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John Fox Will Return, or Bears at Vikings Game Thread

| January 1st, 2017

From Rap at NFL Network:

The second-year turnaround did not happen for John Fox. The Bears coach, who twice in his career has turned in triumphant rebuilds in his second season, will try to win just his fourth game today against the Vikings.

But, according to those who know him well, Fox will have the opportunity to make his mark in the third season. In addition, much of his staff is slated to return, as well.

The losses have collected for Chicago, a frustrating two seasons. The result is not what anyone has wanted. But in making the decision to stay the course, the Bears appear to be looking at more than box scores.

The Bears have hung tough with teams in playoff contention, such as the GiantsLions, and Packers. They’ve done so with their fourth quarterback of the year, Matt Barkley who likely would be out of the league if the Bears hadn’t put him on their practice squad to start the season.

They have a whopping 19 players on Injured Reserve, including many, many starters.

In addition, their 2016 draft class will be the foundation of the rebuild, a class that has drawn praise from opposing executives.

All of which makes for an interesting evaluation of Fox, his staff, and the year: They’ve been forced to play young players and watch them develop. The culture, despite the losses, is a positive one. And they believe the future is bright. Could they follow in the footsteps of the Raiders … or Cubs?

It’s not perfect, of course. There could be some position coach changes, and they need a quarterback. But it will likely be Fox at the helm when it happens.

Completely unsurprising. And fair. But Fox will have to win games in 2017.

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First & Final Game Preview of 2016: Bears at Vikings

| December 30th, 2016

No Weekend Show this week as I’m under the weather and my voice is dogshit. Thus, we return to an old standby…THE GAME PREVIEW!

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

Any Football Reasons, Jeff?

Sure. Four:

  • Mutiny in Minnesota. Not sure I’ve ever heard stories like the ones coming out of the Vikings game against Green Bay last weekend. The head coach created a defensive approach, taught it to his players and then a corner decided, “Eh, fuck it.” Then they told the press all about it! We knew something was wrong in Minny when Norv jumped ship mid season. I don’t think anyone knew it was this wrong.
  • #barkleytime. Yep, I’m making the prediction. Matt Barkley will rebound from the awful performance against Washington and play his way to Bourbonnais.
  • What is the fatal flaw of these Bears? Their secondary. What quarterback threatens the secondary less than Bradford? I’m not sure. Bradford wants to dink and dunk his way to glory and that plays right into the hands of Fangio’s defense.
  • There was a time when the Vikings rush defense looked like the league’s best. But there was also a time when the Vikings were good. Now they’re a midpack rush defense, facing a juggernaut back 60 or so yards from the Bears rookie record. Jordan Howard dominates.

Football Friday & Saturday (The Future)

Players to watch in the bowl games over the next two days:

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Five Guys In Need of a Solid Sunday

| December 29th, 2016

In only four days, it ends.

WHO COULD USE A SOLID SUNDAY?

  • Matt Barkley. #Barkleytime has something. Call it moxie. Call it guts. Call it chutzpah. Does he have the physical tools of an Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler? No. But he’s certainly shown over his first five starts that he has enough to make it as a quarterback in the NFL. Barkley can go a long way towards cementing his inarguably successful 2016 by rebounding from his poor performance a week ago. And it would be hard to see him not playing a prominent role in Bourbonnais if he played well Sunday in Minnesota.
  • John Fox. Don’t think there’s any chance of his being fired because injuries (especially at QB) and suspensions (to 2 of the Bears 5 best players) will give him a free pass into 2017. But neither Fox nor Ryan Pace want to see the head coach finish this season being walloped twice. While not winning, the Bears fought almost every single week and kept most games close. Fox needs to show his team still, even as the season concludes, wants to fight for him.
  • Jonathan Bullard. Let’s be honest, Bullard has had a nothing rookie season. When the coaching staff is playing Mitch Unrein instead of you, it probably means you’re Mitch Ungood. But Bullard flashed against Washington – his first flashes all year – and a second consecutive decent performance could help the rookie’s confidence as he heads into a pivotal offseason for his development.
  • Charles Leno. The Bears starting left tackle received a glowing endorsement from Pace last offseason and has performed well overall in 2016. But he had unquestionably his worst performance of the season against Washington, allowing Preston Smith to walk around him as he carved the man’s bust for Canton. If Leno wants to hold onto his starting role in 2017 he might not want to leave Pace with the taste of two howlers to close out the campaign.
  • Adrian Amos. Injuries have been the biggest disappointment of 2016. Amos is the runner-up. The safety was never expected to display dominant ball skills but his struggles in run support (poor angling, inefficient tackling…etc.) have left many believing the Bears need two new players at the position in 2017 to become an elite defensive unit.

Enjoy!

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Across The Middle — Week 17

| December 28th, 2016

After two seasons and a combined eight wins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked out for the best interest of their franchise and the development of quarterback Jameis Winston by firing Lovie Smith and replacing him with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. A year later, the Bears are in a similar position as the most important thing going forward is the ability to find and develop their next quarterback.

I made the case against John Fox last week. Even without looking at his win-loss record without Peyton Manning the last eight years, it’s hard to trust him to develop whoever the next QB is going to be. Dowell Loggains is a good offensive coordinator, who could easily succeed with a rookie quarterback. But, if he does the Bears will lose him to another franchise. While Fox has hired a number of good offensive coaches, he’s never been a part of a team that developed a quarterback.

But, who else are you going to get? As simple as my criteria may be, it isn’t so easy to fill.

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Is Anything Worth Watching Sunday?

| December 26th, 2016

While the nation’s drinking amateurs battle their New Year’s Eve hangovers, many of us with saddle up our favorite barstool to watch the last Chicago Bears game of this depressing, injury-plagued 2016 campaign. But is the experience anything more than a mere formality?

