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Welcome to a Relevant Packer Week

| December 9th, 2019

 

After the ugly, hard-to-watch victory over the putrid New York Giants, Mitch Trubisky and the Chicago Bears started a new season, a new play. It’s gone a little something like this.


Act One: Thanksgiving

After a slow start on both sides of the balls – Kenny Golladay is still wide open – the Bears reinvigorated their fans and their season with a brilliant comeback, all of it on the broad shoulders of their much-maligned quarterback. Still, it was the Lions. Just the Lions. And no one anywhere near this franchise was ready to overreact.


Act Two: Finishing Off the Cowboys

The Cowboys were meant to be a step up in class, a championship contender suffering through a disappointing string of results. (Sound familiar?) But at Soldier Field on Thursday night, the Bears delivered their best performance of the 2019 season and the quarterback reminded everyone of his limitless potential.


Act Three: Packer Week

Now the stage is set for the final act of this in-season play. If Mitch Trubisky and these Bears can deliver another inspired performance and beat their oldest rivals in their building, they will change the narrative of this entire campaign. Yes, not being in the tournament will be a colossal disappointment for a team with such high expectations. But that disappointment will be assuaged by getting the record to .500 or better; assuaged by finishing the season with a winning record in the NFC North; assuaged by the quarterback potentially “finding it” down the stretch.


This was a dreary, boring season. But the last two weeks have been thrilling. Now the Bears have an opportunity to complete this somewhat-redemptive tale, building confidence in the locker room and among the fans. No one will be content with 2019, no matter the result at Lambeau Field. But many will find reason to believe for 2020 should the Bears beat the Packers.

It’s Packer Week.

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Trubisky, or the Possibility of Redemption in this Crazy, Crazy World

| December 6th, 2019


Mitch Trubisky was the Black Knight.

With his arms cut from his body, he turned to a Pythonian King Arthur and declared it “just a flesh wound”. We, the fans and media alike, reacted like Arthur does moments later in the immortal Holy Grail: “You’re a loony”.

But is it possible we’re the loonies?

Trubisky’s performances against the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys do not, by any means, cement his status as the Chicago Bears starting quarterback in 2020. The tape don’t lie and too often this season Trubisky has looked the part of a back-up. Uncomfortable in the pocket. Unable to read defenses or get the line into the right protection. Unwilling to get easy yards with his legs. Unbelievably inaccurate.

But since the whistle blew to start the second half against the New York Giants, he’s quite simply been a different player. Yes there are still accuracy issues and yes there are still decisions that leave us scratching our heads. But most quarterbacks in this league have those moments. What Mitch hadn’t been doing was compensating for those moments with production. With first downs. With great throws. With touchdowns. With wins.

Now he is. And the mistakes are far more forgivable in Club Dub.

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Can We Start the 2019 Season Over Again?

| December 6th, 2019


Last night, against the Dallas Cowboys, Matt Nagy called his best game as Chicago Bears head coach.

Last night, even with a few wonky moments, Mitch Trubisky looked like the future at quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Last night, with another starter heading to the locker room and new faces all over the place, the defense of the Chicago Bears looked like the group everyone expected to make them title contenders this season.

And David Montgomery.

And Anthony Miller.

And Cordarrelle Patterson.

And Holtz and Horsted and Mack and Fuller and…

…can’t we go back and start this 2019 campaign over again?

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Week 14: Cowboys at Bears Game Preview & Poem

| December 4th, 2019


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and it would be a big moment for this coach and his program to get this season over .500. I think he does it.


The Game Haiku

I saw Rick Pearson

at the Billy Goat Tavern.

That’s all I recall.


Three Thoughts on the Cowboys

  • After struggling to contain Kenny Golladay a week ago, the Bears could have faced a similar issue with Amari Cooper. But the Cowboys’ best receiver didn’t finish their game on Thanksgiving and, while an MRI revealed no structural damage, he won’t be at full strength should he play. Guard Connor Williams, a really good young player, is done for the year.
    • From head coach Jason Garrett, in a Dallas Morning News story: “Connor has been a good player for us,” Garrett said. “[He] started a lot of games for us last year as a rookie and then came back after his injury, did a good job for us in the playoffs and again has been the established starter at that left guard spot all year long. He’s really grown and developed as a player and done a really good job for us, got bigger and stronger than he was his rookie year, [and] we expected that when we drafted him.”
  • The Cowboys were a solid, if unspectacular defense in 2018, as their coordinator Kris Richard became a name mentioned for several head coaching vacancies. Now his security in Dallas is uncertain, as Dallas has allowed 26 points or more in three of their last four games.
  • Let’s look at how these two teams compare with the big ticket numbers:
    • Both are 6-6.
    • The teams the Cowboys beaten are a combined 18-54. (Really, really bad.)
    • The teams the Bears have beaten are a combined 20-50-2 (Not so good either.)
    • The Cowboys point differential is +74, which tells you they are beating down the bad opponents and losing relatively close affairs (averaging 5.5 point deficit per loss) to better teams.
    • The Bears point differential is +4, which tells you they basically play a coin flip every week.
    • If the season ended today, the Cowboys would host a game on wildcard weekend.

