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Super Bowl 50 Game Prediction

| February 5th, 2016

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Three questions for this game.

#1. I have no doubt Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware will get to Cam Newton. But what happens when they get there? Newton ain’t Tom Brady. He’s more likely to throw Miller to the ground than be sacked by him.

#2. What happens if the Panthers offense struggles early? This is a team that hasn’t faced adversity a lot this season and certainly hasn’t faced a defense of this caliber. If Carolina doesn’t score on their first couple drives, do we see Cam Newton force things?

#3. One of the untold stories of the AFC title game was how many receivers Peyton Manning missed for big plays down the field. But the biggest stat of this game may be Manning’s interception total. Can he avoid the big mistake, especially in the middle of the field? If he does, the Broncos defense will keep the game close.

Carolina Panthers 24, Denver Broncos 20

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Three Things the Bears Can Learn From the Carolina Panthers

| February 2nd, 2016

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DON’T TRADE GREAT PLAYERS BECAUSE THEY DON’T “FIT”

NFL coaches all think what they do is special. They’re wrong. Football is not a complicated game and winning, by and large, still comes down to which team has the better players.

Greg Olsen is a great player. Anybody with eyes knew he was beginning the process of becoming a great player in Chicago. And trading him away because he didn’t fit the system of an offensive coordinator was asinine then and is even more asinine now. If a coach can’t maximize the ability of a great player then the coach isn’t worth keeping around.

You ESPECIALLY don’t trade players for coordinator fits because coordinators are always a good season away from leaving your organization. Players can only leave if you let them (or if they hate you).

BE PATIENT

Who didn’t look at the Panthers receiving corps at the start of the season, following the injury to Kelvin Benjamin, and expect their offense to struggle?

The answer is Panthers GM Dave Gettleman.

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Bears Trade Jared Allen to Panthers for 6th Round Pick

| September 28th, 2015

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Three Thoughts

  • Jared Allen seemed to make significant progress at a new position this summer but looked overwhelmed in his first three real games. (This once again reiterates the point that preseason football is utterly meaningless.) Per various beats, Allen was nowhere to be found in the locker room after the Bears loss to the Seahawks. He clearly didn’t want to finish his career playing the wrong position.
  • Short-term this moves allows Lamarr Houston back onto the field. And Houston fits this defense.
  • Long-term the Bears need to be putting players on the field in 2015 who they believe will be part of the organization in 2016 and beyond. If the Cowboys or anybody else is interested in Matt Forte, and the Bears don’t plan to re-sign Forte, the deal should get done.

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John Fox’s Third Act

| January 16th, 2015

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The best I’ve ever been taught the three-act structure of playwriting was by a a wonderful writer and teacher named Pat Cook at the BMI Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. Cook, recalling the lessons of a teacher from his own past, described it thus:

Act One: get the main character up a tree.

Act Two: throw rocks at him.

Act Three: if he comes down safely, comedy. If he falls to his death, tragedy.

At the risk of harping on an issue many readers of this site could care less about, this structure is being more or less abandoned by the modern dramatic writer. The three-act play is being replaced by the 65-minute “meditation” on a relevant theme. (How hard it is to be gay, violence in schools, sex scandals in politics!) Plays with beginnings, middles and ends – once referred to as “well-made plays” – are now considered old-fashioned.

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John Fox is not the hot coordinator of the moment, the NFL’s equivalent of a meditation on a relevant theme. What has Adam Gase actually done? How much does Dan Quinn actually provide the ridiculously-talented Seahawks defense? Shhh! Who cares? These are the names of the moment and they excite owners and fans in the same manner any shiny toy in the window excites a child: they’re new!

Fox is not new. He is a veteran head coach, an established structure, an old-fashioned play. The Chicago Bears are his third act.

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Bears at Panthers Game Preview Addendum

| October 3rd, 2014

More Sondheim. It’s an addendum.

A FEW ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ON INJURIES

  • There seems to be a consensus among fans and media that Jared Allen will be extremely limited in the aftermath of his battle with pneumonia a week ago. But reports I’ve read stated Allen wanted to play against the Packers and was working out vigorously Monday morning. Sure, he might not play 95% of the snaps but I don’t expect him to be used situationally in Carolina.
  • Jermon Bushrod suffering a knee injury in practice would feel far more serious if the Bears were facing the 2013 Carolina Panthers and their relentless defensive ends. But Michael Ola should be a capable replacement if needed and Bears have the luxury of Eben Britton to provide security on that side of the line.
  • Bears keep ruling out Shea McClellin days before the game. He must not be close to returning.
  • Panthers have essentially ruled out Jonathan Stewart. They are turning to the street at running back this weekend.
  • Put Jeremiah Ratliff in non-medical language and maybe your perspective will change. Against the San Francisco 49ers he suffered a bruise to his brain. That brain bruise has been so debilitating that he’s missed two straight games and has yet to be medically cleared for the third with three days til kickoff. Why is Ratliff even considering playing? Why are the Bears contemplating this risk? Ratliff should not only sit this week but also next week, avoid air travel, and return at home on the 19th.

After the jump you can hear my spot on SportsTownChicago.com previewing Bears v. Panthers…

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