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Postseason Positional Analysis Part VII: Linebackers

| January 19th, 2016

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We start on the inside.

The Bears had five inside linebackers this season but only three are worthy of discussion. LaRoy Reynolds & Jonathan Anderson are the type of bottom-roster boys an organization needs but there’s also about 125 players like them circulating across the league. Whether they return or not in 2016 won’t make the teapot whistle.

Three questions about the others.

How Much Do the Coaches Really Like Shea McClellin?

Shea is a smart player and the coaches went out of their way throughout 2015 to applaud his impact on the defense. He also, once again, struggled to remain healthy for any substantial period of time and his level of play dropped precipitously once returning to the field.

Here’s how I’d summarize McClellin. He is constantly in position to make plays but rarely makes them. Is that a lack of physical ability? Maybe. Is that a lack of instincts? Definitely. Were his struggles this season more the result of a change to ANOTHER new position? Possibly.

Unlike many who’d like to see the Bears cut the Shea line, I’d like to see him return and continue to develop at middle linebacker. He won’t be expensive or require a lengthy deal so why not? At worst he’s a third linebacker off the bench who can also call signals.

How Much Stake Do the Coaches Put Into John Timu’s Finish?

Adrian Peterson had 18 rushes for 63 yards. Doug Martin had 17 carries for 49 yards. Ameer Abdullah had a more respectable 10 carries for 44 yards. This was a poor rush defense all season long that turned into a solid unit once Timu ascended into the starting lineup. Does this mean the Bears should move forward with Timu cemented in the middle? Of course not. But barring a big splurge in free agency, Timu should come to Bourbonnais with confidence.

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Preseason Bears Roster Falls To Lions (Rapid Fire)

| January 4th, 2016

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Another coin flip game, another coin flip loss. No reason to dissect every element so here are a few thoughts from inside the ballpark you might find interesting.

  • John Timu ran the defense. And I mean ran it. Called the signals, made adjustments, pursued on every play. You’d have thought he was a six-year veteran. Impressive stuff.
  • Kyle Long could barely walk at times after his early injury. He’s a tough SOB. But I kept wondering what reasons Bears could have to keep marching him out there.
  • Pernell McPhee’s criticism of Bears fans at Soldier Field is warranted. The noise produced downstairs – from goal line to goal line – is slight. Most of those people seem to have no understanding of when a home crowd is needed. They were louder for the Dunkin Donuts race on the big screen than any third down on defense.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears Finish Season at Home Against Detroit

| January 1st, 2016

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WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

GAME POEM

And so the Bears lie their head
Upon the season’s unmade bed

With drool of last night’s revelry
saturating sheets
Fans across Chicago serve up optimistic Tweets

We dare to dream of better days!
(Though dreaming bares the soul)
For glory’s the result of dreams!
(And glory is the goal)

Sleep, dear Bears.
Sleep well.
And rest each coming day.
Remember, Bears
Another year
Is just nine months away.

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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| December 30th, 2015

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• My biggest disappointment from this season has been the fact the Bears hadn’t been able to establish an identity, but that might have changed on Sunday. The Bears dominated the line of scrimmage against a team that ranks in the top 10 in both rushing offense and defense. If they can run and stop the run with the best, they’re going to win quite a few games.

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Four Things At Stake in the Finale

| December 29th, 2015

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(1) 7-9. Is that just a number? To many, sure. But it would also be a fair representation of the progress this organization has made in just one season under their new regime. This has been a coin clip season and 7-9 would accurately reflect the fact that the 2015 Chicago Bears have been narrowly on the wrong side of the coin.

(2) The Completion of a Great Cutler Season. He’s completed more than 63% of his passes for 3,414 yards and thrown 19 touchdowns to only 8 interceptions. But his numbers tell little of the story. He’s been the Bears best player, snatching several improbable victories from the jaws of defeat and doing all of it with a decimated receiving corps and young offensive line. The most remarkable part of Cutler’s season has been his leadership. For the first time during his Bears tenure, this truly felt like the quarterback’s team.

Side note: Cutler needs a monster game to break Erik Kramer’s single season yardage record of 3,838.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears & Bucs Play Out the String (Christmas Edition!)

| December 24th, 2015

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THE GAME POEM

THOUGHTS ON THE TAMPA BAY BUCS

  • Bucs offense is simple. They want to hand the ball off a zillion times to Doug Martin and then make plays down the field to Mike Evans off play-action. If their running game is shut down it greatly limits their effectiveness to move the ball/score points.
  • Earlier in the week I paired the Bucs and Bears as two teams that weren’t ready to put themselves in the thick of a playoff chase. Four weeks ago the Bucs were 5-5 and positioned well to make a run at the 6th seed. Since then they’ve lost to a Luck-less Colts, a Saints team playing out the string and were roughed up last Thursday night by the Rams until mounting a late comeback. This is a team with a lot of weapons and a bright future. But they’re not there yet. The question will be whether Lovie can get them over the top in 2016.
  • Tampa’s rush defense is very good, allowing 30 less yards per game on the ground than Chicago. If the Bears think they’re going to control this game on the ground it’s unlikely. The way to attack Tampa is to isolate a couple familiar fellows at the backend of their secondary (Conte, Wright…etc.) and throw the ball down the field. The question will be whether any of the Bears receivers can get any separation.

NEW CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

Each year, from Thanksgiving until Christmas, I (like many) indulge in the joy that is the Christmas movie. And it surprises me that movies and television shows still find their way into the rotation. This last year produced two new additions.

A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS

It’s television the way television used to be made in the days of soundstages and cigarette holders and Dean Martin. Everything about it is a throwback and it’s still completely original. The highlight? George Clooney popping out repeatedly from behind Christmas trees to deliver the chorus of Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’.

DIFFICULT PEOPLE, “DIFFICULT CHRISTMAS”

The best new comedy on television in 2015 was Julie Klausner’s Difficult People and the final episode of the season, the Christmas episode, might have been the best. The highlight? Klausner getting fired from her job as a gift wrapper for reciting the story of Capturing the Friedmans to a customer.

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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| December 23rd, 2015

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• I hate to be “that guy”, but this is now three straight games that the Bears have barely bothered to show up for. We can talk all we want about a culture change and can claim it has already happened, but, to me, it’s pretty clear that John Fox still has a lot of work to do. At this point, it would be a surprise if they didn’t finish with the same record they finished with last year.

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