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John Fox Will Return, or Bears at Vikings Game Thread

| January 1st, 2017

From Rap at NFL Network:

The second-year turnaround did not happen for John Fox. The Bears coach, who twice in his career has turned in triumphant rebuilds in his second season, will try to win just his fourth game today against the Vikings.

But, according to those who know him well, Fox will have the opportunity to make his mark in the third season. In addition, much of his staff is slated to return, as well.

The losses have collected for Chicago, a frustrating two seasons. The result is not what anyone has wanted. But in making the decision to stay the course, the Bears appear to be looking at more than box scores.

The Bears have hung tough with teams in playoff contention, such as the GiantsLions, and Packers. They’ve done so with their fourth quarterback of the year, Matt Barkley who likely would be out of the league if the Bears hadn’t put him on their practice squad to start the season.

They have a whopping 19 players on Injured Reserve, including many, many starters.

In addition, their 2016 draft class will be the foundation of the rebuild, a class that has drawn praise from opposing executives.

All of which makes for an interesting evaluation of Fox, his staff, and the year: They’ve been forced to play young players and watch them develop. The culture, despite the losses, is a positive one. And they believe the future is bright. Could they follow in the footsteps of the Raiders … or Cubs?

It’s not perfect, of course. There could be some position coach changes, and they need a quarterback. But it will likely be Fox at the helm when it happens.

Completely unsurprising. And fair. But Fox will have to win games in 2017.

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With Promising Roster and Declining Division, There’s Hope Aplenty for Bears Fans

| November 8th, 2016

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Aaron Rodgers may still be great. He probably is. But the team assembled around him by Ted Thompson, especially on the defensive side of the ball, isn’t very good. And somebody will probably lose their job in Green Bay because of it.

Minnesota’s defense is terrific. They have a young, talented roster and, in Mike Zimmer, a superb defensive mind. Their offense? Serious question. Do they have a single position on that side of the ball settled moving forward into 2017?

Detroit is Detroit – a middle of the road franchise with a middle of the road coach having a middle of the road season. Their season has only found that middle of the road because Matt Stafford is performing at the highest level of his life. He’s among a handful of candidates for MVP through the season’s first half.

And then there’s the Chicago Bears.

In this league, a team doesn’t need to be better than all thirty-one other clubs to make the tournament and compete for a title. All they have to do is be better than the three teams in their division. Then you catch a couple good matchups in the tournament and you can find yourself hosting the Thursday night opener eight months later.

Right now the Bears are 2-6. That’s what they are. But they are 2-6 having played five and a half games with their backup quarterbacks and most off all of the season undermanned at key positions.

But when it comes to the division, this 2-6 club is already pretty damn close. They beat Detroit decisively. They manhandled Minnesota. And before Matt Barkley’s appearance they were every bit Green Bay’s equal, even at Lambeau Field.

And honestly, this should have surprised no one. Especially if you read this blog.

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The Case Against the Minnesota Vikings

| August 2nd, 2016

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The following is the first of a four-part series breaking down why the other teams in the NFC North won’t be contenders this season. (The Packers get two parts.)


The Vikings made the playoffs last year because Adrian Peterson had an eight-game stretch that was as good as any he’s had in his career. If the now 31-year-old back can’t do that again, they won’t be taking the next step so many are predicting for them.

After a stink bomb in their opener, AP averaged 116.3 rushing yards per game, scored five touchdowns and his team went 7-1, averaging 24.4 points per game.

After that, he averaged 71.1 yards per game and the Vikings went 4-4, averaging 22 points per game (despite blowing out the Bears and the Giants).

So outside of Peterson’s historic eight-game stretch, they went 4-5 outside and averaged 19.9 points per game.

Maybe we should never bet against Peterson, but history has shown us we should definitely never bet against Father Time. Peterson is 31 and had 39 more rushing attempts than any other player in the league last year. Just like 2013, a drop off is likely. Betting on a 31-year-old running back, no matter how great he was, just seems unwise.

If Peterson can’t carry the team again, who can? There’s no evidence it’s Teddy Bridgewater.

