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Week 13: Bears at Giants Game Preview, Volume II

| November 30th, 2018

Should the Bears win? Absolutely. Will they? The game preview continues…


Why the Bears Win

  • Khalil Mack and the pass rush should dominate a Giants’ offensive line that has already allowed 38 sacks. That means forcing Eli Manning into quick, hurried decisions and that usually means turnovers. The Giants can’t beat the Bears Sunday if they don’t win the turnover battle. And they’re not going to win the turnover battle.
  • Jordan Howard. No, I don’t think Matt Nagy is going to suddenly turn into Marty Schottenheimer and give Howard 28 carries. But this New Jersey defense likes to head for the exits a few ticks early at times. And with the forecast calling for rain, limiting the passing attacks, Howard should be able to dominate one of the league’s worst rushing defenses.
  • Third Down. The Giants, once you remove garbage time drives, are one of the worst third-down conversion offenses in the league. Hell, even if you keep the garbage time snaps they are still pretty bad. The Bears make opponents execute long drives to score touchdowns. Long drives mean executing on third down. The Giants don’t do that well.

Why They Don’t

  • Tackling. As strange as it sounds, this basic fundamental (or lack thereof) is not without precedent. If the Bears had tackled well in Miami they’d be sitting at 9-2 and threatening the top of the conference for a bye week in the postseason. Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham are tough men to tackle. If the Bears are not fundamentally sound they’ll be staring at the backs of their jerseys.
  • Chase Daniel is still a backup quarterback and backup quarterbacks are not expected to win back-to-back road games. Would anybody be surprised if Daniel struggled in the Meadowlands? He’s played three games of note in his 9-year career. Why would anything he does surprise anyone?

Tarik Cohen Audio of the Week

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The Best Collection of Thoughts Ever Assembled on the Bears v. Chiefs Practice Game

| August 25th, 2018

LAKE FOREST, IL – MAY 16: Chicago Bears wide receiver Marlon Brown (81) participates during the Bears OTA session on May 16, 2018 at Halas Hall, in Lake Forest, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)


Twitter exploded with the news that Matt Nagy was putting his entire roster on the bench. Hell, even Josh Bellamy got the afternoon off. But who types primarily with his middle fingers and is happier than a clam about the news? This guy.

  • Matt Nagy’s decision to sit the bulk of his starting lineup isn’t bold or brilliant. It’s practical. He’d rather his first units be a little bit rusty on opening night than be without any of their best players. Even this idea is kind of kooky because the Bears are still fifteen days from their first real game. How could 25 snaps in the preseason carryover for half a month? That’s not how football works.
  • Why is Nick Kwiatkoski starting? Perhaps because he’s not the starting ILB? Kwik has had a good summer but he’s simply not in the same athletic stratosphere as Roquan Smith. Expect the Bears to spend the next two weeks getting their number one pick ready for Green Bay.
  • Marlon Brown’s downfield block was the key to the opening drive Benny Cunningham TD. And it continues Brown’s strong summer. Hate to make everything about Kevin White but it just feels like his relevance is sliding continually as players like Brown show versatility.
  • Chase Daniel has really gotten better each time I’ve seen him this preseason. Looks poised. But his legs were damn impressive against Kansas City’s first-team defense.
  • Kylie Fitts has found himself one-on-one with the opposing quarterback, in the backfield, several times this preseason. The QB has escaped each time. That Fitts is in position to make big plays is a good thing. That he’s not making will land him on the practice squad. (Update: Later in the game, against some QB I’ve never heard of, Fitts finished a play.)

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Three Thoughts on the Bears v. Chiefs Practice Game

| August 24th, 2018

Tomorrow the preseason ends. After the Bears leave Soldier Field all eyes point to Green Bay and the opener. A few thoughts.

  • There’s a laundry list of players that should see extremely limited duty tomorrow but why would the Bears put Kyle Long or Trey Burton out there for a single second? Both players looked in mid-season form against the Broncos and clearly don’t need “these crucial reps”. Long’s injury history would always dictate a cautious approach. Injuries behind Burton on the depth chart make his availability Week One even more essential. Give these boys the weekend off.
  • It will be somewhat interesting to see who the Bears start on the edges. Leonard Floyd certainly won’t play. Aaron Lynch is AWOL. The dearth of talent at one of the most important positions in the sport will be wildly on display early in this ball game, especially with Akiem Hicks surely not suiting up again until September 9th. Will the Bears have any capable pass rushers on the field tomorrow?
  • Never understood why teams don’t start their backup quarterback in this third practice game. How many opportunities do you have to give your backup experience with the starting OL/skill guys against an opponent’s top defensive unit? Mitch Trubisky entered the 2017 season a month into it and had no relationship with the guys catching his passes. Why not give Chase Daniel – who may be called upon to save a game or even a season – the opportunity to develop some of those relationships?

