Bears

Chicago Bears notes: Defensive coordinator Alan Williams isn’t worried about LB Roquan Smith

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith smiles on the bench during a preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Chicago.

LAKE FOREST – It has been only two games, but Bears linebacker Roquan Smith hasn’t made the impact-type plays that the team hopes to see from the featured linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams is not worried. He is preaching patience with Smith and with the new scheme.

“In this defense and really in any defense, it takes a little bit to get used to,” Williams said. “... So what you’ll see is, as he gets more experience and as he gets the muscle memory, as he remembers, ‘Hey, I’ve had this play before, I recognize it, I did it in practice, I saw it on tape and now here it comes.’ You’ll see that the guys are hitting their gaps faster.”

The Bears have implemented a new scheme under head coach Matt Eberflus, shifting from a 3-4 scheme under the old coaching staff to a 4-3 scheme. Smith’s responsibilities have changed slightly, but the expectations have not.

Smith leads the Bears with 20 combined tackles through two games. He had half a sack in Week 1, shared with defensive end Dominique Robinson. The sack came on third down in the third quarter against the 49ers. That was Smith’s biggest play of the season so far.

Now, this week, Smith is dealing with a hip injury. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday at Halas Hall in Lake Forest. Smith, because he is currently injured, was not available for comment. His status for this week’s game against the Houston Texans is up in the air.

Health concerns aside, the expectations are sky high for a linebacker who was reportedly pushing for a $100 million contract during training camp. Certainly, Eberflus wants to see Smith make more game-changing plays – get his hands on the football more, pressure the quarterback more.

But the Bears are willing to be patient with the new scheme.

“He processes quick,” Williams said. “A quick processor, so that means when things are about to happen, he sees it in advance. I just expect Roquan to continue to get better and better and better.”

Fourth-and-goal: Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said the Bears have no regrets about lining up quarterback Justin Fields in shotgun on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line Sunday against Green Bay. Fields tried to punch the ball into the end zone but was ruled down short of the goal line.

Getsy said that decision has more to do with the type of defensive front an opponent plays than anything else.

“We evaluated what they were going to present to us [defensively],” Getsy said. “We thought that was the best opportunity for us to score when we had that defense presented to us. We evaluated it. We even looked back afterward and we still feel good about what we decided.”

The mistake was in the execution of the play, which Getsy alluded to. On the play, which would’ve cut the Packers’ lead to seven points, right guard Lucas Patrick swung around to the left side of the formation. Pressure on the inside pushed tight end Cole Kmet backward, directly into Patrick’s path. This made Patrick late getting to his block and he never really had a clean block on anyone.

“They were able to get penetration,” Getsy said. “We should have had two linemen on one to stop that penetration, which kind of got Lucas off a little bit instead of cleaning that gap. And then it would have just been Lucas with 59 [linebacker De’Vondre Campbell] in the hole and then Justin still would have had to run through some contact.

Injury updates: Smith sat out practice for a second day in a row due to a hip injury. It’s unclear when the injury happened. He did not miss any defensive snaps Sunday against the Packers.

Linebacker Matt Adams (hamstring), safety Dane Cruikshank (hamstring) and tight end Ryan Griffin (achilles) also sat out practice Thursday. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson (quad) and receiver Velus Jones Jr. (hamstring) were limited.

In Houston, starting quarterback David Mills continues to deal with a right thumb injury but was a full participant in practice Thursday. The Texans were also without the top two tight ends on their depth chart Thursday, Pharaoh Brown (shoulder) and Brevin Jordan (ankle). Next in line on the depth chart would be former Bucs tight end O.J. Howard.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.