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Week Four: Bucs at Bears Game Preview

| September 27th, 2018

The shirt above was actually sold by our friends 26Shirts


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And I think Matt Nagy and the offense are going to come out a bit spiky this week. Celebrating in the locker room Sunday, Nagy owned the offense’s failings while praising the defense’s dominance. He won’t want to be in many more locker rooms like that one.

[Editorial Note: This column is being written under the assumption Dirk Koetter won’t be benching a QB with 1200+ yards through three games.]


Game Haiku

Matt Nagy. Head Coach.

But offense is his baby.

Baby is crying.


Why the Bears Will Win

  • Bears Defense. This unit has been praised ad infinitum and deservedly so. They are the best defense in the league after three games. And the Bucs haven’t seen anything like this, especially on the road, in 2018. Two of the three defenses Tampa has played – Pittsburgh and New Orleans – are currently ranked in the league’s bottom four. One of the reasons Fitzpatrick has thrived statistically early is the lack of pressure on him. That changes at Soldier Field this week.
  • Bucs Defense. They’ve allowed 91 points in three games and there’s a reason: they are not particularly talented. They’ve rarely gotten to the quarterback with four guys and those quarterbacks are executing to the tune of a 117.1 passer rating. (That’s nearly 30 points worse than the Bears.) Trubisky is going to have plenty of opportunities to make plays down the field against a secondary featuring old guys and inexperienced rookies.
  • Trey Burton. There’s a breakout game coming for Burton and this match-up suits him perfectly. Vance McDonald and Zach Ertz both flourished against Tampa and the big Chicago tight end has increased his productivity each week. Don’t be surprised if Nagy moves Trubisky out of the pocket and gives him some easier, three-level reads to one side of the field. That could give Burton the opportunity for a big afternoon.

Tweet of the Week


Why They Won’t

  • Nagy/Trubisky. A second viewing of the Bears/Cardinals tape confirmed what I believed on first viewing: the Bears offense doesn’t make a lot of sense. It lacks coherence. It lacks identity. And right now it lacks a comfortable, confident quarterback. When Arizona brought extra pressure (or just an exotic blitz look) the coach and quarterback had zero answers for it. Can they get that fixed? Of course. But it’s very hard to make big ticket scheme changes in the six-day period between games. The Bears need the bye. But they have a game to play before they reach it.
  • Fitzpatrick’s Big Plays. The Bears have the best pass rush in the NFL but there are going to be moments this week – several – where Mack & Co. don’t get home. When that happens expect Fitz to take shots over the top because nobody has taken more early in this NFL season. Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson really haven’t been tested yet because of the success up front. That will almost certainly change Sunday.
  • Tampa’s Rush Defense is stingy, holding opponents to 3.6 yards per rush and 70.7 yards per game. Their approach will be simple Sunday: limit the success of Howard/Cohen on the ground and throw pressure at Trubisky on 2nd/3rd-and-long situations. Nobody has run it on this defense with any success yet. The Bears should leave the tunnel Sunday knowing they’ll need to toss it to win.

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Week Two: Seahawks at Bears Game Preview

| September 13th, 2018

The Bears are not in a must-win situation Monday night. But the entire locker room needs to approach the game like they are. They’ve said all the right things since Sunday’s debacle. Will they show up and play with urgency? We shall see.


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

Yes, the Green Bay result was dreadful. But one has to remember it was merely Week One. The arrow is pointed decidedly up for this group and things are going to start moving in that direction quickly.


Why the Bears Will Win?

  • Pass rush. Khalil Mack was with the Bears one week before delivering one of the best halves of football the organization has ever seen.  Roquan Smith won’t be spending much time on the bench any longer. Akiem Hicks and Roy Robertson-Harris both looked like massive disrupters against a good Packers front. Seattle’s front is not very good. Russell Wilson was sacked six times by Denver and it could have been ten if he weren’t so damn elusive. The Bears will get to him early and often.
  • Jordan Howard. The Broncos averaged 4.7 yards per carry against Seattle with two backs not in Howard’s league. Couple that with Nagy taking heat for abandoning his best offensive player at pivotal junctures against Green Bay and the stage is set for Howard to have a big, 25+ carry night.
  • The Crowd. Outside of a few outspoken Twitter folks there is genuine enthusiasm surrounding this team right now and the crowd should reflect that Monday night. Primetime. Lubed up. Good weather. Soldier Field should be an exceedingly difficult place for the visitors this week.

