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Week Five Game Preview, Volume II: Justin Fields Game Poem, Vegas in Movies, Prediction!

| October 8th, 2021


Why Do Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And, well, just skip to the next section.


The Justin Fields Game Poem: “Less Than Broken”

Broken,

tired like an old joke, told by a retired cop on an early morning barstool.

A phrase, maybe, then a cough.

The promise of a punchline, then a sip, or two, and a drag from the cigarette that shouldn’t be smoked.

You sit through it because you’re there and that’s what you do.

You might even smile,

that distanced, third person smile.

The absurdity of it all.

__________

Then the delivery changes,

and suddenly the joke seems less than broken,

dispatched with a zeal uncommon to those smoke-filled mornings.

There is conviction in the telling,

connection with the words,

timing in the delivery.

There is hope in the joke now.

Hope.


Vegas, in Movies.

I have never been to Las Vegas. And I will – in all likelihood – never go to Las Vegas. Nothing about it appeals to me. If I want gambling and loud slot machines, I’ll drive to Atlantic City. (And I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday there in January.) If I want a debauched weekend with “the boys”, I’ll go to New Orleans. (And there’s a casino there too if you need it.) Even tee times at the best golf course in town, Shadow Creek, come with the caveat that you can be bumped any point if a whale wants your time. I mean, seriously, fuck you.

If Rickles and Sinatra were performing there, sure, I’d take the trip. But to go hang out on a cruise ship in the desert with Jay Leno and hookers? Pass.

Here are six scenes from six great Vegas movies. (Well, five are Vegas movies.)

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Week Five Game Preview, Volume I: How Bears Beat the Raiders

| October 7th, 2021


The Raiders are 3-1. But they’ve beaten two teams in overtime – including a bad Dolphins side – and the struggling Steelers. When they faced a good Chargers team, they were thoroughly outmatched. And with their next four opponents being the Bears, Broncos, Eagles and Giants, they could easily be 6-2 while not particularly good.

This is not a game the Bears should win. But it is certainly a game they can win.

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VDM. (Victory Difficulty Meter)

71.92%

Half of Chicago is currently in that weird Blackhawks bar at O’Hare, waiting for flights to Vegas. This will feel like a Bears home game and moves the meter a bit lower.

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What Must the Bears Do on Offense:

Stop the rush. That’s it. That’s the story.

The Raiders don’t have a premiere pass rusher, although one could argue Yannick Ngakoue can return to that form at any moment. But Maxx Crosby has had a brilliant first month and he’s well-complemented by Carl Nassib, Darius Philon and even the much-maligned Solomon Thomas. The Raiders have the bodies to exploit this weak Bears offensive line, especially on the edges.

But if that rush is neutralized, the secondary is beatable, mostly due to injury. (Their numbers are actually quite good, while their passing opponents have not been.) And with Justin Fields now the starting quarterback moving forward, expect the Bears to continue stretching the field. There will be mistakes; certainly an unnecessary sack or two; probably an avoidable interception; but the days of the dink and the dunk are behind us.

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What Must the Bears Do on Defense:

Rush. That’s it. That’s the story.

They have to hit Derek Carr and hit him often or he’s going to torch this secondary for 400+ yards. How do we know?

  • Per PFF (who provide terrific advanced stats and completely useless grades), these were Carr’s numbers prior to Monday night on passes 20+ yards downfield: 12 completions for 371 yards. Both of those numbers were best in the league. Carr was the AFC Offensive Player of September for a reason. He had a brilliant month.
  • What did Joey Bosa say about Carr after Monday night? “We knew once we hit him a few times, he really gets shook. And you saw on (Covington’s) sack, he was pretty much curling into a ball before we even got back there. Great dude, great player…but we know once you get pressure on him, he kind of shuts down.”

If the Bears are going to win this game, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn have to shut him down. Because they can’t stop Ruggs, Renfrow and Waller on the backend.

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Free Agency Preview: Offense

| March 12th, 2020

Everybody writes their “Free Agency Preview” – telling you what they think a particular franchise should or shouldn’t do when it comes to the off-season’s player acquisition period.

I’m not going to go too deep with cap hits or contract disputes. I’m just going to make a singular statement regarding each position group that sums up my thinking on that group. These are thoughts specifically about the coming weeks. Not the draft.


QB

This position is entirely about Derek Carr.

Carr is a very good quarterback and will only be 29 years old this season. If the Bears trade for him, they will have stability at the position for the next several years and a player capable of taking them to a championship. Every other option (Dalton, Foles, Keenum) is capable of getting this team to the playoffs but would require something of a miracle run to win three playoff games.

Needless to say, what happens at this position over the next month will define the 2020 Bears.


RB

I still like David Montgomery. I still like Tarik Cohen. Spending any significant money on running backs seems silly.


WR/TE

Both Andrew and Data spent time two weeks back detailing the Bears’ need for speed on the outside. But the Bears don’t need to be spending a ton of money on a third wide receiver.

The focus here will be tight end and all eyes are on Atlanta’s Austin Hooper, with rumors of interest from Jacksonville, New England and about eleven other franchises. He’s going to make a lot of money in the coming days. And that money should not come from Chicago.

