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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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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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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 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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Match-ups That Matter: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears

| September 29th, 2016

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The Detroit Lions are putting up big time offensive numbers right now. You can criticize their opponents – and there’s much to criticize there – but that’s irrelevant for Sunday. Kill the Colts, Titans and Packers all you want but all three teams have better quarterbacks than Brian Hoyer and healthier defenses than the Chicago Bears. The Lions are going to score points at Soldier Field. Breaking that match-up down makes little sense. Here’s the match-up that might swing the game.

Jordan Howard & the Bears Offensive Line

vs.

Detroit’s Rush Defense

  • Jordan Howard has opportunity to change the narrative of the 2016 Bears season. Think that’s a bit of an overstatement? It may be. But consider the headlines in Chicago Monday morning should the Bears beat Detroit on the shoulders of a 22 carry, 125 yard, 2 touchdown performance by a rookie running back. Hope for the future is dependent upon the emergence of young stars. Howard can emerge Sunday.
  • It was obvious the strength of this offense was going to be their guard and center play by the middle of the season. Unfortunately the Bears can no longer wait that long. They’ve cut their fullback and a tight end brought in to strengthen the rushing attack. The right tackle is a nightmare, surprisingly in the run game as well as the passing attack. The Bears need Sitton-Whitehair-Long to be the toughest guys in the room. They’re capable of doing it.

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MATCHUPS THAT MATTER: BEARS AT COWBOYS

| September 22nd, 2016

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There is only one match-up that matters this week.

DOWELL LOGGAINS & JOHN FOX

VS.

COMMON SENSE

Objectively speaking, the Bears chances of having a meaningful season took a massive hit with their dismal, injury-laden performance Monday night against the Eagles. But with news breaking that both Jay Cutler and Eddie Goldman will only be missing a few games, might there be room in the hearts of Bears fans for the slightest bit of optimism?

Come on. You know you want to.

If there is such room, John Fox and Dowell Loggains can’t have a third straight howler. What can they do?

  • Get the ball out of Brian Hoyer’s hand quickly. The Bears have a signature weakness on the offensive side of the ball: pass protection on the edges. So of course the offense has consisted of almost EXCLUSIVELY dropping Jay Cutler into deep pockets and forcing an historically fragile quarterback to scramble around. There are two flat out moronic elements at play here.
    • The Bears spent the entirety of the 2015 season cultivating a short passing attack; utilizing the bubble screen as a de facto run game to keep downs and distances manageable. This attack may not have been the most exciting in league history but it led to their quarterback playing one of his most efficient and consistent seasons.
    • The Bears have three, three, THREE wide receivers who are tailor made to this kind of attack. Alshon Jeffery is monstrous. Eddie Royal displayed Monday night what he’s capable of in the open field. And Kevin White’s speed would make every reception a potential big gain.

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Expect a Career Year From Alshon Jeffery

| June 15th, 2016

With so much talk about Alshon Jeffery’s contract and value, it’s been largely forgotten — or ignored — that the Bears wide receiver is poised to have a career season.

You know, if he stays healthy.

While on the field, Jeffery was mostly great last year. His per game averages total out to about 96 catches, 1,435 yards and 7 touchdowns. Great numbers for sure, but not far from what we saw from him in 2013, especially considering the increase in targets. In 2016, however, the stars appear to be perfectly aligned for the fifth-year receiver to explode.

Here are a few reasons why:

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I Have Nothing of Note to Say About the Chicago Bears…

| May 16th, 2016

…so here are some thoughts of non-note.

  • Can people stop writing about Leonard Floyd’s weight? Who gives a shit about Leonard Floyd’s weight? He weighs what he weighs. I’ll start being interested in Floyd when he starts playing football.
  • I like how John Fox answers questions from media. When they asked him about Adam Gase’s new approach to rookie minicamp he basically said, “Yea whatever. We do our thing.” Fox doesn’t overthink football.
  • Dowell Loggains said Jeremy Langford needs to improve in the passing game. This is a fancy way of saying Langford needs to stop dropping the ball in pivotal moments or he’s gonna be off the field in pivotal moments.
  • Bears can say anything they want but Soldier Field’s surface is never going to improve. It’s been awful for more than a decade.
  • I can’t remember a Bears training camp that will have this much intrigue. The one hallmark of Ryan Pace thus far is he’s not afraid of roster turnover.

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Bears Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase To Be Named Dolphins Head Coach

| January 9th, 2016

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UPDATE 11:44 AM ET: Gase is now officially the Dolphins head coach. He’ll be formally announced at a 3 PM press conference.

Adam Gase is set to be named the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins and the Bears will now looking for a new offensive coordinator. Will it be the logical, in-house promotion of Dowell Loggains or a Foxy favorite like Ken Whisenhunt?

Many options are available to the Bears but remember one thing: very little will change. John Fox knows what offense he wants to run. The Bears ran it in 2015. They will run it in 2016.

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