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Charting The Bears: 2016 In Review

| January 17th, 2017

Before the season began I decided to try to do something a little different by charting some of the things you don’t regularly see in box scores and the end result was some really interesting numbers that may change the way you feel about certain players.

The most time-consuming part of my weekly job on DBB was charting the little things that you don’t see. As most hardcore football fans know, completion percentage doesn’t always tell you if a quarterback is accurate, Pro Bowl voting doesn’t always tell you if an offensive lineman can block, sacks don’t always tell you if a player is getting pressure on the quarterback and interceptions don’t tell you if a guy can cover. There’s more to the game, a lot more and I tried to discover some of that here:

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Finding A Quarterback: The Roster

| January 10th, 2017

When Ryan Pace was asked what he was looking for in a quarterback he might as well have said “not Jay Cutler.”

We’ve come a long way since last season’s season-ending press conference when Pace talked about building around Cutler. The best quarterback in the history of the franchise missed 11 games and was their least productive quarterback last season. Pace made it pretty clear that his days with the team are numbered.

When asked what attributes he looks for in a quarterback, the young Bears GM specified availability and ball security, Cutler’s two biggest weaknesses. Cutler was intercepted on 3.6 percent of his passes last year and his career average of 3.3 percent is worse than everyone on earth but Ryan Fitzpatrick. Cutler has also missed 23 games due to injury over the last six years. The fact that he missed so much time this season, with separate injuries, at 33 years old, doesn’t work in his favor.

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Across The Middle — Week Eight

| October 26th, 2016

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Suddenly, the 2016 Bears season has a chance to be productive.

The loss to the Packers dropped the team to 1-6 and they’ll almost surely fall to 1-7 on Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings. But with Jay Cutler back at quarterback, it feels like they can accomplish something, even while not making the playoffs. The Bears need to figure out who their quarterback is going to be going forward. (It was never going to be Brian Hoyer.) It might be Cutler and we finally have a situation where we can get an accurate read on him.

Cutler played well in the Bears first two games but they were facing two of the ten best defenses in the league with a makeshift offensive line, no running game and Kevin White still trying to figure out what was happening. While Cutler was out, the line came into its own, Cameron Meredith proved to be an upgrade (at least in the short term) and Jordan Howard went off. The only thing they were missing was a quarterback who could put the ball in the end zone. If Cutler is playing with a full deck and can’t put points on the board, the Bears need to find a new quarterback.

These next nine games just might be among the most important in the history of the franchise because they may determine who is playing quarterback for the foreseeable future.

Getting After the QB

He didn’t have much of an impact on the game but if Pernell McPhee can become the player he was last year, the Bears are going to be a team no quarterback wants to face.

One thing the Bears did against the Packers last week that they’ve really never done was pressure Aaron Rodgers. I had the Bears down for 23 quarterback disruptions in the game. (They had 10 on Green Bay’s first two possessions.) The Packers eventually realized the Bears had Bausby and, at times, Glenn at cornerback and changed their offense. But they had to make that change or they wouldn’t have done jack against the Bears. If the Bears had better cornerback play, they would’ve shut Green Bay down.

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Seven Thoughts for Seven Games (Thoughts 1-2)

| October 22nd, 2016

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Thought 1. On the Cutler Injury

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that much of the analysis done on the Bears this season has failed to mention they have been without their starting quarterback for five and a half of the seven contests. Jay has always been undervalued in Chicago, especially by those covering the team and Brian Hoyer’s ability to move the football (without, you know, scoring any points) seemed to convince many reporters that his filling in as signal caller was essentially a push at the position. It’s not.

You ever see Monty Python & the Holy Grail? You know the iconic sequence where King Arthur fights The Black Knight? (Look you stupid bastard, you’ve got no arms left! / Yes I have!) Well that Knight, at that moment in the film, could throw a better deep ball than Brian Hoyer.

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Across The Middle – Week Seven

| October 19th, 2016

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We entered this season believing in John Fox for one reason above all else: Thanksgiving 2015. He needs a repeat performance to restore the faith.

As mediocre as the Packers have been this season, the Bears roster should not be able to compete in this game. They’ll likely be down their top four cornerbacks and three of their top four pass rushers. Oh, and Brian Hoyer is going to be the quarterback. The same argument was made about the Thanksgiving night game last year, but the Bears won because they played their butts off and John Fox was a large part of the reason why.

Fox has never been and is never going to be a good in-game coach. His teams are never going to be known for their discipline and his philosophies will always be simple. But Fox has survived because his players fight for him and give him everything they have. Fox needs to show he can still get that out of them this week.

I don’t know if winning the game is realistic. The Packers are ticked off and the “what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers” questions are guaranteed to bring out his best. As important as wins and losses are, this Bears season should have never been defined that way.

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Terrible. Bears Lose to Jags.

| October 17th, 2016

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This will be the last time this site addresses Sunday’s game. Because it doesn’t deserve much more than that.

