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Bears Battered By Browns in the Trenches, Fall to 1-2 in Fields Debut

| September 27th, 2021


It is often difficult to summarize a football game in one sentence.

Sunday’s game was not one of those.

The Bears had no chance to block the Cleveland Browns and subsequently no chance to run a professional offense.

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Offense.

  • What do you say about an offensive line that can’t compete? They didn’t struggle at times. They didn’t fail in big moments. They were a noncompetitive group for the duration a football game. The play of the offensive today should confirm to every single Bears fan an unavoidable point: this is not a championship contender, by any means. Teams don’t win championships with lines like this. Hell, teams don’t win nine games with lines like this. This was their worst performances since the Giants beat up Jay Cutler in the Meadowlands many moons ago.
    • Jason Peters trying to block Myles Garrett can’t be a serious approach to an NFL game.
    • Germain Ifedi played his worst game as an NFL lineman.
  • There will be a ton of criticism heaped onto the shoulders of Matt Nagy this week and rightfully so. Look no further than the other side of the field to see the improvement possible for a quarterback under the right head coach. Nagy has to prove to this organization that he’s the right guy to coach this quarterback moving forward. And with Exhibit A, the glove didn’t fit.
  • A few thoughts on Justin Fields:
    • His “mistake” in the game was not dumping the ball to Marquise Goodwin on the RPO when he rolled left. Could have been a big game. But one has to assume, at that point, he was in “run for my life” mode.
    • Seeing the camera shot from behind Fields made it clear he was wise not to throw the football to his well-covered targets.
    • It just doesn’t seem Nagy’s schemes produce many easy throws. How do you combat a pass rush? End arounds? Screens? Sprint outs? Anything? Don’t tell me those things had no possibility of working when none of them were even attempted.
    • Top of the third quarter, Fields held on when he arm was throttled on a sack. No idea how he did that.
    • Fields will learn which guys he can or can’t outrun but folks have to understand that Fields is a passer first. His eyes are always downfield. He’s not Lamar Jackson and the Bears don’t want him to be that.
  • The play didn’t matter but fourth and ten late, Nagy and Castillo left Peters on an island with Garrett AGAIN. How is that even possible? How does any objective observer not look at that play – that play ALONE – and conclude the coaching staff is out of their depth?
  • Hey Goodwin, come back for the football.
  • 3rd and 2 pitch outs to David Montgomery when you can’t block the edge are insane calls.
  • Naked boots with Fields in the red zone are too.

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Week Three Game Preview, Volume II: First Fields Start (Of Many), Bears Win?!?

| September 24th, 2021


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And the Justin Fields era is here!


Let’s Talk About Fields.

There will be two distinct camps emerging on social media over the coming days. Camp one will be the ecstatic, “Fields is gonna light up the league” types. Camp two will be the reserved, “all rookie quarterbacks struggle” types. While I firmly reside in the latter camp, I understand the emotions of the former. Most living Bears fans have only seen quarterback play ranging from mediocre to unprofessional. Pleading for patience may be prudent, but it’s also easy to understand any fan who says, “Screw patience, I want a star quarterback!”

But Sunday is not about Fields’ long-term future in Chicago. This Sunday is about next Sunday and the Sunday after that. Matt Nagy and the Bears need Fields to deliver the kind of performance that closes the book on the Andy Dalton era. That doesn’t mean some splashy statistical affair. It just means a performance wherein the kid displays that he’s got things under control.

It’s not an easy task. This is a good Cleveland defense in a hostile building. Fields will see coverages and pressures the Browns have never put on tape, and likely that he’s never seen before. But he’ll need to handle all of it and leave no doubt as to who is the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.


Stats of the Week

  • Won through the air? Through two games, the Bears and Browns are two of the top nine rushing defenses in the league, coming in fourth and ninth respectively. With Cleveland’s injuries at receiver and Chicago starting a rookie QB, it’s unlikely either team will abandon the run, successful or not. (The teams rank eighth and third in rushing offense.)
  • Only eight players in the league have more sacks than the 2.5 Robert Quinn currently has.
  • Baker Mayfield is completing 81.6% of his passes. That’s just a gaudy number. There will be a ton of stress on the secondary Sunday to make tackles and limit YAC. Can they hold up?

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Week Three Game Preview, Volume I: How the Bears Beat the Browns

| September 23rd, 2021


VDM. (Victory Difficulty Meter)

84.9%

The Bears have a rookie quarterback, making his first start on the road, against one of the league’s better teams. This is quite clearly an uphill climb.

