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Across The Middle: Will the Real Dowell Loggains Please Stand Up?

| November 21st, 2017

Outside of maybe John Fox, the hottest seat in the city of Chicago belongs to that of offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. But in reality, do we even know if he’s bad?

Whether he intended to or not, Mitch Trubisky dropped a bombshell after Sunday’s game, saying he knows Loggains trusts him, but that Fox limits what they’re allowed to do. That’s Fox’s job and I can hardly blame him. The Bears had Tanner Gentry and Tre McBride lined out wide with a rookie quarterback two games ago. The results were completing less than 50% of their passes and an insanely high sack rate.

But that doesn’t change the fact that we still don’t really know what the offensive coordinator can do.

Some reflections:

  • Two of Loggains former quarterbacks — Matt Hasselbeck and Jay Cutler — insist he’s a bright coach.
  • Cutler went as far as to say that he thinks Loggains is going to be a head coach one day.
  • Hasselbeck has appeared on the Waddle & Silvy Show several times and has been adamant that what you see on Sunday isn’t a reflection of the coordinator.
  • Mike Munchak vouched for Loggains, having employed him as his offensive coordinator once and selling him as the guy who was going to run his show should he get another head job.

That said, he’s never had an offense finish better than 19th in scoring or 15th in yardage. Last year, the Bears were 28th in points scored and they sit 27th so far this year. But, how much can we blame him for that?

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Data Responds: Bears vs. Packers

| November 12th, 2017

Chicago came out of the bye flat, acting like nobody actually wanted to play a football game against their biggest rival. Their terrible kicker was good, but nobody else really was. The only thing that kept this game somewhat close was the fact that Green Bay is terrible, but they still won fairly comfortably on the road.

Let’s break down this embarrassing effort.

Offense

  • The first drive was simply awful. After two weeks to prepare, they ran into a loaded box on 1st down and lost a yard. After a nice pass picked up a first down, they again ran into a stacked box and lost a yard. The next play was both an illegal formation and a hold, setting Chicago up in 2nd and 21. At that point, the drive was over thanks to a combination of poor play calling and dumb penalties.
  • Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky actually had a pretty good start to the game. He made good throws and got the ball to players in space. That changed as the game wore on and Green Bay dialed up the pressure. Trubisky got happy feet and starting pulling his eyes down from scanning the field too quickly. He also refused to throw the ball away, making him completely inept under any sort of pressure.
  • Green Bay’s five sacks weren’t all on the offensive line, but they were bad today too. Hroniss Grasu, making a start at center and shifting Cody Whitehair to right guard with Kyle Long out, was routinely pushed back into the backfield. The unit also picked up way too many penalties, with a nice mixture of pre-snap, during the play, and after the play mixed in.

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Data Responds: Bears at Saints

| October 29th, 2017

The Bears played pretty evenly with the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints on the road, but a series of missed opportunities (helped by one atrocious call by the officials) cost them the chance to enter the bye at 4-4.

Perhaps most important to Chicago going forward, the loss was a costly one for the Bears. Four starters left the game with injuries and did not return, including guard Kyle Long (hand), center Cody Whitehair (arm), cornerback Bryce Callahan (knee), and tight end Zach Miller (leg). We’ll wait to see how serious the injuries are, though I can say fairly confidently that Miller’s gruesome leg injury means his season (and likely his career) is finished.

Still, the best news to me from the game was that they kept fighting. When they went down 17-6 early in the 4th quarter, I expected them to roll over and quit, but from that point on the defense forced two turnovers, the offense scored a touchdown, and the special teams picked up a big return to keep Chicago in the game. The attitude on the team is changing, and the importance of that can’t be overstated.

Offense

  • The Bears were forced to ask for a bit more from rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this week, and we saw some of both good and bad, as should be expected from a young quarterback. We saw the talent leading to some big plays, and we saw the rookie mistakes leading to missed opportunities and/or negative plays. The overall stat line (14/32, 164 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 46.9 rating) looks ugly, but his performance was not that bad. Notably, Trubisky threw 2 touchdowns, but one of them was taken away by a terrible officiating call and one of them was inexplicably dropped by a wide open Jordan Howard.

