Tucker Confirms Defensive Changes and Other Bullets

MelTuckerHopefully everyone had a great weekend! The Bears rookie minicamp finished up, and sadly, my pet prospect (Indiana safety Greg Heban) didn’t make the grade for the Bears. (Not that I think that’s a bad decision; I’m certainly not qualified. I just liked watching him play in college.) According to Brad Biggs, the Bears did sign at least two players out of minicamp: North Texas safety Marcus Trice and Louisville running back Senorise Perry. Both players will head to camp with the Bears, and given the relative strength of their respective positional groups, I think Trice has to fancy his chances of cracking the roster more than Perry.

  • Among Perry’s competition, former NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch is certainly the highest-profile candidate. As Adam Hoge writes for CBS Chicago, the key to Lynch making the roster and being a potentially useful offensive player will be his ability to contribute on special teams. As a Heisman Trophy-finalist college quarterback, Lynch obviously wasn’t asked to do a lot of blocking or tackling, so he’s a bit behind the curve.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright has a nice rundown of the potential changes in store for the Bears defensive scheme. Mel Tucker sounds as though he wants to make a lot of changes, and after last year’s performance, I’d think that’s a good approach. From the piece, I received the impression that while the changes wouldn’t be sweeping, they will be felt at all levels of the defense. Tucker notes that the high level of defensive personnel turnover (both coaches and players) helps to facilitate this sort of change. This is Mel Tucker’s defense now; he’s no longer beholden to Lovie Smith’s scheme, and he’ll benefit from a wealth of new defensive talent. I’m very interested to see how the Bears look defensively under Tucker; due to injuries (and the Bears effort to maintain defensive continuity from Lovie’s system) I’m still not really sure I know what a Mel Tucker defense looks like.
  • Marc Trestman plans on giving Jordan Palmer the first crack at the backup quarterback position, as noted by Adam Jahns. I think Palmer has a leg up at this point, given that the Bears certainly view themselves as a contending team; his veteran status probably provides a more reassuring presence. That said, Palmer has thrown all of 15 passes in the NFL, so it’s not as though he’s a seasoned, tested player. Considering the Bears spent a sixth-round choice on David Fales, Palmer probably shouldn’t be too comfortable.
  • Patrick Finley wrote a quick piece for the Sun-Times on the relationship between second-round choice Ego Ferguson and undrafted free agent signing Christian Jones.
  • The Bears released punter Drew Butler, according to ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright. Butler was signed to a reserve/futures contract this offseason, but his chances of making the team were drastically diminished when Chicago selected Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round of the draft.
  • Speaking of O’Donnell, Jeff Dickerson wrote that he’s got some advice from the veteran specialists while at minicamp this weekend. Dickerson also reports that O’Donnell repeatedly hit the roof of the Bears indoor practice facility. Personally, I’m hoping he hits the Dallas scoreboard at some point. Remember when everyone assumed that would happen repeatedly, and it was treated as some sort of “Thing To Worry About”? Has it even happened in a game?
  • Finally, the National Football Post’s Joe Fortenbaugh has the Las Vegas Hotel Sportsbook NFL over/under lines for the upcoming season. The Bears sit at 8, which strikes me as low; I’d probably put it at 9. (Note: I’m not a professional gambler.) Looking at the other divisional teams, the Packers are at 10, the Lions match the Bears with 8, and the Vikings sit at 6. Play at your own risk.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

1,005 responses to “Tucker Confirms Defensive Changes and Other Bullets”

  1. frank

    Saw an article that said that some “forgotten” Bears may thrive under this new coaching staff. It mentions Ka’deem Carey, Ryan Groy, David Bass, Cornelius Washington and Al Louis-Jean.

    Also read that the 49ers are looking at Briggs and Mason Foster.

