Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Bears’

Aaron Jones made sure the Green Bay Packers’ promise to get him the ball more often paid off.

Jones rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown and caught a scoring pass from Aaron Rodgers, who continued his domination of the Chicago Bears by leading Green Bay to a 27-10 victory on Sunday night.

Jones had five carries for 49 yards and three catches for 27 yards in a season-opening 23-7 loss at Minnesota, and the Packers (1-1) vowed he’d have a bigger role.

“That just naturally put a smile on my face,” Jones said. “I knew I had to show up when my number was called. That just pushes me that much harder.”

Jones came through, gaining 8.8 yards per rush and leading the Packers’ 203-yard ground attack. He had 15 carries as well as three catches for 38 yards.

Green Bay beat the Bears (1-1) for a seventh straight time, matching its second-longest win streak in the 205-game history of the NFL’s oldest rivalry. The Packers won 10 straight over the Bears from 1994-98. They have two other seven-game win streaks in this series, from 1928-30 and 2000-03.

The Packers built a 24-7 halftime lead by dominating the second period, then made a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter to thwart a Bears comeback attempt.

“Coming out with a disappointing loss like this, it hurts,” Bears quarterback Justin Fields said. “We’ve just got to respond.”

A week after he struggled to connect with his new crop of receivers, Rodgers was characteristically efficient, going 19 of 25 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers are 24-5 against the Bears in games Rodgers has started.

“Tonight was really about 28 (A.J. Dillon) and 33 (Jones), getting them the football,” Rodgers said. “I didn’t play great. I feel like the stats look a little better than the game. … I missed some throws that I should never miss. There were some opportunities for more points out there.”

Chicago’s David Montgomery rushed for 122 yards on 15 carries. Fields had a touchdown run and was 7 of 11 for 70 yards with an interception.

The Packers outscored the Bears 21-0 in the second quarter. Jones scored twice, both times catching pitches from Rodgers in the backfield and reaching the end zone.

The first was a backward pass that got ruled as a 15-yard carry. On the second touchdown, Jones went in motion, caught a flip pass in the backfield and scored from 8 yards out. Jones benefited from the return of right tackle Elgton Jenkins, playing for the first time since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament last Nov. 12.

“If he’s not in the lineup, we don’t win that game,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Jenkins. “It transcends his level of play, what he’s able to bring to us. For his first night out, I thought he did a great job.”

Even though the Packers had talked all week about getting the ball to Jones more often, the Bears couldn’t slow him down.

“It says a lot about our offense,” Jones said. “You know what’s coming, but you have to stop it. That’s not easy to do. I just say kudos to our whole offensive unit and our whole team for responding and bouncing back from last week.”

Jones’ second score was Rodgers’ 450th career touchdown pass. The only other players to reach that mark are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.

Rodgers added No. 451 in the final minute of the first half with a 5-yard completion to Allen Lazard, who sat out the Vikings game with an ankle injury.

Rodgers completed passes to eight receivers. None had more than three receptions, but Sammy Watkins turned his trio of catches into 93 yards.

The Bears made the game competitive in the second half by capitalizing on Green Bay’s mistakes.

Cairo Santos’ 40-yard field goal cut Green Bay’s lead to 24-10 after a fumbled exchange between Rodgers and A.J. Dillon gave the Bears the ball at their own 31.

The Packers’ next series got foiled when a snap from Josh Myers hit receiver Christian Watson, who was in motion, and got past Rodgers. Dillon recovered the fumble, but it put the Packers in a third-and-22 situation and led to a punt.

Chicago drove toward Green Bay’s end zone and had an apparent 6-yard touchdown run by Fields overturned when replays determined he was down before stretching his arm across the goal line. On the next play, Fields ran again on fourth-and-goal from inside the 1, and officials ruled that Preston Smith and Jarran Reed stopped him just short of the end zone with a little over eight minutes left in the game.

“Who knows? If they get a touchdown there, the game could completely flip,” Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell said. “So I think we did a good job of winning situational football.”

