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From the Shadows of Low Expectations, a Season Emerges

| November 30th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 8.48.32 AM

Before this season began, in the shadows of low expectations, no one could have foreseen an evening like Thanksgiving night at Lambeau Field.

No one could have imagined a thirteen point outing from the home team just a year removed from seemingly scoring thirteen points a minute.

A second half shutout? Pipe dream.

No one could have envisioned the visiting quarterback thoroughly outplaying the man often mentioned in the same breath as a four-time Super Bowl champion.

No one could have guessed a secondary comprised of journeymen and kids would deliver heroic moment after heroic moment, refusing to break under the pressure of knowing a touchdown beats them. They shed multiple blockers. They batted down sure thing completions. They redirected routes and blanketed receivers on crucial downs. They did…everything.

(For video of the final four plays, you can VIEW THEM HERE ON YOUTUBE. The NFL, in its infinite wisdom, has disable embedding of their YouTube clips. Because why would you want to make it easy for those who love your product to consume it. My hatred of everything happening on Park Avenue grows daily.)

And perhaps most shocking, most unpredictable of all, no one would have believed that as the football season leaves Thanksgiving behind it is the fans of the Chicago Bears and not the Green Bay Packers who see their franchise’s arrow pointed decidedly up.

And it isn’t just the fans. The Chicago sideline and locker room told the story.

This was not just another game, not just another win.

Despite their being well-within the playoff conversation, those celebrations were not about 2015. The joy expressed inside the locker room was about validation. Of a program. Of a mentality. Of a belief in a right way to do things. On a national stage in front of one of the year’s largest television audiences, the John Fox Bears announced themselves to the NFL.

In doing so they provided fans with a signature moment for the season; a memory even losing their final five would not erode. From the shadows of low expectations has emerged meaningful football in December. All because of an evening in late November none of us will soon forget.

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  • Joecashflow

    Brandon Marshall may be crazy in locker room, but he can still make it happen on the field

  • Joecashflow

    Can’t wait to get Eddie Royal back.

    • willbest

      meh. Meredith and Mariani are getting it done.

      • Joecashflow

        Neither have the speed nor route running capability of Royal

        • willbest

          They both stay on the field though.

          • Joecashflow

            That makes them better than AJ too, lol.

    • Sactowns#1

      Man I was pretty stoked to have an actual pro slot receiver come to the team. But now he has missed more games then he’s played in.

      • It’s odd. Both Royal and Rolle had relatively healthy careers before coming here.
        Wonder what’s going on with our strength and conditioning program, or if it’s just bad luck.

        • CanadaBear

          I think the S&C coach came from Denver. Did they have a ton of injuries in the last few years?

  • BillW

    Jeff-that was VERY well written. A great combination of fandom with skillful literary excellence. I read it twice and enjoyed it more the second time.

    • SC Dave

      Seconded… best article in some time Jeff. As Bill says, worth more than ine reading.

    • Frummerly

      that said, one minor quibble – journalists would know it’s not “comprised of” but “comprising.”

      • BillW

        I am a linguistic fuddy duddy as well at times. But I think we can let that one go. Besides, with English being a living language, I’m resigned to the fact that “comprised of” is becoming acceptable.

        It’s not as bad as “I could care less” which is nails on a chalkboard for me.

      • DaBearsBlog

        Don’t get me started on comprised of/comprising. That shit hit the fan when Wikipedia guy went ape shit all over his site with it. I’ve never had a problem with it. And I’m not very old but was taught “comprised of” was fine. All of a sudden, it’s not?

        • There really is no such thing as “correct” in language; it’s all “accepted usage” really.
          I think in general avoiding unnecessary propositions is a writer’s rule of thumb (I mean, nothing WRONG with ending a sentence with a prep, just aesthetically loathsome to some.)

          Much like with “empty construction.”

          “There really is no such thing as correct language” vs “‘Correct’ language is a myth”…both get the point across, the latter perhaps more concisely and eloquently, then again…

          “Something there is that doesn’t like a wall…”

  • SC Dave

    Do you all realize that in 192 games, the points scored are even closer that the 94-92-6 record?

    Bears 3,198, Packers 3,194

    Simply an amazing rivalry.

    • MB30SD

      Wow, that is amazing

    • Staying one game ahead of them in the rivalry on Favre night in Lambeau. ..magic night

      • BillW

        Minor quibble – and more important than comprising/comprised of:
        TWO games ahead.

    • DocNitty Ellipsoids Ornamental

      We won that game by the exact point difference. Cool.

  • CanadaBear

    Loved the look on Fox’s face during the vids. Those were some happy cats in the vids. I can’t imagine how much pent up frustration the vets must have had going against the Fudgies. Hopefully the Beloved stay on a roll.

    • Esp Cutty, Forte and Gould, who i think were the only left overs from the NFC championship.
      If this was Fortes last ride, good way to send him off

  • Trac

    Well done Jeff. Your journalistic passion has emerged once more. Great timing.

  • BillW

    Going with the “low expectations” theme, at the beginning of the year I felt it possible that the Bears would not be favored in any game. I of course hoped to be wrong, but I thought it would take this long to start seeing the turnaround and that the SF game would start a stretch where the improvement would begin to show.

    To say they are ahead of that schedule is an understatement. And the Bears look to be 7 point favorites going into Sunday. Which – ignoring the spread swings from the Denver game, is the first time this year. And certainly not the last.