Tweet of the Week (Another Cowboys Thought)

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ATM: Strong Finish Would Earn Trubisky Another Chance

| December 3rd, 2019


Thanksgiving

And just like that, another quarterback has thrown his hat in the ring to be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears in 2020: Mitch Trubisky.

It wasn’t perfect, but for the first time this year Trubisky looked like an actual NFL quarterback. It wasn’t just that he threw more great passes on Thanksgiving than he has all season. It’s that he looked composed. He went through his progressions and he made plays even after the defense took the initial look away. The head coach, who is clearly frustrated with the quarterback’s inability to run the offense, came away impressed.

“Today was Mitch’s day. It was his day.”

After noting that his last two touchdown passes were to players who weren’t the initial reads, Matt Nagy said, “That’s growth for Mitchell. Getting through progression one, progression two and making plays happen. I think that’s probably what I’m most proud about.”

For one day, Nagy had an NFL quarterback and the offense made plays when they needed to. And it wasn’t just about statistics, even though the statistics were terrific.

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An Emotional Return, For Me and the Bears, on Thanksgiving Day

| December 2nd, 2019


Johnny Brogan tends the bar at the Copper Kettle in Woodside, Queens. He’s been behind the sticks for twenty-four years, mixing Bloodies and pouring thick pints of the black. He’s there on Thanksgiving. He’s there on Christmas. He’s there, seemingly always, the front man of my local saloon since moving to the neighborhood a decade ago.

Thursday, the bar was empty when I sat down fifteen minutes before kickoff. Brogie, as he’s known in the community, put an Amstel Light and pint of club soda in front of me. This was going to be a long day of drinking and I had to pace myself. I ordered a bowl of potato leak soup to lay something of a base. No bread. (I’m off bread.)

I approached Bears at Lions the same way I’d approached the last month plus of Bears football: with passionate indifference. The team – and more importantly the quarterback – lost me entirely with their shambolic performance against the New Orleans Saints. And the weeks since have been a slow drain of any emotional juice I might have pumping through my supporter’s veins. This is a rare mode for me to be in, as I’ve always espoused the “we’re only guaranteed 16 of these a year” mentality. But it happens.

Then it stopped happening.

Sometime on Thursday, things changed.

I don’t know why.

I don’t know exactly when.

But sometime during this Thanksgiving game, I found my hands clenched together tightly. The Amstels were going back quicker. The pacing started. The bathroom trips multiplied. Nerves. Anxiety. Even Brogie noticed. “Only seen you like this during the Masters,” he said, referring to my nerves watching Tiger wrap-up number 15 earlier this year.

Maybe it was the kid quarterback, playing with shattered confidence and a bum shoulder, putting his teammates on his back in the second half, delivering several of the best passes of his young career.

Maybe it was Roquan Smith, flying all over the field, reminding us all why he was considered one of the best young defenders in the sport coming into the season. We’ll never fully understand the mental sabbatical Smith took mid-season. But if he plays like that, we won’t remember it either.

Maybe it was seeing promising talents like Anthony Miller and David Montgomery dominate. Finally. And for the first time in 2019, having a sense that this offensive project under Matt Nagy makes some sense. That these fellas can deliver in this offense.

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Bears Beat Lions, Move to 6-6

| November 29th, 2019

Short post. Thanksgiving hangover. Rapid fire.

  • Forget the stats, yesterday was Mitch Trubisky’s finest game. Made early mistakes. Got physically beat up. Refused to run for easy first downs. But he put the Bears on his back late and won the football game. It doesn’t change his career trajectory. But it’s a day he needed.
  • When Roquan Smith plays that way, he looks like the best linebacker in the league.
  • It would probably go to someone on the defense but Cordarrelle Patterson should get serious consideration for team MVP.
  • Kyle Fuller. Tackle of the year.
  • Nick Kwiatkoski. Most improved on defense. Pay him.
  • Taylor Gabriel should go on IR by Monday. Anthony Miller should never leave the field.
  • Did Jerome Boger’s crew have a block in the back quota to hit? Just let the football happen!

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