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Across The Middle: Embrace Fox Ball

| October 25th, 2017

I was mad.

The Bears were ahead by fourteen with less than eight minutes to go. Victory was a near certainty. But was I happy? No.

Considering this is a team that won just three games last season and hasn’t won more than eight since 2012, my anger in that moment was not justifiable.

What I, and many Bears fans, must do is learn to embrace these 2017 Bears. They’re ugly, sure, but style points be damned! This team is tough. They are also a game away from .500 and, you know what, they’re kind of fun.

Their offense needs to be better. I don’t expect they’ll be able to win many more games like they have the last two weeks, but it is what it is. Nobody should expect them to win the Super Bowl, or even just light up the scoreboard through the air. This team will never do that.

But they can play defense and the last two weeks they’ve done that as well as anybody in the league.

I understand the desire for more. But who are we to demand it? Can’t we just be happy with wins? At least, for now. The Bears just beat a good team. Convincingly. And they are in the hunt. It might only be for one more week but as long as they keep playing shutdown defense, they’ll continue to lurk.

Their offense needs to be better. But let’s worry about that some other day. For now, let’s just enjoy the fact that the Bears are playing competitive football again.


Bashing Mitch

Everyone wants to be quick to judge Mitch Trubisky, but we still don’t know much about him.

A guy by the name of Derrik Klassen couldn’t even wait until Trubisky’s third start before writing about how bad he is. Of course, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find Klassen was among the people who thought the Bears were “fleeced” and that Trubisky should’ve been a second round pick. A clear case of somebody looking for confirmation bias.

Twitter was exploding with people mentioning that Trubisky had just four completions in the fourth quarter last week but very few mentioned that he only had seven attempts or that, when he did pass, he was effective.

Roughly 33% of Trubisky’s drop backs have come when the Bears are facing third-and-six or more. That is tough for any quarterback. Add in the fact that he’s playing without NFL-caliber wide receivers and it makes you wonder who could be looking for dazzling success right now?

What Trubisky doesn’t get enough credit for is his restraint. Do you think he likes dropping back just 11 times in a game? Or taking sacks and throwing the ball away when he does drop back? Hell no. He wants to make plays. He waited for years in college and more than a month in the NFL. This is supposed to be his time to shine. But, he has to play team ball and that isn’t easy to do.

What we’ve seen is improvement. Trubisky is picking his spots and taking care of the ball. That’s what the Bears have needed from him the last two weeks. He’ll need to do more eventually and eventually we can get an accurate read on him. Right now, he’s just a guy doing his job.


The Coach Who Was Promised

If I were to put odds on who holds the head coaching job for the Bears last year, the two favorites would be the current coach and the guy he’s facing on Sunday. But Sunday’s game could change a lot.

Fox has momentum right now, but momentum can be stopped suddenly if Drew Brees carves up the defense and the Bears can’t score more than three offensive points. But, if that happens, and the Saints move to 5-2, it would put Payton firmly on the path to returning to New Orleans.

If the Bears win, however, they’d move to 4-4 on the season. Three more wins — with Brett Hundley’s Packers, the 49ers and the Browns amongst the teams in the final eight games — would put Fox as a lock to return.

We’ll see what happens on Sunday, but it could go a long way toward determining who is going to be the coach next season.


Bring On The Saints

The Saints are a good team but I’m not sure they want anything to do with the Bears.

New Orleans has won their last four and it hasn’t been a fluke. Their defense has come together nicely over that time and they’re running the ball very well. But the Bears might just be an awful match-up for them.

Part of New Orleans’ resurgence has been because they can put Marshon Lattimore on a receiver and take half of the field away. I guess, that’s the good part about the Bears not having any receivers. The Bears do, however, have running backs and they should be able to use them to pound the Saints’ defense. Aaron Jones ran for 131 yards against New Orleans last week but, for some reason, only got 17 carries. Even if you take out his 46-yard run (and why would you do that?) he averaged 5.3 yards per attempt. Jones is no Jordan Howard.

I’m excited to see the defense against Brees. Beating Joe Flacco and Cam Newton is one thing but Brees is a different animal and he has some weapons — including the underrated Alvin Kamara.

The Saints are also in the dome and that may be the difference in this game. I won’t say I’m expecting the Bears to win, but I’m excited to see how they respond to this test.

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