36 Comments

Not Quite Ready For Primetime Players: Bears Fall to 3-3 After Losing to Patriots

| October 22nd, 2018

Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/Boston Herald


Not a particularly difficult game to diagnose. So here comes the diagnosis:

  • Two special teams touchdowns. Nobody is beating the New England Patriots if they allow them 14 points on specials. Cody Parkey had been consistently knocking kickoffs through the end zone until Sunday and his failure to do so again cost the Bears dearly. Punt blocks simply can’t happen.
  • But that punt block and the Mitch Trubisky interceptions shared a theme: want to. The Patriots played with more heat, more fire, more passion. They wanted the fifty-fifty throws. They went after the punt. I wrote last week that the Bears needed to match the fever pitch of their fans in the building. They did not.
  • Trubisky had a truly strange game that will be difficult to evaluate until coach tape becomes available. He was harassed in the pocket and that harassment definitely caused accuracy issues. But without his ability to improvise and run, the Bears would have likely been blown out of this game. His scrambling touchdown run is one of the best plays by a Bears QB in decades.
  • The running game is broken. This has been coming all season long but yesterday, officially, it broke. Matt Nagy is still suffering through growing pains as the team’s play caller and utilizing his rushing attack is the biggest pain. Because Jordan Howard is never going to thrive on 12 carries a game. That’s not who he is as a player. Howard wears down the defense with his physicality. He’s a bruiser. And the Bears are using him like he’s T.J. Duckett.
  • Khalil Mack is hurt. And the team needs to sit him down and get him right. Using him as a decoy is not effective.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

215 Comments

Week 7: Patriots at Bears Game Preview

| October 19th, 2018

[Disclaimer: The following game preview is being written under the assumption that Khalil Mack will play Sunday. It is also being written under the assumption that he’ll be limited, to a degree, by his ankle injury.]


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and I just like this game, hence yesterday’s flamboyant column. This should be the most intense, feverish crowd at Soldier Field in five plus years. And don’t be surprised if the Bears come out and match that intensity, eager to prove last week’s rollover in Miami was a fluke.


The Game Limerick

There once was a goody named Brady

Whose fitness guru seemed a bit shady

The coach tossed him out

Now Goody got gout

But at least he still has a rich lady


Why the Bears Will Win

  • Patriots on the Road. New England is 4-0 at home and 0-2 on the road but it’s how they’ve looked on the road that’s been jarring. They didn’t just lose to Jacksonville and Detroit. They lost by a combined score of 57-30 to mediocre teams. The Bears have a better defense than the Jaguars and currently a better offense than the Lions. (Note: These games were pre-Julian Edelman’s return and Josh Gordon’s arrival.)
  • The Andy Reid Coaching Tree. Matt Nagy isn’t going to require much research when building his game plan to attack the Pats defense. Look no further than the success Andy Reid had versus New England Sunday night. Okay, fine, look further. Doug Pederson put up more than 500 yards of offense on Bill Belichick & Co. in the Super Bowl with Nick Foles under center. (I still contend Pederson’s success with Foles is one of the most impressive playoff runs in league history. Foles is terrible.) The blueprint is drawn. And Nagy is very close to the men who drew it.
  • Taylor Gabriel is becoming a star in this offense and he’s going to be wide open 2-3 times against this Pats secondary because, quite frankly, Gabriel has been wide open for more than a month. But there are soft areas in New England’s deep zone and teams have had an easy time exploiting them. Trubisky HAS TO hit those throws Sunday.

Why They Won’t

  • Belichick. He’s the best coach in the history of the NFL and has made a career out of confusing young quarterbacks into bad decisions. Trubisky will see 3-5 looks he’s never seen previously. Stat: quarterbacks under 25 years old are a career 1-42 at Foxboro. (Yes, I know this game is not there but that stat is absurd.) Here’s what Mike Lombardi said about it: “He makes them play left-handed…He takes away what they do and they don’t have the experience to go and do other things.”
  • Tom Brady. He’s Tom Brady.
  • Edelman. Maybe this is the Sunday hangover talking, but it’s inconceivable that Josh McDaniels won’t throw 5-7 bubble screens against this defense and see if their performance in Miami was an anomaly or a trend. One would think those throws would would go to Edelman, the most elusive of NE’s receiving targets.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,

248 Comments

As Patriots Come to Town, Bears Face Their “Moment in the Woods”

| October 18th, 2018

Prologue: Into the Woods

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Into the Woods attempts to be about a lot of things. Love –  between mothers and daughters, princes and maidens, men and themselves. Loss – trying to rationalize the end of human life. Abandonment – a father who left his family as a young man confronts his son about to do the same, in a lovely piece of writing called No More.