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ATM: Bears 2020 Quarterback Power Rankings

| March 10th, 2020

With the off-season set to begin, and the Chicago Bears seeking veteran competition, here is a ranking of the realistic options. For the sake of this argument, we’re assuming Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Dak Prescott, Cam Newton and Phil Rivers get starting gigs elsewhere.


1. Derek Carr, Raiders

Likely price: 2020 second round pick, three years of $20 million cap hits.

Carr is the best option. It isn’t even close.

While the Raiders haven’t won a lot of games in Carr’s time as the quarterback, they have regularly been in the top half of the league in passing yardage and touchdowns. Carr isn’t Patrick Mahomes, but he’s a good quarterback who may only become available because Jon Gruden’s favorite quarterback is always the one he doesn’t have on the roster.

The Raiders will likely only trade Carr if they’re able to sign someone to replace him.


2. Nick Foles, Jaguars

Likely price: cap hits of $16-$22 million for three years.

There are three very huge selling points with Foles.

  • We know he can win a Super Bowl.
  • He knows the offense and the coaches.
  • Trading for him might bring an asset back.

There is a general thought that if the Jaguars want to trade Foles, they’re going to have to sweeten the pot with a day two draft pick. The downside, of course, is that he’s going to get paid like a starter for at least one year with $12.5 million dead cap after 2020, should the team move on.

Foles’ other big downside is that he has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. He’s definitely better suited to be a high-end backup than a 16-game starter. If he wins the job, could the Bears be confident turning back to Trubisky should Foles be injured?

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Some Thoughts on a Potential Trade for Derek Carr

| February 20th, 2020


Here’s what I know.

The Chicago Bears are currently fixated on trying to improve the quarterback position for 2020. But like any other position, the ability to achieve that improvement is dependent on availability. What players are on the trading block? What is the upside at the position in the second round (and later) of the draft? How much will the veteran free agent options cost? It’s all well and good to WANT to get better. But the opportunities still have to be there.

In recent days, a name has started to emerge: Derek Carr. From The Athletic’s Vic Tafur:

…$2.9 million of Carr’s $18.9 million 2020 base salary became guaranteed on Feb 5. The remaining $16 million is not guaranteed, which is a large part of the reason why there has been so much speculation about Carr’s future.

Here are my thoughts on the potential deal.

  • Many have argued, including me, that the Bears need to find their Alex Smith. Carr fits the bill, and his stats show that. His career quarterback rating is over 90. He’s good for about 4,000 yards passing a year. He takes a somewhat conservative approach, which means he’ll always have a good TD/INT ratio. Carr is a solid NFL quarterback and a solid NFL quarterback would be a DRAMATIC improvement for the 2020 Chicago Bears.
  • Carr is only going to be 29 this season. There’s no reason to believe he couldn’t be the Bears quarterback for the next five years plus.
  • Text from the artist known as [REDACTED]: “He’s a smart quarterback. I’m not sure the Bears have one of those right now.” Yes, this is a harsh fucking criticism. It’s also not the first time I’ve heard this knock on Mitch. The chorus is growing.

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Flip the Script: Bears Should Hire Eagles Quarterbacks Coach

| January 1st, 2018

At the end of the 2013 season, when Phil Emery was looking for Lovie Smith’s successor, I wrote a column endorsing Kyle Shanahan for the job. That column was met with across-the-board rejection from not only readers but friends in the media and around the league. My argument was simple. I thought Shanahan was going to be a great head coach soon enough, knew he had a terrific relationship with Jay Cutler and wanted the Bears to grab him before he became a hot commodity. Sure enough, a few years later, Shanny went on to create explosive offenses in Atlanta and become the hottest coach on the market in 2017.

John Eugene DeFilippo is that guy right now.


Resume.

Let’s just go through Flip’s career and see what he’s accomplished because it’s rather remarkable for someone who is only thirty-nine years old.

  • He began his NFL coaching career on Tom Coughlin’s staff with the New York Giants. Never a bad thing to get your first exposure to the league under one of its greatest coaches.
  • After two traumatic seasons in Oakland (‘The Kiffin/Cable Years’) he was the rookie year QB coach for Mark Sanchez in Jersey. Sanchez, coming off one year starting in college, struggled through that season but then turned everything around in the postseason. With Trubisky trusting and relying on Sanchez, Flip could probably convince him to stay on as QB coach and now the Bears would be building a similar coaching coalition to what exists in Philly.
  • Flip left the Jets, where he was splitting duties with former Bears OC Matt Cavanaugh, and returned to the college ranks. His work at San Jose State was apparently pretty damn good but who is really doing a deep dive into what’s good and not good at San Jose State?
  • He returned to the pro ranks, coaching both Derek Carr as a rookie and coordinating the Browns for a year with a quarterbacking trio of Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis. That trio completed 60% of their passes for 4,156 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. That trio. Did that.
  • He’s been the QB coach for Carson Wentz and been primarily responsible for the Wentz transition from lost rookie fading down the stretch to MVP candidate. And let me tell you this. If Nick Foles takes this team deep into the playoffs, Flip will have the suitors stacking up.

The Leap.

Listen, is the jump from position coach to head coach a big one? Yes. But two things. (1) Andy Reid did it once. (2) Flip has already been a coordinator, even if only for one year, even if only for the Browns. And Flip also sounds an awful lot like a head coach. His players agree. From current Eagles backup Nate Sudfeld:

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