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Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| September 21st, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. But that hourglass has been flipped.

When Trubisky?

There are three possibilities, as I see it, for the Mitch Trubisky era to begin in Chicago.

Possibility #1: Monday night, October 9th – Vikings at home

Under this scenario, Mike Glennon eats the hardest four-game stretch of the Bears schedule (and subsequent 0-4 record). The Bears would then have 11 days to prepare Trubisky for the Vikings and they’d be able to create an event atmosphere at Soldier Field that night.

Possibility #2: Sunday, November 12th – Packers at home

Under this scenario, Mike Glennon gets the entire first half of the Bears schedule. This would certainly require him playing better than he has through two games. Then Trubisky gets the bye week to prepare for a debut against the team’s oldest rival at Soldier Field. Would the fans get pumped up enough by his first start to fill the building? I think they might.

Possibility #3: Mid-game

I texted both of my league connections, both high-ranking personnel guys with other franchises, and asked how they felt about bringing in a rookie quarterback in the middle of the game. The two responses were “wouldn’t do it” and “fine with it”.

Here’s what I’ll say about the idea. I would not bring Trubisky into a blowout. You don’t want him on the field down three scores, having to drop back every play. But if the Bears are down 13-10 Sunday to Pittsburgh at the half and Glennon has looked like Glennon, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to bring Trubisky into the game.

Notes on the Pittsburgh Steelers

  • QBs faced through three weeks of the season: DeShone Kizer, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon. By comparison the Bears will have faced Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers will more than likely start one of the most hollow 3-0’s in NFL history.
  • A player I knew nothing about who absolutely jumps off the screen is LB Anthony Chickillo. The former Hurricane is in his third season and has been all over the field through two games. How do the Steelers always manage to produce these f’n linebackers? Chickillo is also a terrific pass rusher and the Bears better be wary of his location at all times Sunday.
  • T.J. Watt has been something of revelation but exited the Vikings game with a groin injury the organization doesn’t believe to be serious. If Watt doesn’t play, it’s a huge bonus for the Bears. But will that mean James Harrison can actually get on the field for the Steelers this season?

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Across The Middle: Coaching Collision Course?

| September 20th, 2017

Whether this is just a rumor or if it actually happened is anybody’s guess.

The story goes that before the Bears Week 17 game in 2014, Ted Phillips and George McCaskey brought Phil Emery into the principal’s office and asked him what his plan was. Firing Marc Trestman was a no-brainer but the Bears needed to know Emery had a solid plan to replace him. Emery’s response was a guy he had worked with before: Mike Smith.

Smith had success in the past. The Falcons won at least nine games in his first five years, but they’d gone just 10-22 since then. He wasn’t sexy and wasn’t someone any other team was going to consider. Emery liked him because he knew him and he felt Smith did a good job in helping turn the Falcons around. The Bears brass never really responded to Emery. They watched the Week 17 game together and the next time they spoke was the last. Emery was fired the next morning.

If things keep going the way they’re going, Ted and George are going to have the same talk with Ryan Pace. And, like Emery, there’s a good chance Pace is going to be able to mention a familiar name. Only this time, that name will have a Super Bowl ring.

But is Sean Payton the answer?

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Positive Jahns, Around the League Thoughts & More!

| September 19th, 2017

Jahns Responds to Nightmare Loss

Here are three POSITIVE points Adam made in the Sun-Times:

4. The Bears missed linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (four tackles on Bucs’ first drive). Christian Jones missed Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield on his one-yard touchdown run.

Kwik looked terrific when this game began. He was firing at the line of scrimmage. And then, injury. Because it’s totally normal for a starter and his backup to both tear their pec muscles in consecutive weeks. Remarkable how many rosters are already being decimated just two weeks into the season.

8. Want a positive? Bears rookie safety Eddie Jackson was strong in run support. He’s made a concerted effort to improve his tackling.

9. One more positive? Bears nickel back Bryce Callahan rebounded from his tough Week 1 and nearly had two interceptions. He was active and very close to big plays.

