49 Comments

A Change Needs to Come: Matt Nagy Needs to Bench Matt Nagy.

| October 27th, 2020

Mitch Trubisky was benched for a lot of reasons but primary among them was his inability to run Matt Nagy’s offense. He was unable to to read defenses, change protections, get into the right play.

Nick Foles can run Nagy’s offense. The problem is, as we’re now learning, Nagy’s offense doesn’t make any sense.


Personal Note.

I like to think I’m pretty forthright with my readers around here. I don’t spend hours upon hours dissecting All-22 tape because I legitimately can’t think of anything more boring. I do, however, watch the Sunday Ticket “Short Cuts” presentation of every single game played in the NFL. These are quick, easily-digestible presentations that help cut through national media misrepresentations of players, teams…etc.

When I went through the Rams season, one thing was abundantly clear. There was 0.00% chance the Bears would have any success running into the middle of their defensive line. If the Bears were going to have success on offense they would need to spread the Rams out, get the ball to their speedsters in space, screen them to death. This isn’t necessarily the approach EVERY team should take with the Rams, but it was certainly the approach the Bears would need to take.

And they didn’t. They did…nothing. They attempted a bizarre, incoherent game plan. They ran directly at the best defensive player in the sport and then acted shocked, SHOCKED, when that approach failed.


The Questions.

What would Andy Reid be doing with Darnell Mooney? You can bet your life he’d be finding creative ways to get him the ball in space 3-5 times a game.

Why have the running backs been exiled from the passing game since Tarik Cohen’s injury?

Why is Cole Kmet – who does nothing but make plays when he’s allowed – struggling to usurp a useless Demetrius Harris on the depth chart?

Why does Jimmy Graham get pulled off the field in the red zone? This is now back-to-back weeks where Nagy is removing the team’s most intimidating red zone threat where they need him most!

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

55 Comments

Not Good Enough: Rapid Fire Response to the Bears Falling to 5-2

| October 27th, 2020

Tonight’s notes were compiled at the end of the first half and then at the end of the game. So don’t judge my first half comments until you’ve seen the thoughts completed.


First Half Thoughts

  • The big takeaway: the Bears scored three points in the first half. Three. And the blame lies solely on the coaching staff. How could you watch five weeks of Rams tape and think it was wise to run up the middle, at the best defensive player in the league, with this offensive line? How could you not see this as a prime opportunity to spread the Rams out, quick toss them to death, get Montgomery involved in the passing attack?
  • One has to think the Demetrius Harris era is quickly coming to an end. Not only is he over-targeted, but he never catches the football. Wouldn’t the Bears be better served by Cole Kmet making mistakes on the field, and getting better, than seeing Harris drop passes weekly?
  • I had high hopes for a broadcast with Lou Riddick. This broadcast is terrible. Stupid animations. Brian Griese put Cody Whitehair on the Rams at one point. I miss watching football in bars and not having to listen to this nonsense.
  • Pat O’Donnell has become a better punter in 2020.
  • Roquan Smith needs to stop missing tackles for loss. It’s become a recurring theme.
  • Kyle Fuller played his worst half of the season. Why was he so damn soft on a third-and-long?
  • Sean McVay going up tempo and moving Jared Goff’s pocket was terrific coaching. But the Bears defense is just hard to score touchdowns against. A mediocre defense allows 20+ points in that first half.
  • Danny Trevathan had improved in recent weeks. That was a rough first half. McVay and Goff are clearly trying to isolate him in coverage.
  • Tashaun Gipson batting down an easy pick six was one of the more surreal moments of the season. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a defensive intentionally bat down a ball thrown directly to them.
  • The coaching at the end of the half was abysmal on both sidelines. Why is McVay riskins Goff throwing passes over the middle? Why isn’t Nagy making the Rams punt? Insanity.

In fairness, this was the half I expected. Boring. Low-scoring. Defensive struggle. But it’s hard to see the Bears pulling out this game if they don’t dramatically change their offensive approach.


Second Half Thoughts

  • Best thing that happened in this game? Eddie Jackson going off the field and coming back on. Those non-contact injuries often end up very, very bad.
  • Akiem Hicks was unblockable for most of this game. He also commits way too many penalties. The question is, does one automatically come with the other?