Many will argue no. They will say nothing happening on the field in Minnesota will have any bearing on the future of this football team. And, honestly, it’s a point well-taken. But my job is to find meaning. So I’m doing my job. Here’s three things worth paying attention to when it comes to the finale.

The Barkley Rebound

#Barkleytime is coming off his first clunker of 2016 and it would be easy for fans to expect the sailing passes and poor decision making from his effort against Washington to continue. Sunday’s Barkley was the one many us expected and were shocked not to see through his first four starts.

Another dud and the bloom comes entirely off the rose. But a solid, mistake-free start could make it easy for Ryan Pace to keep Barkley in the fold moving forward. He’s shown tremendous rebound within game, often shaking off a poor three quarters to deliver a brilliant fourth. Can he rebound with a week of negativity between starts?

The Run Defense

A coach once told me “run defense is all about want to”. If that’s true the Bears haven’t wanted to in a fortnight.

Both Green Bay and Washington out-muscled the the middle of the Bears defense and took advantage of their lack of discipline on the outside. Yes, there are injuries playing a role in these struggles. But injuries don’t excuse McPhee letting Cousins around the edge, Amos taking bad angles or Hicks disappearing after a dominant period mid-season.

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Got A Christmas Present? Better Unwrappid Fire!

| December 25th, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to you all. Thanks for another wonderful year at DBB. I hope I can keep improving this place for years to come.


Bad game yesterday. Very bad. Here are some quick thoughts.

  • That was a full meltdown from Matt Barkley and quite frankly, I half expected it. I knew yesterday was not going to be an “on the bubble” performance. It was going to be definitive. How Barkley responds next week, on the road, at a division rival, will have a huge say in his role with the organization moving forward.
  • Bombs to Josh Bellamy when he’s triple covered?
  • Would I pay Alshon Jeffery $17 million a year? No. will anybody in the league pay him that? I don’t think so. Bears need to get a deal done, even if they slightly overpay this guy. Jeffery may not be a weekly ten-catch guy but he is always capable of the spectacular and there’s distinct value to that.
  • Cam Meredith is going to be the third receiver next season.
  • Don’t want to get ahead of myself here but Jordan Howard is starting to look like one of the best Bears draft picks ever. If they held the 2016 draft today, Howard is going in the middle of the first round.

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DBB Weekend Show – Christmas Episode!

| December 21st, 2016

On the Christmas episode of DBB’s Weekend Show:

  • Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer talks about devoting special interest to the women and children in the County’s criminal justice system this holiday season and beyond. To help out this worthy, please visit the website (www.bridgetgainer.com/holidaydrive) or see the image below.
  • O Holy Night by Trombone Shorty from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
  • A brilliant clip from Scrooged
  • Reverend Dave pays a visit to the Christmas Story house
  • Q Brothers Christmas Mixtape!
  • (Secret Christmas cover)
  • A Tom Waits “Christmas” finale (with explanation)

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212 Comments

Across The Middle — Week 16

| December 21st, 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve allowed the Bears to piss me off as much as they did on Sunday, but there I was angry as hell and less confident in the direction the team is headed than I’ve ever been. I don’t think John Fox is a bad coach. But if the Bears are ever going to compete in a division with Aaron Rodgers, they need more than a coach who isn’t bad.

I understand the limitations Fox has with this roster. The Bears have more players on injured reserve than any other team. They were without their starting nose tackle, both starting inside linebackers and were down to their fifth cornerback. And that’s just the defense. (But Fox also brought in his own training staff, one he insisted limit the soft-tissue injuries.)

They have been in every game — which absolutely is a credit to Fox — but they are not able to win because of the same mental mistakes every week. At a certain point you have to wonder how much of it is an issue with the players and how much is an issue with preparation.

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Why This Matt Barkley Shit is Upsetting People

| December 20th, 2016

Since creating America’s favorite hashtag – #Barkleytime – nearly a month ago, the conversation surrounding the future of the Bears at quarterback has changed. Punches have been thrown. Followers have been blocked on Twitter. Marriages have ended up in front of a mediator.

The framed, autographed Dick Butkus jersey…?

He can have that.

Matt Barkley arrived at Soldier Field.

He played three quarters against the Tennessee Titans that left fans clamoring for the days of Jonathan Quinn, Medicine Woman and CFL legend Henry Burris. He looked ill suited to the speed and difficulty level of the league. He was every bit the non-professional folks like me said he would be.

Then, something changed. Barkley put together a dynamic and rousing fourth quarter. He threw the ball effortlessly through the Titans zone and when the Titans left zone, relatively quickly, he required little more effort.

Three more games have been played and aside from the start of the third quarter against Green Bay this past Sunday, Barkley has looked every bit like an NFL starter. So why, why, why are fans and media types so reluctant to acknowledge what is happening on the field? Why has Barkley’s performance caused so much debate in Bears circles?

The answers are not simple.

Answer #1. “He’s Matt Barkley. We Know What He Is.”

Problem is, we don’t. Nobody does. John Fox: “He’s probably turned a lot of peoples heads.”

Barkley was drafted by Chip Kelly at Philadelphia, in the fourth round, into a system he had zero chance of fitting. Chip canned. Barkley gone after seeing a few mop-up snaps in losing efforts.

Bruce Arians brought Barkley to Arizona and Barkley struggled to find consistency in the preseason. Arians, this summer:

Have you seen progression with Barkley?

“Up and down. He’s like a yo-yo.”

Arians is not a young coach and the Cardinals (with someone else around here) believed they were title contenders this season. He was never carrying three QBs on Sundays and Drew Stanton is one of the game’a most reliable backups.

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