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Across The Middle: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

| September 13th, 2017

If the Chicago Bears want to sell their fans on the current regime leading the team back to glory, they better start making progress. Because last Sunday was decisively not progress. It was more of the same.

With their top two receivers out and the decision to play a terrible quarterback made, the defense has to be the center of John Fox’s sales pitch to stay in the job. What I saw last Sunday was pretty much the same thing we’ve been seeing for the last two years.

  • They can’t get turnovers.
  • They can’t get off the field on third down.
  • They start slowly.

The third bullet point is the most frustrating.

We are now 33 games into the Fox/Fangio defense. Some facts:

  • 21 times they’ve given up scores on the first two possessions.
  • 16 of those have been touchdowns!
  • In 14 of those games, they gave up scores on the first possession itself.
  • 11 of those were touchdowns!

Those rates are absolutely insane. For two defensive minds as accomplished as Fox and Fangio, how is it possible that their teams are never prepared to start games? Here’s the kicker: in games they managed to fight off their opponents until the third offensive possession, the Bears are 6-6. That’s six of the nine wins of the Fox regime.

The other two bullets are just as concerning. The Bears finished with the fifth-fewest takeaways in 2015 and tied an NFL record for the fewest in 2016. The Bears were among nine teams to not record a takeaway in Week One and, really, they only came close once.

The Bears also had the 10th-worst third down rate in Week One, which is about par for the course. They were 11th-worst last year and fourth-worst in 2015.

It’s one game, against a really good offense, but these are the same areas the Bears have struggled the last two years. Good defenses set the tone early, get off the field on third down and take the ball away. In 33 games of Fox and Fangio, they haven’t shown the ability to do any of the three.

We can’t keep blaming the players. The roster has been overhauled and they have talent with which to work. The same mistakes are being made. It’s time to take a closer look and wonder if it isn’t an inability to learn but, rather, an inability to teach.

The Great Glennon Debate

We just can’t not debate quarterbacks, can we?

What I saw from Glennon on Sunday is pretty much the same I saw from watching him in Tampa Bay. As I wrote in February, he just doesn’t get the intricacies of the position.

The Jordan Howard drop is a prime example.

Glennon was late locating Howard and then decided to take his time delivering the ball. By the time Howard had a chance at the ball he could feel a defensive back closing in. Should Howard have caught the ball? Of course. But it was thrown on the inside shoulder meaning that, even if Howard made the catch, he would’ve been facing the DB, wouldn’t have scored and likely would’ve been tackled in bounds, ending the game. Blame Howard for the drop, but that didn’t cost them the game.

You know what certainly didn’t help, 13 net passing yards on their first 15 drop backs because their quarterback kept walking into sacks.

The Glennon Gushers have set the bar so impossibly low for him. This isn’t Moses Moreno, Matt Barkley or even Brian Hoyer. This is a guy making $16 million and keeping the future of the franchise on the bench. If he isn’t able to do better than he did Sunday (spiller alert: he’s not) then he’s wasting our fucking time.

Buyer’s Remorse

The Bears could have Vic Beasley instead of another Kevin White injury. Sure, they could, but that was never going to happen.

Beasley was never going to be a Bear because Pace, Fox and Fangio want their edge players to have length. Even with Atlanta, you see them struggling to find a spot for the former eighth overall pick on running downs.

As Jay Glazer reported at the time, the Bears went into that draft hoping to get one of three players: White, Amari Cooper or Leonard Williams. If they couldn’t have taken one of those three players, Beasley wasn’t next in line. Todd Gurley was.

It doesn’t make any sense for the Bears to move on from White now. They might as well keep him and hope he can do something next year. If he does, his second contract will be reasonable. If he doesn’t, they can let him go.

Of course, with their top two receivers coming off of major injuries, they’ll have to bring in competition. Who that will be is something we have a lot of time to think about.

BRING ON THE BUCS

It’s hard to imagine what the Buccaneers are going through with Hurricane Irma right now.It was finally confirmed early Tuesday that the game will actually be played at Raymond James.

I ranted about the Bears defense being at a point where it should be winning games for the team and I think that’s what is going to happen this week. Tampa Bay is good, but Jameis Winston has a tendency to throw bad interceptions and I think the Bears offense does just enough to get a win.

Then again, I thought the Bears were going to upset the Falcons.

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