    • willbest

      I know it was at Levi Stadium. But why would any team that only loss by 6 points to the Cardinals be laying a touchdown against the Bears when the Bears have only beat 1 team by more than 4 points, and have only scored more than 23 points twice this season.

      • MB30SD

        Yep, erra win will be a gritty hard fought affair this year.

        That said, any given sunday, and I’ve learnt that every team combination is different. Some strong trams lose to weaker teams because of how they are built and how they play. Should be a fun rest of the year. I had us pegged at 6 wins, anything more will be gravy for me. Arrow is 100% pointing up.

        • CanadaBear

          I was at 5 wins before the season and would have been happy if they were at least playing decent ball by the end of the year. For me anyway, they are way ahead of schedule.

      • CanadaBear

        Arizona played like crap and still won. That’s the only explanation that makes sense (if gambling ever makes sense).

      • BillW

        I would guess the expectations are for Bear fan bettors to get a bit carried away. Plus we have Fangio going against his old team. Worth a couple points perhaps?

      • Joecashflow

        You would therfore have to guess that rational fans will, bet the other side and the spread will come down or is San Fran really that bad?

      • Irish Sweetness

        The spread is just another way of getting bettors to lose. Rolling up match odds is way bettereasier. Look at ‘expert’ picks straight up versus ATS. Really the only way one should use ATS is when betting the underdog. It’s hard to enough to pick winners, introducing a handicap into the situation is pretty sick.

        There are lots of winning matchups this week, but hardly any ATS bets worth taking.

  • The GP

    I’d like to see them deploy Unrein outside the redzone, i.e. midfield.

    Not on every play, just situations like 2nd and short and 3rd and short. And don’t always blast it up the A-gap, but keep threatening to. Keep CRUSHING linebackers with violence, even for 2-3 and a cloud of dust. That always pays dividends in the 4th.

    • CanadaBear

      At the very least run that goal line play until someone stops it. I don’t think I’ve seen Unrein back there with Forte. Forte always ran better with a lead blocker. If they are that worried about not enough people out on a route, send Forte in motion and leave Unrein to block for the QB.

      • Maybe Unrein in the wild cat!

        • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

          Unrein in the slot?

          • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

            Unrein as GM?

          • BillW

            Only the second Bear ever with a last name that starts with U. And we all know who the first one is.

            I think we have something here!

          • BillW

            OK – so Wikipedia is not perfect (who knew?)

            How could I have forgotten the immortal Harvey Unga?

            Five players with a last name starting with U per the Football DB:

            http://www.footballdb.com/teams/nfl/chicago-bears/alltime-roster?letter=U

          • Johnnywad

            Harvey doesn’t count.

    • Big Mike

      Let’s not get carried away. It was one play. Love the idea, love how he executed.

      • Johnnywad

        He did the same thing against the Rams.

        • Big Mike

          Ok, lets get carried away !! 🙂

          • Johnnywad

            Oh I did weeks ago

    • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

      You would think that the coaches are smart enough to see what even the announcers were able to notice.

      • BillW

        Was I dreaming or did they make a Fridge reference on one play?

        • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

          He absolutely destroyed clay Matthews. Then they inexplicably didn’t use him on 2nd and goal from the 1 later on and it was a disaster

          • BillW

            He blocked two guys on that play if I remember right. I think Collinsworth mentioned that in real time.

          • I’m a firm believer in “If they can’t stop it, keep using it”

            It’s like my friend in in Tekken. He would just keep using the same move over and over again and say, “You don’t like it, then stop it.”

            Eventually Miller will slip out wide open when Unrein is in for a TD.

          • Joecashflow

            We need a screen shot on that. Anybody???

  • MB30SD

    Getting little backpacks ready for school and from the other room I hear my son telling my daughter something about trains, just rambling on. Mid sentence my daughter yells…

    Doooooon’t caaaaaaaare!

  • SC Dave

    As a rebuttal to the whiners that complained about Brock Ostweiler beating us, I note the mighty Patroits did no better.

    • willbest

      Well anything can happen when the zebras decide its time to for your team to pay off its karmic officiating debt. That being said, their offense clearly looks more dynamic with Oz back there. I don’t know how you go back to Peyton Manning quite honestly. He isn’t money in the playoffs. He clearly gimps your running game. And he isn’t any more of a dynamic pocket passer than Oz. About the only plus for Manning is that he reads defenses better.

    • BillW

      One can hope that the trend is somewhat going back to a balanced attack. Two scores last night by long runs – which simply would not happen with Peyton. Or Rodgers either.

      Watched the GB game a third time – even into the 4th GB was running well. But when it was time to go get the winning TD, they decided Rodgers had to be the hero.

    • I actually believe we moved the ball on them more easily than the pats , just couldn’t finish them off

    • Johnnywad

      I disagreed then and more so now that Brock wasn’t any good. He looks as good as the majority of NFL QB’s playing right now to me. No way should Manning come back unless the kid really regresses down the stretch. He’s athletic, smart and seemed fairly well composed in just a tiny sample size.

    • Irish Sweetness

      Brady is 2-6 now in Denver.

  • willbest

    At present the Bears need to win out and have 2 of 4 things happen that are beyond their control.

    1. Atlanta loses 2 games (@TB, @CAR, @JAX, CAR, NO) – given the way they played the Vikings and the fact they play Carolina twice this seems likely

    2. Seattle loses 2 games (@MN, @BAL, CLE, STL, @ARZ) – this seems unlikely to happen. Seattle is a beatable team however their schedule is cake. Don’t be fooled by the Arizona game. At the rate things are currently progressing Arizona will have the #2 seed locked up with no chance at the #1. They won’t have anything to play for, meanwhile Seattle will be in playoff mode.