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DaBearsPod Week 6: Adam Jahns of Sun-Times & Tom Petty! [AUDIO]

| October 13th, 2017

On this week’s pod:

  • Jeff launches a profanity-laced tirade on the United States men’s national soccer disgrace. They are not a team. They are a disgrace.
  • Adam Jahns of Chicago Sun-Times discusses changes in the locker with Trubisky under center, John Fox’s buffoonery, Tanner Gentry’s real debut this coming Sunday, Cody Whitehair’s snap struggles, Adam Shaheen’s whereabouts, Nick Kwiatkoski’s health…and more!
  • Reverend Dave attempts to watch Monday Night Football in East Africa…
  • Once more unto the Tom Petty breach with You Got Lucky (possibly my favorite Petty song).

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Pace Wins Training Camp, Glennon is Glennon & Jaye Howard’s Poor Debut

| August 16th, 2017

Remember when people were calling for Ryan Pace to be fired?

Sure you do, it wasn’t that long ago.

He was stupid for taking a quarterback with just 13 collegiate starts, a D-II tight end, a safety with a rod in his leg and a tiny and a small running back from a small school. Guys like Matt Miller and Jason La Canfora quoted made-up sources saying Pace was SURELY going to be fired.

It’s early, of course, but two weeks into preseason, Pace is the unquestioned winner of Bears training camp.

Adam Hoge and Adam Jahns brought the topic up on their podcast last week. Who is the winner of training camp? Jahns named UDFA and 2017 Joe Anderson Boner Award winner Tanner Gentry. Hoge raved about rookies such as Adam Shaheen, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson and, of course, Mitch Trubisky. Neither Hoge nor Jahns was wrong. Those guys all look legitimate. But one guy is responsible for all those individuals being in camp, in Bears uniforms. That’s Pace.

It’s funny how much a narrative can change once football players, you know, play football.

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Trubisky And Other Impressions From A Day At Practice

| August 2nd, 2017

“Wow! Who threw that?” Is the question my wife asked in our first real exposure to Mitch Trubisky at Saturday’s training camp practice.

It was a day in which everyone wanted to talk about the fumbled snaps but even a football novice like my wife could see that there was a definite difference in what Trubisky had to offer versus that of Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez.

I don’t mean to minimize the snap issue. If a team can’t complete the snap, they can’t run a play. But there hasn’t been a quarterback in the history of the league who hasn’t figured out how to take a snap from the center. Let’s repeat that. There hasn’t been a quarterback in the history of the league who hasn’t figured out how to take a snap from the center.

The rest of that practice should have Bears fans excited.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Camp Thoughts, Telander/CTE & More!

| July 31st, 2017

Five Camp Thoughts Through A Few Days

  • Tanner Gentry may be benefiting more than any other player on this roster by being low on the pecking order. While he’s situated with the 3s, he’s developing a relationship with the soon-to-be starting quarterback and face of the franchise. This isn’t Joe Anderson Boner or Daniel Braverman. This is a talented kid who may leave Bourbonnais with the faith of the most important player on the roster.
  • Bears won’t wait long to elevate Trubisky from that position, however. Right now he’s in “earn it, rook” mode. Give it a week.
  • Yes, the leap in competition level will be extraordinary. But I’m told by people on the ground that Adam Shaheen looks like he’s going to be something special. And for a team that struggled mightily in the red zone to get touchdowns a year ago, Shaheen’s productivity may begin on day one because it’ll be hard for any defense to match-up with his size and speed.
  • I’m a Kyle Fuller skeptic. I don’t doubt his ability. I don’t doubt that he’s having a good early camp. But the organization believed, less than a year ago, that Fuller lacked the heart and desire to be a professional football player. If that’s changed, wonderful. But I need to see it in September.
  •  Another summer, another weird injury as Markus Wheaton had an appendectomy that will greatly stunt his assimilation into this offense. Bears have big plans for Wheaton so the appendix not bursting should mean he’s back into the fray in 3-4 weeks.

Telander Donates His Brain

Other than my friend Rick Pearson, the best political journalist in Chicago, I rarely look inside the Chicago Tribune (physically or digitally). Rick Telander is one of the reasons why the Sun-Times has gathered almost all of my attention and why I was so thrilled to hear their new ownership pledge allegiance to good, local writing. Here’s an excerpt from his wonderful piece on his brain, and CTE:

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Gronk Comp is Crazy, but Expect Shaheen To Be Productive

| June 28th, 2017

If you’re expecting Adam Shaheen to be Rob Gronkowski you’re going to be disappointed. But the 2017 second round pick should be able to produce for the Bears as a rookie.

