For the Sake of Fan Sanity, Eddy Pineiro Needs a Perfect Saturday Night

| August 23rd, 2019

Eddy Pineiro has never attempted a field goal in the NFL. And right now he’s the only game in town. But while many of the folks covering the the 2019 Chicago Bears – this space included – have spent the last month exploring outside options to fill the gaping kicker crevasse on the roster, the best case scenario is the easiest one: Pineiro has a perfect Saturday night and builds some confidence heading into the opener.

Some is the pivotal word in that sentence. There is no way to be entirely confident in Pineiro, who has been anything but reliable since joining the club. Just look at the way his being the last kicker remaining has been framed by the national football outlets. PFT described him as still being on “thin ice”. NBC Sports reported he won the battle…for now. Nobody, not even members of the Pineiro family, think he won anything. He simply survived a competition wherein the other competitors are now filling out job resumes at Charles Entertainment Cheese pizza establishments.

There are also nightmare scenarios for Saturday night. What if Pineiro goes 1-4, missing a few short ones? What if he misses an extra point or two? What if he doinks a kick? (I mean, can you fucking imagine?) What if he simply doesn’t look the part of a professional kicker? The Bears could go to sleep Saturday night having to deal with two concrete facts: (1) they do not have a kicker and (2) they have a real game, against their oldest rival, in primetime, in front of a massive audience, in twelve days.

Preseason is and should be meaningless. But because this organization has recklessly neglected the kicker position, they have put an extreme amount of import into a random practice game in Indiana in August.

Now all Bears fans can do is wait. And hope.



ATM: If Leonard Can’t, Roquan Can.

| August 21st, 2019

Much has been written about the Bears needing one Georgia product — Leonard Floyd — to break out and complement Khalil Mack in the pass rush department. But if that doesn’t happen, perhaps Roquan Smith can ease the pain. While nothing of actual substance can be gained by watching preseason games, seeing Roquan burst through the line faster than anybody could react for a sack two weeks ago was a nice reminder of what the second-year linebacker is capable of when he’s sent after the quarterback.

Floyd’s lack of pass rush has been disappointing. But his ability to drop back in coverage and move in space is extremely rare for players at his position. His exceptional coverage skills will allow new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to do what he does best: design creative blitz packages. And Roquan has already proven to be exceptional at finding his way to the quarterback. Smith’s very first NFL play was a sack and he followed with four more, many looking similar to his sack in the preseason against Carolina.

Pagano never had a plethora of great pass rushers in Indianapolis, so he had to get creative. One year Jerrell Freeman had a career-high 5.5 sacks. The next year it was D’Qwell Jackson with four. Smith is a lot better than both of them and had five last year despite a coordinator who has been more conservative upfront than Pagano.

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How to Fix NFL Preseason in Three Easy Steps

| August 20th, 2019

This space has been belittling preseason football for a decade. These games have no relevance. They have never had any relevance. And they are a useless health risk.  It seems the entirety of the league has finally figured that out. And now the media has noticed!

Step 1. Two Games.

One of the biggest issues with the preseason is the ridiculousness of playing four games. The only reason these four games exist is because owners (a) can rip off their season ticket holders by forcing the purchase on them and (b) charge exorbitant rates to local television providers for the broadcast rights.  But networks are getting smarter and starting to realize these games not only have no value in their second halves, they have almost no value from the opening whistle. Thus you’ll notice endless commercials for local car dealers.

So cut the thing in half. And really push one of the two games as a developmental display. That means don’t play a single starter or relevant player. I would have been far more interested in seeing Tyler Bray play four quarters than seeing the Chase Daniel play with a bunch of guys he’ll never see in actual game action. Especially when you consider the Bears are a Mitch Trubisky or Daniel injury away from Bray being a pivotal component of their 2019 roster.

But the point here is ending the duplicity of the enterprise. Stop pretending these games are in any way a preparation for the regular season. It’s insulting.

Step 2. Free Entry, Half-Price Concessions Including Merchandise

Open the gates to everyone for the one game you’d be hosting.

Sell beer and soda and hot dogs for half price.

Sell jerseys and hats and all that bullshit for half price.

Turn this preseason game into a celebration of the fans. Make it ABOUT them. A father is way more likely to buy jerseys for the kids if the jerseys are $50 instead of $100. And he’ll definitely slam down a few $6 MGDs.

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Recapping the 2019 Offseason

| August 19th, 2019

It’s been a long offseason, and I’ve covered a lot of ground with a variety of articles. Now that the 2019 season is fast approaching, I’m pretty much finished writing new content, but since I have a hard time remembering everything I’ve researched and shared on here, I thought it might be helpful to re-visit what we learned and see how it relates to the Bears in 2019.

I’m going to try and highlight the most relevant stuff in 1 sentence per article, grouped together by topic. Think of it like a TL;DR for the offseason.


Running Backs

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Daniels, O’Donnell, Patterson: Three Under-Discussed Keys to the 2019 Season

| August 15th, 2019

#3 James Daniels

There’s been an assumption that Daniels will naturally slide into the starting center role and stay there for half a decade. Hell, it’s an assumption I’ve made on the radio in Des Moines with Daniels-centric hosts Trent Condon and Ken Miller.

But while Cody Whitehair struggled early with snaps, his ability to call out protections and lead this unit was a key to their success in 2018. The center is the most underrated position on the NFL roster. (Just look what happens to teams when they lose their starters there.) Daniels is now sliding into his natural position. But is he a natural leader?

#2 Pat O’Donnell

P.O.D. was having his best punting game as a Bear in the Eagles playoff loss until a nightmarish shank late allowed Nick Foles a short field for the go-ahead touchdown drive. Here’s what someone who works inside the organization texted me a few weeks ago:

He looks different. He looks good. He looks confident.

With a defense this good, long fields will kill opponents. The Bears need a different, good, confident O’Donnell.

#1 Cordarrelle Patterson

The Bears were last in the league in kickoff return average last season and added one of the two or three best kick returners in the game. Patterson’s signing should lead to a huge improvement in field position from day one.

But Patterson also had 21 catches for 247 yards last season in New England and paired that with 42 carries for 228 yards. This is an exceedingly productive offensive weapon who may cover some of the production the club is currently lacking from a struggling tight end group.

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