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Week Four Game Preview, Volume II: Nagy Rebound Effect, Trib’s Pearson on Arlington Heights & Trying to Predict the Unpredictable

| October 1st, 2021


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. 

And I’ll say this about the 2021 Bears…they’re interesting! The coach might be nuts. The quarterbacks may stage a mutiny. The GM may be in witness protection.

Who the hell knows what football team is going to show up on Sunday?


The Nagy Rebound Effect

The first major hiccup of the Matt Nagy era in Chicago was the 2019 opener. The Bears were lifeless on offense against the Green Bay Packers, the quarterback was horrible, and the team lost 10-3 at home. How did they rebound from that effort? They won their next three games, two on the road, by a combined score of 62-35.

The next significant hiccup (light term) of the Nagy era came at the tail end of a six-game losing streak in 2020. After being blown out by the Packers at Lambeau, the Bears collapsed against the Detroit Lions to fall to 5-7. Many, including this space, called for Nagy’s firing. How did the team rebound? They won their next three games, scored a million points, and found themselves in the postseason. (You can bring up the opponents here if you like but the results are the results.)

Like it or not, the Bears have rebounded from the shakiest moments of Nagy’s tenure. And one can argue there has been no shakier moment than Sunday in Cleveland. Will they rebound again?


Arlington Heights: Three Questions with the Tribune’s Rick Pearson

Rick Pearson is one of the country’s finest political journalists. He is also one of my favorite people on the earth. Follow him on Twitter – @Rap30

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DBB: You suggested in your Tweet there’d be no interest in using city money to keep the Bears in Chicago proper. So if George and Ted went to the city and said, “We need X amount for renovations and improvements and we’ll stay three more decades” does the city see no value in making that happen? Or is the money just not there?

RP: Those TV establishing shots of Soldier Field on a warm spring day over Lake Michigan look very enticing and perfect for a post card. But the state and city have a heavy postage due bill. If George and Ted came to the city and state and listed their desired improvements, they would be listened to. But the only real answer for the team in the way the modern-day NFL operates is a new stadium. Soldier Field has been renovated as far as it can be without being torn down—an unlikely situation for a historic war memorial even though its 2006 renovation stripped it of its national landmark status. The stadium’s historic colonnades prevent the sidelines from being widened to add new seats to the smallest gridiron in the league.  Neither the state nor city has the money or the appetite for a new multi-billion dollar stadium—either in Chicago or in Arlington Heights. More than $430 million in debt is outstanding on the renovation that created the current Soldier Field, paid largely through hotel taxes, and the agency that issued the bonds is at junk-bond credit status.

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DBB: Nobody builds these new buildings without taxpayer money. That conversation is coming. How will it be received? Do you think it can be avoided?

RP: As I said, there is very little appetite for public financing for a brand new stadium. In fact, there’s resentment that the Bears would likely leave before the latest bonds have been paid off, coinciding with the team’s lease through 2033. A new stadium in Arlington Heights would get minimal public funding for things like roads and sewer, similar to what the privately owned United Center got on the West Side. But Arlington Heights and its 326 acres provide the Bears with several funding opportunities. They can link up with a private developer to create retail and even residential opportunities. The NFL has a loan program for new stadiums and the Bears, as a founding member of the league, would likely get favorable terms. In addition, a domed stadium also would provide new year-round opportunities for revenue. And the team wouldn’t have to split some of its revenues with the Chicago Park District, its current leaseholder, and would be able to sell naming rights. Then add the prospect of a sportsbook on game days, which is something the Bears clearly want and haven’t been able to get.

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DBB: What do you think it will mean to the city – specifically that area of the city – to lose the Bears to the burbs?

RP: The South Loop, where Soldier Field is located, is among the fastest growing areas of the city and can withstand the loss of 10 or so events. Soldier Field would still exist for Chicago Fire soccer, admittedly less of a draw than the Bears, as well as a home for international soccer matches which, when Mexico plays, have filled the stadium. Soldier Field also would continue to be a place for major outdoor concerts. The team’s fan base is strong in the suburbs and while traffic to Arlington Heights might get bad, it was always worse trying to get to and park at Soldier Field on game days. And hey, regardless of a move to the suburbs, they’ll always be the Chicago Bears—and the eyes of all Chicagoland will be on them every time they play.