Why They Won’t

  • Offense in Neutral. Progress should be expected from Week One to Week Two but it’s nowhere near guaranteed. If the Bears struggle on offense like they did in the second half at Lambeau Field, will the defense be able to get them over the finish line?
  • Elusive Russell Wilson. He keeps more plays alive than any other quarterback in the league and he’ll be expecting to see Mack, Leonard Floyd and company in his backfield all evening long. This is not a receiving corps, especially without Doug Baldwin, that is going to get a ton of separation off the line of scrimmage. But if Wilson can keep plays alive 3-4 seconds longer, players like Tyler Lockett, Brandon Marshall and Will Dissly will find space in the secondary.
  • I Heart Michael Dickson. Have you seen this guy punt yet? He’s the most incredible young punting talent to enter the league in generations. As a punting enthusiast I debated flying to Chicago Monday morning to see him in person. (But alas, I have jury duty here in Queens.)

Tweet(storm) of the Week

A few thoughts on this:

  • Dan Durkin thinks he’s a professional NFL scout. He’s not. And yesterday he faced an onslaught of criticism (King, Gil Brandt, Dan Orlovsky, all of ESPN) for this Tweet because it reflected the amateurish and incompetent manner in which he approaches film study. Durkin would benefit from spending time in tape study with actual professionals. As someone who HAS DONE THAT I can assure you he’d stop this screenshot bullshit pretty damn quickly.

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Week 12: Bears at Eagles Game Preview

| November 22nd, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. Even when they have almost no chance of winning.


Updating Trubisky’s Development

Mitch Trubisky’s performance Sunday was a solid one, especially the final drive of the game. But just as he addressed (a) throws across his body while on the move and (b) taking too many sacks, now he must address an issue that popped up against the Lions. That’s not trusting his pocket.

In fairness, I get it. Trubisky has been harassed in that pocket for a month. Every time he drops back he’s expecting defenders, quickly. Sunday he didn’t get them. But his footwork and mechanics did not reflect that. On throws where he had plenty of time to set his feet and deliver the football, Trubisky rushed his process and delivered an errant toss.

Sunday against the Eagles might not be the day to expect a comfortable pocket. But this is an issue to watch down the stretch.


Song of the Week


Thanksgiving Food Rankings

#3. Pumpkin Pie. You give me warm pumpkin pie with cold vanilla ice cream and you might as well undo my belt for me.

#2. Turkey Gravy. I’m not sure I like turkey. I mean, it’s fine, but if I liked it so much I would probably eat it on one of the other 364 days, right? I don’t even consider turkey on those days. But turkey gravy? I’d inject it right into my veins in a Baltimore vacant if I could. Why can’t turkey gravy be the cure for skunk spraying instead of tomato juice?

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Week 10: Packers at Bears Game Preview

| November 10th, 2017

Where’s John Fox’s left hand?


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. And it’s goddamn Packers Week!


A Thought on Pace & Fox

This has been an ongoing Twitter conversation, picked up by Jahns and I on the podcast midweek. But it’s worth restating what I know as the Bears embark upon the second half of their schedule.

  • Ryan Pace has no intention at this stage of firing John Fox at the end of the season, barring a collapse.
  • Pace and Fox have built this roster together. They are a team. And Pace is owning the struggles on offense.
  • Don’t forget about how the Mike Glennon Fiasco impacted this team.
    • The Bears never intended to play Mitch Trubisky in 2017. Never. They were willing to put him on the field once the playoffs were mathematically out of reach but their true intent was to keep him on the bench until 2018. (This, to me, is insane. But it is what it is.)
    • Because of that, Trubisky didn’t take a first-team rep in earnest until October. It is very rare for a rookie quarterback to be thrust into this position after four weeks and clearly Fox is not comfortable with it yet. Yes, it should be expected for them to “open it up” more in the second half but don’t expect this team to start throwing forty passes a game anytime soon. They don’t believe that’s the right approach for Trubisky at this stage.
    • For those who think Pace is “looking for his Sean McVay”…it’s just not that simple. The Bears have built a terrific defense and power run game. They’re not looking to drastically change their identity.
    • Pace likes Dowell Loggains. And if you read this terrific piece by Jahns, you’ll understand that what is being called currently on offense is coming from the head coach, not the offensive coordinator.
  • There are some “media” out there positing that wins/losses won’t matter for Fox down the stretch. That’s not just wrong, it’s insane. Fox’s job is to win games, not beauty pageants. And while Trubisky’s development is important it was never part of the 2017 plan. The Bears won 3 games a season ago. If they win 7 or 8 this year, the organization will view that as a significant improvement and Fox will face a make-or-break 2018.

