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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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Across The Middle — Week 6

| October 12th, 2016

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Well, now what?

The loss to the Colts may have been the most disappointing of the season to me because it ended any chance the Bears had of becoming relevant this season.

I didn’t think they’d make the playoffs but I expected the Bears to be relevant. I expected them to a be a team nobody wanted to play and I expected to see serious signs of growth. A win over Indianapolis would’ve put them at 2-3 with a  chance to go 3-3 next week before they played the Packers in a Thursday night game. At that point, anything would’ve been possible.

But they lost to the Colts, a bad team. Making the loss worse, they Colts are a bad team that was coming off of a trip to another country, while the Bears were coming off of their first win. It was a game the Bears had to win and didn’t.

There are still bright spots this season and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think the Bears have a very good GM and a lot of excellent young talent. They actually have a better record through Pace’s first 21 games than the Packers did with Ted Thompson. But that doesn’t make me feel better today.

There’s always next year, for most of us anyway. Depending on how the rest of this season goes, that could bring some very difficult questions.

The biggest question is the coach and there is no easy answer.

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Across The Middle — Week Five

| October 5th, 2016

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After parading my son around the house while playing “Bear Dowwwwwnnn Chicago Bears…” my wife gave me a puzzled look and said: “The Bears won?”

“Of course they did,” I replied.

To which she asked one question: “Jay Cutler is going to get fired, isn’t he?”

I had to think for a second, but I could only come to one answer: “Probably.”

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Bears Get on the Board, Beat Lions in a Snoozer: Rapid Fire Reaction

| October 3rd, 2016

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 02: Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears tries to break away from Devin Taylor #98 of the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on October 2, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The argument I made all offseason as to why the Bears would be more competitive in 2016, especially within the division, was because they were already competitive within the division LAST season. Yes, they went 1-5. But both Detroit games and the home Vikings game were complete coin flips. The only time a division opponent clearly outclassed them was in Minnesota, a game the Vikings needed and Bears didn’t.

Yesterday the depleted Bears weren’t just better than Detroit. They dominated them. If their special teams show up, the game is never close. Other thoughts…

  • Brian Hoyer is going to be the story this week. Nobody thinks less of Hoyer than I do but that kind of efficiency will excite John Fox in the tape study sessions. He dinks and dunks, sure, but the offense looked like a real offense for the first time this season.
  • So why so few points? Well, Hoyer is why. Alshon Jeffery will be reduced to basically the third option as long as Hoyer is playing quarterback. Hoyer is a timing/crossing route quarterback. Jeffery is a downfield home run hitter. There were a few moments yesterday where Jeffery was isolated in man coverage and Cutler would have unquestionably tossed a jump ball for him. Hoyer (a) doesn’t think that way and (b) can’t physically do it.
  • And so begins the Jordan Howard era? 23 for 111. 4.8 average. He’s big. He’s quick. He’s tough to bring down. And against Detroit he showed his versatility in the passing attack. Jeremy Langford’s role changed yesterday.
  • The offensive line is improving every single week.

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DaBearsBlog Weekend Show – Week 4 (9/30/16)

| September 29th, 2016

On the Weekend Show:

    • Christy Moore songs! A shitload of em!
    • Jordan Howard as the season savior?
    • Reverend Dave talks about seeing Jay O. Sanders naked and somehow brings it home.
    • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free-Press breaks down where the Lions currently stand as an organization and talks me off the ledge.
    • Prediction: Bears 23, Lions 20

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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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Across The Middle – Week Four

| September 28th, 2016

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I’ve tried to calm myself down and think about the loss to the Cowboys logically. But I can’t help but come to the same conclusion I came to while watching the game: this team is suffering from coaching malpractice.

Any team missing their three best defensive players and starting quarterback is going to struggle. Add to the fact that those three defensive players were all playing in the front seven and they were going against the team with the best offensive line in the league and a blowout makes sense.

But I don’t give a shit about any of that.

The Bears should’ve been blown out several times last year, but they weren’t.

They weren’t because they fought.

They weren’t because they either had a sound game plan or adjusted well.

They weren’t because their coaching was a legitimate advantage.

That isn’t the case right now and I’m not sure what the answer is.

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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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Across The Middle: Week One

| September 7th, 2016

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How can anyone be sure the Bears were right on both Robbie Gould and Josh Sitton?

Both players were released for the exact same reasons:

  • Age
  • Money
  • Declining skills

The Bears got an up-close look at it with Gould. S0 did the Packers with Sitton.

With Gould, the Bears must think his leg is either dead or going to die before long. There is some evidence to back that up since 9 of his 12 misses over the last three seasons have come after November 1st. Maybe his leg has gotten tired or maybe he isn’t able to cut through the cold wind as well.

But, if they were even considering cutting him, why didn’t they bring competition in? That lack of competition tell us this can’t be based on last season’s performance. Gould made nearly 85 percent of his kicks last year with 9 attempts coming from at least 50 yards away. By comparison, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker was under 83 percent with 10 attempts from 50 yards away. Gould missed the game-winner against San Francisco. Minnesota’s Blair Walsh missed a gimme in a playoff game. Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point that could’ve put the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

It happens. Teams in cold-weather cities need good kickers and they recognize the value in keeping them.

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