Stats of the Week

  • The Lions have played the Niners, Packers and Ravens in this early stretch of the season and they are gaining 162 yards per game more than the Bears. (Sunday, of course, swayed these numbers against the Bears but Sunday did, in fact, count.) When you look at these two offensive rosters, that seems inconceivable.

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Week Four Game Preview, Volume I: How the Bears Beat the Lions

| September 30th, 2021


Let’s be honest. If the Bears play offense this Sunday the way they played it last Sunday, they have zero chance to beat any team in the league. Not the Texans. Not the Jags. Not the Jets. No one. So the points being made below are being made under the assumption the coach will actually install a logical, professional game plan and the offensive linemen won’t all play their worst game at the same time. (At the time of posting this, it is believed Bill Lazor is calling plays.)

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VDM. (Victory Difficulty Meter)

39.7%

This is the “easiest” game on the Bears schedule. But after Sunday, it’s impossible to call any game on their schedule “easy”. The Bears opened as 6-point favorites in this contest. The line is now under 3 at most books.

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What Must the Bears Do on Offense:

  • Don’t assume the run game will be there. Yes, the Lions are allowing 114+ yards per game on the ground but they have faced the Niners, Packers and Ravens – three of the best rushing offenses in the league. Run defense is about intensity. It’s about want to. And you only have to watch the Lions defense (under Aaron Glenn) for five minutes to realize they have both of those things in abundance.
  • Take advantage of an aggressive pass rush. The Lions saw the tape of Bears/Browns and they’re salivating at the thought of facing this coach and offensive line. They’re going to be aggressive Sunday and the Bears need to counter that aggression with a combination of (a) screens/short passes and (b) a quarterback ready to accelerate up the field for big gains.
  • Opposing passer rating against the Lions is 123.2 and one needs only watch tape of their game vs. Baltimore to understand why. Yes, the game ended on a Justin Tucker 66-yard field goal but it had no business being anywhere near that close. Hollywood Brown dropped 100 yards of passes and two easy touchdowns. (These are not questionable drops. These are Brown, by himself, at the end zone, letting footballs go through his fingers.) It should have been at least 27-0 at the half. If Nagy (and Lazor) can’t scheme open receivers against this secondary, they’ll never be able to do it.

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What Must the Bears Do on Defense:

  • Be disciplined. Misdirection and play action are the hallmarks of this offense. The Lions can’t just line up, run plays and beat their opponent. They don’t have the talent for that. They need to keep defenses off-balance and these are their primarily tools to do so.

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ATM: Bears Aren’t Good Yet, But That Doesn’t Matter

| September 15th, 2020


The Bears came away with a road divisional win in Week One.

Whether or not they’re a good football right now is irrelevant.

The team struggled on both sides of the ball for much of Sunday’s game, offering some trademarks of bad teams. Thankfully for Matt Nagy and company, the Lions specialize in those trademarks.

But the Bears still showed enough potential to lead us to believe they could, one day, even soon, be a good team.

Defense.

Playoff hopes were based on having a dominant defense. Not the kind of unit that allows 4.8 yards per carry and barely sniffs Matthew Stafford all day, despite a backup right tackle. Not the unit that allowed Danny Amendola and T.J. Hockenson to dominate the middle of the field. (One shudders to think what the passing attack would’ve looked like had Kenny Golladay played.)

They must find a way to be better against the run. Perhaps that answer can come in free agency with Marcell Dareus and Snacks Harrison seemingly available — although the latter may choose to sit out 2020.

The pass rush answers are internal. Khalil Mack will recover from a knee ailment that landed him on the injury report. Robert Quinn will return within the next two weeks. (If not the club would have put him on IR.) Mario Edwards can also give them a boost on passing downs when he’s up to speed.

Offense.

