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Across The Middle – Week 2

| September 14th, 2016

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The word of the day is perspective.

I like to think I’m as passionate a Bears fan as there is. I typically get nervous about the Sunday games on Friday and, when the Bears have a performance like they did against Houston, it ticks me off until the next Wednesday. But none of my common symptoms were there this week.

The reason is simple. The day after the Bears played their opener, my wife was scheduled to be induced and we welcomed the world’s newest Bears fan on Tuesday.

The Bears didn’t mean much to me last week and they don’t this week and I suppose that’s how it should be. But what happened last week shouldn’t mean much to you either. Just like the preseason, there’s a ton of instant reaction. But historically it hasn’t proven to be an indication of things to come.

Surely everyone remembers last season when the Rams beat the Seahawks and the 49ers thumped the Vikings? There were three playoff teams that lost to non-playoff teams last year and it seems to happen every year. Most of the teams in the league are still figuring out who they are the first three weeks of the season.

The Texans seem better than I thought (mostly because of Will Fuller) and the Bears have work to do. We knew the Bears wouldn’t be a finished product coming in. But what happened in Week 1 shouldn’t change your opinion of what kind of team the Bears have this year.

Coaches Have to Be Better

While I’m a big believer in the importance of winning in the trenches, the biggest area in which the Bears were out-classed Sunday was on the sidelines. John Fox single-handily cost the Bears a minimum of 11 points by not challenging two easy plays.

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Across The Middle: Week One

| September 7th, 2016

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How can anyone be sure the Bears were right on both Robbie Gould and Josh Sitton?

Both players were released for the exact same reasons:

  • Age
  • Money
  • Declining skills

The Bears got an up-close look at it with Gould. S0 did the Packers with Sitton.

With Gould, the Bears must think his leg is either dead or going to die before long. There is some evidence to back that up since 9 of his 12 misses over the last three seasons have come after November 1st. Maybe his leg has gotten tired or maybe he isn’t able to cut through the cold wind as well.

But, if they were even considering cutting him, why didn’t they bring competition in? That lack of competition tell us this can’t be based on last season’s performance. Gould made nearly 85 percent of his kicks last year with 9 attempts coming from at least 50 yards away. By comparison, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker was under 83 percent with 10 attempts from 50 yards away. Gould missed the game-winner against San Francisco. Minnesota’s Blair Walsh missed a gimme in a playoff game. Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point that could’ve put the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

It happens. Teams in cold-weather cities need good kickers and they recognize the value in keeping them.

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Notes on a Wild Sunday For the Chicago Bears

| September 5th, 2016

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I didn’t see any of it coming. Any of it. Thoughts.

  • Impossible to suggest the Bears had planned to replace Robbie Gould at the start of the summer. Not when they brought in zero competition for him. But his big misses last season coupled with an incredibly shaky camp/preseason forced the Bears hand. Pace  and Fox know what this team is. They know they’ll need to win close ones. And they simply didn’t trust Robbie any more.
  • That being said, Robbie had a brilliant career in Chicago. Brilliant. Hester-Robbie-Mannelly-Toub is the modern era Mount Rushmore of Bears special teams.
  • Connor “Party On” Barth is a guy. Could be good. Could be shaky. But if the Bears thought this a possibility, why not bring a few kids to camp? I wrote about challenging Robbie this summer LAST FALL. The signs were there. It feels like the front office missed them.
  • I don’t care about Josh Sitton’s back issues. He’s still a damn good player. If the Bears only get one season out of him, that’s fine by me. They have the cash. Why not spend it? The risk/reward is ENTIRELY in Chicago’s column.

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Five Things I Wish the 2016 Bears Had (#5)

| August 29th, 2016

#5 – ROBBIE GOULD FROM TEN YEARS AGO

The 2016 Bears are built to play close games. How so?

  • They are built for a power run game. Angry guards. Good backs. A bunch of tight endy, hybrid-type players. You get the sense John Fox will be preaching about time of possession each week.
  • The Bears secondary is the team’s signature weakness so good offenses will be able to move the ball. But they have terrific coverage linebackers and a solid front seven so translating those drives into seven points will be harder.
  • The Bears passing game, even with Alshon Jeffery, is not designed to hit home runs. They want to play a quick-release style and get the ball in the hands of their playmakers.

A year ago, with much less talent, Robbie Gould could have extended a game against the Redskins and beaten the 49ers. He had a decent season overall but when the game was on the line, Gould was at his weakest. When 2006 Robbie walked onto the field, you could take a bathroom break and zip up with confidence. Three points were guaranteed. But those days are long gone.