Jackson, Callahan and Kyle Fuller are all playing at a solid level and I expect all three to improve as the season progresses.


5 Around the League Thoughts

Literally found my eyes wandering from the Bears game during the second half Sunday. So I saw quite a bit of the league.

(1) Dak Prescott is really a poor thrower of the football. I think he has enough intangibles to have a successful career in the league but that arm is never beating anyone from the pocket.

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The Story is Glennon Until He’s Gone

| September 18th, 2017

John Fox said it.

I heard him.

He said it.

Sunday’s loss was not on Mike Glennon. Nope, Glennon’s constant throwing behind receivers was not the problem. Glennon blowing off an open Adam Shaheen to throw the ball to a linebacker was certainly not the problem. Glennon fumbling the football because he has the least amount of pocket awareness in the history of professional football was clearly not the problem. Glennon’s awful pick-six, predicted seconds before it happened from a New York City bar stool, was definitively not the problem.

Sure, the Bears made a ton of mistakes yesterday and were more than likely not winning even if they received adequate quarterback play. But they didn’t receive adequate quarterback play. They received the type of quarterback play anybody who has studied the tape of Mike Glennon’s career would expect. This performance was not surprising. It wasn’t abnormal. It is exactly who Glennon has always been.

And when a reporter dared to ask John Fox if Mitch Trubisky will be starting next week against Pittsburgh, Fox answered with a simple “No”.

Next week, and every week Glennon starts, the Bears will lose. Not because they don’t have good enough players to compete but because the organization has chosen to do so. The Bears have selected failure.  People wonder why this space has been obsessed with Glennon since the start of training camp? Yesterday you saw why. He renders the team non-competitive.

And worse, he renders the games unwatchable. And I really, really like watching Bears football. At least I did until September 2017.

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Data Responds: Bears at Bucs

| September 17th, 2017

Well that was ugly. The Bears turned the ball over 4 times in the first half, trailed 10-0 after one quarter, and 26-0 at halftime en route to a 29-7 final score. I’m going to focus most of my comments on the first half, because that’s all that mattered. The 2nd half was just playing out the string.

  • First, let me just start in general with the coaching. All three phases made huge mistakes in the first half as the entire team looked unprepared, and that is 100% on the coaches. They had key blown assignments, early wasted time outs, too many dumb penalties, and lots of sloppy turnovers. Somehow, Chicago’s coaches need to figure out how to get their team ready to play.
  • Can whoever has a voodoo doll for the entire Bears team stop already? Nick Kwiatkoski, Kendall Wright, and Tom Compton all left in the first half, though at least Wright returned. In the 2nd half, Josh Sitton and Akiem Hicks added to the walking wounded, though Hicks also came back into the game. For those scoring at home, that means the Bears left week 2 without their top 4 WRs, 3 of their top 5 interior OL, and 2 of their top 3 ILBs, plus their top CB has yet to see the field this year. Mark this as the 3rd year in a row where injuries are a defining story of the season, meaning the Bears need to figure something out with their conditioning and training staffs.
  • The coaches also continue to show zero feel for how to manage playing time in a blowout. You think they’d be better at it with all the practice they’ve gotten in the last few years. Somehow Akiem hicks and Josh Sitton were both playing so that they could get hurt in the 4th quarter down 4 scores, and the already overworked Tarik Cohen still saw touches in the 4th quarter as well.  Zach Miller, who might be Chicago’s best healthy pass catcher and is made of glass, made multiple catches on the final drive despite having a rookie drafted in the 2nd round sitting behind him. Why?

