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Bears are Having Fun. Fans Should, Too.

| November 28th, 2018

Greetings, Bears fans. It’s been awhile.

I started a new job at the beginning of the month, which is exciting and all that, but not nearly as exciting as the Bears being 8-3 with a (semi) comfortable lead in the NFC North as we head into the final stretch of the regular season!

My last blog post emphasized the importance of the three straight divisional games the Bears have just completed. At the time, I wrote that if the Bears were able to go 2-1 in that stretch, it’d be a huge boon for their chances to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

I thought it’d be hard, but doable. More than anything I thought it’d give us a clear idea of who this team is and what they are capable of achieving in 2018. My exact words:

It’s already clear this Bears team is different from what we’ve gotten used to watching in seasons past. Just how different remains to be seen. Check back with me after Thanksgiving.

Well, it’s after Thanksgiving. I’m 5 lbs heavier and 500% (not a math major) more confident that the Chicago Bears are a damn good football team. Not only good, but extremely fun to watch, in part because you can tell how much the players are enjoying themselves.



And why shouldn’t they? Most teams in the NFL are mediocre, some straight up suck, and handful of teams are actually good. The Bears have been mediocre to awful for years now, so this season has been an absolute revelation as a fan, and frankly if you’re not enjoying yourself I’m not sure what could possibly make you happy.

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After Peterman, Division Challenges That Will Define Bears Season Await

| October 31st, 2018

We’re halfway through the 2018 NFL season, and the Bears sit atop the NFC North at 4-3.

This team is one win away from equaling the total number of wins they had last season, and frankly after watching Monday night’s game between the Patriots and the Bills, and knowing that Nathan Peterman is likely Sunday’s starter, if they aren’t at 5-3 by the end of Week 9 this might be the last article you read from me because I will have gone into some state of catatonic shock.

Now I know what some of you are thinking (fearing). The Bears we’ve come to know over the last few years have had a propensity to lose games they absolutely should win. It was a defining feature of the John Fox era.

Many of you might point to the Bears loss in Miami a few weeks ago as another sign that this team still struggles to put away lesser opponents. While I admit the loss to the Dolphins has grown more and more frustrating after seeing both the current landscape of the NFC North, as well as the increasingly poor play of Miami, I stand by my article two weeks ago. It was a painful loss, but not necessarily a bad one.

Apart from that, this team has done well in beating opponents they’re supposed to beat.

  • The Week 2 win against Seattle looks more impressive (and important) now that the Seahawks have won 4 of their last 5 games.
  • They rightfully demolished a terrible Tampa team.
  • While they kept it a little closer than we all would’ve liked against the Jets last week, they made the adjustments and pulled away when they needed to, winning by 14.

I fully expect Chicago to do the same thing this Sunday against the Bills. If they don’t, I’ll have to reevaluate how I view this team, and what they’re capable of in 2018. But from my perspective, after Buffalo is where the real challenge begins.

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Bears Contradict Themselves in Loss to Dolphins

| October 17th, 2018

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself;
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

Walt Whitman was waxing poetic about the human condition here, but he might as well have been describing my reaction to Sunday’s loss to Miami. It was a gut punch, a heart-breaker, a golden opportunity that slipped away.

It was also exciting, competitive and full of promise.

So this week’s column embraces the contradictory nature of a game like this, both as stand-alone event, and as part of a much larger puzzle we’re still in the process of piecing together.


The Bears are a great defense AND they played terribly vs the Dolphins.

The Bears defense we’ve seen for the past four games was not the defense that showed up on Sunday.

Kyle Fuller had a solid game with two big interceptions, and the defense played well enough in the first half, holding the Dolphins to 154 yards and just 7 points. However, they collapsed in the second half and OT, allowing 387 yards and 24 points. They let Brock Osweiler and Albert Wilson beat them on bubble screens, and when all was said and done the Dolphins produced 274 yards after the catch.

That’s terrible. That’s embarrassing. That’s inexcusable. But…

  • Khalil Mack was hampered with an ankle injury.
  • They played in brutally hot and humid conditions, and weren’t used to it.
  • The refs did them no favors.
  • Even great defenses have off games.

Excuses mean nothing in the NFL. All that matters are wins and losses, but it’s ridiculous to not concede those first three issues factored into Sunday’s loss, and that as a rule, good teams can have bad games without it spilling over into the rest of the season.

Right now, I’m not worried about this defense. Not one bit. But…ask me again in a few weeks.

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Rounding Up the Division Rivals (And Looking Slightly Into Their Futures)

| October 4th, 2018

Four games in the books, which means we’re a quarter of the way through the regular season, and it’s time for the first edition of “Rivals Round Up”. This is a new feature wherein I’ll take a look at how things stand in the NFC North.

And we’ll start at the top.


Chicago Bears, 3-1

Almost a week later, and last week’s win still feels every bit as good as it did on Sunday. (If you’re a Cubs fan like me, the Bears’ early season success might be the only thing getting you through this first week of October.) Chicago leads the division for the first time in years. They’ve won three games in a row for the first time, again, in years. And Mitch Trubisky’s offense took a hugely positive step forward with a dominant performance over Tampa Bay.

