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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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Bears Lose Home Opener, What’s Next? (Rapid Fire!)

| September 11th, 2017

Special thanks to Data for his post-game report yesterday. We’ll be trying to provide post-game content throughout the season.

  • Mike Glennon did everything Mike Glennon can do yesterday. And the Bears had a chance to win. Remind you of anything? It’s exactly what we were saying every week during Hoyer/Barkley last season. But when your passer is this limited, the rest of the team needs to be absolutely perfect. And the Bears are not good enough to be that.
  • If this is all the Bears are going to ask Glennon to do, not playing Trubisky makes even less sense. Trubisky can do everything Glennon did yesterday. Hell, Chad Hutchinson can do everything Glennon did yesterday. But Trubisky can extend plays with his elusiveness and extend drives with his legs. The Bears shouldn’t be playing Trubisky to develop their future. They should be playing him because he’d help them win now.
  • Didn’t foresee the Bears having no answer for Austin Hooper.
  • Not surprised at all by Tarik Cohen. The Human Joystick has been turning heads since he showed up for his first Bears practice and I’d imagine he’ll be lighting up fantasy waiver wires today. (I haven’t played fantasy football in 17 years but I suggested Cohen to a DFS player who won five grand yesterday.) Cohen is the Bears best offensive weapon.
  • Akiem Hicks is their best defensive weapon. Maybe giving guys millions of dollars the day before the opener should become a trend. That was a dominant performance.

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Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| September 7th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. But let me tell you…

The Glennon Saga in 17 Steps

Let’s walk through how this entire Glennon thing happened, step-by-step. Some of this is common knowledge. Some of this is information I’ve acquired. The acquired information is asterisked.

Step 1. Bears decide to move on from Jay Cutler. I’d put this down as happening sometime around November 2016.

Step 2. Bears make Brian Hoyer an offer to return. That offer is low, far lower than Hoyer’s camp hoped, and the journeyman essential tells the Bears to go rub jalapenos in their eyes.*

Step 3. Bears have serious interest in Tyrod Taylor*, hoping the new Bills coaching staff would want to move on to their own guy. (Today the Bills know they miscalculated*. After dumping half their roster and punted on 2017, the know they should have listened to the Tyrod suitors floating around.)

Step 4. Who is left? Mike Glennon. Bears throw a ton of cash at Glennon in what is essentially a lucrative one-year deal that many in the national media scoff at. They are “pumped”. Rumors surface Pace pursued Glennon last offseason. Glennon is the guy.

Step 5. Bears ask Glennon to join fans for their first round draft party.

Step 6. Bears move up to get Mitch Trubisky in one of the most exciting moments in Bears draft history.

Step 7. Glennon ain’t pleased.

Step 8. Bears reiterate ad nauseum, and for no other than reason than to appease Glennon, that the formed Bucs backup is still the starting QB and they’ll bring Trubisky along slowly.

Step 9. Glennon is awful in the spring. This isn’t widely reported because nobody gives a shit what happens in the spring.

Step 10. Glennon is awful in the summer. This is more widely reported but seemingly ignored because Trubisky dropped a couple snaps. Many report that Mark Sanchez is actually the most consistent quarterback in Bourbonnais.


COMEDY BREAK!

COMEDY BREAK OVER!


Step 11. The first preseason game. Glennon is abysmal. Trubisky is great. The fan base gets excited. Trubisky is suddenly on the covers of newspapers. The 2017 Bears are a source of excitement in Chicago?

Step 12. Nothing changes at practice.

Step 13. The second preseason game. Glennon is abysmal. The Bears decide to use Trubisky less, keeping him off the field until he’s joined almost exclusively by third-stringers.

Step 14. The following Wednesday, the Bears ANNOUNCE Trubisky is practicing with the first team. This excites many of us, seeing it as a sign the team is recognizing what is taking place in front of them. What comes from it?

Step 15. The third preseason game. Glennon mounts one good drive. Trubisky struggles in his two drives with the first team, thrives when re-partnered with the guys he’s practiced with for months. John Fox insanely calls Glennon’s performance “superb” and anoints him starter.

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40-Something Thoughts, Predictions and Various Ramblings on the 2017 NFL Season

| September 3rd, 2017

Much indebted to Mr. Klein. A good and honorable man. And if CK wants to use the word elegancy you let him use it. He’s that kind of guy.

To the league we go! One thought on each NFL franchise, a bunch of thoughts on the Chicago Bears and a Super Bowl prediction!

  • The Bears are going to be a good team with a bad quarterback until they wake up and stop playing the bad quarterback. If Mitch Trubisky doesn’t get 8 or more starts in 2017, then 2017 will be a wasted season. Sadly I’m starting to think he won’t.
  • Think about Brock Osweiler, cut by the Browns at the end of this preseason. He’s 26 years old. He’s made $40 million. And he’s only been sacked 52 times in his entire career! So Osweiler made more than $769,000 per sack taken.
  • Fewest points in a 16-game season is 140 from the 1992 Seattle Seahawks. I say the Jets challenge that. You tell me how the Jets mount a single 80-yard touchdown drive this season.
  • Asked the Official Lady Friend of DaBlog, Ms. Sarah Scully, what she thought about the Los Angeles Rams. She responded, “I don’t.”
  • Andrew Luck is one of the best players in the NFL. And now Chris Ballard has a couple years to rescue Luck from the middle of the ocean, where he was abandoned by a pill-popping owner and the quite possibly insane Ryan Grigson. Colts finish last in the AFC South.
  • Two quarterbacks who have no business being on their current teams: Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo) and A.J. McCarron (Cincinnati). If the Bills hadn’t brought Tyrod back there’s a good chance he’d be on the Chicago Bears right now, sparing the fan base from the nightmare of Glennon. McCarron is better than all of the quarterbacks on the Jet, Jaguar, Colt (sans Luck) and Niner rosters.
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Leonard Floyd, Chicago Bears. (Yep. 12-15 sacks.)

