297 Comments

Now, Do It Again.

| December 12th, 2017

The Bears looked like a professional football team Sunday. Well-coached. Brilliantly quarterbacked. Dynamic. Passionate. Tough. Young! From the second Mitch Trubisky was drafted with the second overall pick, 2017 became about building optimism for 2018. That’s life with a rookie quarterback, especially when there are first and second-year players littered across the roster. For the first time this season the future looked beyond bright for this organization. It looked downright special. Because of the quarterback. Because of the kids.

Now they need to do it again.

Detroit is still playing for something. A lot of things, actually. They’re home. They are only a game out of the playoffs. They have a head coach they love, currently resting his tuchus on one of the league’s warmest seats. They need this game. And believe me, they’re going to play like it.

Historically, at least in the history of John Fox’s tenure in Chicago, Saturday afternoon in Detroit is where the Bears would lay an egg. As soon as the slightest bit of optimism creeps into the minds of fans and onto the pages of the daily newspapers, Fox’s Bears no-show. There are a lot of damning statistics when it comes to this head coach but none more damning than his 0-7 record when favored. That means every time Vegas has expected the Fox Bears to perform, they have failed to do so. Every. Time. That’s hard to do.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

222 Comments

Data Responds: Bears at Bengals

| December 10th, 2017

Is this real life?

The Bears dominated on both sides of the ball, scored 30 points for the first time in over two years, and generally rolled over the dormant Cincinnati Bengals.

I know Cincinnati is bad and banged up, but so are the Bears, and this was a lot of fun. More importantly, this as led largely by young players for the Bears, which bodes well for the future. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Offense

  • The Bears came out and threw it on their first 2 plays! The first resulted in an awful Jordan Howard drop (drink), while the second was a beautiful play action rollout to Josh Bellamy for a 1st down. This unsurprisingly caught the Bengals’ defense off guard, and they backed off the defense into standard 7 man boxes instead of loading 8-9 up. As a result, the Bears ran it the next two plays for about 40 yards and a touchdown. That marked the first time this season that the offense scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game.
  • Before I get too down on Howard, how about giving it up for a great game from Chicago’s stud running back? He had his 12th 100 yard rushing game in 26 career starts and passed the 1,000 yard mark for the 2nd year in a row, making him the first running back in Chicago history to start his career that way. That’s pretty remarkable when you think of the great running backs who have played in Chicago.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

261 Comments

Across The Middle: 2018 Chicago Bears Coach Power Rankings

| December 6th, 2017

Trust is going to be the most important factor in where the Bears go from here.

Ryan Pace is in his third year as GM for a franchise that has won 12 games since he took over. That’s 11 fewer than the guy he replaced and he only got three years to do the job. George McCaskey may still have faith in Pace but he’s admittedly not a patient person. Whoever the next coach of the Bears is, they must trust that Pace picked the right quarterback and knows how to build the rest of the roster.

On Pace’s part, he has to trust the person he hires to create a successful environment around the franchise quarterback, while not losing sight of what else is going on around him. For those reasons, I believe the next coach of the Bears is likely going to be somebody Pace knows and already trusts. We’ve seen these kinds of relationships come together recently in Jacksonville, Buffalo, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Pace not only needs somebody he trusts, he needs a quick turnaround and three of the four aforementioned teams are enjoying the most success they’ve had in a number of years.

Here is my guess on which current pro coaches have the best odds of being the Bears coach next season:

1. Dennis Allen, DC, New Orleans Saints

Everyone wants an offensive guy, I get it. But Allen has connections to John DeFilippo, Mike McCoy, Al Saunders and Bill Lazor. It’s also possible he can lure another veteran coordinator — Norv Turner, Gary Kubiak or Dirk Koetter — to run his offense with a young stud quarterback. This goes back to the trust factor because Pace worked with Allen for five years in New Orleans. Allen is said to be uniquely organized and detailed — the opposite of the Bears current coach. He failed in Oakland but he had just one year as a coordinator at that point and didn’t have any talent. Since he took over for Rob Ryan late in the 2015 season, the Saints have had a drastic improvement defensively.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

143 Comments

Week 13: Niners at Bears Game Preview

| November 30th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. And my effort will remain consistent when it comes to these game previews even if the players don’t match that on the field.


