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2019 Bears Follow the Same Script, Over and Over and Over and Over and Over…

| November 27th, 2019


Oh what a difference a year makes. After last year’s Thanksgiving game against Detroit, I wrote an article about how much fun the Bears were to watch, and encouraged fans to have fun too, regardless of what came next:

Being a sports fan often means you’re in store for a lot of heartbreak, so take a minute to savor it when things are going well.

Many words can describe the Bears’ 2019 season, but “fun” is definitely not one of them, and no one is savoring this season. Even wins like Sunday against the Giants aren’t really enjoyable. Go watch the post-game interviews with Nagy and Trubisky and you’ll see neither is particularly pleased, even though they got the W.

The main reason I haven’t written much about the team this year is because I’m not having much fun watching. It’s not just that they aren’t very good (they = the offense = mostly Trubisky). I’ve watched a ton of Bears football over the years, and many of those teams were way worse than what we’re seeing in 2019, but I still managed to find more joy than I have this season.

Part of that stems from the expectations we all had for the Bears. They were supposed to contend for a title this year, and instead they’re likely to finish below .500. But it’s not just that. Ever since London this season has become monotonous and disappointing. It’s like watching the same boring, predictable procedural every week.

A typical episode tends to go something like this:

The Bears come out and the offense is flat. The defense plays well. Maybe they bend a little, but they don’t break. The offense has chances, but the run game stalls and the offensive line can’t block. Trubisky misses wide open receivers, and when he does manage to actually hit them in stride they drop the ball. And so it goes….

Three and out
Three and out
Three and out.

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Rival Roundup: The Bears Are Good, But Must Be Better to Win the NFC North

| October 11th, 2019


We’re just over a quarter of the way through the 2019 season, and the bye week makes it the perfect time to assess where the Bears stand, both as an individual unit and in relation to the rest of the NFC North.

Rivals:

Green Bay Packers

Right now the Packers are the top team in the NFC North. They’re currently 4-1, and 2-0 in the division. Most likely they beat the Lions on Monday and become 3-0, which would be a boon to their playoff hopes. They also have the second easiest remaining schedule in the division.

Both the defense and run game have improved for the Packers, and much of the tension that hung in the air during the end of Mike McCarthy’s tenure seems to have dissipated under LaFleur (despite initial reports that he and Rodgers were clashing). Rodgers isn’t putting up his usual numbers quite yet, but as long as they’re winning, he seems perfectly content with that.

It’s early and a lot can still happen, but it’s quite possible that Week 15 in Green Bay could hold even more significance than usual in the Bears-Packers storied rivalry.

Detroit Lions

The thing about the Lions is, they’re actually kind of good. They’re also still the Lions.

They could very easily be 4-0 right now instead of 2-1-1. They blew a significant fourth quarter lead against the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener that ended in a tie, and they kept pace with Mahomes and the Chiefs right up until the very end of their Week 4 matchup.

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Bears Need to Answer “Yes” to These 3 Questions

| September 11th, 2019

The Chicago Bears have played one game in 2019, and it was soul-crushing.It was also just one game.

Of course they can still be the team we hoped they would be this year, but there are three vital questions they need to answer. If it’s “yes” to all three, I don’t see why Chicago isn’t in the playoffs come January. If the answers are “no”, we could be in for a long season.


Can they stay healthy?

This is both completely obvious, and something the Bears have little control over, but it’s still one of the most crucial pieces to having success this season.

After Thursday it’s clear there’s no regression on the defensive front, and the only way they don’t continue to be one of the most formidable units in the NFL is if key players suffer significant injuries.

Similarly, even though the offense was an absolute embarrassment against Green Bay, we know there’s still plenty of talent on that side of the ball as well. Keep them healthy, and we’re sure to see it. With one game in the books and 15 to go, all we can do is hope the team stays as healthy as possible the rest of the way.


Can they find reliability and consistency at the kicker position?

The Bears’ search for a kicker defined their preseason, and after exhaustive tryouts they decided Eddy Pineiro was their best option.

Pineiro had an inconsistent training camp, a decent preseason, and against Green Bay went 1/1 with a 38 yard field goal before proceeding to send the kickoff out of bounds on the very next play. So far he’s been the very definition of mixed bag.

