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Bears Thump Niners & There’s Plenty To Feel Good About

| December 5th, 2016

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You will hear it across Chicago today: “…but the Niners suck.” And there’s no denying that fact. The Niners do, in fact, suck. They are probably the league’s worst team. (I don’t consider Cleveland a team.) But good teams beat sucky teams convincingly. Good teams play meaningless fourth quarters against sucky teams. And the Bears, with their third or fourth-string quarterback, looked an awful lot like a good team yesterday.

Rapid fire…

  • I’ve been using #barkleytime as something of a joke but, you know, I’m starting to think it might not be. As impressive as Barkley was against the Titans a week ago, he was ten times more impressive in the conditions at Soldier Field yesterday. And if het got a little more help from his receivers, he might have been staring down a gaudy stat line. Nevertheless, a near-100 quarterback rating in the slush when the opposing quarterbacks looked like Abbot & Costello Meet the Snow, is exemplary. (More on Barkley coming later today/tomorrow.)
  • I can’t remember seeing a two-win team play with the emotion the Bears played with yesterday. Defensively, offensively, everything. They were fired up from the opening whistle. Seeing that makes me want to slap all the “they should lose” people across their faces.
  • Jordan Howard. That is all. No, that’s not all. His five-yard touchdown run may be my favorite play of the season. The Niners weren’t keeping him out of the end zone with 18 defenders.
  • Say this about Josh Bellamy: he gets open! And I give the Bears coaching staff/QB credit for sticking with him after the second big drop. I would have sat him on the bench and left him there. They didn’t and they were handsomely rewarded for it.
  • Noah Spence is having a terrific year in Tampa and Joey Bosa is terrific but Leonard Floyd may now be the front-runner (as predicted here) for defensive rookie of the year. If Floyd can get his sack total into double digits, I’m not sure they can keep the award away from him.

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Ten Thoughts on Chicago’s 2016 Draft & Aftermath

| May 1st, 2016

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(1) The Leonard Floyd pick will be the most heavily scrutinized moving forward but he will actually have little pressure on him in 2016. With Houston, Young and McPhee already situated at OLB, Floyd will be able to assimilate into Vic Fangio’s defense by doing what he does best: getting after the quarterback.

(2) Cody Whitehair is ready to play right now and the Bears should start him at left guard immediately. What does this mean? It means the team should follow the old offensive line maxim and play their best five. Leno. Whitehair. Slauson at center. Long. Massie.

(3) No, I’m not confident Hroniss Grasu is the future at center for the Bears. And that’s fine. You’re allowed to swing and miss in the name of athleticism. Giving him another season to develop, with Slauson at center, is probably the best thing for him.

(4) I like Pat O’Donnell. I really do. But North Dakota State’s Ben LeCompte – who accepted the Bears invite to camp – is a special player and a special kid. Don’t be surprised to see an actual competition emerge this summer. (The Bears didn’t go out and invite the best punter in the land to camp for no reason.) Read this piece on one of the best punting performances I’ve ever seen.

(5) I won’t be surprised to see Jonathan Bullard have a more productive Bears career thanFloyd and that’s not knocking Floyd. Bullard is a grinder. Staying away from all the draftspeak, Bullard just made life horrible for offensive linemen and he went up against some terrific ones in the SEC.

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Bears Beat Bucs, Put Sixth in Win Column (Rapid Fire)

| December 28th, 2015

Bears won their sixth game. Is it the biggest win in franchise history? Of course not. But a glance at their sideline as the clock wound down Sunday proved how important this win was for them. Loss after loss was tiring a staff and roster that knew they were improving but needed some tangible evidence. Rapid fire…

  • Adam Gase has a bully offensive line and a trio of talented running backs. Why does it seem like he runs the ball against his will? It sure seems like he’d prefer to throw those awful bubble screens on first down instead of pounding Langford behind Kyle Long.
  • My lord is Kyle Long something in short yardage. When is the last time the Bears had an offensive lineman who could move multiple defenders at the goal line?
  • John Timu, still making plays.
  • Pernell McPhee wants it. I get that. But why the hell are Pace and Fox marching him out there? Rich Campbell pointed out to me on Twitter that doctors have assured the Bears McPhee can’t do more damage to his knee but what about the rest of his body? He’s running at 8% speed! (He’s also a substantial financial investment. Why not protect it?)
  • If Kevin White turns out to be a star the Bears grabbed two first round picks in the 2015 draft. Eddie Goldman is that good.