Tweet of the Week


Three Reasons the Bears Win

  • Brett Hundley vs. Bears Defense. Mike McCarthy will script out Hundley’s first fifteen plays and the Packers will look decent. (This has happened in both of his starts.) But if they get behind the chains, Hundley is unable to recover because, well, he’s not good. He can be dangerous if the Bears let him extend plays outside the pocket or move the chains with his legs. But the Bears didn’t let Cam Newton do that. They’re going to be hustled by Hundley?
  • Leonard Floyd vs. RT Justin McCray. Floyd has five sacks in his last five games and will be facing a player in McCray he should dominate. This has all the makings of a 2 or 3 sack performance from Lloyd, who’ll be feeding off a fired-up Soldier Field faithful.

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Vikings at Bears Week 5 Game Preview

| October 5th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. But I EXTRA like the Chicago Bears this week!!!


Four Thoughts on Trubisky’s First Start

  • It’s difficult to imagine how nervous this kid is going to be. First start. Monday Night Football. At home in front of a crowd that is desperate for him to be great. Dowell Loggains has to ease Trubisky into this game and then turn him loose. It is the most important game of Loggains’ time in Chicago.
  • Since it’s his first start, don’t be surprised if the Bears constantly roll him out to the right side, eliminate half the field and “flood” options to that side – someone in the flat, someone deep and someone running an intermediate route. This will give Tru five quick options: over the top, middle, flat, toss it OB, run.
  • When Trubisky doesn’t understand what he’s seeing after the snap – and it will happen – his instincts are going to be to run with the football. Bears have to coach that out of him. Throwing the football into the fourth row will be better for Trubisky long-term than taking a hit to gain five yards on second down. If he sees daylight on the other hand…
  • Two positions are going to benefit from Trubisky starting: wide receivers and offensive tackles. The wides will now have a few extra seconds to find holes in the secondary due to Tru’s mobility. The tackles can now slide the edge rushers up the field without fear, knowing the QB won’t be afraid to take a few steps up into the pocket and deliver the ball down the field.

Monty Hall, Dead at 96

Many people who attend New York University study serious things. I did not. I did a lot of work on game shows. Yes, at the Department of Cinema Studies you could actually write thesis papers on game shows and Bob Fosse and re-use papers you and Noah Brier wrote on “ALF & American Television”.

Monty Hall was a great game show host. Here are my top ten game show hosts of all-time. I like to think very few people could even make a list like this.

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Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| September 21st, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. But that hourglass has been flipped.

When Trubisky?

There are three possibilities, as I see it, for the Mitch Trubisky era to begin in Chicago.

Possibility #1: Monday night, October 9th – Vikings at home

Under this scenario, Mike Glennon eats the hardest four-game stretch of the Bears schedule (and subsequent 0-4 record). The Bears would then have 11 days to prepare Trubisky for the Vikings and they’d be able to create an event atmosphere at Soldier Field that night.

Possibility #2: Sunday, November 12th – Packers at home

Under this scenario, Mike Glennon gets the entire first half of the Bears schedule. This would certainly require him playing better than he has through two games. Then Trubisky gets the bye week to prepare for a debut against the team’s oldest rival at Soldier Field. Would the fans get pumped up enough by his first start to fill the building? I think they might.

Possibility #3: Mid-game

I texted both of my league connections, both high-ranking personnel guys with other franchises, and asked how they felt about bringing in a rookie quarterback in the middle of the game. The two responses were “wouldn’t do it” and “fine with it”.

Here’s what I’ll say about the idea. I would not bring Trubisky into a blowout. You don’t want him on the field down three scores, having to drop back every play. But if the Bears are down 13-10 Sunday to Pittsburgh at the half and Glennon has looked like Glennon, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to bring Trubisky into the game.

Notes on the Pittsburgh Steelers

  • QBs faced through three weeks of the season: DeShone Kizer, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon. By comparison the Bears will have faced Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers will more than likely start one of the most hollow 3-0’s in NFL history.
  • A player I knew nothing about who absolutely jumps off the screen is LB Anthony Chickillo. The former Hurricane is in his third season and has been all over the field through two games. How do the Steelers always manage to produce these f’n linebackers? Chickillo is also a terrific pass rusher and the Bears better be wary of his location at all times Sunday.
  • T.J. Watt has been something of revelation but exited the Vikings game with a groin injury the organization doesn’t believe to be serious. If Watt doesn’t play, it’s a huge bonus for the Bears. But will that mean James Harrison can actually get on the field for the Steelers this season?

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Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| September 7th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. But let me tell you…

The Glennon Saga in 17 Steps

Let’s walk through how this entire Glennon thing happened, step-by-step. Some of this is common knowledge. Some of this is information I’ve acquired. The acquired information is asterisked.

Step 1. Bears decide to move on from Jay Cutler. I’d put this down as happening sometime around November 2016.