    3. Packers lose 2 or 3 games. If the packers lose 2 game (@DET, MN) we will have the division tiebreaker on them. Otherwise they will have to lose 3. (@DET, DAL, @OAK, @ARZ, MN). They do effectively get a free win against Dallas, but the rest of their schedule are all teams capable of beating them.

    4. Vikings Implode lose 4 of 5 games. While unlikely, their schedule is probably the toughest in the NFC at this point (SEA, @ARZ, CHI, NYG, @GB). Every one of those teams is in the thick of the playoff race.

    • Atl and GB losing seem thr likeliest paths. The former cuz they suck, the latter cuz they suck and have a very tough schedule.
      I wouldn’t sleep on Ariz v SEA though. Ariz would love nothing more than to knock them out of the playoff hunt, and Arians has a bit of Bill in him, very aggressive and likes oiling up the machine before the playoff run

    • BillW

      I think a 9-7 season and a good draft / FA showing makes the Bears a sure playoff pick by many next year and a NFCC pick by at least a few.

      Nov 9, 2014. Six tds scored on the defense in the first half.
      Nov 26, 2015 Six TDs scored on the defense the entire month of November

      • BillW

        Just what is defense capable of when we get a real pass rush and a better secondary?

        • CanadaBear

          I think the coaching change of Fangio for Tucker is the real reason for defensive improvements.

          • BillW

            Mel Tucker – rhymes with…. well, I’ll let it go.

            Now a position coach in college. Not a position coach in the NFL. Not a coordinator in college. A position coach in college.

          • He’s lucky to even get that gig.

          • CanadaBear

            Personally I think he’s a good guy. Professionally he was stuck in the 90’s and didn’t have a clue once things started going bad.

          • BillW

            Actually I was more upset that Trestman kept him on than anything else.

          • barb loved tucker.

            wonder where he went this year

          • CanadaBear

            He was over on JW’s site for a while but haven’t seen him over there in a couple of months. I was gone for a while, why did he like Tucker?

          • Johnnywad

            Because he’s weird.

          • CanadaBear

            I liked Barb but he was a different cat for sure.

          • It’s nice having a “wild card” give us diff views.

          • Johnnywad

            Said he was banning himself from the blog if Pace drafted a receiver in the first round. Thank you Ryan Pace.

            That said, I think I saw him sniffing Brady’s jock strap in the post game last night. Ran by with it pulled down over his eyes.

          • Irish Sweetness

            A Patriots blog?

        • We really need a Dlinemen who can disrupt on his own.
          Originally, McDonald was supposed to be that guy, then Sutton/Washington. Just hasn’t panned out for various reason.

          We found ONE S in Amos.

          I never thought Rolle was a long term answer, and hopefully the Bears don’t either.

          It was more a marriage of convenience.

          Prosinksi has already made some plays in the short time he’s been here, and he def deserves a shot for more auditions this season.

          If he’s the real deal, we can scratch S off our needs list, which in itself, is a minor miracle.

          • Rolle’s contract was basically for 1 year, to help stabilize things with leadership in the back end.
            As Hawk Harrelson would say… He gone

          • You think Goldman will turn into something besides a body?

          • I hope so. I think he shows flashes. Still very young.
            Playing next to 5Ts who aren’t garbage would help.

          • Irish Sweetness

            Nope.

  • TBC

    Hoooo boy. Looks like this blog need a troll more than ever

    • Curious. I think Favre was actually happy the Bears won.

      See, even Favre can wisen up with age.

      • BillW

        There seems to be a real animosity between Favre and Rodgers. I think it was more that Favre was happy to see Mr Perfect shit the bed.

        • I was kinda laughing to myself while Favre was in the booth.

          He’s talking about playing with broken bones, with no reps and one arm in the freezing cold, “A lot of folks didn’t realize I was playing with no spleen that week, and I also had the Bird Flu, Al”

          and meanwhile Vadge hits his funny bone and acts like he was in the Civil War getting his elbow sawed off by a rusty cleaver.

          • CanadaBear

            Before the game there was talk about Rodgers “injury” from the week before (the mysterious shoulder ailment). One of the reporters said something to Favre about it and he joked, “I can be ready in 10 minutes”.

          • ah, yes, the mysterious “bitchatitus”. I think Brady came down with it last night. Seems to hit QBs that lose for some coincidental reason.

          • BillW

            I mentally tuned out the Favre interview. Didnt’ use mute though since there was a Packer fan watching with us.

            Rodgers is quickly getting a national rep as a crybaby. Seriously, Packer fans make fun of Cutler’s attitude?

            Hey Aaron – with that sore shoulder and funny bone, be careful throwing your teammates under the bus.

          • CanadaBear

            I actually don’t hate Favre and listened (kinda, sorta) while he was in the booth. He didn’t seem heartbroken Erin was having a difficult night. I’m guessing they never got along because they are so much alike. Although I don’t remember Favre being such a milquetoast pantywaist.

    • BillW

      Get a real screen name again. Surely you must have a valid email to use.

      (And yes, I called you “Shirley”.)

    • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

      Have you burned your McCarthy jersey or are you just throwing out an old towel that Clements may or may not have used to clean some birdshit off his car?

