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Brandon Marshall Fine Continuing NFL’s Disgraceful Treatment of Mental Illness

| December 1st, 2016

The following piece originally ran on DBB on May 19, 2014. Two years later the NFL is finally allowing players to showcase their personal causes on the field. It’s probably the best thing ever published in this space, non-game related.


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Josh Marks liked to cook. He was good enough at cooking and handsome enough to land a spot on the television program MasterChef. He finished second. At twenty-six years old and with a seemingly limitless future before him, Marks took his own life Friday. In a CNN article Marks’ family recount the young man’s struggles with mental health issues, with the family lawyer going so far as to say “It is overwhelming to think that with proper, intensive treatment, Joshua may still be with us.”

He was found dead by his mother in an alleyway on Chicago’s south side.

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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| December 30th, 2015

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• My biggest disappointment from this season has been the fact the Bears hadn’t been able to establish an identity, but that might have changed on Sunday. The Bears dominated the line of scrimmage against a team that ranks in the top 10 in both rushing offense and defense. If they can run and stop the run with the best, they’re going to win quite a few games.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Ten Thoughts From Around the League

| October 21st, 2015

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THOUGHTS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE

(1) Eli Manning was the best and worst player in the league on the FIRST TWO DRIVES of the Monday Night Football game. There’s never been a player like him in the league.

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(2) After the first week of the season it became in vogue to question whether Tampa Bay made a mistake selecting Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota. In the four games since Winston has been undoubtedly the better player and Mariota has shown two features that worried many scouts: inability to absorb contact and lack of ball security. Interestingly enough, nobody has revisited this question in the national media. If Winston wants to know how he’ll be covered an an NFL quarterback, he should just call Cam Newton.

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(3) Is Cincinnati the best team in football right now? New England and Green Bay are not good defensively. Carolina and Denver are not good offensively. Cincy does everything well. They’ll still lose in the playoffs but they may be losing that game in the division round instead of wild card weekend.

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(4) You know what the worst development of the NFL season has been? The games stink.

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(5) I don’t care what the stats say. Brandon Marshall has been the best wide receiver in football this year. He’s transformed the New York Jets offense.

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Brandon Marshall Traded to Jets

| March 6th, 2015

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This move has nothing to do with football or money. The new Bears leadership doesn’t want Brandon Marshall in their locker room in 2015.  This is a personality purge – the type Emery and Trestman should have executed on the defensive Lovie Loyalists a few years back. Does it mean anything for Jay Cutler’s future? Who knows? Does it make the Bears a better team? Who knows? The Bears lost one hell of a productive wide receiver, sure. But where did that production get them exactly? And was his behavior – the details of which we still don’t know – worth the production? Clearly Ryan Pace and John Fox did not believe so.

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Thoughts on the John Fox, Ryan Pace Combine Pressers

| February 18th, 2015

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  • John Fox was noncommittal on the future of Jay Cutler. He was asked point-blank if Cutler was his quarterback moving forward and balked. It is February 18th. We are less than a month from free agency. How many teams with a “franchise” quarterback would not endorse him as the starter today? Yes it’s possible Fox does not have enough information on Cutler to this point but what exactly is he going to learn between now and free agency or the draft? Will Cutler have an opportunity to blow Fox away at OTAs? Will the Bears be willing to risk millions of dollars on that development?
  • Fox made is quite clear that if Brandon Marshall will be on the Chicago Bears in 2015 he will not be on Inside the NFL. His money quote: “Our focus needs to be on football.” This is a drastic departure from the previous head coach.
  • The Bears are switching to a 3-4 base for all you 3-4/4-3 junkies out there.
  • Fox knows he is taking over a defense lacking in talent. When pressed about building blocks on that side of the ball he struggled to mention anyone other than Kyle Fuller.
  • Fox started to get frustrated during his short presser with the number of ways the press asked him the EXACT SAME question about Cutler. This wasn’t on the Chicago media. This was on the whole of the NFL media attending this moronic event.
  • The Bears want Josh McCown back in Chicago. McCown fits to a tee the type of quarterback Fox has utilized in his first year with a team needing rejuvenation: limited ability but  great leadership qualities. If the Bears are targeting a quarterback in this draft (or a young player at the bottom of somebody else’s roster), McCown is a far better choice to help groom that young talent than Cutler.
  • Seemed to be little desire on Fox’s part to leave door open for Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman to return.

The takeaway…

On offense, Fox has to determine whether his supremely talented quarterback and receiver fit in with the locker room he’s trying to build. On defense, Fox has to find players. He doesn’t have many now.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Making Scoreons Happen, Prestigious Jobs, Marshall & More!

| January 22nd, 2015

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DBB Coins a New Term

From Twitter, yesterday:

Many like to use the phrase “meatball” to describe a certain kind of fan. In Chicago I am going to refer to those people as “Score-ons”.

It is on all of us to make this phrase happen.

BIGGS, BEARS, BAD JOB?

