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Arkush: New DBs are here because of culture, winning

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Cody Kessler (6) is knocked out of bounds by Washington Redskins strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (20) after scrambling for yardage during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Cody Kessler (6) is knocked out of bounds by Washington Redskins strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (20) after scrambling for yardage during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla.

CHICAGO – Bears general manager Ryan Pace spent his first four seasons in Chicago rebuilding, culminating in a 2018 NFC North title and a future that will return 21 ’18 starters for the coming season and at least 17 of them. if not more, for the 2020 season.

That reality has turned Pace from a general contractor into a handyman this offseason, allowing him to focus on slight rehabs and a few upgrades where the price is right, as opposed to all the reconstruction he had to do the past four offseasons.

Several of those projects were unveiled Thursday as new Bears Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson and Buster Skrine were introduced in a media conference call and the signing of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was announced as the call took place.

Arguably the more important of these signings were Skrine and Clinton-Dix, as they are Bears now because 2018 starters Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos aren’t, and the Bears’ two newest defensive backs will immediately be penciled into the starting lineup.

Asked what was most appealing to him about the Bears, Skrine explained, “Well, Chicago is a winning team. And everybody in the NFL, that’s why you play, you play to win. To have a chance to play in the playoffs and go to the championship game.

“You know, I’m on my ninth year. I think most importantly for me, the culture here, I’ve played with some players that have played here now. They said it’s nothing like you’ve experienced.”

Clinton-Dix won’t be introduced until Friday, but Skrine said he visited with him this morning and, “We got to the facility, we chopped it up a little bit. He feels the same way.

“He feels the culture is good, and we’re all just happy to be able to come here and play together.”

Imagine that. After Marc Trestman turned Halas Hall into Hades North in a matter of months and John Fox spent three years insisting there is absolutely no conversation about football worth having, Chicago is now a “must” destination for free agents.

Of course with Skrine having a bit of a reputation as yellow-flag magnet, Amos now a Packer and Clinton-Dix having established his Pro Bowl creds in Green Bay, there will be plenty of debate as to whether or not the Bears are as good as they were last season, about the same or a better team.

We won’t know the answer to that until October or November.

But Skrine is coming off his best season in terms of avoiding flags, and he thinks that label might be misplaced.

“I’ll just say that overall the game slowed down. I became a better inside player as my career has went on, so that’s pretty much the answer right there.

“I press almost every down, so if you watch me play, if I do get a penalty, it doesn’t bother me, but it will bother me if it hurts the team.”

Skrine probably isn’t an upgrade over Callahan, but he can be good, is a bit faster, has plenty of nasty and has been a lot more durable over an eight-year career.

There is some debate – mostly from Packers fans – over where Clinton-Dix is at in this stage of his career, but his huge edge in production over Amos and the economics of his deal make him an easy choice for at least this coming season.

My guess, however, is what most observers will take as the best part of where the Bears are at after these recent moves gets back to Skrine’s reasoning for choosing the Bears and the first impressions on arriving at Halas Hall.

“Coach Nagy and GM Pace. Them guys, you just automatically feel their energy when you have a conversation with them; you just see how happy they are to be the team running this organization and how they look forward to the future and having another opportunity.

“Coming here and feeling that culture, which is hard to find, with people who are just genuinely positive ... the team and the culture as a whole is awesome.”

Yes, Bears fans, it’s true, Skrine is in fact describing these new Bears.