    • hey buddy. Like I said – can’t go 10-6 without stepping on your throat this past week.

      was the turkey moist? aunt nancy’s was a little dry, unfortunately :/

    • Scharfinator

      Hee hee, TBC is fun.

  • BillW

    Jeff asks if there are any anti-Cutler folks left. Sure there are plenty. And they all are sportswriters and/or sportscasters.

    “But he isn’t NICE to me!!”

    • willbest

      I don’t know, given the amount of heat I was getting for trying to objectively look at Cutler back in Feb/March, there should be a lot of people around here that should be anti-Cutler just for consistency.

      • BillW

        Well, I’ve gone on record as admitting I was wrong in wanting Cutler gone. I supported him for years and even supported the contract. After last year I (incorrectly) concluded that he wasn’t going to break the bad habits and he’d be a distraction.

        I pointed out “pocket presence” to my Packer fan friend as the biggest difference. Came true on the Miller TD and several other times.

        • Big Mike

          My stance on Cutler has not changed. I’ve been a supporter. I’ve tried not to be an apologist. What has changed is my viewpoint on what he can be. I kept holding out home for 4-5 maybe it was 6 years that he was a perennial Pro-Bowl top 5 QB. Somewhere in the darkness of the Tresticle era, I started to view him as an above average QB, no more. I was furious with how he played last year, but even then didn’t see throwing him out, because of the state of the QBing in the NFL.

    • Funny. All Cutler had to do was stop throwing multiple pick games in order for fans to like him.

      Who knew?

      • willbest

        Well people like QBs that throw multiple picks if they over come them by putting up 30+ points a game.

        • Up to a point, but eventually fan bases get tired of those turnovers.

          Look what happened with Peyton this year. The fans didn’t turn on him until he started throwing to the other team.

          And to a certain extent, it’s happening to Luck. That fan base is now arguing they’re better off with Hasselbeck.

          And both Peyton and Luck are way more personable than Cutler.

          • willbest

            The Colts fans are idiots. They have a Ferrari that their GM/HC keeps in 2nd while they floor it, and they wonder why they have issues.

          • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

            Luck is not superhuman. Fucks up like everyone else when put in bad spots, or playing hurt, or having shitty personnel

          • willbest

            Are any of the QB’s super human? Even Brady lost to the Broncos when he was finally surrounded by a bunch of unknowns. You look at what the Bears trotted out in the first 4 years that Cutler was here on offense. It was him and Forte. Sometimes Olsen, sometimes Marshall. First time he had an offense that looked anything like what Brady or Manning was getting all those years was 2013.

          • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

            I completely agree. My point is that people are quick to ascribe some extra special quality to a lot of guys when they perform well when surrounded by awesome, consistent pieces.
            Go back and read how people talked about Kaepernick even just on this blog. You’d think we were discussing Joe Montana at a certain point. Luck and Wilson would be constant passes and praise for being elite…..until they played like shit and then the ENTIRE pundit community would be speed of light quick to point out every single possible reason why the quarterbacks performance may be affected by other factors.
            Your post was about Luck being a Ferrari which is fucking crazy talk. Luck is just some quarterback that is competent and has heart and is a competitor….and plays in the AFC SOUTH.

          • willbest

            I was thinking more like Favre. The two records he is likely to keep are most consecutive starts, and most career interceptions.

          • CanadaBear

            He should be proud of that consecutive start streak. You know he had to gut out a few games to keep that streak going. Of course, being addicted to painkillers may have helped out earlier in his career.

          • I think Favre was an exception. His personality made him bigger than life, and the NFL hype machine did everything to turn him into a mythical figure.

            He also won a SB and played in a diff era. I think the era of the “gunslinger” is over, to an extent.

            Eli is a test to this theory. A lot of fans detest Eli but he has two SB rings.

            It’s sorta like pining for Sadam Hussein.

            Yeah, he has major flaws, but it’s better than the alternative?

          • Big Mike

            Eli has a horse shoe up his ass.

          • Irish Sweetness

            I never got the Favre love, just never understood it.

        • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

          Or their defenses make the turnover a moot point by not automatically giving up a scoring drive right after. That’s called “the Andrew luck” or the Cam Newton”….or actually any other team that didn’t have the 2013/2014 bears D and specials

    • CanadaBear

      There are plenty of Cutler haters among the Bears faithful. There are always people that refuse to think for themselves and just parrot back whatever they hear/read. There are also some that haven’t been won over by this season.

      • If you read comments outside this blog, it proves your point.

        A lot of Cutler critics believe that this is just a mirage, an outlier, an “anomaly” and that sooner or later Cutler will revert to his “true” self.

        • CanadaBear

          I totally understand if they haven’t bought into Cutler this season. I’ll never understand those dopes that just repeat what sports talk bozos say.

        • Johnnywad

          I had a conversation over the weekend with a dipshit that believes Cutler’s playing well just so he can come back next year and fuck the Bears when they have a better shot in the playoffs. That’s a real thought, from a real person, not fueled by booze.

          The Cutty hate amongst the worst of the worst runs deep.

          • Big Mike

            And the refs are dialed in to a conspiracy from the League office to make as many teams 8-8 and alive for the playoffs as long as possible.

          • BillW

            Actually, the vast number of teams around 0.500 may be due to the incredibly growing inconsistency in officiating. Head scratching decisions – or those that are flat out wrong like the 12 men walkoff in the AZ game – mean fewer teams are out of a game.

            Mike Carey yesterday was really embarrassing. Jim Nantz though stepped in and made the key point – if an ex-ref can’t come to the same conclusion as NY, there is a problem.

