by J. Hughes
As a child, I was lost at the zoo,
and found myself looking into the sad eyes of an old, lady lion.
I was not afraid of the lion, but of being lost. Of being somewhere unknown.
She seemed to know that fear, the lion.
As if she had once been somewhere she didn’t belong, somewhere she didn’t know.
Her eyes had once been filled with those same tears that now filled mine.
Maybe she was still there.
Maybe that’s why her eyes remained sad.
David Montgomery takes the pressure of Mitch Trubisky for a week and the Bears finally get back in the win column. (This is the only way the Bears win. Trubisky isn’t beating anyone.)
Chicago Bears 24, Detroit Lions 18
I always like the Chicago Bears.
And now that the whole of their fan base has seemingly given up on them, you can see them winning.
The Lions, by any metric, have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. They rank 31st in total defense, 30th against the pass, 27th in points allowed and 27th against the run. Their takeaway luck has dried up; on Sunday, they didn’t force a punt for the first three quarters.
I don’t know what the answer is to fixing the Lions’ defensive woes, and I doubt it can be now, with no means to acquire effective talent until the spring. They need more pass rush, they need to tackle better, they need their best safety (or two) back on the field, and they need to play with the urgency they showed early in Sunday’s fourth quarter…Part of me thinks we were duped by their strong defensive play down the stretch last season.
“Uh, yea hi. Look, we’re gonna need a reprint on the Lions 2020 calendars.” pic.twitter.com/9g7aCDyq2K
— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) November 5, 2019
I had a conversation with my friend, referred to in these parts as [REDACTED].
I had specific questions. He gave me great answers.
These are transposed as best I could. (He has approved their publication.)
How does Matt Nagy keep this season from completely imploding?
He wins. He has to win some games, no matter what he’s getting from the quarterback. I can’t describe for you what it’s like in a losing building. Every day is just sad, man. I was with [REDACTED TEAM] and I remember the owner’s personal secretary telling me she cried herself to sleep the night before because we blew a game late. I felt awful.
They’ve got a good team. But losing wears down even the really good players. Everybody stops believing the effort is worth it.
Is Mitch Trubisky in the NFL five years from now?
I told you before the draft how much I liked Trubisky. And I wasn’t alone. And I haven’t seen a lot of his tape this season. But our pro personnel people say he’s playing scared. And when the problems go that deep mentally, it’s usually not something players recover from. Most of the times it happens to DBs or linemen and it’s pretty anonymous. When it happens to a quarterback, man, that’s hard.
One of my scouts told me everything needs to be perfect around Trubisky for him to produce. That’s not a winning strategy.
Everybody in Chicago speaks highly of him. So he’s a guy I can see settling into a backup role for years and being an asset to that room. He’s just not a front line NFL starter. So yea I think he’ll linger in the league.
What were your expectations for the Bears in 2019? What are they for 2020?
What have I always told you? We have no idea.
But I don’t understand how they’re running that offense and getting zero from the tight ends. And I’m not sure they have the right athleticism on their o-line to run it either. But I’ll be very surprised if they don’t sign a high profile veteran quarterback in the off-season. And if they sign the right one, they’ll be right back in the mix. Because supposedly the defense isn’t playing very well and they are still one of the five or six best in the game.
These are not the numbers of an NFL quarterback.
NFL quarterbacks don’t require their receivers be ten yards clear of defenders to complete a pass.
NFL quarterbacks – even backups – don’t miss wide open targets at this rate.
NFL quarterbacks have pocket presence, understand where pressure is coming from, check into the right plays…etc.
Sunday, at Soldier Field, against the Detroit Lions, Chase Daniel should be the Bears starting quarterback. Not because he’s the future. He’s clearly not. But because Mitch Trubisky can’t play. He’s a bad football player. And the Bears should not force their fans to watch him any longer.
An original poem by J. Hughes
Your worst player.
You won’t be defined,
By a single, failing individual,
But instead by the collective vitality
Of all proudly wearing orange and blue.
These are the moments where great ones ascend.
The ballyhooed defense does not break, does not bend.
And a season of prodigious promise does not prematurely end.
Everybody ranks their favorite Halloween candies. But I wanted to write about a few candies – and styles of candy – that always made Halloween feel special. And I’ve attached a correlating/current Chicago Bears thing to keep this column from being exclusively about candy. (But really, it’s about candy.)
Why can’t we buy candy bars this size at the deli counter or in a vending machine? Not only can we not buy individual candy bars this size but the secondary option to “normal” size is an extra large version. The bite size 3 Musketeers bar is about 63 calories. That’s not healthy but at least it’s a low-impact way to meet a craving and not destroy a diet.