Because I tend not to forget and choose to hold others accountable, from the opening of a New Year’s Eve piece in the Tribune by Brad Biggs:

In announcing the massive housecleaning Monday at Halas Hall, President Ted Phillips called the Bears’ head coaching job prestigious.

He stands nearly alone in that opinion in light of a Tribune poll of NFL front-office employees and coaches who ranked the Bears barely above the Raiders in terms of attractiveness.

Quarterback concerns left the Jets at the bottom, but the Bears job wasn’t considered much better even with Jay Cutler, the passer in whom they have invested so much money and whom Chairman George McCaskey said he is a fan of personally and professionally. Elsewhere, Cutler is classified as a coach killer.

The Bears landed an in-demand (young) GM, a head coach who has been to two Super Bowls, the best defensive coach on the market and an offensive coordinator who interviewed for just about every head coaching vacancy. Rumors have it that if the Bears job were prestigious, Vince Lombardi would have climbed out of his grave and agreed to a five-year, $35 million contract.

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New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| December 11th, 2014

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip never amounted to much of a show but this is one of my favorite five minutes in TV history.

The Saints are horrible. The Bears are slightly more horrible. So why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

WHY ELSE?

  • If the Saints didn’t win a Super Bowl a half decade ago they’d be the Chicago Bears. Their sideline is lousy with coaches shouting at one another, their defense is in the tank and now will have 2013 first-rounder Kenny Vaccaro on the bench, their offense shows up every other month and they are coming off a humiliating thrashing at the hands of the also-terrible Carolina Panthers. That was remarkably their fourth consecutive loss at home – a place where they’ve dominated the sport in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era. It’s bad in New Orleans but…
  • …if you are miserable in New Orleans, you must not like drinking or eating or music or joy.
  • 40 carries, 271 yards, 6.8 yards a clip, 2 touchdowns. That is what the Panthers did to the Saints with a wasteland of an offensive line and a combination of Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton, Mike Tolbert & Fozzy Whittaker.
  • Cam Newton is the fifth most sacked quarterback in the NFL. The Saints didn’t get near him.

2014 Draws Comparisons to 2009

The 2009 Chicago Bears were 3-1 heading into their early-season bye week. They came out of the bye and lost 8 of their next 10 games, including defensive embarrassments against Cincinnati, Arizona and Minnesota. The team was dead and buried.

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Position-by-Position at the Bye: Pass Catchers

| October 29th, 2014

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

The biggest issue with grading this group? Once Forte is taken out of the mix there are only three players who can even receive a grade.

  • Here are two statistics I think explain Brandon Marshall’s lack of productivity. (1) Last year Marshall caught passes over 61% of the times he was targeted. This year that number is ten points lower, slightly above 51%. (2) Last year year Marshall had 70 first downs. This year he has 24 through 8 games. Marshall almost single-handedly won the San Francisco game, making acrobatic catches on one leg, but outside of that evening he’s been shell of his dominant self. Is injury to blame? Perhaps. But he is playing and he must be evaluated based upon that play.
  • Alshon Jeffery has been the most misused wide receiver in the sport this year. Are the Bears really so out of ideas that they’ve decided to exclusively run Devin Hester’s playbook for Jeffery? You know, bubble screen, end around, bubble screen, bad button hook that gets inevitably dropped…etc. When Jeffery has been used to stretch opposing defenses vertically (Atlanta, Jets) the passing game has thrived. But it seems to be an element drifting slowly out of the playbook.

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Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons Game Preview

| October 9th, 2014

There are a lot of reasons not to like the Chicago Bears after their disastrous fourth quarter in North Carolina. There are a lot of reasons to think the media/fan negativity is entirely warranted. This team may continue struggling to mount drives. They may continue to make horrible special teams errors. They may continue giving up yardage in huge chunks. So with that…

Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

IN ELEVEN QUESTIONS…

(1) Having seen the success the Panthers had late, will Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan continue his attempts to compensate for his ineffective front four by utilizing extra personnel to pressure Cutler? Against the Giants, this left gaping holes in the middle of the field and Eli Manning dissected the Falcons. Expect Matt Forte to settle underneath the Falcons secondary and provide check downs for Cutler all afternoon.

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(2) Can Desmond Trufant recover from his dismal performance against the Giants with the wide receiver talent increasing Sunday? Trufant is constantly left on an island with receivers, specifically in the red zone. If I am Jay Cutler this is a week to unleash the vertical passing game and allow Marshall and Jeffery to make plays even when they seem to be covered.

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(3) Do the Bears have any hope of stopping Julio Jones? The answer is unequivocally no. The Falcons line up  Jones everywhere and run him on as creative an array of routes as you’ll see designed for a premier wide receiver. He’ll run a go from one side, a slant from the other and a shallow cross from the slot on three consecutive plays. Will the Bears deploy Kyle Fuller on Jones for the entirety of the game? Doubtful. Jones is too good to isolate in man over the full sixty minutes. I’m having a hard time not envisioning a 10-catch, 140 yard performance.

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