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It Don’t Have To Be Pretty: Bears in First Place After Three Weeks (Rapid Fire)

| September 24th, 2018

The Bears have played three games. So have the Packers, Vikings and Lions. After those three games, the Bears have the best record in the NFC North.

  • Style points don’t matter. The first two months of the season are about accruing wins and positioning yourself for a potential postseason run. The Bears won a football game on a road. This fan base isn’t allowed to use the word “but”. A win is a win is a win.
  • Several times during this game I turned to my buddy Maciej and said, “Why do we have Khalil Mack?” It’s all I can think about during these games. He is a force. The Cardinals were using 2-3 players on him per play and he still ended up with two sacks and a crucial forced fumble. Without Mack, the Bears are 0-3 right now.
  • Sherrick McManis. Bryce Callahan. Bilal Nichols. The Bears aren’t just good on defense. They’re deep.
  • Matt Nagy was lost Sunday. There’s no other way to say it. As a play caller, he had zero feel for the flow of the game and Wilks/Holcomb had the better of him all day long. The Bears have been incoherent on offense through three weeks. There is no discernible system/strategy. The play calls feel random.
  • Trubisky has to be better. It’s hard to evaluate his play without access to the game tape but he seems indecisive and uncomfortable. That’s a lethal combination.
  • Why do all the team’s deep shots have zero chance? Are these being called? Does Trubisky have the option not to throw them? Very difficult to analyze without that information.
  • And stop telling me the Bears are running the Chiefs offense. I watched Chiefs/49ers yesterday. The Chiefs have wide open receivers all over the field. Patrick Mahomes rarely throws a ball into congestion. The Bears never seem to have anyone open. And they never complete a pass to a receiver moving up the field. The receiver’s back is always to the defense, limiting any YAC possibility.
  • Enough with the bubble screens! Seriously! Enough! This isn’t the Pac-12. Those plays might work against Kevin Sumlin’s Arizona but they’re not working against a professional defense.

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Da Saturday Scout: Donovan Wilson, Safety, Texas A&M

| September 22nd, 2018

The Bears don’t pick until the third round. So spending time on the top prospects in next year’s NFL draft is a useless endeavor. Instead, over the next three months of Saturdays, this space will focus on prospects further down the line.


Donovan Wilson, S, Texas A&M

at (1) Alabama

3:30 PM ET, CBS


Video


In the News

You should read the entirety of Brent Zwerneman’s piece on Wilson in the Houston Chronicle. It is the profile of a kid who does and says the right things. Here’s an excerpt: 

Despite the injury, Wilson could have put his name in for the NFL draft as one of the Aggies’ top prospects, but instead he petitioned the NCAA for a medical redshirt, which he received.

“I felt like I had more work to do,” Wilson said. “I wasn’t finished yet. I didn’t get to play my senior year, and I had lot more to prove.”

Wilson already had proven plenty at A&M over his first few seasons, in leading the defense with five interceptions as a sophomore in 2015. He combined for 122 tackles over his sophomore and junior seasons, and now he’ll get another shot at a senior year under a new coaching staff.

“I’m just trusting the plan,” he said of playing a final season for coach Jimbo Fisher and defensive coordinator Mike Elko. “I feel like everything happens for a reason.”


Notes

  • The Bears are now unlikely to sign Adrian Amos to a long-term deal due to Mack and Goldman receiving their money. And if Amos’ people insist on his being paid like one of the league’s best safeties, the Bears shouldn’t even consider it. Wilson will be available in the mid-rounds and Pace has had success there.
  • This Alabama team has the potential to be one of the best in college football history. Every NFL talent evaluator will put more weight in a prospect’s play against this group because there might be legitimately a dozen NFL starters on Nick Saban’s roster.
  • Wilson would have been selected in the 2018 draft if he didn’t suffer an injury in last season’s opener.

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The Deal For Khalil: History Shows Pace’s Bold Move Could Change Bears for a Generation

| September 21st, 2018


Reggie White joined the Green Bay Packers as a free agent in 1993, signing a much-ballyhooed 5-year, $17 million contract. (These days that might buy you a blocking tight end. Might.) Prior to his signing, the franchise to the north had only been to the playoffs twice since 1967 and recorded only two winning seasons out of their previous ten. After he signed, the Pack went to the postseason six consecutive years. They won a Super Bowl in 1996. Their next losing season wouldn’t be until 2005. They’ve only had three sub-8 win campaigns since he put his name on that paper.

