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Across The Middle with Andrew Dannehy

| October 7th, 2015

• Sitting in the Kapow Terrace in the north end zone, my favorite part of watching the game in person was watching Cutler go through his reads and the way he moved in the pocket. The touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett was 100 percent Cutler. The way he manipulated the defense was brilliant. That’s why the fourth quarter interception didn’t make sense. He was one step ahead all game and all he needed to do was go to his next read and he would have found Eddie Royal all by himself, likely for a touchdown. He had done it all game, why not on that play?

• All three of Cutler’s interceptions this year have been on passes attempted to Bennett. Is that coincidence? Bennett’s lackadaisical attitude on passes headed his way has to drive the coaching staff nuts.

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Law Firm of Cutler, Porter & Gould: Rapid Fire Reaction to the Bears Finally Getting on the Board

| October 5th, 2015

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It was only one win but it felt like six. Thoughts:

  • This was the classic Jay Cutler performance, even without proper usage of his legs. He moved the team up and down the field, behind a makeshift offensive line and without his top wide receiver. He threw one stupid pass. But with the game on the line and the ball in his hands he drove the Bears to their first victory of the season.
  • Cutler continues to be a winning quarterback when the Bears play defense. The model isn’t brain surgery, folks. Cutler is not a shootout-type quarterback. There are only about five of those in the league and he isn’t one of them.
  • Losing Will Montgomery can’t be overstated. NFL teams have collapsed under the weight of losing their starting center. But the Bears used their third round pick on center Hroniss Grasu this year. If he’s not moved into the starting lineup this week, one wonders how far off the kid is from playing?
  • Still not sure I understand Matt Forte picking up 25 carries while Rodgers and Langford total 3.
  • Hated how John Fox handled the ends of both halves. In the first half, once the Bears sack Carr on first down, Fox has to use the first timeout. He gave away a clear scoring chance. At the end of the game, who plays for a 49-yard field goal? I don’t care how good Robbie Gould is kicking right now – and he might be at his career best – there was far too much time to get ultra-conservative with the game on the line.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Carr & the New Look Raiders Come to Chicago in Week Four

| October 2nd, 2015

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“Oakland wants to run the clock down here…they’re going to go hurry up though.”

-Something Chris Simms actually said while calling Raiders v. Browns

KYLE LONG V. KHALIL MACK

If you’re looking for a single reason to be excited for Bears v. Raiders, this is it. Mack rarely moves off left side of the defensive line (if at all) and that means a showdown between two of the best young players in the sport for sixty minutes. Mack has the advantage of being a pass rusher for the last half decade while Long has been a tackle since Labor Day. If Long consistently wins this battle it will reaffirm the belief of many that he’s destined to be one of the best tackles in the sport for years to come.

WHAT THE RAIDERS LIKE TO DO IS…

  • Feed Amari Cooper and feed him a lot. It is rare to see a young wide receiver as polished and versatile as the young man from Alabama. Derek Carr is just as comfortable throwing him a quick fade on first-and-ten from his own 20 as he is throwing him a slant on third-and-goal at the one with the clocking winding down on a victory. Cooper embarrassed Joe Haden in Cleveland and the Bears don’t have a defensive back anywhere near Haden’s league.
  • Play with balance. Even when the Raiders were nursing a substantial lead against the Browns they managed to mix in the pass with some effectiveness. After the Browns got within 7 of them late in the fourth quarter Sunday, here was their drive (the fumbled punt by Cleveland cost them the gain):

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  • Run the power game with Latavius Murray. Murray reminds me an awful lot of Frank Gore. He’s not only big and strong but he’s got real explosiveness once he get through the initial hole. He’s hell for any secondary to deal with in the open field.
  • Sit their safeties back and make opponents throw underneath. One reason tight ends have had such success against the Raiders (see Bears of intrigue) is that neither Charles Woodson nor Nate Allen are capable of covering anyone. Both are far more comfortable 15-20 yards off the line of scrimmage, playing a center field role. One would imagine this approach will change against James Clausen as giving Clausen any easy throws is a schematic mistake. No throws are easy for Clausen if there’s a defender within five yards. (If Cutler plays, expect Woodson to sit deep and rely upon his proven track record of reading Cutty’s eyes.)

THE GAME POEM

They come….

Raid, raid, pillage and plunder!

…young and hungry…

Raid, pillage, pillage, raid!

…a western horde…

Plunder, pillage, raid!

…ascending to the top of the hill…

Raid. Pillage. Plunder.

