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Packers Loss Should Effectively End the John Fox Era in Chicago

| November 13th, 2017

If Sunday’s horrendous performance against an undermanned Green Bay Packers, at home, in an empty stadium, didn’t seal John Fox’s fate with the Chicago Bears…what could? That is the question every single Bears fan can fairly ask this Monday morning. Because what happened at Soldier Field yesterday was inexcusable. The Bears, coming off the bye week, were out-coached and outplayed in all three phases of the game. And they were beaten by Brett Hundley.

The reasons to fire Fox all surfaced yesterday.

  • The Bears learned nothing from supposed bye week self-evaluation and ran into loaded boxes time and time again. (Oddly, when they didn’t, they hit for big plays. Who would have thought?) Even the color commentators don’t hide their disdain for the Bears offensive plan each week.
  • The Bears have no idea what to do with their talent, which has to infuriate GM Ryan Pace. This CAN’T be what he envisioned for Tarik Cohen. Two offensive touches? Two?!?!
  • Penalties, penalties, penalties. And not just flow of the game penalties. You can excuse a pass interference here or holding there. But the Bears commit pre-snap penalties that just don’t happen with good, well-coached teams.
  • Mismanagement. Why on earth would John Fox challenge the Benny Cunningham dive? Seriously. Why? Anybody who follows the league knew what had happened because it’s been happening in high profile games all season long. Hell, I was sitting in a bar and didn’t even need replay to proclaim it was a touchback. (I was actually yelling for Bears to hurry up and snap the next play.) Fox’s face after the ruling told the story: he had no clue that outcome was possible.
  • Scheme. The Bears are never smarter than the other guys. You never watch the Bears play, on either side of the ball, and think, “Wow, they are well-coached.” There is no excuse for a defense as talented as the Bears to perform how they performed yesterday. Detroit made Brett Hundley look unprofessional. Chicago made Brett Hundley look like Brett Favre.

There were positives in this game. Mitch Trubisky. Dontrelle Inman. Adam Shaheen made a big play. Connor Barth looked like a pro kicker. But the Bears aren’t in the business of moral victories any longer. John Fox and this coaching staff need to show their program and approach will yield results. And yesterday was a game they HAD to win. That’s not hyperbolic. That’s a fact.

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Data Entry: Self-Scouting Chicago’s Play-Calling Tendencies

| November 7th, 2017

On to play-calling tendencies.

There have been many, many complaints voiced about Chicago’s offensive play-calling this year, especially since Mitchell Trubisky took over at quarterback. With that in mind, I’m going to look at trends by down and distance in those 4 games. All statistics come courtesy of the fantastic NFL play finder from Pro Football Reference.

1st down

This should surprise absolutely nobody, but the Bears have been comically imbalanced on 1st down since Mitchell Trubisky started playing. They’ve had 95 first downs and called runs on 68 of them, good for 72% of the time (if you look only at the 1st 3 quarters, when game situations don’t impact calls as much, those numbers change to 54 runs on 70 plays, running 77% of the time).

Despite the predictability, they’ve actually been fairly successful running on average, picking up 4.5 yards per attempt, though it’s worth noting that drops to 3.0 when you remove two Jordan Howard runs of 50+ yards. 12 of those runs (18%) have lost yardage, and 20 gained 1 yard or less (29%). This has left the Bears consistently behind the chains, a problem that we’ll see compound on 2nd and 3rd down.

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Midseason Marks: Head Coach & GM

| November 3rd, 2017

The DBB team is evaluating the entire organization at this well-placed, exactly midseason bye week. The catch? Each of us is limited to ONE SENTENCE for each position group. Today we move to the men in charge.


Head Coach

Jeff: The Bears are significantly improved from last season, and the coach deserves a bulk of the credit, but their inability to run a modern offense could be the thing that sees him unemployed in January.

Andrew: Huge flaws in game management and preparation, but the Bears have improved drastically from Week One and the rookie quarterback is showing progress weekly and realistically, what more can we ask for? 

Data: John Fox would be a Hall of Famer if his career had started 30 years earlier.

DBB Grade: C+


General Manager

Jeff: Pace is 75% of the way to building the Bears into a legitimate contender but he faces a pivotal off-season in 2018, including a decision on the head coach with massive ramifications.

Andrew: The defense is stacked and it’s hard to blame Ryan Pace for what has happened to his wide receivers but a few bad free agent signings gave come back to bite him.

Data: Ryan Pace has had his hits and misses as GM, but you have to give him credit for building a great young defense from scratch.