Read More …

Tagged: ,

98 Comments

Week 7 Game Preview: Bears at Rams on Monday Night Football

| October 23rd, 2020

The Bears now enter a five-game-in-six-week stretch wherein three of those games will be in primetime. And at 5-1 there’s no one happier about that than Roger Goodell. The Bears have been the ratings surprise of the season and if they keep winning, that’ll continue. The ratings will be good Monday night. I’m not so sure the game will be.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And the 2020 Bears are starting to play like, and take on the personality of, the 2018 Bears. That’s NEVER a bad thing. That team made a statement by beating the Rams in primetime. Might the same happen in 2020?


Donald, Aaron.

There are three players remaining on the Bears schedule that should frighten them. Aaron Rodgers because he’s Aaron Rodgers. Derrick Henry because if the Bears don’t wrap him up they’ll be shredded for 200+ yards. And Aaron Donald. With Donald, this week is especially terrifying.

Donald is the best defensive player in the league. He’s also a defensive tackle who’ll have the opportunity to line up opposite a liability on the Bears offensive line at left guard. If Donald wants to spend 40 snaps in that spot, he will. Matt Nagy and Nick Foles can’t let Donald wreck this game; something he’s more than capable of doing. That means their backs need to do a ton of work in protection. That could mean Holtz and Kmet in the backfield with their eyes squarely on Donald.

But it also means two other things.

  • Stop running the ball on first down and allowing pass rushers to rev up and ride. If the Bears are in second/third and long continually, it’s chum in the water for Donald.
  • Integrate one-read, quick toss plays on those early downs to keep Donald on his heels. Isn’t this the perfect week to throw some bubble screens out to Darnell Mooney and Ted Ginn and see what the speedsters can do with the ball in space?

Donald is the kind of player opposing coaches must fixate on if they intend to be successful. With the Bears struggling upfront, that’s even more the case here.


7 Favorite Episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm (for Week 7)

Do I love L.A. Story? More than most films. (The movie poster is sampled as the featured image of this post.) Is Chinatown one of the greatest screenplays ever written? Sure is. Do I think David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive has some of the most bizarre and sexy scenes ever captured? Yep. Are the L.A. scenes in Annie Hall perfect? They are. But for my money, Curb is the finest representation of Los Angeles and all it entails. (It is a terrible place and Larry David knows it.) I’ve done seven runs through the entire series and I’m happy with this list.

(7) Kamikaze Bingo

——————–

(6) Larry vs. Michael J. Fox

——————–

(5) The Table Read

——————–

(4) The Ski Lift

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

94 Comments

5 Reasons to Be Overly Excited About the 5-1 Start

| October 22nd, 2020

We’ve spent the last two days focused on where the Bears need to improve. Today, I come to celebrate these first six weeks.


The Pass Rush

Defensive success in 2020 is predicated upon rushing the passer with the front four and Football Outsiders ranks the Bears as the second best pass defense in the league, predominantly because of the success they’re finding in the pressure department. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks have been as expected, and the Bears are getting pass rush contribution from unlikely sources like Mario Edwards Jr, James Vaughters and even Brent Urban.

What’s the most exciting thing about the pass rush? Robert Quinn is still being worked into the lineup and every time he gets on the field he makes an impact. When Quinn reaches 100% health, and sees his snap count tick up, the Bears will be the most feared front in the league.


The New Kyle Fuller

No one is surprised that Fuller is the team’s best cover corner, and one of the best cover corners in the league.

But did anyone see Fuller becoming the reincarnation of Ronnie Lott, delivering a crushing hit almost every week. Did anyone see Fuller making the kind of tackle he made on Teddy Bridgewater Sunday, keeping the Panthers’ quarterback out of the end zone and changing the course of the game?

Fuller, through six weeks, is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. (I’m just not sure Aaron Donald will ever lose that award again.)


The Quarterback Change

Has Nick Foles been great since taking over at quarterback? No.

Has there been a discernible change when it comes to leadership? Absolutely.

Let’s take a look at what Foles has done since taking over.

  • He led the comeback against Atlanta, throwing three touchdown passes.
  • He made the crucial read on the crucial drive – highlighted here by Emmanuel Acho – to beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs. (The kind of read his predecessor never made.)
  • He delivered a stirring press conference following the victory over Carolina that firmly established him as the team’s most vocal leader in years. This is what you expect from the quarterback position.

Foles will always be limited physically. He’s frequently going to take the quick, efficient option over the “shot”. But as the season progresses, and he becomes more comfortable with his receivers, the passing game should improve.