INJURIES

Bears DB Dane Cruikshank hurt his hamstring in the first half.

UP NEXT

Bears: Host Houston on Sunday.

Packers: At Tampa Bay on Sunday.

The Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers will be playing on new turf when they open the season at Soldier Field.

Bermuda grass was installed this week at the lakefront stadium instead of the stadium’s traditional Kentucky bluegrass. The Bears hope that leads to fewer issues with a surface that has long been a source of frustration for their own players and coaches as well as opponents.

Coach Matt Eberflus had input in the switch and welcomes the change.

“We feel it’s going to be a nice surface,” coach Eberflus said Wednesday. “I think it’s going to be a fast surface, which I think which lends to help us out.”

The president of the NFL Players Association blasted the choppy conditions at Soldier Field when the Bears played a preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 13. The field was in rough shape following an Elton John concert a week earlier.

The new surface was installed after metal band Rammstein performed at the stadium on Saturday.

The Chicago Bears plan to build an enclosed suburban stadium that could host Super Bowls, College Football Playoff games and Final Fours.

The Bears released conceptual illustrations Tuesday of the proposed stadium and entertainment complex that would be built on the site of a former horse racing track in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The Bears said the project could include restaurants, office space, a hotel, fitness center, new parks and open areas as well as “other improvements for the community to enjoy.”

“We envision a multi-purpose entertainment district anchored by a new, best-in-class enclosed stadium, providing Chicagoland with a new home worthy of hosting global events such as the Super Bowl, College Football Playoffs, and Final Four,” the team said in a statement.

The Bears said they would not seek public funding for the stadium if the sale of the 326-acre property is completed and if they decide to move there. But they would seek taxpayer assistance for the rest of the project.

The organization signed a purchase agreement last year for the tract of land that’s about 30 miles northwest of Soldier Field. Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips, who announced last week he will retire after this season, has said a deal likely wouldn’t close until early 2023.

The Bears’ lease at Soldier Field, where the team has played since 1971, runs through 2033.

In July, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed three options for renovating the stadium. One included enclosing it, and another called for rebuilding both end zones with columns that could support a dome. A third option was to modify it to be a multipurpose facility better suited for soccer.

The Bears said Tuesday they will not consider Soldier Field renovations or explore any other potential stadium sites while they are under contract for the property in Arlington Heights.

“Much remains to be decided, but any decision will be made in the best interests of the Bears long-term future, our fans and the Chicagoland community,” the team said.

Of the three illustrations released Tuesday, one is a map showing the stadium near a highway and commuter rail tracks and the mixed-use district southeast of the stadium. Two other aerial illustrations show the stadium and several other buildings and green spaces.

The Bears did not mention what the seating capacity would be at a new stadium, nor potential costs to construct the stadium or develop the rest of the property. They said construction would create more than 48,000 jobs, as well as $9.4 billion in economic impact for the region and provide $3.9 billion in income to workers.

The Bears estimate the completed project would add 9,750 long-term jobs, $1.4 billion in annual economic impact and $601 million a year in income to workers.

The Bears also said the project would generate $16 million in annual tax revenue, in addition to property taxes for Arlington Heights, $9.8 million for Cook County, and $51.3 million for the State of Illinois — calling the possible development “one of the largest development projects in Illinois state history.”

Soldier Field is owned by the Chicago Park District and underwent a $690 million transformation in 2002 that forced the team to play home games at the University of Illinois and ultimately led to the loss of the stadium’s National Historic Landmark designation.

The interior was demolished, replaced by a flying saucer-like, glass-dominated structure cantilevered over the famous Greek and Romanesque colonnades. The clash of styles drew criticism, and the renovation reduced seating for Bears games to 61,500, lowest in the NFL.

The lakefront location and harsh weather make it difficult to maintain the playing surface, and the often choppy condition has also been a sore spot for players and coaches on the Bears, as well as other teams.

Ted Phillips helped the Chicago Bears thrive away from the field as President and CEO of the founding NFL franchise.

