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Finding A Quarterback: Can DeShone Kizer Hit the Mark?

| March 30th, 2017

If  the Bears can fix whatever it is that causes DeShone Kizer to be so damn inconsistent with his ball placement, they just might have a franchise quarterback.

When I watched Kizer, I never knew what I was going to get from throw-to-throw, a scary thought for a guy the Bears may be considering with the third pick in the draft. But I can’t tell if it’s an issue that can easily be fixed or one that will dog him throughout what would then be a short NFL career.

A lot of people love Kizer. I respect the opinions of some of those who do. But his inaccuracy is undeniable and when you factor in occasionally-puzzling decision making, it makes him a scary prospect.

Some like to say Kizer’s struggles were only a problem this year and there’s something to that. In 2015 he had just 2 games in which he completed less than 55 percent of his passes, compared to 5 last year.

What happened?The talent around him dropped significantly and his coach was a jackass.

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Finding A Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes Might Be The Next Brett Favre

| March 28th, 2017

I don’t think the Bears can risk using the third pick on a quarterback who needs as much work as Patrick Mahomes. But I also don’t think they can let a quarterback with this much talent get past them in the second.

It’s hard to watch the Texas Tech QB and not be reminded of Brett Favre, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a reincarnation of the old gunslinger.

Everybody talks about the arm and it’s every bit as good as they say. He can toss the ball 50 yards with a flick of the wrist and makes throws that most quarterbacks won’t even consider. (I’d go as far as saying he has the strongest arm in football.)

He’s more than just an arm. He also has adequate accuracy and moves around pretty well. But my favorite Mahomes trait? Instincts.

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Chicago’s Mood When It Comes to the Bears: Eh.

| March 26th, 2017

I sat on what’s probably my favorite bar stool in the world, back to the wall of Wise Guy’s Corner in the World-Famous Billy Goat Tavern. In this hallowed drinking alcove were my friends Brian, long-time member of the Josie Woods mafia, and Rick, the Trib’s chief political reporter. We talked about stuff – Illinois state budget insanity, Trump, self-driving cars and their impact on the American workforce…etc. – and then the conversation switched over to the Bears.

And then it ended.

There’s nothing to talk about.

Not living in Chicago, I can really only take the pulse of the town when I’m here for short bursts. And in December, the number of “Bears tourists” can mask the city’s prevailing winds. These are people who don’t live in the city but travel here, maybe from downstate, maybe from Indiana, maybe from Queens New York, to see the Bears because they love the Bears despite their record. They wear Bears hats and jackets. They go to the bars and want to talk about the Bears and very little else.

And they’re not here in March. My Bears hat is one of about eleven I’ve seen since last Wednesday. People are asking me for directions on the street because, hey, if I’m still wearing a Bears hat I have to be from here.

Jerry had a mane of white hair and nursed a mug of Schlitz at the Goat for the better part of 20 minutes before finally speaking to me.

“What do you think of the Bears?”

What did he do next?

He laughed. Didn’t even wait for me to respond. Just laughed.

This town is not bracing for the worst. They believe the Bears have already begun their descent into the toilet. They didn’t see anything to be optimistic about in 2016 and don’t see any reason for optimism with the current make-up of the roster. Especially when it comes to the guy throwing passes.

“What if they take a quarterback early in the draft?” I asked Jerry.

“Their draft choices never work out.”

Who was I to argue? It was going to take more than one great draft class to convince Jerry of anything. And if the Bears want to keep Jerry watching on Sundays, they better start winning football games.

Hell, forget about getting Jerry to watch. That seems like a Pizano’s deep dish pie in the sky. Just get him to stop laughing.

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Finding A Quarterback: No Interest in Mitch Trubisky?

| March 22nd, 2017

(Author’s note: Last week I wrote I didn’t think the Bears would draft a quarterback third. Forget that, they can’t possibly think Mike Glennon is the answer.)

There has been almost nothing to link the Bears to North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, which is exactly why I think they really like him.

After sending a team of people, including Ryan Pace and John Fox, to Clemson for Deshaun Watson’s workout, the Bears didn’t send anyone of note to see Trubisky this week. There were also no reports of Pace going to watch Trubisky during the season. Really, nothing has connected Pace and the Bears to Trubisky other than a standard interview at the combine.

Hell, we even have Pace talking specifically about having a problem with what is perceived as Trubisky’s biggest flaw, experience:

“Yeah, it carries a lot of weight. I think there’s nothing that can really substitute that,” Pace said at the Senior Bowl. “It’s already a big jump from college to the NFL as it is, so the more of that you have, the more beneficial it is.”

I don’t buy it. 

