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Week 7: Patriots at Bears Game Preview

| October 19th, 2018

[Disclaimer: The following game preview is being written under the assumption that Khalil Mack will play Sunday. It is also being written under the assumption that he’ll be limited, to a degree, by his ankle injury.]


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and I just like this game, hence yesterday’s flamboyant column. This should be the most intense, feverish crowd at Soldier Field in five plus years. And don’t be surprised if the Bears come out and match that intensity, eager to prove last week’s rollover in Miami was a fluke.


The Game Limerick

There once was a goody named Brady

Whose fitness guru seemed a bit shady

The coach tossed him out

Now Goody got gout

But at least he still has a rich lady


Why the Bears Will Win

  • Patriots on the Road. New England is 4-0 at home and 0-2 on the road but it’s how they’ve looked on the road that’s been jarring. They didn’t just lose to Jacksonville and Detroit. They lost by a combined score of 57-30 to mediocre teams. The Bears have a better defense than the Jaguars and currently a better offense than the Lions. (Note: These games were pre-Julian Edelman’s return and Josh Gordon’s arrival.)
  • The Andy Reid Coaching Tree. Matt Nagy isn’t going to require much research when building his game plan to attack the Pats defense. Look no further than the success Andy Reid had versus New England Sunday night. Okay, fine, look further. Doug Pederson put up more than 500 yards of offense on Bill Belichick & Co. in the Super Bowl with Nick Foles under center. (I still contend Pederson’s success with Foles is one of the most impressive playoff runs in league history. Foles is terrible.) The blueprint is drawn. And Nagy is very close to the men who drew it.
  • Taylor Gabriel is becoming a star in this offense and he’s going to be wide open 2-3 times against this Pats secondary because, quite frankly, Gabriel has been wide open for more than a month. But there are soft areas in New England’s deep zone and teams have had an easy time exploiting them. Trubisky HAS TO hit those throws Sunday.

Why They Won’t

  • Belichick. He’s the best coach in the history of the NFL and has made a career out of confusing young quarterbacks into bad decisions. Trubisky will see 3-5 looks he’s never seen previously. Stat: quarterbacks under 25 years old are a career 1-42 at Foxboro. (Yes, I know this game is not there but that stat is absurd.) Here’s what Mike Lombardi said about it: “He makes them play left-handed…He takes away what they do and they don’t have the experience to go and do other things.”
  • Tom Brady. He’s Tom Brady.
  • Edelman. Maybe this is the Sunday hangover talking, but it’s inconceivable that Josh McDaniels won’t throw 5-7 bubble screens against this defense and see if their performance in Miami was an anomaly or a trend. One would think those throws would would go to Edelman, the most elusive of NE’s receiving targets.

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Week Four: Bucs at Bears Game Preview

| September 27th, 2018

The shirt above was actually sold by our friends 26Shirts


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And I think Matt Nagy and the offense are going to come out a bit spiky this week. Celebrating in the locker room Sunday, Nagy owned the offense’s failings while praising the defense’s dominance. He won’t want to be in many more locker rooms like that one.

[Editorial Note: This column is being written under the assumption Dirk Koetter won’t be benching a QB with 1200+ yards through three games.]


Game Haiku

Matt Nagy. Head Coach.

But offense is his baby.

Baby is crying.


Why the Bears Will Win

  • Bears Defense. This unit has been praised ad infinitum and deservedly so. They are the best defense in the league after three games. And the Bucs haven’t seen anything like this, especially on the road, in 2018. Two of the three defenses Tampa has played – Pittsburgh and New Orleans – are currently ranked in the league’s bottom four. One of the reasons Fitzpatrick has thrived statistically early is the lack of pressure on him. That changes at Soldier Field this week.
  • Bucs Defense. They’ve allowed 91 points in three games and there’s a reason: they are not particularly talented. They’ve rarely gotten to the quarterback with four guys and those quarterbacks are executing to the tune of a 117.1 passer rating. (That’s nearly 30 points worse than the Bears.) Trubisky is going to have plenty of opportunities to make plays down the field against a secondary featuring old guys and inexperienced rookies.
  • Trey Burton. There’s a breakout game coming for Burton and this match-up suits him perfectly. Vance McDonald and Zach Ertz both flourished against Tampa and the big Chicago tight end has increased his productivity each week. Don’t be surprised if Nagy moves Trubisky out of the pocket and gives him some easier, three-level reads to one side of the field. That could give Burton the opportunity for a big afternoon.

Tweet of the Week


Why They Won’t

  • Nagy/Trubisky. A second viewing of the Bears/Cardinals tape confirmed what I believed on first viewing: the Bears offense doesn’t make a lot of sense. It lacks coherence. It lacks identity. And right now it lacks a comfortable, confident quarterback. When Arizona brought extra pressure (or just an exotic blitz look) the coach and quarterback had zero answers for it. Can they get that fixed? Of course. But it’s very hard to make big ticket scheme changes in the six-day period between games. The Bears need the bye. But they have a game to play before they reach it.
  • Fitzpatrick’s Big Plays. The Bears have the best pass rush in the NFL but there are going to be moments this week – several – where Mack & Co. don’t get home. When that happens expect Fitz to take shots over the top because nobody has taken more early in this NFL season. Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson really haven’t been tested yet because of the success up front. That will almost certainly change Sunday.
  • Tampa’s Rush Defense is stingy, holding opponents to 3.6 yards per rush and 70.7 yards per game. Their approach will be simple Sunday: limit the success of Howard/Cohen on the ground and throw pressure at Trubisky on 2nd/3rd-and-long situations. Nobody has run it on this defense with any success yet. The Bears should leave the tunnel Sunday knowing they’ll need to toss it to win.

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