Offense

  • I’m starting at quarterback this week, because there’s nowhere else to start. Mike Glennon turned the ball over 3 times in Chicago’s first 3 possessions. He threw two terrible interceptions and showed zero pocket awareness on a fumble. By that point, the game was over at 23-0, and it was yet another terrible day for the former Buc. Glennon was far from the only bad Bear in this game, but he was the worst. His time as Chicago’s starting QB has already gone 2 games longer than it should have, and now it officially needs to be over. Yet with this pathetic coaching staff, I don’t doubt that Glennon will be starting next week, especially after showing “promise” in a meaningless 4th quarter (where he missed several throws and had another INT dropped by not one but two defenders).
  • Glennon was inexplicably not benched at any point during this game, and finished the day 31/45 for 301 yards, for a poor 6.7 yards per attempt. But that doesn’t accurately reflect just how bad he was, even on the non-turnover plays. He hit a bunch of throws underneath that any NFL QB should be able to make, and also forced several incompletions on short passes that went to his targets’ feet and/or behind them. We know what Glennon is, and it’s not good. There’s absolutely nothing he does at an above average level, but many things he’s quite bad at.
  • Tampa Bay came into the game focusing on stopping the run and keying in on Tarik Cohen in the passing game. This should have been predictable to Chicago in their game preparation, as those were basically the only things that worked last week, but they couldn’t come up with anything else effective. The 1st half yielded 16 rushing yards (on 14 attempts), 3 offensive turnovers, and 0 points. The passing game actually got some work going underneath in the passing game, but that approach requires long sustained drives without a mistake, which they are not capable of doing.
  • Speaking of Cohen, he came back down to Earth a good bit in week 2. Tampa Bay unsurprisingly focused on him after his big debut last week, and successfully shut him down. He also had an incredibly stupid punt return where he picked up a ball off the bounce when surrounded by Bucs, was immediately hit, and unsurprisingly fumbled.
  • The coaches needed to anticipate Tampa Bay’s defense would key on Cohen and use him as a decoy in this game. They failed to do that, which led to the offense being too predictable. Those edge runs that Cohen was able to turn into gains in week one were all snuffed out and contained this week. Their touches for Cohen became too predictable, and he continued to get too many (17, when the goal should be 10-12 for a player of his size, like Darren Sproles consistently gets).
  • Kendall Wright was featured more today after being completely ignored until the 4th quarter last week. I’m surprised it took that long for Chicago to realize they should try involving their best WR in the game.
  • In all the OL shuffling as Compton and then Sitton got hurt, 2nd year man Cody Whitehair moved from C to LG to RG. Continually moving one of your best players around seems like a poor strategy to me. Let him get comfortable and dominate at one spot.

Defense

  • Another week, another opening scoring drive by Chicago’s opponent. As Andrew Dannehy has been all over, this is a worrying trend for the defense, and one that leads to them losing games. Somehow, the Bears need to figure out how to stop putting themselves in a hole at the start of nearly every game.
  • Two other bad trends for the Bears showed up repeatedly in this game as well: the inability to force turnovers and the inability to get off the field on 3rd down. In the 1st half, Tampa Bay was 4/7 on 3rd down, including 3 3rd down stops negated by penalties.
  • Perhaps more worrying, the Bears failed to force a turnover until after the game was out of reach. They even had a great chance on the 2nd play from scrimmage, when Danny Trevathan tipped a ball up in the air that hung forever. Somebody needs to come up with an interception there, but no defender got even close. Pernell McPhee (it was good to see him for more than 4 snaps this week) finally forced a fumble in the 3rd quarter, which Leonard Floyd picked up.
  • Speaking of Leonard Floyd, the Bears need much more from him. Chicago’s supposed budding superstar has been mostly invisible through the 1st two games, though he finally showed up with a few plays in the 2nd half (after the game was over). They need him to be a difference maker. When that didn’t happen in the first half, the defense got zero pass rush and looked pretty mediocre.
  • Pretty much the only positive from the first half in my book was Kyle Fuller. Tampa Bay’s passing game moved the ball well, but everything went towards Marcus Cooper. By my count, Winston was 0/4 targeting Fuller in the 1st half. Of course, Fuller did drop an easy INT in the end zone in the 4th quarter, so it wasn’t all good.
  • Rookie safety Eddie Jackson had a solid game too. He put in good work in coverage (largely on Fuller’s side, where Winston had much less success) and plenty of sure tackling, including a nice tackle for loss in the run game.

