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Week One: Bears at Packers Game Preview

| September 6th, 2018


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And, I mean, how can any Bears fan not like the Chicago Bears heading into this 2018 season? The organization has done every single thing they could to build a winning roster. Now they take that roster to the field.


Why the Bears Will Win

  • Khalil Mack. It simply can’t be overstated. Mack makes every single player on an already-good defense better. The Bears should be able to mount their most ferocious, consistent pass rush in the Aaron Rodgers era.
  • Mystery. What the hell are the Bears going to be on offense? Most people have pointed to the Andy Reid units in Kansas City (and kind of Philadelphia) but the talent pool in Chicago right now bears little resemblance to what the Chiefs have utilized the last several seasons. Robinson and Cohen barely showcased at all during public practices and preseason games. Add in offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich’s unique perspective and one has to wonder what Packers DC Mike Pettine is expecting to see Sunday night.
  • Better Run Game Than 2017. In Jordan Howard’s two games against the Packers last season he failed to rush for more than 54 yards. Why? Because Dom Capers wisely understood that stopping the Bears run game meant stopping the Bears offense. (Hell, they ran the ball on every first and second down.) But now there are simply too many weapons in the passing game for Pettine to take a similar approach and that should free up a multitude of running lanes for Howard – the best pure runner in the game.

Why They Won’t

  • Aaron Rodgers. Do you really require a paragraph explaining that Rodgers beats the Bears just about every time he plays them? He’s 15-4 against ’em. So odds are he’ll be 16-4 against ’em by the time the clock strikes Monday.
  • Mitch Trubisky’s Big Night. Anyone who has spent nine seconds on this site knows I’m a big fan of the young signal caller. But this is his first game running a new, complicated offense and it’s on one of the biggest, brightest stages he’ll see the entire regular season. It’s a tough spot. The offense should not be expected to hit it’s stride until 3-4 weeks into the season but can Tru avoid the big mistake early in the season?

Neil Simon’s Best Line

Neil Simon is a criminally-underrated playwright. He never reached the artistic accolades of an August Wilson or Eugene O’Neill or Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller but his body of work is unparalleled in the history of American dramatic literature. The man had four hit plays running on Broadway…at one time. RIP Neil.

He also wrote one line I’ve never forgotten and I believe truly changed me as a writer. It’s from Biloxi Blues.

“You’re a witness. You’re always standing around watching what’s happening, scribbling in your book what other people do. You have to get in the middle of it. You have to take sides. Make a contribution to the fight. Any fight. The one you believe in.”

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ATM: Bears Need Roquan Smith On the Field Right Now

| August 15th, 2018

The Bears will need Roquan Smith against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Finally the camp-long nightmare has come to an end. The eighth overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft has signed his contract with the Bears after a nearly 30-day holdout. Missing nearly all of training camp would typically be enough to rule out a rookie from making an impact in Week One, but don’t be surprised if that’s not the case on the evening of September 9th. While the situation has been far from ideal, a player of Smith’s caliber and skill set should still figure into the Bears’ immediate plans.

Rodgers’ ability to move and make pinpoint throws in the middle of the field make having an athletic inside linebacker a must. It’s why Rodgers calls Brian Urlacher the best defender he ever faced, it’s why Smith was the pick and it’s why they double-dipped taking Joel Iyiegubuniwe in the fourth round.

The plan was for Smith to start Week One. That should still be in play but it’s hard to see the team giving the rookie the nod over Nick Kwiatkoski after the third-year linebacker has, by most accounts, played well in camp. It was to the point that the Bears didn’t even play Kwiatkoski in the first preseason game and he saw very limited action in the second. A bigger issue is that they can’t sell the first few weeks of camp as actually being important if a guy who has never played in the NFL doesn’t need them to be ready to face Rodgers.

Regardless of how well he has played in practice, Kwiatkoski has significant flaws. While many have pointed to his training camp interceptions, anyone who has spent too much time watching camp clips on Twitter has also seen several times in which the Bears got the better of Kwiatkoski. They’ve attacked him in practice, just as opposing teams did in games last year. The Bears actually took him off the field on passing downs in favor of Christian Jones late in the season. Maybe Kwiatkoski has improved in coverage, but it’s unlikely he’s going to cease being a liability there and Roquan figures to be among the elite coverage backers in the entire league.

