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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| January 6th, 2016

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• “Of course everybody’s frustrated, man. We were 6-10, that’s not acceptable.” That quote in itself may not mean a whole lot to most, but, to me I see it as Ryan Pace not losing track of the fact that he is in charge of a bad team. There seem to be quite a few people who have lost track of that fact. The pressure is on Pace and John Fox to make sure 6-10 doesn’t happen again and they know it.

• Going 1-7 at home isn’t OK, but five of the losses came to playoff teams and another came with a preseason lineup against a team that went 6-2 down the stretch. I’m not going to freak out about it that much.

• All of the talk about Jay Cutler’s decrease in interceptions was pretty dumb. You saw on Sunday, a lot of times, the interceptions are more about dumb luck. He’s just as good now as he’s always been.

• John Timu brings a lot to the table, but there’s a reason he wasn’t playing until recently. Joique Bell caught a pass right in front of Timu for what should’ve been an easy tackle. Bell, of course, beat Christian Jones in coverage, but Timu should’ve been able to make the tackle five yards short of the first down marker. Instead, he whiffed and Bell ended up with a 13-yard gain. The lesson: If you’re going into next year with Timu as a starter, you better have speed all around him.

• When I watched the Packers and Vikings play on Sunday night the thing that stood out to me in comparison to the Bears was their speed on defense. The Vikings have a few elite athletes in their front seven and the Packers have Clay Matthews, who was playing at another speed. According to Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders, the Bears forced more throws short of the first down marker on third down than 30 other teams, yet they ranked 29th in third down percentage. I don’t think it was as much a matter of missed tackles as it was they didn’t have anyone there to make the play.

• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn released the All-NFC North picks as voted on by scouts within the division on Saturday. The Bears had Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long, Martellus Bennett (unanimous), Jarvis Jenkins and, of course, Shea McClellin make the first-team.

• Why is it that Long has gotten a pass for his performance at right tackle while McClellin has taken so much heat for his play this year? Really, their performances have been about equal. Past performance at other positions isn’t really relevant. Pace noted the fact that McClellin was playing a new position in a new scheme and that he, like the other NFC scouts, didn’t think he played poorly. That said, Pace also noted McClellin’s injury history and that, more than anything else, is why the Bears need to question if they should move on. Regardless, they need at least one new inside linebacker.

• The biggest disappointment of the All-NFC North team was that they picked Aaron Rodgers at quarterback based on reputation, which one of the scouts pretty much admitted. He should’ve been third. Jay Cutler was the best quarterback in the division this year.

This Still Doesn’t Make Sense

Why is Adam Gase being called an offensive genius? The Bears offense ranked the same in both scoring and yardage as it did a year ago. There were more injuries this year but they had injuries last year and a heck of a lot more distractive stuff going on behind the scenes. Consider this: The Ravens were 25th in scoring and 14th in yards. I know there are a ton of excuses as to why Trestman’s 2014 offense was equal, but why was his 2015 offense similar?

Gase did some really good things this year and he could become a great offensive coordinator, but I don’t think he’s there yet. He gets too much credit for his work with Cutler and I would hope those thinking of hiring him as a coach realize that.

Where Gase is certainly above average is his ability to relate to players. They all seem to love him. That can go a long way and not all successful head coaches were successful coordinators. If it were my job on the line, I wouldn’t hire a coach unless I knew they were going to make the team elite on at least one side of the ball.

Player of the Week

Matt Forte. Forget about the performance on the field for a second. The players made it clear they love Forte and want him back on their team. He was the talk of the locker room on Sunday and Monday. I never realized how beloved he is.

Now to the game, Forte had 110 yards from scrimmage and the tying touchdown on a screen pass in the fourth quarter. He had seven games in which he managed over 100 yards from scrimmage and scored seven touchdowns in 13 games. The Bears can’t give him a huge contract, but I don’t see how they’re going to be better next year without him.

Goat of the Week

Charles Leno Jr. He just has to be better than that. If he’s going to be a part of the team’s future, he has to put up a better fight than he did on Sunday. I know people tend to only look at sacks allowed, but Leno was largely responsible for two interceptions. That just isn’t OK.

The Bears seem to be very high on Leno, but my guess is they’ll move Long to the left side. Leno would then be battling Tayo Fabuluje (who they also like) for the job at right tackle. I don’t think anybody should worry too much about this one bad game, but he was an obvious pick for Goat of the Week.

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