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What Must the Bears Do on Offense:

  • Allow Justin Fields to get comfortable. This is a big moment in the kid’s life. If the Bears come out tossing it every down it will look like a starting pitcher that gets too amped up to start Game One of the World Series – a lot of high fastballs. Put the ball in David Montgomery’s hands. Throw a few bubble screens. Call a few designed runs for the quarterback. Slow the game down early.
  • The Texans moved the ball effectively against the Browns until Tyrod Taylor left the game with an injury. And they did so by throwing the ball down the field. The Bears can’t win this game with the dink and dunk approach they favored under an Andy Dalton regime. They must stretch the field, and that means Darnell Mooney and Marquise Goodwin over the top. The Bears have now what the speed they’ve desired for years. Use it.
  • Tight ends, tight ends, tight ends. The Bears have talent at the position. Jimmy Graham is still a matchup nightmare in the red zone and Cole Kmet can dictate terms in the middle of the field. But Matt Nagy can’t stick them at the end of Fields’ progressions and hope he gets there. Call their numbers. Make them the first read. Give them a chance to make plays.

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What Must the Bears Do on Defense:

  • Stop the run. Yes, this is a generic, goes-for-every-game bullet point but the injuries are starting to stack on the outside for Cleveland. Jarvis Landry won’t play this week. Odell Beckham doesn’t look like he’s playing anytime soon. The Browns will want to run the ball 25-30 times and if they’re productive with those runs, the Bears have very little chance of keeping them out of the end zone.
  • Contain Baker Mayfield. Mayfield isn’t considered one of the game’s running quarterbacks but his ability to move the chains/score with his legs has been a difference maker for the Browns through the first two weeks. With receivers struggling to get separation down the field, the Bears can’t be undisciplined with their pass rush. They have to keep Mayfield in the pocket and when he breaks out of it, they can’t let him roam free.
  • Tight ends, tight ends, tight ends. The Browns completed 11 passes to their tight ends – Harrison Bryant, Austin Hooper, David Njoku – last week. Baker only completed 19 passes the entire game. This is not the week to see aggressive, pass rushing Roquan Smith. This is the week for Roq to work the middle of field and limit the effectiveness Cleveland’s dynamic collection of tight ends.

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Excluding Cleveland: How Quickly Do Perennially Bad Offenses Actually Turn It Around?

| June 5th, 2018

Chicago’s offense has been consistently bad for the last four years, ranking in the bottom ten in points scored each of those seasons. It’s been especially awful the last two years, when a host of QB issues have left the Bears 28th and 29th in that same category.

But hope springs eternal, and dramatic changes this off-season have fans dreaming of a high-powered offense. Gone is the old-school John Fox, replaced by offensive-minded Matt Nagy. QB Mitchell Trubisky enters his second season, as do Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen, and the dreadful skill position groups have been overhauled with the additions of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, and Anthony Miller.

Just how big of a leap can this offense take in 2018? Optimists are quick to point to the 2017 Rams, who went from consistently bad offenses for years to the NFL’s top scoring unit in 2017 on the heels of a new offensive coach, overhauled WR group, and growth from 2nd year QB Jared Goff. Is that big of a jump an outlier, or something that happens regularly? I dove into the numbers to find out.

Crunching the Data

I looked at where every NFL team ranked in terms of points scored each year for the last decade (so 2008-17), then looked at teams that matched recent trends for the Bears. I looked at three different groupings this way:

  • Bottom 5 for 2 years
  • Bottom 10 for 3 years
  • Bottom 10 for 4 years

Once teams who fit that bill were identified, I looked at the offense the year after those bleak seasons to see how it performed.

Before I get into the results, I should note that I decided to exclude the Cleveland Browns from this. Their offense has ranked in the bottom ten every single year for the past decade – a truly remarkable feat of consistency – and this meant that they drowned out other samples. Full data can be viewed here.

[Editor’s Note: What you just read is the saddest paragraph published on this site in the fourteen years of its existence.]

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The Psychology of Uncertainty & Being a Bears Fan

| January 18th, 2018

Human beings don’t react well to uncertainty. We don’t know how to handle it. We hate it so much in fact that, given the choice, we actually prefer to *know* that something bad is going to happen to us as opposed to being unsure. A study in 2015 showed that most people would rather know for certain that they’re going to get an electric shock than to not be able to predict it. The uncertainty caused a bigger stress response than knowing without a doubt that they were going to get hurt.

