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Match-ups That Matter: Eagles at Bears

| September 15th, 2016

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It’s hard to read too much into what the Eagles did to the Browns last week. The Browns are a triple-A franchise right now. But there was enough to digest in those sixty minutes. Which match-ups matter most Monday night?

VIC FANGIO V. CARSON WENTZ

It is the single biggest mismatch in the game.

  • In 2015, Carr got to 20, Osweiler got to 17 and Winston got to 21. Fox and Fangio’s defense managed to keep rookie/new starting quarterbacks in check, especially at Soldier Field.
  • The Bears have a lot of potential looks to show Wentz and many of those looks will be ones he’s never seen before. They can blitz from five different positions. Their outside linebackers are all capable of dropping into coverages. This is the kind of night where the Bears need Fox and Fangio to play chess and make the kid uncomfortable. Just lining up and playing ball, which is a lot of what they did in Houston, won’t work.
  • The Bears run defense found something in the second half against Houston. If the Eagles don’t make the down/distance easy for Wentz, he’ll struggle.

 WHITE & ROYAL V. EAGLES SECONDARY

Four thoughts:

  • I can’t imagine the Eagles coaching staff watching the Bears/Texans tape and having any thought other than, “we can’t let Alshon Jeffery beat us”. Expect Jim Schwartz to try and take Jeffery away all afternoon by pushing safeties in his direction.

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The Case Against the Green Bay Packers: Volume II (Jeff)

| August 5th, 2016

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The following is the fourth in 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 case against Green Bay will be made simply and directly. It will be made with two words and two words only.

Fox.

Fangio.

The Bears don’t have run of the mill defensive coaches. They don’t have defensive coaches that cling to an ideology or scheme, despite the relative successes or failures of that ideology/scheme. The Bears have coaches who believe the way you win on the defensive side of the ball is with talented players and toughness.

And for the first time, the Bears sideline has the better weapons.

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A Chip Shot From .500 (Rapid Fire)

| December 7th, 2015

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This was the type of performance many expected from the Chicago Bears this season. Ugly. But did anyone expect the Bears could play a game this poorly and still be in position to win? Well, they should have won. Rapid fire…

  • Is it time to worry about Robbie Gould? It certainly could be. He didn’t just miss two short field goals that would have won this game. He dead shanked them both. The coachspeak approach will have fans yelling “Bears didn’t lose this game because of the missed field goals” but you know what? They did.
  • Welcome to the NFL, Eddie Goldman. That was a dominant performance.
  • When did Willie Young become the Bears most dominant edge rusher again?
  • Kyle Fuller is a special player when the play is in front of him.
  • No clue what Fox and Fangio thought the Niners offensive approach would be but they looked thoroughly unprepared for all the things I saw in amateur tape study early last week.
  • The point above may be unfair, mind you. A lot of that responsibility would have been on the linebackers and the guys in the middle have looked lost in coverage.
  • 36 yards is now an extra point! Robbie essentially missed an extra point to win a game. Inexcusable. Gould has been a good one but I hate kickers.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Favored Bears With Perfect Opportunity to Reach .500

| December 4th, 2015

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Chicago Bears Schedule

THE GAME POEM

He dusts a trophy from his highest shelf each night

Reading a name no longer known

His hand moves slowly, left to right

Like brushing leaves off a tombstone of his own

THREE THOUGHTS ON THE 49ERS

  • Vance McDonald is developing into a solid tight end and has more catches the last two weeks with Blaine Gabbert under center (10) than in the rest of the season combined (9). The Bears have struggled, especially early, patrolling the middle of the field. They’ll need to be aware of McDonald all afternoon.
  • San Francisco is an atrocious road team. They have been outscored 176-71.
  • This team is just so damn boring to watch play offense on tape. They’re a worse version of the Chiefs, with everything being thrown underneath and no faith in their pass protections. They have the players to make a few big gains (Boldin, Smith, McDonald) but there’s no consistency from them…ever. This offense is taylor made for the Bears defensive strengths.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Around the League, Three Bears Thoughts, Boomer on Catches, Cutler Update!

| November 16th, 2015

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Around the League We Go!