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Data Entry: Breaking Down Trubisky’s Interceptions

| January 23rd, 2018

In his rookie season, Mitch Trubisky got to play 12 games and throw the ball 330 times. In those 330 attempts, he threw 7 interceptions, which is actually pretty good. That rate – an interception on 2.1% of his throws – was 12th best in the NFL among qualified passers, ahead of established veterans like Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers.

As that list above shows, there’s more to being a good quarterback than simply not throwing interceptions. But avoiding interceptions is an important part of a quarterback’s job; in no small part because they can be game-changing plays that make it a lot harder to win.

But not all interceptions are created equal. Sometimes it’s the quarterback’s fault, sometimes it’s on the wide receiver, and sometimes it’s hard to tell. In general, I think you can group them all into one of four categories:

  1. Bad decision. These are throws that should never be made because the receiver isn’t open and a defender has a good chance at an interception. Bears fans have seen plenty of these in the last 8 years from balls being chucked up into double or triple coverage.
  2. Bad throw. The target is open, but the pass is off target. The problem here comes not in the choice to throw but in the throw itself.
  3. Miscommunication. The quarterback thinks the wide receiver is running one route, the wide receiver runs another route, and the defensive back is the beneficiary.
  4. Receiver error. The receiver is open, the pass is good, but the ball bounces off of the target’s hands and gets intercepted.

The first two are both the fault of the quarterback, though in very different ways. The third one makes it pretty much impossible for us to assign fault. The last one is the fault of the target.

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Across The Middle: Dave Toub Could Help Bears Follow Jags Model

| December 20th, 2017

Fans wanting the Bears to follow the Rams model should prepare themselves for the fact that it isn’t that easy. What the Jaguars have done, however, could be replicated next year by hiring Dave Toub.

The comparisons to the Rams are easy. An outgoing veteran head coach who appears to have lost his way, a young quarterback, stud running back and good defense. But is there a Sean McVay available for the Bears to hire?

The hot names are Josh McDaniels, Matt Nagy and Pat Shurmur. McDaniels without Tom Brady wasn’t thought to be an offensive genius, Shurmur had some of the worst offenses in the league in St. Louis and Cleveland and Nagy has one year as an offensive coordinator under his belt.

The other part of the Rams turnaround is that McVay was able to bring a defensive genius with him (Wade Phillips). I have no idea who the next crop of coaches would bring as I don’t see Vic Fangio returning if he doesn’t get the head job. Dom Capers figures to be available, but only because he isn’t getting the job done in Green Bay. Other potential candidates include Mike Pettine, Chuck Pagano and Mike Nolan. Not the most exciting collection of coaches.

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If Bears Want to Be Taken Seriously in Rodgersless NFC North, They Must Win Sunday

| October 16th, 2017

For five minutes, our eyes left the corner. That same corner where television after television has exclusively shown Bears games at Josie Woods Pub for the last seventeen years. Our eyes didn’t go far, just about six feet west to a second, smaller television above the bottles of Boodles gin. Churchill’s gin. My gin until I woke up on an  subway train at Coney Island at five in the morning.

Aaron Rodgers was down. Last time it was Shea McClellin, in navy. This time it was Anthony Barr, in purple. Different first-round edge rushers. Same bone.



Rodgers knew the second he hit the ground. A bunch of lubricated Bears fans in an underground Village bar knew it too. Rodgers isn’t playing football again this season. And while that is terrible news for a league losing too many star players each week, there won’t be many sympathetic hearts at Halas Hall or Eden Prairie or wherever the hell the Lions’ offices are.

The Rodgers injury swings the NFC North door open but will it open wide enough for the Bears – currently two games back of the lead – to find their way through? It’s still premature for this 2017 group to consider the playoffs a possibility but the Rodgers injury likely means the division will be won with ten victories instead of twelve.