They didn’t have as much success between the lines, helping make him a sore spot for frustrated fans.

Now, he’s retiring at the end of the season after 40 years with the franchise, ushering in a new era for the Bears that could include a sparkling new suburban stadium.

“Every day has been a true pleasure and being surrounded by so many talented and wonderful people has made my job richly rewarding on many levels,” he said Friday in a statement. “I will always bleed blue and orange and forever be proud to be a part of the Chicago Bears family.”

Phillips, an accountant by trade, joined the Bears as the team’s controller in 1983 and spent four years in that position before moving up the organization’s ladder. He became the franchise’s fourth president of the team in February 1999 and first outside the Halas-McCaskey family tree, after founder George Halas, George Halas Jr. and Michael McCaskey.

The Bears have thrived financially during his time as president, with Forbes estimating their value at $5.8 billion — fifth-highest in the league. But they haven’t experienced the sort of success they would like on the field.

Phillips has had a hand in hiring four general managers, including Ryan Poles this year, since taking over as president.

He also oversaw several renovations to the team’s suburban headquarters and played a key role in negotiating the oft-criticized renovation of Soldier Field in 2002.

Most recently, his focus has been on purchasing a 326-acre tract of land in suburban Arlington Heights, Illinois, where a new stadium and entertainment complex could be built. The team is scheduled to unveil conceptual plans for the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse — about 30 miles northwest of Soldier Field — at a community meeting Thursday in the town.

Phillips said he has been “truly blessed” to work for the Bears. He said he appreciated the support of the McCaskey family owners and called “overseeing this amazing growth of the Chicago Bears” a “dream come true.”

Team matriarch Virginia McCaskey, George Halas’ daughter, said in a rare public statement the Bears were “very blessed” to have Phillips.

“Anything that he was ever asked to take care of, he came through and did it very well,” she said.

The Bears said a search for his replacement is underway and a successor will be hired “in the coming months.”

“It’s difficult to put into words how much Ted has meant to the Bears and our family,” chairman George McCaskey said. “The faith that Virginia and Ed McCaskey placed in him by naming him President and CEO of the Bears has been rewarded many times over.”

Phillips has been a lightning rod for Bears fans. His input in hiring general managers and coaches was a source of frustration, given his non-football background and the struggles on the field. Though the 2006 team reached the Super Bowl, the Bears have just six playoff appearances and three postseason victories since he became president.

The organization hasn’t really divided the business and football operations into separate branches. Until recently, the general manager reported to Phillips rather than McCaskey.

The Bears tweaked their chain of command after last season, when they fired former GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy. McCaskey announced at the time the new general manager would report directly to him, though Phillips was still involved in the search. He also said Phillips would focus on the purchase of the land in Arlington Heights.

Phillips was the Bears’ point person for the Soldier Field overhaul — another sore spot in Chicago.

The interior was demolished, replaced by a flying saucer-like, glass-dominated structure cantilevered over the famous Greek and Romanesque colonnades, and the stadium lost its National Historic Landmark designation. The renovation also reduced seating for Bears games to 61,500, lowest in the NFL.

Phillips oversaw an expansion in 2012 to Halas Hall that added more than 30,000 square feet to the team’s headquarters. A massive transformation completed in August 2019 gave the Bears expanded locker rooms, weight rooms, conference rooms and offices as well as a new players’ lounge and two more practice fields to give the team four in all.

The Bears also moved training camp back to Illinois from Wisconsin during Phillips’ tenure as president, holding it at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, from 2002 to 2019 before moving it to Halas Hall in 2020.

Phillips has served on several NFL committees. He is also on the board of directors of the Bears’ philanthropic arm as well as the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

Before becoming the team’s president, Phillips spent six years as vice president of operations and was director of finance from 1987-93.

The Chicago Bears claimed former Las Vegas Raiders offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood off waivers, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

The Raiders parted ways with Leatherwood on Tuesday after reportedly failing to find a trade partner. The 17th overall pick in the 2021 draft failed to impress as a rookie guard and struggled massively at right tackle – his natural position – during the 2022 preseason.

