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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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Across The Middle — Week 17

| December 28th, 2016

After two seasons and a combined eight wins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked out for the best interest of their franchise and the development of quarterback Jameis Winston by firing Lovie Smith and replacing him with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. A year later, the Bears are in a similar position as the most important thing going forward is the ability to find and develop their next quarterback.

I made the case against John Fox last week. Even without looking at his win-loss record without Peyton Manning the last eight years, it’s hard to trust him to develop whoever the next QB is going to be. Dowell Loggains is a good offensive coordinator, who could easily succeed with a rookie quarterback. But, if he does the Bears will lose him to another franchise. While Fox has hired a number of good offensive coaches, he’s never been a part of a team that developed a quarterback.

But, who else are you going to get? As simple as my criteria may be, it isn’t so easy to fill.

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Across The Middle — Week 16

| December 21st, 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve allowed the Bears to piss me off as much as they did on Sunday, but there I was angry as hell and less confident in the direction the team is headed than I’ve ever been. I don’t think John Fox is a bad coach. But if the Bears are ever going to compete in a division with Aaron Rodgers, they need more than a coach who isn’t bad.

I understand the limitations Fox has with this roster. The Bears have more players on injured reserve than any other team. They were without their starting nose tackle, both starting inside linebackers and were down to their fifth cornerback. And that’s just the defense. (But Fox also brought in his own training staff, one he insisted limit the soft-tissue injuries.)

They have been in every game — which absolutely is a credit to Fox — but they are not able to win because of the same mental mistakes every week. At a certain point you have to wonder how much of it is an issue with the players and how much is an issue with preparation.

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Across The Middle — Week 15

| December 14th, 2016

If you follow a losing team long enough, the crappy seasons tend to all blend together. But if the 2016 Chicago Bears want to be remembered, they can make it happen this week by beating the Packers.

The Bears have been a losing team for most of my life, but there are a few teams I remember fondly. I remember the 2003 team because Charles Tillman ripped a pass out of Randy Moss’ hands and cost the Vikings a playoff berth. I remember Brian Urlacher running all alone down the field after intercepting Brett Favre in a 35-7 Bears win in 2007. I remember the 2015 Bears beating all odds by beating the Packers on Thanksgiving when Favre was being honored at halftime.

Those are the bad teams I remember positively and this year’s team has a chance to join them.

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Across The Middle — Week 14

| December 7th, 2016

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The Bears have a 26-year-old quarterback who is playing well but it shouldn’t change any of their offseason plans.

I’ve been as impressed with Matt Barkley as anyone but if the Bears like a quarterback enough to take him in the top five — thus grading him as a franchise quarterback — they shouldn’t let Barkley change their plans.

After seeing Barkley continually complete passes deep down the field to the likes of Deonte Thompson, Cam Meredith and Josh Bellamy in a blizzard, I won’t rule anything out for these last four games. He could very well be the latest star quarterback who was just waiting for his shot. And if he is, he’ll keep his job. If he isn’t, the Bears should have another talented young quarterback waiting in the wings.

The Bears passed on Aaron Rodgers and didn’t try to sign Drew Brees as a free agent because they had Rex Grossman.  They passed on Russell Wilson and Derek Carr because they had Jay Cutler. You can bet the Chargers don’t regret taking Eli Manning — who was later traded for Phillip Rivers — instead of Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow or Roy Williams solely because they had Drew Brees in 2004. There’s a reason the winningest franchise of this era keeps taking quarterbacks high, even though they have Tom Brady.

If Ryan Pace is on the clock this April with a quarterback who he has graded as a franchise quarterback, he simply has to take him. If Barkley ends up being a star, that’s just a bonus.

The Disconnect

Maybe I’m reading too much into some pretty basic comments but it seems there is a disconnect between the coaching staff and the front office.

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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 — Week 13

| November 30th, 2016

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The fall guy for the 2016 Chicago Bears is most likely going to be Dowell Loggains and really, it’s too bad.

The Bears are 11 games into a miserable season and next-to-last in points per game, which could tell you the Bears have a terrible offensive coordinator. But I am just not sure that is true. The Bears should’ve won and should’ve scored at least 34 points last week with their JV offense.

This is a results-based industry, I get it. But isn’t there something to be said about having the Bears in the middle of the pack in yards with the majority of their snaps being taken by Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer? No, they didn’t score with Jay Cutler either. But Cutler has been hurt all season. And, come to think of it, the only coaches who have scored a lot of points with Cutler are Mike Martz and Marc Trestman. Even the great Mike Shanahan never finished better than 16th in scoring with Cutler has his quarterback.

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Across The Middle — Week 12

| November 23rd, 2016

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So, now what?

Over the last two weeks the Bears have lost 10 starters to injury or suspension, including six on offense. Some of them will come back, but the starting quarterback won’t and his backup is already gone. Matt Barkley is going to make it next to impossible for the Bears to win or evaluate any of the other offensive players. So the Bears have six games left in which they can’t accomplish anything.

I know some fans are happy that the Bears will “tank” and end up with a high draft pick, but this won’t be any fun. I would love for every game to be meaningful, instead we’re wasting six weeks of our NFL fan lives, which will make the wait for next year even more excruciating.

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Across The Middle — Week 11

| November 16th, 2016

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The excuses are gone, but the results remain mostly the same.

As his career drags on the question of if Jay Cutler is the answer to the Bears century-long QB crisis appears to be getting answered and Sunday gave Ryan Pace enough ammunition to move on if he wants to.

This isn’t about one game, but holy shit was that a bad game. It wasn’t just the four lazy, careless turnovers the dude flat out could not make a throw. I charted him with 11 inaccurate passes — nearly 37 percent — including two horrendous interceptions.

I’ve always been willing to live with Cutler’s turnovers because they were offset by big plays. That hasn’t been the case this year. Cutler has twice as many turnovers as he does touchdowns. What’s worse is that he’s being beaten statistically by Brian Hoyer nearly across the board.

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