  2. mdavis

    Peat I think is the guy from Stan. No way he goes at 7. He may be a 2nd round pick. He got worked in a few games against lesser competition. I don’t think we see a lineman go until maybe the Giants pick. Bleacher Report came out with a 7 round mock. Matt Miller is pretty good, and 7 rounds is incredibly tough to predict.

    1. Cooper
    2. PJ Williams CB FSU
    3. Nate Orchard OLB Utah
    4. Sean Mannion QB OrSt
    5. Reese Dismukes C Auburn
    6. Chris Hackett S TCU

    First of all, if the first 3 rounds played out like that, I’m all in. I like that right away. Cooper, obvious talent (White went to Raiders). Williams can step in right away as a starter, a tick taller than 6’0″ 195. Orchard had a real nice Senior Bowl, and can give them a pass rusher in the rotation. After that….I don’t love Mannion. At all. Positives: prototypical size, 6’5″ 230. Can make the throws. Comes from a pro system. Negatives: had a real down year as a senior, lets things snow ball on him in a hurry. And I don’t see him ever being a starter…so what’s the point. Already have a development guy in Fales to turn into a #2 possibly. Petty was gone in 2 (Buf), Hundley in 3 (Saints), and Grayson a few picks ahead. Dismukes, I don’t know anything about, but ESPN has him rated as one of the better C. He’s 6’3″ 300, so good size, and they need a young guy. Hackett, he’s an interesting one. You look at the tape, and he’s a ball hawk. 6’1″ 195, 6 INTs this year for a very good TCU football team. Sucked at the combine. Turned in a 4.81 40 yard. I was looking to see if they had the pro day yet, but couldn’t find it. Either way, 6th round I think its a no brainer to take a chance on a guy like that.

  3. mdavis

    Just saw twitter exchange between Jarvis Jenkins and Mason Foster. Jenkins said he’s on his way to Chicago. DE 6’4″ 315, and only 26 (will be 27 this season). I’d like that move, at the right cost. Foster said he might be joining him, so who knows. But that would help solve some of the DL mystery at the 5 tech.

    1. mdavis

      anddddd now Aaron Leming saying they are close to signing Ray McDonald…wow. 6’3″ 290. Those two would both fill the need of the 5 tech. But McDonald coming over with MAJOR baggage after his last year off field incidents. I’d have to imagine they are extremely comfortable with the background checks to bring him in. Both guys get 1 year deals.

      1. frank

        Wow is right–especially McDonald with those off field issues. Read that Jenkins’s deal is for the minimum and only a partial guarantee. I also read that if Foster signs, it’ll likely be on a one year deal as well. Does answer some questions about the line though . . .

        1. mdavis

          You’d have to think with Pace being a first year guy, he’s only going to take very calculated gambles. So, has to feel comfortable with McDonald. But we’re getting some clarity. McDonald-Ratliff/Ego-Jenkins down the line in base. The Foster situation just seems weird to me, and the more I think about it, yeah, I’d take him but he’s not a must have. I’d feel good with Jones-Bostic in the middle, and in that round 4 range, a guy like Taiwan Jones to come in and compete.

          1. frank

            Jenkins has been a nonfactor in Washington for about three years now though–I wonder if they they think he might show something in this system, with these coaches, or if he’s ultimately a place-holder. The size of his contract could indicate either position. I’d be interested to see how a seal for McDonald would compare.

            1. frank

              deal — not “seal”

              1. mdavis

                From what I read Jenkins was kind of miscast as a “pass rusher”. The thinking is he can thrive as a run stopper at the 5-tech in the 3-4. He got the minimum I believe. But I still like it. He was a 2nd round pick, still young at 27. Pace is bargain hunting, and picking up some nice vets, and some younger vets.

                1. frank

                  Sounds like a low-risk, high upside move; and if he does do well as a run stuffing 5 tech, I’m sue they’d gladly sign him for more next year. I have to agree–nice move by Pace.

          2. frank

            Wasn’t Jenkins projected as a 3-4 NT when he was drafted?

