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Bears Thump Niners & There’s Plenty To Feel Good About

| December 5th, 2016

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You will hear it across Chicago today: “…but the Niners suck.” And there’s no denying that fact. The Niners do, in fact, suck. They are probably the league’s worst team. (I don’t consider Cleveland a team.) But good teams beat sucky teams convincingly. Good teams play meaningless fourth quarters against sucky teams. And the Bears, with their third or fourth-string quarterback, looked an awful lot like a good team yesterday.

Rapid fire…

  • I’ve been using #barkleytime as something of a joke but, you know, I’m starting to think it might not be. As impressive as Barkley was against the Titans a week ago, he was ten times more impressive in the conditions at Soldier Field yesterday. And if het got a little more help from his receivers, he might have been staring down a gaudy stat line. Nevertheless, a near-100 quarterback rating in the slush when the opposing quarterbacks looked like Abbot & Costello Meet the Snow, is exemplary. (More on Barkley coming later today/tomorrow.)
  • I can’t remember seeing a two-win team play with the emotion the Bears played with yesterday. Defensively, offensively, everything. They were fired up from the opening whistle. Seeing that makes me want to slap all the “they should lose” people across their faces.
  • Jordan Howard. That is all. No, that’s not all. His five-yard touchdown run may be my favorite play of the season. The Niners weren’t keeping him out of the end zone with 18 defenders.
  • Say this about Josh Bellamy: he gets open! And I give the Bears coaching staff/QB credit for sticking with him after the second big drop. I would have sat him on the bench and left him there. They didn’t and they were handsomely rewarded for it.
  • Noah Spence is having a terrific year in Tampa and Joey Bosa is terrific but Leonard Floyd may now be the front-runner (as predicted here) for defensive rookie of the year. If Floyd can get his sack total into double digits, I’m not sure they can keep the award away from him.

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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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Bears Get on the Board, Beat Lions in a Snoozer: Rapid Fire Reaction

| October 3rd, 2016

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 02: Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears tries to break away from Devin Taylor #98 of the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on October 2, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The argument I made all offseason as to why the Bears would be more competitive in 2016, especially within the division, was because they were already competitive within the division LAST season. Yes, they went 1-5. But both Detroit games and the home Vikings game were complete coin flips. The only time a division opponent clearly outclassed them was in Minnesota, a game the Vikings needed and Bears didn’t.

Yesterday the depleted Bears weren’t just better than Detroit. They dominated them. If their special teams show up, the game is never close. Other thoughts…

  • Brian Hoyer is going to be the story this week. Nobody thinks less of Hoyer than I do but that kind of efficiency will excite John Fox in the tape study sessions. He dinks and dunks, sure, but the offense looked like a real offense for the first time this season.
  • So why so few points? Well, Hoyer is why. Alshon Jeffery will be reduced to basically the third option as long as Hoyer is playing quarterback. Hoyer is a timing/crossing route quarterback. Jeffery is a downfield home run hitter. There were a few moments yesterday where Jeffery was isolated in man coverage and Cutler would have unquestionably tossed a jump ball for him. Hoyer (a) doesn’t think that way and (b) can’t physically do it.
  • And so begins the Jordan Howard era? 23 for 111. 4.8 average. He’s big. He’s quick. He’s tough to bring down. And against Detroit he showed his versatility in the passing attack. Jeremy Langford’s role changed yesterday.
  • The offensive line is improving every single week.

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Across The Middle: Week One

| September 7th, 2016

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How can anyone be sure the Bears were right on both Robbie Gould and Josh Sitton?

Both players were released for the exact same reasons:

  • Age
  • Money
  • Declining skills

The Bears got an up-close look at it with Gould. S0 did the Packers with Sitton.

With Gould, the Bears must think his leg is either dead or going to die before long. There is some evidence to back that up since 9 of his 12 misses over the last three seasons have come after November 1st. Maybe his leg has gotten tired or maybe he isn’t able to cut through the cold wind as well.

But, if they were even considering cutting him, why didn’t they bring competition in? That lack of competition tell us this can’t be based on last season’s performance. Gould made nearly 85 percent of his kicks last year with 9 attempts coming from at least 50 yards away. By comparison, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker was under 83 percent with 10 attempts from 50 yards away. Gould missed the game-winner against San Francisco. Minnesota’s Blair Walsh missed a gimme in a playoff game. Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point that could’ve put the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

It happens. Teams in cold-weather cities need good kickers and they recognize the value in keeping them.

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Notes on a Wild Sunday For the Chicago Bears

| September 5th, 2016

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I didn’t see any of it coming. Any of it. Thoughts.

  • Impossible to suggest the Bears had planned to replace Robbie Gould at the start of the summer. Not when they brought in zero competition for him. But his big misses last season coupled with an incredibly shaky camp/preseason forced the Bears hand. Pace  and Fox know what this team is. They know they’ll need to win close ones. And they simply didn’t trust Robbie any more.
  • That being said, Robbie had a brilliant career in Chicago. Brilliant. Hester-Robbie-Mannelly-Toub is the modern era Mount Rushmore of Bears special teams.
  • Connor “Party On” Barth is a guy. Could be good. Could be shaky. But if the Bears thought this a possibility, why not bring a few kids to camp? I wrote about challenging Robbie this summer LAST FALL. The signs were there. It feels like the front office missed them.
  • I don’t care about Josh Sitton’s back issues. He’s still a damn good player. If the Bears only get one season out of him, that’s fine by me. They have the cash. Why not spend it? The risk/reward is ENTIRELY in Chicago’s column.

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