White did even more than that for the Packers. From a Robert Klemko piece for Sports Illustrated:

“Among players, Green Bay was depicted as some Russian place where you go and no one ever hears from you,” says former NFL tight end Keith Jackson, a first-round draft pick of the Eagles in 1988 who would go on to play for the Dolphins and the Packers.

Then something unprecedented happened. Upon becoming an unrestricted free agent in 1993, a player who had been named to six consecutive All-Pro teams in Philadelphia made a shock decision that would change the course of a franchise and the tenor of a town.

“Before that decision guys would say, ‘If Green Bay drafts me, I don’t want to go.’ It was Siberia,” says Jackson. “But Reggie White saw something different about it.”

Reggie White put Green Bay back on the NFL map.


Drew Brees joined the New Orleans Saints as a free agent in 2006. Over the previous thirteen seasons, the franchise had two winning ones, winning one playoff game in that period. Since Brees signed that contract, the Saints have never won less than seven games in a season. They’ve been to the postseason in six of twelve attempts. They won the Super Bowl in 2009.

And no NFL player is more emblematic of the city he plays for than Brees, who became a civic hero by leading NOLA’s emotional revival in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Here’s a wonderful passage from Jillian Eugenios at CNN:

He moved to the city a decade ago, when it was still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. It was six months after the storm, and he describes it as a ghost town. There were boats in the middle of the road, and cars upside down in people’s living rooms.

It wasn’t just the city that had to make a comeback.

“A lot of guys came here in 2006, including myself, as somewhat of castaways,” he said. “Many of us did not have many other options.”

Brees had been let go by the San Diego Chargers due to a shoulder injury. The Miami Dolphins had been interested in bringing him on, but were counseled against it because of his shoulder.

The New Orleans Saints was the team to put an offer on the table.

“We chose New Orleans because we felt like we could do something special down here,” he said. He moved to New Orleans with his wife Brittany, and he soon developed a close tie to the city.

“We leaned on each other in so many cases,” he said of his fellow New Orleanians. “As people are trying to rebuild their homes, rebuild their lives, they’re still coming to games to cheer on the Saints because it just gives them so much energy and enthusiasm … just this feeling that we’re all in this together.”

Brees is more than the Saints. He is every bit as New Orleans as the fried shrimp po’ boy from Verti Marte on Royal, washed down with an ice cold bottle of Abita Amber.


The Bears don’t need to sell the City of Chicago to free agents or 21 year-old Auburn cornerbacks. Ten minutes of the late night set at The Green Mill or a few pops with an aging scribe at the Old Town Alehouse will get that accomplished. The greatest cities on earth don’t need a tagline.

And hopefully the town won’t have to recover from any natural disasters in the near future. The city has plenty of unnatural disasters – the Tribune is no longer in Tribune Tower for Christ sake – but it seems to be surviving just fine.

What the Bears have needed more than anything is a franchise-altering presence on the field and it seems, through just two games of this season, he hath been delivered. Khalil Mack was traded to the Chicago Bears by Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, September 1st 2018 and it’s starting to feel like a move that has commenced a new era of Chicago Bears football.

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Week Three: Bears at Cardinals Game Preview

| September 20th, 2018

Weird part of this Denny Green video is he wasn’t wrong. The Cardinals absolutely dominated the Bears in this game, offensively and defensively. It took some of the flukiest developments ever for this result to happen. How fluky? The game actually has its own Wikipedia page.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

To paraphrase the great Lou Brown from Major League, the Bears won Monday night. If they win this Sunday that’s called a winning streak. And they’re the heaviest favorite they have been on the road since probably the mid-2000s. I just don’t see any way this group loses this game.


Game Haiku

Hitting Sam Bradford

Will lead to the dink and dunk

And Glendale glory!


Why the Bears Will Win?

  • Run Game. Arizona is allowing over 136 yards a game on the ground and Matt Nagy acknowledged this week the Bears need to give the ball to their workhorse back more. (Yes, I’m going to make this a primary bullet point every single week because I truly believe this coaching staff will wake up and realize Jordan Howard is their best offensive player AT SOME POINT. Oh, and once the power game starts working you’ll see a different, more comfortable Mitch Trubisky.)
  • Arizona is averaging 114 yards passing through two games. Yes, that’s an actual statistic. 114. That’s 26 yards less than Buffalo and the Bills started Nate Peterman – the worst statistical QB in the history of the league – for one of their two games. The Arizona QB rating through two games? 55.6. Touchdowns? Zero. This is one awful passing attack.
  • Third-Down Conversions. The Bears are tenth in the league, converting more than 40% of their third-down opportunities. (They’ve already significantly improved on this stat from a year ago.) Arizona is dead last in that stat, somehow managing to only convert 20%. Arizona is also mind-bogglingly allowing opponents to convert their third downs half the time, exactly 50%. The Bears should have little problem staying on the field on offense / getting off the field on defense.
  • Road Game? Is there any doubt there will be more Bears fans than Cardinals fans in University of Phoenix Stadium? Hell, they just opened a Lou Malnati’s in Scottsdale! This could become a demoralizing affair for the home side.