Chicago will take on the remaining three years and fully guaranteed $5.9 million of Leatherwood’s contract, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Bears also gain the right to the lineman’s fifth-year option.

Riley Reiff is tabbed as Chicago’s starting right tackle while Teven Jenkins appears to be penciled in as the starting right guard. Jenkins was the subject of trade rumors earlier this offseason.

The Bears’ offensive line allowed 58 sacks last season, with Justin Fields on the receiving end of 36 of them.

In addition to Leatherwood, the Bears also claimed defensive tackle Armon Watts, defensive back Josh Blackwell, defensive end Kingsley Jonathan, linebacker Sterling Weatherford, and tight end Trevon Wesco off waivers. Chicago’s six claims were the most of any team, per Yates.

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith plans to play out his contract after previously requesting a trade amid extension negotiations.

“Negotiations are over right now,” Smith said, according to team reporter Larry Mayer. “I’m just going to bet on myself like I’ve always done.”

Smith returned to practice Saturday for the first time since the start of training camp, joining his teammates in a non-contact workout. He previously took part in the team’s offseason program but was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of camp. The Bears activated him from the PUP list on Aug. 10.

Earlier in August, Smith released a statement indicating his desire for the franchise to trade him. In the letter, the star defender shared that he believed the Bears’ new leadership “doesn’t value me” since extension conversations began in April.

New general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus reportedly offered Smith a backloaded contract that wouldn’t have made him the highest-paid player at the position. Poles also revealed his intentions were “to sign Roquan to this team.”

The 2018 first-round selection is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, and he’s set to earn $9.7 million this season before possibly becoming a free agent in 2023.

Smith tallied a career-high 163 tackles along with 12 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2021.

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith has requested a trade after failing to come to terms on a new contract extension.

Smith said the team’s new leadership “doesn’t value me” and “has been trying to take advantage of me” since talks began in April. He added that forcing an exit “is deeply painful” as he wanted to play in Chicago for his entire career.

The Bears, who hired general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus this offseason, offered Smith a backloaded contract that wouldn’t have made him the highest-paid linebacker in salary, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The proposed deal also reportedly contained de-escalators that no non-quarterback earning $15-million-plus annually has in their contract.

Indianapolis Colts star Shaquille Leonard currently tops the linebacker market at $19.7 million per year.

Smith, who’s in the final year of his rookie contract, is one of the rebuilding Bears’ few franchise cornerstones after earning back-to-back All-Pro second-team nominations over the past two seasons.

Pole said he’s “disappointed” by Smith’s trade request and doesn’t want to lose him, according to Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“We have to do what’s best for the team … but my intention is to sign Roquan Smith,” said the GM.

The linebacker started camp on the physically unable to perform list before being activated Wednesday. He was reportedly planning to report to training camp but not participate in any practices.

The 25-year-old has racked up 524 total tackles, 14 sacks, and five interceptions since the NFC North club selected him at No. 8 in 2018. He produced a career-high 163 tackles last season.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday presented three options for renovating Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears, but the team said it’s not interested.

Lightfoot proposed fully enclosing the stadium by rebuilding both end zones with columns that can support a dome; rebuilding both end zones with columns to make the stadium dome-ready; or modifying Soldier Field to be a multi-purpose stadium better suited for soccer.

“Any of these proposed renovations will allow Soldier Field to retain its role as an economic engine for Chicago for years to come,” Lightfoot said in a news release.

The mayor’s office estimated the costs of the three options would range from $900 million to $2.2 billion. It did not say how it would pay for any of the options.

The proposed renovations would expand seating from 61,500 seats (now the lowest capacity in the NFL) up to 70,000; increase the number of suites from 133 to 140; and quadruple concession area square footage from 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) to 200,000 square feet (18,580 square meters), the mayor’s office said.

