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If a Quarterback Competition Happens in the Forest…

| August 10th, 2020


The quotes came from new Bears quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.

“At the end of the day, which guy’s raising the other ten guys’ level.”

“At the end of the day, it’s who moves our football team and converts on third down.”

Question. One word. When?

When is this raising of the other ten guys’ level happening?

When is the football team being moved?

When are these third downs being converted?

I might be having an Allen Iverson moment but…practice? We talking about…practice?

Quarterbacks are always the story in the NFL and a quarterback competition over the summer is the juiciest story there is for hungry football writers. But there are three things fans must consider before investing too much into this battle.

(1) Without preseason games, there won’t be anything resembling an obvious winner. Preseason games would have allowed the whole of the football world to evaluate the play of these two men and accurately assess which gave the Bears the best chance to win. Preseason games would have made fans active participants in the competition, enabling them to generate their own thoughts and opinions based on the palpable data of performance.

(2) The media will have their say on the competition but most of the important moments in camp practices, the parts where the actual game plan is installed and executed, happen after the media is sent away. You’ll learn far more from Adam Jahns’ insider reporting on Nagy’s thoughts than Brad Biggs’ impressions from a few passing drills.

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ATM: New Coaches Could Help Bears Solve Pettine Riddle

| July 15th, 2020

It doesn’t seem to matter how bad the Green Bay Packer defense is, the Chicago Bears can’t score on them.

That was supposed to change with Matt Nagy taking over, but it hasn’t.

In four games against Green Bay defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the Bears have averaged a pathetic 14 offensive points and 324 yards per game — the latter being a total that was inflated when the team fell behind big in the most recent match-up. Considering Pettine nearly lost his job at the end of last season as his team has allowed 22.7 points and 354 yards per game since he took over, the Bears inability to score is downright confusing.

Yes, we know the Bears generally haven’t been a good offensive team for most of any of our lives, including the last two years. But they’ve done much better against the rest of the division. Mike Zimmer has had two top-10 units since Nagy came to the Bears, but the Bears have scored 19.5 offensive points and averaged 312 yards per game, both slightly better than the Vikings have allowed on average. Same goes for their performances against Detroit. (Also consider that the Bears have gone nearly full games against both Detroit and Minnesota with Chase Daniel.)

Whether it’s Nagy, Trubisky or somebody else, the Bears just can’t seem to solve Pettine and the Packers. But they may have hired the answers this off-season.

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Castillo, Flip & Team Grades: Thoughts on the Off-Season (So Far)

| January 20th, 2020

The Bears offense was an abomination in 2019 and there was plenty of blame to go around. Here are five thoughts on what’s transpired since the end of one of the most disappointing campaigns in the history of this organization.


(1) The most pivotal decision made thus far (and unsurprisingly the first) was hiring Juan Castillo to rebuild the offensive line/run game. How did that happen? It’s pretty simple. Matt Nagy is in constant communication with Andy Reid, his mentor and friend. Reid’s recommendation was to get the run game fixed by getting Castillo. (And Andy was instrumental on making it happen.) This offense doesn’t want to be run first. But it needs to be run effectively. And under Helfrich/Hiestand, the rushing attack was disjointed and wildly ineffective. Relying on RPO concepts meant relying on the quarterback to make the right decision. He didn’t do that very often in 2019. Castillo will move the run game back down the hill.


(2) Nagy and Pat Shurmur had a deal done. Shurmur was going to be the next Bears offensive coordinator. But a day after I got word of the agreement, I got another word: “He’s got options.” The allure of Philly was strong. Shurmur is pissed off at the Giants and wanted to play them twice a year. The allure of Cleveland grew, even though he was fired there, because he has deep affinity for new head coach Kevin Stefanski. But ultimately it was Vic Fangio giving him the keys to the offensive kingdom in Denver that won the day. Now he’ll run half that program, nurture a young, talented QB and perhaps get himself a third shot at a head coaching gig.

[Side note: Shurmur was not turned off by working with Trubisky.]


(3) John DeFilippo interviewed to be the head coach of the Bears in 2018 and, since then, his star has been rapidly falling in the league. Why? Because many folks in the league don’t believe Flip is a play-caller. He’s a leader of men. He’s a teacher. He’s great on the whiteboard and even better on the sideline. But his talents are misused trying to figure out which run to call on third-and-one. Flip will make every QB in the 2020 QB room better. Now it’s just a matter of finding out who is going to be in that room.

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Some Bits on the Matt Nagy Hiring You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

| January 9th, 2018

People tweeted me, texted me, asked me forty times today, “What do you think of the Nagy hire?” While it’s hard to believe, I really don’t care. I’m excited about new coach and new approach but you never know which of these coordinators is going to become a great head coach. I hope he wins a lot of games.

Since there’s so much information available on Nagy, I’ll spare you the same rehashed opinions and links. Instead here’s some information you won’t see elsewhere about the process.

  • John DeFilippo’s interview was underwhelming. And that’s being kind. The Bears found him to be green and, beyond that, doubted his ability to build a competitive staff. When Peter Schrager reported that Flip was willing to keep Fangio, some believe it was a response to Flip knowing he’d done poorly when pushed on those questions.
  • Josh McDaniels’ interview was the opposite. If Nagy was the target all along, McD gave the organization pause. He was incredibly prepared for their short session. There’s some debate over whether McD wanted to come to Chicago but there is no debate that Bears would have pursued vigorously if Nagy passed. (Side note: Nagy wasn’t passing.)
  • Adam Jahns is not just someone I respect but a friend. And an hour before his story went public, I knew he had it. Being able to experience that hour with him was flat-out thrilling. And seeing him beat Schefter and RapSheet by all of a few minutes is proof 2018 has potential.
  • When I went to sleep Sunday night, around midnight ET, Ted Phillips and George McCaskey were not certain who Ryan Pace was hiring as the next head coach. Pace was given autonomy. A source close to ownership told me Sunday early evening that it would “not be surprising if there were a second round of interviews”. It would have been quite surprising to Pace.

That’s it. That’s all I got. The press conference is Tuesday at 1 pm CT. I’ll be back with a wrap-up of that after it concludes.

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