          3. frank

            Any word on McDonald’s deal yet, aside from it likely being for one year?

            1. mdavis

              Mortensen reported that they are signing him. Mixed opinions on twitter about it, as would be expected. But he’s a Fangio guy, and if he stays clean and out of trouble, he’s a nice addition. Kyle Long was standing up for him as well. Would like to see that guy get a C next year. He deserves it.

              1. frank

                He’s a very good player–as you said, the key is whether he stays clean and out of trouble. I’m inclined to give this staff the benefit of the doubt right now, and they must think he’s worth a shot anyway.

                Every team needs leaders; especially this team. Some lead by example–I think of someone like Matt Forte–but vocal leaders are necessary too, and I think Long is one of those guys.

  4. frank

    In other news, Darren Sharper took a plea deal to spend 20 years in prison in Louisiana.

  5. frank

    Just read the PFT article on the McDonald signing. After stating that McDonald had gotten into trouble with the law twice last year, but has never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted, they say that this just goes to show how quickly teams will give a player a second chance so long as he has talent and can contribute. I’m not sure if the writer, Nick Mensio, even read what he just wrote–which was that McDonald was never even charged with a crime. He also said that McDonald was one of the better 3-4 DEs in the league last year. So–another relatively low risk (depending on the cost and on McDonald staying out of trouble), high upside move by Pace.

  6. mdavis

    Looks like Mason Foster is signing too….his twitter interaction with Jenkins suggests it anyways. Hardtime following it haha

  7. mdavis

    Michael Wright reporting Foster is signing also. Interested to see what he gets.

    1. frank

      Yup–that will be interesting. I’d think that he might be worth keeping around for awhile anyway. Solid player who didn’t fit the Tampa 2 defensive scheme–if he produces like he did previously, he’ll be a strong addition to that LB corps. And it’s no secret that the Bears’ LB were–lacking–last year.

  8. frank

    Just saw another report that Foster is signing as well. No details yet though.

    1. mdavis

      got just a 1 year deal. not sure on the money yet. pretty productive day for Pace. Signed 3 starters. That’ll be 4 new starters at least going into next season. Will be interesting to see how they deploy the LBs now. Foster I believe starts. Who pairs with him? Bostic? Jones? McClellan? My gut instinct is its Bostic. And I see Jones being used in a swiss army knife type of role. I’ve long pointed to Jamie Collins of the Pats of an example. Rush, coverage, inside, outside. Move him around. He has the size do kind of do it all. And on the edge they still have Bass, Washington, Houston, Allen, Young and potentially a Beasley/Ray/Gregory, or a guy like Orchard, working in the rotation as well. I think its safe to say they go, in some order, WR, CB, pass rusher, in the first 3 rounds. Only way that deviates is if they select a Petty or Hundley instead of one of those. Still searching for them to be connected to some guys for pre-draft visits, but I haven’t seen any reports.

      1. frank

        Foster just turned 26 and has been a good player in a 3-4 scheme, so I’m surprised it’s just a one year deal. And yes, I’d have to think that he starts. Well I think it has to be Bostic or Jones. So Foster and McPhee start for sure. The other two? I’m guessing Bass and Jones, maybe Bostic. Allen comes in on sub packages; Houston stays on the line. Of course, McPhee has played end, so they could line Houston up as a LB and McPhee as a DE in certain looks. The thing is, they can now line up a whole slew of different combinations, depending on the matchups they want to create. This is going to be really interesting. They could even go with a two down lineman look with 5 standup LB/rushers.

        I think the signings so far, and especially today, no longer tie them to a defensive front 7 pick in the first round. They can go that way, but I think these signings makes a WR a greater possibility–even CB. I think your WR, rusher or corner is a good bet. I also think a down lineman is still a possibility, but much less so now. They may go QB, but I think it’s more likely they do that next year, unless they really like Petty or Hundley. I think the money invested in the position, with Cutler’s cap hit, makes it more likely they pick a QB next year.