Oh, and that Khalil Mack guy? He’s pretty good, too.

Next Opponent: Miami Dolphins.

I don’t love that Chicago’s bye week comes so early this year, and after last week I’m antsy see them play again. But I expect the Bears to stay focused, keep learning, and go into Miami next week without missing a beat.

The Dolphins crashed back down to earth last week after a 3-0 start, getting pummeled by the Patriots 38-7. They play the 3-1 Bengals in Cincinnati this Sunday. Ryan Tannehill is having a nice season and seems to function well in Adam Gase’s system.

However, their offensive line is shaky and I fully expect the Bears to put pressure on him the entire day. On the defensive side, the Dolphin’s secondary will definitely be a step up from what Trubisky faced against Tampa. They’ve managed a league-leading nine interceptions in four games, so Mitch will have to play smart and stay accurate to keep from making costly mistakes.

Game Prediction: It won’t be another Bears blowout, but I think they earn their fourth straight win in Miami: Bears 24, Dolphins 17

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Bears Breakdown After Week 3: Defense Good, Offense Bad, Fans Conflicted

| September 26th, 2018

In many ways it’s a great time to be a Bears fan, but a lot of us aren’t feeling entirely joyful. Through three games I find myself filled with a mix of optimism and frustration. I’m also annoyed by my own frustration because last year I would’ve killed for the Bears to be where they are now.

So what’s my problem?

Chicago is 2-1 and in first place in the NFC North. That’s great! They have an elite, lights out, game-changing, championship-winning caliber defense. That’s great, too!

They also have an offense that is struggling, and no one is struggling more than the future of the franchise, Mitch Trubisky. Or as Adam Hoge said on the latest Hoge & Jahns podcast while recapping Sunday’s game, “the defense looked like it could win a Super Bowl, the offense looked like it didn’t belong in the NFL.”

That’s… not so great.

Shortly after the Bears 16-14 win I got on Twitter and posted five initial thoughts about the game and where the team is at this point in the season:

  • Without this defense they are 0-3.
  • Trubisky had a bad game.
  • So did Matt Nagy.
  • A win is still a win.
  • I’m gonna ignore points 1-3 for now and celebrate the fact that the Bears are 2-1 and leading the NFC North for the first time in years!

Three days later, and I feel the same way. The Bears are in a good position, regardless of how the offense has struggled, and I still believe that Trubisky will get better as the season progresses. And yet, the frustration lingers for two main reasons:

  • I expected Trubisky to be better at this stage
  • I had no idea the defense would be *this* good

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Monday Musings: A Few Final Thoughts Ahead of Tonight’s Game vs Seattle

| September 17th, 2018

Photo by Otto Greule Jr of Getty Images


The Bears host the Seattle Seahawks tonight and, since I’m DBB’s resident Pacific Northwest dweller, who better to share some last minute pregame thoughts? So here it goes:

I’m still stinging from last week’s loss (and you probably are, too) but let’s hope the Bears have moved on…

There’s no way to get around it: Last week hurt. No team should blow a 20-point lead, even if they’re facing one of the greatest QBs of all time. It was a missed opportunity to start the season with a statement win, but in the end Green Bay just found a different way to break our collective hearts. That being said, Week One needs to be the last thing on the Bears’ mind when they run out onto Soldier Field tonight. I’ve mentioned my love of tennis and Roger Federer before, and one of the things that makes him great is his fantastic ability to erase painful losses from his memory. He learns, but he doesn’t dwell. Let’s hope the Bears take the same approach.


Ah, memories…

The last time the Bears played the Seahawks was 2015 in Seattle. It was the 3rd game of John Fox’s tenure, and Jimmy Clausen was starting in place of an injured Jay Cutler. The Bears lost 26-0. (I don’t care enough to check, but I’m pretty sure the Bears only managed one first down the entire game.) I watched with a handful of Seahawks fans, and honestly it was so pathetic they couldn’t even muster the energy to make fun of me. Regardless of how disappointing last week’s loss was, it doesn’t hurt to remember that things used to be much, much worse.


This game feels about as “must win” for the Bears as any Week 2 game could…

The Bears have the more talented roster going into tonight’s game, and that was true even before Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin, and KJ Wright were declared out, with several other key Seahawks players listed as doubtful. If the Bears can’t manage a win at home against a rebuilding and busted up Seattle team, then we might be in for a much rougher season than any of us were expecting.

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Getting Real: 3 Things Bears Must Do to Keep Fans Optimistic in 2018

| July 31st, 2018

Here at DBB, we’ve been high on optimism for the Bears’ 2018 season pretty much since Matt Nagy was hired back in January, and we’re not the only ones. Both local and national media are feeling the enthusiasm and energy emanating from Halas Hall, and with good reason!