DBB Grade: B

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Big Picture: Ryan Pace Has 8 Games To Decide Future of Bears Offense

| October 30th, 2017

John David Mercer – USA TODAY Sports


Today could easily be spent on the particulars of the Bears 20-12 loss to the New Orleans Saints. We could talk about the ridiculousness of the Zach Miller overturn, a call that irrationally and irrevocably changed the outcome of the game, but Adam Hoge covered that brilliantly HERE. We could talk about another sterling defensive effort, marred by a few costly mistakes, but Adam Jahns detailed those HERE. We could talk about Connor Barth but, really, who wants to?

Yesterday wasn’t about the small things, however. Yesterday felt big picture.

The Bears – Ryan Pace, John Fox, Vic Fangio –  have built a championship defense. Not a decent defense or a good defense. A championship defense. And with a few off-season additions, it won’t matter who is coaching the unit. When the talent is that good and that deep you could bring Mel Tucker back and the Bears would still rank top ten in every meaningful defensive category.

[Note to Ryan Pace: Don’t bring Mel Tucker back. I was kidding.]

The offense is…the issue.

One couldn’t help wonder what Ryan Pace was thinking as he sat and watched his new team face his former team in the Superdome yesterday. It is well-documented how close the relationship between Pace and Sean Payton was during their time together and one has to believe there was some longing in the Bears GM’s heart Sunday.

Because the Saints offensive coaching staff was doing advanced mathematics at MIT. Their run game was varied and creative, using several formations and calls they hadn’t previously used this season. There was strategy in everything they did, with each early call having a late rationale. That’s not a wildly talented collection of offensive players but the coaching staff puts every one of them in the best position to succeed. Novel concept, huh?

The Bears offensive coaching staff was counting blocks at Wise Owl Nursery School in Belleville, NJ. (It is right between the McDonald’s and the bowling alley.) Read More …

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Five Reasons to be Excited about the 2017 Bears

| September 6th, 2017

The official start of the season should be an exciting time for NFL fans all over the country, but Bears fans are almost unanimously unexcited.

The reason for this is pretty clear. With their present quarterbacking situation, the starting of Mike Glennon, they’ll need perfection from pretty much everyone else on the roster. Have teams done it? Sure. But most teams in this situation end up picking in the top 10 of the draft.

That said, the Bears do have more going for them than a standard three-win team and there are a few reasons to be excited.

Here are five:

5. Return of Dominant Defense

It’s been a minute since the Bears have had even an adequate defense. Under Lovie Smith, they ranked in the top half of the league in scoring defense eight times in nine seasons and in the top five four times.

Since Smith was fired, they haven’t cracked the top twenty and finished in the bottom ten three times.

This year should be different.

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Pace Wins Training Camp, Glennon is Glennon & Jaye Howard’s Poor Debut

| August 16th, 2017

Remember when people were calling for Ryan Pace to be fired?

Sure you do, it wasn’t that long ago.

He was stupid for taking a quarterback with just 13 collegiate starts, a D-II tight end, a safety with a rod in his leg and a tiny and a small running back from a small school. Guys like Matt Miller and Jason La Canfora quoted made-up sources saying Pace was SURELY going to be fired.

It’s early, of course, but two weeks into preseason, Pace is the unquestioned winner of Bears training camp.

Adam Hoge and Adam Jahns brought the topic up on their podcast last week. Who is the winner of training camp? Jahns named UDFA and 2017 Joe Anderson Boner Award winner Tanner Gentry. Hoge raved about rookies such as Adam Shaheen, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson and, of course, Mitch Trubisky. Neither Hoge nor Jahns was wrong. Those guys all look legitimate. But one guy is responsible for all those individuals being in camp, in Bears uniforms. That’s Pace.

It’s funny how much a narrative can change once football players, you know, play football.

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Early Evidence Suggests Good Things for Trubisky

| May 18th, 2017

There’s beginning to be quite a buzz around Mitch Trubisky.

It’s been almost a month since the draft. The Bears were bashed nationally, with some clowns even calling for Ryan Pace’s job. But more evidence is pouring in and they’ve even played a little football. So far, the early returns are that Trubisky is better than he was sold to be before the Bears made the pick.

It’s often been said that teams never really know what they have in quarterbacks until they get them in their doors. The early returns are promising.

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Question Now Facing Ryan Pace: Are Fox & Staff a Match for Trubisky?

| May 15th, 2017

The Bears are in a bit of a pickle.