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Five Final Thoughts For Bears at Packers

| September 28th, 2017

(1) The Bears have to attack this banged up offensive line tonight, especially with both starting tackles unlikely to play. Unleash Leonard Floyd to make Aaron Rodgers wildly uncomfortable in the pocket. Rodgers will still complete the short stuff but the Bears secondary is keeping the game in front of them and, more importantly, tackling well. Quick releases mean fewer big plays. Quick releases require pressure.

(2) Tarik Cohen had 12 carries and 4 catches Sunday. That feels right. Cohen needs to touch the ball at least 15 times a game. He’s the most explosive Bears player since Devin Hester.

(3) Pat O’Donnell needs to improve upon his terrific punting performance at Soldier Field Sunday. The longer the field for Rodgers, the more likely we’ll see an offensive line breakdown from that beleaguered unit.

(4) Green Bay is bottom third of the league against the run and one of the worst rushing teams. Bears have to run it and run it and run it. And when the running game doesn’t work, run it some more.

(5) Reiterate what I yelled yesterday. With Glennon, Bears have to be perfect to win at home. What the hell do they have to do on the road, at Lambeau, in primetime?

(Bonus) Adam Jahns reported yesterday that ownership will not stand by and watch this franchise continue to lose. I was told the switch to Trubisky is coming and coming soon. One wonders if tonight is not truthfully Glennon’s last stand.

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Seven Quick Thoughts on Bears Loss to Packers

| December 19th, 2016

Travel day. Not a lot of time to write. But here are my quick thoughts.

  • Matt Barkley looks every bit an NFL quarterback. And this makes 3 of his 4 starts where he took the team down the field with the game on the line and made plays to win or tie em. If Barkley’s teammates were better, he’d be a main story in Chicago.
  • Guy in Billy Goat yesterday: “Barkley’a good but he can’t throw the long ball.” Amazing what people believe despite their own eyes.
  • Bears secondary never had a chance against Aaron Rodgers but – on the final play – why does a safety even have a decision to make? There should be two guys standing 25 yards off the line of scrimmage.
  • Packers had a massive third quarter because of Bears mistakes. Bears had a massive fourth quarter because they dominated the line of scrimmage.
  • Jordan Howard is a star.
  • Love Alshon Jeffery’a post game passion,  expressed in this column by Adam Jahns. This is what the team needs: desire to win. They are fighters. What separates fighters from winners? Talent.

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Across The Middle – Week Seven

| October 19th, 2016

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We entered this season believing in John Fox for one reason above all else: Thanksgiving 2015. He needs a repeat performance to restore the faith.

As mediocre as the Packers have been this season, the Bears roster should not be able to compete in this game. They’ll likely be down their top four cornerbacks and three of their top four pass rushers. Oh, and Brian Hoyer is going to be the quarterback. The same argument was made about the Thanksgiving night game last year, but the Bears won because they played their butts off and John Fox was a large part of the reason why.

Fox has never been and is never going to be a good in-game coach. His teams are never going to be known for their discipline and his philosophies will always be simple. But Fox has survived because his players fight for him and give him everything they have. Fox needs to show he can still get that out of them this week.

I don’t know if winning the game is realistic. The Packers are ticked off and the “what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers” questions are guaranteed to bring out his best. As important as wins and losses are, this Bears season should have never been defined that way.

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The Case Against the Green Bay Packers: Volume I (Andrew)

| August 4th, 2016

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The following is the third in a four-part series breaking down why the other teams in the NFC North won’t be contenders this season. (The Packers get two parts.)


If the Packers are blaming all of their struggles in 2015 on Jordy Nelson’s injured knee, they’re going to be in for a long 2016.

Something was broken with the Packers. Specifically, something was broken with Aaron Rodgers. If the argument is that it was entirely because Nelson was out, the only conclusion is that Rodgers is horrifically overrated. I don’t think he’s horrifically overrated, but I think there’s more to what ailed the team last year.

The Packers are built on three pillars:

  • GM
  • Coach
  • Quarterback

But the quarterback doesn’t like the coach. The coach has publicly criticized the GM. And the GM looks like a bowl of oatmeal. Oh, and has anybody talked about who the quarterback’s own family doesn’t like him?

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