        1. mdavis

          Yeah, I wasn’t thinking last night and McPhee slipped my mind…funny since he’s the “biggest” signing. So that’s 5* new starters signed, without really breaking the bank. Jenkins, McDonald, McPhee, Foster, and Rolle. Lot of personel that Fangio and Fox can be really creative with. I don’t believe their is a corner in the draft worth of #7. Waynes is good, but his slender build concerns me a little bit, and while he has terrific top end speed, his quickness and lateral shuttle times were average to below average. He’d be a guy that I’m ok with if they moved back in the draft, or even Marcus Peters (if they’re comfortable with the off field stuff which i don’t think should be a problem). Still, would prefer a bigger corner to pair up with Jennings if they go that route.

          I’m somewhat leaning towards WR at this point as well. White and Cooper, 1 should be there. And even though he doesn’t quite get the pub of the other too, Parker is a hell of a football player as well. In terms of the OL…really, comes down to how do they feel about Mills? How do they feel about Groy? And is Long bumping out to tackle? Lot of options on the line. Would also like to see them draft a guy like Heuermann as a #2 TE somewhere in the draft as well.

  9. frank

    Yeah, we don’t know much about how they’ve evaluated offensive players yet; especially linemen. Mills was lacking last year, and I don’t know that he’ll be anything more than average anyway. A lot also depends on the import they place on the various positions–if they think the guard position is more important then tackle, as the last regime did, then Long likely stays at guard, and the weak link is at RT. I’d also think that eventually, Long might push to be moved to tackle–because they get paid more.

    I too, believe that one of Cooper or White should be there at seven, unless something weird happens. It’d be really difficult to pass on either one now that the defensive front 7 has been upgraded, in addition to the fact that there really is no defensive backfield player worthy of the #7 pick. Add in the depth of the draft, and they can still get a good player in round two and even three.

    I think they can develop a player at corner, given they already have Fuller and Jennings. Things do get questionable after that though–Louis-Jean has talent, but is unproven, and Hurst is pretty much the same. So, who’s becomes the nickel corner? Vereen? Or does he stay at safety? Hard to say. ANd on top of that, they still haven’t said anything about Tillman. It’s assumed he’s not coming back, but I haven’t heard that officially. They have come out and said they’re not offering Briggs a contract and they could’ve done the same with Tillman. Maybe they’re still talking with him–Corner? Safety? I just find that interesting.

  10. frank

    A yardbarker article said that Fox was high on McClellin coming out of college, and that they plan on trying him at ILB from the start of camp, rather than OLB. Still puts him in competition with Foster, Bostic and Jones though.I guess much depends on how many LBs they keep and what the distribution turns out to be.

  11. mdavis

    couple developments. first, sounds like Randy Gregory had a good pro day, ran in the 4.5s, 243 pounds, so bulkin a little. But, revealed that he failed a drug test at the combine. I’ve seen that teams knew about it and were prepared. Could push him down, and he just reminds me of Aldon Smith, who Fangio obviously had, so food for thought. Next, I saw that there was a mix up of 40 times at the combine, and Cooper actually ran a 4.31-4.37 at the combine, not the 4.44 originally reported. If that is in fact the case, that would cement him as the #1 receiver in my opinion, and be a perfect fit for the Bears opposite Jefferey. 6’1″ 210 and 4.35 speed? other side is 6’3″ 220, and then Royal in the slot, with Bennett….that’s exciting. We’ll see if he gets to them, and if does, will he be the pick.

    1. mdavis

      Reading a bit more into Gregory, apparently he’s had a history with weed since graduating HS. He says he addressed it with all 29 teams that he met with, and has a new support group etc. But with everything that’s gone on with Josh Gordon, I wonder if this gives teams more pause than maybe it had in the past. He could fall even further than the Bears.