Ryan Pace, their youngest and boldest GM, has stacked his chips on number ten and is waiting for the wheel to spin. The development of Mitch Trubisky will define Pace’s tenure with this organization and determine greatly whether this is a fun team to watch over the next five seasons.

But Pace now must answer a pivotal question and he must answer it in this calendar year.

Are John Fox and his coaching staff

the right guys to get the most out of Trubisky?

The Bears can arguably afford a season under Fox, with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone focused on Trubisky’s fundamentals: snaps, mechanics, getting the play into the huddle…etc. But as Trubisky makes the transition from the classroom to the field, stability will be of the utmost importance. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are the gold standards at quarterback in the NFL. It’s no coincidence that both have taken every single snap of their NFL careers under one head coach. (By the same token look at what instability has done to the productivity of Flacco, Eli, Rivers…etc.)

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Because I’m Not Done Talking About Mitch Trubisky…

| May 10th, 2017

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Bears traded up in the 2017 NFL Draft to get their future. If Ryan Pace & Co. are right about Mitch Trubisky, the Bears are looking at a decade plus of sustained, consistent success. If they are wrong, Bears fans are about three years away from another change in leadership.

Yesterday I had a friend on the golf course repeat the completely debunked “fleeced” narrative to me. You know, the one about how Genius John Lynch took all of Gullible Ryan Pace’s money over a street corner game of three-card monte. Fleeced, they say. FLEECED?!?! The Bears gave up some mid-round picks in order to attain theirs (and basically the entire league’s) most highly-rated quarterback in the draft. They didn’t trade Jordan Howard, Kyle Long and two future firsts. They didn’t even go so far as to give up a pristine, beautiful, perfect second-round selection. They gave up some thirds. A fourth. And got their guy.

[For those who haven’t read Peter King’s piece from inside the Niners draft war room, please read it. His reporting was terrific.]

What has been completely lost in the Trubisky conversation/debate is this: the kid is a great prospect. Not good. Not interesting. Great. In my mind, he was light years above the others in this quarterbacking crop and significantly better than either of the top quarterbacks from a year ago.

[For those who think this is me defending the Bears, Trubisky was my second favorite player in this draft. I have a blog where I write things. This is on the record HERE.]

Trubisky has size, speed, elusiveness, arm strength, intelligence, guts and – perhaps most importantly – he’s all football, all the time. The Tarheel signal caller may not pan out as one of the league’s best quarterbacks but it won’t be because he hasn’t put in every single second required to do so.

Oh, and that guy described above? He’s on the Bears now! He’s on the Bears because they have a general manager who knew Mike Glennon is nothing more than a guy who could have carried the water for a year should the team had been unable to attain a quarterback in this year’s draft. They have a general manager who recognizes ‘good enough’ at quarterback in the NFL is never good enough.

When Jerry Angelo made the boldest move in modern Chicago Bears history – giving up a pile of picks to acquire Jay Cutler – it changed the franchise for the next decade. Did it work out? No. For a myriad of overly-analyzed and debated reasons the Bears didn’t win enough games with Cutler at quarterback. Was it the right move to make? Unquestionably.

The second boldest move in modern Chicago Bears history happened Thursday night, April 27th, about fifteen minutes after the 2017 NFL Draft commenced. In the long-term it could provide the Bears their Aaron Rodgers and cement Pace’s legacy in Chicago. In the short-term it has lined the mirror and handed a rolled up $20 bill to Bears fans and media. A quiet coffee shop of an off-season program and Bourbonnais summer has become 2 AM at Limelight in the 80s.

For years we heard defensive coordinator Greg Blache tell us sacks were not important when it comes to pass rush. When while wide receivers were dominating the game, we watched Angelo ignore the position year after year after year. Now the Bears are led by a man aware of his surroundings and unafraid to dramatically alter them in an attempt to improve. It’s called guts, folks, and the Bears GM has ’em.

He’s taken the risk. Now we all hope to reap the reward. And in the meantime, there’s a buzz about the Bears again.

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375 Comments

Bears Fans Should Love Pace’s Aggressiveness

| May 3rd, 2017

“I don’t want to be average around here, I want to be great and these are the moves you have to make.”-Ryan Pace

For the first time in my lifetime, at least the parts I can remember, the Bears have a General Manager who gets it.

They have a GM who doesn’t just want to make the playoffs or compete with the rest of the division.

They have a GM who wants to kick everybody’s ass.

And, for some reason, people are mad about it.

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