After months of speculation and debate and discussion and more speculation, the Bears finally did it. On Friday, head coach Matt Eberflus confirmed the team agreed to terms with dynamic pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
A move like this wasn’t unexpected. The Bears were open about their interest in adding free agents throughout the summer, including at defensive end where it seemed they could use a boost. The Bears just needed to make sure they did all their homework first.
“We had some intel on him,” Eberflus said. “Obviously what kind of teammate he is. What kind of person he is. What kind of worker he is. And he checked all the boxes there for us. He’s gonna be a good addition.”
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Eberflus considers Rod Marinelli to be one of his biggest influences as a head coach from their time working together with the Dallas Cowboys. Marinelli was Ngakoue’s coach for one season in Las Vegas, and Eberflus asked Marinelli about Ngakoue. Current Bears defensive line coach Travis Smith was an assistant defensive line coach for Ngakoue during his one season for the Raiders, too. Of course, Eberflus asked Smith for whatever input he had, as well.
Each guy gave feedback that made Eberflus and GM Ryan Poles comfortable enough to offer Ngakoue a reported one-year, $10.5 million deal.
“The way he practices, I guess he’s full tilt when he practices,” Eberflus said. “He keeps himself in great shape. He’s very mindful of his body and how he stays in great shape to be able to go hard like that.
“To be really good and effective in pass rushing, you’ve got to bring it and you’ve got to bring it every single down. You can’t take a play off and that takes being in great shape, and you’ve got to have that mentality.”
Eberflus doesn’t have any first-hand knowledge of what Ngakoue’s like as a player, so after Ngakoue finishes his ramp-up periodー the time when the Bears slowly increase a player’s reps if they haven’t played ball in awhileー he’s looking to confirm that Ngakoue will fit into his demanding H.I.T.S. program.
“We have standards here of how we operate, how we hustle, how we finish, how we play. That’s our style, right? And the style’s not just for the game, it’s for the practice too. So we want to see him buy into that and really take that on and have ownership of that.”