No player has drawn more rave reviews than Shaheen simply because his combination of size and athleticism have been so incredibly difficult for the Bears defenders to match up with. That is an advantage he’s going to maintain throughout the early part of his NFL career.

The reports from beat writers and others is that Shaheen has been borderline dominant and hasn’t dropped a single pass. His teammates have also gone on record as being impressed by the second rounder from Ashland.

Shaheen enters the league with the nickname “Baby Gronk”. That’s not really an accurate comparison — Gronk is significantly faster —  but that label and early camp play have some fans going crazy with their expectations for him. I don’t expect him to be Gronk, but history suggests he has a good chance at being productive early with bigger things on the horizon.

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Suddenly, Tight End Looks to Be a Position of Strength for the Bears

| June 1st, 2017

Zach Miller got injured in 2016. Because if it’s a year, and Zach Miller is playing football during it, he’s going to get hurt. His injury left the Chicago Bears with a crop of tight ends that could be described as…”Who?”

Logan Paulsen was supposed to be a blocking option but caught three passes (and dropped around three hundred). Harvard UDFA Ben Braunecker wasn’t supposed to see the field. Four catches. Daniel Brown showed up out of nowhere and caught a touchdown pass. I still don’t know who MyCole Pruitt is.

The Bears established an offensive identity last season. Tough, physical offensive line anchoring a power run game on the back of Jordan Howard. But that identity lacked a crucial component once Miller was admitted into the infirmary: a tight end that could both be a force at the point of attack and a threat through the middle of the defense.

Outside of quarterback, where his aggressiveness will define his general management tenure, no position was attacked with more fervor this off-season than tight end by Ryan Pace.

  • Dion Sims only has 74 receptions in four seasons but the Bears (a) signed him primarily for his physicality/blocking ability and (b) believe he’s capable of far more productivity if given the opportunity.
  • Adam Shaheen may have been a surprise second-round selection but early reports – from Adam Jahns and many others – are that Shaheen has been the early star of rookie camp/OTAs. He’s a massive human being with great hands, a perfect complement to what Sims provides.
  • Zach Miller is still here! And Zach Miller is still a very good player. But one should not expect Miller to contribute more than 8-10 games of healthy football.

And in case you were missing the Follies of ’16, worry not! Brown, Braunecker and Pruitt are all slated to be in Bourbonnais next month.

Do the Bears have a star tight end? It’s certainly possible if Shaheen becomes the player the Bears expect him to be. But one thing is certain: one of the biggest roster weaknesses in 2016 looks to be a major position of strength in 2017.

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Thoughts on the 2017 Bears Draft Class

| April 30th, 2017

I don’t have much to say that’s not already out there. So here are a few quick hits.

  • Whole draft will be about Trubisky. The rest of this class can turn into All-Pros and nobody will care if Mitch Trubisky stinks. That’s the nature of making a splashy move for a quarterback in the first round.
  • Said it on Twitter and I’ll say it here. People who booed Trubisky at the United Center should be ashamed of themselves. All the kid did was excel at a sport and get drafted to play it professionally. If you don’t like the selection, drive your worthless ass to Lake Forest and roll down the window. Classless bullshit that belongs in Philadelphia, not Chicago.
  • Adam Shaheen and Tarik Cohen are the kinds of picks I like. Extraordinary talents with high upside. If Ryan Pace hits on those two guys the Bears offense just became far more dynamic.
  • Eddie Jackson. Didn’t know he was in this draft. Seriously. Just didn’t know. But he was my favorite player on that Bama defense that featured three first-round picks. Hopefully his injury problems are behind him. But if he’s healthy in Bourbonnais it will be hard to keep him off the field.
  • The Bears coached guard Jordan Morgan at the Senior Bowl and fell in love with him. Depth this year. Sitton’s heir apparent would be the hope.
  • Rarely do I say this but because their last pick was in the fifth round and they only made five total, the Bears will be disappointed if 3-4 of these picks don’t become serious players. Usually you want 3-4 out of 7. Bears want 3-4 out of 5. Not easy. But doable.
  • But it’s all about Trubisky.

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