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ATM: Bears Need to Keep Letting Trubisky Sling It

| September 19th, 2018

As NFL teams fight battle after battle each Sunday, it’s difficult to keep the war in mind. But Matt Nagy needs to keep thinking about it and let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball.

Some numbers…

  • Trubisky is currently on pace to throw 552 passes, which would’ve been 7th in the league last year.
  • He’s thrown at least 34 passes in both of the Bears games this season; games in which they were leading almost throughout.
  • He reached 34 passes just three times in 12 games last year, despite playing from behind much of the time.

While there’s little question that he’s been a weak link on the team, the Bears can’t take the ball out of his hands until they know he can’t get the job done.

One thing that has become painfully clear early in 2018 is that John Fox was correct in his evaluation that the team’s best chance for winning in 2017 was to limit the rookie quarterback’s exposure. Whether or not that hindered Trubisky’s development is debatable, but it left the Bears without any real indication of whether or not he could get the job done without any handcuffs. Now it’s up to Nagy to figure out if Trubisky can swim and the best way to do that is to throw him into the deep end.

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A Dominant Defense: Bears Beat Seahawks on Monday Night Football

| September 18th, 2018

The offense is a work-in-progress. The defense is the most exciting unit the Bears have fielded since 2006. The Bears evened their season record at 1-1 and quieted some of their Week One demons. Here’s a rapid fire recap of Monday night’s events.

  • Here’s how I’d summarize Mitch Trubisky’s evening: he’s not there yet. He’s not fully comfortable in the offense. He’s not processing his progressions quickly or trusting his protection. He’s also missing a few touch passes down the field. (Basically throwing straight heat.) But these are the trials and tribulations of a young quarterback, especially one that has seen his system flipped on its head from year one to year two.

  • But there are so many promising moments that it’s not hard to be optimistic about his development. The sideline floater to Cohen under duress:


  • The rolling left dart to Miller for a touchdown:

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Monday Musings: A Few Final Thoughts Ahead of Tonight’s Game vs Seattle

| September 17th, 2018

Photo by Otto Greule Jr of Getty Images


The Bears host the Seattle Seahawks tonight and, since I’m DBB’s resident Pacific Northwest dweller, who better to share some last minute pregame thoughts? So here it goes:

I’m still stinging from last week’s loss (and you probably are, too) but let’s hope the Bears have moved on…

There’s no way to get around it: Last week hurt. No team should blow a 20-point lead, even if they’re facing one of the greatest QBs of all time. It was a missed opportunity to start the season with a statement win, but in the end Green Bay just found a different way to break our collective hearts. That being said, Week One needs to be the last thing on the Bears’ mind when they run out onto Soldier Field tonight. I’ve mentioned my love of tennis and Roger Federer before, and one of the things that makes him great is his fantastic ability to erase painful losses from his memory. He learns, but he doesn’t dwell. Let’s hope the Bears take the same approach.


Ah, memories…

The last time the Bears played the Seahawks was 2015 in Seattle. It was the 3rd game of John Fox’s tenure, and Jimmy Clausen was starting in place of an injured Jay Cutler. The Bears lost 26-0. (I don’t care enough to check, but I’m pretty sure the Bears only managed one first down the entire game.) I watched with a handful of Seahawks fans, and honestly it was so pathetic they couldn’t even muster the energy to make fun of me. Regardless of how disappointing last week’s loss was, it doesn’t hurt to remember that things used to be much, much worse.


This game feels about as “must win” for the Bears as any Week 2 game could…

The Bears have the more talented roster going into tonight’s game, and that was true even before Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin, and KJ Wright were declared out, with several other key Seahawks players listed as doubtful. If the Bears can’t manage a win at home against a rebuilding and busted up Seattle team, then we might be in for a much rougher season than any of us were expecting.

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