Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| November 4th, 2015


• Before getting into football talk, I want to thank everyone who for their kind words after the passing of my father. It was obviously a difficult week, made more difficult by the Bears.

• We all want to believe the Bears are a drastically different team because they have John Fox leading the way instead of Marc Trestman, but in their last two games they have played almost exactly like they did under Trestman. I get there is a lack of talent, but they have just as much as the Lions and the Vikings, there’s no excuse for them to lose either of those games the way they lost them.

• If the Bears and the Vikings were to swap quarterbacks, the Bears would have the first pick of the draft and the Vikings would win the Super Bowl.  Don’t listen to what you read on Twitter, Bridgewater is bad. Meanwhile, there aren’t 10 quarterbacks in the league who are better than Jay Cutler right now. There may not even be five.

• So, why did Adam Gase decide to take Cutler out of the game for most of the first half? Look at the Bears first six games and they were at their best when Cutler was moving around and making things happen. I get that he didn’t think they could block the Vikings’ front four, but by continuously throwing slip screens, he gave them no chance. As soon as he stopped doing that, the Bears started moving the ball. It isn’t difficult to figure out.

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Everything We Learned About the NFL This Season.

| February 3rd, 2015


Top NFL Teams Separated By Merely a Play

Look at the fates of the NFC’s best teams in the month of January.

  • Detroit loses to Dallas after a pass interference flag is announced and walked off by the game official and then ludicrously picked up. (Has anybody yet given an explanation of this?)
  • Dallas  loses to Green Bay after a Dez Bryant catch – a spectacular catch – is deemed a non-catch by one of the more ludicrous rules in the NFL rulebook. (And in my opinion a gross misinterpretation of that rule.)
  • Green Bay loses to Seattle with a ludicrous late-game collapse featuring a tight end dropping an onside kick that hit both of his hands and his face.
  • Seattle loses to New England with the worst play-call in the history of professional football, asking a non-pocket passer to pocket pass a tight-window slant route on the goal line, at the death. (And do so with the league’s most physical runner just, you know, standing around.)

In all four of these games a serious argument can be made for the losing team deserving victory. That’s how close the league has become at the top.

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With the Dawn of 2015 Comes the Opportunity to Purge the Poison of 2014 From the Bears Organization

| December 31st, 2014

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Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne!

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp! And surely I’ll be mine! And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne!

-Robert Burns


Johnny Brogan is a bartender at the Copper Kettle, an Irish neighborhood bar in the Irish neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens. “Brogy” is not what you’d call a healthy-looking man, measuring well under six feet from the soles of his worn down off-brand trainers to the tip of his meticulously-parted coif and three feet from the rear of his spine to the furthest reaches of his jolly pot. But every year, from January to April, this one-man cider receptacle gets off the drink. Not a drop. And when you ask him why, he responds with a phrase he should have trademarked, “Right for the system.”

There’s something noble about Brogy’s pious dedication to this annual ritual, whether it be medically astute or not. He believes, as all who engage in any cleanse or diet or purge believe, abstaining from the sauce over this period of time will help him live longer. He’s also Irish. And Catholic. So there’s the guilt-inspired penance factor at play. Brogy sins for nine months. He apologizes for three.

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Thoughts on George McCaskey Cleaning House Following Dismal 2014 Season

| December 30th, 2014


I didn’t have one concrete theme from Black Monday but instead several distinct thoughts. Here they are.

Thought #1 – Emotion Not a Bad Thing

Football is a game of strategy and emotion. The strategy has spawned an entire industry of newfangled NFL writers who believe the $50 they spend for All-22 access makes them the heir apparent to Vince Lombardi. (X & O writing is quickly supplanting Combine analysis and salary cap breakdowns as the most surefire way to put me to sleep.) Strategy is why coaches are paid millions, why they sleep on their couches as their families fall apart at home and why play sheets now look like Greek diner menus in Clifton, New Jersey.

Emotion is the far less dissected issue, the far simpler issue and, in my estimation, just as important.

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Preemptive Requiem for the Marc Trestman Era

| December 26th, 2014


If Marc Trestman is not fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears before the rye toast of Chicagoland browns Monday morning, the panic will be palpable.

