This was a devastating loss. Devastating. The Bears did what they always do. They lost to the Packers. And their defense let it happen. Since I’m traveling, there won’t be a full rapid fire today. Just sadness.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
— Josie Woods NYC (@JosieWoodsNYC) October 14, 2017
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.
(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.
Travel day. Not a lot of time to write. But here are my quick thoughts.
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.
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:
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?