First-and-10: Kareem Hunt situation too hot for Bears to handle — but stay tuned
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Should the Bears sign Kareem Hunt?
While that’s a hard pass right now after videos of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in an altercation at a Cleveland hotel in February led to Hunt being released by the Chiefs last week, the temptation for the Bears might be enough for them to give it some serious thought down the road. The NFL has a curious way of defining its moral standards, usually based on one key factor: How much can he help us win?
There’s a worthy argument that the NFL should have a zero-tolerance policy against abuse toward women to send the strongest message that society should not and will not tolerate it. But the reality is that this is the NFL we’re talking about. If the Redskins can sign Reuben Foster three days after the 49ers released him following an arrest for domestic violence, somebody likely will sign Hunt eventually, with the predictable rationalizations: He deserves a second chance; though he initially lied to the Chiefs when asked about the incident, he since has shown remorse; and as damning as the video was, it wasn’t Ray Rice.
And if the NFL ever deems Hunt worthy of a second chance, the Bears will be among the speculated landing spots. The 23-year-old Hunt played in Matt Nagy’s offense as a rookie with the Chiefs last season, when he led the NFL in rushing. And the Bears have a need. Jordan Howard has been a difficult fit as the lead back in Nagy’s offense. He’s on pace for 816 yards and 3.4 yards per carry after averaging 1,217 yards and 4.6 yards per carry in his first two seasons.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace has been notably bold in rebuilding the Bears — never worried about public perception or criticism. After a swing-and-miss with former 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald — who was quickly released two months after he signed in 2015 following an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence and child endangerment — taking a chance on Hunt would be a tough sell on the McCaskey family. And Pace doesn’t have to roll the dice as much as he did in 2015.
But as time passes and the dust settles, Hunt will be either an unsignable pariah or a tempting redemption project. This might not be over yet.
2. Mitch Trubisky is expected to practice Wednesday when the Bears begin preparation for Sunday night’s game against the Rams in earnest. But the situation bears watching — especially after Chase Daniel’s shaky performance against the Giants. Trubisky has been day-to-day for more than two weeks. If his status is in doubt later in the week, his injury could be a bigger issue than first believed.
3. Cue the Twilight Zone theme: Trubisky has played 666 snaps this season. Last year, Nick Foles went into the playoffs with a 77.7 passer rating — and won the Super Bowl.
4. The Bears’ 30-27 loss to the Giants marked the second consecutive season Matt Nagy has lost to the Giants in overtime. He lost 12-9 with the Chiefs last season (the first 12-9 final at a Giants home game since the Bears’ glorious victory at the Meadowlands in 1977, which put them in the playoffs for the first time since 1963).
It was a rare post-bye loss for Andy Reid — and the start of a two-game offensive slump that led Reid to turn over play-calling responsibilities to Nagy for the final five weeks of the season. The Chiefs won the last four of those games, enhancing Nagy’s qualifications for a head coaching job.
5. Nagy has made few rookie mistakes in his first season as a head coach, but playing for the punt block late in the first half seems like one of them. The Bears had blocked zero out of 54 punts this season. Saquon Barkley came in with 10 rushes of 20 or more yards in 171 carries (one for every 17 carries). The odds weren’t with Nagy on that one, even with Barkley going against the Bears defense.
6. The Bears’ defense has allowed an NFL-low 61 points in the first half this season, and even more impressively, less than 4.0 yards per play (336 plays, 1,342 yards, 3.99 avg.). The last team that allowed fewer than 4.0 yards per first-half play for an entire season was the 1999 Ravens (3.89). The lowest in the last 10 years is the 2015 Broncos (4.1), which also featured Danny Trevathan at linebacker.
The catch is that the Bears’ defense continues to struggle in the second half. After allowing 235 yards on 42 plays (5.6 avg.) against the Giants, they are allowing 5.7 yards per play for the season — which ranks 18th in the NFL.
7. Kudos to former Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, the defensive coordinator at Georgia who is expected to be named the head coach at Colorado.
Tucker’s Bears defenses ranked 30th and 30th in yards and 30th and 31st in points in 2013-14. But he still has had an impact on the Bears’ renaissance. Both safety Eddie Jackson and linebacker Roquan Smith blossomed under Tucker at Alabama and Georgia.
Jackson moved from cornerback to safety in 2015 when Tucker was the Crimson Tide’s secondary coach and had a banner season, capped by being named the defensive MVP of the National Championship game.
Smith had a breakout year in 2016 — Tucker’s first as Georgia’s defensive coordinator — and won the Butkus Award and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2017.
8. Tight end Daniel Brown had a rare throng of reporters and television cameras at his locker following Sunday’s game. Brown’s recovery of an onside kick set up the tying touchdown drive.
“It’s probably been a few years since I had that many cameras in my face,” said the low-key Brown.
The last time Brown remembers getting that much post-game attention was a little dubious. In 2015, with the Ravens, he caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Matt Schaub against the Dolphins that was nullified by a bogus offensive pass interference call. The Ravens lost 15-13. The league acknowledged the bad call, but it was too late for Brown.
The 6-5, 247-pound Brown, a former wide receiver at James Madison who was signed by the Bears in Week 8 in 2016, has played primarily on special teams this season. But he’s on a winning team after going 15-32 in his first three seasons in the NFL.
“Winning is always fun,” Brown said. “Coach Nagy always talks about it in the meeting — not a lot of us have been a part of winning teams. I know I haven’t. So it’s kind of new territory for a lot of us. Winning makes everything easier. Also harder because everybody’s tuning for you. But it’s fun. It’s a fun environment to be around.”
9. Josh McCown Ex-Bears Player of the Week Award: Veteran cornerback B.W. Webb, the odd man out in the cutdown to 53 in 2016, resurfaced with the Giants and had nine tackles and forced a Taylor Gabriel fumble in the fourth quarter against his former teammates Sunday.
10. Bear-ometer: 10-6 — vs. Rams (L); vs. Packers (W); at 49ers (W);
at Vikings (L).