Pineiro seems like a good kid with a strong leg, and maybe, just maybe has the potential to be an upgrade from last season. That said, do I feel confident that he can march out there and reliably hit 40+ yard field goals in high pressure situations? Not yet, at least. There’s just not a big enough sample size. Fortunately for Pineiro, he has a whole season to prove himself. For both his and the team’s sake, he better.


Can Trubisky be good enough?

It’s been six days now, so there’s no need to belabor the point. Trubisky played like garbage in Week 1. Yes, Nagy called an awful game. Yes, the offensive line was atrocious. But he was still very bad. It was a frustrating, bewildering performance, and he deserves all the criticism leveled at him, but one game doesn’t give us the final answer here.

Because the question isn’t can Trubisky be great, or will he be better than Mahomes or Watson. Those are separate discussions. With the caliber of defense Chicago has they don’t need an Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. They proved that last year by going 12-4. What they need is a good QB who is comfortable in Matt Nagy’s offense.

There were multiple times last season where Trubisky looked to be exactly that, including his performance against Green Bay in Week 15 where he threw for 235 yards, two touchdowns, and helped the Bears clinch the division. That game counts in his evaluation just as much as Thursday night does.

We’re slowly getting to the point where we can start to say with some certainty what Trubisky’s baseline performance level is, but we’re not quite there yet. In a month to six weeks, if Trubisky is regularly playing more like the guy who showed up on Thursday than the guy in December of last year the Bears have a serious problem, but it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet.

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The Bears Should Pass on Signing Kareem Hunt

| January 23rd, 2019

There’s only one game left in the 2018 NFL season, and regrettably the Bears aren’t in it. So naturally our thoughts turn to what might happen this offseason. Apart from the obvious need to replace Cody Parkey, I didn’t think there’d be a whole lot to talk about this early in 2019. But Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace turned heads at their final news conference by not ruling out the possibility of signing former Kansas City Chief and current Commissioner Exempt List occupant Kareem Hunt.

While this is purely hypothetical, and months away from even being a possibility, it is currently a hot topic of discussion, and Jeff asked me if I’d like to weigh in. So here goes.

Pros of signing Hunt:

He’s a talented running back who thrived in Nagy’s system.

Cons of signing Hunt:

There’s a video of him kicking a woman on the ground.

My opinion:

Don’t sign him.

In many ways it should be that simple, but I do understand that in our current reality it isn’t. So here in more detail are the reasons why I don’t think Chicago should sign Kareem Hunt:


The Bears don’t exist in a vacuum.

We can’t talk about Kareem Hunt without acknowledging the environment in which we currently find ourselves. The systemic and long ignored abuse of women at the hands of powerful men is being exposed in a way it hasn’t before, and the NFL finds itself firmly entrenched in that discussion.

From the many credible yet unproven allegations against former and current players, to cases like Josh Brown, Ray Rice, Tyreek Hill, Joe Mixon, and yes, Kareem Hunt where there is no doubt as to their guilt, it’s clear the league, along with the sports community in general – and let’s face it, the whole goddamn world – has failed to adequately demand accountability on this issue. As fans have become more aware of the seemingly endless instances of abuse and cover-ups, we’ve grown more cynical about the degree to which the NFL takes violence against women seriously, and more vocal in our pleas for them to do better.

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What to Expect When the Bears Have Exceeded Your Expectations

| December 26th, 2018

It’s the day after Christmas. There are five days left in 2018 and like many of you I’m taking a little time to reflect upon all that I’m grateful for, and what my expectations are for 2019.

This year marks the first in almost a decade that the Chicago Bears are actually going to be a factor in January. They’re playoff bound. A guaranteed three seed in the NFC, with the (slim) possibility of jumping up to two and having a bye. So when I contemplate my expectations for the team, I’m not even looking at the summer yet, I’m looking at next week. And as far as expectations go, the Bears have already exceeded all of mine.

Before the start of this season, I said the Bears needed to finish 8-8. That’s it. After so many losing seasons the first thing they needed to do was not have another. I even hedged a little on that. I said that 7-9 would maybe be borderline acceptable, assuming they were competitive and had shown real signs of progress. Even after signing Mack, I thought 10-6 was their ceiling. I was optimistic about where the team was headed, but if I had said in September I thought the Bears had a legitimate shot of winning the Super Bowl I would’ve been laughed off the internet.

It’s the last week of the year. The Bears have a legitimate shot of winning the Super Bowl. It’s not a joke, it’s just true.

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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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