We’ve laid out all those reasons why we should all be psyched about the direction the Bears are heading in previous, and I fully stand by those predictions. At the same time, I’m not the hardcore Pollyanna that I’ve likely come across as in my last few articles. There’s a limit to my enthusiasm, and there are some actual markers of change the Bears are going to have to hit this season for me to continue to do things like  compare Trubisky to Roger Federer and Serena Williams.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I’ve laid out three things the Chicago Bears MUST do to justify continued optimism into the 2019 season. This isn’t a dream scenario list. This is a bare minimum list for me to not sink into a pit of deep, deep despair.

For the purposes of this list I’m not factoring in the possibility of serious injury to top players. Not because it couldn’t happen, but because a) it’s morbid b) it’s largely out of the team’s control and, c) it would cause me to have a very different perspective on the season moving forward.


First.

They have to finish at least .500.

Football is a rare sport in that literally every game matters. You look at baseball, basketball, or hockey and it’s absurd to think that one game would change the way fans view an entire season. But football teams don’t play 162 games in a season, they play 16, and there’s a significant difference between a team going 7-9 and 8-8. Even if that’s only in perspective.

The last time the Bears had a a winning season was 2012. In 2013 they went 8-8 and, well, we all know how things have gone since then. The Bears don’t have the easiest of schedules – of course that’s not always the most straightforward metric to measure a month before a season actually begins. Still, I’m sick of rooting for a losing team. The Bears absolutely have enough talent to earn as many wins as losses.

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On Greatness, Desire, Tennis, and Trubisky

| July 23rd, 2018

We’re almost there, guys.

The Chicago Bears have started training camp, and the first preseason game follows in a few weeks! It’s great news for all of us at DBB, considering the most exciting thing that’s happened in the Bears’ universe over the last two months is Jay Cutler killing it on his wife’s new reality show.

Data and Andrew have done a fantastic job breaking down players, stats, and expectations for the 2018 season, and frankly my attention has been focused on other sports. And since at the exact moment of writing this article we’re still left with not much more than anticipation for the upcoming season, I’m going to spend a little bit of time reflecting on my other favorite sport: tennis.



Right now I imagine some of you would prefer I’d just write about politics again, but fear not, this is still DBB, and I promise to work the Bears in…eventually! Just indulge me for a bit. It’s summer, the days are long, and we still have time to meander.

While I fell in love with football as a small kid, I didn’t come to follow tennis until much later. It was 2008, and I was sick at home in the middle of a boring September afternoon, flipping through the channels. I came across the US Open. I figured I’d give it a try.

Tennis isn’t the most intuitive of sports, so I spent the first few hours bemused as to how a score could possibly go from 15 to 30 to 40 to game over, and just how many games do they have to play, anyways, and also what the fuck is a “let”?

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NFL is Playing Politics of the Worst Kind

| June 1st, 2018

“Stick to sports.”

Every sports journalist or athlete who has ever expressed a political opinion has probably had this insipid phrase thrown their way. It’s become quite a common refrain, particularly after the media took note that Colin Kaepernick wasn’t standing for the national anthem a couple years ago.

Like most snarky retorts it’s not meant to be particularly clever or thoughtful. It’s meant to shut down conversation and put someone in their place.

It’s also bullshit.

Not only is it ridiculous to expect a person, let alone a public figure with a large platform, to solely talk about their profession and nothing else 24/7, it’s also disingenuous because often the person saying “stick to sports” doesn’t mean they don’t want someone talking about politics. They just don’t want someone expressing a political viewpoint opposing their own.

Last week’s decision by the NFL to amend their national anthem policy was not made in an effort to “stick to sports”, or appear nonpartisan, as some have claimed. The decision was explicitly political. They implemented this rule in the hopes it would appeal to the political and social leanings of those they view as their core audience: namely, conservative white people.

Let me get two things out of the way before I go any further.

  1. Yes, I am aware not all people who are against the protests are white and/or conservative, and that many conservative-leaning white people are fine with or supportive of players protesting. But in general, white conservatives have been much more disapproving of the protests than liberals and people of color.
  2. This is not a First Amendment issue. Let me repeat that, just so we’re all clear. This is not a First Amendment issue. Private organizations have the right to restrict what their employees say and do during company time. I am well aware of this, so no need to point that out in the comments.

Moving on…..

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Four Games To Look Forward to in 2018

| May 10th, 2018

Greetings, Bears fans! Happy to be back!

A lot has happened since I went on hiatus. Some free agency moves have been made, the draft is done, and guess what? I’m officially excited about football again!

Truly, I don’t know how anyone, besides those who thrive on constant negativity (or those aiming to write for the Tribune), could consider this offseason anything short of a huge success for Chicago. The only move Ryan Pace made that I even slightly disagreed with was not matching the Saints offer for Cam Meredith, but honestly letting him walk is small potatoes compared to all the great additions made in 2018.

Of course there’s still the potential for roster moves and shake-ups (and God forbid, serious injuries) between now and the start of the season. Still, we have a much clearer idea of who the Bears are and what they’re going to look like, and damn it if they aren’t looking pretty, pretty good.

I figured I’d put all this unbridled enthusiasm to good use by making my return to DBB to discuss the four games I’m most looking forward to in 2018:

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