Step 2. Bears make Brian Hoyer an offer to return. That offer is low, far lower than Hoyer’s camp hoped, and the journeyman essential tells the Bears to go rub jalapenos in their eyes.*

Step 3. Bears have serious interest in Tyrod Taylor*, hoping the new Bills coaching staff would want to move on to their own guy. (Today the Bills know they miscalculated*. After dumping half their roster and punted on 2017, the know they should have listened to the Tyrod suitors floating around.)

Step 4. Who is left? Mike Glennon. Bears throw a ton of cash at Glennon in what is essentially a lucrative one-year deal that many in the national media scoff at. They are “pumped”. Rumors surface Pace pursued Glennon last offseason. Glennon is the guy.

Step 5. Bears ask Glennon to join fans for their first round draft party.

Step 6. Bears move up to get Mitch Trubisky in one of the most exciting moments in Bears draft history.

Step 7. Glennon ain’t pleased.

Step 8. Bears reiterate ad nauseum, and for no other than reason than to appease Glennon, that the formed Bucs backup is still the starting QB and they’ll bring Trubisky along slowly.

Step 9. Glennon is awful in the spring. This isn’t widely reported because nobody gives a shit what happens in the spring.

Step 10. Glennon is awful in the summer. This is more widely reported but seemingly ignored because Trubisky dropped a couple snaps. Many report that Mark Sanchez is actually the most consistent quarterback in Bourbonnais.


COMEDY BREAK!

COMEDY BREAK OVER!


Step 11. The first preseason game. Glennon is abysmal. Trubisky is great. The fan base gets excited. Trubisky is suddenly on the covers of newspapers. The 2017 Bears are a source of excitement in Chicago?

Step 12. Nothing changes at practice.

Step 13. The second preseason game. Glennon is abysmal. The Bears decide to use Trubisky less, keeping him off the field until he’s joined almost exclusively by third-stringers.

Step 14. The following Wednesday, the Bears ANNOUNCE Trubisky is practicing with the first team. This excites many of us, seeing it as a sign the team is recognizing what is taking place in front of them. What comes from it?

Step 15. The third preseason game. Glennon mounts one good drive. Trubisky struggles in his two drives with the first team, thrives when re-partnered with the guys he’s practiced with for months. John Fox insanely calls Glennon’s performance “superb” and anoints him starter.

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Lovie Smith Returneth: Tampa Bay Bucs at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| November 20th, 2014

They won a game. My lord of lords, they have won a game. Did they beat a rookie quarterback playing in frozen conditions for the first time in his entire existence? Maybe. Do the Buccaneers come to town with a head coach and quarterback desperate to show the Soldier Field faithful and Halas Hall hierarchy what they’re missing? Absolutely. So…

Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

A SUNDAY TO LEGITIMIZE ANOTHER SUNDAY

The Bears victory over the Minnesota Vikings means nothing if they lose Sunday. These two games, the first destination on Marc Trestman’s road map to retain his job, are a package deal.

Winning both enables the Bears to play a game with at least some meaning on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. You might argue the stench of back-to-back embarrassments against arguably the league’s two best teams is too overwhelming to overcome no matter what happens against lower level competition. That’s a fair argument but I think a misguided one. The Bears returning to national television with an opportunity to even their record at 6-6 is a significant step for an organization left for dead two weeks ago. From 6-6, with 3 of their final 4 at home, Trestman and company can begin selling a run of the table to the locker room. Whether they achieve that goal or not is relatively unimportant. Believing there is a goal to be achieved means the players will be severely motivated in December.

Losing Sunday to the Bucs, one of the league’s worst teams, will hurt Trestman terribly in Chicago. If this offense can not find motivation against their former coach they will never find motivation. And if they can’t beat the two-win Bucs at home there will be nothing the coaching staff can say in the locker room to convince players this season has any possible reward.

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Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| November 13th, 2014

The greatest punchline in the history of television comedy.

We need laughs now, more than ever.

_______________________________

The Bears are a dreadful football team. On a neutral field, this Sunday, I would not favor the them against any team in the league. Not Atlanta. Not Tampa. Not the Jets or Jaguars or Raiders or the Buffalo Grove Bison.

So why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I *sigh* always like the Chicago Bears.

Why Else?

tumbleweed3

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A Team Defying Logic: Chicago Bears at New England Patriots Game Preview in a Sentence

| October 23rd, 2014

Chicago-Bears-Brock-Vereen-OTAs

Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

WHY ELSE?

Because there is no earthly reason to believe this football team – maligned quarterback, emotionally excitable star receiver, ignored tailback, coach under the microscope, temperamental right guard, derided defensive coordinator…etc. – can go into Foxboro and beat one of the greatest head coach and quarterback combinations in the history of the sport with their season on the line, they probably will.

FINAL SCORE

Chicago Bears 40, New England Patriots 31

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