At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, that’s fascinating Emily, but what the hell does it have to do with the Chicago Bears?”

Well if I had to think of one word to describe how I’ve felt about the Bears the last few years, the word would be “uncertain”. Not in terms of devotion, mind you. I’ve always been pretty ride or die with my sports teams. When I say uncertain I’m talking about having no real idea what to expect from them on any given Sunday since 2012.

Again I can already hear some of the comments. How could you possibly be uncertain about the Bears? They suck! They’ve sucked since 2006! The Cutler era was terrible! They’re basically the Browns! And I get why it feels that way. I totally do. But it isn’t accurate. For a quick comparison:

Last Won Their Division
Bears 2010
Browns 1989

Last in the Playoffs
Bears 2010
Browns 2002

Last Winning Season
Bears 2012
Browns 2002

Number of Wins the Last Three Seasons
Bears 14
Browns 4

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Why I’m Going to Bears v. Browns Tomorrow

| December 23rd, 2017

New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich once wrote of the infamous Broadway bomb Moose Murders: “FROM now on, there will always be two groups of theatergoers in this world: those who have seen ”Moose Murders,” and those who have not.” I’m beginning to wonder if the same won’t be said for those attending Bears v. Browns at Soldier Field tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I’ll be spending three plus hours of it on the lakefront, in a cold and windy stadium, watching a dead-on-arrival home side play the only team in the sport significantly worse than they are. So the only relevant question is…why? Why would a human being do this?

I’m not a huge fan of attending live football games. The television timeouts are excruciating. The bathroom lines are worse. And while I like drinking beer and watching a ballgame I don’t like paying double-digits for an MGD while trying to navigate thousands of jagoffs who’ve been slamming booze in a parking lot since the wee small hours of the morning.

However, with a good seat, that unlike tomorrow usually costs A LOT of cash, you can experience elements of the game that are impossible to gauge on television. The size and speed of the players. The shear violence of the impacts. The game moves at a different pace live than it does with the distance of a two-dimensional, 52″ rectangle.

But there is one real reason I’m going: Mitch Trubisky. I want to see him live. I want to see how he conducts himself in pregame workouts. I want to see how he interacts with teammates on the sideline. I want to see how that fastball of his looks in person. Anybody who reads this site or follows me on Twitter knows I have not been as excited about a young player since starting this site in 2005. And I don’t want to have gone his entire rookie campaign without having seen him with my own eyes.

So I’m going. Bears v. Browns. Christmas Eve. Maybe it’s to see Trubisky. Or maybe it’s because I never saw Moose Murders.

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week Two

| September 17th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 1.58.08 PM

I’m putting $100 on each of these bets all season. Will be keeping my total down below. (For those of you who are not gamblers, if you lose a $100 bet you actually lose $110. If you push a $100 bet, you lose the $10 vig.)

Tennessee +2 at Cleveland

Anti-Manziel pick. When I watch Johnny Football on an NFL field he reminds me of a young kid wearing his father’s suit. His lack of awareness inside the pocket is usurped only by his lack of understanding that the men sharing the field with him are faster and smarter than just about every player he faced at Texas A&M. Titans 23, Browns 16

St. Louis -3 at Washington

Washington v. Miami was the worst game played last Sunday. Neither deserved to win. Now the Redskins, without Desean Jackson, face the most ferocious defense in the NFC? Rams win on the road. Rams 20, Redskins 7

Jacksonville +6 vs Miami

Line is too high. Simple as that. Dolphins 24, Jags 21

 

Record Through One Week: 1-1-1

(-$20)

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Final Practice Game Day Thread

| August 28th, 2014

Stoke's Peter Crouch has received support that he is worthy of a place in England's World Cup squad

What, if anything, can be gleaned/enjoyed this evening?

  • Do the Bears currently have a kick returner on their roster or are they going to be scouring the waiver wire this weekend for some speed? (I’d like to see Senorise Perry given a good run back there tonight.)
  • Hey, you get to watch Jordan Lynch carry the ball for the last time before he’s buried on the practice squad for the 2014 season!
  • David Fales can follow Matt Blanchard and Caleb Hanie as fourth preseason game darlings: quarterbacks who thrive against third-string defensive units.
  • Pat O’Donnell is playing.

I will be watching the game live tonight and responding on Twitter. You can follow me on Twitter by CLICKING HERE or just watching the right rail of this page.

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