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Unlocked Chicago Bears newsletter sample: Ask Hub

January 1, 2019

Ask Hub

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Hey Hub — one question in two parts. A. How likely is it that Vic Fangio will be offered a HC job and B. if he does leave, who are LIKELY candidates to replace him? My guess is, if the Jets fire him, Nagy would first turn to his friend Todd Bowles, but what do I know Submitted By Abe Bresn

Out of about 12 really solid candidates, there are probably only four or five sure things, suggesting a handful of interviews for Vic.

I think Fangio would be a great head coach but what will work against him is age. 60-year-old first-time head coaches are exceedingly rare. And what I love about him is what some G.M.’s and owners will hate — his complete confidence in himself and what he’s doing and his disdain for ass-kissing and any of the niceties that most head coaches have to deal with in the egos they work for.

A really confident G.M. with a team close to ready to win now, i.e. Packers, Ravens, Browns, Falcons, could do a whole lot worse, but I’d peg his odds of getting one of those jobs not much better than 50-50 — and that’s assuming he really wants it.

I know he says he does, but he’s one of the highest-paid coordinators in the league right now, and with all the extras that come with being the boss, does he really want it?

If Vic does leave, Todd Bowles would be a good choice, as would Mike Pettine if the Packers look elsewhere and their choice doesn’t want to retain him. But I suspect the Bears might look in house first at Ed Donatell, who is one of the best secondary coaches in the league and has coordinator experience.

Assuming the roster is the same and everyone is healthy, what kind of a drop-off could we expect on defense if Fangio is not the DC next year? Submitted by J. Andrew Moss

Andrew, it’s an impossible question to answer without knowing who the new coordinator is. Yes, Vic is one of if not the best in the business, but there are other great ones out there and I have no idea what Matt Nagy’s and Ryan Pace’s short lists look like.

For instance, what would you and the rest of Bears Nation think about Rex Ryan? Bad head coach, excellent coordinator and better than his brother Rob.

The idea of Nagy and Ryan together fascinates me.

When you consider the ‘D’ has four Pro Bowl starters and a handful more alternates, with the right coach, the drop-off, if any, doesn’t have to be significant at all.

Have the Bears brought in any field goal kickers? Submitted by Kenneth Chapman

Ken, to my knowledge, they haven’t. Cody Parkey had the one awful game against Detroit, when he hit the uprights four times, but the Bears still won that game by 12 points.

He was unremarkable in the preseason and inconsistent leading up to that, but not awful. He then seemed to settle down until missing the chip shot Sunday against the Niners.

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have to strike a balance between not doing anything to damage his confidence any more and determining how big a risk he is. Based on his first four years in the league, range has been an issue, but not his accuracy.

They’re also stuck with the reality they gave him $15 million over four years — including $9 million guaranteed. Cutting him loose any sooner than after the ’19 season is a bit of a disaster.

The right move at the moment appears to be to continue to work with him and then bring some competition to training camp next year.

If he’d been awful in Minnesota — and I mean two or three misses, not just the one — then maybe you would have needed to think about biting the bullet before the playoffs start.

Are there RBs in the draft the Bears would or should consider in a later round? How early would they take a K, if at all, if Parkey is deemed expendable? Submitted by Paul Battles

Paul, we’re still a couple of months away from having a reliable set of rankings for this year’s crop of running backs. We still don’t even know for sure which underclassmen are coming out and who is going back to school.

There are going to be good running backs, and there will be late-round bargains as there are every year, but it will be February before I can start targeting them for you.

As for kickers, unless there’s someone they absolutely love, it seems unlikely that, already short their first two picks, they would use a pick on a kicker.

They are more likely to bring in undrafted rookie free agents or veteran free agents for competition for Parkey.

What’s up with Matt Patricia? Seems like the Lions have hired another loser first-time head coach. Submitted by Tim Allen

Tim, Patricia has certainly had an inauspicious debut, but I’d wait at least one more season before writing him off. He did a great job getting his club ready for the Patriots, and Detroit is still short on talent in several areas.

That said, the way he’s comported himself and some of the things he’s said and done have been surprising, and he is going to have to do some serious self-evaluation and make some changes during the offseason if he’s going to be successful.

My guess is that he’s learned the job is a lot tougher than he expected it to be without Belichick as a shield.

Hub, what’s your prescription for the Cubs this offseason? Moves? Bench coach? Offense? Dig your thoughts on STL and happy New Year, man. Submitted by Patrick Murphy

Pat, I don’t study MLB closely enough to be able to comment intelligently on the coaching changes, but we can all agree the Jim Hickey situation is disappointing.

I also have to admit the Tommy La Stella trade is a little puzzling. Unloading the best pinch hitter in the league for basically nothing? I can only assume there are “culture” reasons for that move that require someone who’s with the team on a regular basis to explain.

My biggest concern off of last season is Kris Bryant’s health and Willson Contreras’ bat.

If Bryant returns to 2016-17 form and Contreras is the hitter it looked like he was going to be coming out of 2017, the lineup will be fine.

When you have four MVP candidates in Bryant, Rizzo, Baez and hopefully Contreras, and the best defensive outfielder in baseball in Heyward, who had a nice bounce-back season last year, you can figure out the rest.

I’m assuming nothing from Addison Russell at this point, so the guy I’d go get is DJ LeMahieu, and with Baez at short, you have a gold glove double play combo and a solid bat in the 6, 7 or 8 hole.

Schwarber’s trade value has gone down so much, I think you go all in on him one more year in left field and hope he puts it all together.

The leadoff spot is a puzzle I don’t have an answer for, but I’m OK with Almora and Happ platooning in center if one or both aren’t traded for a true leadoff guy.

The big move I think they have to make is for a closer. I thought Morrow was a bad gamble when they made it, and counting on him again is begging for trouble. Nothing against him, he just can’t stay healthy.

If Darvish is healthy, they may have the best rotation in baseball with him, Lester, Hamels, Hendricks and Quintana. If not, there’s still enough with which to work.

It’s obviously not perfect, but there are at least 25 or 26 teams in MLB that would kill to have their roster.

Sure, I’d love to have Bryce Harper but there’s no player in baseball I’d give 10 years and $300 million to; it just doesn’t work.

And I really don’t want any part of Manny Machado. I can’t escape the feeling the kid has bad fit written all over him.

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