But like most of Sondheim’s post-Hal Prince career, there is a general messiness to the piece. (Prince, Oscar Hammerstein and Jerry Robbins are perhaps the only geniuses of American musical theatre structure.) Into the Woods is seemingly about everything and nothing at the same time. And just like their other major collaboration, Sunday in the Park With George – the show’s two acts fail to meld, so much so that when Woods is performed by amateur groups the second act is often excluded altogether.

But whilst Woods is an often sloppy re-telling of classic fairy tales, Sondheim and Lapine create enduring characters by adhering to a basic tenet of Dramatic Writing 101: the folks on stage make big life choices at big life moments. The lyrical refrain of “into the woods” reflects their acceptance of the challenges before them and the risks they’re willing to take. Their “moments in the woods” are life-defining decisions to be embraced, not avoided.

Into the Woods, at its core, is about what we do when “the moment” presents itself and these characters are defined by what they do, in their moments, in the woods.

The Moment

Sunday at Soldier Field is a moment for this Chicago Bears organization.

Bill Belichick, the greatest head coach in NFL history and the Big Bad Wolf for our purposes, is coming to town. Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history and our Prince Charming, is with him. They are the NFL’s gold standard; a tribute to consistency and greatness in a league constructed and governed to deter both. And they are a villain to be identified and subsequently vanquished.

They are a moment.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

294 Comments

Bears Contradict Themselves in Loss to Dolphins

| October 17th, 2018

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself;
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

Walt Whitman was waxing poetic about the human condition here, but he might as well have been describing my reaction to Sunday’s loss to Miami. It was a gut punch, a heart-breaker, a golden opportunity that slipped away.

It was also exciting, competitive and full of promise.

So this week’s column embraces the contradictory nature of a game like this, both as stand-alone event, and as part of a much larger puzzle we’re still in the process of piecing together.


The Bears are a great defense AND they played terribly vs the Dolphins.

The Bears defense we’ve seen for the past four games was not the defense that showed up on Sunday.

Kyle Fuller had a solid game with two big interceptions, and the defense played well enough in the first half, holding the Dolphins to 154 yards and just 7 points. However, they collapsed in the second half and OT, allowing 387 yards and 24 points. They let Brock Osweiler and Albert Wilson beat them on bubble screens, and when all was said and done the Dolphins produced 274 yards after the catch.

That’s terrible. That’s embarrassing. That’s inexcusable. But…

  • Khalil Mack was hampered with an ankle injury.
  • They played in brutally hot and humid conditions, and weren’t used to it.
  • The refs did them no favors.
  • Even great defenses have off games.

Excuses mean nothing in the NFL. All that matters are wins and losses, but it’s ridiculous to not concede those first three issues factored into Sunday’s loss, and that as a rule, good teams can have bad games without it spilling over into the rest of the season.

Right now, I’m not worried about this defense. Not one bit. But…ask me again in a few weeks.

Read More …

Tagged: ,

363 Comments

Second Collapse Raises Questions About Defense

| October 16th, 2018

A fumble at the one.

An interception in the end zone.

The questionable decision to settle for kicking a 53-yard field goal in overtime.

None of it would have mattered if the Bears’ much-celebrated defense had done its part.

Just about everybody who had watched this Bears defense was quick to crown them as a great unit. Some went as far as to compare them to historic units of years past. But a collapse against one of the worst offenses in the league certainly raises questions, especially because it isn’t the first time it has happened.

It’s easy to blame the heat, but that would lead one to believe the Dolphins — and likely the Jaguars and Buccaneers — are unbeatable in their element. That isn’t reality. And, if we’re blaming heat for this collapse, what do we blame for the collapse against a gimpy Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay on Sept. 9?

This isn’t to minimize the impact the heat had on the Bears players. It’s certainly conceivable that it slowed them down late. But they still should’ve been good enough to overcome it against Brock Osweiler.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

556 Comments

Turnovers, Defensive Collapse Drop the Bears to 3-2 in Miami

| October 15th, 2018

Each week I spend a considerable amount of time assembling a game preview. Last week, other than my top ten for The Office, that time was wasted because nothing that happened Sunday in Miami made much sense.

I simply didn’t see any of it coming. And you won’t see this coming! Rapid fire!