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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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Data Entry: #PlayTheKid

| August 29th, 2017

The Bears should be preparing Mitch Trubisky to start against Atlanta in two weeks. Anything else is a foolish waste of time. I will admit that I was well behind Jeff in coming to this conclusion, but I have reached it all the same. Allow me to break down my reasoning.

Best QB on the Roster

For those arguing Glennon should play now, I have one simple question: what has Glennon done better than Trubisky this preseason? The only positive answer I can come up with is getting the team lined up properly and in time.

What has Trubisky done better than Glennon? Get through progressions quickly, make accurate throws from the pocket, escape pressure, make accurate throws on the run, throw past the chains on 3rd down, avoid turnovers. Basically, Trubisky has been better at everything you want a quarterback to do after the snap.

At worst, you could say the two QBs are even right now. That could be a somewhat reasonable argument to make based on Glennon playing against better defenses and looking progressively less bad every week. But here’s the thing: if it is anywhere close to even right now, you play the uber-talented rookie with superstar potential over the mediocre veteran with serious physical limitations. That should go without saying.

I’ll happily take the 2-3 delay of game penalties a game (that will be gone in a month) in exchange for the 5-6 big plays Trubisky makes a game that Mike Glennon could only dream of.

Ideal Situation for a Young QB

The blueprint for working a quarterback into an offense from an early stage is clearly established. Surround him with a solid offensive line to protect him, a strong run game, and a stout defense. That way he won’t be leaned on to put up 30 points and win a shootout every week, but instead can manage games at first as you slowly increase his responsibilities. That was the formula that worked for Tom Brady in New England, Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, and Russell Wilson in Seattle. All of those guys started as complementary pieces and eventually emerged after several years as centerpieces who were expected to make the guys around them better.

Now look at the Bears’ roster in 2017 and notice they check every single one of those boxes.

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Reflections on the Third Preseason Game

| August 27th, 2017

A few relevant things…

  • Cam Meredith’s gruesome leg injury is just another example of the complete uselessness of these exhibitions. Don’t feed me the “they can hurt in practice” bullshit. This isn’t practice. It’s a full contact game with zero value. NFL players bodies only have so many hits in them. Any coach wasting those hits in August is risking their job.
  • And there’s Jordan Howard – a chronically injured player in college – taking carry after carry in the second quarter of a preseason game.
  • Mike Glennon was precise on the game’s opening drive, making one throw (to Meredith) I didn’t think he had in him. Then he was Glennon. Throwing behind receivers. Missing touchdowns. Erratic once any play goes “off-script”.
  • Roy Robertson-Harris is a very nice player. Bears have a lot of height on their special teams units.
  • Trubisky looked like a rookie. Because Trubisky is a rookie. Now ask yourself this: when’s his next meaningful action?
  • Trubisky scrambles for first down. Trubisky avoids pressure, rolls right, hits Victor Cruz in the hands. Trubisky goes through progressions and find the open man with his third read. What exactly can’t he do? What exactly does being on the sideline help him develop? He needs to be in the huddle. He needs to take snaps. He needs to read defenses during game action. But nope.
  • Trubisky’s 45 yard touchdown pass to Tanner Gentry will be the most exciting moment from the Bears passing game until, probably, November.
  • I don’t think I overrated the Titans – who I think are going to the playoffs – but they need to get some wide receivers on the field. That entire unit is injured.

Bears have a good defense. They have a great run game. They’re a good team with a glaring weakness.

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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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Bears Decision To Bury Trubisky Last Night is Inane, Irresponsible & Indefensible

| August 20th, 2017

There was no giddy-up in this 2017 Chicago Bears season. There was no reason to believe this year’s model would be a significant improvement over 2016’s clanky, too-often-in-the-shop lemon. Then, in the first preseason game, a normally useless affair, the sun rose over a dark night sky. The narrative changed in an instant. There it was. There was the future. And that future was – dare we believe what are our eyes doth see – bright.

Last night the organization that drafted Mitch Trubisky went out of their way to shield their fans from that big, beautiful sun. Darkness returned. Mitch Trubisky didn’t get time with the first-string offense. Mitch Trubisky didn’t get time with the second-string offense. Mitch Trubisky was buried on the depth chart – behind two quarterbacks he’s infinitely better than – in a decision that was equal parts inane, irresponsible and indefensible.

INANE

Dear Ryan Pace,

Mike Glennon.

How much more do you need to see?

He hasn’t been any good in the games he’s played in the NFL. He hasn’t been any good in camp practices for the Bears. He hasn’t been any good in the two preseason games he’s started. When do you expect he’s going to suddenly become good? Is it going to happen between now and the start of the season? That’s not much time, Ry.

You had to see what we all saw last night. A running game getting bulk yardage and an offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage. Only one thing was missing. A capable quarterback. And you made the boldest move of the NFL Draft to acquire one! What the hell are you waiting for?

I know, I know you gave Glennon a boatload of cash. That was silly. But you’re in the clear on that now. Trubisky has given you a mulligan. There won’t be a single newspaper column criticizing you for making this move. You know why? Because nobody wants to see Glennon play a single snap for this franchise.

Trust your eyes. Glennon is awful. Make the move.

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