Last year the Bears improved by one game to finish 6-10, but the modus operandi for John Fox coached teams point to a big improvement in the second year. Going into offseason number two for Pace and Fox, they obviously learned a lot about the players on their roster and we're probably in store for another big roster turnover.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked wonders with the D last year, but he was doing it with smoke and mirrors. There were a few injuries, and a lack of playmakers on that side of the ball. With the additions in free agency and the two new starters that Pace drafted, I'm expecting another big statistical jump for the defense in 2016.
Here'a a link to the Pace portion of the Presser.
And here's what Fox had to say after the draft
"I think Ryan (Pace) and the scouting staff, assistant coaches, I think everybody worked pretty diligently, a lot of work, time effort to upgrade that. I think we got better, I think we needed to. We were a 6-10 football team that needs to improve and we went through a lot of hard work with the personnel staff, Ryan and his staff."
On first round draft pick Leonard Floyd and what type of development needs to happen;
"You can't coach athleticism, you can't coach speed. I think Leonard has a unique ability to bend and rush. I don't think he rushed quite as much, looking back, talking, researching at Georgia. He maybe hasn't gotten as many opportunities as he has in the past, I know some things were made of that, but we look at the tape and we see a lot of athleticism and good speed off the edge. All these guys are going to have to be developed, it's a level jump and they understand that and we got our work shoes on to make that happen."
On if the rookies can add weight through the nutrition program;
"They're going from student athlete to pro athlete. They're not going to be in biology class or calculus. They're full time professional athletes. With that comes... They're here in this building. It's a profession now; it's a job. That's part of their job. I think the pro game is different. You play almost twice as many games as you do in college football. There will be an adjustment, again with nutrition and sleep and a lot of the science of being a professional athlete will be able to be put in place."
On DeAndre Hall's length;
"There's a lot of ways to create separation or to close separation and a lot of that is reach. Obviously it's an advantage; it gets talked about a lot in football. Whether it's offensive tackles in pass protection or d-linemen as far as getting guys off of them. Even as a defensive back, whether it's press man on a tight end or something in special packages... Ryan [Pace] brought up flexibility or versatility of these guys. There's so many defenses now that are playing with 6 DBs, 7 DBs, so they have to have a lot of different skill sets - both the size and the speed, athleticism to do those things. Obviously reach there helps. When you bat down a pass, closing that distance sometimes is that big of a difference, reach can have an effect."
Hall is a candidate to play either safety or corner.
Here's what Fox liked about new inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski;
"It's a combative game; it's a tough, physical game. The thing I liked about Nick [Kwiatkoski] was he is very instinctive in pass defense. He got his hands on balls. He's athletic enough to intercept passes. I think we said time and again last year ‘finding playmakers' and that's all part of it; the instincts, the speed of the game, how they're wired is important. That's something we saw in Nick."
On what he wants in a ‘throwback' player;
"So much of this game is dependability. If they're in the training room or not at practice... We have a sign in our locker room ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail'. Well, if you're not out there, it's hard to prepare real well. Dependability... Playing through ‘owies' I call them, is critical."
On his thoughts on the defensive line;
"I think we got better, whether it was in free agency or in the draft. Again, until we get them out there and start working with them, see what they're like at this level for the first time, it's hard to predict."
On what he thought of Jonathan Bullard during the draft process;
"I saw a guy that was a big man that runs 4.9. He plays the run well. He's got the juice to get up the field. But until we get him here and see him and teach him our defense and our techniques and our stuff... We're all excited to get our eyes on him in a couple weeks."
On how much this draft helped special teams;
"I think you saw us struggle, particularly early in the season a year ago. I think getting to know your team, I think Ryan [Pace] alluded to it, understanding how they react, the speed; we've been trying to increase our team speed. We did it even in the first claiming deadline to start the season. I think it took us a while to train guys but we got better as the year went on. I think we'll get that much better this year."
Pace and the Bears seemed to put a value on free agents that could play special teams this offseason. I would expect that area of the team to improve in 2016.
On if drafting a guard affects where Kyle Long will play;
"You guys always want to kind of pigeonhole guys. It think we're just trying to build competition and I think we have a way better understanding of what we have now, this time this year versus last. I think understanding that, we've got guys, whether it was in free agency or the draft, that we'll put in a room and then they'll compete when they get on the grass."
On if anyone is getting cut between now and training camp;
"I can't answer that. That is like, horse racing. Like I said, it's a fluid process. Right now I think we've helped build competition between our football team."
On what growth he's seen from Ryan Pace and the front office from last year to this year;
"I think experience helps. The more you do it the better you get. I think Ryan's got a great skill set. I think we've got a great relationship between coaching and personnel. So I think he does a tremendous job. I think we had an excellent draft a year ago and I anticipate this one being even better."
I think the marriage between an inexperienced GM and an experienced head coach has worked perfectly so far.
On if he expects Alshon Jeffery to show up for the remainder of the voluntary portion of the offseason;
"Again, you mentioned a key word there ‘voluntary'. I've talked with Alshon, he understands how I feel. We've had meetings and conditioning. I'm sure he's working out real hard, he's a professional. We'll look forward to him coming."
What are your thoughts on Fox's portion of the post draft presser?
I'll have transcripts on the day three draft picks up soon, stay tuned...