  • Through nine games, Jeremy Langford has only 100 yards less from scrimmage than Melvin Gordon.
  • Someone in the Browns organization needs to walk down to the head coach’s office and tell him playing Josh McCown is no longer an option. I’ve never believed Johnny Manziel’s ability would translate to the pro game but losing down the stretch with McCown does the team zero good. (Manziel was quietly good in that Steelers game yesterday and Manziel isn’t quietly anything.)
  • Tom Brady is full of magic. That’s the only way I can explain it.
  • Giants should be 8-1. They’ve only played one poor game all season. I wouldn’t want to be walking into the Meadowlands in January once this group puts it together. (They are also +12 in turnovers this season. They are secretly good.)
  • The NFL got what they wanted by changing the extra point rule. They made kickers way too relevant on Sundays. (And they’ve delayed at least 7-10 of my piss breaks.)

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Three Things You Might Be Able to See During the Second Meaningless Game Saturday Night

| August 20th, 2015

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You read the headline. You don’t need a lede.

#1 Shea McClellin in Coverage

Andrew Luck loves the tight end position and has two pretty good ones in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Luck attacks the middle of the field with both players and McClellin’s physical purview is now that very same region.

Here is a situation where NFL coaches should truly embrace the practice nature of these games. Why doesn’t John Fox call over to Chuck Pagano and say, “Hey Chuck, do me a favor. Once or twice over the first few drives, attack my middle linebacker in the passing game. We’re trying to see what he has in coverage.” Then Chuck could turn around and do the same. This would actually serve to make both teams better.

Instead they’ll all call a bunch of random plays and hope the players they need to evaluate get involved. Someone will get hurt for the year and fans will still argue with me about the importance of summertime reps.

Side note: Rookie Adrian Amos starting is also of interest but what he does Saturday night means very little. The Bears aren’t playing Amos because they want to. They’re playing Amos because, well, what’s the difference?

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Key for Bears Fans When it Comes to 2015 Defense: Managed Expectations

| August 5th, 2015

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The Bears have one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, but he alone won’t make the defense respectable.

No team upgraded any position more than the Bears did by replacing Mel Tucker with Vic Fangio. Tucker is one of the worst defensive coordinators in the history of the league and Fangio is pretty good. That’s a huge jump, but it might be the only jump they made. You could argue that the team’s talent level is about the same as it was the last two years.

Yes, they added Pernell McPhee to pressure the quarterback, but they also lost Stephen Paea (six sacks) and it would be a surprise if Willie Young had anywhere near the same impact he had a year ago, registering ten sacks. Is that a net positive for the Bears?

 

The secondary is still a disaster.

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5 Reasons Bears Will Be Better Than You Think: Part III

| July 26th, 2015

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The final installment of Andrew Dannehy’s optimistic training camp preview.

#2 Vic Fangio.

There has been so much talk about the offense, but it doesn’t matter unless the Bears get their defense figured out. Fangio isn’t a miracle worker. He’s also not Mel Tucker. The difference between the two can’t be overstated.

We’ve seen teams take huge jumps in the standings by adding new defensive coordinators. Just last year, the Vikings went from having the worst scoring defense in the league to the 11th-best because of Mike Zimmer. We’ve seen similar results from the likes of Wade Phillips and Dom Capers and Fangio himself helped the 49ers go from middle of the pack to elite.

The Bears secondary is still a disaster — at least Chris Conte is gone — but their front seven should be pretty good. All the talk about changing schemes is stupid. Fangio is a good coach who will find a way to make it work. He did last year in San Francisco when most of his talented players were on the sideline.

They won’t be elite next year, but don’t be surprised if they jump into the top-20, that really should be enough for them to win more games than they lose.

#1 The Relationship Between the Coach & QB.

The Bears have a good coach and a good quarterback. Teams with both almost always end up being good.

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Pernell McPhee Could Provide Flexibility Needed for Bears “Positionless” Defense

| June 2nd, 2015

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During the Miami Heat’s first championship run with Erik Spoelstra and LeBron James, Spoelstra coined the phrase “positionless basketball.” There was no set point guard or center. It was about getting the best five players on the floor and letting them play.

The Bears have the pieces to make something similar work with their front seven.

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