      1. frank

        Yeah, if Cooper ran a 4.31, that would probably make him the first receiver off the board, but I still kind of like White’s combination of size and speed. But Cooper, Jeffery, Bennett, and Royal? Not bad — at all.

        I heard some of that about Gregory on the radio today. Apparently, he’s admitted that it has been a big problem for him in the past. My guess is he falls out of the top 10 anyway.

        1. mdavis

          Yeah, the more I’ve thought about it, I’m hoping WR is the pick. And that’s props to Pace for smartly (and affordably) filling out his roster. They needed an edge rusher, they brought in McPhee. Needed a S, in comes Rolle. Got a couple 5 techs, got an ILB. Really freed them up. Sure, they could go get Beasley, or Fowler, whoever and I’ll be happy with it, because you go for impact. But before FA, I woulda felt pretty uneasy taking a WR….now if they bring in White or Cooper, that’d be pretty awesome. And I agree with you, I think Gregory is falling into the 2nd half of round 1. Read a report that teams felt like he “had an excuse for everything”…so maybe is accountablity is pretty flawed.

  12. frank

    Just saw Shaun King’s latest mock. He has the Bears taking White with the 7th pick. Beasley is off the board at 3, Cooper is off at 4, and Fowler is off at 6. He has Mariota lasting til 12 when the Browns pick him. He also has Landon Collins going to Minnesota at 11, and Shelton lasting til 17 when SD drafts him. He’s got Shane Ray lasting til 27 (Dallas), but Perryman going at 15 (SF). He also has Jalen Collins and Trae Waynes going in rd 1 at 31 and 32 to NO and NE respectively.

    1. mdavis

      Not sure I’m on board with King on much of any of that. I have read that Beasley may end up being a better fit for Jax at 3. Cooper and White I could see going in those respective spots. But I don’t see Mariota slipping to 12 (I’d think the Rams take him), 11 is too early for Collins….I think they go with Parker, teaming him back up with Bridgewater. and Perryman at 15 would just scream “need” pick, and the 49ers, they don’t do need based drafts. Perryman is late 1st-2nd round pick, they will not take him at 15.

  13. frank

    Of course, it’s hard to figure trades, but I don’t think Mariota gets even as far as 6 before a trade is made for the pick. I agree that 11 is too early for Collins and 15 is wwwaaayyy too early for Perryman. I think Shelton could go early first–even as early as the Bears, but I think that 10 to maybe 15 is more realistic for him. And I wouldn’t mind seeing the Bears take White at 7, especially if Cooper is already off the board.

    1. mdavis

      Yeah I’m not sure what King was going for to be honest. I think you’re right, if Mariota starts to slip even a little bit, teams are going to be working to move up. Jax is in a prime spot to move back, as they obviously won’t be taking him, nor will Oakland. Both have young guys they could use more picks to build around. Trying to remember which Bears reporter said it but he said he’s pretty convinced the Bears will take a QB in this draft, its just a matter of when (and obviously, who).

      1. frank

        I don’t think it’s necessary that the Bears get a QB in this draft. They may have a shot at Mariota, Petty, or Hundley–and I don’t think I would be interested in anyone else. If Mariota slips to 7, a possible trade might be too valuable, especially given the needs on this team. And all three are difficult to project–it’s not as if any one of them is a guaranteed franchise guy. My guess is they wait until next year, when there’s a better selection and Cutler’s cap hit isn’t as harsh. Of course, if they think Mariota is a franchise guy, they might take him if he’s available, but he’s too much of a crapshoot for my taste. No one knows if he can run a pro-style offense, I’ve heard questions about arm strength, and his laid-back personality means he’s not likely a vocal leader–which Pace believes is very important for a QB.

        1. mdavis

          Yeah I agree, those would be the only 3 I’m interested in. Would be fine if they decided to wait it out until next year as well. Big 10 has some quality pro style prospects coming out so it should hopefully be a better class, and Gase (if he’s still here) cna hand pick their qb.

