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2019 Season Preview Volume I: The Facts

| August 27th, 2019

Today is the beginning of a three-part season preview, broken into specific categories: Facts, Hopes and Predictions. 


After Marc Trestman’s first season in Chicago, fans became irrationally optimistic.

No, the team didn’t have a winning record. No, they didn’t make the postseason. No, they couldn’t play a lick of defense. But the offense was fun to watch and Bears fans didn’t know how to handle that. So they jumped right to, “This team is winning it all in 2014!”

This space fought that optimism from day one. Teams don’t win Super Bowls with terrible defenses and the coach/quarterback relationship looked combustible to any objective observer.

What followed was the most embarrassing season in the history of the franchise. The Kromer Campaign.

This year the optimism is warranted. The Chicago Bears are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. And there are three facts to support that contention.


Fact 1. The Bears have the best defense in the league.

Does it require any more explanation? This Bears defense is frighteningly talented and Pace/Nagy added Chuck Pagano – one of the more aggressive defensive play callers in the sport – to lead them. If this group is ranked outside the top five in any of the important categories it’s because they have suffered several debilitating injuries. If the Bears find themselves with home field advantage in the postseason, this defense would make them overwhelming favorites to make it to Miami.

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ATM: If Leonard Can’t, Roquan Can.

| August 21st, 2019

Much has been written about the Bears needing one Georgia product — Leonard Floyd — to break out and complement Khalil Mack in the pass rush department. But if that doesn’t happen, perhaps Roquan Smith can ease the pain. While nothing of actual substance can be gained by watching preseason games, seeing Roquan burst through the line faster than anybody could react for a sack two weeks ago was a nice reminder of what the second-year linebacker is capable of when he’s sent after the quarterback.

Floyd’s lack of pass rush has been disappointing. But his ability to drop back in coverage and move in space is extremely rare for players at his position. His exceptional coverage skills will allow new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to do what he does best: design creative blitz packages. And Roquan has already proven to be exceptional at finding his way to the quarterback. Smith’s very first NFL play was a sack and he followed with four more, many looking similar to his sack in the preseason against Carolina.

Pagano never had a plethora of great pass rushers in Indianapolis, so he had to get creative. One year Jerrell Freeman had a career-high 5.5 sacks. The next year it was D’Qwell Jackson with four. Smith is a lot better than both of them and had five last year despite a coordinator who has been more conservative upfront than Pagano.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Massie Extends, McCaskey Speaks, Jahns Writes & Bear Movies!

| January 28th, 2019


Bobby Massie Inks Extension

Many folks around the Bears blogosphere (and beyond) like to DM me when players are negotiating (or thought-to-be negotiating) contracts. There are two reasons for this: (1) They know I have friends inside the building and (2) I’m rarely, if ever, going to publish the information myself before it becomes public. That is why I’m still able to acquire the information I do. But I’m usually happy to confirm stuff.

Here’s what I know about the Massie deal:

  • During the season, several people inside the the Bears commented to me that Massie was playing at an outstanding level. Offensive linemen are very difficult for the average fan (and folks like PFF) to evaluate because it’s all about assignment football. When the Bears sat down and did their post-season roster evaluation they determined Massie was going to be impossible to bring back should he hit the open market, especially with tackle-needy teams like Buffalo and the New York Jets having buckets of money to spend.
  • The money isn’t a big deal but it values Massie as one of the best right tackles in the sport. I have news for you. He was every bit that in 2018.
  • The organization’s attention has now moved to their other in-house free agents: Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan.
    • Amos’ agents are pains in the ass and they passed on an extension last off-season, citing the PFF grades as reason the Bears were low-balling their client. Bears don’t view Amos as a top safety. And they won’t pay him like one.
    • Two things on Callahan: (1) He’s switched to Roquan Smith’s agents. (2) He’s got a chronic hip issue that he’s learned to manage over the last few years but that many inside the organization believe leads to his frequent injuries. The Bears want him back. The locker room loves him. But his health history and position make the deal tricky.

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ATM: Pagano Hire Solidifies Bears As Nagy’s Team

| January 15th, 2019

The hiring of Chuck Pagano to replace Vic Fangio confirmed one thing: this is Matt Nagy’s team.

The Bears won in 2018 because of their defense, first and foremost. It was a defense and coordinator Nagy inherited. When Fangio left, it would’ve been easy to go with the continuity candidate Ed Donatell. But Nagy took a chance, bringing in someone from the outside, someone who more represents Nagy’s style.

There is no measure that tells us if being aggressive is better than being conservative defensively, but there’s no question that Fangio was on the conservative end and Pagano fits Nagy’s aggressive mentality.

During the end of the season presser, Nagy described Pagano as having an “attacking style” before saying again that Pagano is aggressive.

Pagano’s lone season as a defensive coordinator, in 2011 with the Baltimore Ravens, represents that. Pagano’s Ravens sacked opposing quarterbacks on 8.2 percent of their drop backs, even better than the 2018 Bears’ rate of 7.5. Opposing quarterbacks finished with a passer rating of 68.8, throwing for just 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, all numbers comparable to the 2018 Bears.

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