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Position-by-Position at the Bye: Special Teams

| October 31st, 2014

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The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Special teams must be taken element for element…

  • Robbie Gould has been steady.
  • Pat O’Donnell has shown flashes of being a superior punter. He’s a rookie so growing pains are expected and he needs to develop his short-punting game. But that leg, especially late in the year at Soldier Field, will be a weapon for this organization.
  • Mistakes have been rampant and mistakes, like it or not, get pinned on the coaching staff. In the case of the Bears, mistakes are far more the product of a constantly, in-flux bottom of the roster. No play summarized the error-prone ways of these Joe D units more than the brilliant P.O.D. punt covered about three seconds too early and subsequently returned for a touchdown in Carolina. It was a flash of brilliance, a terrible mistake and ultimately a lack of attention to detail causing the club six points.
  • At some point is the coaching staff going to convince the kick returners to stop taking the ball out of the end zone? I would hazard a guess this season’s collection of useless kick return men have cost the Bears upwards of a 100 yards of field position.
  • Santonio Holmes’ greatest contribution to the season has been not fumbling punts.
  • Strangely enough the Bears kickoff return against average is top ten in the league. Their punt return against average is bottom ten.

Grade: C

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Most Important Special Teams Player of 2014: Pat O’Donnell, Rookie Punter

| September 2nd, 2014

From 2006 to 2013 one could argue the three most stable roster positions on the Chicago Bears were kick returner, kicker and long snapper as each were manned by players ranking as the franchise’s best ever at the spot. Special teams, especially in the Dave Toub era, were the frothy foam head at the top of a perfect pint of Guinness.

Since Jerry Angelo decided to make Adam Podlesh one of the best paid punters in the history of the sport, that position has been infamously (at least around here) unstable. Podlesh capped off his Bears career with a dreadful 2013 performance, ranking dead last in almost every important statistical category. Their worst-ever defense was hamstrung by more than injuries and poor play. They were hamstrung with short fields to defend due to Podlesh. They had no shot.

Phil Emery sent Podlesh packing and drafted Miami’s Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round. O’Donnell, as a rookie, is the Bears most important special teams player in 2014.

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Collection of Thoughts on Last Night’s Snoozefest Second Preseason Game

| August 15th, 2014

Here are some thoughts on last night’s “game”.

  • Starting with the pregame interview, it isn’t easy to adapt to Jared Allen in a Chicago Bears uniform.
  • I think we saw a few clues last night as to how Shea McClellin is going to be deployed. DJ and Lance will be behind the defensive line and Shea will be sent at the quarterback.
  • Both McClellin and Bostic made excellent pursuit tackles. Good to see them showing instincts for the position.
  • If Chris Williams is going to be the starting kick returner against Buffalo, great. In the meantime the Bears need to be giving someone other than Eric Weems a look back there. I don’t know what Weems does well but I haven’t seen it.

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Thoughts on Entirety of the Chicago Bears Draft

| May 11th, 2014

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Congrats to Scott Vandermoon, winner of the DBB draft weekend ticket contest. He’ll receive a pair of tickets to a Bears home game this year.

The Bears drafted eight players over three days. They were Kyle Fuller (CB, Va Tech), Ego Ferguson (DT, LSU),Will Sutton (DT, Arizona State), Ka’Deem Carey (RB, Arizona), Brock Vereen (FS, Minnesota), David Fales (QB, San Jose State), Pat O’Donnell (P,Miami) and Charles Leno Jr. (OT, Boise State).

They also signed as undrafted free agents: Jordan Lynch (QB?, Northern Illinois), James Dunbar (OT, TCU), Christian Jones (LB, FSU), Brandon Dunn (DT, Louisville), DeDe Lattimore (LB, South Florida), Tana Patrick (LB, Bama), Lee Pegues (DT, East Carolina), Cody Booth (TE, Temple) and Ryan Groy (OG, Wisconsin).

There is a lot to discuss when it comes to this bounty of players. I, of course, am starting with the punter.

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