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If Bears Pass On Early-Round Quarterback, They Pass On a Truly Relevant 2017

| March 20th, 2017

When a play is in development, going through the endless reading and workshop process that now defines the modern not-profit theatre landscape, it means the play is “not ready” to be seen by a paying audience. Whether or not the human file folders now running America’s once great theatres are artistically-equipped to make that decision is a topic for another column but their idea, an idea borne in the titanic mind of Joseph Papp, is you don’t have to fork over your $77 until they get it right.

If the 2017 Chicago Bears want to be anything more than in development, if they want to give their win-starved fans anything more than the roster is improving, there’s hope for the future, if they want this coming football season to be entertaining and exciting and inspiring and all those other words, they have to take a quarterback in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.

Mike Glennon isn’t the guy. His numbers will be fine next year because Dowell Loggains’ offense managed to pull fine numbers out of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, both massively limited. But Glennon is nothing but a placeholder. And the Bears – even with their general manager’s “fired up” commentary at the introductory press conference – know it. Despite misguided columns from people like Chris Burke at Sports Illustrated, the Bears are paying Glennon to be a middle of the road starter in 2017 and a backup in 2018. They’re commitment to him as a player is minimal, at best.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day From DBB!

| March 17th, 2017

“The worst thing about some men is

that when they are not drunk they are sober.”

-Yeats


Three weekend thoughts:

  • More I think about the Glennon signing the more I think the Bears have identified their quarterback of the future. Is that quarterback coming by the end of April? I’m not sure. But there is no chance Ryan Pace & Co. evaluated Glennon’s game tape and saw a player capable of leading a franchise for a decade. No. Chance. My guess? The Bears don’t take their guy at 3. They trade back in round one by the end of Thursday night and bring a QB with them.
  • A Tweet from Greg Gabriel Thursday: “Hearing that Bears could indeed have an interest in S. Thomas at #3 but not as a 5. More of a guy they would play all over, both up & down.” Remember, I’ve been saying this on the Twitter for months now. Thomas has way more J.J. Watt in him than Aaron Donald. And I hope he’s not available when Tom Coughlin picks fourth.
  • I used to work at a little arts complex called the Irish Arts Center in NYC and the former head of that place was Jim Sheridan. If you’ve never seen one of Jim Sheridan’s films, you haven’t seen the best of Irish cinema. My Left Foot, The Field, In the Name of the Father, The Boxer. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Instead of puking on the sidewalk, celebrate Ireland with one of these pictures this weekend.

Enjoy a pint of the muck and have a lovely weekend.

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Chicago Bears Big Board

| March 15th, 2017

I just don’t think the Bears are going to take a quarterback with the third pick.

Through the first two waves of free agency, I saw Pace as someone who was just trying to plug as many holes as he could so that they could pick up some wins and he’d get a chance to keep building the team next offseason. George McCaskey made it clear that he isn’t patient and I think Pace heard that message. Mike Glennon is a reliable player who Pace hopes can be just good enough to get him to next offseason.

It’s possible that Pace sees upside in Glennon; sees him as somebody who could potentially be the answer. Realistically, I think Pace is just hoping Glennon can buy him more time.

My hunch is that Pace has ID’d his answer and it’s Jimmy Garoppolo. Drafting a quarterback in the first round this year would mean he couldn’t realistically go after Garoppolo next year. Sticking with Glennon and a QB drafted later leaves all options on the table.

Even if it’s not Garoppolo, I haven’t gotten any indication that he believes the answer is among the guys available early in this draft. Pace had made comments about valuing decision making (Watson), experience (Trubisky) and elevating their teams and programs (Kizer and Mahomes). Perhaps those were all part of a smoke screen. But I’m not betting on it. I do think the Bears will draft a quarterback at some point but my guess is Pace will view that player in the same light he sees Glennon – someone who could be the answer, but probably isn’t.

If it were up to me, Deshaun Watson would be the pick, but it isn’t up to me and here’s how I think the Bears have their big board stacked at this point:

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The Diary of a Boozer (Off the Booze)

| March 14th, 2017

Guinness Reflection by Jeff Hughes, Sarah Scully & Robert Varcoe (2016)

GENERAL NOTES ON THE DIARY.

I don’t write much about my life on here. But this was a personal journey and since I have this platform, this is where I’m choosing to share it.

Each diary entry will be written on the date specified. It will be edited for grammar at the end of this eight-week dry run but the thoughts will not be altered in any way. How I feel at the moment of writing is how I feel.

 To spare yourself reading this entire piece on the internet, you can download the PDF format here: Diary of a Boozer Off The Booze.


January 23, 2017

I drink.

But what I’ve done over the last decade plus is more than just drinking. I’ve made bars a central preoccupation of my life.

Hard day’s work? Edge offers at 5 o’clock.