  • Cameron Meredith is going to be a real player. It’s obvious. And the Bears, when they re-sign Alshon Jeffery, are going to have an exciting receiving corps in 2017.
  • Hoyer. Jesus. Two major problems with his performance. (1) How do you not at least throw the ball somewhere Alshon can catch it when he’s wide open in the end zone? Anywhere but ten yards over his head and out of bounds? (2) When you have a pocket big enough to fit a dining room set, why not look down the field? Hoyer is backup. And, honestly, a pretty good one. But he’s nothing more.
  • And Hoyer has now loss to two of the worst teams in the league’s in subsequent weeks. 300 yard games are by-and-large useless.
  • Jacoby Glenn can’t play.
  • Willie Young has started playing how the Bears need him to play. But they are getting so little pass rush from their defensive line or opposite Young that their attack has become feast or famine. Basically Willie Young or bust.

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DBB Weekend Show – 10/14/16 [AUDIO]

| October 14th, 2016

On the sixth episode of the Weekend Show this season:

    • Jeff breaks down why Brian Hoyer has made this season watchable in Jay Cutler’s absence
    • Adam Jahns makes arguably his best appearance, breaking down Cutler/Hoyer, Cam Meredith’s emergence, Pernell McPhee, Kyle Fuller…etc. (One note on this: his words on Kevin White are not encouraging.)
    • Jeff describes this season as “fascinatingly terrible”.
    • Reverend discusses Missouri’s premier tourism destination.
    • Jeff, while physically breaking down, still manages to pick the Bears.
    • Elvis Costello tracks!

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Across The Middle — Week 6

| October 12th, 2016

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Well, now what?

The loss to the Colts may have been the most disappointing of the season to me because it ended any chance the Bears had of becoming relevant this season.

I didn’t think they’d make the playoffs but I expected the Bears to be relevant. I expected them to a be a team nobody wanted to play and I expected to see serious signs of growth. A win over Indianapolis would’ve put them at 2-3 with a  chance to go 3-3 next week before they played the Packers in a Thursday night game. At that point, anything would’ve been possible.

But they lost to the Colts, a bad team. Making the loss worse, they Colts are a bad team that was coming off of a trip to another country, while the Bears were coming off of their first win. It was a game the Bears had to win and didn’t.

There are still bright spots this season and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think the Bears have a very good GM and a lot of excellent young talent. They actually have a better record through Pace’s first 21 games than the Packers did with Ted Thompson. But that doesn’t make me feel better today.

There’s always next year, for most of us anyway. Depending on how the rest of this season goes, that could bring some very difficult questions.

The biggest question is the coach and there is no easy answer.

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Bears Fall Short in Indy: Rapid Fire

| October 10th, 2016

Hard game to get emotional about. But there’s things to talk about so let’s talk about them.

  • Brian Hoyer played a terrific game for a backup quarterback. But when your team racks up 500+ yards and scores only 23 points, it’s time to start asking why. Hoyer doesn’t extend plays with his legs. He doesn’t throw the ball to the Bears best player (for some bizarre reason). And…he’s just limited. Jay Cutler wins Sunday’a game. And I happen to believe he wins it by a couple of touchdowns.
  • Hoyer dinks and dunks. His drives take 10-12 plays to get into the end zone. Those drives can be derailed entirely by one mistake or penalty. Penalties told the story of the game.
  • John Fox, through five games, is having a rough season. Challenges, timeouts, personnel decisions…etc. One has to wonder if he has any feel for this roster right now. Sadly, Fox can’t be properly evaluated until the actual team is on the field.
  • Why would you bench Bryce Callahan? Let the kid learn on the field. He was playing a solid game yesterday.
  • Terrific performance from Cameron Meredith. The fumble was bad, and cost the Bears the game, but his emergence was far more significant.

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Match-Ups That Matter: Bears at Colts

| October 6th, 2016

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I have Tweeted incessantly for the last three years about the disaster that is the Indianapolis Colts. They were given football’s greatest gift, a franchise quarterback directly on the heels of a franchise quarterback. And what have they done to support him? Nothing. Under the regime of Jim Irsay (who is as much to blame as anyone), Ryan Grigson (who might be the league’s worst GM) and Chuck Pagano, the Colts have failed to build Andrew Luck either an offensive line or a defense. They’ve signed fading veterans in free agency, drafted speedsters they don’t need and let supremely talented players – *cough* Jerell Freeman *cough* – walk out the door for no reason. This last item came to head in London where Freeman’s replacement, Sio Moore, was so bad he was thrown out of the team plane over the Atlantic Ocean.

On to the game…

BRIAN HOYER VS. THE HYPE

Yep, it’s a thing.

  • Hoyer is well-aware that his performances over the last two weeks are not just those a back-up quarterback filling in while the starter’s thumb is in a sling. Hoyer doesn’t have a lot more time left in this league and if he continues to deliver 300-yard, no interception efforts, and more importantly win, it will make the decision to pull him off the field a very difficult one for John Fox.
  • The Colts defense is one of the worst in the league and Hoyer is going to be tempted to throw the ball down the field with more frequency than he did last Sunday. But not succumbing to those desires is exactly what’s enabled him to play efficient football. Not having Kevin White running go routes down the field may make this a bit easier.

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