons team with a crowded linebacker group last year. Despite Foye Oluokun‘s defection to Jacksonville, Atlanta still rostered a host of veterans — Deion Jones, Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski — along with Mykal Walker. The Falcons overhauled their linebacking corps upon hiring Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator. Jones, Evans, Kwiatkoski and Walker are all elsewhere, with ex-Saint Kaden Elliss added to anchor the team’s linebacking corps.

Playing behind the likes of Walker and Evans last season, Andersen did make five starts as a rookie. The Division I-FCS product notched 69 tackles (three for loss) last season, forcing a fumble. He started alongside Elliss to open this season. A Colorado alum, Landman played in 10 games as a rookie. After logging just 22 defensive snaps throughout his first season, Landman has already been on the field for 57 this year. He started in place of Andersen in Week 2 and looks to continue in that capacity moving forward. Sixth-year veteran Tae Davis sits as the other Falcons backup inside ‘backer. The Falcons have Andre Smith and Milo Eifler as their practice squad ILBs.

Falcons Sign T Storm Norton Off Saints’ Practice Squad

Storm Norton spent the past six months with the Saints, signing with the team in March and ending up on its practice squad. But an intra-NFC South transaction will send him to New Orleans’ top rival.

The Falcons are signing Norton off the Saints’ P-squad, according to’s Mike Garafolo. Atlanta will be the veteran tackle’s sixth NFL destination. He is best known for a Chargers tenure that spanned from 2020-22.

Because they are poaching Norton off another team’s practice squad, the Falcons must keep the seventh-year blocker on their active roster for at least three weeks. Norton spent the past three seasons on the Chargers’ 53-man roster, working as a starter for most of the 2021 campaign. Norton, 28, started 15 games for the Bolts that year, beating out Trey Pipkins for the team’s right tackle job. Pipkins, however, won the following year’s competition to lead Norton to a backup role. The Chargers let Norton walk in free agency this offseason, re-signing Pipkins on a three-year, $21.75MM deal.

Norton, a 2017 UDFA, will join a Falcons team housing entrenched starters at tackle — in Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary — and one that rosters Isaiah Prince as its swingman. Prince, however, was inactive for the Falcons’ Week 3 game against the Lions.

A Toledo alum, Norton has journeyed to Detroit, Arizona, Minnesota, Los Angeles and New Orleans over the first seven years of his career. He only played in one game over his first three seasons — a 2018 cameo with the Vikings — but worked his way up the ladder in L.A. Norton will now have a chance to make an impression as a Falcons backup.

Anthony Richardson To Remain Colts’ Starter Upon Return

The Colts picked up their second straight win in Week 3 despite having Gardner Minshew under center. The team’s backup signal-caller will retain that position on the depth chart once Anthony Richardson clears concussion protocol.

Richardson exited Indianapolis’ Week 2 game against the Texans after being removed due to the hit he suffered while scoring his second rushing touchdown of the contest. He remains in concussion protocol for now, and head coach Shane Steichen did not say for certain whether Richardson or starting center Ryan Kelly would be able to practice on Wednesday. Presuming the former is able to do so, though, his starting gig will await him come Week 4.

“Anthony is our guy,” Steichen said, via Akeem Glaspie of the Indy Star. “[Richardson’s] our starting quarterback, but going back to Gardner, a ton of respect for Gardner and what he does on a week in and week out basis. When he goes in, he operates at a high level and couldn’t be more thankful that he’s here and what he’s done for this football team.”

Given the Colts’ decision to anoint Richardson the starter after just one preseason contest, Steichen’s remarks come as little surprise. The No. 4 pick was tapped as a candidate to see immediate playing time as a rookie (just like Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, the two passers selected ahead of him), and his success on the ground in particular – 5.8 yards per carry, three touchdowns – has earned him a continued look as a first-teamer when healthy.

On the other hand, Minshew has been efficient in his time filling in for Richardson and his Week 3 start. The 27-year-old has posted a 66.7% completion percentage while throwing a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions. Targeted by the Colts in part for his Eagles connection to Steichen, Minshew represents a high-floor backup option to Richardson, as he has already demonstrated in the early going of the 2023 campaign.

Richardson’s participation in practice in the coming days will be worth watching closely, but for now he should be expected to clear the protocol in time for Week 4 against the Rams on Sunday. As long as he is available, he will return to his starting duties while Minshew is relegated back to his QB2 role.

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