The Bears had no new comment on Lightfoot’s proposals but the team reiterated the same statement it issued July 7 when a panel appointed by Lightfoot recommended the city explore enclosing Soldier Field.

“The only potential project the Chicago Bears are exploring for a new stadium development is Arlington Park. As part of our mutual agreement with the seller of that property, we are not pursuing alternative stadium deals or sites, including renovations to Soldier Field, while we are under contract,” that statement said.

The team signed a purchase agreement last year for a 326-acre (131.93-hectare) site in suburban Arlington Heights, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) miles northwest of Soldier Field, that could be the site of a future stadium. President Ted Phillips has said that deal likely won’t close until early 2023, at which point the team will decide whether it’s “financially feasible to try to develop it further.”

The New England Patriots traded 2019 first-round wide receiver N’Keal Harry to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a 2024 seventh-rounder, the Bears announced.

Harry reacted to news of the trade Wednesday on social media:

Harry has failed to meet expectations since entering the NFL as a coveted prospect out of Arizona State. The 24-year-old caught 57 passes for 598 yards and four touchdowns in 33 appearances across three seasons in New England. He played in 12 games last season, finishing the year with 12 receptions and 184 yards with no touchdowns.

Harry, who has one year left on his rookie contract, requested a trade before the 2021 season, but the two sides eventually agreed to keep the wideout in Foxborough. The Pats will pick up roughly $1 million in cap space in 2022 with the move, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Harry was considered a long shot to make New England’s final roster this season. The Patriots, who already have the likes of Kendrick BourneJakobi Meyers, and Nelson Agholor, bolstered their receivers room this year, adding veteran DeVante Parker and second-round rookie Tyquan Thornton to the mix.

The Bears, who lost Allen Robinson in free agency, entered this offseason with a major hole at wide receiver but didn’t draft a pass-catcher until the third round (Velus Jones) in April. Harry joins a receiving corps headlined by Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle. Chicago’s depth chart also features wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and tight end Cole Kmet, among others.

Chicago kicked off a new era in 2022, hiring Matt Eberflus as head coach. The team also brought in Luke Getsy to coordinate the offense led by second-year quarterback Justin Fields.

The Chicago Bears prioritized their defense in the 2022 NFL Draft despite having major needs on offense, but first-year general manager Ryan Poles remains confident his team will give quarterback Justin Fields everything necessary to thrive.

“We’re all-in on Justin,” Poles said Friday, according to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. “I believe in Justin. Our coaches believe in Justin. Like I said from the beginning, we’re going to set him up to succeed.”

Chicago entered the 2022 draft with a major hole at wide receiver but didn’t draft a pass-catcher until the third round. The Bears – who didn’t have a first-round selection this year after trading up for Fields in the 2021 draft – instead addressed their secondary early, taking corner Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker in the second round.

The Bears were also expected to upgrade their offensive line after allowing a league-high 58 sacks last season. But Chicago waited until Day 3 to draft a lineman, selecting offensive tackle Braxton Jones in the fifth round.

“I would’ve done harm to this team if I just went with need and I didn’t put the best players available on this team,” Poles said, according to Chris Emma of 670 The Score.

Poles added he has “sky-high” belief in Fields.

“He is locked in, he is focused, and he wants to be great,” Poles said. “He’s a first-in, last-out guy, and he is pulling this team together. … His presence is showing up, and he’s starting to take over.”

The Bears, who lost veteran wideout Allen Robinson in free agency, are set to enter the 2022 season with Darnell MooneyByron Pringle, and third-round rookie Velus Jones as their primary wide receivers. Chicago’s offense also features receiver Equanimeous St. Brown – whom the team signed to a one-year deal – and tight end Cole Kmet.

Fields, the 11th overall pick in 2021, struggled as a rookie after taking over under center during the season. He finished the campaign with a 58.9% completion rate, passing for seven touchdowns against 10 interceptions through 12 appearances.

The 23-year-old, who battled multiple injuries throughout the season, also rushed for 420 yards and two touchdowns.