Offensively, it was more of the same for the Bears in that their quarterback spent most of the game looking completely incompetent. Whether he was spinning in the pocket, somehow over-throwing a 6’7” tight end, or missing open targets down the field, Mitch Trubisky looked like the quarterback of last year.

The hope, obviously, is that Trubisky’s slow start was a matter of rust; the residue of having to split reps in training camp. We’ll see. If Trubisky can’t play better than he did for most of Sunday, Nick Foles will be on the field before October.

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ATM: North Might Be Tighter, But Bears Are Still Best

| June 4th, 2019

There is little question that at least a couple of other teams in the NFC North are better than they were a year ago, but the Bears were so much better than the field it doesn’t seem likely the gap isn’t still significant. In addition to having four more wins than any other NFC North team last year, the Bears outscored their divisional opponents 153-109. That’s a differential of 44 points, meaning a +7.3 point average in divisional contests.

While the Lions and Packers made significant additions via free agency and, presumably, through the draft, they were so far behind the top two teams. The Lions were outscored by the other three teams 131-118, while the Packers were outscored 162-110. In fact, the Packers needed late field goals to avoid three double-digit losses and were handled by the Lions, twice.

Of course, the 2018 Bears were a great example of going worst-to-first, losing every divisional game in 2017, with most of them not being particularly close. But the Bears spent most of the 2017 season with a rookie quarterback and made more significant roster additions than any of the NFC North teams,

Here’s a quick look at the division.


Minnesota Vikings

Best Addition: Irv Smith Jr. The Vikings have some really good offensive players, but they reminded me of the 2014 Bears, who were basically playing 10-on-11 offensively without a decent second tight end or third receiver. Smith gives them another weapon, who should allow them to play big and run the ball.

Biggest Loss: Sheldon Richardson. Playing on a one-year deal, Richardson was second on the team with 20.5 combined quarterback hits and sacks last year.

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Bears Whack Lions, Move to 6-3

| November 12th, 2018

AP Photo (Edited) / Nam Y. Huh


It felt way closer than it ever was, this Bears v. Lions game. And there was one reason for that. Rapid fire is coming!

  • Cody Parkey doinking four kicks – two field goals and two extra points – was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in football. And while it is somewhat funny in a game the Bears dominated, the team must know there is ZERO chance Parkey can make a big kick in a big spot down the stretch. Didn’t cost them Sunday. It will cost them down the road.

  • Tweet above should be alarming to fans. The Bears should have kickers in this week. Nagy doesn’t do anybody on this roster any favors with blind loyalty. Parkey has been terrible. Why would you not look to improve the position?
  • Mitch Trubisky spent the week hearing he wasn’t the answer at quarterback. Then he delivered a masterpiece. What’s the criticism going to be now? It’s only the Lions? The same Lions that held Tom Brady to 133 yards? Trubisky’s numbers don’t lie. He’s going to be a top quarterback.
  • Anthony Miller has to know you can’t swat the football out of bounds. Oh, and he’s gonna be really good.

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DaBearsPod (11/9/18): The Great Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press [AUDIO]

| November 9th, 2018

On this episode of DaBearsPod:

  • (0:17) Jeff encourages Bears fans to “wake the fuck up” and realize how a Mike Lombardi operates. Also, you know, enjoy all this!!
  • (5:35) Dave Burkett of the Detroit Free Press on his posture requirements from Matt Patricia, where Lions currently stand in their “rebuild” process & much more.
  • (19:04) Reverend Dave on dodging bricks in Serbia.

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Week 10: Lions at Bears Game Preview

| November 8th, 2018

Detroit has for years been a difficult team to root against. They’ve sort of been lovable losers. But then…they hired…this prick.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and it’s time for this team to play like they are top of the NFC North table. That means burying the Lions at home. Thanksgiving, in their building, is always a difficult game. This is at Soldier Field, with Detroit coming off two miserable performances. Good teams don’t lose this game. Hell, mediocre teams don’t lose this game either.