One day more. And then we finally start discussing real football.

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Five Bears Thoughts for Your Weekend Pleasure

| August 11th, 2018

As we get deeper into August, here’s what is happening in and around the Bears.

  • Kevin White’s performance against Cincinnati wasn’t an isolated performance. I’m told by heavily reliable folks that White has struggled mightily in the practices not open to the public and the coaching staff is beginning to lose some patience with him. (They’ve also been very impressed with the work ethic and determination of Javon Wims.) Does that mean he won’t be on the roster come September? I still think he’ll be there. But I was far more certain in that assessment a few weeks back.
  • Interesting tidbit. A well-respected, accomplished NFL coach – who employs a friend of mine – has a collection of what he calls “preseason plays”. These are plays that don’t appear in the regular season playbook but are merely meant to provide players the opportunity to win one-on-one battles. I asked if that’s commonplace around the league and the sense I got is that yes, it is. So while you can’t evaluate any particular unit in the preseason due to a lack of game-planning,  you can evaluate performances on an individual, one-on-one level. Especially later in these games.
  • The one position I believe can be evaluated in the preseason is back-up and third-string QBs. And if this preseason has been any indication, Mitch Trubisky better stay healthy. Chase Daniel looks comfortable in the offense, specifically to his first read. But he throws about half of his passes directly to defenders. (Maybe half is unfair but it sure as shit feels like that.) As for Tyler Bray, what can you say? If Tyler Bray is playing in an NFL football game this season, the team he’s playing for is going to lose.
  • Various outlets have predicted Leonard Floyd to have a breakout season for the Bears and the talent is certainly there. But in this league, it is not difficult to scheme against an elite pass rusher when there’s no complementary weapon the other side. Lynch is never healthy. Acho ain’t the guy. Fitts hasn’t even looked like a pro football player to this point. As much as this has been an area of focus for fans, we should all come to terms with a basic fact: Ryan Pace isn’t going to be able to fix this issue until 2019.
  • The Bears have the opportunity to sport one of the deepest and most versatile collections of tight ends in the league. They’re fully expecting Trey Burton to be a star. Adam Shaheen is a match-up nightmare in the red zone. Dion Sims has been a source of consternation for fans but he’ll be far better utilized in 2018. The guy who could be a real player in this league if given that chance is Daniel Brown. Brown feels like he’s been around forever but he’s only 26 years old. He’s one of this club’s best depth pieces.

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The Positional Quick 3: Quarterbacks

| June 7th, 2018

I’m traveling in Dingle, Ireland years ago and I’m exhausted. This was my first day ever in Europe and I couldn’t keep my eyes open at 4:30 in the afternoon. My uncle turns to me and says, “Have a quick three. You’ll be fine.” I drank three Guinness in the span of a half hour. Seven hours later I’m dancing to a shitty Irish house DJ with Jenny Pye, a local lass who dreamed of being an EMT in New York City.

I’m very tired of this 2018 off-season. And incredibly eager for the season to begin. So I’m taking the quick three approach to each position group as we head into the summer. Not grading the groups or anything. Just making some points.


Quarterbacks

  • Some fans seem to have lost sight of a basic fact: Mitch Trubisky’s development will be the story of the 2018 season. Yes, Wentz went from struggling to MVP candidate. Yes, Goff went from “he’s a bust” to “somebody start making his bust for Canton”. But we have to remember those kinds of leaps are not common in the NFL, especially at the QB position. Trubisky doesn’t need to be an All-Pro in his second season. But if he can put together a 60% completion, 3,200 yard, 25 touchdown, 10-15 interception campaign, the Bears are going to be in good shape moving forward.
  • If Chase Daniel were to see the end of his three-year contract with the Bears, he’d earn nearly $35 million in the NFL. Daniel has thrown 51 passes in the league. Anybody who says Daniel is a good back-up or a smart signing is just guessing. He knows the offense, sure. But if you think he can win games should Trubisky go down, you’re basing that on preseason and Missouri tape.
  • Tyler Bray is 26 years-old so he’s not the prototypical clipboard carrier. But when your starting quarterback is a kid who has only started 25 combined college/pro games, you’d don’t really need to be grooming a kid in the show position. (Bears haven’t shown much interest in bringing Sanchez back, either. Odd how you don’t need a coach as third-string QB when you have good coaches.)

Tomorrow: Running Backs

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More Tweets From Free Agency, Week One

| March 16th, 2018

Here’s another compilation of Tweets, wrapping up the Bears’ flurry of free agency moves in the last four days and their press conference Thursday. I’ll have a full column Monday morning and Adam Jahns will join me on the podcast next week. 



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