  14. frank

    Bears signed Alan Ball to a one year deal. Don’t know much about him–depth at CB?

    1. mdavis

      He’s a solid signing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the starter opposite of Fuller. Or, when they go nickel, Jennings bumps inside and Ball lines up outside. He’s a big corner, 6’2″ 200, 30 years old. He’s not an elite corner, but hes a quality player. He missed half the season last year with an injury I believe. But another nice 1 year deal, so the top 3 go Fuller, Jennings/Ball, and some combination of Louis-Jean and Hurst…maybe a draft pick.

  15. frank

    Short Q&A type of thing with Pace on the Bears’ website. Init, he says he prefers to sign a QB every year, whether through the draft, free agency, or by signing an undrafted free agent–more swings gives you a better chance to get a hit, basically. He also said that he places a premium on pass rushers–the NFL is a passing league, and the only way to disrupt a passing attack is to hit the QB. So, the more pass rushers, the better. Also said that the draft is deep for receivers, and that he likes one year “prove it” deals for free agents. Another interesting point–he doesn’t think Mariota is a system QB. He thinks he’s a good QB–now, I don’t know how much of that is setting up the perception that they might draft Mariota if he falls to 7 so that he can make a trade, but it is interesting . . .

    1. mdavis

      Yeah, if they don’t draft someone I’m sure an UDFA type will be in rookie camp with Fales. So, still smoke and mirrors about are they going WR, are they going Edge. Certainly interesting about Mariota. I could see it two ways. 1. They genuinely are interested, and consider taking him at 7. or 2. They want to give off that vibe, make team x thing they need to trade ahead of them, which would then push down another player they might like. Or of course, could be setting it up where they try and make teams think they’ll take him, unless they are blown away by a trade offer. Lot of angles.

      1. frank

        Yup–that’s the way I’m reading the Mariota comments too.

        Still smoke and mirrors, but it could be read as they’ll take an explosive edge rusher whenever they get the opportunity, and since the draft is deep with receivers, they may wait til round 2 to do that. So that may tilt it just a bit toward an edge rusher–but this close to the draft, it’s hard to say what’s real and what’s merely posturing.

        1. mdavis

          WR is def deep. McShay’s new mock came out, and I typically see things through a similar lense with him, as opposed to Kiper….this one is interesting. his top 10:
          1. Winston-TB
          2. Mariota-TEN
          3. Cooper-Jax
          4. Williams-OAK
          5. Fowler-WAS
          6. Gregory-NYJ
          7. White-CHI
          8. Ray-ATL
          9. Scherff-NYG
          10. Parker-STL

          #3 is a surprise to me. They used a lot of early picks last year on O, including Robinson, Lee at WR, and UDFA Hurns was solid too. Have a hard time seeing Oak pass on White. If the draft shakes out like this, I wouldnt be mad.

          Now, if they passed WR, 2nd round types include Devin Smith, B. Perriman, Agoholor, Funchess (view him more as a TE tweener), and Dorsett. I’m not all that interested in Perriman. Yes, he ran a blazing 4.2+ at his pro day, and he’s big at 6’2″ 215….but that doesn’t matter if he can’t catch the football. Smith and Agholor would be my preference if they look round 2.

          1. frank

            Catching the ball is important–especially for someone who’s job is catching the ball. Yeah, Oakland has always been enamored with speed, and White has it–so it would probably be difficult for them to pass on him–but I don’t think I’d be upset if the Bears ended up with White either.

  16. mdavis

    One other thought with Ball signing….this more than likely, officially, closes the book on Peanut’s time in Chicago. Unless there was a dramatic change in course and he was willing to move to safety, Ball probably fills the role of the “bigger corner” and he’s starting quality.

    1. frank

      Looks that way, doesn’t it . . . and too bad too. I think Tillman exemplified what being a Chicago Bear is. I’d love to see him play safety, but he’s said more than once that he didn’t want to deal with the punishment his body would take at that position.

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