FATHER: He can’t possibly be back, can he?

SON: No. It’s not possible.

FATHER: Why haven’t they fired him yet?

SON: They will…(wipes sweat from his brow)…they have to…

FATHER: You want butter?

SON: Jam.

Trestman’s first year as Bears head coach was defined by an explosiveness on offense never before seen from the city of Chicago’s football team. While balancing the worst defense in the history of the organization the Bears offense managed to guide the club to a .500 record, giving them an opportunity to win a division title on the final week of the season. (A game they lost purely by mental breakdowns on the defensive side of the ball.) It seemed in Marc Trestman the Bears had found their guy.

Here were the four reasons I liked the hiring of Marc Trestman in January of 2013:

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Observations from the City of Chicago

| December 22nd, 2014


(1) The city, the people walking up and down the sidewalks, universally hate Jay Cutler and it is ENTIRELY about his body language, demeanor. All of those debates and articles I have scoffed at for years are having a dramatic impact, especially on those who are more casually fans. I write columns disparaging folks like Rosenbloom and Haugh. Those columns are met with, “Why bother? Those are idiots!” Guess what? Those are the columns permeating the city.

(2) Yes there were thousands of Lions fans in attendance but I couldn’t be more impressed with the Bears fans at Soldier Field Sunday. You could feel the desperation. They wanted to stand. They wanted to shout. And when the game presented them opportunities to do so they leapt to their feet and blew out their voices. On a day where the Bears handed out the most ridiculous pin in football history (see above) Bears fans showed why they deserve to be appreciated.

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Events of Last Two Weeks Make Clear Bears Biggest Need is Organizational Leadership

| December 18th, 2014


Quick timeline…

Last week Aaron Kromer admitted to an act that would have led to his excommunication from 31 of the 32 NFL coaching staffs. But Marc Trestman, ever the genteel humanitarian,  wrapped his arms around a buddy and said, “People make mistakes. How about some cocoa over at my place?”

After that decision GM Phil Emery made clear in pre-Saints game comments the actions of Kromer (a) infuriated him and (b) would have been handled differently were he to have the power to handle them. Disciplining coaches does not come under the purview of the GM, Emery told us. That’s the head coach’s responsibility.

Now comes Wednesday night and the LEAK HEARD ROUND THE LEAGUE. Jay Cutler, the handsome man paid handsomely by Emery to be his franchise quarterback, was benched by the head coach in favor of Jimmy Clausen, a wretched quarterback with only one more win than me in the NFL. No word from coaches or front office alike led to a night and morning worth of speculation about last gasps from drowning coaches, $16M in injury settlements, Ken Whisenhunt trades…etc.

From the Twitter feed of Adam Hoge:

So Kromer doesn’t get fired, but Cutler gets benched? Trestman: “That’s a completely … That’s a question that I’m not going to answer.”

Of course that is a question Trestman is not going to answer. How can he answer it? What he was going to say is these issues are completely separate and he’s right. One individual admitted to publicly stabbing a player in the back. The other individual didn’t play well. He chose to fire the one who will have no impact on his future coaching career.

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Benching Jay Cutler Last Drop of Jelly in Bears Dysfunctional Donut

| December 18th, 2014

Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears

Monday night against the New Orleans Saints was the last straw.

Even an amateur’ analyst’s passing glance at the game tape would recognize a quarterback almost purposely ignoring the offensive system in which he’s being asked to execute. At ten or more moments in that contest Jay Cutler passed on the opportunity to hit an open man underneath, instead choosing to fling the ball down the field, often to nobody in particular. A week earlier Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer had Sally Fielded the locker room with tears, admitting to an act of sideline treason and breaking the sacred covenant of the locker room by admonishing his quarterback publicly.

The Saints game was a Monday night mutiny by Cutler and no one on earth could convince me the quarterback was not calculated in his futility. A week earlier Trestman had refused the opportunity to fire a coordinator well-deserving of the slow, security guard aided walk to the front sidewalk. Monday night’s game tape was an opportunity knocking too loudly. Trestman fired Cutler as Bears starting quarterback.

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