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.
As I rewatched the Bears with my son in my arms, I looked down at him, he looked up at me and I knew he was thinking: “Why should I sign up for this?”
At this point, it’s a legitimate question: Why should anyone be optimistic about the Bears? And at this point, it’s hard to find an answer. I’d like to tell you it wasn’t as bad as it looked on Monday night, but that would be a lie. It was every bit that bad and probably a little worse.
It’s hard to read too much into what the Eagles did to the Browns last week. The Browns are a triple-A franchise right now. But there was enough to digest in those sixty minutes. Which match-ups matter most Monday night?
It is the single biggest mismatch in the game.
The word of the day is perspective.
I like to think I’m as passionate a Bears fan as there is. I typically get nervous about the Sunday games on Friday and, when the Bears have a performance like they did against Houston, it ticks me off until the next Wednesday. But none of my common symptoms were there this week.
The reason is simple. The day after the Bears played their opener, my wife was scheduled to be induced and we welcomed the world’s newest Bears fan on Tuesday.
The Bears didn’t mean much to me last week and they don’t this week and I suppose that’s how it should be. But what happened last week shouldn’t mean much to you either. Just like the preseason, there’s a ton of instant reaction. But historically it hasn’t proven to be an indication of things to come.
Surely everyone remembers last season when the Rams beat the Seahawks and the 49ers thumped the Vikings? There were three playoff teams that lost to non-playoff teams last year and it seems to happen every year. Most of the teams in the league are still figuring out who they are the first three weeks of the season.
The Texans seem better than I thought (mostly because of Will Fuller) and the Bears have work to do. We knew the Bears wouldn’t be a finished product coming in. But what happened in Week 1 shouldn’t change your opinion of what kind of team the Bears have this year.
While I’m a big believer in the importance of winning in the trenches, the biggest area in which the Bears were out-classed Sunday was on the sidelines. John Fox single-handily cost the Bears a minimum of 11 points by not challenging two easy plays.
Admin Note: the five things I wish the Bears had columns will return Thursday & Friday.
John Fox made it very clear: Preseason games are just more practice and should be evaluated and valued as such. So why won’t people listen?
Like most people, I’m sure, my Twitter timeline was full of people freaking out over how the Bears were practicing on Saturday. Fox told the world before the game that it wasn’t crucial.
“It’s not the season. They call it preseason for a reason, it’s to evaluate, put your players in positions, take a look at players,” Fox said last week before the game. “We put a lot of stock in practice as well.”
After the game, his attitude was the same saying “we got a chance to look at some young guys and make some evaluations. That’s what preseason is for.” He later referenced preseason as “practice games” and spoke multiple times about playing players in different positions.
Dennis Green: “Who the hell takes the third game in the preseason like it’s bullshit?”
Me: Raises hand.
I used to believe we could get something meaningful from the third preseason game. There are dozens of reasons why that’s wrong, but the strongest was one I realized just a month ago. It doesn’t mean anything to the players who aren’t fighting for jobs or coaches.
I challenge anyone to watch a regular season game, follow it with the third preseason game and try to tell me there isn’t a significant difference in the product. I did just that a month ago, choosing to re-watch the Bears’ third preseason game against the Bengals last year. It’s just a different game.
This is true for many of the same reasons why none of the preseason games matter. Maybe there’s more game-planning in the third preseason game. Maybe teams do a bit more schematically. Maybe. But it isn’t a lot and whatever it is they do isn’t done with the same urgency as the regular season simply because it doesn’t have to be.
The Bears have most of their starters figured out already. They know what they’re doing schematically. The practice and simulation of a game-like atmosphere should help them. But this is preseason. The coach won’t lose his job, neither will the starters. It’s a practice and should be treated as such.
BIRKETT ON PRESEASON FOOTBALL
Dave Birkett of the Free Press wrote a perfect column outlining the meaninglessness of preseason football. Here’s the first few paragraphs
Between forced season ticket buys, unwatchable second halves and pointless season-altering injuries, there are few redeeming qualities to preseason football.
But the worst part about the exhibition exercise that the NFL puts its 32 teams through four or, in some cases, five times a year is the overreaction that comes with every game.
Sure, that happens in the regular season, too. That’s the nature of our instant-gratification society.
But you don’t need to be the 2008 Preseason Champion Detroit Lions to know which games matter and which games don’t.
KEVIN WHITE’S MINDSET
Adam Jahns with quotes from Cutler:
As for White’s drop, Cutler sounded almost happy it happened. Such plays lead to more dialogue between him and the second-year receiver.
‘‘He handles it well,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘He’s always the first guy to blame himself, no matter what the situation is, so I just try to keep him positive and keep him going. There’s no point or real time for us to dwell on it. We have to move on, and he does that well.’’
It is understood that camp has yet to begin and injuries can always pile up and derail a season before Labor Day. But at this point in the calendar, the Bears look an awful lot like a 10-6 team. Why? Five reasons.
Reason #1: Run Defense
The old baseball maxim is you need to be strong defensively up the middle. I’ve always argued the same goes for football. If you can clog the middle of the field, stop the run, cover the tight end in the seam, prevent the home run, you can defend any offense in the sport.
The 2016 Bears have the potential to be great up the middle. Hicks and Goldman are immovable objects. Freeman and Trevathan are top tier middle linebackers. Amos, while still developing, is an already terrific closer. This crop of players has the ability to make opposing offenses one-dimensional. And that will free up a pretty solid collection of pass rushers to wreck the game.
Stat Prediction: Bears will jump from 22nd in yards rushing allowed per game to top 10.
Reason #2: Fast Start
Bears open at Houston, playing a Texans team that better hope Brock Osweiler is worth the ridiculous amount of money they gave him. They are then home to Philly, playing a team in transition. They then travel to Dallas to play a Cowboys team they’ve beaten handily over the last few years. Then home to Calvin Johnson-less Detroit.
Stat Prediction: Bears open 4-0.
The deadline has come and gone. Alshon Jeffery will play 2016 on the franchise tag. What does it mean?
#1. An argument simply cannot be made the Bears front office values AJ as a top tier wide receiver. If they did this contract gets done in fifteen minutes. They’d pick a player with similar numbers and mimic that deal. Bears are willing to risk playing with AJ on the tag because they aren’t overly concerned about losing him.
#2. Jeffery has displayed the right attitude. And if he can’t find the motivation to deliver a career year with big money on the line he’ll never find it. Motivation, passion, the desire to give 100% on every down is something the Bears hierarchy (and quarterback) want to see from AJ on a consistent basis. They are far more worried about this element of his game than his health.