            Doesn’t mean Carey is right. Just means there are likely several refs not agreeing with NY either.

          • I think part of the hate is the image of Cutty being a typical arrogant jock frat boy.

            Basically, this guy.

            http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wrjQGjL0nMU/TfCHNa4qg1I/AAAAAAAABNs/Gz5t4Fk9iQk/s1600/80sBully02.jpg

            And let’s be honest, Diabetes Cutty didn’t exactly do much to dispel that narrative.

            He’s matured now, like fine aged tradewind.

          • Johnnywad

            We all know Tradewind never gets the chance to age. It’s too awesome. Nobody can leave it alone long enough. I heard they even put it in gravy now.

        • Big Mike

          Or was last year the anomaly? That’s been my contention.

          • BillW

            I looked at some numbers and saw that career INT % for Cutty is 3.2, or a bit lower than that of Favre at 3.3.

            But then I looked deeper and saw that int % for a lot of long-retired QBs are higher (in some cases a lot higher) but not for contemporary QBs. Which means the rule changes have reset the average. Which seems now to be around 2 to 2.5.

            Taking out his worst season it’s still 3.0% – still higher than a lot of today’s QBs.

            However his current 1.8 is so drastically better than his career average that it is far more likely due to a real change than being an anomaly. One rarely sees a fluke “good” year.

          • Big Mike

            He’s a tweener, as far as old school new school. As you know his arm strength creates his upside, but also his downside. If he were a stock you’d say he has a high beta… Furthering the stock analogy, you need a system that dulls the downside, without eliminating the upside.

      • BillW

        Well, I saw an example of that in the comments to a Trib article. The guy explained away Cutler’s good performance to the fact that the team had zero expectations this year, hence no pressure. Next year there will be pressure to succeed and therefore he believed Cutler will revert to form.

        I didn’t respond – I might later today – but if ever he was going to “revert” it would have been Thanksgiving. Against the team he essentially could never beat. especially in GB. I would contend that was more pressure to succeed than most any other game in his time in Chicago.

        The label “can’t beat the Packers, esp in GB” is gone as far as I am concerned.

      • Huge Bear’s Penis

        check out game day post, around the 4th quarter or after a turnover, they come in droves pretty quickly.

        • CanadaBear

          As you know, I try to stay away on game days for that reason.

      • Big Mike

        Blind criticism of Cutler has always been the easiest thing to rip about the Bears, because a lot of guys who watch football, are just guys who just don’t know a lot about the game. The same fans never fully commit. They didn’t do it in 2006, or 2010. Recalling the “Sure thing” that was the 85 bears, or the Jordan led bulls. They are also out front at the Stanley Cup parades. From so called NFL experts, they are simply rehashing the same stats over and over. Cutler has always been a C+ to B+ QB. Not bad considering how few QBs there are with a passing grade. True criticism of Cutler is hard to decipher because it is buried with all the crap.

        • DocNitty Ellipsoids Ornamental

          They (we) most certainly did in 2006. Remember a guy named Rex Grossman?

          • Big Mike

            There were fans who were critical of the Bears and never fully supported that super bowl team. Because it wasn’t a sure thing, like the 85 Bears. That was my point

          • DocNitty Ellipsoids Ornamental

            Ah. Gotcha.

          • Big Mike

            Yeah, I thought we were on the same page. Pretty exciting to have a team on the rebound. Feels like 1984, when the Bears beat the Raiders. That was the turning point in my opinion.

  • willbest

    What the Texans have done the last few weeks is rather impressive. Its hard not to bet on them to either take the division or land a WC. Then again Jax is showing signs of respectability so you can’t just pencil them in as a win anymore.

    • Their D FINALLY lived up to PS expectations. Everyone thought they would be dominant, but for some reason, they weren’t early.

      If Foster didn’t go down on a meaningless junk time touch, their O wouldn’t look half bad, esp with Hopkins.

    • Irish Sweetness

      I got turned on to the Texans and Jets too late this week. Their stats are quietly impressive where it counts. Hopkins is the #1 WR. Hoyer gets it done quietly, and their defense too.
      Kevin Patra’s cheat sheet is awesome. I’m waiting until Friday before I have a bet now.

  • MB30SD
    • AlbertInTucson

      or..

      “Just so you all know fir sure, it’s not MY fault.’

      • MB30SD

        exactly, what a leader. Taking the current situation on his shoulders. smh

    • Huge Bear’s Penis

      lol, rodgers complaining about how his teammates spend their free time. doesn’t he know that players need time away from football to R-E-L-A-X!!!

      • MB30SD

        he’s such a fucking toolbag.

  • MB30SD
    • AlbertInTucson

      I approve that message.

    • DaMurph

      The game is changing so much, and not for the better. Rules no one understands, phantom penalties, taking contact out of the game…..hit him, not just too hard! Guys are missing tackles and making plays because they are afraid of being a hair too late, or too high, or the helmet too low. Son of a bitch its a way different game then the one I had grown accustomed to watching.

      • BillW

        Even Brady had to say the hit on Gronk is a reaction to players being afraid to hit high. (Though it turns out he’ll miss at most one game.)

        I get all that even though I don’t like it. What continues to bother me is the inconsistency. Some commentator (maybe Nantz?) made a weak comparison to baseball umpires and ball/strike calls.

        Two huge problems with that. First – there is no dispute over what SHOULD be a ball or a strike. Second, if they used replay, it would be 100% consistent game to game and ump to ump.