Poetry

these doth be the fox’s final prances

          on the lakefront’s tortured green field

the music has stopped, and so the dances

          as a fate seems cer’tainly sealed

you shall be remembered fair fox, fair fox

          for simply, sly smirks and feeble’ish frowns

but always remember, fair fox, fair fox

          one’s allowed to go’eth on occasional fourth downs


Three Reasons the Bears Win

  • If the Bears Can’t Run It This Week, They May Never Run It Again. After the embarrassment of Philadelphia. Back at home. Desperate for something positive to happen. Facing a team that allows 130 rushing yards a game. This sets up perfectly for a Bears rebound performance, with the offensive line and Jordan Howard dominating.
  • Mitch Trubisky’s Splits. Tru is pitching to an 85.9 quarterback rating at home and a 52.7 on the road. He is 3-1 TD-INT at home and the opposite on the road. Not uncommon for a rookie to play far better football in safer confines. Expect that to continue Sunday. And I really think Tru wants to win a game in front of these home fans.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,

219 Comments

Across The Middle: Tightening Pace’s Leash

| November 29th, 2017

The Bears could’ve had the best coaches in the history of football and they still would’ve lost to the Eagles by 20 points.

Say what you will about John Fox and company — and it’s probably all fair — but the hard truth is that the Bears don’t have enough good players. A lot of that is due to injury. Losing their top two receivers and all four starting linebackers is a tough blow. But still, they should be able to put up a fight!

Let’s look at who was available Sunday against Philadelphia:

  • Markus Wheaton is paid like a starter.
  • Nick Kwiatkoski should be a starter at this point anyway. Christian Jones has played like one.
  • Deiondre Hall, Deon Bush and Hroniss Grasu should all be starters.
  • Jon Bullard was drafted to be a major piece. He shouldn’t be warming the bench behind a journeyman at this point.
  • Pernell McPhee has turned into a ghost.

I like Ryan Pace. Most fans do. I’d argue his plus decisions far outweigh his minuses but nowhere near as much as the losses outweigh the wins.

The Bears are at a crossroads.

They will, and I still believe should, allow Pace to hire the next coach. But what if they’re 3-8 next year too? Do they just hit the reset button again? How long can they reasonably expect this loyal fan base to be patient? They are currently suffering through one of the worst four-year stretches in team history.

I’ve long said the primary reason I wouldn’t want to hire Jim Harbaugh or Josh McDaniels is because they’d want to be Pace’s boss too, but I’m no longer sure that should stop the Bears. New England, Seattle, Kansas City, New Orleans all have their coaches in charge of the rosters. If Jim Harbaugh calls up George McCaskey and says he wants to the keys to the franchise, has Pace done enough for the Bears to justify saying no? Even if you look at first time head coaches the last two years, two of the big fishes were handed the keys to their franchises in Miami and San Francisco. That doesn’t include Sean McDermott, who was given what he asked for after a month or so on the job.

We have months to debate the coaching pedigrees of Harbaugh, McDaniels and everyone else, including whether or not they deserve such power. That’s not the point. The point is, how can we be so sure that Pace does? To be clear, this isn’t a call to fire Pace. I think he’s shown that he has an eye for talent. I just hope the Bears don’t let a great football mind out the door simply because Pace has a solid draft record.

Hopefully the problem is simple as needing a new coach and another off-season to build depth. I’m just not entirely sure that’s true. This is Year Three, the Bears should be much further along. Blame Fox all you want, but Pace has blood on his hands too. Here’s to hoping he can get it cleaned up.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

328 Comments

Six Thoughts on the Bears Head Coaching Position in 2018 (Based on Actual Reporting)

| November 28th, 2017


Spent all day Monday reaching out to every single contact I have in the NFL. All four of ’em. Why? Because I was angry, frustrated, tired of writing about a losing team…etc. I figured I could only spend so much time yelling at my cats about the Bears’ misuse of Tarik Cohen so I might as well use the energy for good. Here’s what I know.

(None of this is based on guesswork. This is stuff I was actually told.)

(1) There is a roughly .01% chance of John Fox being the coach on January 2nd 2018. Ryan Pace will hire his replacement.


(2) There was consideration given to firing John Fox after the Green Bay game but ownership/Pace don’t believe there’s a good interim option on the staff. This includes Vic Fangio who, I’m told, would not be super keen on the assignment and has turned down extension offers from the team to stay on as defensive coordinator.


(3) George McCaskey idolizes how the Giants and Steelers are run and has decided to emulate their approach. He does not want to fire a coach in-season. This does not mean he would never do it. But, honestly, emulating the Giants and Steelers is never a bad thing, folks.


(4) If Fox loses this week to the 49ers, don’t be surprised if his tenure ends Monday morning. If he loses to the Browns on Christmas Eve, he won’t coach the finale. I don’t know why so much emphasis is being put on two meaningless games against awful opponents, other than their being at home, but that’s what I was told.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

274 Comments

Bears Must Move On From John Fox. Today.

| November 27th, 2017

Five years ago the Chicago Bears fired a head coach because they deemed 10 wins in 16 games that season were not enough. Through 30 games of his Bears tenure, John Fox has 12 wins.