The difference between seven and ten wins this season could be three kicks. But which Robbie will attempt them, 2015 or 2006?

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Postseason Positional Analysis Part IX: Special Teams

| January 21st, 2016

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I liked the progression of Pat O’Donnell as the season moved along and Deonte Thompson provided a much-needed spark in the return game in December. POD will return. Thompson should.

Rick Gosselin’s overall special teams rankings have Bears 12th in the league.

Which brings us to Robbie Gould.

Element One of the Gould Dilemma: The “Shot” Factor

No, I don’t think Robbie Gould is shot.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears Try to End the Losing in Minnesota

| December 18th, 2015

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8-8 is still on the table. 3-3 in the division is still on the table. Neither remains there if the Bears lose in Minnesota Sunday. I don’t think a John Fox team ever lacks for motivation and this one has no reason to.

THE GAME POEM

“Shall fair ladies never learn that I,
from blows me shielding, backward turned me;
nor shall ever Ingibiorg taunt me,
in Sigtuna sitting, that from sword-blows I fled.”

-From the Old Norse poem, Hialmar’s Death Song

3 THOUGHTS ON THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS

  • Blaine Gabbert, Kirk Cousins and now Teddy Bridgewater. The Bears are facing three very similar quarterbacks in a row and Bridgewater might be the most limited of the bunch. As a quarterback he does two things I don’t like consistently: (a) he doesn’t create plays with his legs when he feels pressure in the pocket and (b) he doesn’t stretch defenses with his arm. He’s a quick read/quick toss dink-and-dunker. If the Bears play soft on the outside, they deserve to have the ball moved on them.
  • Hard to evaluate the Vikings defense in recent weeks as arguably their three best defenders have been on the bench. But Linval Joseph and Harrison Smith returned to the practice field this week and there’s a very slight (very) chance Anthony Barr will give it a go Sunday. It shouldn’t be expected that any of them are 100% but their presence in the lineup can only be positive.
  • Minnesota is arguably the best kick return team in the league. (They already did some damage against the Bears this season.) The Bears coverage units can’t allow the Vikings to score on specials or play on short fields. Although, with the way the football is leaving Robbie’s foot these days, I’d expect the Vikings to have several shots to make a game-changing play on specials.

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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| December 16th, 2015

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  • Once again, I’m not upset with the fact that the Bears lost, but how they lost. The Redskins have talent, probably as much or more than the Bears, but they were coming off of a short week and they can’t win on the road. Meanwhile, the Bears were coming off a disappointing loss and questions about why they can’t win at home. You’d think the Bears would be motivated, right? Nope. They came out flat again. Six flat quarters against the 49ers and Redskins very well could’ve cost them a spot in the playoffs. That isn’t acceptable. They looked like a Trestman-coached team for six straight quarters before turning it around in the second half.
  • In defense of the coaching staff, I don’t think they’re particularly worried about wins and losses right now. They’ve been coaching for the future for about 10 weeks.
  • My guess on the Kevin White situation: The Bears players and coaches fully expected him to be available, but Ryan Pace made the call.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: And So Begins the Final Four…

| December 11th, 2015

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Chicago Bears Schedule

(Battling a demon virus this week so the game preview is abbreviated.)

Robbie Gould let the wind out of the sails of Bears fans last Sunday, shanking a game-winning chip shot worse than early 2015 Tiger Woods. But I’d expect the crowd to be fired up for the Redskins Sunday – a team that desperately needs the game.

THE GAME POEM

On the last bar stool to the left he sat,

For fifteen years in an orange and blue hat

A power lifter and reverend to his right,

And an endless amount of draught Coors Light

Fifteen years goes by in a blink

With the same stool, same people, same drink

Yesterday it was a title he’d choose

Now he’d like em to win as many as they lose

THOUGHTS ON THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS

  • Washington is every bit as bad a road team as San Francisco, losing all five of their road games by a combined 162-86.
  • Injuries across the defensive front (Stephen Paea, Jason Hatcher…etc) have severely limited the Redskins pass rush. On Monday night against the wretched Matt Cassel the ‘Skins managed just a single sack and (by my count) no additional hits. If they couldn’t muster a rush in that must-win, prime time affair, you’d have to be surprised to see them come after Cutler consistently Sunday.
  • Kirk Cousins at home and Kirk Cousins on the road are vastly different individuals.

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A THOUGHT ON THE NAME “REDSKINS”

It’s a football team. Why not just change it? Seriously, who gives a shit? I find the whole idea of these teams having mascots at all ridiculous. Oh, it’s the Chicago BEARS! They’re a bunch of a guys. Why are they bears?

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