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Across The Middle with Andrew Dannehy

| September 30th, 2015

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Note From Jeff: We are going to keep experimenting with the Wednesday space until Andrew feels right. Today is a massive tone change. Hope you like it.

• Oakland rookie receiver Amari Cooper has been awesome this season, which should make Bears fans excited about Kevin White’s potential. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does some great pre-draft work  having scouts rank the players. Cooper came in as the top-ranked receiver totaling 12 first-place votes and 88 points, while White received seven first-place votes and 82 points, way ahead of the rest of the field.

• It sure looks like Mel Tucker is coaching the Bears special teams. Players make mistakes that lead to big plays on the field, but when different players keep making the same mistakes, it’s a sign that the coach isn’t doing a good enough job of coaching them. The Bears allowed two 40-yard kick returns in Week 1 and have allowed return touchdowns in consecutive weeks. This comes after last year when the one thing they did better than anyone else was cover kicks, leading the league in average allowed yards per return.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Hoge’s Three Points, Defense Improving & the Favored Raiders?

| September 28th, 2015

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HOGE NAILS THREE POINTS

Sat down to write a column Monday morning and after a Google search realized Adam Hoge (WGN) already wrote it. He makes three suggestions to John Fox and all three are 100% correct.

1. Start David Fales against the Raiders.

2. Stop the nonsense and just have Pat O’Donnell boom kickoffs out of the back of the end zone.

3. Give Jeremy Langford more carries.

Quick thought on each.

  • Wrote the column on why Bears should have started David Fales last week. Jimmy Clausen is horrible and everyone on earth knows that. (Did you see how Pete Carroll approached him Sunday? They were daring him to throw passes!) 2015 is in the books. Every decision should be geared towards 2016 and beyond.
  • Teams are going to move the ball on the Bears all season so they’re not afraid to return kickoffs from inside the end zone. There’s no different to them between starting on the 13 or 20 yard lines. Bears can’t cover kicks currently and they shouldn’t have to. They have a protective measure on the roster. They should use him.
  • Bears need to make a decision immediately whether Matt Forte is part of their future. If he’s not, he shouldn’t be on this team. I’d take Hoge’s point a step further. I think Langford should be receiving a bulk of the carries.

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Around the League Tweets – March 28th 2013!

| March 28th, 2014

ATL Tweets

Once again, this feature will fill the Wednesday void throughout the 2014 season and sneak in each week until then on random days. 

Around the League Tweets, Dayton Flying Since ’13! 1 of 10. If you change evaluation of a player based on pro day, you lose all credibility.

2 of 10. No two figures mean more to Buffalo Bills fans than the late Ralph Wilson & the seriously ill Jim Kelly. Tough week in Western NY.

3 of 10. Most Bills fans I know believed once Ralph died the hourglass would flip on the team in Buffalo. Would be a sports tragedy.

4 of 10. If you had an emotional reaction to goalpost dunk ban, I question your stability. Unless you’re under 12 this shouldn’t matter.

5 of 10. So you can’t use the N-word or dunk. Goodell would have a heart attack watching the basketball court near my apartment in Queens.

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Around the League Tweets – March 13th 2013!

| March 13th, 2014

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Around the League Tweets, Free Agency Ya Next Tuesday! 1 of 10. Aren’t the Oakland Raiders lucky the Cleveland Browns exist?

2 of 10. Can’t imagine Darren Sproles would have chosen Philly as an FA. Doubtful he wanted a team with a more dynamic, faster back.

3 of 10. One of my biggest surprises: Andy Reid letting Dexter McCluster leave KC w/out a fight. Struck me as pivotal weapon for Chiefs.

4 of 10. Harbaugh acquiring Blaine Gabbert & Jonathan Martin is him sending message: I can get to NFC title game w/the worst players in NFL.

5 of 10. There’s only player outside a Chicago Bears uniform I pull for to win Super Bowl: Steve Smith. Pound for pound best player in NFL.

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Thanksgiving Day Football Thread

| November 28th, 2013

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I know many of you think the Packers, with Rodgers, are a greater threat to the Bears postseason hopes. But that should not matter. With the Lions owning the tiebreaker, the Bears need a one game lead on them and that might be too difficult for this defense to pull off. Root for Green Bay today.

And as always, I give thanks for those of you who’ve spent time on this site over the years. I love this site because of you.

Feel like gambling on Thanksgiving Day? Drink six beers, select a member of your family and tell them exactly how you feel about them. Or bet on sports. I make my three picks for the day after the jump.

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