On October 16th 2016 this space advocated for the firing of Fox for many valid reasons. But primary among them was the Bears seemed ready to move into a new era – with a new, young quarterback – and Fox was clearly not the man to usher the organization through that era. It wasn’t so much an indictment of Fox’s job performance as a recognition that he’d done his part to bring the Bears back to respectability post-Argonaut and the time had now come to transition from respectable to competitive.

That was 2016. This is 2017. And now it’s ENTIRELY about job performance. Because the Bears are a terrible football team.

Is it worth going through the litany of things wrong with John Fox’s approach to game day football? No. We’ve been talking about the lack of preparedness and penalties and awful mismanagement every day over the three years he’s run the show in Chicago. But the deal breaker for the organization has to be that for the first time Fox has young offensive talent to work with and develop and he, as well as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, are squandering that opportunity on a weekly basis.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

211 Comments

Data Responds: Bears at Eagles

| November 26th, 2017

Well that was ugly. This one felt like a few drubbings the 2014 Bears received after the Bears had quit on Marc Trestman. The John Fox era is officially over, though we almost certainly still have to endure 5 more games before it becomes official. Hopefully those games aren’t all this ugly.

The Bears were never going to win on the road against the best team in the NFL, but they looked completely unprepared in every possible way. They picked up penalties, had zero creativity or imagination anywhere, and were generally outschemed, outcoached, and out-executed.

I’m not going to focus much on coaching, because this staff is obviously finished, but one particular atrocity deserves special attention. Facing 3rd and 17 from their own 1 yard line, the Bears called time out to save half a yard from a delay of game penalty. That’s bad enough, but the worst is the offense had only 10 men on the field after an injury time out gave them more than 2 minutes to prepare. That’s a team with comically inept coaching.

I’m going to focus most of my specific observations on the first half, because quite honestly I didn’t pay as much attention after that. The 24-0 halftime deficit meant the game was over by then anyway (honestly, it was over well before halftime).

Offense

  • Mitchell Trubisky threw an early INT on an inaccurate throw, and it caused the coaching staff to turtle back into their worst habits. It was a long time before they let him throw past the line of scrimmage again, and even then that only came on 3rd and long. Instead, they chose to repeatedly run out of heavy sets into loaded boxes. You might be surprised to learn this was not an effective strategy.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

259 Comments

Bisky Sour: Six Thoughts on Falling to 3-7

| November 20th, 2017


(1) Mitch Trubisky is starting to show signs that he’s going to be a very good quarterback in this league for a long time. Improving weekly. Learning from mistakes. Scrambling in key spots. Throwing receivers open. Leading. But I thought his comment post-game was so telling.

How many quarterbacks have to say something like “what coach Fox is allowing us to do on offense”? Get the feeling Trubisky won’t be heartbroken when Fox is let go.


(2) Connor Barth is terrible. He’s not shaky or inconsistent. He is legitimately the worst kicker in the league. And for a team with such a small margin for error to employ him is inexcusable. If he’s on the roster Tuesday, fans should boycott the team next weekend. Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

316 Comments

Data Responds: Lions at Bears

| November 19th, 2017

Chicago’s offense had their best game of the year, but their defense played possibly their worst game of the year. All in all, that evened out, but the Bears ended up falling to 3-7 because their kicker is terrible.

Offense

  • Now that’s more like it. The offense was finally run like an NFL offense, mixing things up and keeping the defense off its feet, and unsurprisingly it led to good things happening. Chicago stayed run-heavy in the game, but mixed up how they were running instead of making it so predictable, and thus the run game really took off. As a result, the offense scored more than 17 points in regulation for the 1st time all year.
  • This also helped the passing game open up a bit as well, since the Bears didn’t routinely end up in 3rd and long. This was a nice change from how their offense has functioned most of the year.
  • Another nice wrinkle we saw on offense was a number of read-option looks for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He kept it several times (though there was at least one more where he should have) and made Detroit’s defense pay for crashing down on the running backs.
  • After ignoring Tarik Cohen on offense for several weeks, the Bears made a point of getting him involved early and often. He had 8 carries and 3 pass targets in the 1st half alone after getting 8 total touches in the previous 3 games.
  • Another nice wrinkle was lining Jordan Howard up as a fullback, with Tarik Cohen at tailback. This set Howard up with a few nice runs as he could spring through the line quickly and the linebackers had to worry about Cohen.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

© Da' Bears Blog