The Game Sonnet

In football exists a team called ‘da Bears

Who play beside the greatest of great lakes

Those who do not love them are hapless squares

Mindless joy killers in sea of flakes

Their quarterback is a vigorous stag

Born in an Ohio town called Mentor

He’s more than half human and no part nag

But he plays with the zeal of a centaur

Cometh the Lions to challenge these Bears

Their ill-bearded, unkempt leader in tow

Sweet, sweet victory will never be theirs

One must wonder how it is they don’t know

Oh! To be a fan of the pride and joy

Serving with grace the folk of Illinois


Why the Bears Will Win…

  • When Dave Birkett of the Free-Press can write a paragraph like this, you know things are not going well: “Of the Vikings’ 10 sacks Sunday, I’d attribute five of them to poor play on the offensive line. Two of the remaining five sacks were coverage sacks, an eighth was due to a mix-up by a Lions wide receiver, the ninth came on a cornerback blitz when Matthew Stafford or someone on the offensive line didn’t set the protection right, and the last sack was a result of Stafford simply not pulling the trigger when he had someone who appeared to be open downfield.” (Read the whole piece, breaking down each sack, by CLICKING HERE.) Needless to say, if there was a game ripe for Khalil Mack’s return, this is it. And Mack…is back.

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Bears Have Put Themselves in the Fight. Now They Have to Win it.

| November 6th, 2018

By opening the season at 5-3, the Bears have put themselves in the fight. While they couldn’t win the NFC North in the first half of the season, they managed to put themselves in position to win the division or, at the very least, make the playoffs. They are in the fight. Now they have to win it.

At five wins and three losses, the Bears have the same record through eight games they had in 2013, the last time they were relevant in the NFC North race. We all remember how that season ended. The Bears went 0-3 against NFC North foes — including an overtime loss to a five-win Vikings team — in their last eight games. A win in any of them would have won the division. The Bears haven’t been competitive in the NFC North since.

The 2018 Bears have five divisional games in their final eight, including each of the next three. They’re sitting at the top of the division now and need to win at least two of the next three to stay in that race. It’s impossible to say what will happen but there’s no reason to think the Bears can’t stay in this thing until the end.

Because while it wasn’t flashy, we really shouldn’t undersell what the Bears did to the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. Those are bad teams, sure, but outscoring them 65-19 without Khalil Mack or Allen Robinson is, well, interesting.

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Rounding Up the Division Rivals (And Looking Slightly Into Their Futures)

| October 4th, 2018

Four games in the books, which means we’re a quarter of the way through the regular season, and it’s time for the first edition of “Rivals Round Up”. This is a new feature wherein I’ll take a look at how things stand in the NFC North.

And we’ll start at the top.


Chicago Bears, 3-1

Almost a week later, and last week’s win still feels every bit as good as it did on Sunday. (If you’re a Cubs fan like me, the Bears’ early season success might be the only thing getting you through this first week of October.) Chicago leads the division for the first time in years. They’ve won three games in a row for the first time, again, in years. And Mitch Trubisky’s offense took a hugely positive step forward with a dominant performance over Tampa Bay.

Oh, and that Khalil Mack guy? He’s pretty good, too.

Next Opponent: Miami Dolphins.

I don’t love that Chicago’s bye week comes so early this year, and after last week I’m antsy see them play again. But I expect the Bears to stay focused, keep learning, and go into Miami next week without missing a beat.

The Dolphins crashed back down to earth last week after a 3-0 start, getting pummeled by the Patriots 38-7. They play the 3-1 Bengals in Cincinnati this Sunday. Ryan Tannehill is having a nice season and seems to function well in Adam Gase’s system.

However, their offensive line is shaky and I fully expect the Bears to put pressure on him the entire day. On the defensive side, the Dolphin’s secondary will definitely be a step up from what Trubisky faced against Tampa. They’ve managed a league-leading nine interceptions in four games, so Mitch will have to play smart and stay accurate to keep from making costly mistakes.

Game Prediction: It won’t be another Bears blowout, but I think they earn their fourth straight win in Miami: Bears 24, Dolphins 17

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