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Bears Fall to 1-4, Trubisky Debuts, Fox Flops: Rapid Fire Reaction to MNF

| October 10th, 2017

  • Let’s take Trubisky just on his execution and not on what those around him did. He displayed all the traits that excited Ryan Pace (and me) during the pre-draft period: athleticism, mobility, powerful arm, accuracy. He also tried to do too much several times and made a few mistakes. The interception was the glaring error but the throw that almost killed Markus Wheaton was just as misguided. The touchdown pass was more a physical mistake than a mental one.
  • One thing I liked about Tru’s performance: he ran to throw. He didn’t take off down the sideline when Bears receivers weren’t open. He threw the ball downfield and tried to let them make plays. When he’s got professional receivers out there, this will lead to big plays.
  • Worst performance from the offensive line this season, almost across the board. They were bullied at the point of attack and committed costly penalties.
  • Dion Simms, what the hell? He missed two blocks on pivotal runs and then ran short of the sticks/dropped the ball on a third-down play designed specifically for him. Explain to me why this guy is on the field over Zach Miller. Explain to me why getting Adam Shaheen experience in these games is not more valuable than wasting time on Simms. Money?
  • The fake punt and two-point conversion were spectacular calls. Those are the two positive things I will say about this coaching staff last night.

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Data Responds: Bears vs. Vikings

| October 10th, 2017

In rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s debut, the Bears got the ball to start, and marched right down the field. Trubisky looked sharp on several impressive throws, including one huge third down completion to Tre McBride that set Chicago up on Minnesota’s 9 yard line.

Except a holding penalty by center Cody Whitehair brought the Bears back to 3rd and 20 out of field goal range. One screen pass later, they punted, costing themselves at least three points.

That would lay the foundation for a frustrating first half of missed opportunities, when a long list of penalties (some more dubious than others) led to Chicago getting no offensive points despite passing midfield on four drives.

Unsurprisingly, those missed opportunities came back to haunt them in the second half, as a late Minnesota field goal led to a 20-17 win.

Coaching

  • They get their own section again, which usually means bad things. And we’re starting here, because it was terrible.
  • John Fox took too long to decide whether to go for it on 4th and 2 in the first quarter, which forced the Bears to call a time out. Out of the time out, they took too long to get the play in, resulting in a delay of game and punt. That was an ugly sequence that was 100% the fault of the coaches. Then in the 2nd half, they had to burn a time out when the Vikings had 1st and 19 due to confusion with defensive play calls.
  • The Bears were also incredibly sloppy early on, with several early penalties negating big plays and/or putting them behind the chains. Some of the calls didn’t seem particularly great by the officials, but overall they need to get out of their own way and stop beating themselves. That’s the mark of a poorly coached team.
  • Dowell Loggains also had a terrible game. He fell into predictable patterns we’ve seen through four games, with obvious runs on 1st down and too many horizontal passes. They ran out of heavy sets and threw out of shotgun, with not enough variability mixed into those sets. This routinely set the Bears up in 3rd and long situations, which is not where you want a rookie quarterback (or any offense, really) to be. To his credit, Loggains did have a beautiful play call on a game-tying 2 point conversion in the 4th quarter, but overall he had a rough night.

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2018 Bears Head Coach Power Rankings

| October 2nd, 2017

The Bears might have a new coach next year. Or they might not. Who the heck knows, but it’s never too early to start looking at some of the candidates.

At this point, I’m assuming Ryan Pace will still be the GM. If that’s the case, I don’t see either Josh McDaniels or Jim Harbaugh being an option. And, truth is, I’m not sure either is that great of an option, anyway. McDaniels didn’t just fail in Denver, he completely flamed out. I question Harbaugh’s sanity and if he’s actually a good offensive coach.

Editor’s Note: I think Andrew is nuts and also think Harbaugh is the second best football coach in the country.

I didn’t include college coaches because they almost all just leverage the NFL to get pay raises. The ones who do ultimately come to the league typically aren’t any good.

It’s entirely possible Fox will be back for the last year of his contract, so he’s included in this list. So are many of the usual suspects. As many would guess, I gave preference to offensive coaches because I want no part of a defensive coach handling Mitch Trubisky unless he has a proven offensive coordinator coming with him. I had a hard time pairing the top defensive coordinators with offensive guys who fit that description.

Here’s the list:

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Across The Middle: The Bears, John Fox & a Baby’s Molars

| September 26th, 2017

Teething is a bitch.

My one-year-old son already has seven teeth, all of which he toughed his way through with little complaint, but now he has molars coming in and it has been a struggle.

He has one big, dull tooth bulging into into the back of each side of his mouth. It’s created all kinds of problems. He’s had ear infections, boogers all over his face and just doesn’t seem to want to eat sometimes. The most puzzling part is when he fusses for no apparent reason.

But there is going to be an end to this. He’s going to have all of his teeth and proceed through his life like a normal, growing boy.

In a lot of ways, this Bears season has reminded me of my son’s teething. It’s been painful, but there are signs that things are going to turn around. Whether or not they’re able to finish the job is another story.

Last week was a big win. Things didn’t go their way with the officials, a defensive back made a stupid blunder and they got nothing from their quarterback. But they won. They won because they have a pretty good defense that took a significant step against a pretty good offense. They won because they have two studs in the backfield and a coach who is creative enough to know how to use them.

It was the first September win of the Fox regime. They showed there are things they can do well. The next step is consistency. I don’t know what this Bears season will end up being, and I don’t know what the Fox regime will be, but this was a step.