Traveling to Spiddal, Ireland…Dinan, France…Groveland, California? Pints in the oldest bar a must and texts to my uncle will follow. (Can’t go wrong with Tigh Hughes, Saint-Saveur and Iron Door respectively.)

Theatre tickets? Drinks before. If it’s good or really bad, way more drinks after.

Bears game on? Josie Woods for endless Coors Lights.

Most of the great stories of my life have occurred with a drink in my hand.

Since 2003 there have probably been three weeks where I didn’t have a single drink. Two of which involved devil viruses that left me sweating through tee-shirts on a dirty couch, coming to-and-fro consciousness during random episodes of the Twilight Zone.

The other just wrapped. It is the first of eight intended weeks without a drop of alcohol. Why? Because I’m hitting the reset button on my drinking life.

I never wanted booze to become routine. I never wanted to lose the enjoyment of that first sip of Guinness. And I have. I stopped deriving pleasure from the experience. It just became a thing I did. I took a shit before I let the house in the morning. I drank beers at night. Bar, couch, it didn’t matter.

This eight weeks is a pilgrimage and my Canterbury Cathedral is remembering why I love drinking in the first place.

And as confident as I was in this endeavor, I’m starting the diary on Day Eight because who the fuck knew if I’d make it this far?

Coming off a wild weekend in New Orleans, I had theatre tickets Thursday night with the lady and the NFL conference championship games Sunday. Vegas had me 4-1 to make it to Monday morning.

What did I learn over the first seven days?

  1. I’m not an actual alcoholic. You might think this is a small thing but it was refreshing to not crave alcohol at any point over this initial week. I didn’t get the shakes or panic attacks. I didn’t even have night sweats, which fucking shocked me.
  2. Twice I was able to sit in my local for multiple hours, drinking club soda with a splash of orange juice, and exist. What’s bizarre is how your mindset changes. First, it’s cheap as shit. Second, I didn’t have to walk into the door of the Copper Kettle and write off the remainder of the day. I could walk out later and watch a movie, cook dinner, write. The lady didn’t have to expect me to return to the apartment and fall onto the couch like a bag of shit and start snoring before the end of 60 Minutes.
  3. The lady and I saw the brilliant Oh Hello! on Broadway Thursday night. We had dinner at a Mexican bar/restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen first. Club soda. I wanted the Negra Modelo on tap – because Negra Modelo on tap is like drinking beer directly from sweet keg of the Lord Almighty – but…club soda. Splash of orange juice. We left after some great tacos and popped into an Italian restaurant for coffee and dessert. Coffee and dessert. Who knew? (All the non-drinkers, that’s who.) Then I walked into a Broadway house to see a show without a drink in me for the first time in at least a decade. Was the night different? Very. Was the night great? It sure was. It didn’t make me wanna stop drinking altogether, by any means, but it showed me there were laughs and good times to be had without it.

I tried this last year as something of a challenge to myself. This year it’s different. It’s a quest. And this diary, who knows, maybe it’ll become something I share with people who are actually struggling with booze. Or maybe it’ll be something I never show another person.

Either way…cheers.

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Data Entry: Turning Over the Turnover Problem

| March 13th, 2017

This is the 3rd installment of a monthly offseason piece I’ll be doing here at DaBearsBlog, helping fill the content void of the long offseason. Each one will be a numbers-crunching look at something Bears related in which I attempt to earn the “Data” moniker so kindly bestowed on me by the comments section regulars and, more importantly, answer a Bears question that I’ve been wondering about. If you have anything you’d like me to look into, let me know in the comments or email me at woodjohnathan1@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can do.


Chicago’s defense has significantly improved in the last two years from the disaster that was the Mel Tucker era, but there is one area where they have actually regressed: forcing turnovers.

Tucker’s defenses in 2013 and 2014 actually forced turnovers at a slightly-above average rate (Tucker can probably thank the leftover Lovie Smith-trained players for that), while Vic Fangio’s defenses have forced fewer turnovers in the last 2 years than any other NFL defense. In fact, 13 defenses have forced as many turnovers in one season (28) as the Bears’ defense has the last two seasons combined.

The problem was particularly pronounced last year, when the Bears forced a measly 11 turnovers, tied for the fewest by any defense in the NFL in the last 10 years.

Given the strong and well-established relationship between winning the turnover battle and winning football games, this is a real problem for Chicago. All of this research looks at turnover differential, not just turnovers forced. But forcing turnovers is half of turnover differential and it’s the part I want to focus on today. Avoiding turnovers is largely a product of your quarterback (and luck for fumbles/fumble recoveries). That’s a separate issue that has already been discussed on here at length.

Setting it up

Here’s my question: What is the history for teams the year after they have forced as few turnovers as the Bears have recently? Does the defense continue to struggle generating turnovers, or does it improve quickly?

Here’s how I approached the study:

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