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Bears Building Team That Could Take Control of NFC North

| May 18th, 2016

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is sacked and hit by Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) in second half action. The Colts defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-27 on Sunday, October 7, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Sam Riche/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1129744

Since taking over before last offseason, Ryan Pace and John Fox have completely rebuilt the Bears defense and it should result in a team that contends for the NFC North in both the near and long term.

I don’t care what happened last year. The Packers are still the team to beat in the NFC North. They have the best coach, the best quarterback and – while they’re certainly declining – I’m not ready to proclaim the Vikings or any other team the new King of the North. But what the Bears did to the Packers on Thanksgiving wasn’t a fluke and now they’re building up their talent level to do it consistently. At the very least, with a good defense, they’ll give themselves a consistent chance.

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Around the North with Andrew Dannehy: Minnesota

| January 28th, 2016

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The following is part two of a three part wrap-up of the division from DBB contributor Andrew Dannehy.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

The common theme with the Vikings is they’re an up-and-coming team but that could be more perception than reality.

The Vikings remind me a lot of the team they had almost a decade ago when they won the NFC North with a 10-6 record. Adrian Peterson was great and their defense was really good, but they didn’t have a quarterback and without a quarterback it’s hard to see them staying on top for long.

The 2008 team upgraded with Brett Favre, which was enough to win them the NFC North again and make them Super Bowl contenders, but I don’t see such an upgrade available to them this time around and they don’t seem to know they have a problem.

Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t make a lot of crippling mistakes. But he also can’t consistently make plays down the field. Will he improve? It’s certainly not a guarantee. Coming out of the draft, he was billed as a “finished product” and didn’t make a noticeable improvement from his rookie season to his second year. If he’s Alex Smith, that’s fine. But quarterbacks like Alex Smith don’t win championships.  Moving indoors next year should help hide his arm limitations.

Bridgewater is not their only issue.

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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| November 4th, 2015

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• 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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Bears Lose to Vikings & Playoff Visions Fade: Rapid Fire

| November 2nd, 2015

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Predictably boring. And for the fourth straight game the Bears were essentially dead even with their opponent, got a wonderful performance from their quarterback and the game was decided at the death. Rapid fire…

  • Feel bad for Jeremy Langford. If he catches the ball, Bears can do no worse than overtime and knowing Cutler’s season, they probably win in regulation. Other than that moment Langford looks like a real back with a great burst through the hole.
  • Tom Brady aside, Jay Cutler is the best fourth quarter QB in the sport right now. (Brady is the best everything.)
  • If the Bears faced a better quarterback yesterday Mike Wallace might have had a career game. How wide open does Teddy Bridgewater need him to be?
  • So how is Pernell McPhee’s sack on Bridgewater NOT a penalty? Isn’t that 100% always called now? He could have broken his leg.
  • Fact that McPhee continues to produce with no help is astounding. How good is this guy gonna be when the opponent has to block someone else too?
  • I think Alshon Jeffery is going to get his money.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Vikings Make First Visit to the City of Chicago

| October 30th, 2015

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The Game Poem

“I don’t know what to expect from the Bears on Sunday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something crazy happened. Something ridiculous that you just can’t believe. And, if it does, I’ll know why.

Goodbye Dad. I love you. Go Bears.”

-From Andrew Dannehy’s farewell to his father. Better than anything I could invent.

Three Actual Quick Thoughts

  • What the hell is Teddy Bridgewater? He doesn’t do anything particular well. He doesn’t do anything particularly poorly. He completes a high percentage of his passes but not for a particularly high amount of yards. Is he getting better? I have no idea. Because oddly enough, tape study doesn’t teach you much about Bridgewater. He’s just there.
  • Stefon Diggs is emerging as a star in the Vikings offense and his speed should frighten the Bears. He’s averaging more than 18 yards per catch the last two weeks. I’d expect Norv Turner to dial up a lot of play action and take shots against this Bears secondary down the field. (If he does, it will work.)
  • Adrian Peterson is averaging 4.4 yards per carry but he has a 75 yarder already. If you remove that run he’s averaging only 3.8 yards per carry on 119 carries. His return season is being exaggerated. Bears don’t need to shut him down. They need to limit the big runs.

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