        Me – I simply wished they’d go back to a looser PI definition. If it materially interferes with the receiver’s ability to catch, then call it. Same with OPI – if it obstructs the defender’s ability to cover, call it. Otherwise – no.

        Gronk got called for a forearm that came from contact going out in the pattern. No extension that I could see. Similar with Porter on his INT (even Peter King said it was not a penalty).

        Here’s my solution – and I think guys like me and JWood would love this. A database of penalties called – by who, what the call was, and for each type (holding, PI, etc) some relatively small number of “reasons” to choose from. Communicated by the ref publicly at the game and then stored online and searchable..

        Then people can scour video and look for consistency and patterns overall and one official vs another.

      • Sactowns#1

        Last week there was this play which was ruled not a catch (BS) http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-crabtree-catch-overruled-by-nfl-catch-rules-2015-11 and then ruled an almost identical play a catch in the Raiders game Sunday. Makes no kind of sense.

  • The GP

    The Doomer thinks about giving Cutler a handjob, but eventually just settles for lightly scratching his balls.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/rosenblog/ct-jay-cutler-bears-rosenbloom-20151130-column.html

    • Joecashflow

      Honestly had to chuckle at Rosey on that one. Pretty well written. “His offense also seems more effective when desperate late than when it has an entire game plan to run at the start.” Ain’t it the truth. Cardiac Cutler. We all hope that Gase or maturity have permanently sunk in, but there is that dark corner of my brain that says every coin has two sides and averages will come back around. Hope not. Hope we have turned the corner!

  • The GP

    Naming an X-wing pilot after a Beastie Boy title and then putting “Born to Ill” on his helmet is dope.

    https://twitter.com/Markvasquez27/status/650353509968310272/photo/1

    #Nerds!

    • RenoBear

      Fucking awesome

  • The GP

    Butch –

    Time to give up the sad mime.

    • Well, the mime is not necessarily sad. Like I said, that could also be a face of disbelief as in, “Could it be? Did we just defeat GB on Favre night and are now in the play-off race? Sacre blue!”

      Plus, I’m a superstitious man, and if ain’t broke….

      Though I am tempted to swap it out for something else. Hmmmm..

      • BillW

        Was it you a game or two back that hinted it might be Hammer Time because the Bears are too legit to quit?

  • Skip Bayless has a point? Oh no!

    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:14235318

  • Fisher got a little hot under the collar when asked about “effort”. That’s cuz when the media accuses the team for lack of effort, it’s really code for ,” Team has quit on coach, and he should be looking for a new job.”

    http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/14253472/st-louis-rams-coach-jeff-fisher-lashes-critics-blame-team-effort

    • BillW

      This may be Fisher’s last HC job. I think his frequent below 500 teams will finally lock him out of consideration. And I do expect him to be fired this year.

      Maybe he can be a rules analyst on TV, since he is on the competition committee.

    • DaMurph

      Tough to win without a QB. Bradford kept them waiting year after year, Foles just folded, probably his worst year ever.

  • Captain Obvious

    Two things about those last 4 defensive plays.

    On 1st down, One Play Shea comes screaming up like a guided missile. In the ‘old days’ of the NFL (say, anything 10+ years ago), Shea would’ve been allowed to follow-through with his one-and-a-half steps, and he would’ve KILLED Rodgers. Instead, it’s the present, and he had to pull up, allowing Rodgers to actually throw the ball without much trouble.

    On 4th down, Callahan played Adams perfectly. There is NO WAY Adams would have caught that ball, even if it had been perfectly thrown, because Callahan had Adams’ left arm, and he would’ve ripped the ball out easily.

    The defense is being coached well. Mel Tucker wasted a lot of talent, and didn’t coach up guys who weren’t as good.

    • Did Tucker waste a lot of talent?
      They have a lot of new starters this year. Only holdovers are Shea, Jones, Ferguson, Fuller, Young, Houston, Sutton.

      Lot of new guys: McPhee, Jenkins, Goldman, Amos, Porter, Acho, Rolle, Prosinski, Unrein, Anderson, Callahan.

      A lot of the “talent” from last year has been shipped out. Jennings, Bostic, Allen, Vereen, many more I’m not thinking of right now.

      • and even now I’d say it’s more that Fangio has them outperforming what they should be based on talent. They still need more impact players.

      • BillW

        I guess it’s called a hybrid 3-4 but still very different than the defense Tucker had them in. And it took a while but it looks like most everyone gets it now and perhaps spends less time thinking?

        Now in a perfect world that’s how it SHOULD work. Defense with a new scheme progresses as the year goes on. As Bear fans we’re not used to seeing that happen of late.

        Again – six defensive TDs allowed in the entire month of November (5 games)! I’m going to say not one of us saw that coming in October no matter who the opposing QBs were.

  • BillW

    Read a bunch of comments on today’s article in the Milwaukee Journal re Pack’s offensive troubles.

    The comments blame McCarthy, Thompson, and even Rodgers.

    To their credit, there was no excuse making. No crying about the officials, or about injuries (if anything, they seemed to say losing Nelson should have been overcome by now – instead 6-0 was followed by 1-4 with no further serious injuries.)

    In general there is a real disgust that aimed at the coaches, front office, and QB for the slide.

    Cheesy says there is no blog analogous to ours. With their tradition I’m very surprised at that.