Now let’s see if we can get another tooth to pop through.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Positive Jahns, Around the League Thoughts & More!

| September 19th, 2017

Jahns Responds to Nightmare Loss

Here are three POSITIVE points Adam made in the Sun-Times:

4. The Bears missed linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (four tackles on Bucs’ first drive). Christian Jones missed Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield on his one-yard touchdown run.

Kwik looked terrific when this game began. He was firing at the line of scrimmage. And then, injury. Because it’s totally normal for a starter and his backup to both tear their pec muscles in consecutive weeks. Remarkable how many rosters are already being decimated just two weeks into the season.

8. Want a positive? Bears rookie safety Eddie Jackson was strong in run support. He’s made a concerted effort to improve his tackling.

9. One more positive? Bears nickel back Bryce Callahan rebounded from his tough Week 1 and nearly had two interceptions. He was active and very close to big plays.

Jackson, Callahan and Kyle Fuller are all playing at a solid level and I expect all three to improve as the season progresses.


5 Around the League Thoughts

Literally found my eyes wandering from the Bears game during the second half Sunday. So I saw quite a bit of the league.

(1) Dak Prescott is really a poor thrower of the football. I think he has enough intangibles to have a successful career in the league but that arm is never beating anyone from the pocket.

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231 Comments

The Story is Glennon Until He’s Gone

| September 18th, 2017

John Fox said it.

I heard him.

He said it.

Sunday’s loss was not on Mike Glennon. Nope, Glennon’s constant throwing behind receivers was not the problem. Glennon blowing off an open Adam Shaheen to throw the ball to a linebacker was certainly not the problem. Glennon fumbling the football because he has the least amount of pocket awareness in the history of professional football was clearly not the problem. Glennon’s awful pick-six, predicted seconds before it happened from a New York City bar stool, was definitively not the problem.

Sure, the Bears made a ton of mistakes yesterday and were more than likely not winning even if they received adequate quarterback play. But they didn’t receive adequate quarterback play. They received the type of quarterback play anybody who has studied the tape of Mike Glennon’s career would expect. This performance was not surprising. It wasn’t abnormal. It is exactly who Glennon has always been.

And when a reporter dared to ask John Fox if Mitch Trubisky will be starting next week against Pittsburgh, Fox answered with a simple “No”.

Next week, and every week Glennon starts, the Bears will lose. Not because they don’t have good enough players to compete but because the organization has chosen to do so. The Bears have selected failure.  People wonder why this space has been obsessed with Glennon since the start of training camp? Yesterday you saw why. He renders the team non-competitive.

And worse, he renders the games unwatchable. And I really, really like watching Bears football. At least I did until September 2017.

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379 Comments

Across The Middle: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

| September 13th, 2017

If the Chicago Bears want to sell their fans on the current regime leading the team back to glory, they better start making progress. Because last Sunday was decisively not progress. It was more of the same.

With their top two receivers out and the decision to play a terrible quarterback made, the defense has to be the center of John Fox’s sales pitch to stay in the job. What I saw last Sunday was pretty much the same thing we’ve been seeing for the last two years.

  • They can’t get turnovers.
  • They can’t get off the field on third down.
  • They start slowly.

The third bullet point is the most frustrating.

We are now 33 games into the Fox/Fangio defense. Some facts:

  • 21 times they’ve given up scores on the first two possessions.
  • 16 of those have been touchdowns!
  • In 14 of those games, they gave up scores on the first possession itself.
  • 11 of those were touchdowns!

Those rates are absolutely insane. For two defensive minds as accomplished as Fox and Fangio, how is it possible that their teams are never prepared to start games? Here’s the kicker: in games they managed to fight off their opponents until the third offensive possession, the Bears are 6-6. That’s six of the nine wins of the Fox regime.

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Five Reasons to be Excited about the 2017 Bears

| September 6th, 2017

The official start of the season should be an exciting time for NFL fans all over the country, but Bears fans are almost unanimously unexcited.

The reason for this is pretty clear. With their present quarterbacking situation, the starting of Mike Glennon, they’ll need perfection from pretty much everyone else on the roster. Have teams done it? Sure. But most teams in this situation end up picking in the top 10 of the draft.

That said, the Bears do have more going for them than a standard three-win team and there are a few reasons to be excited.

Here are five:

5. Return of Dominant Defense

It’s been a minute since the Bears have had even an adequate defense. Under Lovie Smith, they ranked in the top half of the league in scoring defense eight times in nine seasons and in the top five four times.

Since Smith was fired, they haven’t cracked the top twenty and finished in the bottom ten three times.

This year should be different.

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Punting on 2017 a Tough Sell for Fox

| August 30th, 2017

There is no question that John Fox actually believes he can win with Mike Glennon. That’s Fox’s reality. But in actual reality, even when Glennon is at his best, he will limit what the team can do offensively. The coaches know it, the fans know it and — worse yet — the players know it. If the Bears struggle with Glennon, Fox could lose the locker room. Once that happens, he’s gone.

Glennon deserves credit. It looked as if he needed to play well to keep his job and he did. But Glennon playing well still only gave the offense 10 points against an awful defense. It would’ve been 14, but he missed an easy throw for a touchdown.  Glennon is always going to miss throws. His ball placement is terrible. At his best, he’s just a guy who won’t kill you. He’s never going to make the kinds of plays that win games.

The rest of the Bears are good enough that they’ll win seven games that way if they stay completely healthy. They’ve already lost their top receiver and have a quarterback who can’t use either Kevin White or Markus Wheaton on anything aside from bubble screens and quick slants. More realistically, the Bears will end up with five or six wins if Glennon starts all 16 games. Fox probably isn’t keeping his job if they only win five or six games and he sure as hell isn’t keeping it if he loses the locker room along the way.

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