The Bears defense has been one of the bright spots for the franchise the past few years and helped get Broncos HC Vic Fangio his current job when he was the coordinator for the unit that finished No. 1 in the league in 2018. Since then, the Bears have slipped somewhat under Chuck Pagano, though they’ve still been strong overall. New Bears DC Sean Desai, formerly the safeties coach, is hoping to get them back to dominant.
“I’m not a big car guy, so my analogies may not be great, but this is like a tune-up,” Desai said via the team. “We’re going to refine some things and we’re going to make sure our players are playing to their strengths on a consistent basis. And they’re going to buy into the system, and they why’s and how’s of why we’re doing certain things.
“But we’ve got a good defense. We’ve got really good players here. … I’m with you all in terms of the stats — somebody asked earlier, [about how] there was some regression — and we’re going to overcome that. But we’re going to do it in a positive way and we’re going to do it where the players are going to be able to shine through that defense. I think we’ll build some depth and we’ll continue with our tough, physical mindset of play and we’ll do that over a 16-to-20-week season.”
Desai acknowledged Fangio, one of the NFL’s brightest defensive minds for decades, is his “biggest mentor” and his influence on the defense will be undeniable. But he’s also going to make it fully his own, not a Vic Fangio cover band.
“This is going to Sean Desai’s defense. The 2018 defense was the best defense in 2018, and our goal is going to be the best defense in 2021,” Desai said via NBC Sports’ Adam Hoge. “I think that’s what our players are going to embrace and understand.”
- The Athletic’s NFL staff lists Bears CB Kyle Fuller, TE Jimmy Graham, DT Akiem Hicks, LT Charles Leno, RT Bobby Massie and CB Buster Skrine as potential cap casualties.
- Fuller and Hicks might have some kind of trade market or be candidates to be extended instead of outright cut.
Veteran Lions K Matt Prater has spent half of his 14-year career with the Lions. The 36-year-old is still going strong, making six of 10 50-yard field goal attempts in 2020. But new ST coordinator Dave Fipp didn’t necessarily commit to Prater being back, though he had high praise for him and 18-year LS Don Muhlbach.
“I think they’re really special people,” Fipp said via Tim Twentyman of the team’s website. “Obviously, I know their contract situations … and that’s really not my position [to talk about], so I’m not going to give you any answers today. But I do think really highly of those guys and we’ll see what happens.”
- The Athletic’s Chris Burke mentions Panthers RB Mike Davis, former Raiders WR Tyrell Williams and Jaguars WR Keelan Cole as potential affordable free agents to target. Davis is a strong scheme fit, Williams had his best season under OC Anthony Lynn and Cole is an under-the-radar option.
- Burke points out former Ravens RB Mark Ingram went to high school in Michigan and could be a fit as a backup for the Lions.
- The Athletic’s NFL staff lists Lions CB Desmond Trufant, CB Justin Coleman, TE Jesse James, DT Nick Williams, QB Chase Daniel and LB Christian Jones as potential cap casualties.
- The Athletic’s NFL staff lists Packers OLB Preston Smith, OT Ricky Wagner, LB Christian Kirksey and DL Dean Lowry as potential cap casualties.
- Notre Dame DE Daelin Hayes had a pre-draft virtual meeting with the Packers. (Justin Melo)
- Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes the $1 million signing bonus the Vikings gave LT Riley Reiff to make up for a narrowly-missed incentive will count against their cap as dead money if they can’t rework his deal, which is entirely possible still.
- The Athletic’s NFL staff lists Reiff, TE Kyle Rudolph, OLB Anthony Barr, DT Shamar Stephen and K Dan Bailey as potential cap casualties.
- The Vikings guaranteed $35,000 of new K Greg Joseph‘s $780,000 base salary. (Goessling)