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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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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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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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Forget Holding Down Job for 2017, Mike Glennon Now Has Two Quarters to Earn the Opener

| August 24th, 2017

When Mike Glennon was asked if he’s now embroiled in a competition for the starting quarterback job, he didn’t hesitate. He didn’t ponder the question for a few moments and deliver a vague, locker room friendly response. You know, something like “Everybody is out here competing for their job every day. Quarterback is no different.”

Glennon didn’t do that. He looked forward and somewhat defiantly said, “No.”

Is Mike Glennon good at playing quarterback? No. But he’s not stupid. Hell, I don’t know the guy, he may very well be stupid, but he’s not oblivious to what’s happening around him. The only argument for keeping Mitch Trubisky on the bench was the sort of unprovable “he’s not ready”. That argument died yesterday. By giving Trubisky time with the ones in practice and announcing he’ll play with them again Sunday, John Fox made it abundantly clear he believes Trubisky is ready to play in the NFL. Coaches value practice reps the way the narrator of Looking Glass’ Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) valued the sea. “Brandy,” that man says, “You’re a fine girl. What a good wife you would be. But my life, my love and my lady is the sea.”

Coaches don’t go handing out first-team reps to projects. They are the single most important evaluative element of the off-season.

Listen, these were never going to be navigable waters for Glennon. The talent gap between he and Trubisky is simply too wide. Glennon’s best hope to hold down the starting job for 2017 season required several factors. He needed to perform well in practice. (He hasn’t.) He needed to move the offense well in the preseason. (Not even close.) Subsequently he needed to let a notoriously conservative head coach take a conservative route with his rookie quarterback by providing a stable option at the top of the depth chart. (Nope.)

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Two Tweets, or Is There Hope?

| August 22nd, 2017

The question was asked and the question was answered.

The follow-up was asked and the follow-up was answered.

The Chicago Bears have a chance to do the right thing for the 2017 season. They have a chance to admit their mistake – acknowledge giving Glennon 18 million anything was insane – and take an important first step towards the future of this franchise. They can do it Sunday in Tennessee.

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Data Entry: Playoffs or Bust for John Fox in 2017?

| June 7th, 2017

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

I’ve seen a lot of speculation this offseason that John Fox is on the hot seat with the Bears in 2017. There were even some rumors that he might be fired following a disastrous 2016. But now his job is widely believed to be on the line should 2017 not show significant improvement.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at what history says about Fox keeping his job beyond 2017 based on similar situations around the NFL. Since this will be Fox’s 3rd year on the job, I looked at coach success in the first three years.

New Coach

Coaching turnover happens fast in the NFL. From 2000 to 2016, there were 142 coaching hires, an average of just over 4.4 per team. Thus in the last 17 years, the average head coach has lasted just under 4 years on the job.

Looking at the current list of 32 NFL head coaches, that 4 year marker also proves to be significant. Exactly half of the coaches are entering at least their 4th season, with the other half all entering their 3rd season or less (full data here). What do those 16 head coaches who have been around for 4 or more years have in common? All but one of them made the playoffs sometime in their first three seasons, with the lone exception (Jason Garrett) achieving that feat in year 4 after 3 straight 8-8 seasons that indicated the Cowboys were close.

It appears the achievement needed for John Fox to keep his job past 2017 is clear: guide the Bears to the playoffs.

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Bears Fans Should Love Pace’s Aggressiveness

| May 3rd, 2017

“I don’t want to be average around here, I want to be great and these are the moves you have to make.”-Ryan Pace

For the first time in my lifetime, at least the parts I can remember, the Bears have a General Manager who gets it.

They have a GM who doesn’t just want to make the playoffs or compete with the rest of the division.

They have a GM who wants to kick everybody’s ass.

And, for some reason, people are mad about it.

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Today Is the Most Important Day of the Current Regime

| March 6th, 2017

Today is the most day of the regime of Ryan Pace and John Fox because they are finalizing their plans at the quarterback position.

Forget the 40 times and other underwear Olympic events. The Bears needed to sit down and have face-to-faces with the likes of DeShone Kizer, DeShaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky. They learned what makes these guys tick; got a feeling of thee young quarterbacks’ general football knowledge.

Forget all the rumors you have heard. The Bears could not have determined how much they wanted to spend on a free agent quarterback — or how much to give up in a trade — until they knew what the draft was offering them. Today the Bears are as ready as they’ll ever be to determine the direction of the franchise.

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