    • willbest

      I am pretty certain that the Broncos showed people how to befuddle the current packers offense and the Lions and Bears have been able to replicate it. For whatever reason, Zimmer wasn’t quick on the uptake despite minny having the best defense in the division.

  • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

    I was just thinking to myself that we are starting to get the Oakland Raiders version of Lamarr Houston.
    I like it.

    • Big Mike

      amazing what coaching and a good scheme can do.

    • The GP

      You may have spiked the kool aid with too much Tradewind.

      Houston is still playing badly. Watch him on the NFL replay. He’s not generating that much pressure, and watch how he plays when they run to his side or screen to his side.

      He’s getting better, but I think he prefers to play with his hand down as well. He’s not big enough to spell Jenkins at end, he needs to be up at LB – but he’s easily caught flat footed, and he’s not swimming through too many RT blocks.

      Fangio deserves credit for getting Houston and Willie Young to play good L/R OLB.

  • Scharfinator

    So in regards to Osweiler – is this another case (Tyrod) of letting a QB develop working out?

    • willbest

      I didn’t watch him in college, but supposedly he had skills. They haven’t asked a whole lot of him in his two starts as they have a successful run game with him under center. He did make the down field shots happen in crunch time in the snow though. Lets see how he handles the Bengals and the Steelers before we decree him a success story.

      • beninnorcal

        I watched him at ASU in person more than once. Very good qb in college. He is VERY tall, though. Maybe even a bit too tall.
        For me, the jury is out on any qb until his 2nd season as a starter, when there’s a significant sample for the DC’s of the league to have a look at.

        • willbest

          If you start talking about his downward trajectory I will reach through the internet and slap you.

          • Scharfinator

            Hahaha, they couldn’t stop saying that during the broadcast.

  • BillW

    McPhee!

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-pernell-mcphee-aaron-rodgers-bits-spt-1201-20151130-story.html

    “After the Packers won the season opener at Soldier Field, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, “It’s always fun beating the Bears.”

    That didn’t sit well with McPhee…

    “Who does he think we are?…”We went in there and we slapped him on his ass,” McPhee said. “They need to go ask them how that feels.”

    • CanadaBear

      Love it. We desperately needed someone on D to step up and be the bad guy. McPhee is only too happy to play that role. I hope he slaps Erin on the ass twice a year for the next 5 years.

      • The GP

        Early season McPhee was a cruise missile. After the knee got banged, he lost that vicious explosiveness – hopefully he gets it back.

        • Yeah, I don’t think he looks the same. Now he’s just using his power where as to before, he had his whole arsenal.

        • CanadaBear

          Totally agree. Also, he seems to have a bad attitude towards the opponent. Gotta love that!

  • I’m kinda happy we’re playing the 9ers. Not necessarily cuz they suck, but this might be a great recruiting trip for Fangio.

    Bowman would be nice. Wilhoite?

    • MB30SD

      I’m ALLL about reid taking the pol’s spot… although he’s been solid.

  • CanadaBear

    Not that I expect the Fudgies to end up sucking for years but it would be interesting to watch Erin’s transformation from the all around swell guy the media wants you to believe he is to the whiny ass bitch that we all know is just under the surface.

    • Rodger’s excellence will keep McFatty around, and that will prevent them from every being like the Pats or even the Peyton Colts.

      Ironic.

      • CanadaBear

        Early in Tubby’s career, Lovie out coached him on game day. Once Rodgers took over (I think he lost his first start against the Bears) it didn’t make any difference. Lovie only out coached a few coaches that had any longevity. Fisher and Reid also come to mind. Lovie got the better of both of them. Other than that, Lovie on game day was even or worse against any of the other long tenured coaches.

    • MB30SD

      yeeeees. quiiiite

  • AlbertInTucson

    “From the Shadows of Low Expectations, a Season Emerges”

    Very apt description.

  • AlbertInTucson

    How bad would Fangio like to beat the 49ers?

    That said, I was surprised at how they were able to hang around with the Cardinals last night.

    • MB30SD

      their D can still be pretty beastly under the right conditions… I don’t think those conditions will apply this coming week Al.

      • AlbertInTucson

        We can hope. Certainly do not want to lose to Blaine Gabbert, especially with .500, once again, dangling out there waiting to be had.

  • AlbertInTucson

    And now, a word from out sponsor…

    Expectations were understandably low…



    …when the Bears began the season.



    Now there is hope beginning to grow…



    …and not without good reason!



    Burma-Shave

    • BillW

      One of your best. Truly captures the Burma Shave rhythm!

      • AlbertInTucson

        “Even a blind acorn finds an occasional squirrel.”

  • willbest

    In an interesting note about Jeffery’s contract. He apparently sold a 13% stake in his future NFL related earning for 7.9 million. Which means the company that bought it from him is expecting him to get paid in excess of $12 million a year for the next 6 years when I did some napkin math looking for an acceptable ROI based on risk.

    • That Guy

      I think the contract he signs in the off-season will be in the neighborhood of $12M per year, but I don’t see it being a six year deal. Whoever bought that stake is expecting Jeffery to get a second big contract is 3-4 years time when the salary cap has jumped up again.

      I think Mike Wallace’s 5 yr/$60M deal is probably the right precedent. The perceived talent is maybe a bit higher, but the injury risk is higher as well. We could see a bigger max dollar number (like 5 yr/$65M), but the guaranteed money would be offset by those concerns.

      • willbest

        The 2nd contract is your what you are banking on in a WRs case. The first contract is about limiting your losses. So say Jeffery gets 5-year 65 million, then the investor basically gets their money back 8.45 mil (less the substantial commission for such an irregular transaction).