A tweet from Allen Robinson’s agent seems to sum up how important it was for the Bears to make this move WHILE ALSO winning.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

165 Comments

Are There Potential OL Upgrades Available for the Bears?

| October 21st, 2020

Nick Foles, in his inspirational postgame press conference on Sunday, said, “without belief nothing is possible”. There’s truth to that. But with all due respect to Foles, belief alone isn’t going to get the Chicago Bears offense anywhere.

Foles was excited after the Bears defeated the Carolina Panthers to move to 5-1. And he should be, as another win buys the Bears more time to figure out what is hurting their offense. Foles believes they will, and he has his reasons, but six games into the season — and 38 into the Matt Nagy era — there’s little reason for anyone on the outside to believe the Bears are going to get where they need to be offensively.

There’s no reason to believe Foles’ belief is anything but blind optimism. In the same press conference he also said, “There have been teams that have been bad offensively for a very long time, we’re not one of those teams.”

But, hey, he’s new here. We’ll cut him some slack on that one.



Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

112 Comments

A Single Question for the Bears Offense: Why?

| October 20th, 2020

(AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

[Editor’s Note: The following column is written from a place of jubilance. The Bears are 5-1. They are playing some of the best defense in the National Football League. But if our expectations are going to venture beyond just making it to January, they need to improve.]


3rd down and 2.

1:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Bears are nursing what feels like a tenuous seven-point lead.

Two yards ends the game. Two yards and the Bears are coasting to 5-1, allowing their defense to relax on the sideline and celebrate a job well done.

This is when you call your best play.

Your two-point conversion play.

Your “Chicago Special”.

This is when you roll out that thing you’ve been practicing every week because these moments don’t often present themselves over the course of a game. How many times are you actually in the position to say, “Get a couple yards and get a W.” The Bears faced one Sunday.

And then they ran…something. I don’t have the foggiest idea what it was. Foles took the snap and threw a dud of a pass to Allen Robinson on a well-covered shallow cross. No creativity. No imagination. I’ve drawn up better plays during street games in Kearny, New Jersey. (“Run to the Buick bumper and turn” always worked.) In the notebook I’ve been keeping during these games I wrote a single word.

Why?

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

448 Comments

Bears Hold On, Beat Panthers, Move to 5-1: Rapid Fire

| October 19th, 2020

The Bears are 5-1. They have played six games and won five of them. They are still not very good in almost every facet of offensive football but that doesn’t matter yet. 5. And. 1.


First Half

Score: 13-6 Bears.

  • Let’s call it The Drive 2: Just Worse. After the Bears picked off Teddy Bridgewater on the opening Carolina drive, this happened:
    • Slow flat toss to Jimmy Graham for minimal gain.
    • Run that didn’t work
    • Graham off the field, clock winds down, timeout needed.
    • Graham back on the field, clock winds down, delay of game.
    • Graham back off the field, Foles threads a beauty to Cole Kmet for a touchdown.
  • For all the talk of Kmet’s lack of production, I’ve continued to make the same argument. If the Bears wanted to involve Kmet, they could. That’s how TE’s function in this offense. Today they seem to have chosen to involve him.
  • DJ Moore on the crossing routes. Think you might have read about this in this space last week. Jaylon Johnson – and most other corners – can’t track that speed across the field. Johnson should have given up a touchdown to end the first half.
  • Kyle Fuller is good for one borderline personal foul hit a game. But what was he supposed to do on the hit to Kirkwood? Kirkwood lowered HIS head. If Fuller supposed to go after his legs? Is that what the league wants?
  • Bilal Nichols had a lovely first half, specifically the first few drives.
  • Ted Ginn looks like a disaster waiting to happen on punt returns.
  • Anthony Miller not getting the first down on 3rd and 3 is inexcusable. How can you not be aware of the game situation, especially on an offense that struggles like this one does.
  • Fuller’s tackle on Bridgewater to prevent the touchdown run is one of those great plays that gets forgotten by game’s end. I’ll make sure this one doesn’t.
  • There’s not an entirely different feeling with Nick Foles in at quarterback. Confidence. Foles knows what he’s doing. He’s limited. He knows that. But he gets the football where it need to go.
  • Did a Bears kicker just make a 55-yarder? Santos. You stay.
  • On defense, Bears have struggled with containing the outside run game and keeping Bridgewater from moving the chains with his legs. On offense, Bears don’t look like they can run it at all. If those are not corrected, this game will stay close.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,