  • Heat was the story of the game, on both sides. There were 7 points scored in the first half of this game and 49 scored in the second half. That wasn’t just adjustments. That was two defenses running on fumes.
  • Frank Gore averaged 6.7 yards per carry against what was the league’s best rush defense. With that Miami OL the question is…how?
  • Allowing an Adam Gase offense to gain huge chunks of yards and even score touchdowns on bubble screens is the equivalent of sending a cocaine addict to a rehab facility in the Pacific department of Nariño, Colombia. Stopping bubble screens is all about pursuit and tackling. Bears did neither.


  • Howard fumble. Cohen fumble. Trubisky pick in the end zone. Any of those three plays don’t happen and the Bears win this game. Simple as that.
  • Trubisky’s stats on the season UPDATED: 70.2% completion. 1,261 yards. 11 TDs. 4 INTS. 105.6 rating. Those project out to the bet season by a Bears quarterback in franchise history.
  • Trubisky still throws 2-3 passes a game he can’t throw. He’s doing what many young QBs in the league do: trying to create something out of nothing when the prudent play is to either tuck the ball and get what you can on the ground or launch the football into the seventh row.
  • But I love that he’s sliding. Trubisky is doing something few young QBs do at this level: avoiding contact at all times. Availability trumps all things.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

270 Comments

Week Six: Bears at Dolphins Game Preview

| October 12th, 2018

Winslow Townson, AP Images

This is a big moment for a franchise devoid of big moments lately.

Last time the Bears played, the Cubs were still the top story in Chicago and in the aftermath of their Bucs dismantling it was hard for this surging team to even find air time on local sports radio. But now the attention of the entire city is on the Bears. And everybody has one question: are they the real thing?


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and the match-up of Bears Defense vs. Dolphins Offense is about as lopsided as you’ll find on the Week Six slate. Miami is bottom five in just about every relevant offensive statistic and – watching a few of their games this week – those numbers may be flattering. I never understood the frothing over Adam Gase in Chicago, unless endless bubble screens triggers one’s salivary glands. His “system” is not working with this talent group in Miami. And this will be the best defense they face in 2018.


The Game Conversation: A (Very) Short Play

(It’s the Old Town Alehouse. Noon. Wednesday. DUKE and DICK sit in the corner, one reading the Sun-Times and the other the Trib. They do not look at each other when they speak.)

DUKE: You believe in ’em?

DICK: Who?

DUKE: The Bears.

DICK: Do I believe in ’em?

DUKE: Yea.

DICK: No.

DUKE: Good defense.

DICK: Great defense.

DUKE: But you don’t believe in ’em?

(DICK takes a sip of the Old Style he smuggled in because the bar refuses to serve the legendary beer.)

DICK: No. But I’m willing.


Why the Bears Win

  • Miami has struggled to pressure the quarterback and that seems to be what will be required to keep the Nagy/Trubisky offense in check. If the Dolphins don’t send extra players into the backfield, Trubisky will have options all over the field. If they do, they better get home.
  • Ryan Tannehill has been awful his last two starts. He’s completing around 56% of his passes for a total of 285 yards. His TD-INT is 1-3. His quarterback rating for the two games is 52.65. Other than Josh Allen, Tannehill has been the worst quarterback in the league over this two-game stretch and now Khalil Mack is coming to south Florida.
  • Miami’s offensive line was humiliated late by Cincinnati. Just read some of the coverage from Sunday’s game and you’ll find reason to believe Mack, Akiem Hicks and the rest of the DL may be able to feast upon this mostly-journeymen offensive line, including former-Bear Teddy “Ballgame” Larsen. When there’s pressure on Tannehill, like most quarterbacks, bad decisions ensue.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

269 Comments

Next Four Games – All Against the AFC East – Crucial For Trubisky

| October 11th, 2018

Mitch Trubisky enters Sunday’s game in Miami with a ton of momentum. He’s coming off the biggest game of his young career; a game that would be the biggest game of many-a-quarterback’s entire career. Now it’s time to build off of it and become consistent. That’s what we need to see in the next four games, all against the AFC East. And it is very possible that a month from now, Sunday night November 4th, the city of Chicago will know who Trubisky is going to be.

The young quarterback’s last performance was historic but the first three were anything but. The Bears need him to settle somewhere in the middle and prove he can succeed against good defenses. He’ll get that opportunity as he’ll now face four of them in consecutive weeks.

As I wrote last week, what Trubisky did to Tampa was not a fluke. The Bears found his comfort zone and he excelled. Now defenses have tape on that performance and are going to do everything they can to make him uncomfortable.

The bad quarterbacks fold under such situations.

The good ones manage them.

The great ones thrive.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

© Da' Bears Blog