      • Irish Sweetness

        We can’t pay AJ tier one money. He’s not a tier one receiver. He was a great foil for Brandon. But 12M a year?

    • Shady

      Did he go public on Fantex?

      Edit: Apparently yes, yes he did.

      http://fortune.com/2015/03/31/athlete-stock-exchange-fantex/

      “Here’s how it all works: when Fantex signs a new professional athlete, it sets an amount that it will pay him—a one-time fee—in exchange for the athlete giving Fantex a set percentage of all his future earnings, on and off the field, “in perpetuity.” (Yes, that means not just for the rest of his athletic career, but the rest of his life, hypothetically). Fantex must then sell enough shares in the IPO to make the amount it needs to pay the athlete. If it fails to sell enough, it will not complete the offering. The pay check it offers each athlete varies: Chicago Bears receiver ALSHON JEFFERY, still the biggest name Fantex has debuted, got $7.94 million, while Vernon Davis got $4 million.”

      • MB30SD

        come own cletus!

        • Shady

          You’re getting owned right meow!

          • MB30SD

            so fucking POWNED! SMFH

          • Shady

            Rage? What do you ask for it and then rage quit?

          • MB30SD

            I didn’t. you bailed out, and I was having fun killing those bots and getting weapons I can’t get in real games. hahaha

            Then my headset was killing my head so I just cut out to take a break. Don’t drive angry, you got to fuck me up plenty.

          • Shady

            Innerness.

          • MB30SD

            jesus

          • MB30SD

            btw, your clan suuuuuucks!

  • Joecashflow

    Mitch Unrein blast from the past in 2013…. nice kid…..https://youtu.be/OH93BfIVomw

  • DocNitty Ellipsoids Ornamental

    Great piece, Jefe.

  • BillW

    It’s such a simple concept and yet I don’t see it frequently. 4th Q comeback PERCENT.

    The actual number is meaningless since obviously you have to be behind in order to comeback. So the fact that the most recent number I see for Rodgers is 9 vs 20 for Jay says nothing. Maybe Jay is behind a lot more than Aaron (likely in fact.)

    But what of percent? The most recent number I see for Rodgers is after the 2011 season – and it’s DISMAL. 3 out of 21 or just over 14%. By comparison of elite QBs at that time Brady was 57% and Peyton was 45%. Jay at that time was at 44%.

    I wonder why this stat is not tracked.

    • you’re right. It should be tracked.
      and considering the lack of weapons both Brady and Cutler had throughout their careers (and in Cutty’s case, shit OCs), that’s more impressive.

    • willbest

      Small sample sizes lead to statistical aberrations. Plus is it accurately measuring poise under elimination pressure?

      What if the QB scores the go ahead points only to have the D drop a FG in the final 40 seconds to lose the game? Or the QB gets the kicker into a sub 40 FG and the FG muffs it?

      What if the QB throws a perfectly good pass that gets dropped by an inexperienced receiver?

      What if the reason the offense was down in the forth is because ST shit the bed and they weren’t really in any danger of losing the game anyway?

      Just seems like there are too many other people who need to handle the pressure to measure the QB. Unless you are arguing that a QB has some sort of aura of leadership

      • BillW

        You’re right on all points. All I’m saying is TV always shows number of comebacks. But they never show number of failures. If you’re going to credit a qb for comebacks, the other side needs to be mentioned too

        • Irish Sweetness

          And the comebacks might have been because the QB was shitty for 3.5 quarters.
          Some stats and ratings are silly. Some, like 3rd down conversion% speak. volumes.

          Did they say that Rodgers had 12 4th-Quarter comebacks. He’s played for 10 years, that’s very few, no? And what if you’re in the lead all the time? It’s a silly meaningless stat.

  • BillW

    And one more time I hate the QB passer rating. In watching the game again I realized Cutler came less than a yard from having a 2nd TD pass. But of course the main thing is they scored anyway.

    Yet had they scored on the pass that was down at the one, his rating would have been 101.7 rather than 90.8

    That’s a huge difference in this worshiped statistic and yet there is absolutely no difference in Cutler’s performance in one case vs the other.

    I know – I have to let that go. It’s a flawed stat as I’ve said too many times. Sounding like a broken record – or a scratched CD – or a corrupted MP3 file.

    • Irish Sweetness

      Wow, didn’t know that – that is a huge discrepancy

  • Shady

    Poor Factory of Sadness.

    • AlbertInTucson

      The Browns: Defined.

    • Unbelievable. Like M Night Shymala scripted it. I was expecting them to take off their helmets, and they were werewolves underneath, cuz he writes shitty endings.

      And on an FF note, NB is the first one I know of who started a D and got a kick block returned for a TD. He got about 16 points off of it.

      Shon is lucky he was comfortably ahead, or that would’ve been an epic way to get booted from the playoffs.

  • AlbertInTucson

    An entertaining game AND, I believe the officials were able to keep track of all the downs.

  • Wow. I feel for the Browns. Perpetually fucked.

    Just imagine having Trestman and Angelo for like 50 years.

    That’s the Browns.

    • willbest

      My brother-in-law is a Browns fan. I told him not to raise my niece one and that the pain needs to die with him.

  • AlbertInTucson

    “From the Shadows of Low Expectations, a Season Emerges”

    “Who know what season lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.hehehehehehehehe…”

    -Lamont Cranston

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