Overall

  • That’s all I have from this nightmare. I feel like I put in more effort than the Bears today.
  • Seriously, we’re two weeks into the season and this team already looks lifeless. They didn’t even get excited after finally forcing a turnover in the 3rd quarter. It feels like the players have prepared themselves for another long, losing season.  Can you blame them?

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DBB Weekend Show Featuring Former Bears Safety Cam Worrell [AUDIO]

| September 15th, 2017

On the Weekend Show:

  • Jeff scares himself by looking deeply at the first 8 games of the schedule and wonders if the Bears will be favored in any of them.
  • Cam Worrell talks about the mentality of turnovers and talks passionately about Brian Urlacher, Hall of Fame candidate. (“Lach” is a gracious paintball player but an animal on the field.)
  • Reverend Dave sets the new record for Most Mailed-in Sermon.
  • MUSIC FROM THE GREAT CYRILLE AIMEE!

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Bears at Bucs Game Preview

| September 14th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. (But a man can only take so much.)

Tampa Bay in 2016

Aside from their thumping of the Bears, on a day when Jay Cutler couldn’t stop turning the ball over, the Tampa offense was mediocre or worse for the duration of the 2016 season. Their rankings:

  • Yards per game: 18th
  • Passing yards per game: 16th
  • Rushing yards per game: 24th
  • Points per game: T-18th

The fact that a team with these stats won more games than they lost is impressive. But the Bucs made two significant additions to their offense this off-season: DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. Always. Be. Adding. Weapons.

On Jerrell Freeman’s Injury

Bears had 22 projected starters in July. 11 on offense and 11 on defense. Kyle Long, Prince Amukamara, Cam Meredith, Kevin White, Jerrell Freeman won’t be out there Sunday. Pernell McPhee will be limited. That’s 27% of their starting lineup not out there. And they’ve played one game.

Three Reasons the Bears Win

  • One-dimensional Bucs. After seeing the Bears front suffocate the Falcons rush game, with Freeman, it’s hard to imagine many teams having significant success running the football into Goldman, Hicks & co. That means this game will fall squarely on Jameis Winston and the passing attack. Can they carry the day in their first start and avoid turning it over? Hard to see it.
  • Tarik Cohen. Make no mistake about it, Bucs DC Mike Smith is spending way more time than he expected this week on The Human Joystick. Outside of Chicago, Cohen’s dynamic performance in Week One shook the football world, with Cohen establishing himself as the team’s most explosive weapon. If goal 1 of opposing defenses will be stopping the Bears run, goal 1A will be stopping Cohen. Not sure the Bucs have the personnel to do it.
  • Back to the Ground. Bucs allowed 4.4 yards per carry on the ground last season and over 117 yards per game. Bears will be handing the ball off and handing it off a lot this Sunday. Why? Because they watched the tape of their quarterback from last weekend.

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Across The Middle: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

| September 13th, 2017

If the Chicago Bears want to sell their fans on the current regime leading the team back to glory, they better start making progress. Because last Sunday was decisively not progress. It was more of the same.

With their top two receivers out and the decision to play a terrible quarterback made, the defense has to be the center of John Fox’s sales pitch to stay in the job. What I saw last Sunday was pretty much the same thing we’ve been seeing for the last two years.

  • They can’t get turnovers.
  • They can’t get off the field on third down.
  • They start slowly.

The third bullet point is the most frustrating.

We are now 33 games into the Fox/Fangio defense. Some facts:

  • 21 times they’ve given up scores on the first two possessions.
  • 16 of those have been touchdowns!
  • In 14 of those games, they gave up scores on the first possession itself.
  • 11 of those were touchdowns!

Those rates are absolutely insane. For two defensive minds as accomplished as Fox and Fangio, how is it possible that their teams are never prepared to start games? Here’s the kicker: in games they managed to fight off their opponents until the third offensive possession, the Bears are 6-6. That’s six of the nine wins of the Fox regime.

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