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Data Responds: Bears vs. Panthers

| October 22nd, 2017

Well that was fun.

Chicago’s defense scored not one but two touchdowns and shut Carolina’s offense down, staking the Bears with an early lead that held up for the entire game. Even though the offense never really got anything going, this was the Bears’ easiest win in a long time.

Offense

  • The Bears were up 14 points before the offense was really asked to do anything. That shifted an already conservative game plan even farther to the safe side, making them even more predictable. As a result, they went three and out with regularity, picking up only 153 yards and 5 first downs on the game. This forced the defense to spend too much time on the field and get tired; credit them for holding up under those conditions.
  • Credit to the coaching staff for not sitting on a 14-3 lead with just over 3:00 left before halftime, like we all expected after watching their conservative approach this season. They came out and let Mitchell Trubisky throw deep to Tarik Cohen on 1st down, resulting in 70 yards and 1st and goal from the 5 yard line. They were unable to finish for the touchdown, but a field goal (plus a little rest for the defense) on that drive was key.
  • The second half offense was just plain offensive. Prior to the final drive that ran out the clock, the Bears had the ball 5 times, picked up 3 total yards, and went 3 and out five times. At least they didn’t turn the ball over, I guess, and they were able to run out the last 3:36 of clock with two 1st downs on the ground. Read More …

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If Bears Want to Be Taken Seriously in Rodgersless NFC North, They Must Win Sunday

| October 16th, 2017

For five minutes, our eyes left the corner. That same corner where television after television has exclusively shown Bears games at Josie Woods Pub for the last seventeen years. Our eyes didn’t go far, just about six feet west to a second, smaller television above the bottles of Boodles gin. Churchill’s gin. My gin until I woke up on an  subway train at Coney Island at five in the morning.

Aaron Rodgers was down. Last time it was Shea McClellin, in navy. This time it was Anthony Barr, in purple. Different first-round edge rushers. Same bone.



Rodgers knew the second he hit the ground. A bunch of lubricated Bears fans in an underground Village bar knew it too. Rodgers isn’t playing football again this season. And while that is terrible news for a league losing too many star players each week, there won’t be many sympathetic hearts at Halas Hall or Eden Prairie or wherever the hell the Lions’ offices are.

The Rodgers injury swings the NFC North door open but will it open wide enough for the Bears – currently two games back of the lead – to find their way through? It’s still premature for this 2017 group to consider the playoffs a possibility but the Rodgers injury likely means the division will be won with ten victories instead of twelve.

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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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