And of course the correlation is bite-size Tarik Cohen. Where the hell has he gone in this offense? Why is Matt Nagy not scheming Cohen into more explosive situations, instead of turning him into an unproductive dump-off machine for Mitch Trubisky? (The answer is probably Trubisky.) This Sunday, Jim Schwartz is going to bring the house at Trubisky. The screen game could prove pivotal to combating the pressure. That means Cohen.
Ever think about Krackel? I do sometimes. Late at night. When I’m alone. It’s a delicious candy bar but it only seems to exist in that mixed bag of tiny Hershey candy bars that included Mr. Goodbar. When I was a kid my family went to Hershey, PA and I bought a Krackel bar the size of adolescent gibbon. This is special. And all-too elusive.
Where’s the pressure, Chuck Pagano? This summer it looked like you were going to release Roquan Smith at quarterbacks. Buster Skrine was signed and he is one of the best pressure corners in the league. With the Bears offense struggling to this degree it’s time to start manufacturing pressure and trying to create mistakes. The Bears can’t afford to be content with forcing punts anymore. It’s time to release the Krackel.
The basic. Sugar. Formed into a wafer. Wrapped in plastic or something. These things would break open in your candy bag and you didn’t care. You’d scoop them off the bottom and slam them down. I have never eaten a Smartie between November 2nd and October 30th. Never once. I’m not even sure I’ve seen a Smartie during that time period.
The Bears built a bread and butter power run game. Maulers on the interior of their OL. A back difficult to bring down. The first time they decided to use it was Sunday, against the Chargers, and it was their most productive offensive element of the season. Stick with it. Develop it. Perfect it. And make the quarterback’s failings an afterthought for the final nine games of the season.
The Bears did nothing at the trade deadline Tuesday.
Neither did the Packers, Lions, Vikings, Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, Chargers, Bills, and pretty much every other team. (The Rams sent Aqib Talib to the Dolphins for some reason.) This was an old school trade deadline. A clunker. A dud.
There were some rumors early in the day. There was a bit of talk surrounding the Bears dealing Taylor Gabriel – a player who has not been shy about sharing his understandable displeasure with the quarterback. (My unscientific estimate has Trubisky costing Gabriel about 200 yards and 2 touchdowns this season.) There was even a bit of talk about Ryan Pace possibly floating a late-round selection to Tennessee for Marcus Mariota – a player I don’t love but was a Pace favorite in the draft evaluation process. But Mariota’s contract rendered that borderline impossible.
The Bears didn’t make a move because there was no reason for the Bears to make a move. At 3-4, and with a quarterback who can’t play, the organization knows they are a longer than long shot to be playing football in January. With a stacked conference, ten wins may not be enough to make the playoffs. If that’s the case, the Bears would have to go 8-1 the rest of the way to be in the tournament. And let’s be honest, they’re very likely to lose this week. Who the hell would pick Mitch Trubisky to win on the road at this stage?
Also, trades at the deadline require unloading draft capital and the Bears don’t have much. The value picks they have in 2020 – two second round selections – may be necessary to navigate for Trubisky’s replacement come April. Either way, nobody would complain about the team flooding their offensive line with both of those selections in an effort to protect the veteran starter they’ll be signing in March.
The Bears didn’t get desperate yesterday because desperation is futile. The season is over. The team knows it. And now the focus shifts squarely onto whether Trubisky’s career is even remotely salvageable.
Ryan Pace wakes up.
He kisses his wife on the forehead. Tells her he loves her.
He walks downstairs and pours himself a cup of Lavazza. (I assume Pace is like me and has the kind of coffee maker he can set the night before.) Maybe he makes some toast. Dry. No butter. Maybe he fries and egg or two. He sits at the kitchen table in silence.
He takes his dump.
Dresses for the workday. His favorite suit. He needs it today. This is not his normal workday and he knows it.
He gets into the office an hour earlier than normal to prepare and stares out the window, waiting to see the cars of Ted Phillips and George McCaskey arrive.
They finally do. It’s time.
“Ted, George,” he says, “I fucked up.”
In the modern NFL, missing on the first-round quarterback can set a franchise back years if you let it. The Bears can’t let it. Today, the entire organization has to acknowledge they chose the wrong guy. It’s difficult. It’s painful. For Pace, it’s somewhat humiliating. But it is necessary if the team hopes to contend for a title in in the next few years. Because they will not contend for anything with Mitch Trubisky playing quarterback.